2011: A Year in London

At the end of 2010, I began to feel that something was missing from my life in London and, by extension, from Emm in London.  I felt that although I still lived and worked in London, life was getting in the way and this wonderful city was passing me by.  My resolution for 2011 was to do at least one London-based activity a month and I have to say, it was a resounding success.  In 2011, I fell in love with London all over again and I can begin 2012 knowing that I will continue to explore, research and marvel over this wonderful, quirky, historic city.

The Secret London Walk

I began the year by taking a secret London walk with my friend Kathy.  Using Andrew Duncan’s Secret London: Exploring the Hidden City, with Original Walks and Unusual Places to Visit as a guide, we walked from the area west of St Paul's, past Smithfield Market, through Ely Place and into Holborn. 

We had a really good time exploring and this walk has inspired me to do at least two further walks this year.

Focus on: Graffiti Photo Walk

In February, I went on a Focus on: Graffiti photo walk with Melizza from Sifting Through... Expat Edition.  We had a lot of fun while learning how to use our cameras too.  The photo walk was organised through The Photo School and my resolution this year is to attend at least 5 of their classes or events.

Editors at Royal Albert Hall

In 2011, I officially became a music snob and learned that the only way to watch live music is to attend a concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

We went to see Editors at the Royal Albert Hall in March and it was incredible.  We also went to see PJ Harvey in October and it was equally amazing.  I narrowly missed out on seeing one of my favourite bands of all time, The Cure, at the venue in November but only because I was in no way prepared to pay £150 (each) to see them.  I regret this decision but am happy to say I used the money to buy plane tickets to Munich in March 2012.

Afternoon Tea at the Chesterfield Mayfair

In April, I joined my colleagues for afternoon tea at the Chesterfield in Mayfair and finally understood what the fuss was all about. I loved my afternoon tea experience and certainly want to try out other locations across London this year.

We went on the day after the royal wedding and it was a very exciting time to be in London!

An Endless Afternoon in Camden Town

In May, I spent a long afternoon in Camden Town with my friend Gyda. I hadn’t been to Camden Town in years and it was so much fun to shop, browse and eat on that beautiful, sunny afternoon.

Race for Life

In June, I took part in the Race for Life for the fourth year in a row. This year was in Crystal Palace Park and I managed to take a couple of photos of this historic park.

June was an interesting month too as I attended two book events featuring some of my favourite authors (Garth Nix, Jason Wallace) and I also attended an event on Rwanda: Strengthening Society Through Genocide Education.  It occurred to me that these are opportunities that I would perhaps not have had in South Africa and it made me appreciate living in such a big, metropolitan city like London.

The Alternative London Walking Tour

In July, I went on an Alternative London Walking Tour with Melizza and her husband Greg.  This was an interesting guided walk through London’s East End and the best part about the tour was that it was free!

I took a million photos but, being the bad blogger that I am, never did manage to do a post about the walk.  With street art changing on a daily basis, I imagine that there is no other solution than to go on another Alternative London walking tour in the near future.

An Afternoon in Kew Gardens

We spent an afternoon in Kew Gardens and it was really lovely. Unfortunately, Kew Gardens is such a massive site that we only saw a fraction of what there is to see.

I would definitely like to return one day to see the Japanese gateway and pagoda or the wildlife conservation area.

A London Cab Tour

We went on a fascinating black taxi tour with Graham from London Cab Tours.  On the tour, I learned all about the Queen’s neighbourhood in 5 Things You Didn’t Know About St James’s, London as well as seeing London through the eyes of a cab driver

We also met the City of London boundary dragons and had the privilege of exploring Lincoln's Inn in Holborn on this great tour.

Wandering Down Portobello Road

In October, we were blessed with incredibly warm weather and together with my sister-in-law Sandra, I went to visit Portobello Road for the first time ever. We had so much fun and Portobello Road really is a photographer’s dream. I would definitely like to visit again some time soon!

Art by Offenders Exhibition

In November, I attended the Art by Offenders exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall. This was a fabulous collection of artwork by offenders, detainees and secure patients across the United Kingdom.

One of the best things about London is that there are so many art galleries, museum and exhibitions with free (or very inexpensive) entrance.  In 2012, I definitely want to see more of London’s art galleries and museums.

The Enchanted Palace at Kensington Palace

In November, I met up with a lovely group of expats and bloggers to visit the Enchanted Palace exhibition at Kensington Palace. 

This was a magical display that took us through several centuries of real-life princesses and enchantment in the palace.

Hall Place Gardens

My last London-based activity for 2011 took place at the very edges of London in the London Borough of Bexley. We visited the lovely Hall Place and Gardens and took a peek inside the grand old residence too. 

The remainder of December was dedicated to family and travel as Stephen’s parents were visiting from South Africa.  We had a lovely week in Suffolk (which I shall begin blogging about next week) and we had a fantastic and relaxing Christmas and New Year.

I hope everybody has had a great festive season and is energised and optimistic for the year to come.  I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to each and every person who read Emm in London, visited and commented in 2011.  I am not exaggerating when I say that none of this would be worthwhile without your encouragement, inspiration and friendship.  Here’s to a fabulous 2012!

24 comments on "2011: A Year in London"
  1. I am so happy that you succeeded in doing a monthly London activity. London is such a wonderful city and it's a shame that there's not enough time in a lifetime to discover all its nooks and crannies.

  2. What a busy bee you were! I always wanted to have a proper afternoon tea. That's on my bucket list. Which has like 1000 items :)
    Happy New Year, Emm!

