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Curious Travellers - A Journal

Earlier this year we challenged the students of City of London secondary schools and academies, to write their own version of a journal as a curious traveller! We were blown away by the imagination, talent and variety of the entries to the competition, and our judges had a very tough time choosing the winners.

This event was organised in conjunction with our exhibition Curious Travellers – Dr Johnson and Thomas Pennant on tour, which was staged at the House from October 2018 – January 2019.The exhibition explored the genre of travel-writing as it emerges in the 18th century through the Scottish and Welsh tours of Thomas Pennant and Samuel Johnson. The exhibition was curated by the House and was the culmination of a four years’ research at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, and the University of Glasgow, and supported by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Below are the three winning journals plus five additional special mentions. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did. Special thanks go to the City of London, as their ‘Inspiring London through Culture’ grant made this celebration of creative writing possible. 


First place - Notes from over the Moon

By A.B.

04 September 2083
As I leave the airlock, my eyes are bombarded with the vividest of colours: magentas, shamrocks, marigolds, crimsons… Even through the space helmet’s visor, the sheer brightness of it forces me to squint; an amazing parade of aliens in various dresses, quilts, and tunics all here just to greet me. Sitting on a shining throne and wearing a beastskin dress smiles the Empress of this new world herself. Flanking the way to the Empress, lined up in two rows are what I assume to be the royal guard, but dressed in pop-like outfits in all the colours of the rainbow, and a few others I cannot name. Behind them wave the ordinary citizens of Hᔑꖌꖌᔑ, as I make out from the tons of banners hung out all around my spacecraft (which translate to Hakka in English as I learned later). I’m shocked to see the extreme hospitality of this nation, juxtaposing with the humans’ fighting spirit and keenness of war.

The crowds are cheering, the guard create a fanfare with some sort of intergalactic trumpet, and there’s even a little band on a podium a little way off to the right. I can see them trying their best, and the citizens approving, but their taste of music clearly doesn’t quite line up with mine (or should I say ours). The sound coming out of their weird instruments is similar to that of a cat with a sore throat being strangled while scratching its claws on a chalkboard in perfect melody to an air horn going off. But even this doesn’t lessen my general curiosity, awe, and admiration towards this alien planet and its inhabitants.

Second place - A Russian Travel Journal

By N.S.

Day 1  1/1/16
The first day of my travels was awesome! The plane flight was long but fortunately, I got some sleep. Booking my hotel, I saw tourists like me so, I asked them for some instructions on how to book a room since I only knew some russian language. Unlocking my door, I noticed how hygenic Russian hotels were. Because of the travel, I decided to get in bed and have a nap.

Day 2  2/1/16
Waking up, I had a major headache so I decided to quickly go to a shop and buy some medicine. Walking to the shop, I noticed a lot of people wearing adidas. Maybe it’s a thing here? I don’t know. Anyways, I walked into the shop not knowing any Russian language and tried to say something but they wouldn’t understand. So, I took out my phone and used google translate to let them understand what I am trying to say.
Hopefully, it worked and bought the medicine with the Russian Rubles I converted from pounds to euros at the airport back in England. Walking back to the hotel, It started to snow heavily so I tried to walk faster. As I got back, the lovely workers greeted me with a nice Russian breakfast, Eggs, bread and a special type of sausage. Oh boy it was nice. As I finished my breakfast, I decided to walk around Russia and explore parts of it.

Day 3  3/1/16
Day 3, was so far so good. So, I agreed myself  to go to a restaurant and taste some of their dishes. As I walked in, I got greeted with a big ‘Privet!’ (Which means hello). I sat down and looked at their menu and boy oh boy there was a lot of food. I decided to order Koldunai and a bottle of Kvass. It was very toothsome! I paid my money which was well spent and walked out with a ‘Spasiba!’ (which means thank you).

Day 4  4/1/16
Day 4, It was the day I was going back to London. It was great being in this spectacular country. I enjoyed all the food and the views and the stay at the hotel. To be honest, it was really fun.

