23 Jun 2010

The Londoner

In the words of Britain’s esteemed author Samuel Johnson, ‘No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’ 

 

June is the month when the sun shines, the roses are in full bloom and the gardens and parks are heady with scent.

The strawberries are at their sweetest, the clotted cream the richest and the ginger ale-lemonade-cucumber-orange-mint and Pimm’s No. 1 Cup concoction tastes the most delicious.

Wimbledon dominates the tele, the Changing of the Guard livens up Buckingham Palace and the Mall is crowded with excited onlookers. The milliners have their day at Ascot and Harrods has its world famous sale.

Most of all, Londoners in June have a spring in their step because the weather is better and the holidays are fast approaching.

 

 

A true Londoner is obsessed with the weather and the weather as a topic for discussion is unavoidable. When a beautiful sunny and cloudless day arrives (remember, this is not that often) a Londoner will appreciate the warmth on his back more than most.

On a miserable, grey and rainy day he will probably complain considerably more than most.

For the Londoner, the ‘grey’ and the ‘drizzle’ has come to represent all that is wrong with the city.

Paris enjoys a very similar climate to London yet weather never seems to predominate the Parisians thoughts.

Mention London and ‘dismal weather’ is the first thing to mind. Mention Paris and ‘glorious, magnificent and romantic’ are the associations first up.

I don’t mind the English weather, probably because I have basked in many sunny days; perversely, I find the rainy, dull days rather comforting.

One thing is for sure…I can now talk ‘weather’ with the best of them, especially the London taxi drivers.

 

 

The best barometer of what’s happening in London is not the magazine, Time Out, or the Lonely Planet guide but the cabbie.

The London taxi driver knows his city like no other taxi driver in the world and more often than not, the London cabbie enjoys a chat.

I have learnt more about the city from these guys (they generally are male drivers) than from anyone else. They know their way around.

On average it takes the drivers four years to gain their licenses and in order to qualify they must be familiar with every major road, cobbled street and narrow lane in the greater London area.

Not easy, this is one mighty big metropolis.

Taxis are bountiful in London and hailing a taxi is easy. All it takes is a wave of the right hand in the direction of the approaching cab and the driver’s inbuilt ‘fare’ radar hones in.

 

More often than not when the front window slides down you will be greeted with the words, ‘Where to Guv’?

When I hear those words I know I am in for an entertaining journey.

I sit back, I encourage the talk, I keep the questions rolling and I try to learn about the ‘real’ London… xv

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37 Comments

Francine Gardner

Really enjoyed reading about your time in London. i lived there while going to school for 2 years and then in Oxford for another year. I had such a wonderful time and unfortunately I hardly go back and visit (my husband who also went to school in England is not a fan of London…he much prefers France…) i am duefor a visit

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Pamela Terry and Edward

Oh, you are killing me! London is by far my favourite city in the world and how I'd love to be there today! You are so right about the taxi drivers. They are wonderful story tellers. Have a fabulous time and a cuppa tea in St. James Park, just for me!

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Emily

Such a great description of London. I couldn't agree more! Although I'm quite keen on the provencal spring myself:)

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La Belette Rouge

The last time i was in LOndon it was unseasonably warm and my hotel didn't have an air conditioner. That didn't stop me from having a brilliant time. I love London. I will admit that I love Paris more. Okay, maybe not more…just different. Loving London feels like loving a friend. Loving Paris feels like loving a lover. xxoo

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Jacqueline

Ooooo Vicki,
This is my kind of post !!!!
London is my city and, I think it is the best city in the world. A strong statement, I know but, I am very patriotic, biased, go to London a LOT as I am only 20 minutes away and used to work there. Even though I have been going to London since I was about 3years old, I wouldn't begin to say that I know all of it. It is indeed a very large city, which is chocoblock with history and has so many parts that even I haven't touched.
Our cabbies are, indeed very knowledgable about London. They cannot drive a cab unless they have passed 'The Knowledge'. ….they have to know every road in London and have to know how to get anywhere by the shortest route. A no mean feat to pass that exam !!
I actually love our weather. I love days like today, up in the 80's, and I also love the grey, rainy days as well. As you say, Paris has a very similar climate as London and yet, people always say that our weather is terrible.You are obviously right, Vicki. If we didn't moan about it then perhaps tourists wouldn't either !
Thank you for your lovely post on London and giving it the accolade it deserves.
I love you for loving it. XXXX

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MrsLittleJeans

You painted a beautiful picture and have no doubt…it has been a long while since I visited. I have always found the British the most humorous and always wondered how they could be given the dreary weather! Got to love them…enjoy enjoy!

