Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool and Manchester

What are these regional cities like compared to London? We journeyed by train to each of these to get a feel of their vibe.

Bristol city has a youthful student buzz about it due to it being the home of two major universities. Colourful terraced houses catch the eye and Banksy, the satirical street artist is based in Bristol.

The cheerfully brightly painted houses of Bristol.

Cardiff, the capital of Wales, with it’s bilingual signs in Cymraeg everywhere. Unpronounceable words which does not follow the general phonetic rules. Cardiff City has a quaint old fashioned feel about it. It feels like stepping back in time. The population is generally older and the cost of living is noticeably lower. We tried the traditional Welsh Cake at Cardiff Market. A sweet, baked treat like a dense pancake studded with dried fruit.

Cardiff Castles is the big attraction in the centre of Cardiff. One of the owners of Cardiff Castle, the 3r Marquess of Bute was interested in travelling and collecting things. As a result, there were unexpected items within the castle such as Chinese pottery as well as opulent rooms inspired by his travels e.g. the Arab room.

Cardiff Castle – a must see attraction when visiting Cardiff
Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle – the interiors were really lovely.

My favourite place of the 4 cities visited was Liverpool. The waterfront area has been gentrified with striking modern buildings. Well kept historic buildings dot the city reminding all that once, Liverpool was a wealthy hub. Liverpool was a major port city and was also important during the Industrial Revolution. The Chinatown in Liverpool is one of the oldest and largest in Europe due to Chinese sailors settling in the city in the 1800s. Sadly, after World War 2, a number of the Chinese community was forcibly repatriated without notice tearing apart families leaving lasting impacts The museum of Liverpool has informative displays about the history of the city. It is with the understanding of the very hard times that this city has experienced that makes the arresting modern buildings on the waterfront more impressive. It is as if, Liverpool of today is choosing to rise up from their difficult past to forge a better tomorrow. Sadly, the people of Liverpool do not seem as affluent as their fancy buildings.

Liverpool Cathedral

Manchester city has a massive modern shopping mall in the center. This gives it a modern feel. It seems like this city would have a dynamic nightlife scene. The central area is a bit spread out so it has a convenient free bus that facilitates getting around. The major universities based here give the city a youthful buzz.

The John Rylands Research Institute and Library is a notable institution in Manchester. It was established by Enriqueta Augustina Rylands, the widow of a wealthy textile manufacturer. She wanted to create a library that was open to all and despite it’s intricate gothic interiors and exteriors, it is still open for the public to use.

John Rylands Research Institute and Library

For those interested, here are the ways that can be used to keep the cost down for a trip like this.

  • Adjust the dates of your trip to take advantage of cheap rooms from Travelodge. The price of a double hotel room with Travelodge in late September 2023 was Bristol (£39), Cardiff (£34) and Manchester (£40). Travelodge uses dynamic pricing so the same room could be 6 times more expensive on a Saturday night.
  • Always shop around for the best accommodation. In Liverpool, we stayed at a spacious, central, self contained apartment for £56 per night for two people.
  • Don’t forget to bank extra saving using a cashback site like TopCashBack.
  • Self cater where possible and eat simple meals from the supermarket.
  • Check for cheap food on TooGoodToGo and discounted restaurant meals on TheFork.
  • The variation in train ticket prices does not make it easy to optimize for the cheapest price. There is no easy one-stop train ticket website that collates the prices offered by all the various. Unfortunately, for this, many websites had to be checked and compared which is annoying and time consuming. Some of the cheapest tickets were split tickets from a website like SplitMyFare. Ticket prices were as follows; London to Bristol (£46.2), Bristol to Cardiff (£7.9), Cardiff to Liverpool (£43.2), Liverpool to Manchester (£4.3) and Manchester to London ($34.7)

There are many interesting places to visit in the United Kingdom. These regional centers have something which is lacking from London. They have reasonably priced high street stores. It does seem that many of these affordable brands don’t have a branch in London. Perhaps the London population is more discerning?

The observation that will stay with me from this trip is that the country and it’s people are suffering from the cost of living crisis. In general, I found that the people on the street did not look particularly well off. People are getting by but there are no signs of conspicuous consumption. Hopefully this will turn around soon.

