This year I’ll be doing another round of selected museums and seeing which one is truly worth your time to visit! To make it all scientific and as logical as possible, I’ve concocted a grading system so we can compare each place on its own merits and really find out what makes it tick.
The criteria I’ve been judging are: How easy is it to find your way around? Did they arrange all the exhibits in a way that make sense or leave you more confused than the Bandersnatch episode of Black Mirror? Is it far from the city centre? Can I combine it with something else in the area? To top it all off, there are extra points to be had for places with a wow factor, because let’s face it…that sometimes makes all the difference.
The Imperial War Museum showcases a comprehensive overview of the military conflicts and wars that UK had to deal with since the beginning of the WWI.
Location – 11/20
The Imperial War Museum is located about 5-15 minutes’ walking distance from the tube stations Waterloo (on the Bakerloo, Jubilee and Northern lines), Lambeth North (Bakerloo) and Elephant & Castle (on the Bakerloo and Northern Lines).
You could combine it with a visit to Mercato Metropolitano.
Exhibits – 14/20
The ground floor covers the First World War, the next level up is on the Second World War, one higher and you’ll find a selection of the more modern wars (cold war and spies!), and then there is the Holocaust exhibit on the top floor. The First World War has been refurbished and brought up to date with super flashy and modern ways of story telling.
This does mean that it leaves the WWII and Modern War area feel a bit outdated, but I was told they will be working on that next.
The most relatable part in the WII section was following the family Allpress and their day-to-day life during the Blitz. As someone who grew up in a war I know a bit about having a bomb shelter in the backyard, food rations and my mom unpicking an old knit jumper of hers to make one for my and my baby brother.
Value For Money 20/20
Like most museums in London anyone can browse the permanent collection for free. So that’s a full 20.
Wow Factor – 14/20
For a museum focused on war, there’s not really a ‘wow’ factor so to speak, but it’s more an emotional impact, which this place definitely offers.
Layout – 12/20
You enter the main hall with its tanks and planes, then from there, you can walk into different floors, each highlighting a different War. The idea is that you follow a route on each floor and each section so in theory it should be easy to get though, but that only works for the WWI exhibition as it has a clear path. The other floors have too much open space and entrance points for it to be as smooth it could be.
Total: all in 71/100 points. Especially in this time and age this is a museum we all should go to. I believe it’s essential to remember what terrifying things humans are capable and museums like these are an important reminder of that.
I know it’s all about 2019, but let’s not be too hasty to shun it’s little brother 2018 (he still has a lot to offer!), and in that spirit – here’s what I got up to offline in the last three months of last year.
Another Visit To The Motherland
Where I got to experience the autumn season for the first time in years! This meant I got to experience things like roasting chestnuts, eating young walnuts and waking through Wuthering Heights-level mist, ‘Oh Heathcliff!”.
A Stop In Rastoke
On my way to Bosnia I spent a few hours in Rastoke, a town that’s known for its waterfalls and mills. It’s one of those fairy tale type towns you won’t believe actually exist until you see it in one of those listicles. I get it! I mean look at it. Add it to your go-to list guys.
No matter how many vitamin D pills I pop … S.A.D has kicked in, I did put in some effort to get out so most weekends didn’t go lost in the grey skies. I went to the cinema a lot, wandered around galleries and museums, gave ice-skating a go, had a ridiculous amount of cheese platters and mulled wine, went to one of the places Instagram recommended, tried Korean plum wine (I think it’s a keeper!) and crossed another Mexican place off my list.
I set foot on Eel Pie Island and enjoyed some random art Eel Pie Island Art Studios has to offer. In the 1960s Eel Pie Island was a music venue based at the hotel on the island and artists like the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart were all famous and musicy. Now the island is a private community of artists who open their studios twice a year for the public to visit and purchase their work. But really you just want to look at the weird things like the ice-cream/sweets inspired house, the Aquaman/Barbie artwork and adorable cats parading around.
What were you up to in the last three months of 2019?
Travel is a special thing always close to my heart, but sometimes you’ll have a bad travel experience which can leave a sour taste in the mouth. This is a little rant I wrote when I was experiencing a bundle of travel-related chaos so while I whittled away the time by being a bit harsh on airports.
Airports should be wonderful, magical places where plucky young travellers embark on amazing skybound adventures. However, this is often very very far (we’re talking the distance to your Ryanair gate) from the truth…
Most of the time they’re soullessly modern, filled to the brim with grey pillars, shiny white panels and lots of glass showing you either – the grim place you’re departing from – or the wonderful sunshine you’re having to leave. And so what if they have a world-class architect-designed glass ceiling, well – you won’t get to marvel at this one, as it often looks better from the outside in an exterior (legal) drone shot, or if it does look alright inside, you won’t be seeing it as you’re forced to stare into a branded shop if you’re lucky enough to have grabbed that last seat in the waiting area.
And what’s with the all the shops? With the lack of carry-on space and ever-increasing charges for baggage, how can you fit any purchases into your bags and suitcases? Does anyone really want to hit up jewellery shops, unless you’re buying a ‘I cheated on you while on my business trip’ necklace or watch? And don’t get me started the hazardous toxins (nope we’re not talking toilets) you’re often forced to traverse in the form of perfume shops which are on the way to gates and departures.
