Marie at Drizzle and Hurricane Books is hosting a brand new, amazing sounding, you-don’t-want-to-miss-out-on feature; Souvenirs From Across the World. It’s a chance for people from all around the world to share their culture, their hometown, their country, and connect with other bloggers.
This week is all about getting to know everyone’s countries, already plenty of people have posted from their hometowns and now I’m posting from England.
There’s still time to sign up, if this sounds like something you’re interested in. There’s plenty of information about the feature itself here, and you can check out Marie’s post on her hometown here. Subscriptions close on the 25th of June so seriously get going because this sounds like an amazing features, hopefully one we will see more of, and I am so excited to be taking part.
I have travelled a lot in recent years, with plans to travel more in the near future; I’ve stayed as close to home as Scotland in March and gone as far as Cancun back last August. When it comes to England itself I haven’t seen much of the country I’ve lived my whole life in; my home is Southend and it has been my whole life, London has quickly become my home away from home, and I spent three years in Brighton while at University there. Other than that there is still the whole of England for me to explore when the opportunity presents itself.
First, some background on England. It’s a small country, part of the UK along with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We’re known for our fish and chips, the royal family, and tea, but there’s so much more to us than just that. However if you do come to England, seriously, get some fish and chips at some point.
I’ve lived in Southend-on-Sea my entire life and honestly can’t imagine living anywhere else. It’s a small seaside town, although technically not actually on the sea. Southend actually sits on the mouth of the Thames Estuary so you can see Kent on the other side of the water, I guess Southend-on-the-Thames-Estuary didn’t have the same ring to it as Southend-on-Sea.
When it’s the summer and the sun is out we get rammed with tourists and happy families down on the beach; eating ice cream and fish and chips, spending money in the arcades, screaming on the rides at Peter Pan’s, wandering down the longest pier in the world (it’s caught fire at least twice though so I’d visit before someone proves the adage that these things come in threes). I’ve spent many a day with my friends down on the beach; eating the fresh doughnuts and walking out towards Kent when the sea’s out.
Just a short travel away there are more coastal towns which are worth a visit; one such is Leigh, home to Old Leigh and Hadleigh Castle which are both well worth going to when the sun is shining.
One of my favourite things about Southend is that, just a short train ride away, you can find yourself in the centre of London.
London has quickly become my home away from home. I spent a lot of my free time there and it’s one of my favourite places to be because there is always something going on. It’s the city that never sleeps; everywhere you turn there’s something new to see, something exciting to do, something amazing to discover.
If shopping is your thing then we have Oxford Street, stretching from Tottenham Court Road all the way to Marble Arch, with all the high street flagship stores and always plenty of people. It’s the place to go for shopping and there are plenty of hidden treasures down some of the side streets if you wander far enough; like St. Christopher’s Place, full of bars, cafes and restaurants it’s at the same time so close to the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street but it feels so far away.
Then there are the markets. Stand to one side and sample some of the food they have to offer. If you have the time spend an hour losing yourself inside the maze that is Camden Lock Market. I’ve done it myself, spent hours wandering around visiting stalls I’ve never seen before or since. There are plenty of markets all over London all offering something different; Maltby Street Market, Portobello Road, Brick Lane, Covent Garden, Southbank, all of them offer something different so make sure you check out what they’re known for before going. If you’re in London though I’d recommend checking out at least one or two of the markets.
Then there are the tourist attractions themselves which, although crammed with tourists especially in the summer, are still well worth the visit. The Tower of London is a must, full of England’s history and close to the Thames it’s a brilliant photo spot, London Zoo is a great day out if the weather is nice and you have the time to spare, the Reptile House is where they filmed a certain scene from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The London Dungeons shows a more gruesome side to history but the actors there and the stories they perform make that history come alive. There’s Leicester and Trafalgar Square, Madame Tussaud’s, the London Eye. There are plenty of museums to go to if that’s more your thing; the V&A, the Tate Collective, Somerset House, the National Museums of History and Science.
Then at night the city comes alive. Take in a Broadway show or have a few drinks in one of the many bars in and around London. Whether it’s the local pub or a more eclectic one there’s always an amazing experience to be had.
I could take for days and days about all the things there is to see and do in London, instead I will offer two pieces of advice for anyone visiting London:
- One; walk as much as you can. Sure you can take the tube, it’s convenient, cheap and fast. However why would you want to be stuck underground when you can get around on foot just as fast and see an array of sights while you’re at it. Walk from Piccadilly Circus, to Covent Garden, to Neal’s Yard and see what else you can discover along the way.
- Second; get lost in the city. Start in the middle of Oxford Street, or the edge of Southbank and take the side paths seeing what you discover. There’s always something amazing to see in London and you’ll be surprised what you discover if you give it a chance.
None of these photos belong to me, with the exception of the Tower of London ones, all were found through Google images.