This is an addendum to my “Two Years In London” anniversary vlog, in which I talk about the pro’s and con’s of living in London that I’ve observed thus far over the past two years. This post will be about what I dislike about London – there are so many things I can talk about on this topic. I forgot to mention a few things in my vlog so I’ve decided to blog about these extra things. (I still find it much easier to blog about my thoughts than talk about them.) So here are some extra thoughts on things I dislike about living in London (I’ll also write up an expanded post on what I LIKE about London too later):
- Bad coffee – even compared with Sydney, the coffee in London sucks. Its become the home of coffee house chains like Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero (whose claim is “The best espresso this side of Milan” – which says a lot about the quality of coffee here in London seeing as their coffee is only just bearable). London is sadly missing the individual little cafes that serve great coffee, which are pretty much everywhere in Italy, and are quite prevalent in Sydney too. There isn’t really much of a “cafe culture” in London – which is something I quite miss about Sydney. I loved going to cafes to meet up with friends over a nice coffee or hot choccy. There ARE some cafes in London, but finding decent coffee that doesn’t taste burnt is like finding a needle in a haystack – a haystack that is full of commercialised coffee chains ala Starbucks. Ugh.
- Culture – It’s strange this one. Seeing as both Sydney and London are in english speaking westernised countries, and in fact Australia was born from UK settlers.. one would have thought the culture would be fairly similar. But I’ve struggled over the past two years with a noticeable difference between the culture that I grew up with in Sydney, and the culture here in London and have felt quite a bit alienated sometimes. Londoners seem to be more into the pub/bar lifestyle.. going out drinking appears the highlight of the average Londoners lifestyle. They are less into the outdoors, being active and just less focused on personal wellness and healthy lifestyles. The wellness thing is something I’ve noticed is a priority in continental european lifestyles. They seem to be quite big on this. There’s a similar concept in Australia – but with more focus on the outdoors, being in tune with nature, being active, sporty and healthy. For example juice and fruit smoothie bars have been HUGE in Australia for a number of years, and is only JUST starting to pick up now in London. Smoking has been banned for years in Australia, and is only coming into force this July here. There’s a huge difference that is plainly obvious in the percentage of people who smoke in London compared to Sydney. Also the culture in London has created quite a lonely lifestyle. An article I read in the paper highlighted a survey conducted in the UK about the number of close friends of people in different areas. Unsuprisingly, London came bottom with people having an average of only 5 close friends, compared with Yorkshire, who came top with 15. It is kinda sad, that in London the most densely populated by far, surrounded by the most ppl, people are the most lonely. And I have definitely felt that whilst here. It has been very difficult for me to form close friendships in this sort of culture.
- Quality of life – Closely related to the previous point, I find the quality of life in london is much worse than the quality of life in Sydney and other european cities like Frankfurt, cities in Italy etc. There is a distinct lack of peace in London. Life here is so busy and stressful, compounded by the strong partying, drinking and long working hours culture here. And there is a very strong focus on career, money, fashion and consumerism. I’ve found it hard to find peace as I find myself very often stressed, worried and highly strung. Which I’m well aware is not good for my health long term. And I think Londoners are aware of it too but nobody seems to be able to do anything about it, with the long hours work culture getting increasingly worse.
- Ignorant yobs – I’m often utterly astounded by the amount of people here that have NEVER been outside this country. With so many EU countries on the doorstep, literally a couple hours away (in some parts of england you can actually tune into french radio stations!!!!) it is SO easy to travel to completely different countries and cultures. I think people here don’t realise how lucky they are. Coming from a fairly isolated country that Australia is, London is like a dream-come-true in terms of travelling opportunities. Yet so many here are so ignorant of this and as a result are so close-minded. Or if people do “travel”, for many it is to go to places like Ibiza where they can do exactly the same thing that they do in London – drink and party. They party all night and sleep all day, not knowing nor caring about exploring and experiencing this new country and culture that they are in.
I met this guy last Friday night – a friend of a cool well-known London painter called Xavier (who was helping Kwai with a charity thing he organised with an actor friend for Comic Relief on Red Nose day). Anyway this guy is a musician. Get this – he used to be the manager of Duran Duran, was manager of Take That at some point, and was the lead singer of Iron Maiden at some point too. Good mates with Kylie Monogues manager. Oh, and his godfather was Frank Sinatra!! And thats just the little I know as I only met him for 5 mins. Talk about a well-connected man.more » Posted on Monday, March 19th, 2007 | 3 Comments »
This is from end of Nov last year, which was the end of first term for my jazz class. We had a lil jazz club night – where the students performed a song of their choice in front of the class. The song had to be arranged by them and accompanied by their choice of musicians from within the class. I chose “So What” by Miles Davis, which is one of my faves, and bonus is easy to play! I arranged it with a vocalist and sax player – tho we didn’t get to practice the arrangement – it was all on-the-spot I tell them what I want them to do on the stage, then we performed it! So there are a couple mistakes but I think it turned out alright all things considered!
