7 Less Touristy-y Things to Do in London

less touristy things london.jpg

Whenever I go away to places, I like to try and find actual advice from people who live there. I think it’s really cool to try and get more authentic idea for what the place is like, and it’s one of my favourite parts of travelling! I also think London is pretty cool, and I think it has some really underrated activities,¬†so I thought it would be fun to share some things that I like to do up and about town. ūüėÄ

1. Do a scavenger hunt

If you’re with a group of people and have some time to kill, them scavenger hunts are a super way to get out and about! You can find a selection for different areas and themes here, and once you’ve picked one you’re good to go. As well as little tasks like finding street names or counting things on the outside of buildings, the hunts that I have done also give you some information about the area you’re in. You can check the ones that i have used here — you have to buy them, but it’s not much, especially split between a group. There are also some free ones here!

 2. Visit the Southbank Centre

In general there are just SO MANY good things to do spread all along the south bank of the river. Stuff happens in the Southbank Centre all year long, from the Festival of Love to fountains to Women of the World to the Christmas market. The National Theatre nearby has some great shows — if you haven’t booked you can queue up on Friday mornings (I think?) for tickets if there are any left, or try and get a Friday Rush one — as well as some free things to look at and somewhere warm to sit. You might also want to pay a visit to the Globe Theatre, BFI, Tate Modern, or second hand book fair thing. Just. SO MUCH STUFF NEAR THE SOUTHBANK. It’s always on my list for a day out!

3. Go to a book event

I am an ENDLESS ADVOCATE for book events! I love them! They’re normally really cheap or sometimes even free, and they really give me something to look forward to. I don’t think everyone always knows that they exist, so…? Of course it depends on which events are on and whether they coincide with your visit, but a quick browse on the Waterstones website will do you no harm. (Basically all the events I attend are run by Waterstones, since they tend to have the YA ones. But there’s other stuff out there too, including various cons!)

 4. Enjoy some art at the Tate(s)

I know I already mentioned Southbank, but there was too much squeezed into that short space and I LIKE ART THINGS. Some things are better than others at the Tate — the descriptions can tend to overanalyse a bit in my opinion post-capitalist modern critique or whatever I DON’T CAAARE @ CONCEPT ART but there’s so much choice as well as great permanent collections. The buildings are well worth a visit on their own, too! Tate Modern is home to the Turbine Hall which has different installations inside, and the new Switch House building is cool too. If you visit the Tate Britain then your #claimtofame can be standing at the site of Lauren Aquilina’s live Echoes video, ayy. ūüėČ At the moment Tate Modern has a really good Rauschenberg exhibition, by the way! I like going to see art just on a day out¬†because I don’t feel any pressure to analyse it or whatever; I just like to try and enjoy it and consider how it makes me feel.

5. Visit Covent Garden

Covent Garden has a bunch of shops, from the wonderfully cute Moomin shop to the Whittard’s tea shop where I normally just go around testing EVERY SINGLE ITEM in their cute plastic glasses. (I have actually bought stuff from Whittards so I don’t feel too bad. It is fun to taste all their things.) Sometimes there’s street performers or market-y stalls, and in general it’s just a nice place to visit! There are also some cool quirky shops around the general Covent Garden/Seven Dials area such as Tofu Cute and Tatty Devine.

6. Do a fandom tour

London is the home to lots of cool fandom things! Of course it depends what you’re into, but some internet searching can prove very useful should you want to explore some fannish London locations. For Harry Potter, you can go on a self-guided tour or an actual professional walking tour, which ¬†really sounds like a job I should be applying for haha. A Doctor Who tour is available (though I hear it’s more focused on Classic Who), and as well as visiting the Sherlock Holmes museum you can take a look at one of the Sherlock tours. (That link is really good; it has locations for a self-guided one as well as organised tours.)

7. Trawl through the bookshops of Charing Cross Road

Charing Cross Road is well known for its second hand bookshops — even if some of the prices might make your eyes water, it’s so atmospheric to look around them at all the old books. (I love old book smells.) Sometimes you can find real gems! ayyy my 19th century copy of Les Mis The really big Foyles is also there if you want a different selection to Waterstones, and Forbidden Planet is around the corner on Shaftesbury Avenue. ūüôā

have you been to london? done any of these things? do you have any underrated activities for where you live?

Thursday’s EU Referendum // do i stay or do i go?

The referendum that will decide whether Britain leaves the EU is coming up this Thursday. I can’t vote — and I wouldn’t be able to vote even if they did allow 16-year-olds — but I feel like this is one of the most important decisions yet in my life. I’ve seen over the last year I’ve been trying to have greater political awareness, and the more I’ve read into this issue the more passionate I’ve become in my belief that we’re better off in the EU.

