Ten things I’ve learnt whilst living in London

Keeping it light hearted, I’m not going to intentionally slag off London and its inhabitants, but if I accidentally do please know I do like London 67% of the time.

Being a Northerner in London is a strange experience. I knew from the minute I got here that it was going to take a lot of getting used to but maybe I wasn’t prepared for just how much. Albeit many of these points are transport related, this is mainly because transport in London is unique compared to every other city in the country. Don’t get me wrong though, I love TFL, my Oyster card is my pride and joy and I treasure it like it is a bankcard.

  1. This is already widely reported by fellow Northerners, tourists and is even mentioned on the Dave ads on the tube but smiling at and making eye contact with Londoners is very frowned upon. When I first moved here back in July, I knew smiling at the citizens of the capital wasn’t the norm, but I didn’t realise how severely uncomfortable it really did make them feel. As a spring chicken in London terms my first few weeks of commuting on the Northern line (which I now know is the line where souls go to die) and the Thameslink (equally as bad) I was eager to say a few ‘Hello’s’ and ‘Good morning’s’ to my fellow passengers – after all, we were going to be train friends, weren’t we? But I soon realised, this wasn’t like being on the 142 Magic Bus to my beloved Piccadilly Gardens (I miss you Manchester), people don’t want to chat, they just want to read the Evening Standard and barge into you with their Louis Vuitton brief case so that they can board the train one second quicker. After a month or so of commuting, I decided if you can’t beat them join them! So now I read books on my Kindle every morning and evening on the train. Occasionally I’ll flash someone a smile and get a blank expression back, but I’m used to it now, although it does still hurt me inside a little bit.
Dave advertisement
The Dave ad


2. Londoners are super dramatic. One flake of snow and every tube line gets closed, London is at a standstill. All the trains are delayed making people five hours late for work, or they just don’t turn up. Why you ask? Because they can’t get out of their house of course?!!!! Didn’t you see the 0.0001mm of snow that fell last night? Oh my gosh I skidded all the way down my road!!!!!! Londoners also think it’s cold when it’s not. When it’s seven degrees outside, to me that’s t-shirt weather, but Londoners are wrapped up in 19 layers, including four coats and three scarves. But it’s not just the weather some Londoners are dramatic about… oh no it’s many other things too. People freak out if they miss the tube. I just don’t get it? The next one is coming in TWO minutes. Back home you’ll be waiting 45 minutes for a bus from Dronfield to Sheffield. They also act like they’ve suffered a great injustice when they encounter a person stood on the left side of the escalator. Just say excuse me, there’s no need to tut and huff and puff until they get the message.

3. Speaking of appropriate public transport behaviours, back when I lived in the holy land otherwise known as Manchester bus etiquette was very important to me. Getting on the bus and saying: ‘can I have a single please?’ and getting off the bus and saying: ‘thank you’ were standard behaviours I practiced but in London nobody says thank you to the bus driver. The buses are even laid out so that saying thank you to the bus driver is almost impossible. When I first arrived here I didn’t realise there was a separate doors for getting on and off the bus. Being a confused Northerner I got on an empty bus at the back once then proceeded to walk to the front of the bus to tap my oyster card on the reader. The bus driver then shouted at me to ‘get off his bus’ – I was startled at this angry outburst as I didn’t realise it was a crime to get on a bus at the wrong doors. Why does everything have to be so over-complicated?

London bus with two doors!

4. London is just so big. After three years of living in Manchester I felt like I knew the city like the back of my hand. But due to the vast size of London and all it’s different boroughs I reckon you could live here for your whole life and still not know half the places people are talking about. At first when moved here and people said what area they lived in, I asked questions like ‘oh what part of London is that?’ only to be met with answers like ‘South East London’ or ‘near XX’ fill in the blank, the blank always being another place that I’d never heard of, which didn’t help me in the slightest. So now, if anyone says where they live I just feign interest and pretend I know where it is because it’s much easier.

The glorious tube map, the only thing that helps me work out where people live

5. Renting a flat in London costs and arm and a leg. You can get a beautiful new build gym included city centre flat in any of my favourite Northern cities (it goes in this order in case you’re wondering: Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, York, Nottingham) for a fraction of the price of what I pay for my rat infested, no hot water or wifi shared flat. My shared flat that is, which has a hole in one window and another window, which is glued on (see the photographs below for a laugh). When I first was looking for places here, I optimistically put my £300 a month budget into spareroom.com. And do you know what the search came back with? A cardboard box in zone 5, that’s what. Viewing houses? Well that was even more hilarious. I turned up in Leyton to see this super cute ‘spacious’ room which was a short walk from the tube station and was priced at £450 a month. Bargain if you ask me! Turned up, it wasn’t a far cry from a prison cell, smelt like something had died and was a 35-minute walk through Epping Forest to get to the tube station.


