Before we left the UK for good, I wanted one more chance to visit my country’s capital. There are so many things to do in London, and as a UK resident, I had done most of them over the years. There are still more London attractions that I have yet to see, but on this particular day, I was excited to tick off three. How did I choose to spend my time in London for my final visit, before travelling the world for good?
The question is, are any of these London bucket list items on your list?
Big Ben at night
The Houses of Parliament
St Paul’s Cathedral
Hampton Court (Henry VIII’s home)
The Tower of London
Shopped at Harrods
Visited Greenwich which defines GMT/UTC from which most of the world’s time zones are based
Took a ride in a Black Cab
Ride on a red London double decker Bus
River Thames cruise
Watch a West End Show (Phantom of the Opera was my favourite)
Dinner at the Ritz
So what else was left for me to do?
I started with tea at a Cat Café. There is nothing more British than having a cup of tea when you arrive at a new destination, and if you know me, you know I am cat crazy! A Cat Café was the puuuuurfect bucket list tick-off for me.
Location: 152-154 Bethnal Green Road, Nearest Overground Station: Shoreditch High Street Nearest Underground Tube: Liverpool Street or Bethnal Green station on the Central line (Red)
Lady Dinah’s was the first UK cat café to open in March 2014, and is named after Alice in Wonderland’s small red cat before she climbed down the rabbit hole.
The Beatles “Abbey Road” zebra crossing
Location: Just off Grove End Road, Nearest Tube: St John’s Wood on the Jubilee Line (Silver)
Along a leafy road five minutes’ walk from the tube station was the corner of Abbey Road: the world’s most famous zebra crossing. It wasn’t a “Long and Winding Road” but at first glance, I wanted to “Twist and Shout” with excitement. It needs no introduction, but for non-Beatles fans, let me just explain: this zebra crossing was used on The Beatles album “Abbey Road”, arguable the world’s most famous album cover in pop history.
Sadly there were roadworks as they were “Fixing a Hole”. A sign stated “crossing not in use”, but do you think that stopped me? Hell no! I wasn’t passing up this chance “For No One”, I certainly do not plan to return “When I’m Sixty-Four”.
Wearing my black Beatles socks purchased at the Cavern Club in Liverpool a few years ago, my feet travelled quickly across those infamous black and white stripes as cars waited to use the road. It didn’t matter that this section was famous; these London motorists didn’t care that the Fab Four had walked this stretch immortalising it forever. This was London peak time, traffic travels along here “Eight Days a Week” and it wasn’t going to “Slow Down” for me.
Thankfully no one yelled at me to “Wait”, “Get Back” “You Can’t Do That”.
Dine at the “First Date” Restaurant
Location: Paternoster Square, Nearest Tube: St Paul’s
The First Dates restaurant is called Paternoster Chop House, a stone’s throw from the famous St Paul’s Cathedral.
Our Matre’D (which sadly wasn’t the delectable Fred, every man and women’s secret crush), showed us to the bar where we could order a drink. Well, that was excitement number two; it’s at the bar where couples sit and wait with nervous trepidation for their date to arrive. Obviously I wasn’t nervous, just excited to be here, so we ordered a glass of bubbly whilst people watching. Alas, it wasn’t Merlin who served us, the mixologist extraordinaire from the show.
All too soon, my day trip to London was over and we were back on the train home. What a marvellous day I had. With a huge smile on my face for the entire journey, pleasant thoughts of my day ran through my head. Alas, I was unsure when I would ever be in London again, and the rest of my bucket list items will just have to remain.
Do you have any London bucket list items? Where do you want to visit and what would you like to do? Tell us in the comments section below … I may add them to my London Bucket List!
*Spoiler alert: A few details about the show*
- The restaurant is owned by D&D Restaurants (Des & Dave) who have a chain of around 34 in London and Leeds, this establishment has been open for 12 years.
- 20/20 productions who run the show chose this restaurant because of its location – easy to get to, prime spot in London and a taxi rank close by.
- The show in run in 5 instalments over 2 weeks, 6 hours a time, but sometimes they are filming for up to 15 hours a day.
- At any one time there are up to 70 crew members on set.
- 42 cameras film the dates’ every move, including in the bathroom where people are shown “phoning a friend”
- Usually the restaurant and terrace can seat 120 people, but for the show, they only allow 9-10 tables.
- Meals are not free in the show, contestants are given a £25 contribution to their meal.
- I discovered that the staff and the delectable Maitre-D “Fred” are all actors from a hospitality background. The rest of the diners are real diners served by waiting staff who work at the restaurant.
- Another fact about Fred Sirieix is he is the general manager at Galvin at Windows, a Michelin-starred restaurant at the London Hilton on Park Lane.
- There are a few stages to apply for the Show. Stage 1 is an Online Application form which asks for your height and body type, as well activities you enjoy from a list which include "social networking", "keeping fit", and "gardening". Stage 2 is a telephone interview with a Producer. Stage 3 is a Recorded interview where you are asked about your past relationships, likes and dislikes
- On the day of the show, participants are first interviewed, then they have time to go back to their hotel and change clothes, ready for their dates.
- Instead of going straight to the restaurant for their date, participants are sent to a 'holding room' one hour before their date. There are sweets, magazines and wine on tap. If some of the participants looked a bit tipsy … they probably were!
- They never deliberately try to mismatch anyone, and try to choose people who live close to one another.
- If your date is unsuccessful and you want another go, you can ask producers to set you up again. If Producers thing the date wen badly, they keep in touch with contestants to check they're OK
- If you want a First Dates experience without being on telly you can sign up to be a background dater. All the fun without the potential embarrassment in front of millions.
- After the first episode of the current series, Channel 4 received 1,500 applications to appear on the show.
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