XOXO

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ilovemyhouse

London is the place to be. So great that you are there for a few days. It's been too long for me but will go there soon.Enjoy! XX

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Mademoiselle Poirot

You are in London? You're so lucky with the weather, it's only just started to be sunny and warm again…see, living here, I've learned fast ;-) How long are you here for? If you feel like tea or anything, let me know ;-) Love from, er, well, London actually ;-) x

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alaine@éclectique

Vicki, we watched Griff Rhys-Jones's 'Cities of the World' program last night featuring London and it was an eye-opener for me as I've never been there; absolutely beautiful. Enjoy your time there, lucky ducky! xa

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Jan

I find it disappointing if I get a cabbie who doesn't want to chat.
They're few and far between though.
Very accurate portrayal Vicki.
xxx

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Pinecone Camp

What a great post on your city. I adore London, and can't wait to go back. I can't believe it's so warm there right now. Vancouver has yet to experience even a hint of summer.
have a lovely day!

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Trouvais

Vicki…you are so wonderful! Your story telling puts me right in the middle of another world, and shows me around…like a friend who dropped by for a visit. You communicate the"feel" of a place exquisitely! Thank you! Trish

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Flick,

Loved this post! It really took me back to when I was there 10 years ago in the summer… it really is special then and so much more enjoyable. An amazing city…
:) Flick

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Roses, Lace and Brocante

Oh London!
I've been there several times, but not lived in the city.
So I only know it as a tourist.
I love it, there's such a buzz and it's so cosmopolitan – all the different languages one hears on the street.
I love all the great galleries and as you said Harrods.
BUT…. for me, my FAVES are Paris and Venice.

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Alison

Hi Vicki, sounds like the London cabbie is the best. It is fabulous that there is so much to be done to get their licence. Wish that was the case here in Australia. There are so many that know absolutely nothing about where they are driving. The majority of the time you have to give them directions.I don't know how they are able to get a licence to drive a cab, some hardly speak a word of English. I alwys feel myself cringing at the airport when I see tourists getting into a cab and wonder what is in store for them.
Alison

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Debra

I was only in London in September and it was amazing weather that week. I can only imagine how fabulous a warm, sunny summer day would be.
Have fun on your holiday.

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Linda C.

I really enjoy reading all your posts and look forward to each one of them. They are always full of interesting things. Thank you

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Millie

Lovely positive spin on dear old London Vicki. I had to read your words 'high 80's' at least 4 times before it would sink in. The hospitals must be chock-a-block with heat stroke victims!
Millie ^_^

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Rose

Hi Vicki, what a nice post- and it's true it's a prefect day in London, we have the football to watch, then we go to the park for a picnic with Pimms, wine and strawberries and home later to watch Wimbledon highlights- and some work this morning!

I rather like the grey days too and even the rain- it's appreciating all the different weather and treating them all the same that's key- like Kipling says about opponents. it's like jelly beans you never know what you will get- you open the curtains- rain- goody I can use a brolly and wear a mac and enjoy the moody sky, sun- great sandals and the park! snow- glorious- I can take the camera- grey and cold, I can walk for hours without getting hot.

I love cabbies- Paris is glorious but the taxis pale in comparison! it might be hard getting one this afternoon though- I've heard there's some kind of football match on?! (read national festival of worry and pain)

xx

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joanny

There is nothing like blue skies and sunny warm weather to make one feel good about life.

Good read and an interesting post about Londoner's

Joanny

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Jeanne

Vicki…just back in from a day in the city and read your post on the train ride home. It was a glorious day and it was nice to know you were enjoying it too! I haven't taken a cab yet and it seems I am truly missing something based on all these comments!

While I am thinking of it, I just wrote a post on Collage of Life; 'Shoeless in England'. I am looking for great looking shoes. Any favourite shoe stores in London that you could point me too?? Post is here http://colllageoflife-henrqs.blogspot.com/2010/06/shoeless-in-england.html. Lots of great suggestions have been coming in…

Enjoy your time in London!

jeanne:)

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annechovie

London is the only city that I actually have great "riding in cabs" memories of. An experience in itself, civilized and enjoyable. Great post, Vicki! xx

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mya

Thanks for the cabbie tips. I will store that away for a hopeful future trip, preferably – June.
Have a safe trip back to France, but do enjoy the rest of your London stay.

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Design Love

Oh, sounds so interesting! Enjoy! I've never been and would love to go…someday!
Love your blog, I am new to blogging, but have read for awhile now….I hope I do as good of a job as you …thanks for the inspiration.

Cindy
from Ontario(Tornados and earthquakes, Oh my……)

http://designlove-cynthia.blogspot.com/

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Josephine Tale Peddler

Hello Vicki, this post made me remember my first ever visit to London. I was so thrilled to see the great city that I grew up reading about. Oh, the joy to see the Thames! If you get a chance this week to visit me, I am having a little giveaway to celebrate Tale Peddler turning one and I would hate for you to miss out! xx

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