This post may not change anyone’s mind. It’s pretty late know, and I’m not exactly famous. Plus, three quarters of people under 25 want to stay in anyway so perhaps I’m preaching to the choir. But I the polls are incredibly close and feel so, so strongly about this. I want to be able to look back and say: I said something. I really hope it’s not from the perspective of a Britain out of the EU.

For any readers who are a bit confused: Britain is a member of the European Union. I mean, the EU is kind of complicated and I don’t know all the ins and outs, but it’s basically a political and economic union of various states.¬†This mainly means¬†we can trade easily with member nations and that free movement of people in the EU is allowed.¬†The two main issues of this debate have indeed been the economy and immigration.

I don’t think the campaigns have been the best. Both sides have gone for really negative campaigns, which I think is such a shame. Remain in particular had such a strong case to present the facts logical rather than go for crazy scaremongering. But, putting that aside: I want us to stay in. I think that the Leave campaign has really reminded me that there are people who don’t want to be inclusive. That it’s better to cut ourselves off and build a wall.

Perhaps that’s not everyone voting Leave. Obviously there are a lot of different factors. (Please do check out Em‘s post which explains the details a lot better than I can!) I’m sure there are people voting Out with a lot more legitimate reasoning. But in general I’m scared by the idea that we need to ‘take Britain back’. I’ve seen our country, inexplicably, compared to the USSR by educated people…?

I don’t want us to return to being Good Old Britons who sneer and hate foreigners. That’s not how we should be thinking. Yes, Britain is still a democracy; no, the EU is not going to remove our voting rights.(It placed sanctions on the current Polish government because they are doing some very shifty things. Like messing around with the Supreme Court. It’s not a ‘mildly conservative government’, guys.) In particular the EU does reduce the effectiveness in some areas of law, but I think that the benefits outweigh that. We can’t be all take and no give. There are lots of great EU policies! Worker’s rights. The environment. It’s not all doom, gloom and red tape.

I admit that I also believe we should stay for more selfish reasons. I want to be able to travel around Europe! I love that I could go for a day trip to France if I wanted. We can’t know the future of Britain or the economy, but most people agree that Brexit would mean higher prices for some time after, especially whilst we re-negotiate all our trade deals. I don’t particular feel like being a student during a time with both high prices and more difficult travel. Any of my current plans would basically die. Also, my parents’ jobs would be a lot worse and Boris Johnson would potentially¬†become PM. He is a) extremely unqualified and b) not a nice person, so. I don’t love David Cameron, but he’s way better than a lot of people.

This post is not perhaps the highest political analysis you’re going to get. I realise that I’m speaking from a pretty privileged middle class perspective But I do believe, ardently, that Britain is better off in the EU. If we leave I feel the economy and security of our nation would suffer, and I don’t want us to reject all our ideas of co-operation and inclusiveness. We are not so important that countries will just make trade deals with us again. We are not so important that the EU will help us when we need it. Yes, the EU needs reforms, but you can’t change the system from the outside.

If you are able to vote this Thursday then I hope you make the right choice. And I hope that I won’t wake up on Friday to Brexit.

what’s your opinion on the eu referendum? in or out? (and does anyone else think ‘brexit’ sounds like a breakfast cereal, or is it just me?)

But Netball’s For Girls! // gender and school sport

I go to a co-ed school. Mostly, it’s pretty good¬†at being welcoming to all genders — we aren’t separated for any academic classes, and you aren’t particularly encouraged/discouraged into anything because of your gender.¬†This is with the obvious exception of sport.

For some reason I’ve always directed my general frustration with school at sport. I’ve never been good at team sports, so I spent most of my primary school days being told to practice shooting in the corner as the A team was coached. It’s definitely better now, but there’s still a massive gap between boys’ and girls’ sport.We do play hockey, tennis, and¬†water polo mixed, which is¬†great. But¬†continuing down the list: girls do netball, dance, fitness, and rounders. Boys do football, fives, cricket, and occasionally softball. I quite honestly cannot fathom the reasons for this…?

I often see the ‘males have a biological advantage over females’ argument put forward. I don’t actually know¬†the science of that, but¬†top male¬†athletes do¬†perform better than female athletes. Still:¬†I would like to know the strength required to play fives. Obviously women could never be physically capable of patting a ball against a wall. It couldn’t possibly be because fives is a sport almost exclusively invented and played by public schoolboys. Of course not. -_-

It’s not just girls wanted to play ‘male’ sports. I know a lot of boys who’ve expressed interest in playing netball or rounders. (Although there are probably also many¬†who would only play it as a joke, so that’s not the best argument.)¬†I detest the idea that girls must do fitness but boys are…I don’t know, already fit. Encouraging gender stereotypes doesn’t help anyone, and it certainly doesn’t teach values of equality to your pupils.

