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Author Topic: I'm a-goin' to London Town  (Read 656 times)

Sefiru

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I'm a-goin' to London Town
« on: April 20, 2017, 06:39:55 pm »
I'm going to be visiting London, England in about a month and I'm looking for some advice from our UK members. What do you think I should see/do/eat/drink?

What's overrated? What's underrated? What's of interest to pagan-ish people, that wouldn't be in the guidebooks? Do you know of any good esoteric shops?

(I'm mostly sticking to the London area, so no Stonhenge for me.)

sevensons

Re: I'm a-goin' to London Town
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2017, 07:41:52 pm »
Quote from: Sefiru;205261
I'm going to be visiting London, England in about a month and I'm looking for some advice from our UK members. What do you think I should see/do/eat/drink?

What's overrated? What's underrated? What's of interest to pagan-ish people, that wouldn't be in the guidebooks? Do you know of any good esoteric shops?

(I'm mostly sticking to the London area, so no Stonhenge for me.)

 
I have visited London a few times I suggest you use the subway as the buses are a nightmare. I wouldn't go to madam tussauds it takes hours to get in and its quite disappointing people are rammed in there. out of all the places I have been to in England York is the loveliest place and Boscastle the most magical.

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Re: I'm a-goin' to London Town
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2017, 08:01:03 pm »
Quote from: Sefiru;205261
I'm going to be visiting London, England in about a month and I'm looking for some advice from our UK members. What do you think I should see/do/eat/drink?

What's overrated? What's underrated? What's of interest to pagan-ish people, that wouldn't be in the guidebooks? Do you know of any good esoteric shops?

(I'm mostly sticking to the London area, so no Stonhenge for me.)

 
Not UK, but I went about a year and a half ago, and things I'd recommend:

First: check calendars for anything you're vaguely interested in and see if they have talks or lectures or special events you can get tickets/etc. to while you're there. Those were some of my top experiences.

- Treadwells, one of the London Pagan bookstores, has regular lectures and special events, and it's worth checking to see what there is when you'll be here, but they're also just a lovely store. (I got to hear Prudence Jones talk about Dion Fortune and the Sea Priestess and it was awesome.) Treadwell's is not very far from the British Museum. (I was staying near there, so aimed my 'stuff to do in the evening' so I didn't have to go far to get back after.)

- Related, the Petrie Museum at University College London has really awesome exhibits, but also regular talks. I went to a truly awesome one by a grad student in one of their archaeology programs on depictions of Egyptology in the Pyramids of Mars episode of classic Doctor Who (it was the 40th anniversary of that episode) with occasional comments of "And during the break, if you go and look at that case there, you can see this example in person." The museum is small, and upstairs, and not terribly well labelled, but they have really cool stuff.

- The Museum of the City of London has a really good exhibit on pre-Roman and Roman artifacts if that's a thing you're interested in. They also occasionally do special tours of other sites.

- The London Walks people do excellent tours for a reasonable price, and I did both one of their special tours on myths and legends of London (really neat, except it was freezing, which wasn't their fault), and the Tower of London one (which I know a lot more detail background about) was highly competent and well-done (and also not much more than the actual cost to get in, because they do a group discount)

- The Natural History Museum is slightly less obviously Pagan, but also really cool, and they also do behind the scenes tours of the spirit collection (aka things in bottles) with working scientists, which was one of my top experiences of that trip.

- British Museum, which is really, no, duh, but look at the not-so-famous stuff too. Their collections exhibit has amazing things, and I got to touch a flint knapped tool, which is the oldest thing I've ever touched made by humans. (but do figure out what stuff you most want to see and focus on that, because it is huge and hard on the feet.)

- The Wellcome Museum had a really fascinating exhibit on meditation (focusing on a particular kind of Tibetan Buddhist temple teaching, and then segueing into meditation applications for modern medicine) - that's gone now, but they often have really neat things about that kind of history of medicine/current medicine thing.

Other stuff I did I'm glad to talk about more: the Harry Potter tour, which takes a while to get to and get back, but was really really neat in ways I didn't anticipate, Hampton Court, which just had their 500th anniversary in 2015 and updated a lot of their tour stuff in cool ways, Greenwich (the observatory, mostly, but it's an easy trip and nice to do on the river), the British Library, and a visit to Spencer House for fairly specific-to-me reasons.

