London, twenty-one months in

August 25, 2009 at 8:36 am 5 comments

Before I get started on other things, I’d like to get something off my chest.  For all its historical charms, London can be an exercise in frustration, and for me this frustration seems only to mount over time.  My most recent aggravating experiences include:

1.  Having my internet go down for an entire week and calling V*rg*n Media to fix it, only to have it come up for 24 hours and go down again.

2.  Having the number 76 bus suddenly stop running on a regular basis in the mornings precisely during the half hour that I need it to get to work on time, and when it does come, being completely full.  Honestly, I would have thought that if a bus were standing room only for weeks at a time, the bus company would put on more busses, not fewer.

3.  Tourists, in numbers that are completely unreasonable.  (I must admit that I frequently play tourist myself, but during times when I am not a tourist, as a resident I must object.)

4.  The Tube, especially on hot weekend evenings in the summer.

5.  How grey the city is, all the time, even on a sunny day.  Vast expanses of concrete are never pretty.

6.  The relentlessly chavvy mall at which I am forced to buy my lunch every day.

7.  Oxford Street.  It sends shivers up my spine and is enough to turn anyone other than the most determined T*p Sh*p-seeking teenager into an internet shopper.

However, this is a reasonable blog.  In order to be fair and balanced, even I have to admit that there are some things that London consistently does fairly well, including:

1.  The transit system in general.  It is a pretty big challenge to connect all corners of such an enormous city, and on the whole it is always possible to get wherever you need to go, at all hours.  (This includes the justifiably famous taxis.  Taxi drivers in just about every other city in the world could learn something.)

2.  Borough Market.  (Well, you already know my fixation with Borough Market.)

3.  The Eurostar.  It can’t get much better than hopping on the train after work on a Friday and being in Paris in time for dinner.

4.  All the by-donation museums.  So far, for me it’s a toss-up between the Wallace Collection and the V&A.

5.  The Royal Opera.  ‘Nuff said.

6.  Hampstead Heath and Richmond Great Park.  Big green spaces may be few and far between, but the big green spaces that exist are done right.  And even better from my perspective, Richmond Great Park is a dead ringer for Uplands Park in Victoria.

7.  Fortnum & Mason.  Always fun, and such a gorgeous shade of blue.

There.  Now, on to other things.


Entry filed under: daily life, travel.

Busy but not Akwaaba

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anna  |  August 26, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    how VERY true, especially minuses 3 & 7 and pluses 4 & 7. I’m looking forward to trying out the Eurostar in September…

    • 2. figonthames  |  August 26, 2009 at 8:23 pm

      Have you not done the Eurostar yet? It is fantastic. However, I recommend not planning to visit the dining/cafeteria car. When I tried that it took me half an hour to negotiate the queue.

  • 3. Shannon  |  August 27, 2009 at 3:22 am

    Oh your list makes me miss London…even the negatives! But that’s okay, we should be passing through for a few days in November, so I’ll get my fix…

  • 4. g.a.CARYL  |  August 31, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Hi JEN, RE: #6 – did you know that your G’ Granparents (Nana and Maurice) loved Richmond Great park and did their courting there – if it was raining they went to V&A museum – do you think it is in the genes!!!

    • 5. figonthames  |  September 2, 2009 at 6:18 am

      Hmmm, quite possible it is in the genes….weirder things have happened!


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