It’s me again! You may (should) have read my blog last week about my adventure in Portugal, in which case, welcome back and thank you for not having commitment issues!
This time, I’ve been on an adventure to London. “London?” I hear you say. Now, I know a lot of you either live in London, have been a tourist in London or avoid London like the plague, so you might wonder what kind of wild adventure this girl could possibly have been on. Well, for a complete surf bum like me who usually avoids the cities, I’ve learnt to accept that there’s a lot to actually explore in a concrete jungle. The only issue is trying to stay within the law whilst having fun…
There are buildings where you can stand on the roof and buildings where you cannot stand on the roof. I treat it as a giant playground and, as you may have gathered from the last blog, I have a bit of a weird imagination. In my head I’m playing the real life Assassins Creed. It’s difficult not to let my mind wander when I spend most of my life now working on films and TV where I’m allowed to jump off buildings and go to places I’m not usually allowed to go to or smash down the Thames at full speed helping James Bond shoot down helicopters (don’t look at the paps, Gemita!).
Urban exploration is a pretty big part of my life now. When I’m not on a location filming, I’m usually running around the big smoke doing meetings and castings. In between all of that, I’m trying to explore as much as possible in places I’m probably (definitely!) not allowed.
I dragged along my poor old friend, David (David’s that awesome photographer guy who shot all of last week’s Portugal blog, as well as this trip to London and my next upcoming blogs for Surfdome X Eastpak). He got the train into town and we met up in the middle of a massive downpour of rain. David is a skateboarder so he’s cool with grey concrete and grey architecture, whereas it takes me a few minutes of solid arguing with my other self about having to try and fit in with society and to play along nicely with the rules before I’m cool and ready for adventure.
Every time I go to London it’s for a meeting, casting or filming so I usually have to take a ‘ship’-load of stuff with me like different clothes, model portfolio, laptop, food, ipad, and some food of course.
David and I probably chose the worst weather days of the week to head down. (Yay – well done us!) It was literally tipping it down, which made climbing things really slippy and dirty. But, we managed to burrow down underground and travel east to the land of man-buns and beards that Brian Blessed himself would be envious of. We found ourselves admiring street art, counting the amount of male and females that had tattooed a moustache on their fingers (there are more than you’d think – enough to make you question whether there is some kind of tash cult forming in east London), eating cultural food (we didn’t learn from our spice experience in the last blog, but this was a more acceptable time to try a new spice!).
East London has grown on me. Not physically, no – that would be both impractical and uncomfortable. But mentally, I kind of like it. It’s got an arty, social, foodie vibe going on and I feel like I fit in better. It’s almost expected that weirdos like me start scaling buildings. Either that or there’s a higher rate of crime and urban explorers just aren’t first priority! There are some places in London that I just don’t fit in with, like where all the ‘adults’ hang out in well-fitted suits, drink triple espressos, talk about large numbers and care a lot about the expensive paper with Queen Lizzie’s mug shot on it. These people, on the whole, don’t understand me, and I get it. We just aren’t wired the same.
Sorry, I got sidetracked then! After some exploring and climbing, I found a climbable, non electric, non barbed, (rare) gate on the top of a building (and before you ask…it’s a secret location). I did some sightseeing. It wasn’t quite as high up as I would have liked. I like to find myself ‘on top of the world’ with my Eastpak bag full of my favourite things and let my imagination wander (Assassin’s Creed in full flow).
I could see all the little human ants down below on the ground, rushing around in every direction possible, smashing their way through the the crowds of life, tweeting and Instagramming about it as they go. Sometimes, I wish they would just feel the need to look up, slow down, switch off the iPhones, iPads, iPods, iWatches, iStuff and use their real eyes and explore the concrete jungle around them. I know of a lot of people that either live or work in London that have never really seen anything other than their office, their local bar or the underground. I guess I’m like a dog in the sense that I have to explore every corner, pee on all available grass and sniff every lamppost until I’m satisfied. Okay, I don’t really sniff every single lamppost – that would be weird. But, I really couldn’t go somewhere and not see what else it has to offer.
I get sent around the world on jobs, and even though sometimes I fly in, go straight to the film location and get flown straight home, I will always make sure that I experience the area as much as I can. If the job is in Europe, and I have enough time, I sometimes offer to drive, just so I can have a mini adventure beforehand and have my own freedom. Even if I get flown somewhere I will usually hire my own car just so that the second I wrap from work for the day I can go and explore.
It was nice exploring the city with someone though. I’m not usually surrounded by a lot of humans, but David is pretty industrious so we could get to places that I know others couldn’t get to. After throwing a bag on my back, climbing under, over and through the concrete maze, having a picnic on a roof, people-watching, being watched by people, and getting lost in the capital, I decided that urban exploring was just as much of an adventure as flying to somewhere hot with the sand in between your toes, rolling waves, happy people dancing in bikinis and eating fresh fruit. The city isn’t my exact idea of heaven (there’s nowhere near enough sand) but, for what it is, it’s definitely worth packing at least five of your favourite things, climbing up somewhere really high and losing yourself for a while. If there is anything I’ve learnt over the years, it’s to not sniff lampposts. I jest – it’s to not be afraid to get lost or go off track. Even if it’s your home town or city that you work in, I can almost guarantee you that you haven’t explored it for all it has to offer.
So go on: pack your bags (your Eastpak ones), because let’s face it, if Eastpak are Gemita-proof then I can personally guarantee that they are more than suitable for any adventure you can throw at them! Join me for next week’s blog: I’m packing my Eastpak bags and heading to Cornwall for some surf, sun…and possibly a scone or two!
All images/video taken by @Davidwren_ http://www.davidwren.co/