Money Saving Hacks in London

Tower Bridge

London is a very expensive city to live or to visit but there are countless ways to save money. Some of these do require some time and administration on your part but it’s worth it for the thrill of knowing you got a great deal or the feeling that haven’t been duped into paying for too much. Even if the savings don’t feel like much, every little bit helps.


Housing will undoubtedly takes the biggest bite out of your budget. There are no foolproof ways to get a better deal especially with the hypercompetitive rental market and high inflation but here are some things to consider.

  • Try OpenRent. – Dealing with real estate agents can be horrible especially if you have special circumstances that mean you don’t fit neatly into their usual processes. OpenRent is a platform that private landlords can use to advertise their property. Dealing directly with the landlord could be less hassle for both parties.
  • Consider your commute – the cost of public transport is high in London and if you have to commute to work often, consider whether the savings gained from moving further away for cheaper rent is worth it. Do the math!
  • Consider a flat share situation – this will be cheaper if you don’t mind housemates.

Communication – Mobile Phone and Home Internet

  • Shop around – there are always special deals e.g. mobile phone plans for 99p or £1.99p per month. This might be a 6 month introductory special so before it runs out, change your provider. It’s annoying but not too difficult to swap to a different provider and the savings do add up over time.
  • Check for referrals – can a friend refer you to their provider or vice versa? Often there is a rewarding perk for both of you.
  • Check out these websites. Often a lot of the comparison work has been done for you by Money Saving Expert or Andy Clever Cash. (These two websites come in useful for so many aspects of saving money in the UK.)


  • Maximise the interest you are getting on your savings account. Use
    Money Saving Export or Andy Clever Cash. They have done the account comparison work for you.
  • Learn about investing so your money works for you.
  • Make friends who care about money perhaps by joining a MeetUp group e.g. London Financial Independence
  • Credit card hacks and collecting loyalty points. This can be very lucrative if you are into it. Try Head For Points to get started.


  • Shop around, get a referral from a friend if there is an incentive to swap energy providers.
  • Submit meter readings instead of relying on the estimate from the power company so you pay a more representative (and usually lower) number reflecting your actual usage.
  • Adjust your hot water thermostat temperature down so you are not spending money excessively heating your hot water only to have to mix a heap of cold water to avoid being scalded in the shower. This saves money and is safer as you remove the risk of getting a hot water burn.
  • If it suits, save on heating or cooling by working outside your home. There are some nice, quiet public areas suitable for working e.g. Tower Hamlets Town Hall


  • Consider free stuff or second hand – look on Olio, Freecycle or Facebook Marketplace for free or cheap second hand stuff. This is good not just for your wallet but for the planet as well.
  • Check out ethnic shops or Ikea for more reasonably priced goods.
  • Always compare the in-store price with the online price. Often, if you don’t need things immediately, it’s cheaper purchased online.
  • When purchasing things online, use a cashback website like TopCashBack or Quidco to claw back a % of the price.
  • Join the loyalty club for all the grocery shops you frequent e.g. Tesco clubcard, . There are often additional perks and discounts for their members.
  • This CatchAGem guy has his finger on the pulse of lots of cheap stuff, freebies and giveaways!

Food – Eating In

Eating in and cooking at home is always massively cheaper than eating out.

  • Shop at Aldi or Lidl as they are consistently the cheapest grocery store. Buy all your weekly staples here. Save going to Waitrose or M&S for the odd specific gourmet luxury item. Buying pantry staples at Waitrose can sometimes be 4 times more expensive than Aldi!
  • Use the Olio app to pick up free food. You save on your food budget and perfectly good food is rescued from being wasted. The best time to be on Olio is about 9:30pm at night when the Food Waste Hero (volunteers) advertise the stuff they have picked up from shops closing that evenings. There are plenty of good food from Tescos, Iceland, Pret, Amazon Fresh amongst others. (Plus the Olio community is full of the loveliest people who hate seeing useful things go to waste!)
  • Take advantage of the constant discounts on various recipe boxes e.g. Hello Fresh, Gousto and others. They are always giving massive introductory discounts. This combined with large cashback incentives from TopCashBack or Quidco can result in getting a lot of food for nearly no money or even being paid to eat!

