London Bucket List: Places to Explore!!

Map of London and text reading 'London Bucket List!!'

In three weeks time, I’ll be moving to the other side of the country to London for university which has come around SCARILY fast – it feels like I was taking my A Level exams just the other day! At the moment, I’m excited to go and meet new people and study subjects that I love, but I know nearer the time I’ll probably be quite nervous, so I thought writing this post would hype me up a bit and also give me some inspiration for days out whilst I’m there. I haven’t really been to London a lot – although I did go twice last summer which ultimately convinced me to go to uni there, but before that I hadn’t been since I was very small! So it’s safe to say there are a lot of London landmarks that I haven’t been to yet – some of which I will be sharing in this bucket list.

Before I start, I apologise for the lack of relevant (??) photos in this post! I wanted to include some fancy photography but as I haven’t really been to these places, I didn’t really have any. Although!! I do have a tube map and colour-in map of London (which I need to finish colouring!!) which the amazing Eve sent to me in a swap box we did a few years ago! So I did have a few London-y props. Anyway, I’ll stop rambling and get onto the bucket list!!

(Also: do any Miranda fans remember Stevie Sutton’s bucket list because I was SO TEMPTED to start this post with that haha)

Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban book next to a pot plant

I couldn’t not include Harry potter in this could I??? When I was little, my dad took us on a tour of Harry Potter filming locations that he’d put together around London and it was SO MUCH FUN although Platform 9 3/4 wasn’t there then so I HAVE to visit it!!!! ( You never know, maybe I’ll get a Hogwarts letter soon too).

Warner Bros Studio Tour

More Harry Potter stuff but AHHHH I’D LOVE TO GOOOOOO!! I know my uni does an a annual trip so hopefully I can visit it then!!

London Eye

I have never been on the eye and I feel like it’s something you have in London?? I’m not a big fan of heights but I do love photographing amazing views so hopefully that’ll distract me from how high up it is haha.

Tate Modern

I remember going to the Tate when I was really young and I probably didn’t appreciate art much back then. I love going to galleries though – I find it so relaxing so hopefully I’ll find time to visit the Tate and other galleries in London!

See a West End musical

I LOVE MUSICALSSSS. And we don’t get many big musicals touring where I live 😦 There are so many I’d like to see though so it would take me forever to decide haha.

Using the Tube

Tube map hidden behind leaves

This may seem not seem very interesting to people who are used to taking the tube, but I’ve only used it once (which was HECTIC AHH) and my goal is by the end of uni to actually be able to navigate the tube by myself and not look like a flustered tourist.

Houses of Parliament

I’m hoping as I’m studying politics that we will get to visit and watch some debates. I visited the Welsh Senedd last year and it was so interesting!! I’m low key sad that Big Ben won’t be fully functioning for the entire time I’m in London though due to it’s repair works 😦

Churchill War Rooms

We wanted to visit the War Rooms last time we were in London but the queue was so big and it was close to closing time so we had to give it a miss, but the history fanatic in me definitely needs to go back and visit.

French Film Festival

This isn’t like specific to London as such, but every year there is a French Film Festival in the UK where lots of independent cinemas around the UK show French films. I wanted to go last year because my favourite French film was showing but all the locations were too far away from home, but hopefully this year I can watch a film or two in London!

London Pride!! 🌈

I’VE NEVER BEEN TO PRIDE AHHH but I really would love to go!!! Especially London Pride as it’d be much bigger than back home! Hopefully I can find people to go with 🙂

Day trip

Various train tickets next to a cactus

Also not London specific but because London is technically better connected to the rest of the UK than Somerset, I’d love to take a day trip on the train and explore somewhere new in the UK.

Well that concludes my ‘London Bucket List’ so far! (It bothers me that there are only 11 things in this list because ODD NUMBERS AHHH). I know there are many things that I have probably missed out of this, so I’d love to hear your recommendations of places to go and things to see. I’m really looking forward to exploring London more, so hopefully this post will give me a few ideas and motivate me to go out and explore!

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Thoughts on Leaving Home & University

Hello! Before I start, can I just say how much I am loving this spring weather?? Finally, the snow and cold has gone and we’re experiencing proper spring here in England. As I’m writing this, I’m sat on my bedroom floor watching the sunset through my windows – it’s beautiful!

