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.

Tips For Travelling on a Budget

By Kate Arnold

Tips for Travelling on a Budget

Travelling is hella expensive and, if you’re like me, you’re probably on a pretty tight budget. Here’s what I do when I’m travelling to stay on budget.

Work Out Your Daily Spend Average

Do some maths before you arrive. Say you have $5000 and you’re travelling for 21 day. You have $238 to spend each day, on average. Assuming you’ve already paid for all of your accommodation, internal travel and big ticket items such as theme park tickets and shows, this should be plenty. Remember to convert this amount into the currency of the place that you are visiting. $238 Australian dollars is $168.82 USD and £132.81 GBP and S/567.15 Peruvian sol.

Write Down Everything You Buy

This may sound like a pain but it really helps to see where you’re spending your money and where it is a waste and where it brings you joy. I keep a running list of every time I spend money in my notes app on my phone and total it up and the end of each day. I’ll even put an emoji next to the purchase so that I can see at a glance what was worth my money and what wasn’t. Writing down every single purchase you make will also make you think twice about the things you buy. Do you really need that foam Statue of Liberty crown? Do you really want a tiny model of the Empire State Building? Questioning these little purchases will save you more money than you realise. Here’s what a day of spending in New York looked like for me:

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Buy Groceries

Eating out is a huge part of experiencing a new culture and one of the best parts of travelling, but if you’re eating out for every meal then you’re going to be paying a huge amount on food. When I first arrive in a city, the first thing I do (after checking in a my accomodation and having a shower) is to locate a supermarket. I’ll buy things like a packet of croissants that I can eat for breakfast, deli salads that I can take with me and have for lunch when I’m out and about and snacks like muesli bars and fruit that will tide me over between meals.

Search for Discounts and Deals

When I travel and there are some big ticket things that I want to do (theme parks, musical tickets, experiences) I look for the best deals that I can get before I go and where possible I buy them in advance. Not having to worry about saving my money for Hamilton tickets or my trip to Hobbiton, Universal Studios and Disney World was a huge weight of my mind while I was travelling. Check out my article How To Save Money on Broadway Tickets, which does what it says on the tin.

Use Public Transport

I always use the public transport systems as much as I can. It’s so much cheaper to use than taking taxis or Ubers and it makes me feel like I’m experiencing a city in an authentic way. Check out Laura’s Guide to the New York Subway System and my Guide to the London Underground.

Stay in Hostels

I will always opt to stay in a hostel over a hotel because it saves me tonnes of money. Some have not been super flashy. Some have had snoring dorm mates. Some have not had very comfortable beds. But when I’m travelling I don’t want to spend a lot of time in my accommodation, I want to be out, seeing the city. Some of the best hostels I’ve stayed in were The Freehand in Chicago and St Christopher’s Inn in Paris, which were both very clean and comfortable and close to great attractions, public transport and great restaurants. If you’re staying in New York check out Laura’s article Budget Friendly tips for New York Accomodation.

Shop Strategically

These days when I go away I don’t do much shopping but before I go away I think about a few things that I really want to buy as a memory of my trip but also as something that I will love and use for years to come. No Eiffel Tower key chains, no Statue of Liberty fridge magnets here. When I went to New York I really wanted to go to The Strand and buy a book there, I decided on a few titles that I wanted to buy if I saw them there and I walked out with Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. You might decide that you want to buy a new bag or piece of jewellery and make it your mission to find the perfect one for you. It will mean so much more to you than a cheap tourist souvenir and it will keep you from mindlessly shopping if you have a list of a few things that you really want.

Being on a budget doesn’t have to mean sacrificing having a good time or staying a dodgy place or eating two minute noodles and microwave pizzas. Budgeting while travelling is all about knowing exactly where you spend your money and getting the most enjoyment out of the things you buy.

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?