Thrifty London // Bask at the Barbican

'London is so expensive', so many people say. London is also very, very big and is thankfully full of creative and artsy people who believe that spaces like the Barbican should be shared by everyone.

Alas, that is where I ended up one sunny, sunny day last week when I had some blissful time off work, a bag full of neglected reading books and a whole afternoon to spend basking in the warmth. After eating some delicious street food around the corner in Clerkenwell (the design sector of London is so well fed), I headed through an empty Smithfields market (save lonesome butchers hosing down their stations) and walked down to the Barbican (an arts centre as well as a tube station, who knew).

I am still not used to London. I am a Norfolk girl through and through and when the sun comes out we Norfolkians head to the coast or into the garden, not, necessarily, into the city. After finding the Barbican amongst a myriad of concrete jigsaw buildings I felt strangely content amongst the columns of brick either side of me. Inside it is cool and dimly lit, full of studious looking people busily taking advantage of the free wifi (or watching cat videos, who knows). There are fuzzy haired men walking around in suede waistcoats who I can only imagine belong to the resident London Symphony Orchestra, There are children jumping precariously along stepping stones next to the numerous water features that run behind the building.

All in all, it is one of those rare spaces that asks little of you but provides so much in the way of an urban sanctuary. It's all free to go in and of course, you'll be pleased to know that their gift shop is top notch! I would suggest you along on a Sunday as the high rise conservatory garden is open (terrapins swimming happily above the chaos of London included).

I'd love to say I caught up on my reading, but in all honesty I was so perfectly warm laying on the red bricks outside that I fell asleep for a solid hour. The seasoned napper that I am, I had preempted this situation and hooked by rucksack through my arm before resting my head on it in the greatest of improvised pillows. The gentle trickling of water and muffled cooing of coots ticked the last box and I eventually woke up when the sun went in, feeling very disorientated and to be honest, slightly embarrassed!

Heading back inside I was strangely entranced by the 'kayak' installation (a kayak noiselessly being pulled around the room on a wire - eerie and odd at the same time), before picking up a brochure and heading off, still feeling warm and extremely content!

The Barbican can be reached by Barbican tube station and has a diverse combination of art, music, theatre, film, dance and architectural displays and events. I'm keen to go back for 'Magnificent Collections: The Artist as Collector' exhibit, which explores the personal collections of artists, including Peter Blake and Andy Warhol (perhaps because I'm super nosy!)

The next sunny, warm day we have (we never really know when that will be here in England), I know where I'll be heading to warm up reptile-fashion!

Do you have any secret London spots you like to head to?

I'm always seeking cheap, unique and exciting spots in London, and feature them in my 'Thrifty London' posts here.

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