Today we went for a bit of a drive through the countryside to pick up my mum from a Cub Scout event and it was like I’d almost forgotten how beautiful the rolling hills of Somerset looked in the golden sunlight. We drove past the farm where my family buys eggs from now and again and I felt really nostalgic about all the times I went with my parents as a child to collect the eggs. We also came across a couple of tractors and farmers just casually chatting in the country lanes – it really made me realise how much I’m going to miss living here.

Ever since the prospect of going to university became a reality, I’ve always said that I’d go to university on the coast. It may sound silly, but I’ve lived by the sea all my life and for a very long time, the thought of living away from the sea seemed impossible. For me, the sea represents so much more than just the mass of water that it is. When I stand on beach, looking out into the – albeit brown – sea, I find freedom in the horizon that stretches out further than the eye can see. It represents endless possibility and, most importantly, that there is more to life that I’m living within this bubble. When I feel trapped and claustrophobic under the blanket of pressure from college, friends or family, even just thinking about the sea gives me hope and ignites my spirit of adventure. I always thought that if I lived inland, I would feel trapped and swamped by society, so therefore when thinking about university, 15-year-old me decided I must live by the sea.

However, a few years down the line, I applied to university with none of my five choices being located on the coast. What happened? Well, as I’ve been exploring different pathways and possibilities, I found myself pursuing – unexpectedly – a rather niche degree in the UK comprised of (roughly) European politics and French. Therefore, the selection of universities I had to choose from was sadly quite limited.

I think that’s why it’s taken me so long to decide where to go to university – I received all my offers back by early January but was torn between them all because none of my options seemed the obvious choice. Sure, each one had it’s benefits but none of them would allow me to continue living under the safety blanket that the sea provides me.

Surprisingly, I’ve finally settled on going to London, which if you know me well you’d be shocked at as I’ve always said I wanted to go anywhere other than London. However after my travels in London last summer and going to various open days and applicant days, I fell in love with city and the prospect of living in the hustle and bustle of it all started to appeal to me. Also, the university I’ll be going to offers me some really exciting opportunities for the years to come, including spending a year abroad working, studying or teaching in a French-speaking country.

I think, in all, this decision to move to the capital has come from my growing self-confidence over the past few months. I felt confident enough in my decision-making skills to accept my university place and was pretty sure that, in five months time when I move in, I’d still feel as though it was the right decision. I also felt confident enough to leave behind the sea that I love so much as I no longer need it to act as a source of optimism about future adventures in the wider world. University is the start of my adventure after all, so I could finally stop dreaming and get ready to start living it.

Although the thought of leaving home thrills me and terrifies me in equal parts, I know it’s the right decision for me. So many great opportunities lay ahead, and I’m so glad I’ve found the courage to let myself experience them. I will miss home very much, which is natural of course, but I know the sea and rolling fields will always be here waiting for me to return.

 

//Exploring London; East To West//

Hello! After visiting Royal Holloway University back in June, I decided that I loved being near London and haven’t explored the capital nearly as much as I’d liked to. To be fair, I do live on the other side of the country to London, but now I’m (almost) and adult, it’s much easier for me to travel. So, this summer I’ve been lucky enough to go to London twice – the first time to East London and the second to West London (hope you got that from the title lol).

Some of you may know that in July, London hosted the Parathletics World Championships at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (built for the 2012 Olympics). My family and I love watching sport and as we hadn’t managed to get tickets for the Olympic Park during the 2012 games, we decided to go and watch some Parathletics, and the Olympic Park definitely lived up to it’s hype – the grounds are beautiful and the stadium itself and the atmosphere from the crowd during the Parathletics was magnificent!

Olympic Stadium
Olympic Stadium
Parathletes lining up for the 5000m race
Parathletes lining up for the 5000m race

As the Olympic Park is located in Stratford,East London, we drove past the East London Docklands – Canary Wharf – and through several areas of East London such as Poplar, Newham and Hackney. Whenever I’ve been to London before we’ve always stated in the centre in the tourist-y areas, so going to East London felt completely different. Although East London is considered to be the more deprived region of London, and many of the streets surrounding the bubble of the Olympic Park were covered in more graffiti than I’ve ever seen before in my life, I loved the feel of the region – it had character and after studying East London in geography, it was so interesting to actually see it first hand.