Food – Eating Out

Eating out is a fun thing to do in London but it can be eye-wateringly expensive. Here are some ways to reduce the cost.

  • Consider the meal deals at various grocery stores e.g. Tesco, Sainsbury etc. offer a Main + Snack + Drink for < £5. It’s a nice way to get a sandwich and drink for lunch. Head out to one of London’s many parks and enjoy your little picnic!
  • An alternative for a picnic is to use the TooGoodToGo app where businesses sell their products at a fraction of the price to avoid wasting it.
  • Subscriptions at café chains like Pret or Costa could be good value if you drink a lot of coffee. Do the math!
  • Street food stalls at one of London’s many markets are great for a meal. True, it’s not as comfortable as a sit down restaurant but it’s almost always cheaper and there is no service charge.
  • The alcoholic drinks are cheapest at the Wetherspoons franchise of pubs. The food is hit and miss but it is good value.
  • Look out for cheap deals from various sources e.g. Pre-theatre menus, Plate Deals, Soft Launch, Hot Dinners, Groupon etc.
  • The best app for deep discounts at restaurants and big money off when using loyalty points is TheFork app. Use this promo code on your first booking for extra loyalty Yums! (7E8EADO3) This app works internationally as well so you can eat more cheaply at restaurants around the world! Always check it when you are on holiday!
  • Sign up as a mystery diner and be re-imbursed for eating out. This sounds like a great concept but for most people, it’s not as fun as it first sounds.
  • Finally, brave the awkward conversation and ask for the service charge to be removed when eating out at a restaurant. There is a minimum wage by law which all staff in the UK should be paid. The tipping culture has been borrowed from America and being normalized in London. It’s discretionary so unless the service was truly exemplary, ask for it to be taken off.


  • London is a very walkable city so when time permits, walk to your destination.
  • Cycling is also a cheap way of getting around. Buy a bike second hand or do the math, perhaps a subscription to one of those bicycle hire programs is worth it e.g. Santander Bikes.
  • Never buy a single tube ticket. They are incredibly expensive. Use contactless or an Oyster card.
  • The tube is very expensive. Where possible, avoid peak hour and get the bus. This may not always be possible as the buses can be quite unreliable! It goes without saying therefore, avoid black cabs, Uber etc. except in the most dire of situations!
  • Use the Citymapper app. It tells you the most efficient way to get around and the cost associated with it.
  • Get a railcard if you qualify for it. It pays for itself very quickly.
  • Book train tickets in advance to reduce the price. (Don’t forget to apply your railcard!)

Things to Do

There are so many things to do for free and low cost in London and even the most costly things like the theatre can be done in a much cheaper way.

  • There are loads of free top class museums that you can visit for free.
  • There are always lots of free lectures, events and meet-ups you can join. Use these websites of apps to find them – Free Lectures, EventBrite, MeetUp.
  • Check your local council for discounts e.g. The Borough of Tower Hamlets gives £1 entry for residents to Tower Bridge and Tower of London.
  • Sign up to your local library to access plenty of free material e.g. books, e-books, e-magazines, newspapers, video content etc.
  • Use bus route number 8 or 11 to go past the touristy sites of London instead of the expensive open top tourist buses!
  • Keep your ear out for free festivals and events around London e.g. Open House Festival, Summer by the River, Summer Sounds at Kings Cross etc. Check out these websites to assist – Secret London, Londonist, TimeOut London.
  • Go on a tips only walking tour. There are heaps of different topics to choose from and you just have to tip the tour guide at the end what you think it was worth.
  • Check out free views of the city at SkyGarden, One New Change Rooftop, Primrose Hill in Camden and The Garden at 120.
  • Enjoy the free parks and gardens around London, including the unexpected one in a rooftop at Canary Wharf, Crossrail Place Roof Gardens.
  • Pop in and experience the architecture and serenity at one of London’s many churches and cathedrals. Many are free to enter or free during a service. Listen to the choral music and admire the interiors for free at St Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey during a service.

Go to the theatre or concerts more cheaply using one of these methods.