(This was my first trip to London as an adult, but I'd been several times growing up - family there - so I felt entirely like skipping some of the really obvious tourist spots not named above.)

Stuff I wish I'd done and didn't: The Imperial War Museum (the City of London Museum had not-enough-Blitz for my desires, and I didn't realise until my last day where most of that must be). The Dennis Severs House (the timing didn't quite work out ever). Tons of other small museums (of which London has dozens. Hundreds.) Will have to go back.

Other thing I wish I'd done: figured out the bus system was really not that difficult (and worked really well for several trips) much earlier in my trip. (The stops are well-marked, they're announced in written text as well as out loud, so you don't have to worry about accent, etc. If you can't do stairs or only a limited amount, they're also a lot more accessible than the Tube) You do want to probably figure out where the bus lines go before you go out for the day, depending on your data plan access while there.
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Re: I'm a-goin' to London Town
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2017, 08:30:34 pm »
Quote from: Sefiru;205261
I'm going to be visiting London, England in about a month and I'm looking for some advice from our UK members. What do you think I should see/do/eat/drink?

What's overrated? What's underrated? What's of interest to pagan-ish people, that wouldn't be in the guidebooks? Do you know of any good esoteric shops?

(I'm mostly sticking to the London area, so no Stonhenge for me.)

 
I suppose I really shouldn't comment, as my one and only trip to London was for five days...and that was 27 years ago. Still, where angels fear to tread is my duly recognized stomping ground, so....

I was getting off of a tour on an oil tanker and flying back to the States. The company paid my rail ticket from the shipyard in Falmouth (spectacularly beautiful area in Cornwall [SW England], BTW, if you or anyone else has extra time) to Paddington station and airfare from there to Houston. I had no credit card, but I drew US$200 in cash from the captain, thinking that certainly I could cash a paycheck at a Chase office in London (I was a Chase customer in the US). I turned out to be wrong, but that's another story....

The first thing I did upon arrival at Paddington was investigate to see if I could afford to stay. I stopped at the Mitre House Hotel, which is a very nice establishment and still in business...you might check them out. Their room rates were much too high for my limited budget, but as I was turning to go they mentioned that, at the time, they also owned the Raffles hotel a block or so away. They could offer me a room there for £8 a night. I accepted, on the condition that I was able to change my (originally) same-day flight. I made my way to Gatwick by tube and train and found that I was able to make an even exchange from my scheduled British Airways flight via Chicago to a Continental nonstop to Houston five days later.

The Raffles turned out to be the hotel equivalent of the crazy uncle locked in the garret that nobody talks about. Walk-up above a dingy storefront, shared bathroom down the hall, and small enough that I could touch the two opposite walls at the same time. (Fortunately, the room was somewhat longer...about 10' by 6'.) Still, the sheets were clean and the bed was adequate; for the price I did not complain. [Note: At the time, Sussex Gardens had a reputation as a haven for modest and affordable hotels. It still may. Worth investigating, even if you don't stay at the Mitre House.]

It was only after I had committed to the five-day stay and paid for the room in advance that I found that the London office of Chase would not cash my paycheck; no way, no how. So the US$200 had to last me for the week, room and board. No sightseeing tours or major museum admissions; I bought a tube day pass after rush hour (when the price went down) every morning and used that to get around. Lunch and dinner were McDonald's or the local fish n' chips stand. I don't know how I would have made it for the week had not the Mitre House offered guests (including, fortunately, Raffles guests) a full hot breakfast every morning for £1. I hope I did not raise too many eyebrows by not tipping....

There is (was!) a lot that you can see in London by shoe leather and tube. The Regent's Canal is a very pleasant and walkable outing. Beeker Street is worth going to just to say you've been there. I did indulge in an admission to the Tower of London and a chance to view the Crown Jewels; very much worth the effort. I also made a side trip (by rail) to Rochester in Kent; the ship had made a port call at the nearby Kingsnorth power station before proceeding to the yards in Falmouth for an overhaul and I wanted to return for more of "the garden spot of England". Rochester Cathedral and the ruins of the local castle also turned out to be worth the price of admission. I had just enough left from my $200 to make a phone call home once I arrived at the airport in Houston....

