London in Winter? (in Off-topic)

Maelstrom November 7 2007 4:36 PM EST

How's the weather in London in Winter? My girlfriend's paper was just accepted for a conference there, and I'll tag along. Even better: they're providing funds for her to get there. The conference is on Jan 31st-Feb 1st, but we should be able to stick around for a week or more.

So, aside from drinking in pubs, is there anything to do in London in the Winter? ;) Are there any places that really must be seen that time of year, and any typical tourist places that we shouldn't bother with? We'll probably also travel around England a bit - anything we should see?

SNK3R November 7 2007 4:50 PM EST

What kind of conference?

I don't care about weather. :)

QBJohnnywas November 7 2007 4:51 PM EST

Oh dear where to start? The first week of Feb is usually wet and grey, although it's not unusual for it to snow. London's not usually as bad as the rest of the country though for weather; we normally get rain when the rest gets snow.

Tourist stuff? Hmmm. I won't bother with explanations - Google will give you enough info if I mention a few things.

London Eye is worth a look.

Madame Tussauds.

You should try and take in a show in the West End; Lion King for instance or something like that. There is a place in Leicester (pronounced Lester!!) Square that sells cheap theatre tickets during the day for performances in the evening.

You could get a boat down the Thames from Charing X Pier to Canary Wharf if you like looking at buildings from a boat.

The Tate Modern. It's free! Actually all the museums and major galleries are free, apart from specific exhibitions.

Also, go to the following site. You can order travel cards in advance for here, although I'm not sure if you can order them from overseas. Get a travel card as soon as you arrive if not. Public transport in London is much cheaper if you use the Oystercard. You'll save a lot of money.

And then if you have some time try and get me and GL in one place at one time and do the best thing in London: buy us a drink!

AdminG Beee November 7 2007 5:00 PM EST

is there anything to do in London in the Winter?

For sure there is.
Train from Kings Cross station direct to Edinburgh.

PS. Bring a warm coat, scarf and an umbrella.

AdminG Beee November 7 2007 5:03 PM EST

If you insist on staying in London then you should look up both Johnny and GL for a day out.
I can promise you that GL (I'm speaking from experience) will ensure you see sights that you have probably never seen in your life before.

Maelstrom November 7 2007 5:10 PM EST

SNK4R, it's the ACR+ International Conference on Waste and Climate Change. My girlfriend is working on her PhD in environmental engineering.

Johnny: for tourist stuff, I guess I'm just wondering what not to see ;) I know I can look things up, but a local can tell me what isn't worth seeing outside of the main tourist season. I can see those things some other time.

Madame Tussauds has never interested me: why see wax versions of plastic people? A West End show sounds good, thanks for the tip about Leicester Square! We'll have to hit the museums, I suppose. The Oystercard sounds like what we'd need. How do the zones for the weekly travelcard work?

And of course I'll try not to miss the main, umm... attraction? Beer with CBers! I believe I owe some of you guys a beer already? ;)

QBJohnnywas November 7 2007 5:33 PM EST


OK, madam tussauds isn't really my cup of tea either. And it's pricey.

The museums and galleries are great though. I'd recommend all of them at least once. The Tate Modern is probably my favourite, but then I was an art student growing up....

London is divided into 6 zones for travel. Heathrow is the furthest point out in zone 6, Central London is zone 1. A 7 day travelcard for all zones (buses/tubes and inner London trains) costs £43. Which is worth it, when you consider a single journey on one of those can set you back £5.

Go on the London Eye too. Try and go in the evening, about 6pm or so when it's dark, but when London is all lit up. It's very impressive, one of the best views of Central London you will see.

It's funny, but I grew up within walking distance of all the main tourist attractions and never saw any of them unless people came to visit. Always the way I guess!

I'll think of some other things to do (that is, I'll ask my wife who grew up outside of London!) and let you know.


AdminG Beee November 7 2007 5:35 PM EST

If you like your sports you're in a great area to take in a tip top Football match. Also, you're close to some great golf courses if you fancy putting in an afternoon that way.

Wasp [C and S Forgery Lmtd.] November 7 2007 6:06 PM EST

Good old London. I'm a few miles away from it : ). Expect the weather to be un-predictable. Rainy and cold. Check out the London eye, science + natural history museums. China town down in Leicster square... loadsa things. Even Camden town :P

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] November 7 2007 7:29 PM EST

I feel another meet coming on. ;)

The Marborough Head. Gothic pub where the Toilets are 'hidden' behind a bookcase. ;)

If it's still cold enough 9nad it's quite clement here actually) there are sometimes a few outside ice rinks.

Then there's the Smirnof frozen bar (bar made totally out of ice).

