During a recent 'beat the clock' game, I was hard pressed to find the name of a capital city beginning with the letter D. I shot out of my seat and yelled 'Düsseldorf!' desperately, before remembering that Düsseldorf is not a capital city - Dakar would have been more appropriate.
Sometimes my mental atlas is dodgy.
An English teacher in primary school once told me that the next best alternative to travelling is to read about places and imagine yourself there. This is how by the time I was ten, I'd already watched the sun set over Mount Kenya, tasted sake in Japan, surfed in California...you get the picture. You see, sometimes discovering isn't necessarily in the act of being there; it is seeing it come alive through the eyes of another person. Ghana, UK, USA, Ukraine, Latvia, Singapore, Greece and Netherlands...are some of the countries in which readers of this blog live. Imagine..a plethora of places to be 'visited' even right here within this space! I think I've died and gone to travel heaven.
So how about a little game? An informal and personalized geography session, if you will. Tell us about the city/town in which you currently reside. I'll start:
Camden - which is variously described as 'alternative', 'fashionable', 'crazy'. I like to think of it as 'colourful.'
What's the first thing you do when you arrive (back) in London?
Start looking on my right hand side for oncoming vehicles, and not my left.
What advice would you give a tourist?
Always have an umbrella handy, and never be fooled by the sunshine.
Which London shops do you rely on?
Sainsbury's for groceries. The Tesco Express down the road for the emergency oh-no-we're-out-of-milk groceries, Viva Afrik Kenkey House in Leytonstone for - you guessed it - kenkey. They make the best kenkey this side of Europe. Adom Store in Dalston Market for apem (unripe plantain), and recently, The Wine Cellar, a Portuguese café on Kentish Town Road, for deliciously sinful sandwiches. Pak Comestics on Stroud Green Road for hair and beauty products. Be not surprised that most of my favourite shops are food-related shops.
What's your earliest London memory?
Realizing on the drive home from the airport that drivers here do not honk their horns much, and being slightly unnerved by that.
What's the most memorable meal you've had in London?
Eating sushi for the first time and knowing instantly that it would be my last. That, and having marmite accidentally put in my tea and gagging at the first sip.
If you could live in any building in London, which would it be?
Central St Giles, because it's painted in vibrant reds and sunny yellows and has a fascinating statue in the courtyard.
What is your favourite place in London?
The National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square, and the Southbank on a hot summer day.
What are your recent discoveries?
Apple Lucozade, Jessie J and brogues, not necessarily in that order.
What's your favourite London shopping street?
Oxford Street for high street fashion.
Tell us something we don't know about London
Soho in the West End was a hunting ground during the time of Henry VIII. When a hunter spotted a deer, he would yell 'Tally-Ho', and for smaller prey, he would shout 'So-Ho!'
A vous de jouer! Put your city/town into the mix and answer the same questions. Remember that this is your take on your city, so do not be put off by another person's entry, should they live in the same city as you. Now get playing, player :)
*Question format inspired by ES Magazine