Nice holey bathroom window


Nice glued on window

6. In fact everything in London costs and arm and a leg. Even the simplest of things are substantially more expensive here than up North. Take for example a gym membership. A Pure Gym membership at Sheffield Millhouses is £14.99; the same standard membership at Pure Gym Colindale in North London is £22.99. How about a cinema ticket? In Manchester at the Cineworld in Didsbury I used to pay £8 for a cinema ticket, the same ticket in Cineworld Wembley was £12.99. How about a drink at Spoons? A double vodka cranberry would cost around £4 at home, a double vodka cranberry at the Spoons on Charring Cross Road was £8.50. And that’s in spoons! A round of four vodka mixers and four Sambuca shots at Café De Paris was £98. Two vodka mixers at Piccadilly Institute at Oxford Circus were £26. You get the picture. To be honest I don’t even know how people afford to live here for prolonged periods of time. Buying a nice family house here would be hopeless, they are just so expensive.

For example:

Here is a lovely four-bed house in Dronfield with a swimming pool.


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Here is a flat of a similar price in London


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It even has a mouldy bathroom too!

7. Sight-seeing in London just isn’t the same. When Northerners come down to London for a day trip or weekend trip even, they get so excited to see the London Eye, The Shard and Buckingham Palace and that used to be me. But that soon wears off when you live here. I mean The Shard and Tower Bridge do still take my breath away but give me the green peaks of Meadowhall and the promise of a drunken Chester’s Chicken any day and I’m your girl. I still do love visiting the FREE yes FREE museums in London but the queues and the business give me crippling anxiety. One new sight I have grown fond of however, is Parliament Hill. Found in the middle of Hampstead Heath Parliament Hill has the best view of London in my opinion unless it’s a foggy day, then the view is shit.

8. The cuisine in London is different to what I’m used to. This is mainly because the Greggs are few and far between. There are about five Greggs in Manchester Arndale alone, whereas in London I’ve probably seen three the whole time I’ve been here. My daily sausage roll is no more. Instead, London has about 745 Pret’s, which is good if overpriced, healthy food is your thing. There are also lots of places in London that don’t exist in the North, before I moved here I’d never heard of Benugo, (although I’m told one opened in Spinningfields in September), Duck and Waffle or Lola’s cupcakes. Despite me moaning, I have ate lots of good food since I’ve lived here, which is probably why I’ve put on so much weight!

You can't beat a classic 👌 #sausageroll #regram via @liwei94

A post shared by GreggsOfficial (@greggs_official) on

9. Everyone thinks the North is a million miles away / is on a different planet. Met a rowdy bunch of lads at the weekend and they asked: ‘are people like this in the North’ trust me Northerners are much rowdier than Southerners hun you should see the brawls in Northern pubs on match days. Others have said ‘the North starts at Watford gap’, ‘what is there to do in the North, isn’t it all just fields?’, I’ve never been to Manchester’ and my absolute favourite ‘where is Sheffield?’ said whilst supping Yorkshire Tea. Yes, Sheffield is in Yorkshire, the largest county in the UK in fact.

Here we are on a map of the UK for those who don’t know

10. Last but certainly not least. They just don’t get my lingo down here. None of them know what mardy means and when I said breadcake they all fell about laughing. But my biggest bug bear is when they get confused when I say dinner (lunch) and tea (dinner) which is also made worse by the fact that sometimes Southerners say supper instead of tea/dinner which is just weird. But there’s lots of words they say that I’ve never heard of at all too, these are usually posh ingredients which can only be bought in Waitrose, but to be honest I’d never even tried an artichoke before I moved here, talk about uncultured!

It’s not all bad though, just two more days and I’m home for Christmas and I can’t wait to be back in the North where I can say reyt and mardy without people thinking I’m a commoner.