Armaddie House watercolour

Third place - Goldmania

By H.

Thursday 16th march 2016
Today was so extremely spectacular!
I adventured through the wonderful fantasy world of gold mania.I thought this holiday was going to be rubbish because there was no wifi but its only been the first day and I’ve had the best day.When I first woke up in the morning,I wore my black ripped jeans with my black puma jumper and styled my hair into a slick high bun then slipped on my white air forces.When I finally made it down to the breakfast lounge,I noticed the waiters looked peculiar because they were green and extremely short;how confused I was!Licking the remaining crumbs off my plate,I noticed at the corner of my eye a grand gold castle with elves running all over the gold and silver grass.How abnormal this was! My head was telling me to stay out of trouble and forget about it,but my heart was telling me to explore this adventurous world.Torn between the two decisions, I decided to explore,but that would be tomorrow I needed to go rest.

Friday 17th march 2016
The next morning,I quickly made my way down the stairs and in no time i was skipping up a path leading to the magical kingdom dripping in diamonds and had flowers that smelt like white chocolate - lovely!
Was I ready for what I would behold behind the door?Without holding back, I quickly opened the door and was amazed with what I saw(It was a kingdom,an amazingly magical kingdom).Taking a step forward ,my heart quickly dropped as I had just been rudely grabbed and thrown into a cage made of surprisingly strong candy canes.Heavily disoriented,I spotted a small,egg shaped figure approaching me.At this point I was very vexed because I had been locked up with no explanation given to me.As the guards finally opened the doors,the extremely small man approached me and told me that I was to be crowned the first human queen in gold mania in the next few hours.I was absolutely lost for words,I just didn’t know what to say.I thought it was a dream for a second.somehow, the kingdom door was like a portal between the two worlds that had transported me to this world-what a complicated story! The man told me I needed a rest since I had a big day ahead of me tomorrow.


Detail from Rowlandson print

Special Mention - A trip to the Eiffel Tower

By K

My first day in france would  be memorable. Stepping off the plane, the smell of delicious food being cooked consumed the air. It was like walking in a food restaurant. Getting closer to the smell, i saw something that i hope i’ll never forget, it was the eiffel tower. Seeing it in person was better than seeing it on a T.V. programme. I wanted to see more so i walked towards it and bought a ticket to go inside. Stepping in the elevator, i felt a rush of excitement fill my body. It suddenly stopped and i stepped on to the hard metal. I looked over the edge made me feel dizzy but it didn’t stop me enjoying the view. I looked out and saw the most beautiful sky. I looked down and saw the amazingly designed buildings. The scenery was perfect. I was so lost in the moment that i didn’t realise that it was already sunset. I decide to leave. As i arrived back on the ground i walked around finding myself in front of a restaurant. Curious on what the food might taste like i entered and smelled the most wonderful smell. The food was so delicious i couldn’t help but eat it all.
I would agree that my first day was very eventful and exciting.

My second day in france was a relaxing one. I went on an exciting tour around the whole of france. I saw some of the most exciting exhibits. One of the most exciting ones was in the zoo. After a long day of touring around france I went home to enjoy some of the french food’s I bought.

My last day in france was the day I decided to go to the beach and get a nice tan. As it was my last day I wanted to enjoy it the most because I wanted to make sure it was an experience I wanted to be the most memorable. When I arrived at the beach the first thing i wanted to do was to swim around and then relax on the beach. As I got into the water the feeling of luke warm body struck my body causing me to want to go deeper and further into it. I swam until mid day and decided to get out to go have lunch in a cafe’.
At around 7 am the next day I had to get ready to get on my flight back to america. I was upset that my travel had ended so quickly, but happy that I was able to enjoy France and get to taste the amazing foods that they cooked over here. I‘m glad I enjoyed the beach and the lovely weather. It was better than the rain. I am also going to miss the way I would walk out my apartment  smell the delicious foods being cooked in the distance.

