Adventure is not always hiding somewhere in the middle of a desert or floating out in the deep salty waters of the Atlantic, it can just as easily be found in an loft conversion in Chalk Farm or in a forest in the middle of zone 6.
That is why I decided this blog does not need to be just about the far away travels, which, let’s face it, I can only afford once in a while, and don’t have enough time off work for anyway! But that does not mean I don’t look for small adventures to tide me over, and I find them nearly every day, sometimes in rather unexpected places.
This week alone I went to a secret gig, visited the Alexander McQueen exhibition (for the second time, as I was lucky enough to see it once in New York, but it was just as spectacular!), went to an aerial circus class and saw the most spectacular circus show, Circolombia. And this is a week when I’m battling a cold!
Many people think being stuck in the city means being a world away from adventures and constantly yearning for an escape. They are so wrong! London is an endless playground for those who don’t like to sit still and are always looking for new experiences, you just need to know how and where to look.
There are a million and one ways to find something new and exciting in this city, and I would never pretend to know even a small proportion of them. My humble contribution is just five things worth considering which may not be obvious to some city dwellers.
1) Join Sofar Sounds and discover a secret world of music
This week, I went to my first Sofar Sounds gig. In the space of two hours I heard a band that describes itself as “dream pop”, a drum & bass duo and a singer/songwriter of an indescribable genre with distinct Middle Eastern notes.
The concept of Sofar Sounds is truly unique and is catching on across the globe. It involves going to secret gigs in a location that is revealed the night before (although usually the closest tube station is known from the start), with the lineup unveiled…as the gig happens. Usually, these gigs happen in someone’s living room, creating an intense, intimate atmosphere. It really is an adventurous way to discover new music (even if you end up hating it)!
Here is the link to the website, where you can sign up to the mailing list and beginning applying for spots at the secret gigs.
2) Join a meetup group…or several!
Meetup is another great online resource that allows you to join interest groups and attend events with like-minded people – the laziest way of finding adventure, because someone basically finds it for you!
There are thousands upon thousands of meetups happening every week, but the groups can also help you get in touch with people who share the same interests. A few days after joining a climbing meetup group, I got a message from a mountaineer who needed to practice teaching mountaineering skills for an assessment. My climbing buddy and I ended up going to Wales with him over Easter and getting a free mountaineering lesson on the rocks of Snowdonia!
3) Try out an alternative form of exercise
So you’ve been going to the gym, but you’re bored out of your brain and you feel like a hamster running in a wheel every time you go. A sweaty, smelly wheel.
Well, why not try out something different? London may not quite be Chamonix, but it has a lot to offer and there are lots of places where you can do a taster for free, so it doesn’t even have to be a big monetary commitment.
For example, you could try rock climbing or bouldering (here is a list of centres to try in London), circus skills (this is the aerial school I go to, but there are lots of them in different areas in London), or outdoor flying trapeze in London’s parks. At worst, it’s an exciting new experience, at best, you will discover an extremely cool new hobby.
4) Check out popups for foodie adventures
It will not come as a surprise that some of the best foodie experiences are to be found here in the capital, but often the best of them are only around for a short period of time in the form of a popup restaurant, bar or food market. Luckily, it’s very easy to find them: just sign up for a newsletter here.
One of my favourites last year was A Grape Night In. It was a wine popup which paired wines with tapas-style snacks, all planned around a different theme each week. The only problem was stopping before getting hopelessly drunk: the wines, the food and the atmosphere were so nice, it was easy to stay all night!
5) The outdoors is closer than you think!
And finally, when you’ve had enough of London and the sun is shining, don’t feel like you’re stuck in the confines of the city, surrounded by skyscrapers. The outdoors is really not as far as you think!
Check out Fairlop Waters Country Park, where you can do a spot of outdoor bouldering if you’re so inclined, go for a day out in Richmond and sun yourself on the banks of the river (it’s zone 4, after all!), spend a night camping in Epping Forest with a fire-cooked barbecue, or visit Danson House in Bexleyheath. It’s surrounded by a gorgeous little park and the house currently has a Vivienne Westwood exhibition, though it is, confusingly, closed on Saturdays.
Hopefully this was an interesting read. Please comment or get in touch if you have other exciting ideas, or if you need any further information on anything I’ve mentioned. Have fun adventuring!