The Ultimate London Bucket List; Part 1
20th January 2017
I woke up on 1st January 2016 with a pretty bad hangover, ordered sub-par Thai and watched an entire series of Married at First Sight USA. It was at that point (well precisely at episode 10 when I realised the highlight of my day was seeing whether Jamie and Doug would continue their bizarre fake marriage) that I decided upon my new years resolution. I live in London; a place where thousands flock to every week to experience world-famous art, vibrant culture and the most amazing food, I should really make the most of it! I started by compiling a bucket list, but that ended up just being a list of various places I wanted to eat. So instead I decided to set myself a little challenge; there are 32 boroughs in London, 33 if you count The City, and I was going to visit all of them!
It seemed like a big feat at the time, especially as I could only name about 10. I was still a newbie and venturing to the likes of Hownslow hadn’t even entered my mind, in fact I didn’t really know where Hownslow was. So now we’re nearing the end of 2016 I thought I’d share some of my travels with you, even though I may still have to do a few last minute tube journeys before December 31st.
1) Barking and Dagenham
Not the most well know of the London boroughs, I had to do a bit of research for this one and even then I was a little underwhelmed. The first article that came up informed me that it was voted the worst place to live in the UK in 2015… it wasn’t a great start. Then I came across Eastbrook Country Park, a beautiful nature reserve full of lakes, trees and the odd swan, it kind of reminded me of Cotes Mill. It’s so lovely to take a break from the hustle and bustle every now and then, the city seems a million miles away. It’s the sort of place where you seriously consider taking up fishing because it looks like the dreamiest way to wile away a summer’s afternoon. Alas, I’m yet to buy a rod but I did get to have a lovely day wandering around somewhere I’d never of even thought of going before.
I’m a bit of a film nerd, so when I read about The Phoenix, a beautiful independent cinema with an amazing art deco interior, I had to go. Built in 1910, it was part of the first wave of cinema building happening across the UK in the early 1900s, meaning it’s one of the oldest continually running cinemas in the UK. It still has just the one screen but it shows a eclectic mix of art house films, steamed live shows and the odd blockbuster. It’s a community run non-for-profit organisation, so you can feel pretty good about going too!
Click here to see what’s on
Yep the B’s are a hard one, and no I hadn’t heard of Bexley before, but I did discover that they have a pretty cool fireworks display in Danston park which is choreographed to music! Unfortunately I was in Somerset on Bonfire Night and so Bexley still remains on my list but it’s a definite must for next year.
I have always said India is next on my must-travel list, so imagine how excited I was to find out that there’s an amazing Hindu temple half an hour west of me! Building work for the incredible BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir London started in 1992, they used only traditional methods and materials and the whole thing took about 5 years to finish! Not only is it a really impressive building but it’s also a lovely nod to London’s wonderful multicultural community.
A Grade II listed park with dinosaurs? Yes please. Crystal Palace Park is known as the Victorians’ answer to Jurassic Park, intrigued? So was I! Set up in 1850s and designed to display Victorian grandeur and innovation, the park is filled with impressive structures and full-scale models of various creatures, a contribution from sculptor and fossil expert Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and founder of the Natural History Museum, Richard Owen. It was certainly wacky enough to convince me to venture south of the river for an afternoon. I even managed to squeeze in a pint at popular local boozer, Westow House, a cool craft beer pub with a lovely beer garden right on the edge of the park.
Now I’d definitely heard of Camden, famous for quirky fashion and its rock and roll past, it is a bit of a tourist trap. I tend to avoid anywhere with a concentrated amount of snap-happy people for my own sanity, but I will brave the crowds for one thing… food. Kerb food market came to Camden in 2016 and it did not disappoint. I really liked the market before but with the addition of some of London’s best street food and the fact that it’s open 7 days a week, this now has to be one of my favourites. If I had to recommend only one stall, I’d definitely choose Kimchinary who specialise in Korean burritos…sounds weird, tastes great!
And if you are in the area, it would be a shame not to swing by Chin Chin Labs for a deliciously creamy nitro-ice cream in the summer or an incredibly indulgent hot chocolate in winter. Once I’m sufficiently full, I tend to head along the canal and up to Primrose Hill. It always fascinates me how it can be so hectic one minute and then you walk for a few minutes and you’re the only one in sight! It’s pretty beautiful too and if you’re willing to climb the hill you get an Instagram-worthy view of London.
This borough has a bit of a bad rep, and to be honest it wasn’t top of my go-to list but as a lover of markets I thought I’d give one of London’s oldest markets a go. Surrey Street Market is now open 7 days a week with stalls selling a whole host of goodies my favourite was all the fresh produce and the fact that it’s a lot cheaper than the more well-known markets in central London. Like most more shabby than chic boroughs, Croydon is showing the classic signs of London gentrification. A few cool spots have started opening up like Matthews Yard, a cultural and creative hub that houses everything from a cafe/bar to recording studios. Avocados at the ready, the hipsters are coming.
The only time I ever really went west was to visit a museum or art gallery, so this was another one I had to research. This blog may seem a little market heavy already, but this one is not food related! Crafted W5 is a craft market held on the first Saturday of each month showcasing local design talent with stalls selling everything from jewellery to cool prints. The whole thing has that wonderful community vibe, everyone is so passionate and there’s some really beautiful things too! There’s even a little DIY craft session at The Little Art Room if you feel inspired to get a bit artsy.
Images sourced from http://www.londontown.com