Watercolour of Iona Church

Special Mention - My Time in Belgium

By E.P.

To believe that this is a small city. The building’s height nearly reaches the clouds. One of the building Belgium’s known buildings is called the  Atomium it was made in 1958 in the shape of a body centred cubic iron Crystal made to honour the Medals industry and celebrate the Atomic age. The entire structure height is 102 metres. Surprisingly there is a statue of a boy who stopped the city from burning by Urinating. The Earliest mention of the Manneken Pis is in an administrative text witch is dating from 1951 to 1952. During my time their I spotted a Market square this is the central square of Brussels. The Market is surrounded by guilds. The people there speak mostly Flemish and sometimes Dutch speaking. Back then the 19 century people who spoke Dutch was second class then Flemish Evolved to counter the situation (The Flemish community is the  Dutch speaking  and the French community is French speaking)

The sacred heart of Brussels was called the basilica. The religion Belgium had before their country’s independence was Roman Catholicism. The country is considered a large secular country and as a laicist constitution makes freedom of religion, plus the government respects its right of practise. The best hospital in Brussels  is called  CHU Saint-Pierre the thing is I never went inside it but I heard about it through my cousins  plus its one the second oldest in Belgium. In the hospital it’s divided into four sites.  While I was there I was so interested in the ways they used to help people there I was amazed in fact. On my time in Belgium I experienced time inside a castle which was called the castle of Laeken. It was made in 1782 to 1784. After Belgium independence the mayor of Belgium had become the new king of Belguim (which was at the castle of laeken   and happened on the 21 July 1831)

DAY 3  Food in Belgium While I was walking through the city I saw a cheap chip shop. I felt hungry so I decided to enter the shop and try the chips and I was surprised on the brilliant taste of them it was so good     
I still have that wonderful taste now. After I finished I seen a little shop that seemed to be opened for the market they usually have around here I saw a bunch of cookies called Speculaas I was amazed with the taste of it, it was unimaginable. Plus that wasn’t the only thing they sold mussels , these things are little stones with a lovely small tissue that is salty but full of flavour and sweetness.

Day 4
In the city I see a bunch of transport vehicles that seem to be a mixture between a train and a bus. There called trams there basically trains but the only thing that is difference is that trams go through the street like busses, The roads seem to be made for the trams.

Scottifying the palate rowlandson print

Special Mention - Three Days in Hell

This curious traveller wished to remain anonymous

18th June 2017.
My first day in hell was traumatic.
As I took my first step into this boiling hot universe, I saw red, snarling demons, staring into my soul. This is a blood-curling place. A metallic aroma fills my nostrils and I wondered  where it is coming from. Why am I here? Suddenly the cold, damp temperatures from London abruptly left my body and was replaced by shorching , fiery temperatures like I was on a tropical holiday. But this holiday is far from it. This is hell. I walked around and heard the deafening screams of the dead echoed in my ears and filled me sorrow for those who were suffering. Petrifying snakes circled my body. I was scared. There is no sky or floor in this place, there was just pools of hot, fuzzy lava.My brown, honey eyes stared at the bodies that were suffering in this horrifying location.As I turned around, my fingers rubbed against some of so called ‘walls’ that immediately felt metallic and hot. This feeling buzzed throughout my whole entire body, as if I was getting electricuted. Speedily, I pulled away from this red substance, and screamed in agony, as I stared at my bleeding, hot red fingers. As I carried on walking, I took a glimpse of what looked like a child, but with black torn horns, and blood oozing out of his (or hers!) eyes. Until now I wonder what that actually was.