Alicia’s fave London things:

  • I work in Farringdon and have discovered (through the help of work colleagues) lots of lovely places around there which I have grown to love, these included: Leather Lane, Piano Works, Spa Fields park, Exmouth Market, Wedge Issue and Hatton Gardens.
  • The view from Blackfriars Thameslink station. One word: stunning.
  • Did I mention that I love Hampstead Heath
  • BOX PARK CROYDON much better than the one in Shoreditch and doesn’t have as many pretentious people milling about either.
  • Brent Cross shopping centre. It may not have a Primark but what it lacks in cheap £1 t-shirts it makes up for in having a great M&S. Twenty-two going on 72 or what?
  • Going on photoshoots for work has introduced me to different areas of London which I probably wouldn’t have ever visited before. Turnham Green is lovely, Kentish Town too!
  • West Hendon Broadway – lol joke.

Alicia’s London tips:

  1. If you have a rat infestation in your kitchen it’s always a good idea to kick the kitchen door a few times before entering. Just so you know if the rat is in there, the bang of you kicking the door might scare it off.
  2. If you have a housemate who is really strange and steals all of your cutlery, it’s a good idea to confront them, even if it means they might stab you with said cutlery.
  3. If you don’t want to get spotty whilst living in London, it’s a good idea to drink bottled water. This is because the Thames water that comes out of the taps in London is dutty af.
  4. If you want to get to the other side of London, it’s a good idea to try and avoid taking the Overground. The Overground on the whole is very unreliable and is quite frankly is a massive waste of time. It will take you about seven hours to get to the other side of the London anyway, so add two hours on to that if the Overground is involved.
  5. If you’re feeling lonely in London, it’s a good idea to hide in your bedroom and wallow, looking at pictures of yourself having a fab time at uni is the best idea of all. Not that I do that.




Wrote this a while ago and never posted it – but 6 months on I feel like I now can

It’s 3.10am and I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep because I am still processing a trauma. There isn’t any right way to feel when experiencing grief but this is different.

I am part of a small number of people in the Western world who have witnessed a terrorist attack. There is no handbook on how to feel after witnessing terrorism and it is hard to explain to others how life changing it is.


The spectrum of emotions felt on the 22nd of May and every day since is hard to comprehend and there is always something relating to the event buzzing around in my mind.

Fear, guilt, confusion, anger, disbelief, loneliness, sadness; numb.

Associating things with these feelings and being afraid to engage in day to day activities is frustrating; there’s a yearning to get back to normality, but how can we ever?

Feeling guilty for having these thoughts because there are others affected by the event in much worse ways; loss, injuries, mental scars.


Putting on a brave face because you know that others won’t/don’t know what to say, not wanting to make them feel uncomfortable or appear weak.

If terrorism is going to be an awful new ‘phenomenon’ then does a handbook need writing? Are there others feeling how I am?

I am bewildered that this is something I have witnessed in my lifetime. And thinking about the actual moments of that night make me want to scrunch up in a ball and never leave my bedroom ever again – because they are just so horrifying.

Supporting everyone affected is a must and educating others on how to support is key, but where do the resources come from to make this happen?

IMG_4850.JPGIronically, I did a university assignment on post-traumatic stress disorder, never did I think I’d experience anything similar. I guess you really don’t know what’s around the corner.

After witnessing the attack life has change in the sense that although I saw the ugliest side of humanity, I also saw the most compassionate and beautiful side of it too. In the people of Manchester and the wider communities.


Hearing One Last Time on the radio is bittersweet. And, trying to live life when you have the whole of it ahead of you; when others don’t, who didn’t deserve theirs to be taken away from them so brutally, makes you wish you could turn back time. Makes you wish you could do something, anything to help their families suffering.

It’s been ten weeks of being in a blur and trying to re-connect the dots.



Get Out review – get out to the cinema and watch this asap

Is Get Out the best film I’ve ever seen? The answer is; yes, quite possibly. It is a film with incredible twists and turns which I could never have predicted. It is a hybrid of three genres; horror, comedy and thriller, yet it is not cheesy at all, which is a great feat to accomplish.

Written and directed by Jordan Peele, the story begins with a young black man walking the suburbs of an oh so quiet upper-class neighbourhood. A shady looking car playing British comedy duo Flanagan and Allen’s song Run Rabbit Run follows him and within a flash (which did make me jump out of my seat) he is dragged into the boot of the car.

From that moment forward I knew that this film meant business.

We are then introduced to our main character Chris Washington played by Daniel Kaluuya known for Skins and Charlie Brookers’ Black Mirror.

Chris is one half of an interracial couple, we see him preparing to leave for the weekend to meet his girlfriend Rose Armitage’s parents for the first time at their countryside residence.

