A Yankees guide to good old London town

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London: A big city with a small town feel

I feel quite lucky to say that I have been living in London for three months now and I couldn’t be more pleased to have had this opportunity in such a beautiful city. After getting over the brutal truth that I nearly threw half of my savings account away after the conversion to GBP, I was able to fully enjoy this city and all that it has to offer. Although I have been here for three months, and have only a few weeks remaining, I can say with certainty that there are areas of the city that I won’t have the opportunity to see at all, for there are just too many bloody things to see and do! As author Samuel Johnson’s sums up perfectly, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life itself.” However, I have taken advantage of the many sites and bites that can be found in London and here I share with you my thoughts of this city.

From the double-decker buses, to the iconic red photo booths, there was no mistaking that I was in London when I stepped off the plane. At first, seeing cars drive on the wrong side of the road was nauseating, but after narrowly escaping death while crossing the street for the first time, I quickly realized the importance of paying attention to those conspicuous “Look Right à” signs painted at nearly every crosswalk (thanks for looking out for us London!). I love how walkable this city is, and the pieces of history that are scattered along every street keep me interested and continuously exploring. The streets are not overwhelming and the buildings do not loom high over your head, as they do in the new cities of America. Rather, the city feels manageable and inviting.

Let’s talk lingo. Behind that infamous accent, which still makes me feel like I am on set of a Harry Potter movie, lies some of the most interesting words in the (British) English language. I have found that it is impossible to pass a day without hearing “Cheers,” and “Mate.” I am fairly confident that Londoners are capable of using these two words in any situation, from toasting in the pub to saying “thank you.” Confusion abounded when I hear the word “quid” for the first time. Excuse me, was that “squid” or “quid”? (A quick Google search provided that answer for me). One of the most important lessons I had to learn was that “chips” mean French fries, and “crisps” mean chips. It’s all quite confusing.

It seems that all cities are bursting at the seams with tourist traps, and London is no exception. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I spent my first weeks here touring the famous sites in the city, took my Facebook picture (even got a few nice profile pictures out of the deal), realized the dodgy scene that is Leicester Square on a Saturday night, and learned the hard way that the Tube closes at midnight (this aspect I will never understand). However, it’s safe to say that my time after these initial explorations was much more memorable. I embraced pub culture, and have taken quite a liking to hard apple cider (I’m still wondering if this can be considered one of my five daily servings of fruit). London’s food markets are fantastic on the weekends, as are the vast parks and lawns. Some of my favorite memories from my time here were from my random adventures wandering the city and popping into various cafés, shops, and museums.

London seems to me like a giant neighborhood, where I have come to know the people in the stores and cafés I frequent weekly. There is a laidback atmosphere that blankets the city (as well as a shield of grey clouds most of the time) and I have come to appreciate the Londoners’ sense of humor and way of life. I am envious that so many of you call this place home, but I know that I will be back later in my life to see this constantly evolving city. Cheers!

This has been written by Lucas Piazza , one of the marketing interns at umi Marketing . I think he has a great job and hope you enjoy his guest post!

Londres, un sueño hecho realidad

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Our new intern at umi Marketing give you a Spaniards Guide to London… In Spanish! Enjoy!

El 5 de abril cumplí uno de mis sueños que era el de poder hacer las prácticas en Londres y si tengo la oportunidad me quedaré a trabajar.

La atracción que tengo por esta ciudad me viene desde el verano del 2005 cuando estuve un mes en Eastbourne estudiando inglés, a partir de ahí siempre dije que mi sueño era el de vivir en Londres y por ahora ese sueño se está haciendo realidad. Los que me conocéis sabéis que aquí soy feliz y  aunque esté lejos siempre estaréis muy cerca. Os agradezco vuestro apoyo que es fundamental.

Llevo 15 días en esta magnífica ciudad y, aparte de seguir con mi racha ya que siempre que estoy en Londres no llueve, estoy encantado de estar aquí tanto por la ciudad como en el trabajo y con mis compañeros de piso, pero de lo que voy a hablar es de Londres.

Desde el 2005 ha cambiado mucho como es normal en una ciudad tan grande como esta, pero desde que estoy aquí la noto muy alegre, no sé si será por la boda del Príncipe Williams y Kate Middleton o si es por  la proximidad de la Semana Santa o por los Juegos Olímpicos pero lo que sé es que la noto diferente.

Hay un dicho que dice “Si estás aburrido de Londres, estás aburrido de la vida” y es verdad porque aquí puedes hacer muchas cosas de lo más diverso, por ejemplo desde ir a ver un musical hasta ir a un museo, o desde  ir de compras a estar en un oasis natural en medio de la ciudad como es Hyde Park; en definitiva que es imposible aburrirse.

Si me dan a elegir mi lugar favorito de Londres te diría que es todo Londres porque no sabría decirte un sitio en concreto porque depende del momento y de la situación te diría un sitio u otro.

Dicen que uno se siente londinense una vez vive aquí da igual el tiempo que esté, yo me siento un londinense más y eso que llevo 15 días nada más, eso es por la manera que ves la ciudad, ya que la ves como si estuvieras mil veces en Piccadilly Circus o si pasearas por el mercado de Portobello Road todos los sábados,… no la miras como un turista que va despacio paseado por la ciudad más bien todo lo contrario, vas a mil por hora para no llegar tarde a trabajar y para llegar pronto a casa a descansar.

