A quick disclaimer for y’all, I’m no London expert. I’ve visited a handful of times and I’ve been here for about three consecutive weeks so far. If anything, it means I’m definitely not the person who should be writing this article. But here I am, it’s my blog so deal with it. There are some things I’ve noticed since being in the Big Smoke that are completely different in the land of pies and gravy.
There Are Literally Prets Everywhere
Honest to God, why are there so many Prets? It is the overrated coffee chain for toffs. They’re literally on every corner of this bloody city. Pret for me was an occasional lunch I purchased mid-shift at the Cheshire Oaks when I’d forgotten my own and Maccies was closed. While their delicious brie and avocado toasties were to die for, I wouldn’t flood the city with Prets at the same ratio as Tescos.
It is completely bonkers. I’ve spotted a single Gregg’s for every 20 Prets on my wanders around. Trafalgar Square has two across the road from each other. You can literally look longingly at another Pret while you consume your overpriced Pret that you just purchased. I wouldn’t mind but the coffee isn’t even that great – I don’t understand it, I don’t even want to say the P word anymore. Moving on.
You Can Tell There is Actually Funding
Coming straight from Lancashire, this is no surprise. Central London is the richest area in the entirety of Northern Europe, Lancashire is the 7th poorest within the same area. The difference is genuinely stark, and it makes you realise the centrism of the government in this country. The population of Greater London is expected to reach 10 million by 2030. Half the reason for this is migration of labour. The government can use buzzwords like ‘northern powerhouse’ as much as they want, but when the solution is literally to attach the North to London through HS2, you need to rethink your plans.
It’s Unbelievably Flat
I expected so much more from Primrose Hill. Again, coming straight from Lancashire I expected it to be a relatively substantial height. Nope. The word hill is massively misleading. I’d have called it Primrose Lump, or Primrose Slightly Raised Grass.
The view from the ‘top’ is admittedly fantastic, but if this was up north it wouldn’t even have a name. Being honest with you all, it would have already been torn down and made into ‘Primrose Housing Estate’.
The People Are Genuinely Really Friendly
This really took me by surprise, as you hear some horror stories about the abhorrent unfriendliness of ‘Londoners’. Other than one lad who told me to f*ck off for no reason, or the other who walked around the Rose Garden in the Regent’s Park tearing off the unflowered buds like a small child – everyone has been lovely.
Living in Lancashire, even just sitting in a park or walking home I’d get abuse hurled at me for being ginger. I’m not really sure why, it’s great. We all have a massive WhatApp group where we all update each other on our ginger lives. Ed Sheeran, Paul Scholes and Prince Harry are always typing away.
In London though, I’ve had none of that yet. I’m not writing this for sympathy or anything, I’m a big lad and I only cry sometimes. Jokes aside, it’s just something I’ve noticed.
People often talk about the ‘friendliness’ of Northerners, which is true if you’re hiking through the Lake District, smile and say hello to the one other person who walks in your general direction. However, and I don’t know about you, I actually hate it when someone tries to talk to me on the Merseyrail. Please leave me alone. I do not want to become a Mormon; I’ve seen the musical. Even worse is conversations at the urinal. I’m pretty sure that goes against every rule in the bloke handbook.
If you ask me, all of us should adopt the etiquette of the tube. Don’t look at me, let me ride the train in peace unless I already know who you are. The North is very friendly, but so is London. I just find that the friendliness is in more appropriate places. But maybe that’s just me…
Nobody Walks Anywhere
I really enjoy walking, which is lucky considering I passed my driving test and never bought a car. If a journey is an hour or under from my door, odds are I’ll walk it. I met my friend by the Shard the other day and walked there from Marylebone. She was visibly shocked; it was about an hour and a half, but it was almost 30°C out and I didn’t fancy taking the sweat-box that is the tube.
I find walking gives you a better feel for a place compared to popping in and out of the underground like a whack-a-mole. Maybe in the future I’ll become magnetized to the tube like a regular old Londoner, but that’s yet to happen. Being fair though, the weathers been great.
There is Something for Everyone
I’ve spent the last few weeks exploring my new surroundings and honestly there is just stuff to do in every direction. Feeling bohemian? Hackney, Shoreditch and Camden Market. World renowned tourist sites? Check. A massive choice of cuisine from everywhere you could possibly think of? Another check. Graffiti? Waterloo. Seeing how the other half live? Kensington, Chelsea, Hampstead Heath and Richmond. Parks? Yep. Hills? No – actually. But the beaches of Brighton aren’t too far away!
Blood sucking corporate buildings with no character?
Canary Wharf is Terrible
I don’t care if it’s the safest part of London. I’ve never seen a place so devoid of life and filled to the brim with commercial boredom. Every shop is a chain (there are bloody Prets everywhere) and it’s all so grey. The only thing that isn’t grey is this golden egg for some reason.
There is more personality in a lump of cement-coloured clay than Canary Wharf. London is packed with so much culture, so why would you choose to live in the one part that doesn’t have any? Nah, pull it down and try again lads.
No offence if you live there, its just really not for me. I bet you’ve got killer views of the good parts of London from those skyscrapers though.
In conclusion, I’m really enjoying my time in London so far. You can only get so much of a feel for a place so big in a hand full of visits. I’ve barely even scratched the surface of the city and it feels like I’ve done nothing but walk around since I’ve been here. Long may it continue!
Now, I’ve got a hankering for a soy vanilla iced latte from a Pret in Canary Wharf.
PS. After a quick Google search it turns out there are 237 Prets in London (back in 2018 at least, so they’ve probably carried on breeding). Told you.