1 City, 12 Students, 24 Hours.
I spent four days last week in London with Unite Students and 11 other bloggers, vloggers, photographers and filmmakers. Our aim was to create a 24 hour guide to London that was aimed at students and budget friendly, something that has never really been done before. Here is a brief overview of what we got up to in the big city!
Day 1, Monday 3rd August – Travelling, Mingling and Bowling:
On Monday at 11:31AM I boarded a train from my local station to London Paddington. I’ll be honest with you, the 4 hour and 55 minute long journey seemed like a lifetime and I have never, ever, felt more nervous. However, once I arrived in London (which was on the rather warm side for 4pm) and met some of the others outside Millie’s Cookies, the excitement started to kick in. We travelled across London on the underground to Unite’s Stratford ONE, which I will say is a rather bright and impressive building overlooking the Olympic Park. In our welcome bag we were greeted with our snack of choice, mine being (of course) ‘sweet n’ salty poshcorn’, oh what a rather brilliant little touch! We later on met for drinks in the Sky Room, a triple floored glass box, approximately 24 floors up with breathtaking views across the whole of London. Not bad for student accommodation, eh?
For dinner we went to All Star Lanes in Westfield’s shopping centre, I ordered a fried chicken burger and fries (I DEFINITELY recommend it). We enjoyed the evening playing a game of bowling and chatting about all things One Direction, blogging and uni. I won on our bowling lane despite getting 0 on several throws! Before going to bed, we hung out in our flat kitchen and sipped on sugary-milky tea (oh how British…).
Day 2, Tuesday 4th August – Introductory Talks and Planning:
Tuesday was where the real hard work began (well, after donuts for early morning snacks…). We started the day with presentations from STEAK, a digital marketing agency, Tim Richardson, from the filmmaking company There4Productions and Unite Students. This was a great place to begin for me personally, as I knew very little about content marketing and filmmaking techniques!
In the afternoon, following a delicious lunch of (fancy) sandwiches and sweet n’ salty popcorn, we split into our groups so that we could plan the next 24 hours. This was when the Dream Team formed: Connor McGovern, Jack May, Harley Wild and I.
We began our planning session by writing down all the places that we knew of in central London on a (slightly to scale) map. The criteria being: budget friendly, ‘studenty’, edgy and off the beaten track. Everyone came with a couple of ideas in mind and from there we were able to build upon some of them. Pretty early on, I googled “unique things to do in London” which gave us the idea to visit Container City and Neal’s Yard. Harley discovered the rooftop cinema in Shoreditch, which was luckily showing “The Breakfast Club” during our 24 hour adventure. Aside from Google, we also used apps that market themselves around the concept of finding hidden gems, such as Dojo and Fever. Being the Head of Logistics, Citymapper allowed me to map out our route (with the help of Jack, who insisted the plan was nailed down to the exact minute).
After several hours of interviews, research, organising and planning (aka eating flapjacks, watching vines, laughing at memes on Twitter and squinting in the Sky Room) we called it a night and joined the others downstairs for Domino’s. My life was made when I realised that there was Sweetcorn and Chicken pizza with potato wedges and a can of ice cold Cola (it doesn’t get much better than that, right?). Once everyone had successfully reached the stage of a ‘pizza coma’, it was time to get our heads down in time for a 4am start the next day. I, of course, made the mistake of calling my Mum who has the ability to talk for hours, and hours, and hours. So what was supposed to be an ‘early night’ turned into a fairly late one for me!
Day 3, Wednesday 5th August – The 24 Hour Challenge:
And so, the challenge began at 5am in Unite’s Stratford ONE Sky Room where we seen the sunrise over the city. I don’t normally drink coffee (apart from during the exam season) but trust me, 24 hours of non-stop go in London requires PLENTY of coffee. We started in Greenwich and finished in Liverpool Street at the Polo Bar with a Prosecco toast to the Dream Team. Along the way we travelled across, above and below the Thames, chilled in Lights of Soho, cycled down the canal to Little Venice and watched “The Breakfast Club” on a rooftop in the rain (with some rather uncomfortable umbrella hats). The day wasn’t without its challenges, from the tube strike to cycling out of the range of the Boris bikes. But the main thing is that we had fun, incredible amounts of fun, and my team was an absolute pleasure to work with.
- Island Gardens.
- Greenwich Foot Tunnel.
- Greenwich and Greenwich village.
- Peyton and Byrne coffee shop.
- North Greenwich for the Emirates Air Line.
- East India and Container City at Trinity Buoy Wharf.
- The Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street (aka the Walkie-Talkie building).
- Leadenhall Market.
- South Bank and Pieminister.
- Lower Marsh and Four Corners cafe.
- Seven Dials.
- Neal’s Yard.
- Celebrity spotting = met Billie Piper.
- Lights of Soho.
- Regent’s Park.
- Boris biking alongside Regent’s Canal.
- Little Venice.
- A very, very, very long bus ride from Maida Hill to Shoreditch.
- The Pillow Cinema Al Fresco in Shoreditch.
- Polo Bar 24.
Keep an eye out for a more detailed guide that will be up very soon! The guide will include reviews of coffee shops we visited as well as places, student tips for taking on London and restaurant recommendations.
Day 4, Thursday 6th August – Collating and the Presentations (oh and home *unhappy face*):
Thursday was another early morning start, despite being awake for over 22 hours the previous day, everyone was in good spirits and eager to put together all the information, photographs and videos clips that we had collected as a group. Jack worked on collating our rather busy social media feeds, whilst Connor put his creative hat on and created a rather fabulous visual map. Harley and I edited down the video clips, splitting, cropping and chopping them together across two MacBooks due to lack of memory (#AppleProblems).
Following the presentations, the winner was announced after some intense stares between the three groups and friendly (ish) banter on our WhatsApp group (with an iPad mini at stake, it was all to play for)! And the winning group was… (creepy X-Factor suspense music) Team Bueller!!! Of course, the Dream Team and Team RAIR came a very close joint second ;) Team Bueller created a wonderful guide that contained something for everyone and I will post some links up here once it has been created!
It was then time to say some rather sad goodbyes to everyone and begin the two hour long trek across an extremely chaotic London to Paddington Station. Throughout the four days, I had the most incredible time and I got to meet many talented individuals from across the country. I am overwhelmed by the idea that my blog has allowed me the opportunity to participate in something as a huge as this. I would like to thank both STEAK and Unite Students for inviting me, as well as the Dream Team for being amazing (and overly fond of hashtagging – #hashtag #edgy #doyoulikepickles).
Below is a link to a short video that I created throughout Wednesday using some of the tips that Tim provided us with. It features most of the places that will pop up again in our 24 Hour Student Guide to London.