Canary Wharf skyline from a distance
Canary Wharf skyline from a distance

I really enjoyed the time we spent in East London although we didn’t venture far from the Olympic Park (other than when we were driving there and back). I’d definitely love to go back and explore more of the culture there!

After going to London for the Parathletics, I’d definitely caught the London bug and wanted more than anything to return to the city – I just love how it’s so vastly different in all the boroughs and regions and it’s so full of culture and life. So a few weeks ago me and my sister booked tickets with Megabus to go to London again for the day, but this time West London.

After waking up at 5:30 to get the bus at 6:30 then the Megabus itself at 8:15 (because they Megabus left from Bristol so we had to get to Bristol first) last Wednesday, we spent a lovely day in London exploring Chelsea, Westminster and Kensington. We’d never travelled without our parents before so it was a completely new experience, and it was a bit nervewracking, but I’m so proud of us for managing to navigate our way across West London as we walked from Victoria Coach Station to the Natural History Museum – an area we hadn’t been to for about 10 years.

We did get a little lost on the way there but we eventually arrived outside the stunning museum (I couldn’t get any good photos of the architecture though as there were so many trees in front of it!). There were huge queues for the entrance – and I mean huge I’d never seen so many people queuing for something! But we managed to find the back entrance which had a much shorter queue.

Back of the Natural History Museum
Back of the Natural History Museum

The museum was really interesting! Some bits I remembered from when I went years ago,like the human biology bit, but we went in a really cool exhibit about volcanoes and earthquakes (which kind of made me like geography a bit more) and everything space-y. We went in an earthquake simulator (where I attempted to film it but almost fell over when sorting out the camera because the floor started moving unexpectedly). It was set out like a Japanese supermarket and the lights went out and everything was shaking on the shelves, it was quite scary but having never been in an earthquake I’m not sure how realistic it was.

Part of the earthquake simulator shop
Part of the earthquake simulator shop

We also saw the blue whale skeleton which has replaced the diplodocus that had been in the main hall for years previously – it was really cool! We didn’t manage to look round the whole museum because it was HUGE, despite spending hours in there!

Blue whale skeleton
Blue whale skeleton

After we’d finished looking round, we had about an hour before we needed to head back to the coach station, so as it was sunny and hot we wandered down the road past Imperial College London into Hyde Park. We didn’t venture far into the park but it was so nice to sit in the shade by the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall and relax.

Albert Memorial in Hyde Park
Albert Memorial in Hyde Park

I think my favourite part of the day was walking back to the coach station, as we used Google maps to navigate our way and it took us a different way to we came in the morning. Honestly I felt a bit out of place because we were walking through what felt like a really posh area of London. I mean, there streets were lined with towering white houses with balconies covered with plants and flowers (a.k.a. what I imagine Paris to be like).

Also there were hotels with posh cars outside and chauffeurs. Not to mention we walked past Harrod’s which LOOKS LIKE AN ACTUAL PALACE (we had to look it up on Google maps because we couldn’t work out why there would be a palace in the middle of the highsteeet and then ofund out it was Harrod’s). All the shops were really posh too – I loved this Harvey Nichols window display with suticases with wings.

I was sad to leave the city behind at the end of the day but I was shattered after getting up so early and spend 8 hours in total traveling. However I was so impressed with the Megabus coach service,considering it’s so cheap! We also stopped off at Heathrow airport to pick people up on the way back and as I’d never been before I was overwhelmed by how huge it was! I was glad to get home at last and go to sleep but I thoroughly enjoyed my time in West London,which was so different in comparison to East London, but I enjoyed and loved both visits to the city just the same!
Have you been to London recently? Where’s your favourite place to go? 

//Remembering the London 2012 Olympic Games//

As you probably should know, the 2016 Olympic Games are currently taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Around this time four years ago, it was London’s turn to host the Olympics and I have to say that this years Olympics is definitely bringing back lots of nostalgia from London 2012.

I don’t actually remember when it was announced that London were going to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games but I must have been aware of it as I designed my own version of what the Olympic Park should look like (although in hindsight I think it might have been more suited to hamsters than athletes).

