'Kas and I are back in London for another home swap. We love London and its fabulous galleries and buildings and parks, and being able to spend two whole weeks here is bliss. Thanks to home swapping we often get to know a new area, which makes it a whole new adventure every time. It's July, so it's extra good to head out to the more peaceful suburbs at the end of the day and relax in a cool garden This time we're in Tooting, staying in Sandra and Paul's house. We've been chatting via email for years and at last we've been able to coordinate an exchange (Photo below: Kas).
Our programme has been full and fabulous, my diary looks almost like a tour recommendation for London! Maybe someone could use an idea or two, so here's what we're doing:
- Prom concerts at the Albert Hall. This season of concerts is designed to appeal to all tastes and it's all very informal. Enjoy a day of sightseeing, then go straight to the concert (even in shorts!) and rest your tired legs. The atmosphere is incredibly relaxed and welcoming.
- a whole day at the Victoria and Albert Museum, arguably the greatest collection of design and creativity in the world. They know it's quite overwhelming, so they do wonderful free tours!
- One Million Year of the Human Story at the Natural History Museum. Even if you don't feel like paying a modest price for a special exhibition, this museum is good for hours of fascination and kids love it too.
- Ancient Lives exhibition at the British Museum. Again, no exhibition required - just wander in and enjoy. The shop in the BM is particularly classy!
- and yet another incredible exhibition at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Lots for the whole family in the centre, the Cutty Sark, the Observatory and the international date line (at last I've got a photo of myself straddling that zero meridian!) and plenty more.
- a river boat trip to Greenwich and back. So much nicer than the train! And with a bit of luck you get a fun and informative commentary as well.
- shopping, of course! Our credit cards are feeling the strain...
- an ice cream in St James' Park, an ice cream in Hyde Park, an ice cream in Green Park... The weather this year makes this essential! Recuperative snoozes under the wonderful old trees too.
- By the way, every museum in London is in a fabulous building, each worth exploring in its own right. Heaven for the architecturally interested!
At the end of the day we get home quite shattered, but then we can relax in lovely comfortable garden armchairs (Photo: Bea in Sandra's garden), breathing in sunny green garden space; stretch out on the huge sofas and watch telly; drink coffee from gorgeous Kew Gardens mugs, and sleep in a very comfortable bed.
Are we really in London? Our street in Tooting is so quiet, the tourist filled city seems like another planet. Sandra and Paul love Tooting and now we know why. The Common just round the corner is wonderful. We spent a morning there and hope it won't be the last. These were our impressions:
- The doggy gathering at the cafe, all wagging to their pals while their humans sit down for a drink.
- The young mums jogging with their baby buggies, then stretching before sitting under the big tree to feed their babies and chat.
- Hugging a massive tree that makes us feel very small.
- Admiring a giant oak with branches reaching into eternity.
- Giving a young fellow fishing in the lake the time, and being as surprised as he is that it isn't later. Has time waited for us?
We just love home swapping!' - Bea