“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”, or so says Samuel Johnson (wildly overquoted, I know). Poets have penned sonnets to the city and odes to its culture. Shakespeare, Keats, Wordsworth – all the greats – and they can’t all have been blabbering on about nothing.
When children are brought into the picture, one could be forgiven for harking back to Dickens chucking them down chimneys to earn their keep, and many decide that it’s just no longer for them. Some say it is a place that is both unaffordable and unfriendly to the little people in our lives, but personally I don’t think it could be further from the truth. As a Londoner, native born and bred, I could not imagine living or raising my children anywhere else. It seems a lot of Gin Funders are in complete agreement as to why London is such an amazing place to live.
There is no shortage of it here. The city is incredibly multi-ethnic and multi-cultural; every language can be heard on its streets and, if you were nosey enough and wanted to learn one of those languages, there would be someone, somewhere, to teach it to you. A mix of people all living quite harmoniously with one another, regardless of the way they look, worship, eat, regardless of everything. Part indifference and part indiscriminate acceptance. That’s my kind of place.
- GREEN SPACE
Despite being a city, London, for its size, has a huge amount of green space. Around 40% of it is made up of public green areas. We have Hyde Park, smack in the centre of town. But, if that’s too busy for you, there’s a huge variety of green squares tucked behind central London streets. There’s Hampstead Heath, one of the highest points in London allowing you a view across the city’s skyline, boasting a charming 16th century dog-friendly pub (The Spaniards Inn) on its fringes and actual swimming ponds. Primrose Hill allows even better views, especially on the 5th of November when you can watch firework displays across the city. Richmond Park, also enormous, has its own resident deer – at least 650 of them. Then there’s Wimbledon Common, Bushy Park, Regents Park, Kensington Gardens, Clapham Common, Victoria Park, Greenwich Park and Battersea Park, and these are just the largest out of them. So, they may not rival the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales, but at 30-odd minutes door to park, or door to world landmarks, how could you complain? As Ginner Laura Cross says: ‘We can walk 5 minutes and see ducks, swans, goats and deers’. Take that, countryside!
You know what? Even if there wasn’t a huge amount of green space on your doorstep, the excellent transport links mean that everything is merely a stones throw away. An hour to the Kent countryside? Easy. Want to go to the beach? An hour the other way. One train, no biggie. Want a job in one of the financial capitals of the world? You can do that too because it’s not going to be more than an hour away from pretty much any one place in the city. As Ginner Nicola Thackaberry said, with London you’ve got the best of both worlds: ‘easy access to countryside and city’.
- THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING TO DO…
‘No matter what your age, taste, or budget’, Ginner Fariba Mansouri-Johnson says, ‘London will entertain!’ And true enough. There is literally no shortage of things to do every single day in this city. It’s an old city, and as such is overflowing with history. Go to the Tower Of London, suitable for people of all ages thanks to the Beefeaters being so entertaining; take a walking tour around the city and visit important literary places, like Bloomsbury; do a pub crawl or visit any number of incredible restaurants. Whatever you feel like doing, London can deliver.
- …AND SOME OF IT’S EVEN FREE!
Ok, it’s not technically free. You might have to pay for transport. Or buy coffee (an essential, obvs). But for everyone who moans that London is super expensive, think on this. Where else can you take your kids to world class museums, galleries, and cultural events without having to pay a penny? Rebecca Ingram points out that there’s a ‘free festival every weekend in the summer’. Beats spending hours on the phone desperately trying to get Glastonbury tickets, only to realize that kids and tents don’t always mix, that’s for sure.
- MORE FREEDOM
For both you and your kids – WOOOO! When you live somewhere so well connected, and with so many things to see and do, life becomes a lot easier. Ginner, Sheonaidh Johnston pointed out that when her kids are teenagers, ‘they will have the freedom to do so many things, and get there by themselves. We won’t be restricted by needing to drive them’. And when you’re not having to be a taxi service for your kids, you can take advantage of all of the amazing nightlife London has to offer for yourself. Win-win!
- YOU GET TO LIVE IN THE BEST CITY IN THE WORLD
We’ll leave the final word to Ginner Ella Brown, who said, ‘London has a buzz about it that I just can’t find anywhere else.’
London, you rock.
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