52 things to do in london!
I am going to write about a years worth of things to do in London. Yep, 52 weekly posts. As a writer/boozer, it's a tall order, but here goes. If you are ever thinking of visiting London, or even if you live here, you can try them all. And if you have any suggestions or comments, please get in touch.
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nick hennegan - writer and producer
This is a bit of an unusual one to start with, because it's not so much about things to do in London - more how to base yourself in London, for as little as £23 per night!
Hotels are notoriously expensive, but if you are on a budget, why not consider camping - or even caravanning! It's not widely known, but there are a couple of caravan and camping sites just half an hour from the centre of London.
They both have all the mod cons - hot showers and Wi-Fi
They are at Crystal Palace and Abbey Wood.
The Crystal Palace Caravan Club,
Old Cople Lane, Crystal Palace Parade, London, London, SE19 1UF.
And the Abbey Wood Caravan Club site,
Federation Road, SE2 OLS.
My first ‘Thing’ To Do in London, was more about where to stay for around £20. My Second ‘Thing’ is not so much linked to Literary London and the London Literary Pub Crawl, as America! And specifically, Texas.
That my second ‘Thing’ is Texas-orientated is for two reasons. Firstly, because recently a young woman from Austin, Texas, who had flown in to London the morning of the Literary Pub Crawl and not eaten or slept for 48 hours, got a bit tipsy. Only a bit, you must understand. (In fact in nearly five years of the Pub Crawl, we’ve only had two or three people ‘tired with the wine’! And that’s usually when I host the show and get carried away, as it were!)
The second reason is that we are trying to raise some money to promote the London Literary Pub Crawl and expand into other areas, and a friend of mine who used to live in London is from Austin, Texas. He bought a £2k share in the company. Or a ‘Unit’ as they're known in the theatre world. Sort of like non-tradable shares. So I’m loving the USA. And Texas. And especially, Austin, Texas. It’s apparently a growing area in the USA, and has an annual arts and music festival. As a struggling writer, I can’t afford to go there yet - although I did wonder about singing for my supper by creating a poetry slam or doing some poetry and prose reading tours, but that is perhaps for another time - but if you are from America or Texas, this is the Second Thing you should do in London.
Because in 1842, Texas was an independent republic. Nope, nothing to do with the USA.
In fact the Diplomatic address of Texas was in St. James! So, Thing Two To Do In London is to get to Texas in London! St James is the diplomatic area. To visit Texas, go to St James’s Street - or more precisely, Pickering Place. The nearest tube station is Green Park. The tiny Pickering Place is an alley off the east side of St. James's Street near St. James's Palace in a building that also houses Berry Bros. & Rudd, a prestigious wine merchants' that has been there since 1730.
On the north side of the building is a plaque - in fact there are TWO plaques - marking it as the site of the Texas legation. At least until 1845, when Texas decided to be less independent and became a United State of America. Then they left London, but didn't pay the rent. In fact the outstanding rent bill, due to the wine merchants next door, wasn't actually settled until the 1980’s! Then 26 Texans dressed in buckskin, showed up at the wine shop to settle the Republic’s outstanding debt of $160, repaid on the spot in Republic of Texas bills.
This may be due to the fact that an organisation called the Anglo-Texan Society - who had author Graham Greene as a member - came over in 1963 and installed a commemorative plaque. In 2013 they installed another plaque, probably relieved that their forebears finally sorted the rent. At the far end of the alley lies Pickering Place, a paved square with a sundial in the centre. One of London’s smallest public squares and once a notorious venue for duels and bear-baiting apparently. Pickering Place also boasts that it was the last place in London where a duel was fought and the place where Napoleon III plotted his return to France (he was in exile in England between 1838 and 1848).
But never forget this is all next to a wine merchants. That in itself should be worth a visit!
Yee-hah! Go see!
In my last email, I asked if you had any fave tips on things to do in London. I'm grateful to Heather who said...
"Try Zedels in Piccadilly for a French themed cheap dinner."
I haven't tried it myself yet, but it's only a matter of time! Thanks Heather. x
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE THINGS TO DO IN LONDON? PLEASE LET ME KNOW.
Go to the beach
If you are visiting London, chances are you will want to see the established sites - the Palace, the Abbey and the Cathedral - and, of course, take in some of our fantastic pubs and taverns.
But we landlocked Londoners have also created a little beach magic for you to enjoy. Now you can take in the sites and during the summer, sit and feel the sand between your toes! Just add sunshine!
There are numerous beaches - including at Brixton, SW9; Neverland in Fulham (a BYOB - perfect!) and just a minute from the British Museum, The Montague On The Gardens in Bloomsbury. The Montague have an urban beach bar with tropical drinks and BBQ delicacies.
It ain’t that cheap, but I love that it is near where the Bloomsbury Set hung out, around Gordon Square. Gordon Square is also where I had lectures at University, so I’m taken with the area! And talking of Bloomsbury...
THIS WEEKS BONUS PUB TIP.
Thanks to Eric, who recommends the ‘Friend in Hand’ pub, just round the corner from Russell Square Underground station, in Bloomsbury.
It’s easily missed. I’ve been there quite often and it's a comfortable, traditional, no-frills boozer. It’s next to The Horse Hospital too which was built in 1797. It was originally a purpose built stable for 24 horses but is now an arts venue. I’ve been to a couple of Dada events there. The street also housed London’s first public ambulance station. Built in 1735, the pub has had plenty of time to build its reputation; reportedly Charles Dickens was a customer. But we know Dickens got everywhere. He’s with us every Saturday afternoon at 5pm…
2-4 Herbrand Street
Writer. And occasional drinker.