So, friends back in Sydney (if any of you guys still read this).. you can see I am still playing piano. 🙂
The class (called Jazz Improvisation Workshop) is still going now (in fact I just went to a class last night), and finishes around middle of the year (basically its a full year course). It has been just awesome.. I’ve learnt so much, even on repeated material, I’ve picked up new and more indepth knowledge. I’m hoping that through meeting lots of musicians in my class, maybe, just maybe I’ll be able to play a gig in London at some point by the end of this year! Wouldn’t that be awesome! Just gotta figure out regular practising and getting a keyboard to perform with somehow….more » Posted on Tuesday, February 13th, 2007 | 5 Comments »
Latest video to be featured on YouTube. A good pick for once. Though I do enjoy all the cat ones, including the latest cute music-composing kitten. Lol. (Warning: rather graphic violence and mildy pornographic images used.)
Wow. So who can list all the album covers used?
Another form of creativity
On another note. I am SOOOOOO gonna try this out!! The Tate Modern gallery has a new exhibition by a german artist Carsten HÃ¶ller. A set of 4 huge tube slides set up inside the cavernous gallery. Wheeeee!
more » Posted on Thursday, October 12th, 2006 | 2 Comments »
Those bboy crews in Korea are friggin nuts! Pretty awesome stuff… I dunno how they do it! I can barely do the frog squat thingy where u balance on your hands with your knees on your elbows. I can hold it for maybe 10 secs at most! Here’s another crew from the same show (gets really good from 4 mins onwards). Damn.
I’m probably a bit slow on the uptake, but I’ve just signed up with YouTube, and have been discovering some pretty cool videos. I knew about it before, and I’ve browsed MySpace videos and Google Videos.. but never actually checked out YouTube in much detail. Possibly a dangerous discovery for me as I can see myself spending half a day at work on this website.. haha. It’s the whole Web 2.0 thing.. they’ve been yapping about it at the Internet World exhibition I went to last week.
I’ve been kinda getting into watching breakdance/bboy stuff on the web. Prob coz I’ve been thinking about taking some break dance classes at Pineapple. Ok, I KNOW I will never be able to do stuff like that video above, but Kwai says break dance is really good for helping with hiphop.. esp footwork.. and also it’ll be great for fitness.. it’ll buff my arms right up! Heheh. Not like gross huge, but I could do with more muscle tone. My arms are getting kinda flabby. And it sounds fun! 🙂 Just gotta find time to get to a class.
Oh and I’ve also been checkin out what my old dance school has been up to.. DanceKool. Looks like they’ve got a few vids up on YouTube too. Check out Poppin Sam. Awesome freak!
Current listening :: “Full Moon” – Brandymore » Posted on Wednesday, May 17th, 2006 | No Comments »
I’ve just been reminded how much Ben Folds friggin ROCKS!! I found his myspace profile (incidentally, I’ve been added as a friend on his myspace friends!! WHEEEE!!!!) Anyway, he’s got 5 new songs written specifically for the new animation movie Over The Hedge.. I’ve just listened to “Still” on his myspace page – and I immediately fell in love with the song… within the first 5 seconds. Damn, he is one talented songwriter/musician. Can’t wait to hear the rest! I was also reading his blog, which is quite funny. It was cool reading about the process through which he wrote those songs. Interesting stuff.
