Just because the Olympics are over, doesn’t mean there isn’t more fun to be had in London. This Abroad Blog of the Week proves that is a fact. Ally of Brilliant London is an American expat who has made it her goal to discover London one photo and one day at a time. Her daily posts are easy reads and include pictures, history, and fun facts about various landmarks and events throughout the city. Some of my personal favorite posts were of the Diamond Jubilee. But what I like most about Brilliant London is the variety. You can find the famous tourist spots on her blog, but there is even more of the unknown, less-frequently visited diamonds in the rough. If you’re planning a trip to London, this is definitely a blog to reference. I was fortunate to virtually chat with Ally and get some further tips on exploring London. (Thanks, Ally!)
What made you decide to start Brilliant London?
As American expats, our time in London is limited, and knowing that we will be returning to the States within the next few years, I found myself determined not to miss anything. We are so fortunate to have this opportunity, and I don’t want to return home knowing that I didn’t take advantage of all that London has to offer. I decided that making a commitment to writing about one location a day would be a good goal, and after more than 150 posts, I have just begun to scratch the surface! I am learning so much, and all of my research has provided me with some excellent trivia and party conversation…’did you know that London actually averages less rainfall per year than New York City?’ or ‘did you know that The Queen has owned more than 30 Corgis during her reign?’ See? Isn’t that useful table talk?!
London has been a busy place this summer. What has been your favorite event of the summer?
I have to confess that I have been blogging from the States this summer as we like to come back and see our friends and family while school is out, however, London has been a busy place all year! What excellent timing we have had for our adventure! I was among the crowds lined up along the streets to watch Kate and William’s Royal Wedding Procession, and I was again up at the crack of dawn to wave to The Queen as she passed-by for her Diamond Jubilee Procession. Everything has been so festive in London from the hundreds of union flags strung-up along Oxford Street to the giant Olympic Rings hanging from Tower Bridge. I think my favorite event, though, would have to be attending the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace. I will never forget it!
On all your adventures through London do you prefer to go with friends/family or solo?
We do a lot of exploring as a family, and I like to meet up with my friends for a good museum exhibit or theatre production, but I tend to head out on my own during the week to explore the city and take photos for Brilliant London. I map out a specific area, mark a few landmarks, and see where my camera takes me. I love when I find a hidden street or alley that just looks like the London we all picture from Charles Dickens or Sherlock Holmes, and I have taken thousands of photos since I started this project.
Where do you get the best fish and chips?
We love fish and chips! My favorite spot is fish! Kitchen in Borough Market. It is a traditional takeaway counter, and the atmosphere is fantastic! The kids like to watch them batter the fish behind the counter while we wait, and then we can wander around the market afterwards. A great day out!
What advice would you give someone who is moving abroad to London?
First of all, if it is your first time living abroad, cut yourself a break because the details of moving are huge and stressful! Once you get settled-in, though, it can be one of the best experiences of your life. Our family moved from the American suburbs, and we made some important decisions that we don’t regret. We live in the city, near an underground station, and we don’t have a car. London is a very easy city to get around without a car, and our children have become incredibly independent while living in the city. Our lifestyle has changed in the following ways: I grocery shop at the neighborhood market everyday, as our refrigerator is tiny; I do laundry everyday, as our washing machine is tiny; and we spend a lot of time out exploring the city as our house is tiny….are you beginning to get the picture? Other than the lack of space, it has been very easy to adjust from America. For me, London is all about the history, live theatre, museums, international foods, the parks, and the Royal Ceremonies. If you have the opportunity to live abroad in London, go for it, and explore, explore, explore! London is Brilliant!