Chris is apprehensive about meeting Rose’ (played by Allison Williams of Girls) family due to the fact that; ‘she has never dated a black guy before’. She assures him that her family are cool with it and that; ‘her Dad would have voted for Obama a third time if he could’ve’. Setting the tone that this film is current and isn’t skirting round the race issues in American society, instead it is highlighting them.


Chris & Rose

After a shaky journey, the couple arrive at Rose’ parent’s house and Chris is given a warm welcome by the Armitage family, Bradley Whitford as Dean, Catherine Keener as Missy, and Caleb Landry Jones as Rose’ brother Jeremy.

However, all is not what it seems, with two black ‘servants’ pouring the drinks and cutting the grass Chris becomes suspicious of his hosts, their idyllic house and its hidden secrets.

A midnight smoke, hypnosis and a nightmare make him feel like he is going insane, with Rose shutting him down his long time best friend back home Rod is the man he turns to. Rod played by Lil Rel Howery brought the laughs and the drama as he races against time to save Chris from… well you’ll just have to watch and see!

Kaluuya is effortless in his transition between charming boyfriend, to terrified victim, the viewer is rooting for him throughout as each horrifying twist is revealed.

Get Out is sharp, innovative and meaningful, it left me exhilarated and desperate to tell all my friends to go and see it.

Recently being titled the highest-grossing film ever for a feature debut of a writer/director of an original screenplay Jordan Peele truly deserves applause he is getting for this masterpiece.


Road works causing chaos in Greater Manchester – audio

After the closure of Princess Street on April 4 one of the main bus routes and busiest roads in the city, for a total of nine months we can expect city centre commuting to become increasingly difficult.

Many people who use public transport have already found the huge number of road works in the city a nightmare, adding up to an hour on journey times during rush hour. Drivers who work in the city centre are facing up to twenty-four different roadworks on their way to work.

Metrolink route updates are causing twenty different road work disruptions in Greater Manchester ranging from platforms in Didsbury to tram tracks in Bury.

The MEN recently reported that Greater Manchester is now the second most congested area in the country after London – with commuters spending on average 52 hours each year stuck in traffic. The figure is equivalent to six working days.

Grow Manchester suggest commuters should plan their journeys around the road works and use ring roads rather than driving straight through the city centre. oxford-road-is-changing

Councillor Andrew Fender, chair of the Travel for Greater Manchester committee, told the MEN: “Road works are crucial when you consider that around a quarter of a million journeys are made into and through the city centre every day and the number of people who visit Manchester is growing.

We are working to make sure the transport network supports this growth, continuing to make Manchester a sustainable, vibrant and prosperous city.”

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I asked a number of commuters who travel by variety of methods in the city; whether it be public transport, foot or car how do the roadworks affect them?





Safety fears as cycle deaths on Manchester roads reach a shocking new high – video

Anyone familiar with Manchester’s roads will know that hundreds of cyclists use them everyday.

However, are Manchester’s roads really safe for cyclists?

Conventional transport systems are designed to enhance capacity and mobility, not safety. Many believe that Greater Manchester’s road network should be designed around people, not vehicles.

Last year, 54 people were involved in fatal accidents in the city.

There have been a number of high profile cycling fatalities. Such as the case of Jaye Bloomfield, she was killed by a driver on a pedestrian crossing on the Mancunian Way. Artur Piotr Ruszel, 45, was also killed near the city centre on Upper Brook Street following a collision during rush hour on January 13 2015. ‘Ghost bikes'(white painted memorial bikes) have been installed at both of the places these tragic deaths occurred.


The ghost bike dedicated to Jaye Bloomfield.

Joshua Jarvis was another fatality: a popular 21-year-old student who tragically collided with a cement mixer vehicle in Fallowfield and Charles Birmingham, 55, who crashed into a skip lorry. Since these incidents many have appealed for restrictions on HGVs on narrow roads.

Altogether in the city there is 357 miles of bike routes in total but only 84 miles of this is traffic free. Manchester city council is now working to install Dutch style cycle paths built into the pavements, although some cyclists remain sceptical.


Manchester junior doctors strike for 48 hours over contract changes

Junior doctors went on strike for 48 hours due to changes to their contracts only providing emergency care, beginning at 8am on Wednesday, April 6.

All hospitals in Manchester had junior doctors which took strike action, resulting in hundreds taking to the streets of the city to protest.

I caught the protestors as they arrived in Piccadilly Gardens around midday.






