Review: Tired of London, Tired of Life

I’ll happily admit that, before I moved to London, I thought I’d hate it here. I was convinced that it was a city filled with unfriendly locals, long commutes, high prices and bumbling tourists. However, what I didn’t bank on was that living in London means that you do encounter all those things but there’s a whole bunch of other awesome stuff that makes it all worth it. We may seem an unwelcoming bunch from afar, but I have now met countless London-dwellers from all over the world who are kind, caring and friendly to complete strangers. My long commute gives me time to myself to think, read, listen to music, or catch up with Twitter. Prices are high, but wages are higher than elsewhere in the country too… and there’s a surprising amount of free stuff if you need a night out on a low budget. Plus, for every slow moving tourist who has got in my way, there has been a newly discovered tourist-free back street, or a moment of looking up to discover that the thing they’re all gawping at wasn’t there yesterday.

There’s so much to do and see in London that it’s difficult to keep track of it all. Friends suggest going to museums I’ve never heard of, colleagues reveal the destinations of the lunch time walks they’ve been going on for years, listings magazines suggest interesting coffee shops and out of the way bars, and the Emerald Street email keeps telling me about great places to eat. I try to keep track of it all for when I have time to check these things out, or for when I get asked “what’s a fun thing to do in this part of town on a Saturday?”, but that’s far more tricky than you’d first think. You have to be really organised about it… which is where this fantastic book comes in. Tom Jones (no, not that one) began documenting things to do in London back in October 2008. Consequently, his website and Twitter feed are full of useful hints and tips on places to visit and things to see:

Doing the same thing day after day can get anyone down, but our city has an almost infinite number of things to see and do. The only problem is that it can be hard to find inspiration when we need it, we only seem to stumble across things when we’re not really looking. That’s why your author started writing Tired of London, Tired of Life. It was a place to document those moments of inspiration so he could draw on them later, and return to ideas at a later date when looking for something to do. It has evolved into a project to try to offer inspiration to others, and he is pleased about that.

OK, so I could have just rummaged through the website to find things to do, but I’m an absolute sucker for a printed book. When you’ve been staring at a screen all day, flicking through a book is absolute bliss. Aside from the feel and smell of actual paper, the book has something else to offer that the website doesn’t. It’s effectively a ‘Best Of’ and the experiences have all been matched by month and season, creating a year’s worth of fantastic things to see and do. It’s also filled with gorgeous illustrations and handy space for notes.

As you can see from the photos, my copy is now filled with sticky notes to highlight the things I want to do (or do again), and there’s definitely something to suit most tastes. There are views, parades, coffee shops, museums, tours, libraries, gardens, pubs and parks. Today’s suggestion is to ‘meet the Crystal Palace Sphinxes’ and, for my birthday, the book recommends warming up in Soho’s Milk Bar. My bookmarked To Do list now includes: touring the Fuller’s Brewery, touching a meterorite, seeing the Deptford Jack on May Day, visiting the Blackheath Tea Hut (rather than just driving past) and touring Eltham Palace. Some of my favourite things to do in London are in this book – like taking a trip on the Thames Clipper – which is always a reassuring sign. After all, there’s no point in accepting recommendations from someone who doesn’t like the same things as you, right?

If you live in London, are moving here or are simply coming to visit, I’d highly recommend getting yourself a copy of this book. It’s a pretty little tour around some of the more interesting bits and bobs that London has to offer. Tired of London, Tired of Life: One thing a day to do in London by Tom Jones is available now from Amazon for £8.96.

DISCLOSURE: I was sent a copy of ‘Tired of London, Tired of Life’ by Tom Jones free to review by Ebury Publishing.

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