  • Buy your tickets through TodayTix. If you can, buy tickets during the various West End sales which happen throughout the year
  • Buy day tickets or rush tickets or enter the ticket lottery. This can be done via
    TodayTix or search on google for the information. For example, the Royal Opera House releases their rush tickets on a Friday. These days tickets are significantly cheaper than buying a full price tickets and you can be seated in the front row!
  • Become a seat filler for cheap theatre tickets, comedy, live music and all kinds of events!
  • Buy day promming tickets for the BBC Proms. The very best classical concerts in the world at only £8.
  • At a pinch, you could try the TKTS booth at Leicester Square for theatre tickets. This will be cheaper than buying full price but still quite expensive when compared to the other methods on this list.


Are you a senior or, a student or work for the NHS or is it your birthday? Do some research, there are often lots of discounts available if you fit these categories.

In conclusion, I do sense some recurring themes when writing this post. Shop around, do some research, do the math, take the time!

Hopefully this helps alleviate some of the cost of living issues in London so you can spend more time enjoying all the fun things that London has to offer.

Chelsea and Belgravia Floral Displays

It’s spring and if you are an avid gardener, you could go to the Royal Horticultural Society Worlds Most Famous Chelsea Flower Show for between £58 to £116, depending on the session. Or you can take the freebie option and check out the amazing exhibits at Chelsea in Bloom and Belgravia in Bloom held the very same week. These displays have been an unexpected gem. Wandering about these posh suburbs and seeing these amazing, artful displays was such a treat!

The themes this year are “Flowers on Film” for Chelsea and “Into the Wild” for Belgravia. The artists do an incredible job working with flowers and natural items like bark and twigs to create amazing sculptures. It is wonderful to be able to walk around these suburbs enjoying the spring weather and viewing these artworks!

Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland (Chelsea in Bloom)
Mary Poppins (Chelsea in Bloom)
Black Beauty (Chelsea in Bloom) – outside Lloyds Bank. Who knows what a bank has to gain by spending money on this display?
The Lion King (Chelsea in Bloom)
Freddie Mercury and Queen (Chelsea in Bloom) – set up outside skin care shop! They were pumping out the music of Queen nice and loud so passerby’s instantly understand the flower display!
Jurassic Park (Chelsea in Bloom) – set up on Sloane Square.
Chelsea in Bloom (Whilst it wasn’t obvious how this display related to a film, it was a favorite. This wild cacophony of spectacular pink and white flowers!)
Seahorses (Belgravia in Bloom) – this one was special. Land based flowers to create a seascape.
Bee (Belgravia in Bloom)
Foxes (Belgravia in Bloom)
Peacocks (Belgravia in Bloom)
Butterfly (Belgravia in Bloom)
Tunnel of Orchids (Belgravia in Bloom) – this photo does not do this any justice at all. This is a tunnel absolutely filled with the most exquisite, perfect orchids. The condition of the orchids were flawless and there were so many. I shudder to imagine the cost to set this up! This was sponsored by a floral school tucked away in a small square at the end of an alleyway. They would therefore would get no foot traffic. This tunnel of orchids they set up must give them the most publicity they get all year!
Tunnel of Orchids
Orchids – isn’t evolution marvelous?!

Tower of London

Considering the crowds, a visit to the historic Tower of London seems to be a “must do” for anyone visiting London. This building complex which dates back to 1066 has been used as an armoury, the Royal Mint, a dungeon, a menagerie, the home of the Crown Jewels and the site of a number of executions. Amongst the executions are some of the wives of King Henry VIII. Here are my tips for a good visit.

Are you a Tower Hamlets resident?

The entry fee for adults is £33.60. For those lucky enough to live in the borough of Tower Hamlets, you can get into this attraction for a mere £1. Go to the ticket booth with your Ideas Card (i.e. your library card), proof of address and your identification.

Guard Duty

Go at opening time.

This is a major tourist attraction for London and is always inundated with visitors. The queue for tickets is long, the queue to get into the complex is long and the queue to see the Crown Jewels is ridiculously long. Get there at or before opening to reduce the wait times. Pre-purchase your tickets online to avoid the ticket office line.