Seven things to look forward to in Manchester this summer

Worried about how to keep yourself entertained this summer? Whether you’re off on holiday or not, Manchester has so many upcoming events and things to do for people of all ages!

Everyone loves a water fight, and what better way to kick summer off than attending the gigantic water fight being held at Platt Fields Park in Rusholme on Saturday May 28. The first water balloon will be thrown at 1pm at the free event and a day of wet and wild fun will launch. Hosted by events app Orca, originally based in Leeds but now broadening their horizons to Manchester the event is based on the success of The World’s Largest Water Balloon Fight which was held at the University of Kentucky in 2011. Expect adults and children alike to pick up their water guns and fight it out.

Parklife festival has been at the forefront of Manchester’s music scene since its first year in 2010. This year bigger and better than ever the weekender on the 11th and 12th of June held at Heaton Park has a star line up including The Chemical Brothers, Major Lazer, Diplo, Jess Glynne and Years&Years. Weekend tickets priced at £95.00 are selling out fast, and day tickets cost £54.50.


Parklife main stage in 2015

Manchester Day 2016: This years annual Manchester Day is on Sunday June 19. The event based in the city centre, but all over the city too aims to celebrate everything great about the city, whilst bringing communities together. Last year’s event was a massive success and 70,000 people came together to relish in everything Mancunian. This year there will be a parade through the heart of the city; down Market Street of course, street performers, dancers and singers will take over Piccadilly Gardens, decorations will be as far as the eye can see and there will be ample chances to sample some of Manchester’s best food and drink. This year’s theme is Eureka! celebrating Manchester’s status as the European City of Science.


A little taster of what to expect from Manchester Day

The National Trusts Dunham Massey park based near Altrincham is a garden for all seasons and all ages, a breath of fresh air outside of the city lifestyle of Manchester, Dunham Massey is a green oasis.  A herd of deer wander amongst the ancient trees of the deer park. The park is also home to the fully restored 400 year old working sawmill powered by a water wheel. There is a quaint cafe, gift shop, stables, and an ice cream parlour. Throughout the last week of July Dunham Massey is hosting Picnic Week, with events taking place such as Victorian Pastimes on Monday July 25, a day of traditional Victorian games and entertainment, Picnic Patchwork on Wednesday July 27, an opportunity to decorate a piece of a giant patchwork picnic blanket and munch on picnic food to your hearts content, and last but by no means least, The Great Victorian Bake Off on Thursday July 28, a step back in time to Dunham Massey back in the day, where Victorian sweet treats will be made, demonstrated and sampled.

Manchester Pride weekend! Celebrating and campaigning for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, there will be The Big Weekend Manchester Pride’s flagship event taking place in Manchester’s world-famous Disneyland, the Gay Village, across August Bank Holiday Weekend – August 26 – 29. The Big Weekend alone will see performances from Fleur East, Katy B, Will Young and Ben Pearce. During the 72 hour extravaganza there will also be a ‘Once Upon A Time’ themed parade with beautiful floats from many different organisations. There will also be a vigil held on August 28 to commemorate and remember the lives lost to HIV, those affected by the disease and Manchester Prides commitment to challenge the stigma attached to the virus. Last year 43,000 people attended Pride, and £163,000 was raised for charity across 32 events, and just to confirm every penny donated across the weekend will go straight to LGBT causes.


Manchester Food and Drink Festival has been running for 19 years and this year is taking place from September 29 to October 10. Showing there is more to Manchester than an impressive number of Nando’s the event takes over much of the city and surrounding parts of Greater Manchester showing off the best from burgers to beverages. Although, the centre of the action will be at Albert Square. Over the years the festival has drawn in names as diverse as Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Bill Wyman and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Last year the festival served over 7000 gin and tonics, and 90,000 people are expected to attend this time round, Manchester boasts one of the most extensive food scenes in Europe so if you’re looking for a spectacular, fun and cheap day out the food and drink festival will suit you to a tee.


Manchester based dessert company Ice Stone Gelato Oxford Road

The Independent Manchester Beer Convention is being held this year from October 9 to October 12, tickets are expected to go on sale soon for the annual event stationed at Victoria Baths in Victoria Park. Expect a wonderland for the avid beer drinker, with hundreds of different craft beers on offer to be tried and tasted. Described as a ‘world class showcase for the best breweries from the UK and beyond’ this is the fourth year of the convention which is growing, expanding and getting busier each year. With pop up food stalls too this is definitely a date for the diary, prepare for the session.


IMBC – photo by Jody Hartley