What can I do with three weeks off, in London?
February 1, 2018 1:07 PM   Subscribe

I’ve just finished a project that’s taken me nine years to complete and that I worked on pretty constantly (albeit inefficiently) over that period. I promised myself three weeks completely off work of any kind when I was done; I plan to take that time off this June. My problem is that my imagination for “fun! relaxing!” has kind of atrophied and my list of things to do in this period is shorter than I like. I’d love some suggestions to add to my list.

I’ll be in London and have no plans to travel, except perhaps within England/the UK, since I am going abroad a bunch of times this year for conferences and family things anyway and I find air travel quite tiring. My current list consists of:

—sleep a lot/8-9h a night
—cook lots of new recipes
—go for long rambling walks every day
—read a bunch of new books
—reread all my old favourite books
—maybe go to the theatre a couple of times?

That’s it. What am I not thinking of, that I should definitely also consider doing? I was originally planning to sign up for some fun classes but I think I may become perfectionistic and anxious about them and that would defeat the purpose of a minimum-effort three weeks.
posted by Aravis76 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Meditate? Journal?
posted by cooker girl at 1:10 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Do you have a budget? I'd be awfully tempted to take a train to somewhere in the countryside, a market town with a pretty castle, stay at a B&B for a week, and go for walks in around that area. I find train travel extremely relaxing, and a bit of time away from home (thoughts of chores and "should do"s so close to top of mind) really refreshing.
posted by pammeke at 1:14 PM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Get in touch with old friends.
posted by aniola at 1:15 PM on February 1, 2018

Get a massage, haircut, pedicure, or whatever sounds good.
Visit the new restaurants/shops/etc. that opened in the past nine years while you were busy.
Do some jigsaw puzzles.
Write some letters.
posted by shesbookish at 1:16 PM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

I mean, there's no shortage of tourism attractions in London. The V&A , the Tate Modern, the NPG, the Transport Museum, Natural History Museum, London Zoo are all worth a visit. I hate plane travel too but Bristol is an easy train ride and has my favourite zoo. York is charming. Edinburgh or Glasgow are refreshing. Bath is Bath and Brighton is Brighton; all easy train trips.

Obviously the drawback to all of this in June is the same drawback as London: tourists.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:18 PM on February 1, 2018

Visit m&m world and the Lego shop in Leicester Square.

A river cruise down the Thames.
Walk through the many different parks across the city.
posted by 92_elements at 1:27 PM on February 1, 2018

Research psychogeography. Try out some of the recommended techniques (e.g. “Unfold a street map… place a glass, rim down, anywhere on the map, and draw round its edge. Pick up the map, go out in the city, and walk the circle, keeping as close as you can to the curve. Record the experience as you go, in whatever medium you favour.”)
posted by Jellybean_Slybun at 1:42 PM on February 1, 2018 [7 favorites]

Epping forest. Pub meal. Sofitel day spa complete with long luxurious afternoon tea.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 1:48 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

About the classes - I think you should do one. I get the desire to do a minimum-effort 3 weeks, but as someone who enjoys feeling like I've accomplished things, I rarely find zero-effort time rewarding. Choose a one-day workshop in something you don't necessarily want to be good at but that maybe you'd like to say you did. That could be crazy stuff like a trapeze class, or something you take a souvenir away from like a ceramics or painting project night, or even something semi-useful like a bread-baking class or some other cooking project. The point being to choose something that sounds interesting, something that you don't need to excel at, and that will be over in a few hours so even if you get frustrated by your perfectionist streak it won't last long.
posted by aimedwander at 2:27 PM on February 1, 2018

I would have if I'd had another week absolutely gone to the New Forest for a few days. It's some of the oldest extant first in England and fascinating. There some serious science done around it and a lot of nature walks and ramblings to either DIY or you may book. You've always got Shakespeare festivals somewhere going on, and theatre workshops. I also very seriously considered a side trip to do an Austen-trail so if you have a favourite English author, that could make for a delightful few days traipsing around.

A friend who went recently highly recommended the whisky tour in Scotland and said Edinburgh was the best city for just wandering around. Another friend preferred Brighton. All just train rides away from London.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:12 PM on February 1, 2018

Walk the London Loop.
posted by gyusan at 5:01 PM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Last time we were in London we bought a pass for Kew Gardens, got a B&B very nearby, and then started each day at Kew. Some days we stayed there and had lunch, others we went and did the other things we'd planned. It gave us helpful structure for our day. Kew is a great place for botanically-inclined, but also a great place to let the mind wander.

If I ever go to uk again will prob just stay in London and wander a lot.

The Design museum was great in 2011, and has just been expanded - not a museum at all really, maybe a museum of the future.

Chelsea Physic Garden is another retreat from the world with lots of unusual things. Have been there on a very busy London day, but hardly anyone there, has a cafe, good place to read/write/dream.
posted by unearthed at 8:24 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

In my long rambling walks I really enjoyed finding the pergola and gardens on Hampstead heath extension. Also Highgate cemetery. I really enjoyed reading books set in London and then walking the places they described.
posted by kadia_a at 12:55 AM on February 2, 2018

Exploring the parts of London that aren't part of the standard tourist trails is great. Go and find the surviving gas lamps, or the lost rivers, or visit the prostitutes' graveyard, or the original coronation stone. Make your own tour of the modernist architecture of Metroland. Read about London's legends and traditions, then go to some of the places you've just read about. Go to some of the tiny and specialist medical museums (the Old Operating Theatre in particular). Visit all of the Magnificent Seven Cemeteries to see the Victorian celebration of mourning. Read a fantastic book about Black London (for free) then visit Kenwood House which features in it (also free).

...and that's just what I thought of off the top of my head. And more obviously, London has oodles of fantastic museums and galleries, many of which are free. Don't overlook them just because they are 'touristy'.
posted by Vortisaur at 1:53 AM on February 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Walk the London LOOP. Other trip suggestions: Eltham Palace, day trip to Cambridge or the other place.
posted by crocomancer at 5:09 AM on February 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

sorry didn't spot Gyusan's comment!
posted by crocomancer at 5:13 AM on February 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

For one evening, I highly recommend "The Play that Goes Wrong".

Also, the Shoreditch Street Art Walking Tour.
posted by mbarryf at 6:14 AM on February 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thanks so much to everyone for all the London suggestions. I’ve lived here for the last six years but still don’t know about half this stuff; I can’t mark best answers, because I like them all, but I’m very grateful to everyone who’s commented.
posted by Aravis76 at 6:45 AM on February 2, 2018

Would a trip to the Porchester Turkish Baths appeal? I find them completely charming, not squishy and expensive like a lot of spas but a real sense of history and a very relaxing place to be. There is an attached swimming pool and you could combine this with reading.
posted by *becca* at 7:42 AM on February 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Spend a day in Greenwich, including a visit to the Royal Observatory and the Royal Naval College. It's touristy, but it's so much like a whole other town, right in the middle of London. There's a market, and the parks are lovely. Also, lots of great pubs along the river walk up to the peninsula.
posted by amusebuche at 11:04 PM on February 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

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