United Kingdom

London: Things I love and you hate about the English capital!

If I was ever to move to the United Kingdom, my choice of abode would be the outskirts of London; to places like Croydon, Reading, Dartford or even Ilford; mostly because I love the English capital, and have always desired to live in the periphery or in proximity to it. I sometimes imagine that my favourite gospel group, Hillsong Music having a church at the exciting and huge Dominion Theatre, at Tottenham Court Road has something to do with it. I breathe, eat and live off their music..most-times.

Easter play at Hillsong Church, London.

Last time I came to London, I virtually toured everywhere, courtesy of my host whom I gleefully categorized as a type A local. He did a good job of taking me not only to the big touristy attractions, but as well to every knook and cranny of the city; green spaces as well as the mega-malls. Even then, it was difficult to take everything in..London is massive.

I find in my interactions with other travellers, and bloggers, that there are people who have a strong dislike to the capital. Visitors complain that London is posh and polluted; that you’re most likely to have brush-ins with snotty, unbothered people. Then there’s the weather…gloomy for most of the year, except during the summer months. Londoners themselves complain about the crowds, and tourists, especially in places like Oxford street; “the only thing that makes the shopping experience terrible are tourists who just stop in front of you or stop and point and nearly take your eye out. I’m a Londoner. I go to Oxford street to shop, I know the shop I want to go to and I know where it is. Get your selfie sticks out of my face, move your pushchairs to the side, you don’t need to be blocking up an already packed pavement and just pick up the pace a bit!”

Some folk as well don’t find the ‘big city’ quality a draw. They’d rather be in quiet, quaint slow towns that pulsate at reasonable paces than get swallowed up by the frenzied nature of huge capitals.

Sidenote: In it’s heyday, the British empire was so huge, only 22 countries in the world today remain unscathed, untouched by the United Kingdom.

I love London mostly because it’s a place I easily slip into because of language. I grew up in Kenya, a former colony of the British empire. I’ve studied all my life in English, “I consider myself fluent in it. In all its syntax, synonyms and sentences, English rolls off my tongue with ease. Not just any English; rather prim, proper and perfectly crisp Queen’s english..the kind of english that authorizes one to be an eagle-eyed, sharp-eared grammar nazi.”  In short, I have an excellent command of the language. (I can hardly comprehend Welsh english, Scottish english or even Irish english though; the accents are insane!)

If you’ve ever battled with learning a new language (at an advanced age, I add)…you’ll appreciate places where English is spoken.

My grasp of Dutch on the other hand, has stopped at intermediate level. I struggle with phone conversations, and sometimes have to stop mid-way conversation with rapid words tumbling out of my mouth in a request, “Can I switch to English?” There was this one time, Little Miss Ashley quietly eavesdropping my Dutch stuttering, over the phone, burst out in loud guffaws of laughter, when I hang up. When she’s not laughing, she’s correcting every sentence I speak, “Mom, it’s not eee-reeen, it’s aiii-rreeen!”(My pronunciation of eggs). “It’s not this, it’s that!” Sigh.

The two places in my gambols that give me that deja-vu homely feel are; Kiev, then London. Kiev for the kiosks that stand on the roadside, just like Nairobi; London, for the architecture that passes off a vibe of “the apple not falling far from the tree..” Some buildings look like “maxiature” versions of old colonial relics in Nairobi.

The lion statues at Trafalgar Square remind me off the lion statues outside McMillan library in Nairobi’s CBD.

Piccadilly Circus

The food is another point of discussion. I find the ubiquity of food in London, just like in Singapore as well as Nairobi, a wow factor. Healthy take-out is a possibility on days that one cannot be bothered to drag themselves to the kitchen for a snappy whip up of a meal. In my hometown Tilburg, choices are limited..if you make a mistake of ordering Indian take-out on Thuisbzorg, you’ll be disappointed to experience that Surinam Indian dishes are nothing like real Indian dishes; the barbecued pork ribs have a sugary glaze on them, as opposed to the fiery hot tikkas and masalas of ‘real’ Indian dishes. It is even said that outside of India, London has the best Indian food. 