The White Tower

Bee-line for the Crown Jewels.

If you have heeded my tip to go at opening time, make a bee-line upon entry to the Crown Jewels. You might be able to get in at this point without waiting. Dilly-dally and the queue will build and build and build! By midday, the queue can be 2 hours long! It’s quite crazy that the queue is so long considering that a conveyor belt has been installed inside to move tourists past the Crown Jewels at pace to avoid any loitering.

Don’t miss seeing the Crown Jewels. Photos are not allowed so I cannot show you how ostentatious and priceless these pieces are but it is definitely worth looking at. It’s not everyday you see this many precious gemstones of such prodigious sizes!

The crown jewels are kept in this building.
The queue to see the crown jewels snakes so far out that the building that the crown jewels are stored in can no longer be seen!

Go on a Yeoman Warder Tour

The Yeoman Warders have been guarding the Tower of London since Tudor times. They are also called Beefeaters. These days, to even apply for a job as a Yeoman Warder, you need to have completed at least 22 years of military service and be of good character. There is a Yeoman Warder tour every half hour from 10am. They are very entertaining and informative. It’s always interesting to know where the two princes were buried and where Anne Boleyn was executed!

The other interesting fact about the Yeoman Warders is that they live at the Tower of London with their families. This means that there are children who grow up playing in the grounds of the Tower of London and popping in to see the Crown Jewels after school.

Yeoman Warder Tour

Bring Snacks

There is quite a lot to see once inside the Tower of London complex, especially if you are a history buff. Plus, it does cost a fair bit to get in. It took me 5 hours to see everything. Pack some water and snacks to keep yourself going so you can enjoy the visit.

The ravens of the Tower of London. These were surprisingly lare birds. They get fed mice, rats, chicks and sometimes biscuits soaked in blood. The myth is that the crown will fall if these birds ever leave the Tower so they are well cared for by the Ravenmaster.
The Royal Armouries
The Royal Armouries
The Royal Armouries
A gorgeous view of Tower Bridge from the Tower of London

Lovely London in Springtime!

London is gorgeous in springtime. People start to wear lighter jackets and sometimes you even see some shorts and skirts with bare legs! The flowers that sprout up everywhere are simply joyous. These flowers can be observed just doing everyday things around London. No special trip to some pricey gardens required. Just keep your eyes open and feast them on the cherry blossoms, daffodils, bluebells, hyacinths, tulips and all the other plants bursting into life to celebrate a new year of growth.

Columbia Road Flower Market – so unbelievably beautiful (but you will have to battle the crowds!)
Westminster Abbey – but really, I’m looking at that tree in bloom!
Tulips – near New Change
Cherry Blossoms
Flower Beds by St Paul’s Cathedral
Tulips Near Leicester Square

Lots of big world events happen in London. Preparations are in full swing for the coronation of King Charles! The London Marathon with 42,000 runners only just happened recently!

Preparations are underway for the King’s coronation All manner of companies are jumping on the bandwagon using the coronation as a business and advertising opportunity!
London Marathon – These runners are simply amazing! What a feat!

In true London style, around every corner, there is some beautiful architectural building, picturesque view or interesting detail to catch the eye!

View from Bonner Gate, Victoria Par Market
Natural History Museum – the museum is sensational but when you are there, take a moment to look at the building. This building was designed and purpose-built to display Natural History artefacts and the level of detail throughout this building is an absolute marvel!
Natural History Museum-The massive blue whale skeleton that dangles over the main foyer!
Charles Darwin – da man himself!
The Albert Memorial
Royal Albert Hall
Tate Britain
St Bartholomew’s Hospital Fountain – seems incongruous to have such lovely stone buildings and this beautiful fountain used for a hospital in a prime central London location
A glimpse of St Paul’s Cathedral – look up, turn around, look down the alleyway. London is full of lovely surprises if you care to look.
St Paul’s Cathedral from Reflection Garden. What a beautiful spot!
London City Skyline
Tower Bridge
Outernet – Free immersive artwork. It’s much more impressive in person as the video screens constantly change artworks.
Fancy Cheesemongers – selling cheese since 1797
Because no visit to the UK is complete without some stinky British Stilton cheese!
The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn

The White Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury Cathedral

The white cliffs of Dover is famous but there is nothing like seeing something like this in person on a beautiful, blue sky day! The cliff-side walk is really stunning. Best to pay for parking up near the cliffs. You could search for parking close to Dover town but then you would have to climb up the hill to get to the cliffs!

