It’s more than 17 years since I arrived in one of the biggest cities in the world, all alone and not yet 22. Little did I know that the place I was taking a huge and very expensive punt on would capture my heart so much so that I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I don’t know what it is but London adventures always lead to new discoveries. There are places with so much history and character that make you want to know everything about the city. There are events and venues nowhere else in the country could replicate. Even after all these years I’d say I’ve probably only uncovered a quarter – if that – of what London has to offer. Here’s a little peep at some of the more off-the-beaten-track adventures to capture the imagination. For after all, a famous person once said that if you’re tired of London you’re tired of life.
Pizza Express Jazz
Imagine taking your favourite famous dough balls and Romana pizza and combining it with live jazz. Whilst Pizza Express may be one of the nation’s most recognisable pizza chains these days, you can only find their jazz sessions here in the capital. Downstairs in the basement of their Soho restaurant, tables and chairs surround a stage which plays host to different performers every night. It’s not the best-known venue in London’s gig scene, but this well-kept secret is one pizza and jazz lovers alike won’t want to miss.
Stepping Stones of Greenwich
Heading a little further afield and over to one of my regular stomping grounds, it’s easy to see Greenwich as home to a royal park, the Observatory and the Cutty Sark. Yet hidden amongst the ancient cobbled streets you can also come across some of London’s more quirky finds. Think traditional pie and mash shops, all of your nautical wares and Stepping Stones, a spiritualist’s mecca. Whilst there are a wealth of online sites like The Circle, you sometimes can’t beat exploring in person. Stepping Stones host workshops, sports massage, reiki and psychic readings and is a treasure trove for incense lovers and Eastern trinkets.
Despite how many people live here, I still argue that London is a very walkable city. Granted, it’s technical everything within the M25 and no-one wants to walk that. But there is a nostalgic way to see all the sights by following the Monopoly walk. You can go between all the different London destinations of the classic Monopoly board, typically starting from Old Kent Road and ending at Fleet Street. On the route, you can tick off destinations like the Tower of London as the prison (although you might struggle to find free parking). It’s a 15-mile walk in total, so definitely not for the faint-hearted, but you’ll see a whole range of London stops and it will be a confusing insight into what the maker of Monopoly was thinking when they chose stops like ‘Vine Street’ for their world-famous board.
One of the more recent arrivals on the London scene, only the hipster times we live in would allow an old car park to be converted into creative workshops and a new cultural destination. The aim is to bring communities together and the space is used by small businesses to help them grow, and by artists and creative people to work. One business is The Kiln Rooms, which provides space and support for aspirational potters hone their skills. Peckham Levels also offers yoga workshops, a healthy café, freelancer working space and that pink staircase of Instagram fame. It just goes to show that in a city like London you can genuinely make something out of nothing.
Now the weather is getting warmer and I’m finally footloose and fancy free, 2019 is definitely the year that I’m going to be spreading my wings and exploring so much more that this city has to offer. I’d feel guilty to not make the most of living here and the time that I have to get my walking shoes on and set off on new adventures, maybe making my own little bit of London history.
Post in collaboration.