Remember I said that every Monday in February I'd be listing 7 things I want to do while in London?  Here's part 1!

But first, a few caveats...

The Canadian and I want to travel a LOT while living the UK and we intend to use the fabulous location of London as a jumping off point for some great adventures -- but I wanted this list to specifically be about and around London (I could say go to Paris once a week but that's not really about London, you know?).  I had the amazing opportunity to live in New Orleans for a year and I can safely say that I did almost everything I wanted to do on my list that I created while I was there (I didn't get to the World War II Museum but I have to head back to Nola for a week to meet with my dissertation committee in March and I plan on visiting it then...) The Canadian and I knew we were only going to be there a year so we dove into the Big Easy and soaked it in!

The other caveat is, I've been to London several times, so you might notice some things are quite absent from my list -- it's likely because I've already done them and don't want to do them again.  Further, if some touristy things show up, it's because I didn't get to do them the first go-round or I want to do them again. 

So, on to my to do/see/experience/fall in love with list for London...

1) Portobello road.  I first heard about Portobello road when I was just a tiny thing.  My mom would read me stories at night of a bear named Paddington Brown, so named because he was found at the eponymous station. This was a bear who loved marmalade which I also love because I first heard about it from Paddington.  In one of his adventures, Paddington becomes hopelessly lost on Portobello road.  I've never had a chance to see it and I've always wanted to, ever since I heard about it from the book.  It seemed like such a magical place full of fabulous items and I'm looking forward to spending a few Saturdays there, finally seeing the road I read about as a child.
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A page from my childhood. Paddington goes shopping on Portobello Road (Click for attribution)
2) The free Museums.  The first time I was in London I was on a six week trip around England and France with my grandparents back in the mid-1990s.  We spent 4 weeks in the English countryside driving from castle to manor house to mansion to palace and I felt like I had seen every single castle ever built.  The art began to blur together and the names and cities and estates all blended into one giant castle in my mind -- serious castle fatigue.  By the time we arrived in London I so was sick of artwork and antiquities that I declared I was not going to attend any of the museums. (Art is a long-term love affair of mine so it says a lot that I was tired of it...)  The other times I've been in London it was for a day or two, passing through on my way to somewhere else.  So, I haven't really experienced the free museums and I am REALLY looking forward to them!

3) Christmas Eve service at Westminster Abbey.  I've been to the Abbey before, and adore it but I think it would really be amazing to participate in a Christmas Eve service there.  I found that they do offer it, and I would really love to go out at midnight with twinkling lights and sing carols in such an extraordinary cathedral.

4) Watch a football game. (Surely you know I mean soccer...) And for that matter, find a team....I'd like to 'have a team' for whom I cheer when they win and curse when they lose.  I don't know who I'll choose, it will take research (yay!) but I think a girl needs a football team.  So I intend to adopt one, and then watch them play. As an aside, I'm a total sucker for hard luck stories...I've adopted the New Orleans Saints as my American Football team in spite of the fact that I could have chosen the Texans or the Cowboys (being from Texas and all). But the Saints story up to the Superbowl with a post-Katrina band of guys that no one else wanted, was so moving to me -- coupled with the 'Who Dat?!' tradition and 'Bless You Boys' and then watching their win at the famous Broussard's on Bourbon Street and hugging the world after they won...how could I NOT adopt them as my team? So, if you know of a motley crew of ragtag footballers that need a new fan, let me know.


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I took this photo in a store in Nola. These messages were seen all over the city. Makes a girl's heart melt.
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Bourbon street after the 2010 Superbowl game. There was a lot of love that night!!
5) The Parks.  There are so many gorgeous parks in London -- Hampstead Heath, Regent's, Saint James --I want to pack many a picnic lunch and spend lazy Saturday afternoons in the park.  I have a wonderful picnic basket that some good friends gave the Canadian and me as a wedding gift and I intend to get a lot more use out of it!

6) The Theatre, The  Theatre.  I've never lived in a major theatre town before.  I grew up in Houston, which certainly attracted good shows, but it's not like living in New York or London.  And now I will have the chance to see some great shows.  The Canadian and I went on a date the other night and saw Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, and we had SO much fun! I think we're going to try and do monthly date night with dinner and a show while we're in London.  I'll certainly post about the best ones!!

7) Sunday Roast.  When I was a little girl living in Fort Worth (you saw above that I said I grew up in Houston didn't you?  Well I did -- but from aged 9-18.  I lived several other places before then as well, including Fort Worth where I was born...) every Sunday MomE's entire family -- all 9 brothers and sisters and in-laws and cousins -- would gather on Sunday for pot roast and mashed potatoes and veggies and pies.  All of the cousins would be there and as I didn't have any siblings at the time, I had these wonderful cousins who were close enough to siblings that I would get to play with.  Sunday roasts were a tradition in my childhood and when I heard it was a tradition in the UK as well, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to indulge and re-create some Sunday memories from childhood (minus the enormous family but hopefully it will become a tradition with my new friends!).  Now, the dilemma here is, I don't really eat meat (I still eat fish), but, my vegetarian English neighbor and dear friend here in Austin assures me that most of the good pubs have a nut roast for me.  Oh, and yorkshire pudding...YUM!!!
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Nut roast with yorkshire pudding....cannot wait!!
AspenDew
2/7/2011 09:47:51 pm

Whut, no cricket?? I must admit I ignored it for the first several years I lived over here, but it's grown on me.

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2/7/2011 09:50:41 pm

Ahhh, but this is only part 1 of 4! And fancy that — you have given me an idea for the next post :) Thanks!!

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2/8/2011 05:17:17 pm

I love love love Paddington Bear! He's so cute in his little coat and boots :-)
And for a football may I suggest West Ham. They aren't as cosmopolitan as Chelsea nor as cool as Arsenal, but the fans are the best and stay with them through the good and the bad (mostly bad). But they have a lot of heart! xo

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2/8/2011 09:39:59 pm

YES! I seriously only tried marmalade the first time I heard of it BECAUSE of PBear :) I love him too.

I will DEFINITELY check into West Ham! They sound just like my sort of team.

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2/14/2011 08:03:18 am

Great list! I did them all except the Football one which I'm sad about. I really wanted to go to a game. And I also didn't do the Christmas Eve one - I was there.

The parks are great. My favorite was Battersea - it was kind of in my backyard.

And the free museums are awesome - I didn't take advantage of this enough.

Also, the theatre! So much fun. I saw quite a few musicals. You can get great deals on lastminute.com that sometimes include dinner beforehand. Also, be sure to sign up for Time Out in London - it will let you know what's going on.

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