I kept my eyes peeled on the water for some whales or dolphins but I didn’t see any but is that France I see? The high location also gives a stunning view of Dover port.


Stretch your legs on the drive home from Dover by stopping in Canterbury for a look at the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral. Tickets are about £15.50/adult or you can time your visit for a service so you pop your head in for a quick look for free!

Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral

Bath, Stonehenge and Windsor

When visiting London, there are a number of places which can be visited on a day trip from the city.

Bath is a beautiful city. If you want to go to the famous Roman Baths, the tickets are best pre-purchased and are allocated in 15 minute time slots, so check your transportation timings! The tickets are quite expensive (approx. £26/adult) and can sell-out during peak periods such as school holidays and bank holidays. When you go in, you will be provided with an audio guide in your choice of language to help you understand the history and context of the Roman Baths. It is not a particularly large attraction but it is interesting. Take your time, try to ignore the crowds of tourists and try to feel the serenity and history of the baths!

Roman Baths
Roman Baths

Stonehenge is another interesting day trip destination not too far from London. Once again, tickets for this can be pre-purchased for approximately £21/adult or you can brave the long queue if you get there on a busy day without a ticket. A ticket will get you free parking at the carpark for the Stonehenge Visitor Centre. You will also get to view the exhibition at the Visitor’s Centre. No ticket required for the toilets or the gift shop. You can then choose whether to join the queue to be herded onto one of the giant coach buses that will drive you 2km to Stonehenge or you can walk the 2km. This walk is a delightful amble across some well kept paddocks and is quite lovely on a sunny day. Many people who paid for tickets chose to walk one direction and bus back once they had seen Stonehenge. It is important to note that even with a paid ticket, you will be unable to get close to the stones and you will never be able to touch them.

The cheaper alternative is to do the 2km walk to Stonehenge. Without a ticket, you may have to pay to park. Once you are within sight of the stones, you will see the crowds in the paid section. There is actually a small, heritage trail that runs parallel to the paid trail. This is free for the public. This trail is further back from the stones compared to the paid area but not by much. It’s a great free alternative to see the stones. You can read up on the history of the stone formation online and then check them out for free!

Whilst we were there, we did see some vehicular roads that get quite close to Stonehenge. If you don’t have a great desire to walk and don’t need to get close, it might be worth using your GPS and driving around the area. It is probably possible to get a good view from the road and then perhaps pull over for some photos.

Stonehenge – the view from the free path isn’t bad at all.
Stonehenge – free walking track to the left. On the other side of the fence on the right is the paid section.
Stonehenge – note the crowds of people to the right of the stones. They can’t approach the stone either!

A visit to Windsor Castle is also an easy day trip from London. This castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Once again, pre-booking of tickets is recommended on busy days as they do sell out. Tickets are around £28-30/adult.

WIndsor Castle
WIndsor Castle

London is not dismal!

All across the world when you speak to someone about their home country, you will get a stream of negativity. I have seen this from Australians, Canadians, Germans and now the English. You could argue that there can’t be anything too terrible by this list of countries. They are affluent, high-functioning, first world nations and not war torn, famine-stricken back-waters. In the UK, the most common reaction when a local finds out you have relocated there from the paradise that is Australia is “but WHY!!?? It’s DISMAL here!”

Dismal, what a horrid word and what a sad sentiment to say about ones own country. Defined as causing a mood of gloom and depression. Common synonyms are bleak, cheerless, desolate, dreary, and gloomy.

No country is without it’s problems, big or small. This is the case with the UK. Things are tough for many in the UK. Energy costs are high and inflation is high and yes, the weather is often grey and rainy. In London, the city is grimy, the rental market is insanely competitive and the cost of living vs average earnings makes things very difficult. You could also argue that politicians are lousy people no matter what country you are in. Nevertheless, there is plenty to be positive about.

