take a walk on a sunny...
take a walk on a sunny afternoon. The best route is from the Tottenham Court Road end of Oxford St., down through Soho, to Piccadilly Circus, through St. James Park to Victoria. It's quite long but you will see all of London : shopping, sleaze, urban hell and greenery, wealth and poverty, beauty and ugliness. Sitting outside a pub by the river. Just watch the world go by.
Out and about in Soho
For a lively walk in the heart of London, you can’t do any better than head for Soho! Much of its dynamism results from the fact that it is probably the most culturally diverse corner of this very diverse city. Over the years French, Germans, Italians, Russian and Polish Jews, Swiss, Greeks and Chinese have been attracted to settle in this area, and all of them have left their mark on it. If you want to experience cosmopolitan London at its most vibrant, and don't have a problem with crowds, this is the place for you!
To me there are three distinct Sohos, each of which overlap to some extent. Firstly, there is Chinatown, largely focused on the southern part of this district. The heart of this part is Gerrard Street, with its Chinese style arches at each end and a plethora of Chinese restaurants and supermarkets selling exotic ingredients along its length. While the restaurants are of mixed quality (the presence of local Chinese families eating there is your best clue in a rapidly changing environment), this is the place to come for the quintessential Chinatown night out. Always busy, this part of Soho reaches a peak of excitement in February each year when Chinese New Year is celebrated by local Chinese, other Londoners and visitors to the city with a parade and fireworks.
Secondly, what you might call “sleazy Soho”. The district was once famous as the centre of London's vice industry, and although it has been very much cleaned up by the authorities remnants cling on in the sex shops and “men only” clubs. These are scattered throughout the area, with perhaps a concentration on and around Wardour Street, but although you may find them distasteful you shouldn’t feel threatened by their presence in any way – although if you’re travelling with children you could find that they provoke one or two questions you’d rather not have to answer.
Thirdly, the most animated part of the district in my view, gay Soho, centred on Old Compton Street and its off-shoots such as Greek and Frith Streets. Soho has always been the most tolerant part of London and is now the heart of the capital's vibrant gay scene. This will be apparent to anyone walking these streets, but should not deter straight visitors from spending time here; this is a very inclusive community and I know from my own experience that pubs and bars are likely to welcome all comers equally. This is also the heart of the Italian part of Soho, with the wonderful institution that is Bar Italia and many other great coffee shops besides. Sit at a pavement café with a cappuccino and watch the world go by – a people-watcher’s paradise! We came here to watch the World Cup Final in 2006 and when Italy won everyone spilled out onto the streets to party – see photos 2 & 3. As Chris is part-Italian, he was very happy to join in the celebrations :)
in Richmond, Surrey, is both a beautiful park and an important botanical research centre. There's a vast expanse of lawn and formal gardens and two soaring Victorian conservatories - the Palm House and the Temperate House - which are home to exotic plant life. Hampstead Heath is one of the few places in London where you can actually forget that you're in the middle of an 800-sq-mile (1300 sq km) city. There are woods, meadows, hills and bathing ponds and, most importantly of all, lots of space.
Call Home from Here
Red Telephone boxes used to be a common site in the UK but have been replaced by grey British Telecom boxes, fortunately there are still some around. Old London has kept the most Red Boxes. Keep your eyes peeled they still do exist, Edinburgh still has some as does Pennan near Fraserburgh which has a rather famous one.
My tip: 'Luggage with Wheels', is the only way to go and a back-pack.!
Heathrow airport is one of the busiest airport in London. Pack lite" as I over packed and just didn't need all the clothes. we went in December 2003 for 3 weeks and the weather just doesn't get as cold and it does in Ontario, Canada. It is frosty but pretty mild, we never needed winter boots. And their grass stays GREEN through the winter.
Oh ya, if you ever need anything, check out the Charity Shops, much like our Value Village stores. Everything in the charity shops are British items so check the labels out and get a great deal! I did!!! They have all that you need over there. Just think about an adaptor if you are looking to curl or straighten your hair. Most hotels, carry hairdryers, not sure about B&B's. Bring extra batteries and films...lots to take, I used 7 rolls of film in 3 weeks. If digital, bring an extra memory card!!