By BEN TUCK, JUNE 2017
Both sides of my family are Londoners right back through the generations and many still live there. I was born in St Thomas’s hospital right next to the river Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament, so London has a strong sense of home to me, even though we moved to Bedfordshire when I was 3.
I often go to South London to visit my family or to watch Charlton Athletic play football. There’s a huge rivalry in our family between Crystal Place and Charlton! My grandparents still live in the same house not far away from where we used to live so there’s lots of great memories still associated with the area.
There are also some other brilliant places I’ve been to in London over the years so here’s my special list:
1. Norwood Park
Opposite my grandparents house is where my mum used to play when she was little. Its on a steep hill and from the top you can see a great view of the city. It’s also near Crystal Palace where there is an old radio transmitter that looks like the Eiffel Tower.
2. The Valley - Charlton Athletic Football Ground
I’ve always supported Charlton just like my older brother and we often go down to The Valley to watch. It’s not far from the old Millennium Dome on the river, now called the O2 arena.
3. The View from Westminster Bridge
Nothing else says London like this view. It was really the first sight I ever saw when my dad held me up to the window of the hospital after I was born. From here you can see The London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the river boats on the embankment, Somerset house and the old county hall.
4. Battersea Park
Battersea Park was only a short bus ride away from where we used to live and we used to go there before we moved and also when we came back to visit when I was a bit older. It just seemed like a huge bit of countryside inside London. It’s even got a golden Bhudda statue by the river too. I thought it was great when they ran the Formula E races there a few years ago!
5. Royal Automobile Club This is the grandest building I think I’ve ever been in! I received my 2015 Young Driver of the Year award at the Night of Champions there in January 2016. It’s a fantastic old building and usually has a really beautiful classic car at the bottom of the grand staircase.
6. London Olympic Park
This is a brilliant place as it has some great sporting venues, plus a shopping centre and it’s a really nice park too. It’s especially nice to go in the summer. I did the kart Race of Champions inside the Olympic Stadium last year which was fun and recently I was at the Olympic Velodrome with the British Cycling team talking about training methods.
7. 30 St Mary Axe - AKA The Gherkin
This building is completely different from any other in the city of London and it’s so much taller than you expect. I had drinks in the bar at the very top of it once. It’s like sitting inside a giant glass crystal and the views all around are amazing.
I normally take a stroll through Chinatown when I’m in London if I can. It’s a great place with lots of colour and amazing places to eat. It’s also fun to just browse in the little shops and market stalls – there are some interesting things to find, everything from lucky waving cats and Chinese pottery to comedy t-shirts.
9. The London Aquarium
This is right next to Westminster Bridge and directly opposite where I was born, so no surprise that I love going back here when I can. It was always my favourite day out when I was younger when we came back to visit London. The Shark tunnel is always my favourite part.
10. The Science Museum
This place has great memories from my childhood and is still a great place now. I loved it as a kid because Mika Hakkinen’s crashed McLaren from 1999 was there with all the smashed suspension and flat tyres. I also loved the live shows where you got to do experiments and build things. I could still spend hours in the museum, especially in the Space Zone.
Ben Tuck’s Top picks Best View – Top of the Shard Best Shopping – Carnaby Street – Loads of great quirky shops in one place Best Food – Pizza is my favourite, Homeslice near Covent Garden is awesome Best Drinks – Covent Garden – most pubs here are great, like the Lamb and Flag or the Nags Head Best Walk – The Southbank is great all the way from Charing Cross Bridge to Tower Bridge, there is so much going on all the time, there’s always something to see.