Anyway, I’ve been soooo tired this whole week. Ever since the move last weekend. It’s messed up my whole week – that friday night with 3 hours sleep. I’m feeling pretty run-down now.. like I’m on the verge of getting sick (got a minor sore throat.. really hope it doesn’t develop into anything more). And I haven’t been to the gym or dance class at all this week. In fact, I haven’t done any exercise at all since wednesday nite last week.. thats over a week ago. Ugh. I feel gross… unhealthy, unfit and tired. I really need to exercise (gym or dance) at least once in a week. Otherwise my body starts to go into slob-mode… and I just don’t feel very good. I eat more, I feel more tired/lethargic, and my mood goes downhill (as my poor boyfriend can attest to). I guess things have been so busy, there are so many things I still need to do with the new place… such as finish unpacking the boxes! I needed to take it easy… esp since my body is weak and rundown.. I don’t wanna push myself too hard and really get sick. Patience. *sigh* But I wish I could have done at least one class this week.. yoga or pilates or even hiphop class tonight. Perhaps I can do something on the weekend hmmm. After a good nights sleep tonight, I might feel more up-to-it tomorrow. Or Sunday. We’ll see. At least its the weekend! TGI Friday! 🙂
Oh, the landlord has FINALLY paid back the bond for my last place. Only yesterday. Took her long enough! Now I’m settling into my new place… its starting to feel a bit more like a home.. but as mentioned above, there’s still lots of work to do. Kwai is gonna install some new lighting – we discovered that you can actually put halogen lights into the normal light sockets using a halogen plug-in, like this one. So now I can have halogen lighting at home! Yay! I still need to buy a bookshelf. The living room is currently half filled with stacked boxes, coz I have nowhere to put those things. Myself and Kwai are gonna visit Ikea tonight. Such an exciting way to spend Friday night. Forget bars, pubs and clubs.. Ikea’s where its all at! And they’re open till midnight. Haha. 😛 The builder will be coming in next week to do the bathroom. Yay.
Otherwise.. travelling to work from my new place is a lot better than before – I always get a seat on the comfortable air-conditioned trains 🙂 …which is MUCH preferable to playing sardines on the overcrowded, non-airconditioned tube. Especially as summer draws near!
Current listening :: “Still” – Ben Folds (Over The Hedge OST)more » Posted on Friday, May 12th, 2006 | 4 Comments »
I’ve just experienced firsthand getting shafted part of my bond as a tenant in the UK. I can’t believe how bad the system is here. There is no Bonds Tribunal here like there is in Australia.. no third party, no legal protection for tenants if the landlord decides not to give back the bond. If they don’t give it back, there is very little a tenant can do.. other than things like small claims tribunal, or a CCJ. Which costs money in themselves so might not be worth the cost and trouble.
See I moved out early from the flat in Finchley – before the legal 6 months, in good faith due to the landlords personal circumstances. The landlord had promised she would pay the deposit (plus the extra one weeks rent) early to help with my next deposit, seeing as she was asking for an early vacating of the flat. But later she went back on that saying she’d been advised not give deposit back until after inspecting the flat. So ok, I agreed, settling on paying back the deposit the day we left. She didn’t saying she was busy that day (saturday – apparently her birthday), and we settled on payment for the Monday.
Now I recieve an email from her yesterday claiming she was “deducting Â£180 for cleaning services as the place was very dirty and it took the cleaners 2 days to clean it back to the original state when you moved in”. How on earth it takes cleaners 2 days to clean an empty studio flat is beyond me. Seeing as I personally vacuumed, washed, cleaned, wiped down the flat before I left. Yes a little bit of dirt was left on the carpet whilst the removal of boxes/furniture was taking place by the movers. Since the vacuum was packed away, I couldn’t really give it a final vacuum (which seems excessive to me anyway).
I disputed this fee, and she replied today (the day she had promised to pay in the deposit – by lunchtime.. which she didn’t) saying she wouldn’t pay anything until the dispute was resolved (smells like blackmail to me), going through the cost of cleaning (professional carpet cleaning plus the cleaners bill), and listing out the areas she had found unsatisfactory. I took pictures just before leaving the flat, and I really don’t think the flat is dirty.. it looks lived in yes, and not spotlessly perfectly professionally cleaned, but I believe it was acceptable. Does that kitchen and hob look like it “hadn’t been cleaned in 7 months”?? Grrrr.
*sigh* Anyway. After getting advice from numerous people, including a lawyer friend, I decided it was best to just take her first offer, swallow the bitter pill and accept the Â£180 cleaning services fee, and part on good terms (esp as I asked her to forward any mail that might inadvertantly arrive there). She has agreed to this, and I guess that is that. I really need that cash too, after the blow of paying deposit plus 1 months rent in advance – all in cash. It’s a bit annoying that she’s been withholding it – and there is nothing I can do about it. At least I’ve learnt my lesson. My work colleague told me, apparently the only way you don’t get shafted your bond, is to get the place professionally cleaned yourself… and to KEEP THE RECEIPT AS PROOF! Lesson learned. Renting sux.
