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.
- 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Here is a lovely four-bed house in Dronfield with a swimming pool.
Here is a flat of a similar price in London
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!
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.
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
L A T E R G R A M – because today I’ve got a touch of festive fatigue. Should be ok tomorrow😬… #myhappyviews #MyHampsteadHeath #midwinter #wintersolstice #london_only #londoninwinter #londonlife #thisislondon #seekthesimplicity #seasonalscenes #secretlondonspots #prettycitylondon #mysecretlondon #hiddenontheheath
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.