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I think one of the first things I can actually remember about the London 2012 Olympics is in my first year of secondary school (2011) we did a whole project on the Olympics in geography where we learnt about how the park was being built and the costs and benefits of the UK hosting it. We even got to design our own mascots too (I just went searching through piles of old school books to find mine but it wasn’t anywhere to be seen).

Later on in the year during school charity month, I even got the opportunity to hold the Olympic Torch and have my photo taken with it as a boy from my school who was in the older years was actually carrying the torch in the Olympic Torch relay so he used it to raise money for the charity my school was supporting that year.

Then in the summer holidays of 2011 I remember going to London and seeing the Olympic and Paralympic countdown clock in Trafalgar Square and going to the British Museum where they had replicas of the London 2012 Olympic medals. I also remember London’s Paddington Station had a London 2012 shop (which was closed when we got there because we had a late train). But, in traditional British fashion it was grey and gloomy so my photos aren’t that great.

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Paralympic countdown clock with 116 days, 5 hrs, 42 mins and 18 secs to go!
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Olympic and Paralympic medals.

Then later on in 2011 (actually this could have happened before I went to London but I can’t really remember) I went on a Scout camp to Austria – which was one of the best experiences of my life – and on the cross-channel ferry on the way back we looked round the shops and I bought a Wenlock (the Olympic mascot) figurine. It was a really weird experience because EVERYONE was buying Olympic stuff and I think that was when it dawned on me that the Olympics were coming and there wasn’t long to wait!20160815_144057[1]

I can’t remember when exactly, but me and my family put in bids for tickets for various events and were lucky enough to get tickets for two womens football matches and a days worth of rowing.

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The football was one or two days before the actual opening ceremony for the Olympics as there were so many football matches that they had to start earlier than the rest of the events. But this didn’t mean we didn’t have the Olympic spirit – when we turned up at our local train station to catch the train to Cardiff there were quite a few other people also dressed in Team GB clothing and carrying Union Flags. I have to say though that train journey was probably the worst I’ve been on – it was ridiculously hot that day and the train only had two carriages so we were all squished up for a couple of hours in unbearable heat.

Once we got there there was a huge queue to get into the Millennium Stadium because everyone had to be security checked which took ages.

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You can kind of get an idea of how big the queue was!

When we finally got through the gates though the stadium looked even more impressive. Although it was so huge it was difficult to get a good picture of it.

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The inside of the stadium was just as impressive although I didn’t get any photos of when it was full.

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Flags of competing countries.
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We were on the highest tier of the stadium and it was so steep I didn’t want to stand up.
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GO TEAM GB!!!!!

The first match we watched was Great Britain vs New Zealand and the final score was 1-0 to GB! It  was so good to watch our home team win and when we scored the winning goal everyone in the stadium jumped out of their seats to celebrate (even me despite the fact that we were so high up).

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Teams GB and NZ before the match.

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After the first match was over, we went off to buy some food because we weren’t allowed to take any into the stadium. But all the food places had such big queues that when we got there the only thing we could buy were some sandwiches (but at least we still ate). It was quite funny actually because someone I recognised from school was sat with their family a few rows in front of us (at this point I didn’t know them as I’d only just started secondary school) but towards the end of secondary school we became friends which was cool.

The second match we watched was Brazil vs Cameroon. According to wiki, an extra 5,000 people came to watch this match (although I’m not sure how because you could only buy tickets for both matches together, not individually). Brazil won 5-0 and it was a great match to watch – much more fast-paced than GB vs NZ as you can see by the final score.

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Brazil and Cameroon in action.

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After the football had finished, we made our way out of the stadium and back to the train station. Ont the way we saw lots of people selling flags and hats (although it was a bit late at this point) and there was a large amount of Brazilian supporters in the streets celebrating their victory. We walked past the Team GB womens coach in on the way out but my family didn’t believe me until it was too late to get a signature. We also passed the London 2012 merchandise stands but I don’t think I bought anything there as, again, the queues were so large and by this time it was around 11pm so we just wanted to get home.