So I hope that you have a much more generous budget than I did in 1990, but I still enjoyed the visit and would like to repeat it again...with a high-limit credit card and hopefully with some friendly company!

Good luck in Merrie Olde England....
--------Eric H. Bowen
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ehbowen

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Re: I'm a-goin' to London Town
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2017, 09:38:26 pm »
Quote from: ehbowen;205268
They could offer me a room there for £8 a night.

 
Going strictly by memory always getscha...believe it or not, I still have my room receipt from the Mitre House. The room rate for the Raffles (room 9) was actually £15 a night, plus a key deposit, for the four nights of May 7-11, 1990. IIRC, the key deposit paid my fare to Gatwick Airport for my flight back.

I do apologize for my earlier lack of accuracy...;)
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Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

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Re: I'm a-goin' to London Town
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2017, 06:06:48 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;205265

- Treadwells, one of the London Pagan bookstores, has regular lectures and special events, and it's worth checking to see what there is when you'll be here, but they're also just a lovely store. (I got to hear Prudence Jones talk about Dion Fortune and the Sea Priestess and it was awesome.) Treadwell's is not very far from the British Museum. (I was staying near there, so aimed my 'stuff to do in the evening' so I didn't have to go far to get back after.)


I'm staying in that area also, so I'll be sure to check it out! I hear there is a ginormous Waterstone's in Picadilly which is already on my list.

The Petrie museum sounds like exactly the thing I'm interested in. Museum of London is on my list; I'll probably give most of the war-related stuff a pass, though.

Quote

Other thing I wish I'd done: figured out the bus system was really not that difficult (and worked really well for several trips) much earlier in my trip. (The stops are well-marked, they're announced in written text as well as out loud, so you don't have to worry about accent, etc. If you can't do stairs or only a limited amount, they're also a lot more accessible than the Tube) You do want to probably figure out where the bus lines go before you go out for the day, depending on your data plan access while there.


Fortunately I do not have any mobility issues (and I do have good shoes). One thing I will have to find out is if there is a grocery store near my hotel; I get tired of restaurant food really fast.

Dynes Hysbys

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Re: I'm a-goin' to London Town
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2017, 07:06:40 pm »
Quote from: Sefiru;205261
I'm going to be visiting London, England in about a month and I'm looking for some advice from our UK members. What do you think I should see/do/eat/drink?

What's overrated? What's underrated? What's of interest to pagan-ish people, that wouldn't be in the guidebooks? Do you know of any good esoteric shops?

(I'm mostly sticking to the London area, so no Stonhenge for me.)


I visit London occasionally when I have to! As well as Treadwells  you could seek out Atlantis in Museum St.  A lovely bookshop.    Waterstone's is just Waterstone's.... I have yet to find a decent esoteric shop although either Treadwells or Atlantis ( I can't remember which!) has a section.

I much prefer the tube to the buses- the traffic in London is dreadful and they can be slow. The tube is quick and efficient and some of the old Victorian stations are worth seeing in themselves.

London is chock full of the weird and wonderful - what interests you? Creepy old dental and hospital museums? Old graveyards? Knight's Templar churches? Crypts?

If you're into Gothic clothing Camden market is great.

http://www.fantompowa.net/Flame/pagan_london.htm  gives a guide to some of what lies below modern London but not much survives in the present day.

I agree with skipping Madame Tussuards - huge queues.

The London Eye will give you some lovely views of the city.

If you are prepared to venture out a little, the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford  (about 70 minutes by train) is oh so worth it. Much less commercial than Boscastle, it has some amazing collections of folk magic and witchcraft artefacts (if you do go make sure to look in the drawers below the displays) so if wax poppets and animal hearts stuffed with pins are your sort of thing then you'll love it. The collection is worldwide so folk magic and cultural artefacts from a wide variety of cultures is represented.

Wherever you go in London - look up! The architecture is amazing but most people never see it :)

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Re: I'm a-goin' to London Town
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2017, 07:52:46 pm »
Quote from: Sefiru;205305

The Petrie museum sounds like exactly the thing I'm interested in. Museum of London is on my list; I'll probably give most of the war-related stuff a pass, though.