Ther'es oads to see/do, it really depends on your tastes. ;) I shold be in my new house by then (hopefully!) and it's just after my Birthday. ;)

As for traveling around, let us know what you like (Castles, Wildlife Parks, Adventures Parks) and I'm sure we could pack out your time! ;)

Things that come to mind are Monkey World, Alton Towers/Thorpe Park, Stonehenge and a boat ride down the Thames. ;)

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] November 7 2007 7:31 PM EST

Hook us up with some ideas, and we'll vet them for you. ;)

Maelstrom November 7 2007 11:06 PM EST

Regarding the weather, perhaps some context would help. I live in eastern Canada, where in February we can have almost a meter of snow, and where temperatures can go down to -40oC with windchill. In the winter, a temperature of -20oC is normal, and anything above -10oC is "warm". We definitely don't get rain in the winter ;)

So, about how warm is it? I can deal with rain, though snow is better :P

GB, I would LOVE to go to Scotland, but I don't think we can make it this time. Maybe sometime in the summer...

My girlfriend might be into a Football game. Definitely no golf, though. Neither of us is into that.

Wait a minute - MONKEY WORLD!! Must go! I should change my user pic in anticipation ;) Castles would be cool, too. I was really impressed my Mont St. Michel in France when I was there.

I've been to Stonehenge before, and was disappointed. You can't go in around the stones, and there were no dancing (or burning) witches. *sigh*

I've also been to Stratford-upon-Avon, which was OK, but way too touristy. ("...and this was Shakespeare's school, and this was Shakespeare's dentist's house, and THIS is where Shakespeare's house USED to be!" bleh.)

Once I look into things, and schedule my vacation time and flights, I'll probably have a better idea of what I can do.

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] November 8 2007 3:38 AM EST

LoL! I doubt we'll have any snow, you could probably make do with shorts and a t-shirt. ;)

Monkey World is brilliant. It's an Ape resuce reserve. As for Castles. ;) We can hook you up with some Brilliant ones!

I found Stonehenge quite boring, you can't go and touch the henge any more. :( When I was a kid my folks have a picture of me sitting on part of it. ;) ) but I had to include it. :/

The Amusment Parks could be fun, if the weather holds. But they're probably not a patch on American ones.

smallpau1 - Go Blues [Lower My Fees] November 8 2007 6:40 AM EST

You gotta try some Bon Bons, i can never find them here in America, =)

That reminds me, Johnny, i need some more, =P

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] November 8 2007 6:49 AM EST

I'll trade you Bon Bons for Peanut Butter M&M's! :P

Flamey November 8 2007 7:05 AM EST

Oh, god. Peanut butter M&M's. That sounds absolutely sickening.

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] November 8 2007 7:46 AM EST

They are gorgeous. Pure confectionary gold.

smallpau1 - Go Blues [Lower My Fees] November 8 2007 11:15 AM EST

Peanut Butter M&M's are my favorite as well, =)

AdminG Beee November 8 2007 2:02 PM EST

You might actually want to think twice about the UK. Not that you're likely to be buying ice cream in February, but if you do it's gonna set you back more than $5 for a single ice cream.

The exchange rate ended even higher today than the $2.10 mentioned in the paper. It's great for us over here when buying CB $'s though ;)

Maelstrom December 4 2007 11:35 AM EST

OK, Peanut butter M&M's are on the list of stuff to bring ;)

I've been working on planning the details of our trip, and I have a few questions. We fly into Gatwick airport on Jan 29, and we leave from Gatwick on Feb 5th. What's the cheapest way to get from Gatwick to Victoria Station? It seems to be the local train, correct?

The basic plan is that we have three days in London, maybe two nights away from the city, then another two nights in London before we leave. The conference will pay for the first three nights in a hotel, and we'll probably just stay in a cheap hostel for the last two nights. No point in paying for a fancy room when your only there at night to sleep. Any recommendations for cheap, centrally located places to stay? I've checked all the booking sites, so I'm mainly looking for personal suggestions.

My girlfriend has a friend who lives in London, and the friend wants us all to go on a trip to Durham for 2 days. The friend has never been there, but has heard that it's nice. All I can find about the place is from the city's tourism site, which wouldn't be very objective. Does anyone know anything Durham? Is it worth spending 2 of my 7 days there? Any other suggestions for a place to go for a day or two out of London?

We're thinking of doing an Evan Evans day trip to Leeds Castle. 64 pounds each seems to be a reasonable price, since it includes transport and admission fees. Any comments, or better suggestions for getting to Leeds Castle?

More importantly, I'll have two days on my own (Jan 31st, Feb 1st) while she's at her conference. Who's up for a drink? Also, I would mainly avoid tourist stuff on my own. Any offbeat things to see? Any good second-hand music stores?

QBJohnnywas December 4 2007 11:51 AM EST

Gatwick to Victoria - the Gatwick Express does what it says on the tin and does it in a much faster time than the local trains - no stops, and generally not crowded even at the busiest times.

