50th birthday treat in London

Jan 9th, 2009, 12:22 AM
  #1  
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50th birthday treat in London

My aunt is going to be in London for her 50th birthday which falls on a Friday in Feb and I'm looking for ideas for a special birthday treat. She's a young 50 year old and has pretty broad tastes, likes to try new things etc. She lives in Prague and has visited often so has seen all the major sights. I've thought of afternoon tea at Claridges followed by a show, but was wondering whether anyone had more interesting ideas.
lisadrew is offline  
Jan 9th, 2009, 12:32 AM
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how about a champagne flight on the London eye.Very reasonable cost too.
http://www.londoneye.com/TicketsAndPrices/Flights/
unclegus is offline  
Jan 9th, 2009, 03:52 AM
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Has she been to the Swaminarayan Hindu Temple?



http://www.timeout.com/london/featur...rticleAfterMpu


zeppole is offline  
Jan 9th, 2009, 04:11 AM
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Being taken to Neasden isn't most people's idea of a treat - or even, from most of civilisation, of a journey you could do in a day. But some people might be rather taken by the idea of doing part of the journey in a rickshaw (there's about half a dozen companies do it: google London rickshaw).

Wherein lies the real secret. Many of us would kill to avoid the horror of tea at Claridges, but would love a cycle tour of London's major Indian sights. Or a personalised walking tour round literary Bloomsbury. Or an afternoon in the Wimbledon tennis museum.

What does she really like?
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Jan 9th, 2009, 04:18 AM
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Yes, I think it was the thought of afternoon tea at Claridge's that sent my mind racing far, far away. (Although I would be curious to see the stone monkeys and have an indian meal).

I was going to suggest Kenwood House, plus a meal at the Inn on Spaniard's Way or somewhere near, but then I thought in February it would just be dreary.

Something else I would enjoy in February is the nice warm greenhouses in Kew Gardens, or the used bookstores around Charing Cross road, or even a film festival plus a nice meal -- but knowing what auntie likes is really key here. (Also, I wouldn't be comfortable with a niece spending a lot of money on me.)
zeppole is offline  
Jan 9th, 2009, 04:18 AM
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On the lines of what Flanneur is saying - you can hire a blue badge guide for a personal tour.

Also there's shows and there are shows - have a look at whats on when she's here.

ps Don't knock Neasden - they recently got a brave 0-1 defeat by Dollis Hill. Pevsner scored an own goal.
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Jan 9th, 2009, 04:26 AM
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Yessit was the thought of afternoon tea at Claridge's that sent my mind racing far away -- however, it is not *that* far. It's about an hour's tube ride from Westminster. plus a 20 minute walk.

http://www.mandir.org/infogallery/index.htm

I'd prefer a trek to see the multi-armed gods than the trek to the tennis museum, but that's just me

I was going to suggest Kenwood House, plus a meal at the Inn on Spaniard's Way or somewhere near, but then I thought in February it would just be dreary. (And also a trek.)

A trek I would enjoy in February is the nice warm greenhouses in Kew Gardens, or closer in, the used bookstores around Charing Cross road, or even a film festival plus a nice meal -- but knowing what auntie likes is really key here. (Also, I wouldn't be comfortable with a niece spending a lot of money on me.)
zeppole is offline  
Jan 9th, 2009, 04:27 AM
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`ooops, sorry for the entire double post. I wanted to include the link to transport info.
zeppole is offline  
Jan 9th, 2009, 04:33 AM
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If she lives in Prague, she probably regards the outside temperature at Kew as pretty near tropical. But it's a good example of what would be an absolutely fantastic treat for some people.

For £30 (plus I think the cost of entry, but it's still less than the cost of a cup of Claridges tea) you can have your own personal guide to Kew (www.kew.org/education/toursbooked.html). We get these occasionally: the guides are fabulous, and - with a bit of notice - tailor the whole thing to your interests and the time of the year. And the food at the Maids of Honour knocks Claridges into a cocked hat.

With a bit of energy and imagination, an awful lot of the rest of London can be turned into a treat along similar lines.
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Jan 9th, 2009, 04:34 AM
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Ha! - actually tea at Claridges wouldn't normally be up my (or my aunt's) street but as we usually spend her hols here wandering around bookshops and walking the parks I feel we have to move in another direction for her bday. The Claridges ideas was something neither of us is likely to do again and also ticks the box of seeming like (if not in fact) Englishy. I think she'd sort of find it funny if not usually her taste - if that makes sense. Think she'd love the Hindu temple and may do that anyway but keen to splurge a bit as it's such a milstone birthday, so want to find something she wouldn't pay for herself. Flanneruk - The personalised walking tour around literary Bloomsbury - Is that with a Blue Bade guide? Funnily she is a huge Bloomsbury fan but we've done the Sussex bloomsbury sights on a previous visit. Zeppole - what you say about Kenwood is precisely my fear - that I'll take her somewhere that is great the rest of the year and be defeated by a dreary Feb day (PS: are you the same person who responded to my non humid beach query - wow, you get around).
lisadrew is offline  
Jan 9th, 2009, 04:48 AM
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Yes. I did reply to your humidity question. Having lived in humid London, I much prefer Liguria!

