51 days 50 nights in London

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

2022 was the year of migration. The family relocated to the United Kingdom by the end of the year, around Christmas. We knew the perks and pitfalls of moving during the winter season. While we managed to see the Christmas and new year festivities, still weather was unwelcoming, and hence we got cold and flu. We had to spend the first week inside our apartment in London. On 7th Jan 2023, my wife and son returned to India (they will re-join in April), thus leaving me alone in a new city with its own advantages and disadvantages.

On 12th Feb, I completed my first 50 days in London and thought, why not jot down my experiences and share them with you. I must say, I was learning daily, both personally and professionally. Life was going on in autopilot mode in India; I had to reboot and learn everything afresh in a foreign country. But, it was my decision to move away from my comfort zone and do something different. Hence, no complaints. Let me share my initial learnings and observations with you.

Visit to famous places:

  • West-End – Watched one of the longest-running shows, The Mouse Trap, at St. Martin’s Theatre.
  • EPL – I am a big football fan especially The English premier league. Hence, i made a point to tick one of my bucket list items and watch Westham united play Everton FC live at the London Stadium.
  • The Lego Land – A theme park near Windsor. When Anant (my son) was with me during the initial days, we visited the theme park, and it was a wonderful experience.
  • London Museums – I visited Docklands, British, Science, Natural history, Victoria and Albert museums. What a collection and artefacts, i am speechless.
  • Reading visit – Reading is a beautiful town 40 KM west of London, situated between the river Thames and the Kennet. We are planning to live here in the future.
  • Parks – London has a lot of greenery and Londoners have options to go to various royal parks. I also visited Holland Park, Battersea park, St. James park and Green Park.
  • The Tower of London and the Tower bridge – officially His Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. One can see the crown jewels here.
  • Others – Some other attractions were Buckingham palace, Canary Wharf winter light festival, Camden Town, Notting Hill, Battersea power station, Greenwich park and an observatory.

Experiences specific to the UK:

  • UK education system – GCSEs, A-Levels, state vs private schools, Ofsted ratings, open mornings, catchment criteria etc.
  • Transport – Buses, cabs, Uber Boat, Trams, Underground trains, the overground, national railway, Oyster cards, contactless payments, split journeys etc.
  • Healthcare/Finance- Taxes, healthcare (NHS), Investments, GP registration, bank accounts, card payments, ATMs
  • Real Estate – Property portals (zoopla, rightmove, openrent etc), property viewing, making an offer
  • Weather – Weather forecasts, frigid and windy weather, short days and longer nights (sunrise at 8 AM, sunset at 4 PM), and less sunlight.
  • Walk – lots of opportunities to walk and cycle. I am clocking more than 15,000 steps a day and, as a result, lost a couple of KGs too.

What’s next?

  • Visit to the Wimbledon, Lords, Wembley stadium
  • Harry potter Studio
  • Already booked an evening with David Suchet (you know him as detective Hercule Poirot)

Any Surprises?

  • Thames not as clean as expected at places
  • Found a few baggers outside grocery stores like Tesco, TIDL etc.
  • Litter thrown at places
  • People crossing the road without signal to turn green for them

Overall, it has been a pleasant experience, and I am learning a thing or two every day. As a human beings, we have to keep ourselves upgraded every day.

Isn’t it?

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