Tired of London, Tired of Life
August 9, 2015 2:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm committed to stay in London another year, but I don't really like London. I'm a homesick Canadian missing the friendly, gentle hippies of home. Help me escape the crowds to find them!

Looking for recommendations for clubs, cafes, neighbourhoods and weekend escapes. I'm a female lawyer in my late 20s working long hours needing to unwind and feel like myself again. I like outdoorsy things and social justice and dislike crowds, pretentiousness.

Because of the work I do, I mostly only meet finance-type people who don't get my jokes and drink too much. I'm sure there are others out there! I've been here a year and have yet to find my niche - point me in the right direction!
posted by sallysitwell to Society & Culture (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
My ex used to go to The Maple Leaf pub a lot.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:13 PM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Most important question - where (roughly) do you live in London?

Because there are plenty of neighbourhoods scattered around - from Greenwich in the south to Walthamstow in the North-East that arguably could provide that kind of atmosphere you're after I think (I say that as a 'Stow resident myself). Knowing that might lead to some more specific pointers as to places to go and things to do from people.

Speaking generally for now, Londonist and ianVIsits are worth keeping an eye on for interesting things to do, which in my personal experience have led to meeting some fascinating people of all different types and likes. Similarly, not sure if history is your thing, but if it is then London Historians meetups are good fun.
posted by garius at 3:14 PM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd look for like-minded people on okcupid (seriously), but as a woman you may have to dig through a lot of stupid messages from people who don't understand or don't care what you are looking for.

Weekend escapes: Lake District, Norfolk Coast (train to King's Lynn and excellent buses from there), Lea Valley. Brighton is nice too, but definitely has people.

It took me a long time to appreciate London, but this walk finally did it.
posted by fmnr at 4:12 PM on August 9, 2015

oops, link
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:34 PM on August 9, 2015

Take a weekend trip to Edinburgh! Beautiful city, a cheap four-hour train ride away. If you want a purely low-key trip, you couldn't do better. Bike the Union Canal towpath - great fun, and an easy ride, almost entirely flat. There are also great bookstores, coffee shops, etc.

Oh! And Fringe is coming up at the end of the month. :) https://www.edfringe.com
posted by Mr. Excellent at 6:01 PM on August 9, 2015

- search "hill-walking" (not hiking) meetups outside London
- +1 for Edinburgh, a pretty lengthy voyage end to end (go sleeper train if you can). Absolutely go to the fringe if you can. You may not have the opportunity again and you'll wish you'd have gone. Don't take the bus!
- free/open U courses at various galleries & universities in a subject aligned with your values
-+1 for The Maple Leaf. Keep in mind there is a very good possibility you will run into at least one person from your home town there...
-Have you walked around King's Cross? Right by the tube? This area has relatively social justice-y feel to it. Relatively, anyway.

It doesn't answer your questions specifically, but I've found that when London gets too overwhelming a retreat somewhere deep inside one of its many parks, galleries, or even just Foyles bookshop does provide temporary relief, albeit solitary.

Regardless of whether or not you want a drink, rather than the right people, London is all about finding the right Pub. Good luck with your search!
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 6:45 PM on August 9, 2015

I am actually from Edinburgh and I think it's a great place to visit. Likely a bit more like London than usual when the Fringe is on... I also lived in Bristol for 20 years though and think that it is an easier laid back visit to achieve.
posted by aesop at 7:23 PM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, where are you? Near me in Wathamstow there is the Hornbeam Cafe and Organic Lea and the Blackhorse Workshop and many more things, which are packed full of your kind of people. There's projects like that all across London.
posted by Helga-woo at 11:03 PM on August 9, 2015

Visit Brighton - 1 hour south on the train from London (a lot of people commute to London from here) - it's full of friendly, gentle hippies!
posted by atlantica at 11:16 PM on August 9, 2015

Oh! And Fringe is coming up at the end of the month. :) https://www.edfringe.com

Minor correction - the Fringe (and the other Festivals, including the International Festival and shortly the Book Festival) are on now for the whole of the month of August. Prices for trains etc will be correspondingly higher. It's worth a trip though. I live here, as do a bunch of other Mefites, so do MeMail for more pointers or search on the Edinburgh tag.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:15 AM on August 10, 2015

Brixton! The vibe is more old punk than hippie, but it has much more of a community feel than other places, despite the gentrification (avoid the market, really really avoid Pop Brixton). As a green-voting socialist ex-Brighton girl it's the part of London I feel most at home in.

Try this yoga place, the Lido, this deli, check out the community farm, read this blog and the associated message board.
posted by tinkletown at 1:05 AM on August 10, 2015

How about a London Metafilter meetup? (I'd be up for one!) And how about Meetup groups aimed at Canadian expats, social justicey types and hiking?

I have not found OKCupid to be the greatest source of likeminded people, and I'm similar to you if a little older.

Edinburgh and Brighton are good suggestions for getaways.

There are also some great walks in and around London which will scratch that outdoorsy itch. Have you looked at the Green Chain Walk and similar long walks?
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:14 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you live anywhere nearby you might like the Blackheath and Greenwich Amnesty group. I haven't lived in London for a long time now, but they were one of my social hubs and the group still seems to be going strong. Friendly, progressive people with a good social side. I'm happy to put you in touch with someone in the group if like (memail me) but you can just turn up to a letter writing evening.
posted by crocomancer at 2:15 AM on August 10, 2015

Your question title reminded me of this blog which has lots of interesting slightly odd sights in London. Might be good for reengaging your enthusiasm.

posted by Erberus at 5:02 AM on August 10, 2015

Brighton, Bristol and Norwich are my fantasy "when I move out of London" cities. They're the places I go to relax. Brighton is notorious for its hippies, Bristol has a great community of West Country hippies and Norwich is extremely laid back and chatty and, well, delightfully odd. All are university towns in the middle of lovely countryside, and all are an easy weekend trip away on public transport.
posted by stuck on an island at 5:19 AM on August 10, 2015

Response by poster: Wow, thanks for the great answers everyone! Walthamstow, Norfolk and the hiking/walking trails look right up my alley.

For those who asked where I'm living, I'll be moving to Stepney Green in September. A bit sad I didn't know about Walthamstow while I was looking for a place!
posted by sallysitwell at 5:27 AM on August 10, 2015

Oh, no Walthamstow is just an example. Here's at least one thing near Stepney to get you started, Bethnal Green nature reserve, once a month the Nest Collective have acoustic folk nights round a bonfire.
posted by Helga-woo at 11:19 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you're moving to Stepney Green, why not try joining GoodGym? They're a running group that runs to volunteer projects (every Monday in Tower Hamlets) and then runs home. I run with them, and pretty much everyone is a "social justice" type and very friendly. You don't have to be a good runner to join.
posted by Concordia at 11:35 PM on August 10, 2015

« Older Tell me about your dramatic career change   |   Experiences with best days/times posting Skilled... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.