Durham's a long way from London - might not seem like a big distance to people from bigger countries, but you can be looking at 5-6 hours or more on the train.

If you're only needing a couple of days in a hotel - I'd look up Travelodge. It's not much more than a room and a shower - I wouldn't bother with anywhere that did breakfast or anything when you could just go out and eat out.

They have a branch in Covent Garden - you can't really get much more central to where everything is in London and they're taking bookings for that time - 2 nights works out about 210 quid or so. Which for London isn't actually that expensive to be honest. There are much cheaper places, but generally you get what you pay for, and some of them are miles out of the centre. Tube is pretty good to get around though, so are buses.

What are you looking at for accomodation? What site? I could have a look and see what I would go for.

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] December 4 2007 6:20 PM EST

Mael, what time you flying into gatwick. If I'm free (or can get the time off work and am not moving house...) I really don't mind coming to pick you up. ;)

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] December 4 2007 6:22 PM EST

Leeds Castle is nice, I'll get a list of good castles off my Dad for you to look at. I think Warwick will be on that as well.

Tavelodges/Premier Travel Inn are good. As Johnny says, bedroom and bathroom, but cheap, and nice enough. ;)

AdminG Beee December 4 2007 6:31 PM EST

GL, if you're going out with Mael, book a taxi. Bad idea to try getting the underground home after a night out with fellow CB'rs ;)

I doubt I'll get ground clearance for a London visit but I'm working on it. Could be a fun couple of days :)

Thraklight Resonance December 4 2007 8:37 PM EST

I was impressed by the benefits that this conference offers to its guest speakers.

Raise your company or personal profile.
A complimentary place at the conference.
Exposure to international decision makers including both public and private organizations.
Keep up-to-date on the latest research in the field.
Enjoy complimentary pub crawl with GentlemanLoser and Johnnywas.
Learn about the latest industry initiatives and technologies.
Meet with experts from across Europe.
Identify potential partners.

th00p December 4 2007 9:51 PM EST

Basically, sit at our boring conference and drink with JW and GL?

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] December 5 2007 3:18 AM EST

G, you're never gonna let me forget falling asleep on the underground home that night are you? ;)

Maelstrom December 5 2007 11:29 PM EST

Well, I've had a busy few days here. Let's see if I can catch up with the comments ;)

Johnny, I believe the Gatwick Express is twice the cost of the local train. We don't mind crowding much, but we want to save where we can. (I've travelled NYC subways during rush hour dragging over-sized suitcases!)

GL, thanks for the offer of picking us up, but I imagine that would be way too much trouble. We really don't mind subways too much. The flight arrives around 10am, then we'd have to go through customs, get our luggage, etc. Hard to know exactly when we'd be free ;)

Johnny, a list of good castles would be cool :D

G Beee, come on, you can find a way over! Then again, if we end up going all the way up to Durham, that would be much closer for you!

According to Google Maps, Durham is about 4.5 hours away, but I suppose by train it would be longer. Is it worth the trip?

The Covent Garden Travelodge might be good for our last couple of nights. I'll look into it. For our first three nights, we're looking for a hotel as close as possible to the Regent's Park subway stop - that's very close to where the conference is taking place.

I've been checking many different sites. Here's a site that lists some cheap hotels in the Oxford/Regent area. Heard of any of them?

Thrak, is that new name you? TAP != ZAP, right? :S Were you able to find info on the conference, or are you just generalizing about conferences? From the lineup that we've seen, my girlfriend may be the only "student" (if you count PhD candidates as students), while almost everyone else is high-ranking government officials, environmental task force leaders, and such types. You know, the people that are full of themselves, but never actually do anything ;) Seriously though, it's rather intimidating for a poor student!

Not that I have to worry. While she's in a room full of stuffy politicos, I get to be with GL and JW. Wait, which is worse? :P G, I'll keep your subway advice in mind, but isn't it easier to sleep in a taxi?

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] December 6 2007 3:17 AM EST

It takes about 30 mins (give or take) after landing. I'll see if I can wrangle the day off work (it's during term time, they don't usually let me take time off during term time...) and if I can, I've no problems coming to pick you up. Gatwick is only about an hours drive from my place. ;)

QBJohnnywas December 6 2007 3:22 AM EST

hmm. All those hotels are a little bit away from the Regents Park stop - about 15/20 minutes walk - they're all by Marble Arch - go to for the UK Google maps - that's probably the best one to look at for the distance.

To be closer to Regents Park you might want to check out the Travelodge Marylebone - do the find a hotel on the travelodge site. That's actually closer to Regents Park.

Castles? is a good site for checking out those. Personally I think you have to see the Tower of London if you're into castles, only fifteen minutes from Regents Park (get onto the circle line at Great Portland Street and go clockwise/east to Tower Hill). I've been to a few and that's my favourite. A lot of the ones in the UK are simply 'big houses'. The site is pretty good for pictures and infor.
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