  3. Of course you loved your afternoon tea experience at the Chesterfield in Mayfair and certainly SHOULD try out other great hotels in 2012. But in case anyone suggests to you that you are simply indulging yourself, point out that you are doing serious research. You are studying late Victorian and Edwardian social history, and the external and internal architecture of important city buildings.

    Happy new year!

  4. It sure was great to see all of these things you explored, can't wait to see where you visit in 2012!

    Happy New Year :)

  5. Never beats walking around London. I enjoyed this post. I always wanted to visit Camdem someday...

  6. You are so lucky to live in a city that has so many interesting features you could probably continue to feature one a month for the foreseeable future! Hope you do!

  7. Happy New Year! I always enjoy reading your posts. I am glad to hear you have rediscovered London in your own special way and passed it onto your readers. Looking forward to more of your adventures in 2012!

  8. You did a lot of exploring this year, didn't you? I love the fact that I can relive my stay in London thanks to reading ur blog :-)

    Keep it coming...!
    Wish you a wonderful 2012!

  9. I think your blog is great, and thank you for showing us this great city of London. I look forward for your new posts!

  10. As one of your readers, I can certainly see that you experienced more this year in London than most people will in a lifetime. I've enjoyed your walks through the many castles I'd never heard of and your access to the many exhibitions in London. Keep all the wonderful stories coming!

  11. Emm-first of all - Happy New Year!
    You are brave but I think it was so pleasant resolution to keep!:)

  12. Is it time for my own YEAR IN REVIEW? I wonder...

    is that first image of Alice from the place in CLOSER?

  13. Happy New Year! The 'Secret London' walk must have been amazing (and probably quite moving too); getting to see all the hidden places that you normally wouldn't even hear about. Keep it up ;)

    Giselle from New Zealand

  14. I fell in love with London when I was 13 years old and went back many times. Now it has been 9 years since I went back – I am thinking that 2012 should be a good year to go back. I loved reading all your trips in and around London. Have a great 2012!

  15. That's a lovely varied list, Emm, and thanks for reminding me of Andrew's book. I have an idea that I'd like to take a walk through London to see some of the places Geoffrey Fletcher drew and wrote about in the 1970s.

    I've never been to Hall Place but it looks interesting.

    And Crystal Palace dinosaurs..... should DEFINITELY see them.

    As I say - inspirational. Look forward to seeing wht you do in 2012.

  16. i feel like i just read a london guidebook! thanks for the tour!

  17. Yay!! Fantastic countdown! I have so enjoyed your realm..you are definately one of my favorite destinations in cyberland! Your blog continues to inspire and amaze me..and i appreciate all the beauty and magic and work you put into all your creational posts! Thanks for sharing all that you do..things that i would otherwise not get to see...hugs and sparkles my friend!
    Wishing you a magical 2012!

  18. Happy New Year.
    A series photoS to record 2011. Hope to see your 2012 new updates soon.

  19. Fabulous! It's such a great idea to explore your adopted city so as to see it through fresh eyes. This is a great list as well- I think I'll have to bookmark it and use it as the basis of my own London adventures!! Happy New Year!

  20. Great round up! I need to do an alternative walking tour. That's right up my alley. Here's to an even better 2012 :) x

  21. That's such a good idea, doing one thing a month. Think I might take that up actually! :)

  22. Enjoyed this post a lot... you mentioned some of my favourite places and the next time I'm there, I'll have to take the alternative tour...

  23. @ Melizza: I think by undertaking something like this, it gives me control and the ability to say, "it's okay if I don't see everything, but at least I know I tried". In my case, that translates to, "at least I didn't sit on the sofa in a depressed stupor"!

    @ Karen: Thank you! I look forward to doing fun things again this year too.

    @ Hels: Ha ha! In that case, I look forward to doing more serious research.

    @ Supergreensunbear: thank you and happy new year!

    @ Donah: you're right! I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

    @ Ivanhoe: When you visit, we will definitely do afternoon tea together.

    @ Kathy: I agree - I don't think I would ever tire of things to do here.

    @ AVCr8teur: and it was an absolute pleasure doing it too! Glad you enjoyed it.

    @ Ashwathy: Glad to be of service!

    @ Miguel: Thank you and it is a pleasure!

    @ Lauren Axelrod: definitely. It would be a waste to live in this city and not really see it.

    @ Ola: I love resolutions! I usually manage to keep them.

    @ Within Ireland: Yes! Well spotted, it is from Closer.

    @ Giselle: it was moving. I cannot believe that was a full year ago. I must make a plan for another one.

    @ Vagabonde: Yes, come back! 9 years is too long to be away from London!

    @ Jenny: let me know if you need a partner for your walk!

    @ Bon Bon: Heh, guidebooks and postcards, that is all me!

    @ Victoria: Awww, you're lovely! Thank you so much and I am glad you liked my blog.

    @ Ellen: Thank you! Here is to a fab 2012.

    @ William: I often envy your energy and dedication! But at least I know that I push my own excursions a little more than is comfortable at times.

    @ Oneika: Well, it will be great to share some adventures with you this year!

    @ Steph: I would absolutely recommend it. The guide was so knowledgeable and only asked for a donation if we were pleased with the tour. He is so good, I imagine he makes 2-3x more that way than by asking for a fee up front.

    @ Gemma: Do it! You won't regret it!

    @ Dominic: I think you should take it - I would look forward to your photos.

  24. such a great post to start off the new year. i've always enjoyed your posts and photos. keep them coming.


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