19th June 2017
The 19th was my second day staying in this spine-chilling, place. My nights sleep felt so uncomfortable. I slept (well tried to sleep) on a hard, uncomfortable plank of wood, that was covered by a dark red, ripped rag.Anyway, on my second day in hell, I went and explored on the 3rd floor in this shocking place, and discovered some terrible things. As I slowly trudge my way through a pathway, I saw an old rotting body, that almost looked like an animal,or alien, shrieking, in a foreign language. Scaly snakes pulled it away and made way for me. The ‘monster’ kept on grinning at me, in a suspicious way. Afterwards, I looked away, and I still can’t  believe what I saw next. Dozens of the same creatures bellowed just as the other one did. Blood emerged out of these ‘things’ and poured out everywhere.Their thin, jet black eyes were fixed on me, as I stared back at them.Veins started to become more vivid. They started coming closer. I shut my eyes, but as soon as I opened them again, nothing. Nothing was there. It was like I was having a crazy dream.Now, I have never been able to unsee it.

20th June 2017
My last day in hell.
This day was not as bad as all the others, but it obviously wasn't the best day ever. W ell clearly, because I’m in hell! While I walked through the echoing, dark ‘hallways’ of hell, I spotted a devil that was torturing another human that was wailing in discomfort. Meanwhile, beside me, I saw something that looked like a dragon, but it wasn't what it looked like. I obviously thought that hell wouldn’t have any attractions to make their guests enjoy their stay,but I was wrong. The red, green-eyed ‘dragon’ I saw, was actually a rollercoaster that I surprisingly enjoyed (even though it was really scary)! The rollercoaster swung side to side and it lead us all the way through this place. Unfortunately, it made me feel like I was going to throw up. Finally, it brought us to the 4th floor of this location, which was an amazing place. Food was everywhere and I think that they were doing this so that we could have a memorable last day in hell.

Drawing of Danish Fort

Special Mention - An Inter World Travel Journal

This curious traveller wished to remain anonymous

16 March 2019
Today was amazing. I have finally achieved my dream. Just earlier this morning, I flew in on a special plane adapted for inter-world travel; it was not exactly what I'm used to, as typically I would be soaring around in a Shroud X-76. Anyway, back to the journal.
So I just landed at Gatwick Airport, accompanied by a few of my closest friends - Shelby, Wing and Laura - and we all went our separate ways. I, for one, got a ‘taxi’ to Camberwell Green, where there are a number of interesting things to do.
Firstly, I walked over to the Lumberjack Cafe, where for some reason there was no waitress. No matter - I simply hacked into the mainframe and processed the order of a croissant and soy latte, taking the money straight from the Mayor - Mr Khan, I believe - and enjoyed my first London food with a touch of raspberry jam. It was so much more delightful than the food they used to give us back at the orphanage.
Having tasted my first food in a new place, I, satisfied with my choice of meal, strolled leisurely over to the park to the side of the Leisure Centre and took an eyeful. It was an interesting sight - the sort of thing you'd never see at H.I.V.E academy.
A couple of hours later, I found myself watching something you call ‘Parkour’. The people in there were doing tricks I've never seen before - at first I thought they must have been using computers to control their boards, but shortly after I could not track a digital footprint I realised they were just extremely talented and skilled at what they loved. Also, a number of people were shocked at my spiky white hair, considering I am only 14. I could see them marveling at my incredible style.
I got home at about 11, after watching a movie these primitive humans call “Big Hero 6”. I especially loved the part where Baymax ran through the debris. Being super tired, I naturally dived under the covers of the 5-star penthouse apartment I had rented for three days, I fell fast asleep.

17 March 2019                                                  
Today was rather eventful. Upon waking up in a new environment, not only were the sights different but everything else as well. For example, the horns blaring, the fumes stinking, even the little biscuits that came up with my decaf - all new to me. After I had had my shower and got dressed, I decided that as I was not in London for very long, I should probably take a look at some of the sights. So I hacked into a nearby Tesla’s motherboard and had it take me straight to the London Eye. It amazed me how expensive the tickets were, and even though I was not the one paying for them, this time Dwayne Johnson, I still felt a loss.

