For a long time I never really understood the hype around trips to London. I had friends who would go down time and time again and talk about how much they loved spending time there and all the things they would get up to. It was never really for me. I didn’t like the thought of a big bustling city with so many people around every corner.
Now, I can’t seem to stay away from the place. Since August last year, I have been to London 5 times. Considering my 10-year gap in between my first visit and my trip last summer, I would say that I have definitely made up for lost time. I definitely have more of an appreciation for the city and more of a reason to visit now that I’m an adult. I mean – half of my friends do actually live there and if I didn’t go down I’d rarely get the chance to see them.
Last weekend was the first time that I had visited the city for longer than a day when I wasn’t visiting one of these friends. Instead, I was headed down to the capital to have a drink and a dance along to some great bands at Community Festival in Finsbury Park.
I had never heard of Community Festival until this year. I’m not sure if it’s a new venture, or if I’ve just never paid that much attention to events in the capital until this year, but it had the best lineup for a day festival I’ve seen in a long time.
I was feeling quite blue about not having a festival lined up for this year, after being brutally disappointed by the lack of originality and change in the Leeds Festival (my usual go-to) line-up, and the inability to attend TRNSMT Festival in Glasgow next weekend. So, naturally when I saw the Community Festival line up was brilliant – the perfect combination of indie-pop and new music that I love about festivals. For £35 a ticket, it was an absolute steal as well.
Walthamstow is a hidden gem for travellers
Now, living in the North meant that a night staying over in London was on the cards. Normally, this would put me off, but we managed to find a relatively good deal for one night at Walthamstow Travelodge. If you’re ever visiting London and need somewhere to stay that isn’t too expensive but is close enough to the centre that you’re not spending half your weekend on the tube, I would highly recommend staying here! Just 20 minutes on the Victoria Line from Kings Cross Station, and a short walk from Walthamstow Central tube station, this hotel is in the perfect location for a weekend break.
Luckily for us, it was also only a 9-minute journey away from Finsbury Park, where Community Festival was being held. It is also the final stop on the Victoria Line, and so this made life so much easier getting to and from the festival itself because there was no danger of either myself or Rob falling asleep on the journey home and missing our stop.
Another great thing about staying in Walthamstow was how quiet it was – to say we were still staying relatively close to the centre of London you would not have been able to tell at all. Just a short walk away from our hotel was a quiet street full of locally owned businesses and rows upon rows of houses that made you feel like you were walking the back streets of York or Cambridge, not walking through suburban London. Seriously, if you’re ever staying in London make sure you consider staying here!
The best thing about Community Festival was the line up – The Hunna, Nothing but Thieves, Slaves, The Wombats and Catfish and The Bottlemen taking to the same stage sounds like a perfect way to spend an afternoon for me.
One of the main reasons for buying a ticket for myself was getting the opportunity to see Catfish and the Bottlemen for the first time. I couldn’t wait to get to witness my boyfriend’s favourite band live with him, and have a good sing along to a band that has grown on me very quickly in the last twelve months. While I may have lost Rob in the crowd two songs in, I really enjoyed their set and would highly recommend them to anyone who is looking for a new band to listen to.
It was also great to see The Wombats again – yes, you’re right, it is 2007 all over again. The weirdest thing about The Wombats is how they seem to have completely reinvented themselves as a pop band, which although hasn’t taken them too far from their original ‘Kill the Director’ sound makes them seem like a completely different band. As someone who has listened to them since their first album was released, there was a feeling of nostalgia in seeing them perform live again. Although I spent most of their set sat on the grass eating a pizza and drinking beer, I feel like the 13-year-old inside me was content at seeing them in some form.
Nursing a Hangover while Sightseeing
Despite a day of drinking, we somehow managed to get up nice and early on Sunday and check out by 10:30 for a full day of sightseeing. Now, I wasn’t hungover, but I was incredibly tired. Which at first didn’t seem like an issue, but by 4:30 pm I was flagging and ready to go home.
However, we did somehow still manage to walk a good 16 miles over the course of the weekend, and many of these we covered on Sunday. Our sightseeing tour might not have been logical, but it did take us around some beautiful sights in London.
Starting off at Oxford Circus, we walked north to Regents Park (after misreading a sign and thinking we were heading south towards Trafalgar Square), before hopping on the Bakerloo Line back down towards Charring Cross. We then headed towards Leicester Square and St James Park, through Westminster and down towards Southbank for a spot of food. After lining our stomachs, we headed back towards Hyde Park and lazed around in the sunshine until it was time to head back for our train.
I think my favourite thing about visiting London rarely involves visiting the typical ‘tourist’ traps, but more simply walking around the city. I could spend all day exploring London and still not get bored. My Sunday was spent exploring most of Central London, but there are so many areas to the city that I could quite easily spend the same amount of time exploring the North, East, South and West areas as well given half of the chance.
The more time I spend in London the more I realise just how much there is to see down there, but it also makes me realise how in love with the North I also am. It is brilliant for a weekend break, but I think the novelty would slowly wear off for me.
That being said I miss it already, and can’t wait to get my next trip down booked! If anyone has any recommendations of sights to see or places to visit, especially those that are slightly more unique, please leave them in a comment!