a simple question
A little while ago I had a friend visit me from Japan. As it was his first time in London with a guide on hand, he took full advantage of having someone to show him around. It was whilst we were strolling around taking photos of Westminster that he asked me if I had ever before visited the places I had taken him. I realised that no, I hadn’t. What was worse? I didn’t even know why. All these tourist hotspots which people travel hundreds, thousands of miles for, are on my doorstep and yet I’ve never given them a second thought. It’s not just me either; after chatting with friends and colleagues, we’re all guilty of the same neglect. So this gave me the idea for my next blog series—London Overlooked by Londoners—where I rediscover the gems of the city and polish them up for your inspection.
realisation of the awesome
The first awesome attraction I’m going to focus on is the National Portrait Gallery which greets me every day after stepping off the train at Charing Cross. Beautiful in the grand ‘Florentine Renaissance’ style it gazes out over Trafalgar Square taking in the street performers that tout their talents to the bustling crowds on its steps. Founded in 1856, the idea of the gallery was to display portraits of culturally and historically relevant ‘movers and shakers’ to promote understanding and appreciation for the things they were moving and/or shaking, whether they be Politicians, Mathematicians, Artists, Actors or Musicians. It now boasts one of the most extensive portrait collections in the world. THE WORLD. As someone who claims to be interested in the arts, it’s pretty shocking that I’ve not not visited it since my school days.
However, this is something I plan to rectify shortly. Working barely ten minutes from the gallery I really have no excuses, especially when they’re open late both Thursday and Friday. ‘The Late Shift’ not only offers the opportunity for those of us that work to check out the current exhibitions when it’s a little less crowded but often features special tours, talks, music from both DJs and live acts, and life drawing activities. The best bit? More often these events are completely and utterly free. So, if you’re as guilty as I am, check out their event calendar and be sure to reserve yourself a spot at one of London’s often overlooked attractions. Who knows, maybe we’ll run into each other!
Have you discovered something marvellous overlooked or underrated within London? I’d love to hear about it and who knows, maybe it will feature in my next post.