After yet more queues at the train station and two trains later we finally got home in the early hours of the morning and although I wouldn’t class myself to be a huge fan of football, it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Then we went to watch the rowing at Eton Dorney, Buckinghamshire around a week later. I was excited to watch this as rowing wasn’t something I’d ever really watched before/knew a lot about.

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This time we drove to a park and ride in Buckinghamshire put on especially for the Olympics where we left our car and took a bus to Eton Dorney. I found the buses really exciting because they were all brand new and this was the year that they brought in the new style buses in the UK (I think).

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LOOK – SHINY NEW BUSES!!

Once we arrived at Eton Dorney I remember there being quite a long walk to get to the entrance of the venue but I’m sure the hoards of people supporting various different countries that were walking along with us kept us occupied. Also the Games Makers were very friendly, helpful and funny and just generally made the whole experience way more exciting. We had to go through airport-style security to enter the venue and I remember there being some incident with a mans watch falling into the tray with my dads bag in whilst it was going through the x-ray machine (not sure if that’s what they are actually called) so that was interesting!

The venue for the rowing was obviously a lot bigger and different than that of the football so the whole experience was slightly different. We didn’t have tickets for the seats at the end of the rowing course but that didn’t matter as we had come prepared with blankets and wellies to sit on the grass verges along with the majority of spectators.

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Look how lovely the weather was…

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*Casually brings Paralympic Games mascot to the Olympic Games*

I think we ended up sitting about halfway along the rowing course (I’m not good with technical rowing terms, haha, so correct me if I’m wrong) so we saw the middle of the races but there were plenty of big screens around so we could see the start and finish.

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As far as the races go, we saw quite a few as we were there all day.

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I think my favourites would have to be the women’s eights race though as it was really exciting seeing so many people racing. We also saw a competitor from Niger, Hamadou Djibo Issaka, who had only been rowing a three months and although he didn’t do that well in his race, the whole crowd was cheering him on.

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Women’s eights.
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Women’s eights including Team GB.

As well as watching the rowing itself, there was a lot of other stuff to do at Eton Dorney too. There were lots of stalls, including a London 2012 shop where I bought the rowing edition of the London 2012 Olympic 50p coins.

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(I still haven’t taken it out of the packet because it might be worth a lot in 50 years or so – not that I’d want to sell it!)

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There was also a big marquee with a ‘Get Inspired’ sign on it which was like the theme of the Olympic Games. In there you could have virtual rowing and canoeing races with people using rowing machines and canoeing machines which was fun, even though I was really bad at it!

As we didn’t have specific seats allocated to us, we were free to wander around Eton Dorney so at one point we went down to the start line and watched a few races from there.

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The start line.

We also found the Olympic Rings which everyone was queuing to take pictures by. We approached the rings from the back (which was grey) and we wondered why everyone was queuing around the other side of the rings when you get perfectly good pictures of this side. So us being stupid took loads of family photos with the GREY Olympic Rings in the background, only to discover that the other side of the rings were the COLOURED side…100_2078.JPG

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Whilst we were wandering around, we bumped into Wenlock, the mascot, and took photos with it and we also found a statue of Wenlock too.100_2072.JPG

We also saw various members of each nations rowing teams (not sure if they were coaches or not) cycling alongside the water during the races which you don’t get to see when you watch rowing on TV.

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I can’t really remember much about leaving the rowing, except we got back on the bus then drove back home but overall watching the rowing was a really great experience and I enjoyed it just as much as the football.

Going to watch the Olympics was, of course, the best part of the London 2012 Games for me, but the hype of hosting the games is something I’m never going to forget. I loved our opening and closing ceremonies and really felt proud to be British. I hope I’ll be able to experience another home games in my lifetime because it was truly amazing.

Obviously in the build up to and during the Olympics there was London 2012 and Team GB merchandise in almost every shop so I did manage to collect quite a lot of stuff. I’ve taken some pictures of some of the stuff here but I know there are various other things around the house that I’ll remember later.

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Team GB LEGO Minifigures.
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Team GB Annual 2012.
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Paralympic Wheelchair Racing Keyring.

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What can I say? I like stationery okay?
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That sad person who keeps chocolate bar wrappers…
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My families collection of London 2012 50p coins (we didn’t buy these ones, we’ve just accumulated them in change from shops, we still get them occasionally now)!
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London 2012 Top Trumps cards.
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London 2012 Trivial Pursuit.
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I think these Team GB stickers came with the tickets which is pretty cool!

