Easter Aches

London

I hate Easter. It’s the vacation I never take, and this year it’s trebly bad because it heralds an unprecedented getaway from London that encompasses four free holidays, giving many people a whole two weeks off at Spring. Not me, though, as my partner is working, which means I will be too. Plus, as I work and live in the same place, I start to get a little stir-crazy around now. I could try driving somewhere for the day, but travel services in Britain traditionally collapse over the Easter break.

To make up for it, I’m drawing up a shortlist of things to do and see in the capital that one will hopefully be able to manage without having to climb over groups of Chinese tourists taking pictures of telephone boxes.

1. Start with breakfast at The Breakfast Club, Camden Passage (beware, Camden Passage is not in Camden), where it’s worth queuing for the pancakes.

2. Hit a museum. London is the museum capital of the world, with many specialising in a single subject like fans, medicine, toys, Freud, Dickens, ships, cartoons, transport, clowns, foundlings, schools, canals, warfare, prisons, London and a million other things.

3. Visit Lincoln’s Inn Fields – the great inns of court look forbidding and private, but they’re not – anyone can go in. Here you’ll find the settings for ‘Bleak House’ and ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (although I hesitate to mention them in the same breath), fountains, squares, shaded walks and the beautiful Inner Temple Church.

4. Do lunch at the Wolseley. This former Piccadilly car showroom is very English and always cool in summer, and you don’t have to book.

5. Matinee! You know it will be raining by now, no matter how hot it’s supposed to be. Avoid the costly tat in the West End and aim for pub fringe shows. Full listing in Time Out.

6. Drink at the Commercial Tavern, Shoreditch (hip), Molly Mogg’s, Charing X Rd (drag), the Windsor Castle, off Edgware Rd (bizarre)

7. Walk through Regent’s Park Inner Circle – the park for those in the know, flowers, fountains and fewer people.

8. Go for a Lebanese meal and puff a surprisingly non-toxic rose petal-scented hookah pipe.

9. Want to see something really strange? There are lots of small movie clubs springing up around town, showing everything from seventies soft-core kitsch to classics and singalongs.

4 comments on “Easter Aches”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    What a lovely day! I didn’t know the Inns of Court were public so that’s another fact to file away in case I get another chance to be a TOURIST in London. I didn’t take a picture of a telephone box, but I did of the one and only police box I saw (in Glasgow). Are we not supposed to visit London unless we have business there?

  2. Alan says:

    Helen – it is funny. The same old story – the only time I get to see some of this old city is when showing visitors around.

    I have a list of places to see, some of which may make even Chris twitch an eyebrow, but it’s time, always time.

    And, in some places, rather specialised equipment.

  3. Gretta says:

    Helen, for me the difference is between ‘tourists’ and ‘visitors’. Tourists always make me think of being loud, ignorant and thinking everything has a price tag, whereas visitors tend to be fairly respectful of the locals and genuinely interested in their surroundings. You sound like a visitor to me.

  4. Helen Martin says:

    Thank-you, Gretta, that’s kind. Perhaps the problem is tours – walking or bus – groups of people focused solely on what their itinerary is offering next, the “Kodak moment”. If you’re only going to be in a place once and you want to be able to tell your friends, “I saw that” then Kodak moments are what you’re after. I have friends just back from a trip to Peru, the Galapagos, etc. and the wife tells me she has just downloaded the more than 2000 pictures they took.

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