A Day at Highgate Cemetery

By Kate Arnold

Highgate Cemetery London

One of my favourite days I spent in London was taking a day out to visit Highgate Cemetery, a beautiful, quiet place, where I spend hours wandering around, looking at old graves that have been overtaken by nature. Many of the plants and wildflowers have been planted and grown without human intervention, creating an environment overrun by nature, which is incredibly soothing, especially after experiencing the hustle and bustle of London.

highgate cemetery London
Gaves overtaken by nature

How to Get There

The easiest way to get to the cemetery from London by tube. Get on the Northern Line heading towards High Barnet and get off at the Archway stop. Don’t go to the Highgate stop, it’s a much longer walk. From Archway Station exit towards Highgate Hill. From there you can either walk over Highgate Hill to Waterlow Park or alternatively take the bus (210, 143 or 271) two stops to Waterlow Park and cross the park to get to the Highgate Cemetery Gates. For more information about how to use the tube check out my article Your Guide to the London Underground.

East Cemetery

Highgate cemetery London
Two headstones collapsing against one another

The East Cemetery is known for containing the tomb of Karl Marx, which has been listed as a Grade I site for historical importance. You’ll also find the graves of Douglas Adams, the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, author George Eliot (whose grave says Mary Ann Cross), anatomist and surgeon Henry Grey, who authored the compendium Grey’s Anatomy and Academy Award nominee Diane Cilento, who was an Australian actress and author.

You can either wander around the East Cemetery at your leisure or you can join a guided tour run by one of the cemetery’s volunteers. Tickets cost £8 for adults and £4 for members and children. General admission to the East Cemetery is £4 for adults and free for children under 18.

Fireman’s Corner

You’ll also find Fireman’s Corner in the East Cemetery, which is where 97 members of London’s Fire Brigade have been laid to rest. This memorial to these service men and women was erected by the widows and orphans of London’s firemen and is cared for by the Brigade’s Welfare Section.

West Cemetery

The West Cemetery is only admissible via a guided tour, which runs for around 70 minutes and costs £12 for adults and £6 for children aged 8 – 17. No children under the age of 8 will be admitted. A ticket to this tour will also allow you general admission into the East Cemetery. Bookings are essential for tours Monday to Friday, which run twice a day, commencing at 11 am and again at 1.45 pm. Weekend tours are sold on a first come first serve basis and run every 30 minutes from 10.30 am to 3 pm. Tours will still run in light rain and the paths can get muddy and slippery and are steep in some parts, choose your footwear accordingly.

Egyptian Avenue

The West Cemetery is also home to the Egyptian Avenue, which is also a Grade I listing for historical importance is so called because of the Egyptian style architecture. This avenue of tombs leads to the Circle of Lebanon.

Circle of Lebanon

An ancient and enormous cedar tree stands at the heart of the Circle of Lebanon, it is so old that it long predates the cemetery that has risen around it. Tombs surround the base of this giant tree, which is still a focal point of the cemetery’s landscape.

Terrace Catacombs

Inside the Terrace Catacombs is a hall stretching over 80 yards, which is lined with 825 recesses in the walls, each tall enough to accommodate a coffin standing on its end.

What You Should Know

We all know how rainy it can get in the UK and the paths can get muddy underfoot, I recommend you break out your wellies or another waterproof, closed toe boot. Don’t let the rain deter you from going though, the cemetery looks even more beautiful during light rain.

George Micheal was buried at Highgate Cemetery in 2017, however his grave is in the private section on the cemetery an cannot be view by the public. But don’t worry, there are plenty of other interesting people buried in the cemetery and there is a memorial garden dedicated to George Micheal outside his home in Highgate, which is tended to by his fans.

Have you been to Highgate Cemetery? If you have or you’ve been to any other amazing cemeteries around the world, let us know in the comments.

My Favourite Bookstores From Around the World

By Kate Arnold

My Favourite Bookstore from Around the World

Bookstores are magical. They are some of my favourite places and when I’m travelling I often seek out famous or infamous bookstores. Here are some of my favourites from my travels.

The Strand | New York

This one might just be my favourite on this list of favourites. The Strand is located in the East Village of Manhattan and was opened in 1927. On my trip to New York visited The Strand twice and spend over an hour there each time looking at shelf upon shelf of books deciding what to take home with me. This iconic bookstore is known for having ’18 Miles of Books’ within its many levels and also sells a wide range book-related merchandise. The New York Times dubbed The Strand ‘the undisputed king of the city’s independent bookstores’ and truer words have never been written. The Strand sells new and used books and well as rare and out-of-print editions. 

