One of my favourite walks by the Thames is from Southwark Cathedral. Famous Borough Market is nearby. I get the train to London Bridge, then walk down past Southwark Cathedral, round to the left past a replica of Sir Francis Drake's Tudor Galleon Golden Hind walking along Clink Street home of the Clink Gaol. Which gives us our colloquial term for prison: clink.
Moving along into Bankside we have the historic Anchor Pub, 34 Bankside, Southwark, LONDON SE1 9EF. Here in 1666 Samuel Pepys witnessed the Great Fire of London in 1666: "a little alehouse on bankside... and there watched the fire grow." The Anchor was rebuilt in 1676 after fire devastated the area.
One bar is named after Dr Johnson, (Samuel Johnson's Dictionary) who drank here regularly. A copy of his dictionary is on display. Then we wander past Sam Wanamaker's newly reconstructed Globe Theatre, a wonderful way to see Shakespeare in the round, plein air!
Then you come to the Tate Modern, stop for lunch or a coffee, then pop over to St Pauls Cathedral on the other side of the Thames linked by the wonderful Millennium Bridge, a footbridge. Come back over and wander on past the Oxo tower...
Eventually your walk ends by the wonderful London Eye, great at dusk with the lights twinkling into view, great view of the Houses of Parliament. Next door is Saatchi's Gallery (for the next two years anyway). By this time you will be knackered.
London Bridge Station
The former Southwark power station on the south bank of the Thames is a brilliant place for kids. Whatever the installation in the great turbine hall it's a fantastic place to run around. The shops cafes and views are all excellent, if a little busy. Kids like the pop art galleries, and if they are not that interested in the art, the walk along the riverbank will take you to the National Theatre in one direction and past Shakespeare's globe to the Golden Hinde and Borough Market (Fridays and Saturdays only) in the other - or over the millennium bridge on foot to St Pauls.
The epicentre of London's gay community. Take a seat at a pavement cafe and enjoy the bustle as the worlds of arty creatives, salt of the earth locals and suited business types collide.
Tube: Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus
A tiny family-run ice cream factory in Macclesfield, Cheshire. Choose a cornet of one of umpteen flavours in the shop, and eat it on the bench outside, peering through the windows at their collection of ice cream vehicle memorabilia. Or take home a tub! Or one of their fantastic ice cream cakes!
Award-winning Treacle Town, with a rich flavour and little marshmallows is particularly good, as are their seasonal fruit flavours and the Christmas Pudding ice cream which appears in winter.
74 Newton Street, Macclesfield, SK11 6RJ, 01625 424391
The Lanes are another fantastic free attraction with their curiosity and antique shops. The North Laine, spelled differently for some reason, is another quite extraordinary place - it's a kind of hippy Ground Zero for Britain. You could spend a day wondering around here and the prices are extremely low.
Head for central London and then take a bus, any double decker, head for the top deck and sit at the front. You'll see the intricacies of London architecture and street life that you wouldn't see at any other angle. I've heard that these buses are being phased out which is a huge shame. So do it now while you have the chance.
It's a vegetarian restaurant serving cuisine from southern India. The food is invariably delicious and cheap, even cheaper at lunchtime when they have an excellent buffet. It's not licenced but you can take your own booze (bought at the supermarket next door if need be). You can't reserve tables, so be prepared to queue at busy times. They also do food to take away. A terrific alternative to the overpriced chain food outlets on Euston Station, as it's only a couple of minutes' walk away.
121-123 Drummond Street, NW1; 020 7387 5556; Euston
Where to begin? One of the most beautiful buildings in London is also home to one of the richest natural history collections in the world. This is also one of the few museums that pulls off the trick of being immediate and exciting enough for children while providing the kind of depth that keeps adults coming back time and again. Unbelievably, it's also free.
Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD; Nearest tube: South Kensington; www.nhm.ac.uk/
A small, "independent" cinema just up the road from the larger and more obvious Odeon and Filmhouse. It has an old-fashioned entrance, with the films and times chalked up on a blackboard on the way in. Shows a mix of independent, art-house and cultish mainstream films, with midnight specials and Sunday double-bill matinees. Friendly young staff (apparently there's a waiting list to work there), old-fashioned foyet snack shop, and a small bar/cafe in the back. A really nice cinema experience.
Home Street (top end of Lothian Road).
0131 228 4141
Served by buses: 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 23, 27, 37 to Tollcross
or the 23, 27 to Lauriston Place.
It's free and it's utterly absorbing, even for an Englishwoman with no known Scottish heritage. The Tower Restaurant in the roof is rather expensive but has one of the best views in Edinburgh.
www.nms.ac.uk/scotland/home/index.asp Chambers St, Edinburgh
The view of St Paul's Cathedral at dusk from the Millennium Bridge outside Tate Modern. The clean lines and high-tech modernity of the 330 metre steel bridge offer a dramatic, light-enhanced view of Wren's cathedral.
Tube: St Paul's, Southwark
Take it from a local and a curryphile, the curry mile has gone way downhill in recent years. I'm not naming any names (Shere Khan, Shezan, Royal Naz) or divulging their sins (poor service, reports of infestations, hygiene issues, meat and fish not being what it says on the tin, sauces that have come straight from a tin), suffice to say that the restaurants on the curry mile have been living off their reputations for a while now, and while that might do for undiscerning students, drunks and one-off visitors who won't come back anyway, if you want a decent curry head down to Burton Road in West Didsbury.
Two of the best are the "Great Kathmandu" and the "Gurkha Grill", or if you are feeling adventurous and fancy a curry lunch, seek out "This 'n' That" on Soap Street in the city centre, their rice and three is a local institution and probably the best food you'll find in the UK for around the 3 quid mark.
In response to a recent tip there is no need to resort to McDonalds to eat at reasonable prices even in central London if you know where to look.
Many Italian and Spanish cafes have good lunch options at reasonable prices and can be found in sidestreets around central London especially Soho. Or, get the Time Out guide to eating in London and make a note of the cheap places!
There are good takeaway options from Chinatown, fresh fruit in Berwick Market (later in the day is cheapest), many cafes in the streets south of Warren Street station off Tottenham Court Road are cheapish and if you are really pushed, chain sandwich bars are a better bet than McDonalds!
If you want a flavour of traditional cheap London food look up a pie and mash shop or an old-style fish and chip shop. The cheapest and best takeaway food option in London is Brick Lane Beigel Bakery but it's not central.
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