So it’s coming to the end of my first year living in London. It’s flown past but I won’t be living there next year. I shall be moving to San Francisco for my second year of university so I thought I’d state some of my favourite things about London and some of the things I actually despise.
1. Love the Tube and Public Transport
I find the iconic tube absolutely fascinating. In the words of the great Mr Weasley “Trains? Underground? Brilliant these muggles!” and he’s absolutely right. Every time I’m venturing somewhere in London on the underground I can’t help but think how on earth did this ever get created. It’s an engineering marvel and the fact it’s expanding with cross rail is brilliant. It’s unbelievably efficient, it carries up to a billion passengers a year and it’s absolutely ancient. The new trains are amazing and a step in the right direction, even the London Over ground is great. It’s convenient, quick and in all seriousness, relatively cheap. I tend to get a travel card. Zones 1-6 for £5.60 at student price and that can literally take me miles and miles, to places that would cost a fortune in a taxi. I had my faith restored in buses after getting the X26 direct from Kingston to Heathrow in about 40 minutes with very few stops and it only cost me £1.35. Even though Boris put the prices up every year he’s been in office it’s still pretty good price.
2. Love the Open space
One of the things I’ve always thought was great in London is the park life scene. There is more green space in London than almost any other capital city in the whole of Europe and without trying to sound to hipster, they are a great place to go and chill. Primrose Hill, Grosvenor Square and Richmond are some of my favourites. There is also the little park right next to the houses of parliament where I sometimes go and think, as long as nobody is sat on my bench. Then I walk of in a furious rage. I think park life is pretty unique in London, it’s something that London has up on many other cities in the UK .
3. Love the Choice
This one probably goes without saying for most people but there is so much to do. There is stuff to do for free, there is stuff to do cheaply and there is a never-ending amount of choice of things to do. All you have to do is follow the Londonist on twitter to receive updates of great things to do on every day of the week. From nerdy pub quizzes to tours of the dungeons and not to mention the museums that are completely free. The science museum is probably my favourite in London but that’s mainly because it’s my interest rather than the natural history and British museum, whilst fascinating, isn’t really my cup of tea.
4. Love the Pace
I’m a small town person. I live in a town with a tiny population, hardly any stores that are chains, hardly any one uses public transport and you can walk from one end to the other in about 20 minutes. Many people question whether small town people can get on with somewhere as quick paced as London but I think it fits me perfectly. The City is fast, there is logic behind it. People who are slow keep to the right, if you want to be slow be slow, if you want to be fast be fast. It’s great and someone with as much energy as me doesn’t really like to be slowed down so London is fantastic for that. Everything seems to be turned up a gear and I love that.
5. Love the convenience
As mentioned before, I live in a small town. Until recently you couldn’t even get a pizza delivered to your house. Moving to London was amazing for me in terms of settling my cravings. I can wake up at 12 in the afternoon and order a Chinese or at 3 in the morning and still be able to walk somewhere and buy a Twix. I love that, back home I would have to hop in the motor and drive about 10 miles before I would be able to reach a 24 hour shop or McDonalds Drive Thru. The tube and trains are convenient. I can get a bus back to my flat at 4am if I ‘ve been out. I can walk about 20m out of my flat and buy new clothes, a new stereo, a replacement cable. Absolutely anything is less than a stones throw away and it’s all easy to get to. I’ve never been used to this in my life, the local off license closes at 10/11pm.
It’s the cliché hate of any Londoner. The infamous tourist, the guy who rushed up the fast lane of the escalator then stops because he hasn’t a clue where he is going. The ones taking pictures in the middle of the path whilst your trying to maintain pace, the people who continuously get ripped off without realising, the people who stare without realising it’s rude. Absolutely no time for them. One of the first things I learned when I came to London is tourism ain’t cool. I did maybe 2 days of touristy stuff to get it out of my system and then gave up on it all together. Suffice to say you won’t see a picture of me by Elizabeth Tower as my profile picture anytime soon.
London is a great city to spend time with people in. You’ve never ending restaurants, bars, clubs and activities to take part in with your friends. All in all though, if your in London and your not a tourist the chances are you are busy, that’s part of the reason it’s so fast paced. I remember when I used to work at the pub back at home a cockney guy used to come in all the time and I told him I was moving to London and he told me never stay in London if your ever down or lonely because it’s the hardest place to be. I agree with him wholeheartedly. It’s so busy, every seems so self-important and people are having a great time all around you. Maybe it’s why suicides in London are pretty high, I’m not sure. Sometimes the loneliness can be a good thing, when your sat on the train lost in an awkward silence, your getting time to yourself whilst being out the house. I’m not really one to get depressed but sometimes when I’m sat in the flat and there’s so much to do and everyone’s busy with exams or work I feel pretty annoyed to be stuck inside on the internet when there is so much to experience out there.
3. The water
I must have ranted about this before, surely. I don’t understand how such a little thing could honestly put me off London in such a big way. The water from the tap is disgusting, Britta filters are a joke and the great British cup of tea tastes absolutely vile. I have to clean my kettle and showerhead all the time and it’s a joke. I miss soft water so much that I spend a fortune on Brecon Caereg in Sainsbury’s every week. Hard water will remain one of my sworn enemies for the rest of my life.
4. The Tube and Public Transport
Yes, it’s one of my favourite things about London but it’s also one of my biggest qualms. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of strangers. I’m also no the world’s biggest fan of stopping and starting. The tube, the over ground trains, the busses are pretty much this. Rush hour is a nightmare. I guess it’s not as bad as it was in Mumbai but it’s honestly the worst thing ever. I live 9 miles from Paddington yet it takes 50 minutes to get there. What is this!? There is so many human beings, some with huge personal hygiene issues and I can’t deal with it.
5. It’s 2 hours away from home
So it’s two hours from home, the train from Paddington to Newport is actually brilliant. It doesn’t stop to much, it’s hardly ever delayed and the staff are really good. It’s just two hours is fair amount of time I guess, I understand that absolutely millions of people travel for longer than this to get home but as the famous saying goes “there is no place like home”. In fact, David Attenborough, a man who has done more than so many of us and been absolutely everywhere has even suggested that his home is his favourite place on earth.