Cheers and cheerio!

So, this blog was constructed as part of a hybrid course at the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies. This is my final post.

The term has now finished and I hope you all enjoyed reading about life in London.

For those of you interested in reading more, I have a separate blog, called Globetrotteries, in which I blog about life as a globetrotter. It’s linked to my Instagram account, and my Twitter feeds through as well.

In the UK, people use “cheers” to mean thanks, and “cheerio” to mean goodbye. I used to use them interchangeably – for both thanks and bye’s – until one day, my Irish friend said I had to stop confusing everyone by telling them “Bye!” when I meant “Thanks!” and vice versa. I thought, “Fair enough.”

So to all my readers and classmates, and to UofT, cheers! And cheerio!

So, how do I get there?

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Photo: Heathrow Express
As one of the final posts to this blog – which has hopefully given readers a glimpse of London life – I address a logistical question: How do you get to London? There are several options for getting into London by air:
– Heathrow
– Gatwick
– Stansted
– Luton
– City

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TfL: the City’s veins and arteries

Photo: The iconic London Tube map

What would this city be like if there was no public transport? I’ve witnessed the answer to this question over the last few years, when the unions went on strike. It’s a mess. To give you a vague idea, here’s an official stat: 3.5 million passenger journeys are made every day on London’s tube (so that doesn’t include the thousands more on the buses and overground trains). As greater London is home to over 13 million, that’s nearly a quarter of its population moving through the city, underground. When the tubes go on strike, that mass of people rise above ground, so you can imagine the chaos that ensues.

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Venturing out for tunes

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Photo: Lykke Li performs at the Hammersmith Apollo

In my humble opinion, a lot of the new and cool in London has been happening out east, so most of my posts so far have concentrated there. But west London shouldn’t be ignored, especially when it comes to some of the larger music venues. Shepherd’s Bush Empire, for example, is a relatively cozy venue that can host up to 2,000 people – I saw The National there in the fall of 2007, just as they were getting hot. And down southwest, Brixton Academy is another oft-visited venue that has housed big-name bands like Arcade Fire. Read More

In the spirit of giving

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Winter is coming and Christmas decorations are beginning to light up the streets of London. And as if to signal the start of a season of giving, coats and jackets have been donning the red poppy these last few weeks, culminating in Remembrance Day on Tuesday.

Up until this point, I’ve been highlighting places around London that I frequent and love. I love them for their tasty food, their vibrant music, and their scenic views. In the sense that this post is still about a London I love, it’s not any different, but it’s not about a physical place. So, for those looking for a place to visit, see, or try, just a quick warning: this post might not be your usual tour guide.

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An oasis of creativity

The Southbank Centre used to be a deserted, lifeless block of cement structures of the brutalist kind, only a decade or so ago. Today, it is bustling with tourists and Londoners alike, home to four professional orchestras (London Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment), the British Film Institute, a spate of bars and restaurants plus a food market, art sculptures, an outdoor secondhand bookstore, a skate park, exhibitions, and concerts galore. The grey, cement exteriors of the Southbank Centre no longer do justice to their colourful physical, visual, and aural contents.

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That black bean.

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Pret a Manger, Starbucks, Cafe Nero, Costa Coffee – these big-brand franchises were the hotspots for students like me in London in 2007. They didn’t quite have free WiFi available back then, but if you found the right spot (and fought for it) you could plug in your laptop and get some work done. Read More