The Magic of Free London

When I tell people I’m a student in London, nine times out of ten I’ll hear: “Oh amazing, but isn’t it so expensive?”

So I’m on a personal crusade, to prove that London, in all its wonder and glory, can be fun without spending a penny.

I expect a few sceptics are reading this and doubting my intentions will be fruitful. Well readers, last weekend taught me the very same lesson that I am going to teach all of you; I had a whole weekend of fun (and sometimes bizarre) activities, without spending a penny.

Now let’s get something out of the way, unless you’re willing to walk miles everyday, don’t expect to include travel in this ‘free’ quest. So for argument’s sake, I’m going to assume you all have travelcards.

So let’s start with Thursday. I start off rather apprehensively to Aldwych, to attend an exhibition named ‘Brutal’. I only went to this because a friend was reviewing it for our very own Arts London News, and also because the name suggested it would be gruesome which, as a fan of B-rated Horror movies, sounds right up my street.

This exhibition did so much more for me than I anticipated. Not only was it haunting and interesting in equal measures, it opened up my eyes to all these ongoing and FREE exhibitions that happen in London on a daily basis. This was the first one I’d been to in two years of living here. I’ve wasted my time sitting at home reading classic literature and watching Homes Under the Hammer when I could have been expanding my cultural interests and it wouldn’t cost me? I’m a fool!

Thus begun a frantic search online when I got home of what else I could possibly get up to in the upcoming months to combat my boredom and keep my bank manager happy. Luck just happened to be on my side, as a dancer friend took me along to the shooting of a TV Advert on Friday.

Again not expecting much from it, it turned out to be one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in London. It was a long day I’ll admit, roughly ten hours, but I was provided with three meals, a costume and a great atmosphere, just for showing up and giving these people my time.

The advert is a special for Halloween and pretty much involved a food fight with fake human organs in an abandoned leisure centre in Essex (again think about that travelcard). Cue destroyed clothing, bloodbaths, and some people appearing to get really into it and eating brains. Then at the end of the day I was told I’d be getting paid for my day’s work (if you want to call it that). Needless to say I might just give up my day job (student journalist/ice cream man) and become a TV advert star if this is what it entails!

I’ve since been in contact with the agency about possibly joining them and starring in a Lily Allen music video as an extra; living the dream people!

Saturday is when things took a turn for the bizarre. Thanks to working on the ALN news desk this term, I’ve been getting the lowdown on what’s happening around London from the features and reviews guys. So, trusting their opinion (and assuming they’re very cool people) I went along to the rooftop gardens of the Queen Elizabeth Hall on South Bank (right by our oncoming graduation spot) on its last day of the season.

On the day, Vauxhall Petting Farm brought along their herd of goats to eat all the crops so that they will grow back even bigger next year. Quite odd seeing a group of goats trotting around on the roof of a brutalist style building, but even more odd was that I spent 45 minutes feeding them apples. Turns out I love goats!

From the odd to the pretty impressive, I had a jam-packed and fun, free weekend. So much so I’ve already planned stuff for this weekend. I’ve got free entry to Corsica Studios on Thursday night, and a documentary exhibition hosted by Sky Atlantic, with a discussion from the makers after. London in its size can accommodate every taste and culture imaginable, and I’m pretty sure that transcends across all affordabilities: let’s enjoy our city for Free.

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