Category Archives: activities

38: cycle with Boris’s bikes

On July 30th, following the example set by other cities such as Paris, Montreal or Barcelona, some 6,000 bikes were made available at 400 docking stations all over central London. Though only registered members can currently access Barclay’s bikes (you can register online), pay-as-you-go options will be available at the beginning of September.Barclay's bikes

A day’s access costs £1 pond, while the monthly and yearly fees are £5 and £45 respectively. Once this fee is paid journeys under 30 minutes are free, and as long as you dock the bike before your 30 minutes are over, you can use as many bikes and ride as many times as you want. Otherwise, it’s £1 per hour though this price increases the longer you keep the bike. Compared to the over-expensive tube tickets, which anyway keep on getting delayed by red lights and signal failures, these bikes are a cheap, healthy and eco-friendly option for your journeys in central London – though maybe not the safest…

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37: Escape to Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath, locally known as the Heath, is an age-old institution in London. According to the legend, the Celtic queen Boudica is buried there; it was also Karl Marx’s favorite family outing. Still today, this hilly park, which covers 320 hectares and comprises woodland, playing fields, swimming ponds, a training track, and which adjoins Kenwood House, remains a genuinely popular public place.

Kenwood House

Kenwood House

There, you may see swimmers taking a refreshing dip in the ponds in the summer time, or even earlier for the bravest ones – the water remains chilly all year long. Hampstead Heath is also used by walkers and runners of all sorts and is believed to be the home of cross-country running in Britain – you can meditate on that while you try and jog up and down the hills without running out of steam.

Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath

Parliament Hill's protected view: one of "the Heath's" trademarks

Indeed Hampstead Heath is also famous for being one of the highest points in London, and, in the Southern end of the park, Parliament Hill’s splendid view over the city is even protected by law. It is a magic place, where lovers on romantic walks meet kite-fliers taking advantage of the wind on the hill.

Kite-fliers in Hampstead Heath

Kite-flying on Parliament Hill

Nearest Tube stations: Hampstead Heath, Gospel Oak Hampstead, Belsize Park,Golders Green, Highgate and Archway

17: Go clubbing in a shop (at 3 in the afternoon)

Of course, I’m talking about Abercrombie and Fitch. They have opened a shop in a sumptuous neoclassical building in Mayfair, in a street parallel to Regent’s Street. The brand is so confident in its success that it didn’t even take the trouble to put up a shop sign. And it works: the shop is full every day, and sometimes you even have to queue to get in!

LaAbercrombie and Fitch shop in Londonst time I went there though I have to confess that I was a little disappointed: the top models/shop assistants who welcome you at the door with a casual “hi guys!” weren’t even shirtless, as is usually the case! (OK, maybe the fact that it was January had an impact on their clothing…)

When entering the shop, darkness and loud music are stunning. Adding to this club-like atmosphere, some of the shop assistants are even paid to dance. Besides, the shop seems to have one of the highest densities of shop assistants in London, average age: 19, the I-went-to-America’s-next-top-model-before-getting-this-job type…

If you’re brave enough to queue for the fitting rooms and then queue again to pay, you might end up with a nice souvenir; prices are most often way too expensive for me, but I feel that even without buying anything the shop is worth a visit.

You can then leave the shop, your eyes blinking under the sunlight, exhausted by the crowd as if you had been clubbing during hours.

Abercrombie and Fitch: 42 Savile Row Westminster, London W1S 3QG

Nearest Tube: Picadilly Circus

005: Tour London with the bus 15

I don’t know about you, but I love London’s buses. Because they are so many, and cheaper than the tube? No. Because they are red and because when you board a double-decker, it’s like going on a tour.

double decker

The bus 15 is not one I take very often, but it’s a very convenient one. It will take you to London’s most touristic attractions – Aldgate (Brick Lane), the Tower of London, St Paul’s cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, Regent’s street, Marble Arch…

bus 15

No need for an expensive tour with a private company then – just pay the 1 pound fee (with an oyster card) and enjoy the ride!

004: Watch the skaters in South Bank

If like me, you never quite managed to understand how to make the skateboard move when standing on it, or if your career as a skater stopped at the tender age of 8 with a broken limb, you may find a consolation in South Bank.

skaters

There, skaters come in packs, with their Baggy trousers and customized backpacks, to train and perform their moves, and you can enjoy the show while walking by – or even try to have a go at it.

skaters

Nearest tube: Waterloo – Southwark