Free London

I did something a little dumb this month. Ok, it was downright stupid. I spent the whole month’s pay in the first 10 days of the month. I’m now trying to get to the end of October on £80 and I’m determined to do it.

I decided that it would be too depressing for me to resign myself to sitting at home just because of my poor financial judgment so I set upon the task of planning a fun, free weekend. My boyfriend just bought a MacBook last week so I figured it would be a good exercise for both of us.

This was a pretty easy feat on Saturday since he had a lot of work to do for his start-up so I got to watch Chelsea easily breeze past Everton, and I wasn’t gonna miss the first public vote on X Factor (I need to fully do my research before my dad returns to London and the fight for the phone to vote begins).

Sunday cabin fever hit. My boyfriend was convinced that you can’t do interesting things in London with no money. He should know better than to challenge me. Last weekend was the wine and cheese festival held at Southbank Square. In addition to the dozens of stalls selling anything wine or cheese related, there was also a tent with chefs giving live cooking demonstrations. We arrived just in time to learn how to make the perfect scone. Caroline of www.teaandscones.org.uk taught us how to keep scones light and airy, the way they were intended. Luckily we found the last two seats because those sat in the tent were privileged enough to taste everything that came out of the oven. Cheddar and apple is my new preferred flavour and the tasters were enough to tide us over until our next free meal.

We strolled across the river and up to Trafalgar Square to witness the Diwali festival hosted by the Mayor of London. A massive stage was set up and a large number of the Indian population of London gathered to celebrate the Hindu festival of lights. It was amazing to see Trafalgar Square filled with so many happy people dancing together. Aside from the masses dancing in the middle of the square, the steps were filled with people watching, eating and taking part just by virtue of being there.

I could’ve stood and watched for hours except I was dying for water, which lead us to free activity number three. We ducked into the National Gallery to get a glass of water from the cafe and my boyfriend decided that he really wanted to take me to see his favourite painting, Leonardo’s Cartoon, and various works of his favourite artist, Caravaggio. I, in turn, took him to see my favourite painting, Whistlejacket by George Stubbs.

After an hour in the gallery we decided to stroll up Shaftsbury Avenue. We ducked into a number of book stores and antique collectibles galleries before I realised that I purchased enough on my Nando’s loyalty card to entitle me to a free whole chicken. We headed to Soho for our final free meal of the day.

I take pride in proving my boyfriend wrong – London is such a great city that you can, in fact, enjoy it with no money.

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