I still can’t believe that all of this happened 4 years ago now!?! It feels like it was yesterday!

Did you go to the London 2012 Olympics or Paralympics? Have you been to any Olympic Games? I’d love to know! 🙂

 

 

//Swap box with…Eve//

So, as you’ll know I also did a swap box with Just A Blank Space which I talked about here but as well as that, I did one with the lovely Eve (appletaile) from A Twist In The Taile (actually I did five in total so expect to see more of these posts over the next week or so)!

The parcel arrived two weeks ago today but I’ve only just got round to writing the blog post up (I have no excuse – I’m just feeling very lazy at the moment). So, without further or do, here is what I received from Eve!

Firstly I opened the package up to find this awesome bag from The Wimbledon Shop. *Fun fact *: I have a collection of plastic bags from interesting places such as The Doctor Who Experience and Le Tour De France Shop. I’ve added this bag to the collection too!

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Inside the bag was a Wimbledon key ring (which I have already decided is going to be attached to my house key when I eventually find it). I’ve never watched Wimbledon (except from on TV) but it is definitely something I’d like to do in the future!

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Then there was also a Soapasaurus Butter Beer lip balm which is absolutely amazing and it’s smells so lovely and is, in my opinion, a genius idea because not only can you taste Butter Beer when you apply it, the scent is so powerful it makes you smell like Butter Beer too!! I love this so much and I’m so grateful for Eve to have sent this to me!

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Alongside the key ring and the lip balm, there was also a cute little pin badge that said ‘Blog Squad’ on it. I love it because it makes me think of the lovely Blog Squad themselves – a group of teen bloggers on Twitter who I am so grateful to have as friends. Shout out to the Blog Squad and to Eve for making this!! ❤

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Now I can’t remember if this was in the Wimbledon bag too or not but next there was a rubber from the Tate Modern in London which I went to ages ago (when I was like 8 or something) so can’t really remember it – which, of course, is a good reason to go back some time! I love any kind of stationary to be honest and, knowing me, this will probably join my collection of ‘ceremonial stationary’ which I use purely for display purposes in my bedroom as they are just too pretty to actually use.

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Next there was a map of the tube in London which is very helpful because I find over ground trains confusing enough as it is and last time I was in London I had no clue which line to get on and where to get off at. Also I haven’t quite mastered tube etiquette yet so this will probably be helpful with that too (well at least I can look like I know where I’m going instead of being a confused tourist).

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Then there was a pocket map of London that I can colour in and customize myself! I love maps and exploring new places very much and I also really love colouring so I’m going to really enjoy colouring this in and finding out more about London (it’s really bad – I barely know anything about my own capital city but I guess now is as good a time as any to learn)!

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Lastly, there was a copy of a July edition of TimeOut London magazine.

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Not knowing much about London itself, I wasn’t even aware that this magazine existed but now I’ve had time to read it through – I love it! There are some really interesting articles in their (particularly the below interview with Matt Smith) as well with just general news about London and ideas of things to do in the city. When I was reading this, I actually started to feel a bit like an actual Londoner, or at least someone who knew more about London other than the fact that it was the capital of Britain and was very huge.

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LOOK LOOK!!

There was also a rather interesting newspaper in the middle of the magazine The Unusual Times.

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It had many surprisingly useful articles in it (and some that were just very odd – like the unusual horoscopes – but were still a good read). I also found the Cucumber Facts feature to be particularly useful.

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I mean, I wouldn’t of known a cucumber was a portal into another dimension if it wasn’t for The Unusual Times!!

Eve also sent me a lovely little letter (which wasn’t too rambly at all). It was very cute and it was so surreal to be reading something that someone I’d only ever talked to online before had written!

Here’s a picture of everything in Eve’s swap box together:

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All that’s left to do is to thank Eve very much for everything she sent me – I love it all and I’m so grateful that they wanted to do a swap box with me because I have absolutely loved learning more about London and feeling more connected to my internet friends! 🙂 So thank you Eve!

Also don’t forget to check out Eve’s blog because they are awesome and their posts are so intriguing and are well worth a read!