Always on the hunt for free stuff to do in London, this week I went to the Gilbert and George exhibition at White Cube gallery in Bermondsey Street.
It really was amazing good if you like Gilbert and George’s style of art (I do). The same thing at nearby Tate Modern would have been charging for entry and teeming with people. This was pleasant to walk around, even at lunchtime, with not too many people and loads of space. And you could, if you choose, spend the money you had saved on entrance by buying a cool signed poster.
London Bridge area, and Bermondsey Street in particular, is a nice place to pass an afternoon. There are some independent shops (interesting but pricey) and some really nice cafes, restaurants and pubs. If you are on a really tight budget though my advice would be to bring a packed lunch with you and sit in one of the many parks, or down by the river, to enjoy it. (This, of course, works better when it isn’t raining).
Another good bit of free entertainment is to go to nearby Borough (food) market. If you visit on Wednesday to Saturday it is a gourmet food market, with high prices but loads of free samples. On Monday and Tuesday a lot of the stalls are shut and the market is open mostly just for lunches. There is a huge variety of food available and it is all really good (or maybe I have just been lucky).
The advantage of going on a Tuesday is that, although there is less open, it is much less crowded and so you are more able to appreciate the building and the whole history. This is London’s oldest market.
Inside you can see the Globe pub, which was featured in the Bridget Jones’ Diary movie, as the entrance to her flat. She is also seen wandering through the market. Her idiot boyfriend (the Hugh Grand character) lived in nearby upmarket Clink Street. The area was also featured heavily in Lock, stock and two smoking barrels, where the gang hung out in Park street, opposite. It is a popular location for filmmakers.
If you’re still looking for more free stuff in the area then the permanent exhibition at Tate Modern is free. They have a ‘suggested donation’ box by the door, and in peak months there is often someone stood next to it trying to make eye contact and intimidate money out of you, but I normally just smile, say ‘hi’ and walk past. Because art should be free for everyone to enjoy, regardless of their income level.
I spent around £20 on my ‘free’ afternoon out. However ten of that was on the poster (which covers up the crack on my wall so well). I could have walked there from my home in zone two and saved more money. I took my lunch with me but I brought a couple of drinks out because it was very hot, but I could have just refilled my water bottle.
So basically it’s a free afternoon out for someone more disciplined than I am.