Wednesday, 2 May 2012

London called and wanted its weather back...

So, I've just returned from an extended weekend in London. When I left here, it was cold and rainy... like a fore-warning of what was to come. The trip was kinda unplanned and unscheduled but I had to tend to an important matter at Inland Revenue before the end of May. And due to a recent unfortunate incident, I had to officially close my bank account in the UK, which I decided to do in person.

And so I stepped off the plane on Friday morning and got down to business. And once that was done, I had time to visit old friends and do some shopping. Here are some highlights, my thoughts and conclusions from the past few days:

1. I don’t know what it is with British females and hotpants / shorts in winter. I mean it’s like FREEZING and they’re barely wearing anything. I on the other hand, was dressed like an Eskimo, sporting thermal underwear, four jerseys, tights and a tracksuit pants under my usual clothing... topped off with a huge coat and a scarf on the first two days. But by the third day I had acclimatised and went back to donning the normal one layer of clothing.

2. The first thing I buy when I’m in the UK is St. Ives Blemish Control Face Scrub. Since this isn’t available in South Africa, Copenhagen, Paris, Barcelona or Switzerland – and I know because I had Mother, an aunt and an uncle traipse up and down Europe looking for it – it makes it the most expensive face scrub in the world and the most expensive thing I own:

3. One of the friends I met up with was my good old friend slash ex-landlord Donovan, who is now married with two kids. He spent most of the time complaining about domestic bliss*, before adding that he wouldn’t give it up for the world, hence confirming my belief that most guys genuinely enjoy being miserable.

4. I've heard the term European Debt Crisis thrown around a lot on the news in the last year. All I have to say is: what crisis? It seemed like the entire Europe (Spain and Italy in particular) was on holiday in London this past weekend.

5. Speaking of tourists, there’s something annoying about how none of them follow rules. For instance, keep left doesn’t mean please stand in the middle of the pathway and have a long conversation with your friends while 15 000 other people wait to pass through.

6. I've found that it doesn't hurt to have a beverage named after you. Britain, I am honoured:

7. It must be awesome to be a Tube (train) Driver. I can’t imagine it being physically, mentally or emotionally taxing to tell everyone to stand clear of the doors or to mind that gap. And it looks a little like riding your own roller-coaster. I wonder why I never thought of that before.

8. Speaking of the tube - and this is why I love London - I had this guy in pink tights and a pink tutu come and sit next to me one evening. It was obviously either his stag or a dare, but great fun to witness anyway:

9. There are some people in London who make their living by being Professional Protesters. I reckon they’ve got nothing on South African protesters who usually come fully prepared with vendors amongst the masses selling everything from hot food to ice cream as well as trucks loaded with mega sound systems with various soundtracks to aid their war cries and spectacular dance routines to boot. It's like Rio's Carnival with placards. But South African protesters aren't paid for their troubles and I can’t help but envy London's Professional Protesters in their vocations.

10. Big ups to the staff at British Airways who damn near molested me at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 with their manhandling and frisking tactics and then handed me not one, but TWO stainless steel knives while serving dinner onboard.

11. After going through all the trouble of acclimatising and walking around like a penguin, I returned to a very warm 28⁰ Degree Celsius Johannesburg, and proceeded to melt in my clothes. Ah global warming...

12. And in all seriousness... I have an O2 Sim Card that’s worth ₤10 to give away. It has ₤7.50 airtime credit on it remaining and I’d honestly rather give it away to someone who could use it than have it rot away in my cupboard. So if you are in the UK or if you are going to the UK, or if you know anyone going to the UK anytime soon and would like this freebie worth ₤17.50, please email me your details and I’ll mail it to you free of charge, absolutely gratis:

Many other things happened and many other observations made... like noticing that Notting Hill Gate is the only station that has absolutely no advertising... a chance meeting with a lonely, lovely Lithuanian girl who obviously felt comfortable enough to tell me her whole life story in the 30 minutes we spent together... meeting old friends and colleagues... eating at all my favourite spots... and walking for 12 hours a day on every single day...

*Donovan’s story used with his permission.


  1. And that's why I LOVE London :D

  2. I'm getting really thirsty now. One instant coffee, please. Yeah, I don't get the whole crisis crap either. And of course you had to go shopping. It's all skinny jeans and hotpants over here as well. Well, 28⁰ degrees Celsius sounds like fun. I'm still waiting for spring to start. Guess I won't find it in London either...

