Slithering beasts and spilt blood: a London life

On this week’s episode of The Travel Show podcast, Fionn Davenport meets actor and comedian Tara Flynn, Frank Geary of the Irish Development Education Association and Travel Show producer Sinead O’Shea, all of whom have lived in the city at one time or another

Fri, Aug 29, 2014, 17:29

London is a vast city and can be overwhelming for a visitor, as Fionn Davenport discovered when he first visited in the mid 1980s. Not only was the city “strange and intimidating”, but he was forced to spend his shopping money on a smelly B&B. The sense of anxiety arising from that trip has never entirely left him. On this week’s episode of The Travel Show podcast, Fionn talks with actor and comedian Tara Flynn, Frank Geary of the Irish Development Education Association and Travel Show producer Sinead O’Shea, all of whom have lived in the city at one time or another.

Frank suggests that the key to taming London is to forget the tube.

“That’s the great thing about London, if you get off the tube, even if you get on the buses, but certainly if you walk, you do get a sense of that sort of slithering beast that it can be” says Frank. Tara agrees. “Get lost! You have to get lost in London. The tube map is great and it’s a design classic, but it doesn’t give you a sense of the distances involved, and the neighbourhoods”.

This seems like good advice for Fionn, who admits that his greatest accommodation with the sprawling London transport network is to realize that he doesn’t “have to get the tube from Tottenham Court Road to Picadilly Circus”.

So walking is good, but where to? Sinead O’Shea lived in Chalk Farm in North London. “ It’s a good spot to live, it has a combination of different things.” Tara recommends Muswell Hill, also in the North. “There’s no tube station there which means prices are cheaper. And there is gorgeous Alexandra Palace with those panoramic views of London”.

The more well-worn tourist paths have a role to play too. “You need key points to get into the city”, says Frank, “and an obvious one is the two Tates”. The Tate Modern and its more buttoned down sister gallery the Tate Britain are connected by a boat ride down the Thames, an experience in itself, and all on one ticket.

Tara opts for The Tower of London as an obvious but worthwhile destination, while Fionn admits to being awe-inspired by the grandeur of the Mall with its architectural trappings of Empire. Sinead agrees but can’t help asking “whose blood was spilled to create this?”

Can slithering beasts and spilt blood cure Fionn of his fear of London? Find out by logging on to The Travel Show's soundcloud page, or subscribe for free via iTunes.

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