I have odd interests! (And as I said, most of the war related stuff is not actually there.) They do docent-led free (I think) tours of different sections at different times, too, possibly also worth doing.)

Quote

Fortunately I do not have any mobility issues (and I do have good shoes).


The thing I was mostly desperately glad to find buses for was there were several times when it was a much easier route than the Tube (i.e. it would have been a change and a walk on the Tube and a single bus ride on the bus) But also stairs. (I'm fine with down, my lungs complain about more than a flight of up very reliably, especially in city air quality.)

If you're going along the river, I recommend the Thames river buses at least once: they also take Oyster cards, they're a little more expensive, but the view is amazing.

Quote
One thing I will have to find out is if there is a grocery store near my hotel; I get tired of restaurant food really fast.

 
Ways in which this is easy: most high streets (i.e. anywhere there's likely to be a Tube stop probably has one going in at least one direction from the stop) is likely to have a couple of options for this.

The one near the station I was using all the time was the M&S Simply Food, which had a range of pre-prepped sandwiches (also lots of other options in nearby buy-and-take places) but also a range of deli type food (salads, cheese, etc.) ready to eat, and some general grocery stuff (though how useful that will be will depend on what you can store.) I got dinner there several times and brought it back to my room.

If you haven't tried British candies or drink flavours, I recommend trying a couple that sound interesting. (I keep forgetting to pick up elderflower stuff here, for example, where I can get it but have to think about tracking it down, and it is tasty!)

For other food, I found doing a search on Yelp and Google Maps and a couple of other sources before I went and identifying a couple of places near any place I was likely to be  for dinner that were a) in my budget and b) different kinds of food helped a lot.

That was so I didn't have to wade through choices when I was already tired and dealing with lots of unfamiliar navigation at the end of the day. Didn't eat at all of them, but it made the "Ok, I want something easy, near here, that's probably X" chain of thought much easier and doing the research in advance also helped me go "Ok, here's what the common chains are and the kind of thing they do." so that when I was out during the day, it was easier to figure out quick lunches or whatever.
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Re: I'm a-goin' to London Town
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2017, 03:32:20 am »
Quote from: Sefiru;205261
I'm looking for some advice from our UK members. What do you think I should see/do/eat/drink?


It's possible to visit the Houses of Parliament if this is something which interests you http://www.parliament.uk/visiting/visiting-and-tours/tours-of-parliament/
 
Quote from: Jenett;205310
If you haven't tried British candies or drink flavours, I recommend trying a couple that sound interesting.


I don't know if it's specifically British tbh, but I recently tried the most delightful Cucumber and Mint Presse, which I found in a Sainsburys supermarket (in the soft drinks aisle, obviously).  I had it by itself, but it said on the label that it goes nicely as a mixer with Pimms (for those who drink alcohol).

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Re: I'm a-goin' to London Town
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2017, 07:11:49 pm »
Quote from: Dynes Hysbys;205307

London is chock full of the weird and wonderful - what interests you? Creepy old dental and hospital museums? Old graveyards? Knight's Templar churches? Crypts?


Antiquities, secret societies, "lifestyle history" stuff (historical dress, food, games, music etc). In terms of shopping, I will probably come home with more crockery than is wise.

Quote

I agree with skipping Madame Tussuards - huge queues.


Also, creepy as heck. I wasn't intending to go.

Quote

If you are prepared to venture out a little, the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford  (about 70 minutes by train) is oh so worth it.


Hmm. Either this, or Canterbury, because I'm a bit of a Chaucer nut.

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Re: I'm a-goin' to London Town
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2017, 07:16:35 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;205310

The one near the station I was using all the time was the M&S Simply Food, which had a range of pre-prepped sandwiches (also lots of other options in nearby buy-and-take places) but also a range of deli type food (salads, cheese, etc.) ready to eat, and some general grocery stuff (though how useful that will be will depend on what you can store.) I got dinner there several times and brought it back to my room.


Duly noted!