  3. A professional protester... Hmmm I don't think i'd like that job lol

  4. London's my favorite city! Hope you had a great time catching up with your friends.

  5. Thanks for this post Azra, seems like London's Calling me...Hmm love the city, vibe and the shopping :)

    Not to mention the sites and tubes....Aaah Bliss!

    Cannot wait to return soonest

  6. Damn

    missing London like crazy

    screw the fact that the wife wants to go to Thailand think I should just tickets to london and say oops mistake

  7. LOVE St. Ive's apricot scrub - it's what I use in the States! (You're right, it isn't sold in too many places here in Europe though).

    Is London still cold in April?? Holy cow.

    You should come to Granada - there are bachelor and bachelorette parties EVERY DAMN WEEKEND now. You're sure to find giant inflated penises and other goodies waltzing up and down the streets, drinking and eating.

    I hope you had a lovely time in London - what did it feel like to be back? :)

  8. Must go to London. Must go to London. Must go to London.

    Sounds like real fun, Azra, except for the cold part.

  9. i love London. i must go back ! although i wish to the universe i could win some contest to be flown there for the olympics! any event will do.
    i have many roads, places, buildings, companies, etc named after me in Malaysia.
    Jaya is common here.

  10. SI
    I'm sure you do :) They say if you get tired of London, you're tired of life.

    It's 30 degrees celcius tomorrow Randy... not bad for the beginning of winter eh? SO I reckon you should come here...

    Why not? LOL. All you have to do is hold a placard, build a small tent and sleep on the cement in your sleeping bag.

    Roving Retorter
    Thanks! Yeah it was awesome. It's amazing to see how things and people change over time.

    It's always a nice destination to return to... and the shopping... :D

    LOL! If you're going, let me know. I'll send that Sim card to you via express mail since it seems no one else wants it!

    It's always great to be back in London :) I would love to live there again someday, but definitely not alone. You definitely need to have friends or family there because life can become very lonely - as I was reminded when I met that Lithuanian girl. It brought back all those memories of isolation and loneliness before I made some good friends. So a good support network is essential - as it would be anywhere in the world I would imagine. And yes it is still quite cool in April (max temperatures between 10 and 16 celcius compared to 28 - 30 here in SA at the moment and we're at the beginning of winter).

    Terra Shield
    When you go, go between June and August... it gets quite hot for a few weeks in the Summer. And London in Summer is amazing :)

    I can just imagine how congested London will be during the Olympics - but oh so much fun!! It would be so awesome if all the Blogger London Lovers could meet in the city for a convention of sorts. I'm sure it would be fantastic :)

  11. Not bad at all. It's spring over here and it's been raining for days and days on end.

  12. Me too i love St Ives, i bought two in January when i went to Dubai and it was only 17 dhs,My aunt from London always sent me some.Cnt find it anywer in SA

  13. Really? its that cold? I must have super acclimatised! lol
    Hubby and I have imagined countless times doing the tube announcements in SA slang or afrikaans. Can you imagine that?! Give or take a few swear words haha

  14. I've just bought some of that Azera coffee, it's lovely.

  15. oh yes :)
    that would be perfect !
    would be worth my 14 hour flight hahaha

  16. Ah, dearest London! That place makes me feel alive! :) :) Sounds like a fantastic trip.

  17. London for the weekend! That sounds amazing!! it sounds like such a great trip.

  18. Wish I was going to London!!! Have a wonderful weekend!

  19. RCB
    But doesn't rain make everything green and lovely? Although, wet socks is enough to put a damper on anyone's mood.

    I always get my St. Ives stash from the UK or the USA... depending on which relative is going where lol.

    It's only that cold because it's still 30 degrees here! But tube announcements in Afrikaans slang would be hilarious! Can you imagine saying "Ok everyone, kry jou gat in rat" lol.

    Tony Van Helsing
    The Azera coffee is quite good for the instant variation.

    It would be so worth it! I recommend two blogger meets... one in London and the other in Bora Bora where RCB wants to go :D I'm sure we'd all make the effort to go.

    I know - in terms of countries of the world, London is indeed the "Life of the Party". It was a great trip indeed :)

    It was great especially because there were no stop overs. So overnight 10 hour flights are the way to go!

    Hope you've had a great weekend too!