Olympia Exhibition Hall
If you keep your eyes open, you may find notices advertising exhibitions and trade shows. One of the best known venues is Olympia, near South Kensington. The building is large and has disabled access, toilets in various places, and room for plenty of exhibits.
When I was in London in February 2009 I decided to attend the genealogical fair, Who Do You Think You Are. There were hundreds of stands and tables representing the major genealogical companies, family history societies, as well as lectures on topics fro The British in India to DNA.
The fair lasted 3 days. Admission was £20, though there had been a promotion of 2 tickets for the price of one that I missed. Some of the stands offered freebies, staff prepared to try and answer queries, It was well worth attending. To get there take the Underground to High Street Kensington, then change to the branch line to Olympia. The Olympia building is ahead of you, but the entrance may be in the parallel street.
The Royal Guards...
This is a photo of the Royal Guards marching down to Buckingham Palace (taken in 2000)...we just happened to come across them as we were leaving the palace, we had no idea that they were on their way or perhaps we would have waited to see them there.
We also saw the Royal Guards on our trip in 2005 while we were watching nthe Changing of the Guards.
Being such a venerable city with such a great and varied history, London is also awash with venerable pubs with great and varied histories as well…
The Pub is a quintessential British institution and really to understand the psyche of our nation, you really must spend some time in several while you are visiting to experience one of the nation’s favourite pastimes and sample some of the very best alcoholic drinks that the UK has to offer, from delicious Ales to Scotland’s ‘Water of Life’…
Some of these pubs are older than the nations of most of the world (including many that are far older than the USA, such as The Prospect of Whitby in Wapping (1520) and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet St. (c.1666) for example) and have been frequented by many of the UK’s most famous people down the ages.
They can be a fascinating attraction in their own right as history explodes from their centuries old walls. In this vein, check out the names of the pubs you visit, if they are an old pub, chances are there is a fascinating history behind that which the pub is named after - such as the story behind the 'Ship & Shovell' as described in my tip... :-)
Some of the best pubs that I can recommend include the two mentioned above, as well as: The Cittie of York, Holborn; The Dickens Inn, St. Katherine’s Dock; The George Inn, London Bridge; The Cutty Sark, Greenwich and The Princess Louise, Holborn to name a few…
In the ‘Restaurants Tips’ I will be updating my London Pubs from time to time as I reacquaint myself with these wonderful places… As well as the old and atmospheric pubs which are my favourites, there are also a number of pub chains that are worthy of mention...
Perhaps the most important in my mind are the JD Wetherspoons chain which help dispel the myth of 'expensive London' by offering fullsome meals for two for only £5.95 and selling drinks such as bottles of Becks often as cheaply as £1.09. That many of them are in fantastic locations such as old cinemas, theatres or music venues make them a definite place to stretch your money further! Best of all in the centre of London, you're never likely to be more than a few hundred yards from the nearest one!
Other worthwhile pub/bar chains include:
'All Bar One' and 'Slug and Lettuce', not much to tell these apart, both do excellent food in convivial surroundings, though at a price.
I also like 'Henry's' bars as well, which although cavernous have a great atmosphere...
'Firkin' Pubs, which brew their beers on the premises, including the infamous 'Dogbolter'.
'Hogshead' and 'Hobgoblin' pubs are pretty good too...
'Pitcher & Piano' are quite upmarket and similar to All Bar One and Slug & Lettuce, though they seem to be real pick up joints...
There are also the 'Yate's' chain, but frankly I'm mentioning these as a warning to stay clear as they appear tacky in the extreme - cheap though...
That should give you a few pointers, but please make sure you visit at least one, because they are a real British Cultural Experience...! :-)
The Millenium Bridge (3)
During its opening weekend in June 2000, it became apparent that the structure was swaying beneath the feet of the first 150,000 to use the bridge. The crossing was closed to investigate the ’wobble’. The problem was caused by pedestrians unconsciously adjusting their pace to walk in step with the minute vibrations given off by a footbridge when it is used by a large number of people. When the number of pedestrians reaches a critical point, the structure will suddenly, and without warning, start to sway.
The bridge was fitted with a passive dampening system, rather like car shock absorbers, to allow smooth passage across the river without affecting the stunning visual impact of the bridge
Want to meet the locals? Go to the pub
As everywhere else in the British Isles, the pub is the social meeting place in London. People have a chat, a beer or two (or 10 or 20), catch up with friends, agree deals, do everything in the pub. For some of them, it is a second home, for others it is their first. You don't have to drink alcohol but you are fully expected to take part in whatever discussion is going on there. Beware, it might be about football, especailly is there is a screen there.
Now a real pub must be warm, have comfy sofas and a chimney (even a gas one will do). You must be able to find real ale and talk to strangers without them being offended. If the place where you are doesn't have all this, it is not a real pub, just a trendy bar.
So, for a slice of genuine London life, head for the nearest local pub.