Shakespeare and Company | Paris

Shakespeare and Company has a long history in Paris, the first shop opening in 1919 and became a gathering place for aspiring writers of the time such as Earnest Hemingway and James Joyce. The store closed in 1941 during the German occupation of Paris and was never reopened. In 1951 another bookstore by the name of Le Mistral was opened but it was renamed Shakespeare and Company in 1964 on the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. To this day the store remains open of the east bank of the river Seine in Paris. My favourite thing about Shakespeare and Company is that it continues to be a refuge for writers and artists. They offer a place to sleep at the bookstore in exchange for helping out at the shop. Their motto, ‘be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise’ holds true and they continue to host these ‘Tumbleweeds’ (as the guests came to be known). It’s a dream of mine to one day sleep amount the shelves of Shakespeare and Company and a Tumbleweed. 

Waterstones | Amsterdam

Waterstones is known for being a UK based bookstore chain but the Amsterdam location stole my heart. This bookstore is four floors of shelves full of books, in both English and Dutch. The quiet atmosphere of this Waterstones feels like that of a library and there are seating areas so that you can read a chapter and see if the book is for you. Like The Strand, you’ll find a range of book-related merchandise, such as tote bags, stationary and bookmarks.

Gay’s The Word | London

Gay’s the Word is a bookstore in the Bloomsbury district of London that sells queer fiction and non fiction. They hosts events for those in the LGBTQIA+ community such as a Lesbian Discussion Group every Wednesday evening and TransLondon meetings on the third Tuesday of every month. This is the first and last surviving bookstore in the UK that is dedicated to selling exclusively queer literature.

Embiggen Books | Melbourne

If you want to buy a beautiful book and get a latte in the same place Embiggen Books is where you need to go. This gem is hidden away on Little Londsdale Street in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, not far from the Victoria State Library. This bookstore has a vintage vibe and, to complete you book searching experience, there is a coffee cart in the store that will serve you a great Melbourne quality coffee.

Where is your favourite bookstore? Is it one that you’ve found while travelling or one that you love in your home town? Have you been to any of the bookstores I’ve mentioned above or would you like to? Are there any Tumbleweeds out there? I’d love to hear about your experience!

The Harry Potter-lover’s Guide to London

By Kate Arnold

The Harry Potter-lover's Guide to London

As a Harry Potter fan, London holds more magic than most cities. Being able to go to locations described by J.K. Rowling, such as King’s Cross Station was really a surreal experience for me and there’s so much more that London has to offer for the casual or die-hard Harry Potter fan.

Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4 Kings Cross Station
Platform 9¾ Kings Cross Station

King’s Cross Station, Platform 9¾ 

This one is probably the most accessible, just jump off the tube at King’s Cross/St. Pancras (which is serviced by the Circle, Hammersmith & City, Piccadilly, Metropolitan, Northern and Victoria lines) and you’ll be at the iconic train station. You can get your photo taken at the barrier of Platform 9¾ while wearing your house colours. Get there early to avoid the lines or buy this VIP photo pass for £15.00, which will allow you skip the queues and get your photo for free (or go after hours with a friend and you can take your own photo). Next to the Platform 9¾ barrier is the Harry Potter Shop where you can buy all the offical Harry Potter merchandise such as Hogwarts scarves and jumpers, pin badges, personalised Hogwarts acceptance letters and replica wands. 

Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour London
The enormous Hogwarts ‘miniature’ at Warner Brother’s Studio Tour

Warner Brother’s Studio Tour

If you don’t want to hang out in that queue at Platform 9¾ for your photo and you were already planning on heading to the Warner Bother’s Studio Tour then don’t waste your time, you get the same opportunity at the Tour. You can get to Leavesden Studios from Euston Station by jumping on the London Overground to Watford Junction. The journey takes around 20 minutes. From there a shuttle bus will take you to the Studio Tour, which costs £2.50 for a return ticket back to Watford Junction. There’s so much to see that the Studio Tour including costumes, sets of the Great Hall, the Boy’s Dormitory, Dumbledore and Umbridge’s Offices, Diagon Alley, 4 Privet Drive and the Hogwarts Express. Be warned, when you see the miniature of Hogwarts you may cry. This room is right at the end of the tour and it’s oddly emotional. John William’s score is playing and you walk in and there it is, it in all it’s glory and you can see every tiny detail the castle and the grounds.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child West End London Palace Theatre
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre on the West End

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

If you are lucky enough to get tickets to this incredible show then this one is a no brainer for the Harry Potter fan. Cursed Child is a beautifully staged show where the magic comes to life in front of your eyes and though some of the storyline is questionable it really is an experience not to miss for the die-hard Potter fan. If you can’t make it to the show, don’t worry, there’s plenty of other Harry Potter sites and attractions in London that are much cheaper and more accessible.

The House of MinaLima

If you’re around the theatre district then just a short walk away from the Palace Theatre to Greek Street is the House of MinaLima, which is well worth any Harry Potter fan’s time. MinaLima is the combined name of graphic design duo Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima who worked on the iconic artwork in all eight Harry Potter films as well as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and subsequent sequels. Everything from Harry’s Hogwarts acceptance letter the Sirius Black’s wanted poster to the Marauders’ Map to Umbridge’s proclamations to the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes product labels were designed by these two. The House of MinaLima is three stories of art prints on display but you can also by them. If you can’t make it to London you can also by the prints online here.