The interior of Kenwood House, with its superb architecture and gem of a small art collection is just fantastic any time of year, but it sits at the top of Hampstead Heath, so you need some combination of tube plus bus or taxi to reach it if the day forbids a walk through the Heath from the closest villages.

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/s...show=nav.12783

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/s...show/nav.12791

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Jan 9th, 2009, 04:48 AM
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If you approach London Walks and say you want to privately engage one of their guides they will put you in touch - so you would get a Bloomsbury specialist.

Instead of having one specific event why not plan a day.

Off the top of my head:

As Early as you can manage (opens at dawn) Bermondsey Antiques Market

Taxi to..

8.30am Go for Breakfasts at the Fox and Anchor pub in Smithfield Meat market (or Simpsons in the Strand for the legendary 10 deadly sins).

to...

Borough Market - lunch is stuff you buy there. Have a few pints in the George and get your breath back.

3pm - Matinee if there is one. If not maybe head to the Royal Academy and Fortnums.

rest

Evening

Cocktails at a swish bar - Harry's in the Savoy, The Sanderson, etc followed by either a nice meal or a show. If in the west end follow that with coffe and a wind down in Soho - maybe in the Coach and Horses.




Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Jan 9th, 2009, 05:08 AM
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Zeppole - seems like a wise move for so many reasons..
Btw we live 10 minutes drive from Kenwood so no need for public transport! I adore it too - Actually haven't taken my aunt there now that you mention it, so will have to remedy that.
Cholmondley - great minds think alike, was planning a day (although around one big treat) & thought I'd sort of do an itinerary and hand it to her when she arrives (yep I'm cheesy) so your ideas are v welcome. Breakfast at Simpsons on the Strand??? Will have to check that out. Will def check what's on at the Royal Academy too & will contact London Walks now. BTW we go to Borough Market almost every Sat morning (omigosh that toasted cheese..) so saving that for the day after
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Jan 12th, 2009, 02:16 AM
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Just for info - I called London Walks and it's over £100 for a private tour. Might make sense for a large group, but not for 2. Still it's good to know for future reference and they seem pretty flexible about days, times and themes provided you give them a month or so notice.
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Jan 12th, 2009, 03:16 AM
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lisadrew, given how you've described her love of book-browsing, she certainly should see Kenwood at some point. I have a nostalgia for the creaky, stuffy old teahouse they used to run in the stables which has now been replaced by a very efficient cafeteria, so I tend to have lunch elsewhere. You might find someplace special for lunch in Highgate, and pack in a tour of the cemetery if the weather is nice. Depends on your aunt's sense of humor about reaching 50.

Whatever you do, have fun.
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Jan 12th, 2009, 03:32 AM
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I vote for CW's day. If your aunt can't make it, I'm past fifty, but I'll come.
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Jan 12th, 2009, 03:58 AM
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CW mentioning Smithfield reminded me... I recently talked to someone who'd been on a guided tour of Billingsgate fish market followed by a cookery class and they said it was fantastic. If she's into cooking and seafood, something like that may suit ? I'm a similar age and I would love it. This seems to be the website - http://www.seafoodtraining.org/pract...nstrations.htm
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 07:34 AM
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Actually if the weather is at all cooperative and your aunt (50 is really quite young) enjoys walking--the walk through Hampstead Heath to Kenwood House and on to Highgate West is a wonderful day out--check out Roger Ebert et al A Perfect London Walk http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-London.../dp/0836279298
which is really fun to do--and of course my own take on it if I do say so myself:
http://www.travelmag.co.uk/printer_6.shtml

Cheers,
meg
Up the Ben and Down the Boozer
http://megrobb.typepad.com/britishtravel/

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Jan 12th, 2009, 10:50 AM
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I enjoyed reading your article. I didn't know about the Ebert-Curley book. Long live Roger, but in the end, I hope someone remembers to put in new bench.

Last time I walked from Hampstead village up to Kenwood and beautiful bushy-tailed jumped out to join me for part of the way. London is having such freezing winter, hard to know if a walk would be enjoyable in February, although I've seen pix of Kenwood in the snow, and it is very pretty. In fact, the first time I saw Kenwood it was on quite a cold day, after I'd been tromping through the Heath for exercise. I was shocked to stumble upon it. I had no idea it was there. And it was very nice to warm up with a cup of tea -- and to see that magnificent interior, which as came as a complete surprise. It made me a lifelong fan of seeing the work of Robert Adam, on the spot.
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Jan 16th, 2009, 10:57 AM
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This thread has made me feel warm & fuzzy because it turns out lots of people feel one of the best things to do in London is a walk that's almost on my doorstep. Makes me feel v lucky. Problem is I want to head away from North London as I'm getting a nanny to look after my 10 week old baby for the day so it's also my chance to leave my hood for a couple of hours.. yes yes ulterior motive, the day is not all about auntie.
CW - since you mentioned a matinee anything non West End to recommend?
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