A tourist in London

Why is it that so many people who live in London don’t take advantage of what it has to offer?

I don’t mean the latest restaurants, bars or pop-up exhibitions that are featured in the bible that is Time Out. I mean the real stalwarts of London sightseeing. The Tower of London, the National Gallery / V&A (and all the galleries), the Natural History Museum (and all the other museums.) Most Londoners (whether born and bred or those, like me who count themselves as one given their length of ‘service’) don’t visit these amazing sights.

We may have been before as kids so think we don’t need to go again. Sometimes, we just haven’t visited and because we’re Londoners we don’t want to get caught in the tourist trap. We don’t want people faffing and walking slowly, that’s not us. 

But, recently as I’ve been coasting along (see previous) I realise I’m not using the city that I love and call home and have absolutely no intention of ever leaving to its best advantage. So, I’m going sightseeing with a London lens, my lens.

Today I visited the British Library situated between St Pancras and Euston. Shamefully it is my first visit in 17 years of living in London. I’m an idiot, reading and writing are my two favourite hobbies. Why have I not been before, I know it’s quite possibly going to be my most favourite place in London. Books over six floors as far as the eye can see.

I enroll for a free three-year reading pass which gives me access to the reading rooms with over 170 million items! For reasons not really known I visit the ‘Maps’ reading room. It’s silent. As I am told when I enrol it’s one of the reading rooms where there’s peace and quiet away from the students who want access to the café and smoking area on the first floor. I had to work today and found myself accomplishing more in two hours on a piece of work I’d been procrastinating on than I had in the two weeks prior. I only left because I needed to come home and feed Rex.

Next time, I’m hitting my ‘own’ section – humanities (the first floor with the café and smoking area – can’t say this is a bad thing). But even then, there are two rooms for that. Or maybe, I’ll not go to the room and will join the multitudes of people working outside the cafes chatting away. 

What I do know, is that I’m about to make up for 17 years of unplanned absence.

I also know, I’m going to hit the rest of the ‘tourist list.’ Even if I’ve been there years before, the impact now may just be a little different.

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