10 tips for being a Londoner

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I love London, I’ve lived here since I went to university and now I am a grown up lawyer with a job and a reason to commute, it’s very exciting. I thought I would share with you the benefit of my 15 years as a Londoner just so you can make sure you understand the rules, whether you live here or just visit:

1. Don’t dawdle, dither or hesitate – this applies particularly if you are stood at the top of an escalator; getting into a lift or entering the platform of a tube station. If you stop I will walk into you. I won’t apologise because it was your fault (just so you know).

2. Everyone is important – if you are in London, particularly if you live there, you clearly have important business to attend to. It is important, if you find yourself in London without important business to attend to, that you behave in a manner which indicates that in fact you do have important business to attend to. We are in London, we are not here to enjoy ourselves, we are busy, act like it.

3. Hand accessories are essential – please don’t allow yourself to be seen empty handed, it isn’t a good look. If you really can’t bring yourself to be engrossed in a paper, your phone/tablet/kindle or a book then please buy a coffee. It is essential that your hands are occupied at all times (please don’t slow down your pace – you are in London, you should be able to multitask). If you do resort to coffee kindly make sure that the brand adequately reflects your personality – if we see you with Starbucks in hand we will understand that you are a ruthless tax avoidance approving business shark, if you have a cup with an advert for ethically sourced organic beans we know you are likely to stop for Chuggers and can use early avoidance strategies for the moment that you start to hesitate towards them for a chat.

4. If you need a taxi please only use black cabs. These should be flagged down in as dramatic a fashion as you can muster. If you don’t flag with a flourish then the cab driver will know you are not a true Londoner and probably won’t stop. Please ensure that you remortgage your property in good time to pay for the aforementioned cab rides.

5. People standing on the street should be avoided at all costs – Chuggers, people handing out samples/religious literature/free papers or big issue sellers. It really doesn’t matter, you are busy, you are a Londoner, please avoid eye contact and take early evasive action.

6. Your food should be branded – please don’t bring along food from the supermarket, you won’t be allowed to mix with real Londoners. All lunchtime food should be extortionate and from a reputable and accepted luncheon supplier. Don’t bring lunch to your desk, you saved sufficient time from avoiding Chuggers and Big Issue sellers to ensure that you can take an adequate lunch break.

7. Pay no attention to other road users – this applies whatever your method of travel. Cyclists and pedestrians should pay no heed to traffic lights, they aren’t for you, cross whenever you see fit. Pedestrians should particularly aim for the ‘halfway run’ [the process by which a pedestrian runs into the middle of the road to demonstrate that they do understand the rules of the road – but then walks the remainder of the distance to the pavement to indicate that they don’t care]

8. Children don’t belong in London – London is for grown ups and should remain that way. If you do fall pregnant please do not expect other Londoners to treat you any differently, the stairs at tube stations are there for a reason – to make it more difficult for preggies to carry wheely bags onto trains. Similarly they serve to dissuade buggies from entering the public transport system. If you feel you must waddle walk slower than normal please don’t leave the house.

9. Work friends are not real friends – whilst it may be fun to laugh and joke with your colleagues, please don’t try and take this further by discussing meeting up at the weekend and please remove all former colleagues from your Facebook page when you leave a job, you will need the space for your new work friends.

10. Customer service is generally unnecessary – for those of you who work in the service industry please remember that in London we don’t value customer service.  Please reflect this in your approach and ensure that you delay serving Londoners for as long as possible – if you are able to arrange it so that you are engaging in a conversation with a co-worker instead of serving us in a timely manner that would be appreciated.  Don’t worry we will still leave a tip on top of the added service charge, we are Londoners, that’s just what we do.

Turklish travels: Ephesus, one of the seven wonders

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I’m not going to lie, I have little interest in history.

I tend to only be able to last in museums for one exhibit at a time, and our past visits to historical sites tend to lead to grumpiness and boredom.  As we were driving around Turkey earlier this year we decided to drive to see Ephesus, which was pretty exciting as we don’t tend to go and “see” things when we are in Turkey.

Ephesus (or Efes in Turkish, you know, like the beer 🙂 ) was an ancient Greek city pretty close to Izmir, but the site had actually had previous historical importance too.  Anyway it was a large city during Roman times too and was thought to be the third largest Roman city.  It is most famous for having a temple (the Temple of Artemis) which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, however unfortunately this has since been destroyed through time, political instability and earthquakes.  It was one of the locations of the seven churches of Asia which are (apparently) mentioned in the Book of Revelation so it’s a pretty big deal!

It was perfect weather for our first proper day out with the boy (sunny but not too hot) and although I was a bit dubious about taking our pre-loved Freecycle buggy with it’s missing wheel that we’re too stingy to replace around an ancient monument we headed out.

The ticket price was reasonable (TL30, approximately £10 each adult – no charge for the baby), we also paid around TL8 for parking.  We had read on the internet that the charges would be much higher with separate charges for entering different parts of the site so we were expecting to be ripped off but had decided that this was a one off thing that we would be foolish to miss given we were passing by so we were pleasantly surprised, I don’t know if it was just because we went out of season or whether we were just misinformed by the internet.  Anyway we gave the museum, pony rides and tours a miss and wandered around ourselves.

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Wikipedia tells me:

Ephesus contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean. Only an estimated 15% has been excavated.  The ruins that are visible give some idea of the city’s original splendor, and the names associated with the ruins are evocative of its former life. The theater dominates the view down Harbor Street, which leads to the silted-up harbor.

It was pretty strange to see this amazing walkway which would have led to a harbour, having driven through the mountains to reach it with no sign of water!

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It is the site of a theatre which is HUGE apparently has around a 24,000 seating capacity and is the largest known theatre of the ancient world.  It was quite awe inspiring and even had buggy (possibly not original…) access!  There were three or more entrances to explore, of course not all ideal with a baby but it was pretty awe inspiring even having visited the Colloseum in Rome.

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We followed the path along to the Library of Celsus, I am used to historical things not being particularly well identified or explained in Turkey, but there was good signage throughout (not too much info though – I like that!).

The facade of the library has been carefully reconstructed from the original and apparently was built to face East so that the light would illuminate it for reading.  Jem had rather lost interest by this point so we took the opportunity to ruin his clothes stretch his legs.

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We next  wandered through one of the former Agoras where we saw a tourist giving a cat some water (adorable) and a section of the site set aside for those with visual impairments, which was a great idea…although I’m not convinced it was that great:

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There are other things on site:

Basilica of St John;

Temple of Artemis (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world although only one column remains – we may have seen this…we may not…we’re not sure!);

The Odean (a small theatre);

The Temple of Hadrian;

Ephesus Archaeological Museum;

The Temple of the Sebastoi;

The Tomb of Pollio.

I am not sure what we saw and what we didn’t, but there was a lot of stuff and if you’re interested in the history I would really recommend going with a guide.  For us we did what we could manage and didn’t try and worry too much, just took in the views.  There were plenty of paved areas but it is an ancient ruin so not the smoothest of rides, but I’ve seen much worse.  Of course the advantage of bumps with buggies is sleep!  As the boy was in the land of nod we walked over to the Church of Mary (Meryem Kilisesi) which is an important religious site close to what would have been the Harbour.  Once we got up to the church we had to carry the buggy up and down some steps and the pushing got a little more difficult, but we managed as we wanted to see it (even if Jem didn’t!):

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After this we decided to call it quits and headed back to the car and had our packed lunch.  We introduced Jem to some of the horses in the car park and trundled off to Izmir.  We did pass this amazing plant on our way back to the car – any ideas what it is?  There were loads they are really large!

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