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Seven calming ways to really slow down in London

Living in London doesn't have to be all rush, rush, rush. Here are seven ways to slow it down around town

Written by
Matt Breen

Sometimes London seems locked on the turbo setting. Squeezing fitness classes between earning rent or maintaining a thorough knowledge of celeb feuds while studying – there simply aren’t enough days in the week. Luckily, hidden among the speed and stress of London, there’s a whole load of activities that press the pause button. Here are seven slow-paced things to check out. No rush, though.

Seven ways to slow down in London

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Manor House
If you’re not prepared to take your time and be patient, birdwatching is pretty much impossible. Manor House’s Woodberry Wetlands, which opened this year, is running birdwatching tours on selected Sundays throughout the summer. The two-hour sessions are open to all levels of experience: the perfect escape from a never-offline lifestyle. Twitch more, tweet less!

Time spent: you could easily take a whole day awaiting the sight of London’s rarest winged creatures.
  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
The Capital Ring Walk was created in 1990 by a group of enthusiastic city ramblers. Running for 70-odd miles, it winds its circular way through London, from Richmond in the west to Woolwich in the east, and Temple Fortune in the north to Beckenham in the south. Given its length, you’d be hard pushed to do the thing in its entirety (unless guerrilla camping’s your thing), but that’s the beauty of this route: you can walk it in sections whenever you like.

Time spent: about a week to do the whole thing.
Do some clockwatching at the British Museum
  • Museums
  • History
  • Bloomsbury
On the third floor of the British Museum, you’ll find rooms 38 and 39 which are dedicated to clocks and watches. Tucked away from all the Egyptian crowd-pleasing stuff, this lesser-visited display runs the horological gamut from medieval church clocks right up to devices from the present day. What better place for some reflective contemplation as you listen to the steady tick, tick, tick of time passing? Once an hour, everything on display chimes in unison.

Time spent: at least 60 minutes to really feel time slow down. Make sure you’re there on the hour to experience the massed chiming.
  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • Tottenham
Whether home brewing or baking sourdough, it’s clear that we’re quite happy to invest time in culture-based things in the kitchen. The next big make-at-home trend? It’s got to be cheese. And, as the classes at Wilde's Cheese prove, you don’t need fancy equipment – just time and patience. Day courses at the Tottenham micro dairy are fun and chilled out. You get to take home a spreadable curd and another cheese that improves in taste as you leave it to mature. Whey to go!

Time spent: courses take a day (though the world’s oldest edible cheese is a 40-year-old cheddar from Milwaukee, so you can really go slow here).
Browse some bookshelves
  • Shopping
  • Bookshops
  • Spitalfields
Libreria is a newcomer to London’s indie bookstore scene. With its floor-to-ceiling shelves (inspired by the Jorge Luis Borges story ‘The Library of Babel’), it’s as much an immersive experience as a retail one. But whatever you do, don’t get your phone out: they’re banned, so you’ll be out on the pavement faster than you can say ‘Marcel Proust’.

Time spent: an hour or two here and you’ll feel well and truly unplugged.
Linger over a tasting menu
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Clapham
If you want to dine at a halfway civilised tempo, seek out a restaurant’s tasting menu, where you get a series of small plates to spend some time with. The eight-courser at The Manor (which we gave the full, five-star, fuck-yeah! verdict) is a good shout. It’s served with the grace of a tea ceremony and, at £45, won’t break the bank. From ‘cellar salumi and nduja cultured cream’ to ‘dark chocolate, molasses and anise hyssop ice cream’, savour every moment.

Time spent: a long, slow, leisurely evening.
Stroll the Square Mile on a Sunday
  • Things to do
Tourists might flock to St Paul’s and the Tower of London, but they rarely stray into the rest of the City of London; and only around 9,000 people live there. So come the weekend, when all the pinstriped types are at home, the Square Mile turns into a ghost district. But, past the dormant Prets and empty plazas, there’s plenty to explore in what is the oldest part of the capital: Christopher Wren churches, tranquil gardens, medieval alleyways and Roman temple ruins.

Time spent: take a full day and include a break at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a historic pub that’s been in its spot off Fleet Street for at least 350 years. No hurry, then.

And then speed things up again...

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