Big Ben – looking spectacular on a gorgeous blue sky day!

It could be argued that without having some bad times you don’t appreciate the good times as much. Similarly without experiencing some grey and drizzly weather, you don’t appreciate the gorgeous sunny, blue sky days. Weather reporting in the UK is unreliable (apparently there are good meteorological reasons for why forecasts are more difficult in this part of the world). There have been many a day that have been predicted to be rainy but all of a sudden, the clouds will part and the sun and spectacular blue skies emerge. The side effect of the drizzle and rain is a beautiful shade of lush greenery here in the UK. This is something that someone who has lived in the dry parts of Australia really appreciates.

Anyway, the worst of the winter is over and there are the most glorious signs of spring everywhere. There are snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils. The cherry blossoms have come out and they are so enchanting, that it is impossible to say that London is dismal!

Cherry Blossoms in London – Aldgate Square
Snowdrops – the first harbinger of spring!
Turn the snowdrop over! There are all kinds of variations on the inside of the flower. A hidden secret! Exquisite!
Purple Crocuses near Horses Guard Parade
Springtime Daffodils

If you are sick of the cold, grey London weather, one of the best things is that London is a major transport hub. From here, there is so much of the globe which is easily accessible. Perhaps a short trip to the south of Spain for some warmth and Moorish architecture!

London is a massive city and the result is a melting pot of diversity. A huge number of people from all over the world live and work here and also plenty of tourists. The result is a dynamic city with lots of diverse, delicious choices to tickle your fancy in food and events.

An array of paella at the Portobello Road Markets
A lion dance during Chinese New Year blessing a restaurant for a good business year ahead.

There are plenty of other advantages of living in a big city. There are plenty of free and paid events, performances and lectures. There is also loads of opportunities to meet interesting people. The population density also means that the apps like Olio, that helps to reduce food and non-food waste work really well.

Olio is an app which helps prevent waste. Food Waste Heroes collect food which can no longer be sold and help to distribute it into the community. On this night, we got all these lovely Pret items for nothing.

London is very famous for it’s theatre scene. There are so many shows which are playing that the competition is fierce and the talent and quality of the productions outstanding. Whilst it may seem expensive to go to a big name show, there are plenty of ways to score a cheap(er) ticket.

West End Production of Sylvia based on the life of famous feminist activist Sylvia Pankhurst.

London is full of iconic sights. It’s hard to feel dismal when you look up and you see something majestic like Tower Bridge.

Tower of London
Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace
Victoria Memorial – crowds anxiously waiting for the changing of the guards
A great view of St Paul’s Cathedral from One New Change
City of London Skyline
Tower Bridge – often mistaken for London Bridge. It was painted in browns during the war to minimize visibility to protect it from bombing but was painted since in white, red and blue to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. An iconic sight in London. Yet, before it was built, there were a huge number of competition entries as to the type of bridge that should be built across the Thames that can allow ships to go through. This bridge could have looked and operated in a completely different way! That’s the beauty of design! Different ways to achieve the same outcome!
Glass walkway on Tower Bridge. You can see the cars and river go past below!
These old motors used to be the way that Tower Bridge was raised to allow boats through. The system has been upgraded and these are no longer being used.
London City Hall
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

In addition to the iconic sights are the hidden gems. Walk around, look up, look around and you may see something interesting. Here are some cool places and things in London that I’ve accidentally stumbled across whilst wandering about.

The Iconic Lloyd’s building
Westminster Cathedral
Triton and Dryads Fountain – Regent’s Park

The people in London are kind and friendly people. This has been unexpected. It has not been difficult to meet people who have transitioned from being new acquaintances to being friends.

The public health system in the UK is dysfunctional at times but is free and is very good. The medical staff do their absolute best and are kind, supportive and competent.

When you need to get out of London, the UK is a big country with centuries of history to explore.

Castle Acre Castle
Bailey Gate, Castle Acre built in about the year 1200 and you can drive through it today!

No place is perfect. There will always be good and bad. Hopefully you can look around your life and there are some positive things, some joys, however small in size and that things are not dismal for you.