The speed at which the wheel revolved was pitiful. I felt we could have been overtaken by a dead snail - it truly was dreadful to be disrespected so. After I had changed my mind and actually looked at some of the sights from so high, I felt I needed to try a bit of English cuisine - Fish n’ Chips. After visiting Ocean Fish Bar off Walworth Road, I breathed in the salty smell of my chips and took a large bite of fish. It was the most magnificent thing I’ve tasted in my life.
At this point, it was about four o’clock and I felt like doing one more thing in London before I had to leave the next day. So I chose an instant classic, going to a Club. Although I am only fourteen, the bouncers let me in without a second glance - with a little help from The Voice - a trick I learnt from the late Lucy. Inside, it was like all my wildest thoughts had been let loose. Alcohol, dancing, obnoxiously loud music - the whole package. What a night.

18 March 2019
I woke up today on the floor of my hallway leading to the kitchen, but before long I was up on my feet making my coffee. Today was the day I was heading home. I felt insanely hungover from the previous night, but the coffee woke me right up. I gathered my things and hailed a taxi. It was ridiculously expensive; this time it was John Cena paying. When I finally arrived at the hangar from which the inter-world plane would leave, a single tear rolled down my cheek. London was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen. With a wave, I boarded the plane and took one last look at the city hall.
It was such a shame to leave.

The Dance on Dun-Can Rowlandson Print

Special Mention - London 2018 and Back Again

This curious traveller wished to remain anonymous

13 May 2018
2018 isn’t how I pictured it to be. I thought everything I was suffering with back in 1918 would be gone by now. Like having to crawl through dusty chimneys to clean them and get stuck for ages,despite have a smaller and thinner figure than other girls.Sadly, they’re still there.Just improved.Being astonished of London 100 years later,I ran around,exploring this new city.I wondered why all those people were staring at me.Maybe i still had some dust on my face from the chimneys.I ended up at a street with a tall building.A very tall building.It was a very odd and thin triangle shape.I went to a tall man wearing a green and white vest to ask what it was.He told me it was “The Shard” which was a very popular tourist attraction.Staring at me confusingly,he asked where my mum and dad were.”Back in 1918” I said.He gave me an even more puzzled look.Why was everybody acting so strange today?I then ran off,wiping my face and checking for any dirt on it.
I darted for the entrance,only to be stopped by another man who was wearing the same vest the other man was wearing earlier.He said i had to pay £20 for a ticket to get in.Me,being puzzled,didn’t understand what he said.The old man who worked at Morrisons would always call them pound sterlings. Suddenly,a big crowd of people speaking many different languages,gave the man a small piece of paper.They then ambushed me,trapped me in their swarm and whisked me off inside.
A tall woman with a large smile on her face walked over to me.She hovered over to me and happily spoke “Welcome to The Shard! Would you like me to be your tour guide for today ?”.I nodded as she gestured for me to follow her.
95 floors later,we then came back to front entrance in the front floor.The view from the top looked amazing but ever so high that i felt a bit sick. “Thank you for visiting The Shard! We hope you enjoyed your visit and we hope to see you soon!” She said before walking away,her heels clicking.It was getting dark, and i felt pretty tired.I found a nice comfortable bench.I watched the stars as i drifted  to sleep.

14 May 2018
I woke up to the sound of birds chirping as the bright sun shone upon me one again.I sat up on the bench and wondered on where to visit next. Until my attention focused onto a bright red thing on wheels! On the sides it read “Experience London and the UK” People came in and out at what looked like a shelter with red seats.I climbed in through the door at the back,no one noticing due to their astonishment at the glorious shard.I went up the stairs to the top as a small breeze went past my face.As the peculiar vehicle began to move,i fell in the fuzzy seat behind me, more startled than ever.It stopped in front of Big Ben which hasn’t changed one bit.a loud voice out of nowhere began to call out “This is the amazing Big Ben! It was built in 1859 with 11 floors and stands at a whopping 96 metres.” People around me began wowing and seemed more amazed than i was.


LondonShh. Small Historic Houses Link to London Shh website Accredited Museum