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She Saves Money in London

 

Ann is a twenty-something Journeywoman who lives in Norfolk, United Kingdom and is in London on average once every month, either staying with friends or attending meetings. She's involved with many different activities, ranging from helping with a Talking Newspaper to teaching Trampolining. She is also an active member of Girlguiding UK, and is looking forward to exploring a bit more of the world, once personal funds allow. Ann writes...


Thank you, Journeywoman. I read loads of your excellent website prior to a recent trip to India -- my first big journey. I travelled solo for a month and it was great. When you asked in one of your newsletters for sightseeing advice for London, I thought that this would be a perfect time for me " to give back" -- to contribute something to inspire other women. This write-up concentrates on money-saving tips and advice for visitors to London. I've also included tidbits for those moms travelling with their JourneyBabes.

The Dorling Kindersley Guide to London is excellent - I live 100 miles away from London, and I still use this book. You can buy your copy at home or wait until you get here to purchase it. If you don't mind carrying it with you, do it. I suspect the book will be more expensive here in the U.K.
There are loads of interesting and free things to do in London, you just have to know where to look. Most of the museums are free - the Natural History Museum (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/) in South Kensington is worth a visit (although, in my opinion, the Science museum next door is not so fab). Another lovely stop is the Geffrye museum. This is a converted building that was used as housing for retired people who had worked in the Navy. It has since been divided into a series of rooms, each furnished in the style of a different century, going chronologically. At the end, there is an exhibition about more recent interior design trends, and a shop (fairly pricey) where you can get goodies and inspiration to do up your own place. Visit their website at: http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/ for hours of operation, current exhibits, and a virtual visit of the displays.
The Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood is also free - although I haven't been there yet. I imagine it would be extra special if you are travelling with your JourneyKiddies. Website: http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/nmc/
Attention JourneyBankers and JourneyAccountants! A site not many people know about is the Bank of England Museum (Bartholomew Lane) situated between Liverpool Street station and St. Paul's on the tube. The Museum is housed within the Bank of England itself so it is closed on holidays and weekends. It details the history of banking in the UK -- visitors are invited to hold a real gold ingot and read documents relating to famous customers such as the Duchess of Marlborough, George Washington and Horatio Nelson. Entry is gratis.
My absolute favourite museum in London is the Museum of London (nearest tube Barbican). Their website describes it as, "a quarter of a million years of history ... our collections include over a million items." It's built right next to part of the old city wall and offers changing exhibitions as well as different galleries giving the history of London. Recently they built a mock-up of a Roman town and employed actors to staff it. It's got a great atmosphere and also has a garden with examples of gardening styles throughout the ages. All galleries and most temporary exhibitions are free. Website: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/
Another fun "no cost" thing to do is to visit the parks -- you can even hand-feed the squirrels in Regent's Park; they're so tame. There are also lovely children's play areas if you are travelling with youngsters - Coram's Fields (near Great Ormand Street hospital) is the most amazing play area I have ever seen. They also run workshops and drop-in sessions. For further information, click here.
One of the least expensive ways of seeing the sights is to get a travelcard and find one of the bus routes that goes past all the attractions. Take a guidebook if you like, sit on the top deck of a city bus, and hey-presto, you're doing a sightseeing tour without having to fork out loads of cash for an open-top tourist bus (freezing most of the year anyway). Travelcards also give you a discount on the river boats - another nice way to see the city relatively cheaply.
Take a trip to Greenwich where you can see the Cutty Sark ship, Tiger Moth plane, the world's only fan museum, play in the park and go to the Royal Observatory - where you can stand on and jump over the meridian line. The most fun way to get there is by DLR (Docklands Light Railway) - these trains are part of the underground system, but are overground, go up and down hills and have "no driver." It feels as if you're on a very slow roller-coaster. Once you get off the DLR, take the foot-tunnel to Greenwich. If you want a bit of variety, I believe you can get a river boat back to London. Lots of fun for children, too.
It costs nothing to walk the Millennium bridge from St. Paul's and then have a look round the Tate Modern. The museum is housed in a converted power station -- interesting even if you think you don't like modern art. Bonus -- This building has a lovely, large space in the old turbine halls which is perfect for exercising toddlers on a rainy day. Website: http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/default.htm
Carrying on your circular riverside walk, go along the South Bank where there is an interesting pancake stall on the plaza near the film museum. Then when you choose, walk back across the next bridge and retrace your steps to the Tate. This is best done just before sunset (but take note that while it may be romantic in summer, bridgewalking is freezing during the winter).
If you have the budget for an extravagance, experience the London Eye (also called the Millennium Wheel). Try to get there just before dark, then you can see London in the light and floodlit. Pre-booking is advised. There is a nice playground out the back - the ride itself takes about 1/2 an hour. Apparently, you can even get married or book a conference in one of the capsules if you'd like!
If you're involved in Girl Guiding there are several places in London you can stay centrally, safely and quite reasonably. These include Baden Powell House (http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/hq/bph) and Pax Lodge (http://www.paxlodge.org). Discounted rates include breakfast as well. Groups can stay for one night at ICANDO (which is also a hands-on Guiding history museum - lovely shop too). It's located at 17-19 Buckingham Palace Road. Visit: http://www.girlguiding.org.uk to find out more.
If you want to eat cheaply, make use of all the mini-versions of the big supermarkets that are in central London (e.g. Tescos, Sainsbury's etc). This is much cheaper than eating out all the time.
Shopping is never free but Oxford Circus has two huge budget-shopping H&M stores. Walk along the road with the Borders book shop on it for the slightly less crowded H&M -- you'll find more bargains there. I hear that Camden market sells weird and wonderful things. I haven't been there myself but it might be fun to try. In both these crowded places hold on to your valuables. This is where pickpockets love to hang out.
Lastly, don't forget to get out of London - go camping in Epping Forest (nearest tube -Theydon Bois). There's a lovely campsite there, or get a train and explore the rest of the country. I recommend East Anglia, but then I'm biased. I live there. Happy inexpensive travelling, everybody!


Save money at Harrods...

I find that the Food Department at Harrod's (on the lower level) is a treasure trove for inexpensive gifts - out of this world teas, some of them in very attractive tins, real British biscuits -- also some in tins, marmalades, chutney, etc. Whenever I have a friend traveling to London I ask for a box of Harrod's Camomile and Spiced Apple Tea - or Herbal Infusion - a delicious combination I haven't found anywhere else. A box of 25 tea bags (oops - I mean sachets) costs 3.5 euro (under $US5.00)!
Dulcy, Jerusalem, Israel


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