London is the epicenter of entertainment in the UK. It’s also one of the best cities to be in for actors who wish to take their acting career to another level. We’ve already discussed many aspects of moving to and living in London, both from an actors’ perspective and from those who have no interest in pursuing this career choice.
Those of you who missed some of the better London related columns, make sure you check some of those out before you actually decide to move to London and take any further actions. Here are a few that I highly recommend reading:
- 25 Tips on Moving to London (from current Londoners)
- 9 Best Neighborhoods in London for Actors
- 5 Tips on How to Move to London With Pets
- 20 Tips on Living in London (from Londoners to newcomers)
- How to Eat Out in London on a Budget?
This blog is about acting in London, so it’s no wonder that we strongly advise all aspiring thespians to pack their bags (when they’re ready) and make the move to one of the best acting cities in the world.
Now, if you’re not the one making the big move, and if your friend or friends are taking the plunge and moving off to London to seek their fortune just like Oliver Twist then consider these gifts to make the transition to London life a little easier on them!
11 Best Gifts for People Moving to London
1. Oyster Card
One of things your loved one will realize once they’ve moved to London is that travelling using a paper ticket is hassle. The machines are often playing up, the ticket gets stuck and if they want to travel somewhere by bus you can’t buy a ticket from the driver.
You have to have a valid Oyster Card, a Travelcard or a contactless payment method.
If your loved one is moving to London from abroad chances are they won’t want to be using their contactless debit or credit cards on public transport because of the massive charges and Travelcards can be expensive because they might only need to use the bus or tram.
So the number one gift for someone just moving to London is an Oyster card charged up with enough money to travel across all zones for a week. This will currently set you back the price of an Oyster card (£5) and £35 to cover the cost of a weekly Travelcard.
2. A Tiny ‘Brolly’
Once your loved one is all set for travel, the next step is to prepare for the weather. It rains in England. Every season you can guarantee there will be rain and every self-respecting Londoner would not set foot outside of the house without their tiny brolly (otherwise known as a micro umbrella).
The best brand of micro umbrellas, I found, is Totes which come in handy little bags complete with handle. It may even be worth investing in two as they are sure to ruin the first one by walking in the wrong direction of the wind!
If you decide to go ahead and grab one (or maybe five) of these micro umbrellas for yourself or as a gift for someone moving to London, then this Totes one is the most popular right now. This is probably one of the best purchases I’ve made.
3. London Novels
London is steeped in history and many a novelist, contemporary and classic have written about ‘the big smoke.’ Help your loved one get acquainted with London past and London present by buying them a couple of paperbacks or Kindle books by London’s best loved authors.
To get a feel for Victorian London get them a copy of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, a must-read for anyone adventuring to London to make their fortune.
To discover hidden love stories in World War II London go for The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. For something modern, get Londoners by Craig Taylor based on interviews with people who live and work in the city.
Finally, for something that delves into the multicultural underbelly of East London try Brick Lane by Monica Ali.
4. TimeOut Top 100 Cheap Eats in London
TimeOut’s Top 100 Cheap Eats in London is one of the most popular reference guides on food and eating in this big and expensive city.
This nifty little pocketbook guide enables your loved one to navigate the online version at their fingertips whenever they fancy it all in one place. The internet is great and of course, it’s free but this is a lovely little gift to plan ahead.
One word of warning though: make sure you phone ahead or do a quick search before you head to the restaurant as some of the venues have since moved or closed down.
5. Moleskine Journal
Earnest Hemingway and many other notable literary travel writers have made the Moleskine journal a London staple, especially for creative types. Nowadays there are even specially designed Moleskine specifically for travel with spaces for photos, keepsakes and places visited.
Whilst I have one of these though and love to record my travels within its pages, there is nothing better than a Classic Notebook. You can even have it personalized with your loved ones’ name to make it extra special.
6. Brit Movies
Some of the greatest cinema comes from Britain, and London is often chosen as the setting. Invest in some classic movies for your loved one either filling their digital library or buying them the physical DVDs and creating your own London box-set medley out these classic Brit movies set in London.
One of London’s most interesting playwright’s has his work showcased on the big screen with the movie version of Closer, set in the twisted loves and lives of four Londoners.
For a chilling classic, add 10 Rillington Place to the pile, a creepy crime drama starring Richard Attenborough.
A little youth culture can be gleaned by getting hold of Bullet Boy, a gritty look at pride, rivalry and revenge in East London.
Finally, add the cult classic of Quadrophenia to revisit the sights and sounds of 1960s music culture in London.
7. Brit Pop
Music is pretty much global these days but to get your loved one into the London spirit, get them some decent British music. BBC Radio One’s Live Lounge collections are by far the cream of the crop in terms of hot new things taking on chart topping songs with their own original twist.
The 2015 collection offers excellent tracks by Ed Sheeran covering Take Me to Church and an inspiring mash up by Jess Glynn covering Let It Go/Umbrella. For a bit of classic, opt for a compilation like Britpop at the BBC featuring the likes of Pulp, Blur and Catatonia.
8. Pocket A to Z
Nowadays almost everyone has an app they can use to get themselves around but sometimes technology fails us and other times seeing a real life map gives you a better feel for an area.
The Pocket A-Z is just the right size to travel around with, but be warned – the writing is tiny!
9. The London Pass
Just because your loved one might want to fit in to London like a local, it doesn’t mean they should miss out on the best tourist attractions. After all, many of us were newbies once and those of us who grew up here were marched around these attractions for birthdays and special occasions as well.
The London Pass (available as a one, three or six day pass) enables access to hundreds of the best tourist spots from £55. If your loved one visited The Tower of London, took a Hop off Bus Tour and went in the London Bridge Experience on a day pass using the The London Pass they would save £18.
There are hundreds of other things to do that are included on The London Pass. My favourites include Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Science Museum, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum and the Backstage Tour of the National Theatre.
10. London’s Hidden Walks
There are hundreds of amazing walks all around London, all steeped in history. Many of them are available for free online complete with guide notes to describe each element.
However, the book versions make wonderful gifts. Photos and pictures add even more to the experience and bring the historic walk to life.
11. Cambridge Satchel
If your loved one is amongst the hipster crowd of their home country then they are highly likely to appreciate the prestigious Cambridge Satchel. They come in a wide array of colours and sizes as well as different types of fastenings.
You can even have them embossed to make the satchel more personalised. An 11 inch classic satchel will set you back $155 and looks great in ‘Oxblood,’ a very classically British colour.