Watch actor, voice-over artist, former model, author and human rights campaigner Joanna Lumley’s London Story in the video above.
During our interview Joanna told us more about why, even after nearly half a century in the UK Capital, London still excites and energises her life and work. We’ve used some of her favourite London experiences to populate our homepage www.visitlondon.com from 20 Jan-23 Jan 2014.
Here’s Joanna’s top five things to see and do in London:
Battersea Power Station and Stockwell
“I have lived in Earl’s Court, near Holland Park and in Wimbledon and now I live in Stockwell. Stockwell has a lot of extraordinary treats. It has got the most beautiful war memorial which is painted with poppies and things. Stockwell has its own personal characteristics [and] it is now linked to Nine Elms and the immense new development there. [It’s also very close to] Battersea Power Station, one of the most iconic and thrilling parts of London, with its great four chimneys sticking up, you seem to see them all around, whichever side of the river you are. The power station is being developed into restaurants and places to live and offices and cafés and shops – a theatre even. Maybe [one day] I can walk to [work at] a theatre in Battersea.”
“Holland Park is one of the best kept secrets in London. It is staggering, I took a Canadian friend there the other day and she was bewitched by it. It’s got parterres, winding paths, statues, its own little opera house. It has got a beautiful restaurant, an orangery. It has got formal duck ponds with ducks who have babies…little puffballs. It’s got peacocks which roost in the trees. It’s got tulips in springtime and magnolias. It’s got camellias coming out before the snow has even come off them, it’s a fantastic place. It sits between Holland Park Avenue and Kensington High Street. You can wander your way around – it’s got a football pitch, it’s got everything you could possibly want and wherever you go in it, you’ll find a new path and a new way. And you can wear smart shoes if you want to be a smart Londoner and not be muddy, or you can wear football boots.”
London in 24 hours: Open Top Bus Tour and Fish & Chips
“If you really have only got 24 hours, I think you should take one of those nice topless buses, they are terribly, terribly good, or go onto the river, where you get quite a different thing – the whole city sounds different. Take your camera and actually look at all these extraordinary places. If you can go to a museum, come to the British Library or the British Museum or the V&A or the Science Museum or the Natural History Museum. The Sir John Soane’s Museum is packed with treats. Try to focus on something properly for an hour, then skitter about like a gadfly. Eat something, I know it’s England, but you have to eat some fish and chips.”
Knightsbridge, Piccadilly, Cromwell Road
“Whenever I come back to London after a long time away, the first thing I do is ask the driver to bring me straight down the Cromwell Road, towards Knightsbridge, veer off, round Hyde Park Corner, the great Quadriga of War – that fabulous chariot with four of them on top of the archway in the middle; a boy driving the horses furiously, and behind, aloft, holding the great wreath of peace, is the angel standing. Go round there, down past Buckingham Palace … and the great golden statue of Queen Victoria. Down Parliament Square, Big Ben, there it all is: still there, still gleaming.
“I think that I would die if I didn’t read books every day. Books are the most important part of my life and reading is the most important skill you can learn as a person on the planet. It doesn’t matter what else you have got. If you are able to read, you can learn everything that there has ever been known. You can read about everything, anywhere in any language, about every single thing that has ever been thought, or ever been invented, or discovered or dreamed of. So without reading, your life is dull, that’s what I say.
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What are your recommendations for visitors to London?