In London, you’ll get the real deal and you’ll be spoiled for choice with a plethora of all sorts of exotic food choices. There’s Chinatown for Chinese cuisine. There’s Brazilian, Ethiopian, even Somali dishes at Shepherd’s Bush and so forth.

I've heard it said that London's reputation for good food, stands above that of New York and Paris. This is by no means a stretch of the imagination.. London has so much diversity; it's culturally rich, with exotic food places dotted all over the capital, and because it's still a financial centre, restaurant tourism to London is on the rise. We scrambled to take pictures of our food (hello..for the gram ya'know..🤓) right before we inhaled it! Food so sumptous served by uniformed waiters, that I was for a minute transported to time I spent in Mogadishu eating very good food at Hotel Makkah-al Mukharama.😊😊😊 Have you been to Savannah restaurant in Shepherd's Bush? Or travelled to a restaurant as a food tourist? #London #UnitedKingdom #intrepidescape #eatgasm #travelogues #travelblogger #travelnoire #eateverything #culinaryjourney #foodie #foodheaven #Somalirestaurant #exoticfood #foodofinstagram #yummy #instaeat #iloveeating #foodstagram #foodforlife #tasty #foodpictures #foodlover #delicious #foodstyle #foodpic #foodtourism

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Chinatown

London is expensive! This is one aspect of the city I don’t like. When I visit, it feels like every step I take has a tax written on it. My Oyster card runs out so frequently, I have to keep loading it. Accommodation and rent prices are over the roof, but with the Tube‘s maze of connections around the city, it’s easier not to drive.

Ever been to Hampstead heath park? Hard to believe but London is not all concrete, glitz and glam..London is also green. Hampstead heath is actually a little bit of countryside in the city, with so many historical features, archaeological sites and monuments. The real hidden treasure is Pergola Hill garden . It is essentially a raised walk away, overgrown with wisteria and roses; so beautiful in spring and summer when flowers are in bloom. Link to my London post in the bio. #VisitLondon #London #ig_london #Hampsteadheath #pergolaandhillgardens #England #travel #travelogues #travelgram #travelblogger #travelstoke #travelexperiences #instago #instatravel #instapassport #wanderlust #worldtraveler #globetrotter #CNNGo #ig_worldclub #lonelyplanet #natgeo

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Side view of The Shard, The Gherkin and other buildings lining the River Thames. Shot taken from atop the Tower Bridge..have you been? #Londonlikealocal ————————————- "London is different and still refreshing, enticing but yet ridiculously expensive. It can be serious, or it can be fun, it can even be full of quirks, it is posh and at the same time tacky, spacious when you look at the parks but crowded when you look at its’ streets. London is generous, London is polite. Ancient buildings stand side by side sparkly skyscrapers..and if you put your feet to the test, you may traverse London without actually traversing it…it’s that huge." To read more: Link in bio #London #England #ig_London #VisitEngland #UnitedKingdom #RiverThames #travel #travelogues #travelblogger #travelexperiences #travelstoke #travelgram #instapassport #igers #igram #architecture #uk #archilovers #wanderlust #worldtraveler #globetrotter #lonelyplanet #natgeo #travelphotography #CNNGo #postcardsoftheworld #ig_worldclub #Europe

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If you’re an art aficionado, as I imagine I am, (even so slightly), you’ll love the museums in London…mostly because...wait for it...they are free to enter.

If you’re a sports aficionado, London hosted the 2012 olympics, then there’s Wimbledon, home to tennis championships, and Wembley stadium; the home of the England football team, the venue for all domestic club competitions such as the world famous FA Cup and host of both the 2011 and 2013 UEFA Champions League Finals.

What do you love or hate about London?

2 replies »

  1. I love London for all the reasons you listed. It is my favorite place and l would love to live there, but like you say the cost is astronomical and my choice of place to live is Chelsea or Knightsbridge or Battersea..so you see.. I am so screwed and can never afford it 🙂 . I will stick with visiting and dreaming.

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