Harry Potter Walking Tours

If seeing filming locations is something that you are interested in then there are dozens of walking tours that you can go on and see everything from the Millennium Bridge, which the Death Eaters destroyed in Half Blood Prince to the alleyway that was used as Knockturn Alley in Chamber of Secrets. Some are free, others cost around £10-15. Most will require you to have an Oyster card to get from location to location. Walking tours are a great and inexpensive way to see and learn about a city, not to mention meet new people and get some exercise. Strawberry Tours provides free walking tours around London, including a Harry Potter themed tour, a Jack the Ripper tour, Street art and Graffiti Tour and more general London based tours. Their tours range from 1 hour and 45 minutes to 7 hour, full day tours.

You’ll be using the Tube a lot so check out my post about how to use the London Underground. There’s so much for the Harry Potter fan to see in London that will make your heart heart happy. Which ones are at the top of your list?

Your Guide to the London Underground

By Kate Arnold

Your guide to the London Underground

The Tube is very easy to navigate once you have a map and you know where you want to go. It’s a cheap and quick way to get around central London as well as getting out to further away towns and attractions. If you’re going to London, getting yourself an Oyster Card is an absolute must. Your Oyster Card will allow you access on, not only the Tube but the buses (yes, the double-decker buses) and trams, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), the London Overground, the Transport for London (TfL) Rail as well as most National Rail services.

Trains in Central London run about every two to ten minutes during peak hours. The Victoria, Piccadilly, Central, Jubilee and Northern lines run 24-hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

tube-map

See a larger version of the Tube map here.

Oyster Card

There are two types of Oyster Cards that you can get if you are a tourist in London. The Visitors Oyster Card must be bought in advance and mailed to you before you arrive in London. It will cost you £5 plus postage. When you order your Visitors Oyster Card you can pre-load it with ‘pay as you go credit’. If you’re staying for two days it’s recommended that you top your card up with at least £15, for four days, load the card with £30. You can top up your card if it runs out at a machine at all Tube stations. Pay as you go is much cheaper than buying single ride tickets or even a Travel Day Card, plus rides are capped per day. If you are travelling within zone 1 and 2 your Oyster card will be capped at £6.80; a Travel Day Card for the same zones will cost you £12.70. If you get the Visitors Oyster Card you can enjoy some special offers such as 2-for-1 West End Tickets, up to 25% off museum entrance tickets as well as food, drink and experience discounts and more.

If you don’t order your Visitors Oyster Card before you leave then you can buy a regular Oyster Card at a TfL centre at Heathrow. You won’t get the special discounts but you have the ability to load a 7-day Travelcard to your Oyster Card, which will allow you to travel as much as you want during the week for a flat fee, which can save you some money. Everyone needs to have their own Oyster Cards if they are travelling on the Tube, Overground, buses, etc., including children over the age of 11.

Top Tip:
Avoid travelling during peak times (Monday – Friday: 6.30am – 9.30am and 4pm – 7pm, excluding public holidays). You will save money on your train fares and the buses and trains will be much less crowded.

Connecting Stations

Connector stations are the lifeblood of the Underground system and there are so many around Central London that getting around is so easy. Here are some of the main connecters and the lines that they service:

Kings Cross/St. Pancras

Piccadilly, Victoria, Hammersmith & City, Circle, Metropolitan, Northern

Baker’s Street

Bakerloo, Metropolitan, Circle, Jubilee, Hammersmith & City

Waterloo

Northern, Bakerloo, Jubilee, Waterloo & City

Oxford Circus

Central, Bakerloo, Victoria

Green Park

Piccadilly, Victoria, Jubilee

Liverpool Street

Central, Circle, Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City

Moorgate

Northern, Circle, Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City

Paddington

District, Hammersmith & City, Bakerloo, Circle,

Embankment

Northern, District, Circle, Bakerloo

International Transport

Heathrow Airport is serviced by the Piccadilly line. The Eurostar leaves from St. Pancras International Station, which is connected to Kings Cross. International buses (to France, Spain, Italy, Prague, Germany and more though Euro Lines) leave from Victoria Station, which is on the Embankment, Victoria and Circle lines.

Top Tip:
Take your Oyster Card back when you’re leaving and you’ll get back the £5 that you paid for it plus any spare money you have on it. If you have less than £10 on the card you can get this money plus your £5 deposit from the ticket machine at Heathrow airport. If you have more than £10 on the card you get the refund from the TfL Visitor Centre, which is outside Terminal 1, 2 and 3 of Heathrow and is open daily from 7am to 8:30pm. All refunds will be in cash. The £5 deposit refund is not available to you if you have purchased the Visitors Oyster Card but you can get back any money that you have left on the card.

Get yourself a map of the Underground and an Oyster Card and you’ll be travelling around like a born Londoner in no time. Heading to New York? Check out our article on the New York Subway System. What are your tips for using the London Underground? I’d love to hear your insights!