And ¬†all this discussion discounts the existence of non-binary pupils. Let’s just remember¬†that non-binary genders aren’t even recognised under UK law, fabulous! Which apparently doesn’t result in ‘any specific detriment’. Apart from the obvious detriment of¬†being forced to choose a gender that doesn’t represent you, and¬†effectively being told that¬†your¬†identity¬†isn’t as worthy as someone else’s. Not being able to access the right healthcare. Not being able to choose the correct title. Not being able to apply for jobs, courses, use public services because they require presentation of ID that only has two gender options.¬†(I found some of these in this article, where you can also find many other quotes about the Ministry of Justice’s statement and living as a non-binary person in Britain.) It also means that there’s very little awareness of non-binary identities, and schools probably aren’t going to start doing things to support pupils who don’t identify as either male or female.

Sports, like many others¬†things, is just very¬†linked¬†to the gender binary, since the divisions are based on sex and physiological advantage.¬†Maybe with the exception of roller derby, which I really recommend you check out because it altogether seems pretty cool. I don’t know how we’d solve¬†that. I probably wouldn’t want all my sports lessons mixed.¬†I know that I’d be uncomfortable around many boys, because they¬†have harassed me and¬†I really just don’t like them as people. (I guess¬†I deal with them in class, though?) A lot of young¬†people¬†—¬†and above, too —¬†are embarrassed of their bodies. They don’t want to be around the ‘opposite’ gender, and it’s difficult to just force that to happen, you know? Maybe it’s better when you’re in a sports team with fellow players who respect you, but I’m unlikely to ever be in a position. But then again: mixed teams are going well, so maybe we should just take the lessons together and be done with it.

It’s difficult. I know that I’m pointing out everything that’s wrong and not providing very good solutions. In general¬†the state of Britain and current UK politics is pretty depressing right now. Still: to be honest, teaching¬†fives to¬†girls and netball to boys wouldn’t be that difficult. Neither would legally recognising non-binary genders. *coughs*¬†But though¬†I don’t know if there’s a perfect solution to gender and sport, I hope that it’s something we continue to explore and improve.

7 British Words (That Aren’t ‘Bloody’)

British words that aren't bloody

(WordPress is really not liking me at the moment. I hope this posts. Otherwise, come over to my actual blog page and view everything from there.)

I am tired of ‘bloody’ and ‘mate’ being the only words used to identify a person with a British accent in books. I hate to tell you, but there are actually other accents in Britain and not all of us drink tea. As such, I have a compiled a* list of words used by a knowledgeable Londoner such as myself, which authors should endeavour to use in their writing.

*(not entirely serious)

1. Naff Ooh, I’m feeling quite urban here, aren’t I? Naff is a curious word which means the opposite of tasteful, but not the same as distasteful. Synonyms include gaudy, trashy, a large proportion of Camden market.

2. Term I know I’ve said this before, but THE AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM IS VERY CONFUSING. (And maybe other places too. I haven’t read enough books to make judgements, really.) In this wonderful country, we have three terms instead of, like, two semesters, or whatever they have across they have across the Atlantic. I’m not really sure.

3. Converse It took me several re-reads and a film to discover that when Hazel Grace wears Chuck Taylors, she means converse. I just call all of those shoes converse, even if they’re actually ¬£4.99 fakes from Primark.

4. Nick Something that will happen to your Liberty bag if you leave it on the bus, i.e. get stolen.

5. Train Do¬†they even have much public transport in America? Characters seem to drive or fly everywhere. I know the USA is crazy big, but I managed to take an 8 hour train from London to Aberdeen. (On which I left my pencil case and books, by the way. Never going on it again.) And, just to confuse everyone, you’ve got the Tube and the Underground and the Overground and the Eurostar and the DLR. Fun times.

6. Shops Yes, I am going shopping to the shopping centre to visit the bookshop. IT’S IN THE VERB.

7. Lessons Because school does not deserve to be classy.

Oh, and one more: “Isn’t it just chucking it down?”

Dear authors, I hope you have taken note and will do your best to include these in your next novel, undoubtedly set on this glorious island of ours. Old chaps, thank you for reading, and cheerio; for those fellow Britons of mine, are there any I have missed out?