10 Things That Surprised Me In London

Last summer, I was an Au Pair in London. Before my arrival, I had heard a lot about the English weather, food and so on. After I came to the capital of England, I discovered that there were some small things which which I found strange, interesting or simply different from what I was used to. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be  surprising  to you.

1. Two separate taps

British home (not only in London) usually have got 2 separate taps in basins and sinks – one for hot water and for cold . Only in some houses have just one tap that you can switch to warm to avoid getting one blue hand and one red

2. Cultural diversity

There is  a variety of contrasting races and nationalities living in London. While walking on the street you can hear nearly all the languages of the world! Every sub-culture in the city is represented by its own specialty shops, restaurants and fashion stores.  Raynes Park, for example, is almost exclusively South African,while Chinatown is the centre for Chinese shopping and Tooting is dominated by Indian immigrants.

3. Marmite

Marmite is made from yeast and it’s a sticky, dark brown spread on bread that is extremely salty and savoury… As the company’s slogan says: “Love it or hate it!”

4. Dog-walkers

 There are a large number of dog-walkers in London. If you want to walk more than four dogs at one time, you need a special licence. In the majority of  parks and open spaces, the number of dogs that can be walked by one person is limited to four.

5. Foxes on the streets

If you walk on the street at night, you must be careful because you can meet…  foxes! There are loads of them in London and they’re quite brave around people. In some areas they walk up and down the road nosing through the dustbins and wail at each other all night!

6. Left side

English people not only drive on the left, but also walk on the left. While escalator etiquette usually matches the road rules, British convention strictly dictates the opposite – you stand on the right of the moving staircase. If you stand on the left of escalators in tube stations, you’ll get killed, especially if it’s rush hour

7. Playgroups

It’s very common for children under 5 living in London to attend various playgroups. A playgroup is a gathering of children in a similar age range along with parents or nannies. The group meets regularly either in someone’s home, a common space like a park, community center or even a church.

8. Buses
Basically, you need to wave your hand if you see a correct but – otherwise it won’t stop, even though it’s the centre of London. When you want to get off, you need to ring a bell in advance to let the diver know. When people get off the front door, they usually say  “Thank you, driver”

9. Pre-made sandwiches

I was surprised the British like pre-made and pre-packaged sandwiches.  Almost every grocery store, coffee shop and convenience store sells a variety of them. Despite the fact that the sandwiches are premade, they  come in a variety of options

10. Free stuff

Maybe it’s not really characteristic of London but I noticed that people living there leave on the streets a lot of interesting stuff- ranging from clothes to furniture. Once, when I was walking along the street with my host kid Lilka, we found a large toy (nearly 1.5 meters) – Winnie-the-Pooh.









AuPairGarden AuPairGarden
3 Responses May 21, 2012

Stuff isn't free - the toy was probably just dropped and mislaid and would probably be missed. Pre-made sandwiches - yes, but some of us make our own, but we are a bit lazy sometimes. And cultural diversity isn't as simple as that - there are pockets of people all over the place!

being from Britain the fact that you've noticed things that not even i have is endearing, i hope you enjoy your next stay

Where are you from? I'm from semi rural England and a couple of these things are different such as the buses you often talk to the driver thoughout the journey and you dont need to wave for the bus. Free stuff isn't given out here either and we have hardly any other nationalities in my local area. I have visted London many and I enjoy that it is so different xx