Lo único que no me gusta y es porque están en reformas para las Olimpiadas de año que viene, es que los fines de semana cierran algunas estaciones y líneas de metro pero si se quiere mejorar hay que sufrir con los cortes y los retrasos que eso acarrea.

Para acabar, quería deciros que si tenéis la oportunidad de estar unos días en Londres no dudéis en visitar esta magnífica ciudad porque vale la pena ya lo veréis.


Here are some Brighton Marathon Pics

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Hey guys please see here a few of the Brighton Marathon Photo from last week. As you can see it was a lovely sunny but very hot day in Brighton and there were loads of people out supporting all the runners which was fab. You can also see on the side of the page the charity widget with what we have raised so far. You can still donate through the widget!

Thanks for all those that supported and hope you like the pictures

A Bit of a Guide to Budget Eats in London

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Over the past ten years , London has become a real capital of food culture. from the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White and The Roux Family and their Michelin stars, to he world food clusters on Brick Lane and in China Town, London has food to meet everyones tastes and budgets. Here are a few of my tips to enjoy food in London without breaking the bank.

1) Markets – British Produce…. Yummy!

Having trained as a chef when I was younger, I have a personal love of visiting markets and have been fortunate to visit many around the world. Although the numbers of markets dwindled a few years ago there has been a recreant trend in the UK of supporting British produce and hence seeing a rise in popularity of food markets. Dotted around London are a number of once weekly food markets such as the Queens Park Farmers market on Sunday in North West London. One of The biggest and best near central London is Borough market. Why not catch the tube or a Boris bike down there, pick up some fantastic British produce (we even do wines these days!! And they are actually quite good (don’t tell the French !)) and enjoy your treats either by the Thames or in one of London’s many park. A great way to enjoy some food on a budget and also enjoy the outside spaces that are wonderful in spring or summer in London.

2) Michelin Stars on a budget …. never?!

But it is true! During the tough times of the previous few years, there has been an increasing trend of some very famous restaurants (even ones with Michelin stars!) to offer fantastic midweek, lunchtime (and sometimes dinner) set menus. A great website to see where the offers are is www.toptable.co.uk where you can see who is offering what and when. If you register with them you can even gain points so if you come to London a lot you maybe able to get a free meal next time! I have tried it myself and managed to go for a 3 course set lunch at a one Michelin starred restaurant in Central London for an amazing £30 or about US$45!

3) Vouchers and 2 4 1 s

Another result of the financial crisis in the UK has been for some of the bigger chains of restaurants to offer amazing 2 for 1 deals or even 50% of meals. The most famous chains doing these offers are the Italian themes Zizzi and Pizza Express that offer pretty much something new every month. Either sign up to their newsletter or go to website such as Voucher Cloud or My Vouchers Codes where you will find their offer along with many more.

4) Ye Good Olde English Public House – cheers Guv’nor One of the most popular thing to do for any tourist is a visit the great British Institution (not the Houses of Parliament or Buckingham Palace a d you are probably thinking) …. The British Pub. As the Brits tastes in food have improved over recent years , as has the quality of food served in the hundreds of pubs located in the London area. Notting Hill is a great area to wander around to see where some very famous people have lived (Jimi Hendrix to name one of many), catch the Portobello Market on the weekends, and more importantly explore a great cluster of fantastic pubs. two of my favourites are the Prince Edward And the Cow.

The Prince Edward is situated on Hereford Road , close to  Hyde Park and the trendy Westbourne grove. It serves great quality British fayre such as Fish and Chips and Sunday roasts as well as a few unusual specialities such as Wagyu Beef burgers. Serving a selection of British  ales (know as bitter by some publicans ) it is a great stop off the beaten track to catch a breath whilst exploring the area.

Another one of my favourites is an old favourites of many in the area … The Cow. go there on a sunny Friday evening as you will see throngs of the Notting Hill locals enjoy some wonderful Guinness served with succulent fresh Oysters and a pint of freshly steamed Prawns. Situated on Westbourne Park Road, it is a great place to grab a snack after a hard days sightseeing and shopping around Notting Hill or a great place to grab a snack before an evening out on the town .

5) My favourites food… Yum yum it’s dim sum!

I am a bit biased on this one. London is an amazing multi cultural city, that I have spent most of my 30 years on this planet, in. Since a very young age (about 3 years old) my favourite food has been Chinese. When I was about 14 years my sister introduced me to the wonders of Dim Sum, and my love for it has never wained. I don’t know if it is the social part of sitting round a large round table with friends and/or family or the fact that you can sample loads of little dumplings with a wonderful variety of fillings, or that when sharing with a number of people it works out as a great value lunch option 7 days a week. My two favourites for Dim sum are the Royal china on Baker Street or Pearl Liang in the Paddington Basin near paddington Station. Dim Sum is a lunchtime thing and is generally served between 12 and 5pm.

Another favourite part of my love of Chinese food is Chinese Roast meats (normally chicken , duck or pork). You can pick up a portion of missed roast meats (char Sui pork, roast pork belly and roast duck) with cabbage steamed rice and Chinese gravy for about £6. It fills you up and is extremely tasty. My two favourites for that are the Magic Wok on Queensway or the Green Cottage near Swiss Cottage Station.

Whatever you choose to do. I hope this helps and enjoy eating your way through London!


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