Dubai is great, but during the summer you might need a break. As the Dubai temperatures were still soaring in August, I found that break in London (my second favourite place after home :-D). If you are visiting the Old Smoke you will find umpteen lists on the web that will advice you to check out the top destinations in London, eat at the best places, and do the most exciting things that a tourist should do whilst in the bustling city. Well I followed most of the lists with few of my own additions during my last trip there and vouch for them all especially the street art walk in East London. But this time my trip was more of a homely affair than a touristy extravaganza, so my list is of the things you can experience in London when not in a rush to tick all the boxes on that itinerary.
- Feel the chill on the run – I was lucky enough to be welcomed by a lovely warm weather in London, but the evenings had a tingling chill. Away from the Dubai heat I thought of making the most of the outdoors and jumped into my running shoes. I never knew that running around Carshalton can be such an invigorating experience. With a cold tip of the nose and flushed cheeks, my mind opened up to senses which seemed to have been dormant for a while. Surrounded by nature, I let my shoes take me to every nook behind the lush greens and would advice any lost soul to go find themselves while running around this beautiful city.
- Add to your collection of pine cones and feathers – I came back from many of these runs with pockets full of pine cones and exotic feathers. Pine cones always remind me of my childhood, a good part of which was spent in collecting and painting pine cones back in Dehradun. Well, they do make really good decorations on my book shelf :-). And I can never forget those sultry afternoons spent looking for the most unique bird feathers for the summer school projects, and on finding a few, running to my grandmother to know which bird it belonged to. This trip to London refreshed these long forgotten memories and brought back some simple childhood pleasures.
- Go berry picking in the neighbourhood – Each day in London brings a new surprise with it. Whether you are on that run (one I just wrote about) or just visiting one of the parks, you are sure to come across plenty of berry bushes. This was a first for me, the experience of plucking a berry straight from the bush and popping it in my mouth, feeling the splash of juices swirling around my taste buds. Yum! But just be careful you know what you are popping in your mouth, don’t experiment with the poisonous ones 😛
- Bite an ice lolly to experience an epic brain freeze – Raise your hands, who all dream about those cute ice cream trucks filled with the delicacies from some icy, sugary, creamy wonderland? Well, I do! And the best part about them is that they have my favourite flavours of ice lollies. I had a hard time choosing between the classic orange and the crazy cola, but finally settled for the Cola and then dug my teeth straight into the icy bar. Brrrrrhhhhh… Brain Freeze!
- Think of a story plot while sipping cider at a pub – The pub culture in London is centuries old and always makes me think of all my favourite writers and literary figures who must have come up with story plots that made history whilst sitting in such pubs. The whole pub culture brings out the romantic in me, so sitting alone or with some good company, sipping a glass of cider brought some interesting story ideas in my head. Hope I jot them down someday… but if you want to be transported back to those romantic centuries then this is something you have to experience.
- Feed the ducks and swans – With the breathtakingly beautiful commons and parks that London has, you will definitely come across a lake or a pond with a variety of duck species and elegant swans. Just sit around and watch them glide and if possible break some bread to share. Trust me, it’s therapeutic.
- Get some grass stains on your jeans – In London grass is greener on either side. So sit on it, roll on it, lie around till you feel absolutely one with Mother Earth. Read a book, stare at the sky, observe passersby, discover new species of bugs, blow on dandelions, or just look through your phone’s lens… there is so much you can do on that grass till you stain your jeans 🙂
- Get to know the flowers – The flowers in London speak to you in the gentlest of ways, or maybe I just day dream too much. But the hues make for a perfect picture and the blooming buds always bring a smile to your face. So stop by and smell some flowers.
- Start the day with some English breakfast ( even Eggs Benedict can get you perky) – When in the English capital you have to start the day with a hearty English breakfast. Or just team up some equally scrumptious eggs benedict with a steaming hot chocolate and you will be in high spirits till your next breakfast.
- Make some furry friends – Yes, I know that most of us here in Dubai have colonies of adorable furry feline friends. But as a personal policy I expand my network of furry friends wherever I go. One can never have too many of them, and on a solo trip one definitely needs some good company right? Look who I met during this expedition 🙂 (I do advice you to take permission from owners before getting too chummy)
So, that’s my list of life enriching experiences that I thoroughly enjoyed. Next summer if you happen to visit this pretty place, do try out some. Till then enjoy the weather in Dubai, because winter is coming!