Raise your hand if you’ve ever been a victim of this tragic cycle:
“What shall we do today?”
“I don’t know, what do you fancy?”
“I don’t know, what were you thinking?”
“I’m not sure – what are the options?”
*repeat until it’s too late to leave the house/you are dead*
I live in this cycle. Adam (the husband) and I both work a lot, as well as rehearsing for two (or in his case four) bands and a stage show. So it’s pretty rare that we get a whole day off at the same time; and when we do, we generally spend it buried in a blanket burrito on the sofa. So this exchange sort of ruins the very rare opportunities we have to go out and do things.
However, through some miracle, I managed to pull this day out together a year or so ago. We’re both hella morbid – we’re obsessed with true crime and old abandoned prisons and ‘ghosts*’ and all that shebang. One of our first dates was the woods at midnight to go ghost hunting (read: tell each other spooky stories to see who got freaked out first). So for anyone who’s looking for some tips for a date day in London, read on…
Step One: London Dungeon
This one’s pretty obvious. If you’re going for a morbid day out, you gotta start here. We went shortly after they re-located to Southbank and it was fabulous. If you’ve not been before, it’s essentially a tour around a re-created London, learning about everything grizzly from the Plague to Jack the Ripper. With tour guides who never break character, and mini-rides to boot. A lot of fun.
This year, they’re putting on London Dungeon Lates, so you can go drink gin when the kids aren’t there and get spooked…
Side fact: Adam and I run into a problem a lot at attractions like this. I get the impression that he was a class clown at school, because he likes to play up to the tour guide like some sort of hyper-active child. He’s always desparate to get picked as a volunteer so he can crack wise and get some laughs. It actually works out pretty well when he is picked, we tend to win a lot of free stuff as *whispers* he’s actually pretty funny. On the flip-side, I do not like to be picked. I do the classic avoid-all-eye-contact until the moment has passed because I don’t want to stand in front of the group and put on the thing and do the thing and just no. No thank you. Unfortunately, 9/10 tour guides pick up on this dynamic, ignore Adam, and yank me up front. *shudders*
London Dungeon was also where we picked up Gregory the Executioner (pictured), who then joined us on the rest of our excursion…
Step Two: Lunch…
Okay this one’s not so grizzly. We went to Five Guys. Moving on…
Step Three: The Clink
This one’s not as well known as the London Dungeon, but if you’re interested in true crime and the history of crime in London, definitely check it out. You’ll only be there around an hour as it’s pretty small, but we loved it. Over in Southwark, it’s built on the site of the original Clink Prison, which dates back to 1144. The prison spanned over 600 years and housed “debtors, heretics, drunkards, harlots, and later religious adversaries”. You can get hands-on with the artifacts, read stories of historic prisoners, and even try out some of the torture devices if you are so inclined! Good and grizzly.
Step Four: London Stone
Okay, it’s time for day-drinking. I’m afraid most all of my day-out guides will include day-drinking…
I should point out that we walked the entire day, rather than getting on the tube – if you do the same I highly advise telling gory stories about the plague victims in the Thames as you cross bridges throughout the day. You can also look up where various plague pits are situated if you feel like being grossed out (there’s definitely one underneath Liverpool Street.)
Named after an historic London relic, The London Stone (which is a Grade-II listed piece of unidentified masonry), London Stone is a gothic pub situated opposite Cannon Street tube station. It’s easy to miss, as it’s just a simple doorway leading down a set of stairs…but it fits perfectly with the theme of the day, which is clear once you’re down there. With a gothic church vibe, the seats are all antique or replica pews, adorned with gargoyles, coffins and chandeliers. The toilets are hidden behind a bookcase for that ‘secret-room’ vibe.
They also offer a 7 Deadly Sins cocktail menu which, if you purchase one of each cocktail, can earn you a free T-Shirt. We both left with free T-Shirts…
Step Five: Who You Gonna Call? Ghost Bus Tours!
This was the booking that set the theme for the day – once we’d spotted this, the rest of the activities blossomed from there. The Ghost Bus Tours bus is a refurbished double-decker, with vintage curtains and lamps and some astoundingly good actors/tour guides. The bus picks you up at 7pm, and drives around supposed haunted sites of London, pointing out locations of torture, murder and executions whilst simultaneously pulling you into a ghost story of your very own…it was definitely the highlight of the day. If you can only do one thing on this list, make it this one.
A particularly resonating location was the Crossbones Graveyard, which the tour group was ushered off the bus to go and inspect further. If you haven’t heard of the Crossbones Graveyard, it is an unmarked graveyard of what is considered to be in excess of 15,000 people. In the 1800’s, it was a part of one of London’s poorest slums, known then as The Mint. It was used for, among others, sex workers who weren’t considered holy enough to be buried on consecrated land. It was one of the most intense, emotional, and fascinating places I have ever been. To this day it is decorated with flowers and ribbons, creating a shrine to the ‘outcast dead’.
Step Six: Seriously?
If you make it this far, you’re a stronger woman than I. We were knackered. We went home and ordered Chinese food.
Got any tips on fun places to go out in London? Hit me up! @UpAndGeorgia