Blending in like a local – Ten tips for London’s new arrivals.

Being an Australian, when I first moved to London I thought fitting in would be a piece of bakewell tart. I mean, we sort of speak the same language and appear to have many cultural similarities, yes? How hard could it be? As it turns out, quite. So in the name of cultural exchange, I thought I’d reach out to the new arrivals of today. Follow these simple rules, and just like a hipster in Shoreditch with the facial fuzz of a person who never wants to be kissed again, you’ll be blending in like a local in no time.

You can read this post at work and pretend you’re catching up on important political matters on Huffington Post (not passing the time reading some chick’s stories about her bum) by pressing here. Or if you’re not micro-managed, just scroll down and enjoy.

1 – Logistics

If you want to get somewhere in London, you can rely on this.

If you want to get somewhere in London on time never rely on this.

2 – Greetings

Forget ‘hello’. You will be greeted with ‘alright’, asked as a question and with a hint of concern, just the way you might enquire when you see someone fall down a flight of stairs. This is not because they know you had too many beers last night and actually did fall down a flight of stairs. Translated, this means “Good morning/afternoon, how are you?” Unlike the rest of the world, replying to this with an evaluation of your health and mood that day is unnecessary.

3 – Chilli is not a spice, it’s a seasoning

It will be served in everything, so if you don’t like chilli, make ordering a side of yoghurt your new annoying habit.

4 – Renting

Think of renting a home like adopting a baby. Adoption involves background checks, assessments of your lifestyle, bank accounts and payslips and glowing references from employers and reputable friends. Renting is the same, except the thing draining your wallet each month from then on will be the cupboard you now call home, not an orphan. Continue reading

Gettin’ Out of Dodge

In a month’s time I’m leaving London. It’s been four and a half years and I’m no more enamored with the place than I was when I first got here. So I’m off to Edinburgh. And if you’re like every single other person who I’ve told this to, you’re going to be thinking “Ooh you’ll need to rug up” or “oooh it’s expensive there” or “Edinburgh? WTF?”

Well first of all, yes, thank you, I’m aware it’s colder the further north you go in this hemisphere. But my research tells me that rent is half what I pay here and monthly travel passes are a quarter of London’s, so I don’t know where you’re getting the expensive thing from. Maybe you’re talking about eating out at nice restaurants, in which case, I’ve heard of this thing called supermarkets and home cooking, so I might give that a go.

Why Edinburgh? Well I went there once. It was nice. It will do.

I just really want to get out of London. As well as wearing a hole in my unemployed-bum pocket, London has worn the hell out of me. Edinburgh is tiny, you can walk across it in half an hour, there’s 7.5 million less people, you’re not likely to be pushed and shoved on the Tube (because they don’t have one),and I’ll be able to afford a car, which means I can go for drives and do ‘stuff’. I can’t afford to do stuff in London. When I try it all goes pear shaped anyway. In the four years I’ve been in London I hired a car once and anyone who read this blog post might understand why the car point is even making an appearance on this justification-of-the-nation list.

Plus I do believe I might have relatives in Edinburgh who don’t know I exist. A spot of ancestral digging sounds fun.

It’s also time to get another job. Being an unemployed bum has run its course, as has the bank balance. I’ve yet to make any money from photography (probably because I realised that will take years of hard work – not 6 months), I haven’t landed a book deal (probably because I haven’t written one) and I’m not a superstar blogger (probably because I write infrequently, don’t promote it and what I write is not that globally interesting – locally though, I can’t understand why I’m not dripping in accolades and Dior handbags – errr kidding, I’d never buy a handbag).

Besides, I hate to admit it but I miss having an office job I hate. OK no I don’t. But I miss getting paid.

I don’t regret my somewhat crazy decision last August. I may not have managed to find a way to make a living doing what I love – yet – but I’ve had six months to indulge in it without the distraction of twelve hours a day participating in the rat race. I’ve tried many different avenues and failed many times but I will continue chipping away. And I’ve been luckier than most that I’ve had the opportunity to take time out from the real world to try all this. Most importantly, I’ve had time to figure out what IB bloody S is and get to grips with it away from the stresses of the daily grind.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go off to the dentist. All the saccharine in that last paragraph has made a few of my teeth fall out.

Shameless plug – I was just published on the HuffPo.


My latest Planet Ivy article was published on Huffington Post yesterday.Have a read here. It’s entertaining. I promise.

Unfortunately I shot myself in the foot by having a go at people who write (negative) comments on the internet, so I think I’ve scared people off. Editors like lots of comments and discussion I’m told. Oh well, next time. In the meantime, feel free to “like” it. I need to beat 213 likes, currently at 160 🙂

Now if I could just figure out a way to actually get paid for this writing malarky…