Current listening :: “Real Love” – Mary J Blige (ahh.. good ol’ old skool R&B..)more » Posted on Tuesday, May 9th, 2006 | 3 Comments »
So, I’ve just successfully completed moving flats to the opposite side of London: Finchley = far north, Croydon = far south! This would be my 5th move over the last year since coming to London. And hopefully the last for at least the next year! Speaking of years, yesterday was my 1 year anniversary with dreary London. Yep it has been exactly 1 year since I arrived here. How time flies.
I was gonna do something to celebrate yesterday, but I completely forgot about it as I was too preoccupied with unpacking, settling in, buying groceries so I could eat, and discovering my way around the plethora of shops in croydon (there are 2 huge shopping centres, a main high street shopping mall.. and generally heaps of shops everywhere). There’s even a Mango and Zara here in the brand new shopping centre Centrale. Yay! Plus there’s a huge “new” Ikea only about 10 mins away by tram – a direct tram from just outside my street! And next to that is a humungous megastore Sainsburys (supermarket.. like woolies or coles back home). Phew. I guess I won’t have to commute into central london to do my shopping anymore!
I’m pretty happy with my new location. Its a really convenient location to live. Only 5 mins walk to the tram stop just outside my street – trams come every 1 to 3 mins (until about 1am – though less frequently at late hours – the tram network down here rocks!) to East Croydon station, which is only a 5 min journey. Trains at East Croydon (which is a the most major station in the area – sorta like Waterloo in central london) every few minutes at peak time into central london, and there are FAST direct trains too!
Anyway, the move itself was quite a lot of work. I was packing boxes on Friday nite from 7pm until 4:30am. Got all of 3 hours sleep before getting up to finish up last minute packing before the moving van came to load up and drive down. The movers were pretty cool – amazing how fast they loaded everything into their van. The drive down to Croydon took about 2 hours. Ugh. Then spent the rest of saturday moving in, cleaning the place before I could unpack and put things away. Its an unfurnished place too – but I have my own bed and chest of drawers so it was ideal. I need to buy a bookshelf though, coz my last place had come with one. This is where the nearby Ikea comes in handy! At least this new place comes with a wardrobe. So unpacking is only about half done. Half my things are still in boxes.
This place is really spacious compared with Finchley. It’s a 1 bed flat and actually has a living room!! And a proper kitchen! And even a garage! Yay! However, its not as nice as Finchley – eg. it doesn’t have halogen lights (the other place did – which provided much better lighting and gave the place a warmer, more modern feel), the interior is a bit old (the other place was newly refurbished), the bathroom isn’t as nice (bathtub/shower is a lot smaller, shower head is cheap, toilet has difficulty flushing sometimes), and generally interior design is a little.. dated.. kinda makes me feel like I’ve stepped into the early 90s/late 80s. Heheh. Also has a slightly cheap feel to it (eg cheap plastic vinyl floor in the kitchen uneven in places, old washing machine, cooker has a half sized oven – other half is a griller). But for the price, space, and convenience for transport, this place is a gem! 🙂 And the landlord is pretty cool – I can make a few changes to the place to suit my tastes (at his expense!) things like lights and curtains can be changed, and the builder is coming in this week to “update” the bathroom, put in some shelving or a cabinet for storage (currently has nothing, not even a towel rail). Might even be able to get the landlord to pay for the bookshelf, if we leave it in the flat. Water pressure is good coz there’s a special extra pressuriser thingy you can turn on when you take a shower, but a new shower head is needed. And a new shower curtain. Also need new curtains for the kitchen window, and a net curtain too for privacy (it’s a ground floor flat facing the road and footpath – yes, I’m gonna buy home & contents insurance asap!) So I guess there’s freedom to personalise this place, which is good. Can make it my own. 🙂 Might invest in some nice halogen lights later (hello Ikea :P) to brighten the place up. And maybe an inexpensive sofa!
Phew. Moving and setting up a new home is lots of work. But its a nice feeling, settling into a new place, making it your own. I don’t have internet or phone line set up yet. Its gonna take prob 2 weeks to setup BT line and move my homechoice connection over. Ugh.
So, other than moving, my weekend was.. well.. all about the move. Myself and Kwai did watch Mission Impossible III on sunday. That was pretty cool!! A very action-packed, exciting, tense movie! May is an awesome month for movies! Last week was Mi:III, next week The Davinci Code, and following week is… X-Men III!!! Yay! Ok tis time for lunch.
Current listening :: “Sea Song” – Dovesmore » Posted on Monday, May 8th, 2006 | 5 Comments »