We have spent 10 days in London and there were many and varied experiences to enjoy that I might write about in coming days. What I’ve noticed more than anything else, however, is the ways in which some things in the UK are so different to things in Australia. I would have thought that as our country was settled by the British we would be the same, but there are some things that definitely aren’t. Some of these things are good, others are downright scary.
Here is a brief list we compiled:
- The width of the car lanes is ridiculously narrow here. It is unnerving how tight it is to drive down the street in a bus with cars parked on either side and others driving at you.
- You can park facing any way on the side of the road.
- There are so many more people here. Even ‘smaller’ towns are as large as some of our smaller cities.
- And they live on top of each other! All the rows and rows of exactly the same house, all 2-3 stories, and sharing walls, with no yards front or back. Even having rooms in the ceiling that you are forever needing to duck your head around sloping roofs.
- A lot of the high density housing buildings have tiny balconies, and almost all of them have a little outdoor table setting. Not sure how often the weather is nice enough to indulge in ‘al fresco’ dining!
- Way more people travel by bicycle here, especially in and around the city. But often without bike helmets.
- In cafés and food courts there are often plates of cakes and slices left uncovered and out in the open for the whole day.
- They have yet to master the art of being able to sell cold drinks cold.
- We are blessed in Australia with the volume and variety of fresh produce available.
- Tesco £3 meal deals are fabulous for lunches on the go.
- The underground train network is amazing! There are trains every 2 minutes.
- Despite that, people run to desperately catch said trains and squish on as if their life depends on it.
- And every train announcement in that English accent sounds so polite!
- Not once did any of our overground trains intersect with a road!
- People, in general, move with significant speed and purpose.
- Stairs! Lots of stairs in lots of places.
- Cute names for roads.
- Flower boxes filled with cascading colourful flowers on all sorts of buildings.
- High Teas.
- Community garden spaces.
- They can’t make coffee correctly, or at a reasonable price. (~£2.75 which equals ~$5.25AUD!)
It has been lovely to visit this city again and to enjoy the experiences travelling to another country can bring. In a lot of ways it has helped me appreciate what we have ‘back home’ (especially the coffee!!) and in other ways I think we would do well to take a leaf out of their book.
I realise the difficulties we have faced in trying to navigate a different culture, and it’s one that speaks the same language as us. How much more so for those who are trying to assimilate from an altogether different set of living environment? I have a greater appreciation for those who made the journey to Australia all those years ago, but also those who have come in recent times as refugees. I pray that I will be more gracious and considerate for them as they compile their own list of differences.
At least we know, however, that our coffee is good!