Quote
That was so I didn't have to wade through choices when I was already tired and dealing with lots of unfamiliar navigation at the end of the day. Didn't eat at all of them, but it made the "Ok, I want something easy, near here, that's probably X" chain of thought much easier and doing the research in advance also helped me go "Ok, here's what the common chains are and the kind of thing they do." so that when I was out during the day, it was easier to figure out quick lunches or whatever.


I've developed the strategy of eating at museum cafes and cafeterias. It's handy, usually not too expensive and the quality is usually decent. Otherwise, I end up walking down a street of restaurants, boggling at the posted menu prices, and going to Subway.

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Re: I'm a-goin' to London Town
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2017, 07:30:03 pm »
Quote from: Sefiru;205472

I've developed the strategy of eating at museum cafes and cafeterias. It's handy, usually not too expensive and the quality is usually decent. Otherwise, I end up walking down a street of restaurants, boggling at the posted menu prices, and going to Subway.

 
That is also my habit, but sometimes one is between museums.

(I gather the Wellcome Museum cafe is especially good - I kept not being near there at mealtimes - and I really liked the one at Hampton Court, which includes appropriate era recipe foods.)
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Re: I'm a-goin' to London Town
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2017, 06:22:54 am »
Quote from: Sefiru;205471
Antiquities, secret societies, "lifestyle history" stuff (historical dress, food, games, music etc). In terms of shopping, I will probably come home with more crockery than is wise.

 
You might find the Geffreye Museum interesting, it's a beautiful Georgian (I think) building (former alms house, I think) with kind of... social history of London from 1600 onward through the lens of furniture/The Home, I suppose?? http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/

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Re: I'm a-goin' to London Town
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2017, 06:53:43 pm »
I'm going to be visiting London, England in about a month


...which should have been a month ago now, so: How was it?
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

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Re: I'm a-goin' to London Town
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2017, 07:27:51 pm »
...which should have been a month ago now, so: How was it?

Awesome!

Though I am slightly creeped out that I narrowly missed 2 terrorist attacks (arrived the day after Manchester, left the day before the London Bridge one) though that does explain why there was such a long line at passport control  :P

I successfully navigated the Tube and visited many many museums, came home with a stack of books and an antique engraving. I found a brand of elderflower soda that I couldn't get enough of. Why don't we have that flavor over here?

I had a cream tea at Kensington Palace and an english robin landed on my table  ;D also some pigeons  :-\ I did not meet any royalty that I know of.

Of course I went to the Tower of London and saw the crown jewels. It was kind of a strange feeling to realize that they are not just a lot of bling, but are actual ritual tools still in use in royal ceremonies (I looked for a book on the topic, but no luck). Also the Tower ravens are awesome.

Actually, I had a lot of "hey, I've seen this in books" moments in the various museums, especially the National Gallery since I studied Art History. I even saw a piece that I painted a copy of in one class, which I never expected to be on exhibition. Also spent a lot of time just gawping at the Sutton Hoo treasures; photographs don't do the workmanship justice.

I was disappointed by Harrods though; my mom was there in the 70s and described what it was like then, with things like a huge fabric department. Now it's all ridiculous ultra-rich stuff like Gucci baby clothes and L350 box of chocolates (not a big box either). And their toy department had no board games, WTF?

In short I had a great time and now have plenty of fodder for my Harry Potter fanfics.

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* Please Donate!

The Cauldron's server is expensive and requires monthly payments. Please become a Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor if you can. Donations are needed every month. Without member support, we can't afford the server.

* In Memoriam

Chavi (2006)
Elspeth (2010)
Marilyn (2013)

* Cauldron Staff

Co-Hosts:
LyricFox & Randall

Message Board Staff
Board Coordinator:
Sunflower

Assistant Board Coordinator:
Aster Breo

Board Staff:
Allaya, Chatelaine, Emma-Eldritch, HarpingHawke, Jenett, Morag, rocquelaire, Sefiru, Tana

CauldronMUX Chat Staff
Chief MUX Wizard:
Darkhawk

Reserve Staff:
Aisling, Bob, Catja, Fausta, Sperran, Steve

Cauldron Council:
Everfool, Jubes, Kelly, Koi, Melamphoros, Ocelot, Phouka, Sashapablo, Star

Cauldron Assistants
[Non-Staff Positions]

Site Assistants
[Non-Staff Positions]
Webmaster:
Randall