Sunday, 22 September 2013

Open House London

It is Open House London this week, which means building of historical, cultural or architectural importance open their doors to the public for free. Loads of properties take part, from tower blocks to embassies, from churches to the Bank of England. At most locations entry is at  first come first served basis, but for others it is pre-book only, or a lucky dip ballot.

Obviously some properties are more popular than others, like thousands of other people I wanted to see inside the iconic Battersea Power station, but we quickly gave up on this plan when we saw the massive queue.

Bank of England, fish eye, London, visit, OpenHouse, property, perception, framed
The Bank of England 
Other properties were equally busy, like the Bank of England, again the queue was huge so we just had to be satisfied with seeing the outside.

We did manage to make it inside the Custom House. Which rather interesting history was enthusiastically told by a current employee, it's always nice when you can tell someone genuinely loves their job. The custom house used to be very  important as it was here that revenue from ships from all over the Empire would be collected. They officers where also responsible for preventing smuggling and things used to get pretty rowdy as they used to carry muskets.

After spending most of the morning traipsing all over London, we refuelled at My Old Dutch pancake house in Holborn. Me and my sis both opted for banana, chocolate and nut pancakes. Before heading on to the Freemasons' Hall.
My Old Dutch, pancake, banana, cream, chocolate, nuts
pancake with chocolate, nuts, banana and cream. 
If you're thinking of doing Open House next year here are a couple of top tips:

  1. Pre-book and enter the ballots in advance. We were very disappointed we were too late to enter the ballot for 10 Downing Street. Pre-booking also means guaranteed entry, I'm sure many people didn't even get inside the places they spent hours queuing for.  
  2. Plan your route carefully. If you you go to the popular properties, you may be limited to only seeing one building and you can expect long queues so bring a book. 
  3. Go off the beaten track. We didn't have to queue at all to go to the Custom House or the Freemason's Hall
  4. Bring a map or a smartphone. A lot of the buildings are not signed posted. As both my sister only have ancient nokia's we had to rely on our own dodgy sense of direction. We got lost a lot. 

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