No doubt other people have attempted to instil some common sense in prospective visitors to London before by
writing down some advice for would-be tourists. We feel that’s far too nice an approach. In the space of about an hour around town today, we’d come up with a list of over 30 possible rules (not advice, note) for visitors to London. For efficiency’s sake, we’re narrowing them down to 10 and mailing them to Boris Johnson so that he can have them handed to all people who cross the M25, whether by train, car or plane.
Thou shalt learn prior to your visit how to use the Oyster card/travelcard and shalt not stand in front of the ticket barriers on the tube trying to shove one or other of them in the slot the wrong way.
Thou shalt follow all instructions given to you on the tube, particularly with regard to standing on the RIGHT on escalators and travelators.
Thou shalt not talk loudly in an unsociable manner on the tube, particularly if you have a nasal accent from a continent we shall not name. Or if you’re from Liverpool.
Thou shalt be observant and notice the direction of the way out sign BEFORE attempting to leave the train, so that you do not block the doors.
Thou shalt not stand with your pushchair/large family/luggage completely blocking entrances to platforms/parks/stairways.
Thou shalt not walk slowly down the pavement, taking up all the room, staring at your map. Go ye unto a bus stop to do the same.
Thou shalt obey all queuing customs, i.e. that you do NOT queue-jump for any reason, and must meekly accept being tutted at if you do.
Thou shalt not take up an entire pavement in order to take photographs, forcing polite pedestrians to wait for you to finish.
Thou shalt, if you’re lost or can’t work the cash machine, ask for help. We won’t bite (unless you’ve broken commandments 1-8).
Thou shalt not yell the names of prominent world leaders across a room in the presence of Her Majesty. She doesn’t like it.
Basically, bear in mind that we work the longest hours in Europe, so we don’t appreciate people standing in the way or holding us up unnecessarily when we’re moving about the city. Abide by the rules and we won’t set the giant bulldog on you.
**Thanks to www.maskworld.com for the image. Do go there to buy your tourist costume. These are now the only legal garb for tourists in London – make sure you get yours soon before they run out.
I was already composing a blog post of the clamping down on photographers by the authorities when I noticed a piece on this morning’s BBC breakfast news about a local, long-standing photographer arrested for photographing buildings in Elephant and Castle. Now I can understand the privately employed jobsworth security officer asserting his power over his little domain, be it a supermarket or so on but being arrested in a public place by the police seems to be venturing further into disturbing territory.
Having been unable to track the story down on the BBC News website, I eventually located it on the Independent website, where it highlights further examples of photographers being prevented from going about entirely law-abiding and proper activities, such as reporting a protest and snapping a passing steam train. These invariably result in apologies and inquiries from the authorities concerned, yet an increasingly prevalent precedent seems to becoming the norm.
Suggest a walk in London and the closest most people will envisage to a ramble in fresh air and countryside will likely be strolling down the South Bank or perhaps along one of the canals. However not all of London is the swath of urban sprawl so associated with the city. Here are a few snaps from our latest walk, and yes it’s in Greater London:
A month ago we visited Haché in Camden to try out what was rated as the best burgers in London by TimeOut. Although a reasonable experience we left unconvinced by the claim. Today, finding ourselves again in Camden we decided to give Haché a try to see if it faired any better than in November.
It was mid-afternoon and busy, if not quite full, however the irregularity of the appearance of staff made it feel rather busier than it should have. Indeed once again the food proved passable but the service noticably below par. We both opted for the special Christmas Burger, comprising turkey, stuffing, rocket and onions with the option of cranberry and / or bread sauce, and we plumped for chunky chips on the side.
“Always keep your hook in the water: where you least expect one, the fish will be found” (Ovid)
Thus it was that we discovered Fishworks Seafood Cafe last night on Marylebone High Street. The front section of Fishworks, in the manner of its Roman ancestor, is dedicated to the sale of fresh fish and shellfish. The aroma is almost opaque. You could spread it on toast. I’ve walked past here many a time without even realising that one can eat here. A small, unassuming white-lettered sign says ‘Seafood Cafe Open’ on the glass behind the fishmonger. The glass itself slides open to allow the freshness of the fish to be demonstrated to diners before they select it from the menu.
We were seated (“You can have it for two hours”) fairly near to the fishier bit of the establishment, but our fears that the smell of the fishmonger’s would hang over us like the Great Stink of 1858 were happily just about unfounded. Continue reading →