You finally made it. After all the planning, preparations, you touch down into London. The adrenaline starts to stabilize, you arrive at your new Roam home, settle in, meet your new Roam-mates… and now what? It often happens that with mental wanderings that projections of our future don’t coincide with our new reality. Often the mind creates static, one or two-dimensional images based on concepts that attract us… simplified concepts that couldn’t possibly reflect the true dynamic nature of reality. So your head is probably spinning, the city is pumping and you’re not sure where to start.
Jump into work? Go explore town or retreat into your room for solo time? Too many options can sometimes be overwhelming. First of all, take care of basics… get some sleep, do some exercise, fill your belly with some protein or other energy food. Then put on your best gear and get out into the city.
You picked your Roam location for a specific reason or by following gut instinct, so now it’s time to discover what that is.
With that, we’d like to help you get going by exploring London and its secret surprises that won’t be found on typical tour routes. Count on these escapes for a shot of inspiration or as a mood booster, and remember to share with fresher arrivals as you settle deeper into the city.
Skip Garden & Kitchen
This is no ordinary garden café… British NGO Global Generation reinvented these garbage containers by working with architecture students at the renown Barlett School of Architecture to create fully self-sustainable gardens. The Skip grows apple trees, pumpkins and beans out of refuse containers, outfitting it with underground water pipes made of polythene. The Skip Garden only serves food from its mini farm, such as freshly baked scones, cakes, teas and coffees and seasonal lunches including salads and a daily special. They grow all their fruit and vegetables alongside the café. As if environmental concern were not enough, the café also offers work experience to those marginalized by society, such as young people with special needs, the elderly and refugees. All of this helps to nurture a close-knit and collaborative community which will lift your spirits and inspire on any occasion. Try and make this month’s upcoming May Day fire feast, which features Dig It Sound System, fire pit and Maypole for a celebration amongst the blooms and budding plants.
Richmond Park: Nature in the city
Sometimes nature can be the best respite. Richmond Park is three times the size of Central Park and has a hidden secret: 345 red deer and 315 fallow deer roam free around this former royal hunting ground. A secret oasis in an urban savannah, the deer have been around since 1529 and can be seen at any time, although early mornings are best for uninterrupted viewing. Remember these deer are still wild (!) and should be seen from a distance of at least 50m. Bikes are available for hire from Parkcycle at Roehampton Gate if you feel inclined to go on a deer-spotting safari.
Animal Kitchen at London Zoo
If you are in need of an entertaining distraction, here’s a pick-me-up you don’t often get to see: an animal kitchen. The animal kitchen at London Zoo has walls filled with chalkboards containing ‘recipes’ for each animal (such as squirrel monkey lunch: steamed eggplant with wet cat food). There are dozens of boxes of blueberry and apple tea, because gorillas love a relaxing herbal beverage. Huge tubs of star anise and ginger line the cupboards (the latter is like catnip for tigers). Three to four hours’ worth of chopping is needed every day, and produce is delivered fresh daily from Covent Garden Market.
Little Venice: Water relief
Passing London Zoo you arrive at Little Venice, with its beautiful canals and waterways, just to the north of Paddington. Positioned at the meeting of two canals, this charming neighborhood is perfect place to forget about work and enjoy the tranquility. You can also take a traditional narrowboat (with Jason’s Trip, Jenny Wren Canal Cruises or the London Waterbus), which take you from Little Venice to Camden Lock Market in around 45 minutes.
Stuck in time: 18 Stafford Terrace
Although from the outside 18 Stafford Terrace looks like every other in London, stepping through the door is like passing through a wormhole into the late Victorian era. With all the history in London, this home lost in time transports you back to what it would have been like to live in London 100 years ago. The cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne lived there until his death in 1910, and the generations which followed haven’t modernized at all, leaving the home a freeze-frame of England You can even snoop in the diaries kept by Ed and his wife Marion too.