Expert interview - London

This week I speak to Lori Peterson who runs the blog Red Wellie Girl. Lori has been living in London England for the last four years and give us as insight into England as a woman travelling solo.

Can you tell us about your background?

I grew up in Michigan and have always been interested in places and cultures. When I was very little I would sit with my dad while he talked to people around the world via amateur radio. He would point out the country on a massive world map and talk to me about time zones. I always loved the idea of travel but I didn’t do too much of it before I moved to England. Part of the reason I came here was to travel more. I started my blog in 2013 as a way to keep friends and family updated. I work full time so I’m not able to spend as much time travelling and blogging as I’d like, but I’m also able to afford more in terms of hotels, tickets and things to do.

When I’m not travelling, you can find me on a yoga mat or in the kitchen cooking ethnic dishes.

Why did you choose London UK to live?

My love affair with England started early. When I was 16, I visited London as part of a school trip and vowed that someday I would live there. Years later, I decided to make that a reality. I ended up doing a masters degree in the city and then successfully finding work afterward. It has been really lovely living here. English people have this reserved, self-sufficient quality that I both appreciate and identify with. And they are really funny.

How does the weather compare with that at home?

People think I’m crazy, but I quite like the weather here. In Michigan it’s absolutely freezing during the winter, about 10-15 degrees below zero. We also get loads of snow that stays until April or even later. English weather is so mild, and I love a good rainstorm!

Monument. London

What do you think is England’s attraction to women travelling alone?

England is a safe destination with no language barrier for those who speak English. Therefore, it’s a good choice for Americans who may be nervous about Europe or travel in general. Public transport is safe and easy to navigate once you get the hang of it. You’ll be able to find comfortable accommodation and good food easily. There are lots of interesting things to see and do in England, so it suits a lot of interests.

Have you met many other women travelling solo?

I have met other women living solo here as expats or students. I haven’t necessarily met travellers here, but I think that’s because I am living here and so not around hostels and such. However, I’ve met lots of women in Europe who have spent time in England, and it is very common to see women alone at attractions in London.

Most people spend time in London and skip other places. Are there any hidden gems in the country that people should definitely visit?

One place I love in England is Ludlow. It’s a quintessentially British town near the border of Wales and about three hours from London by train. It also happens to be the unofficial gastronomic capital of England. There is a thriving restaurant scene focused on local ingredients and producers. There are also cheese shops, old-fashioned butchers and food markets. In September they have big food festival, and in May there is a beer festival.
If dramatic scenery is more your thing, the Lake District up north has that in spades. You can visit a fishing village like Whitstable and slurp briny oysters while breathing in the sea air. And England has some lovely beaches. Try Cornwall, the Jurassic Coast or the sandy beaches near Portsmouth – West Wittering is a favorite of mine.

Stonehenge. England

The spiritual site of Stonehenge

If you only had two weeks to see the country, what would your perfect itinerary be?

For a first-time itinerary, I would visit London and spend five or six days here. During that time, you could visit some popular attractions and spend some time just getting to know the city. My favourite ‘must-dos’ are a walk along the Southbank to Tower Bridge, afternoon tea in a fancy hotel or restaurant, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. For something a bit different you could spend an afternoon or evening in off-beat Camden, visit a food market like Broadway or Borough, pub-hop in Shoreditch or take a boat to Greenwich to visit several royal museums and stand on the Prime Meridian.

After that, take a train to Bath and spend a couple of days in this beautiful Georgian town visiting the Roman Baths, the Abbey, and perhaps getting a spa treatment or sampling some local Somerset cider. From Bath, rent a car and set out for Cornwall. Stop in the artist colony of St. Ives for cliff-backed surf beaches and great seafood. Work your way around the coast before returning to Bath, perhaps via hippy Glastonbury or the ornate cathedral in Wells. Head back to London for onward travel. If you won’t have a car, you can get to Cornish destinations on the train.

How easy is it to get around?

It is very easy to get around both London and England. London’s public transport network includes the underground (subway), trains, busses and overground (light rail services). When you arrive in England, pick up an oyster transport card at airports, stations, travel info points or Oyster ticket stops. Then, just load it up with either a travel card or a certain amount of money. Your travel costs will be deducted automatically as you use transport services.

London Tower Bridge. England

London Tower Bridge by night

Is there anything to do there in the evenings as a solo?

Pub culture is alive and well in England. It can be really nice to find a pub, settle into a comfy corner and try some English ales with a classic meal like beef and ale pie. There are also some fun and quirky events like outdoor movies, festivals and skyscraper yoga. If you’re looking to meet people, head to an Australian bar like the Walkabout. Australians are a blast to hang out with, and the vibes at those places is really social.

Is it easy to meet other travellers?

I  can’t comment on meeting travellers in England because I’ve never been a true traveller here. Meeting other Londoners is actually one of the hard parts about being here. The city is just so vast and anonymous, plus people tend to keep to themselves in ways they may not in other parts of the world. That said, I have made some good friends here, it just takes time. If you’re travelling solo in London, I don’t imagine you’ll have trouble meeting other travellers in hostels or on tours.

What would you say to someone who is looking to go to England alone for the first time?

Contact me and I will help you out! There’s no need to be apprehensive about England. I’ve got lots of knowledge and info I’d love to give you.

The Lake District, England

The Lake District

Describe England in 3 words

Historic, comfortable and quirky.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

England is friendly but it takes some practice communicating here. People will answer questions when you ask them, but they aren’t going to go out of the way to give you information. For example, you might order something in a restaurant that comes in a combo for less money. You won’t necessarily be told that information when you order, because the wait staff will assume you’ve read the menu, processed the options and ordered exactly what you wanted. He or she won’t want to bother or upset you by suggesting something different. My advice to travellers in England is to read everything, as many things seem to be set up for minimal personal interaction (but again, people will help if you ask!).

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to live a few more years here in England and travel in Europe a bit more. A friend and I are planning some independent travel to the Seychelles in 2016. I can’t wait to do some affordable exploration and then write about it on the blog.

Where can people go to find out more about you?

I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest as Red Wellie Girl.

Is England on your bucket list? 

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