When you finally reach your gate, you may think you’ve got a brief respite from the chaos. But of course, this is never the case. Lack of seats aside, the battle to find and keep a charger is an ever-pressing matter, I’ve seen full-blown arguments break out over those little device energy portals – and I don’t blame them, just being in an airport seems to drain the life of everything, electronic devices included. Way before any flights are called, there’ll immediately be a super-eagy mess of random queues forming to the various possible desk spots, putting everyone on edge, while you’re just trying to stare into the electronic oblivion of your soon-to-be-dying phone.
If the expensive, crowded and often-delayed bus or train to the airport didn’t test your patience, well wait for the little shuttle buses between the terminal and your plane for when your route isn’t important enough for a jet-bridge/walk-way contraption. They may or may not turn up, and when they do, you’ll feel the urge to buy your fellow passengers breakfast for how up close and intimate you’ve been with them. But the light at the end of the tunnel nears close, as you finally board the magnificent mechanical bird to soar you to your wildest dreams. I’ll leave any plane-based criticisms for another post
Of course, we shouldn’t complain, it’s not like air travel is particularly ethical in the first place, so maybe airport crappiness is some sort of karmic penance that we must all suffer for our continued air miles and destruction of the planet. Otherwise, I guess there’s always the exclusive executive lounges…
With everyone on Dryanuary, NOSpenduary or Vegananuary it’s so tempting to spend your weekends indoors binging whatever Netflix throws at you. But don’t give in yet! Why not take a walk, a ‘green’ walk that is. London is full to bursting with walking routes, many within easy reach with public transport. Here are three to consider this weekend.
Wimbledon Common – Richmond Park Walk
Living in London is great, but sometimes I’m just starving for greenery and a place to walk without carbon monoxide in my face, you know? Only 20 minutes away from Central London there is Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park, two large green spaces which can traversed together for a nice day out. Wimbledon Common feels a lot more wild, with lots of little paths and a sense of getting lost, while it features a lovely little Windmill (NL♥) and you even get to cut across golf courses and encounter a horse traffic light! When you make it to Richmond Park you can explore the Isabella Plantation, go up to Poet’s Corner and King Henry’s Mound, relax by the Pen Ponds and of course, catch some beautiful deers in action (if you’re lucky you might even see one taking a bath!). When you’ve seen enough green stuff for the day, you can head out of the Petersham or Richmond Gates for a stroll by the River Thames, part of Thames Path major walking route.
Still need convincing?
This 128 km route lines the River Thames all the way from Hampton Court in the west to the River Darent in the east, with sections split between the north and south side banks. There’s a lot to see and do along the route, with highlights such as Hampton Court Palace, Parliament, Kew Gardens, London Eye, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Old Royal Naval College, the O2, Canary Wharf, Thames Barrier, and a lot lot more. One of my favourite stretches is the old industrial areas that are found between the Thames Barrier and the O2, with massive cranes and industrial materials, some still being used. If you feel a bit cheeky you can make use of the TfL Riverboats to get a different persective along London’s major river, plus it’s also a bit faster than your old feet.
Still need convincing?
Green Chain Walk
They say you don’t know South-East London til you’ve done the Green Chain Walk. Alright, you got me, no one’s said that, but they really should. This hodgepodge of little routes goes all the way from weird dinosaur models of Crystal Palace Park to the Clockwork Orange film location of Thamesmead, just on the River Thames. The routes can be a bit hit and miss, as there’s often a quite a bit of walking along roads, but there’s definitely gems to find here and it’s especially magical if you don’t know the areas, and feel like your exploring a hidden route with the only clues being little signposts every so often to guide you on your way. My particular highlights were the Lesnes Abbey Ruins and Woods, Oxlea Woods with Severndroog Castle, plus the route by Eltham Palace, which is a must-see in its own right.
As nothing exciting or life changing happened in the first 48 hours of 2019, what better time to look back to last year and share the stories behind my 2018 Best 9.
The dining hall at Christ Church in the University of Oxford. And yes, this IS the dining hall that inspired Harry Potter’s Great Hall. How amazing is that? Spellbindingly magical moment. You can read more about it in my An Afternoon in Oxford Post.
I spent around 36 hours in Paris and managed to squeeze in a walk to the Eiffel Tower, three museums and a catch-up dinner with a friend. #Paris is always a guarantee for top likes, even if the picture isn’t that great.
London Lumiere was one of my favourite events in London and I’m so sad it’s not coming to London this year! Instead, it’s all happening in Durham, where it’s returning to the place it started 10 years ago.
Throwback to this cat in Kotor who has it all figured out. Look at this guy! He has life all sorted out. You can read more about how I reached such dizzying heights in my Hiking the ladder of Kotor post.
You can’t go wrong with a good inspirational quote. Like this one near Angel station.
Probably the only good thing from my visit to Kew Gardens. The rest wasn’t great: the place wasn’t in bloom, the Temperate House wasn’t open and the giant pagoda was closed and covered in scaffolding.
And closing off with a throwback to Barcelona. Parc Guell is actually another park/garden that I didn’t really enjoy: it was tiny and you had to pay to go inside – something I only learned once I got to the place (so much for my credentials as a travel blogger). I think London’s free parks/gardens have spoiled me because if I have to pay I become a self-proclaimed critic.
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