Tag Archives: london

Thoughts for Friday – 10th July 2015

cliffhangerI left you on a cliff-hanger last weekend, hinting that my week in London was an eventful one and believe me, it was.

I’d had a decent enough weekend, including a raucous day at college on the previous Friday. Fresh from my Fire Theory training, I attended my college course, not really sure to expect but nervous about the fact that I would have to deliver a fifteen minute microteaching session.

A microteaching session is basically a condensed version of a normal teaching session, whereby timing is all important. If you overrun in a microteaching session, you lose more marks than you would for losing your train of thought or even just blatantly giving a wrong answer to a question.

After speaking to my college tutor, I decided to do a microteaching session on CPR because, as you know, everyone likes a good pump and a blow…

Firefighter-uniforms-Fire-002My microteaching session went very well and I also got to take part in the sessions delivered by my college buddies. The great thing was that we all came from different industries and so I got to try my hand at different activities and skills. I learned to play Malteser football, had my eyebrows threaded, attempted to make a braided bracelet and most exciting of all, I got to dress up as a fireman (woman).

Our college group consisted on nine women and one man, who just happened to be a fit and hunky fireman, so you can understand our excitement when he told us that we’d get to feel the weight of his equipment and touch his helmet…

It’s fair to say that his equipment was heavier than I expected, but we had a lot of fun dressing up in all the gear and looked like a female version of the Village People by the time we’d finished.

England_London_House_of_Parliament__2_I was feeling good at the start of the week and dare I say it, looking forward to a week in London. That was until I received a call at 8.30am on the Monday to inform me that there was an issue with my accommodation for the coming week. It turns out that the hotel I’d been booked into was far too expensive and so the room was cancelled, leaving me with nowhere to stay.

Cue a massive panicked scramble and finally a hotel was found that wasn’t at an extortionate nightly rate. I had a look on Google maps and assumed that North Acton (where I was staying) wasn’t that far from Canning Town (the venue I was delivering in). I assumed that everything would be fine.

black_cabI caught the train from my local station and arrived at London Waterloo just after 4pm and, due to the amount of luggage I was carrying, I caught a taxi outside the station and asked the driver to take me to my hotel in North Acton. I had assumed that it wouldn’t be more than about £25 for the taxi fare, and although the driver was a lovely guy and we had a great chat, I was alarmed to find out that the fare was the best part of £40.

The hotel I was staying in was situated literally outside the Tube station and I managed to find a pub walking distance so that I could at least get a decent meal (I was in a hotel that had no restaurant). I slept terribly that first night, probably due to the fact that I had no idea what to expect with my first time delivering in London.

london-underground_00267878It took an hour each way to get to and from my hotel to the training venue and loaded down with bags and battling the rush hour commute both in the mornings and evenings, I was starting to get a little frazzled by it all.

I did arrive at the venue in decent time on the first day and had hoped for a good group and a good week, however, you know that when your first joke of the day falls flat that it’s going to be a long week…

I had a mixed group of people, some of whom were obsessed with the sound of their own voice and prolonged the sessions and then complained at how long the day was. Then there was the pair of learners who turned up over an hour late and whom I allowed to stay and then complained that the venue was too far away for them. That’s an issue for their manager, not the poor trainer who has absolutely no say in where sessions are held, so why leave it on MY feedback form?!

dear-lordPeople on the London Underground are some of the most ignorant and rude people you’ve ever met. Even though I was loaded down with bags, looked in pain (because I was) and uncomfortable, not one person got up and offered me their seat and so I stood for an hour each day, every day with one exception when a group of students from Texas boarded the Tube train. Even though I only spent a few minutes with them, they were the nicest bunch of kids and made sure that everyone made room for me to get off at my stop.

Leave it to foreigners to be the politest people on the Underground…

Somehow I got through the first few days, trudging back and forth from one side of London to the other. I enjoyed a lovely meal on the Wednesday night and felt relieved that that I wouldn’t have to battle the Underground the next day, knowing that I had pre-booked and pre-paid a minicab to get me from the hotel to the venue.

Just one more session to get through and then I could go home and put a trying week behind me. I was over the worst, wasn’t I?



Filed under Thoughts for Friday

Thoughts for Friday – 12th December 2014

londonLondon, the nation’s capital. Everyone wants to visit London at least once in their life, don’t they?

Believe me, when you’ve commuted to London as many times as I have this year, the sparkle of the city soon wears off. Where I once used to marvel at the historic landmarks, now I pass them by without a second thought, so focused on my end goal of getting through rush hour relatively unscathed.

Almost 80% of the journeys I have made to London this year have been for business purposes which means that I have to battle other commuters when it comes to reaching my destination in the middle of rush hour. From the minute your board the train, it becomes a game of cat and mouse as to who will get a seat and be able to enjoy the commute to London in relative comfort.

It’s usually about halfway to London that the trains get really busy. Gone are all the spare seats as commuters unfortunate enough to be only a few stops from London Waterloo Station are forced to stand for the last forty minutes or so of the journey. This often means that, even if you are lucky enough to have found a seat, you’re likely sat next to someone with a hideous cold or questionable hygiene standards. Sometimes, you even get the kinds of jerks who speak loudly on their mobile phones, despite the fact that they are sitting in the designated ‘quiet zone’ of the train.

The aisle seats are usually the last to fill up and this is mainly because every Tom, Dick, and Harry will wander up and down the aisle with their multitude of briefcases and backpacks, merrily swinging them to and fro and hitting you in the face. Sometimes, you me even be fortunate to cop an elbow in the face if you really play your cards right.

It’s then a mad dash to get off the train, through the ticket gates and to your next destination: the London Underground. Believe me, you’ve never seen anything quite like hundreds of commuters pushing and shoving their way down the escalators and through the ticket gates. I have literally seen grown men and women barge both pensioners and young children out of their way should their poor unsuspecting victims have been deemed to be walking too slowly.

6f677770-3c18-11e1-8d72-00144feabdc0.imgThe Underground at rush hour is an experience to behold, and something that will stay with you for many years, perhaps even requiring a course of therapy in order to get over the trauma. Have you ever played that silly drunken game of ‘How many people can you fit into a really small car’? The Underground at rush hour is much like this, as masses of commuters attempt to take up every available square inch of the carriages. This often means that you’ll get up close and personal with a complete stranger’s armpit, get germs coughed all over you, while also running the risk of someone dipping their hand into your bag or coat and pilfering your belongings.

I’ve probably made London sound like the last place on Earth that you’d ever want to visit, but I am fairly sure that most big cities are the same. It’s rare that anyone traveling through London will ever smile at you as you walk past, let alone say hello. I’ve found myself becoming used to the commute to London and had almost forgotten about being polite or gracious to others as I ran through Underground stations to get to my destination on time. That was until a homeless man outside one of the tube stations smiled at me and wished me a ‘happy Thursday’. I rooted around in my coat pocket for some spare change to give him and he held his hand up and shook his head. “I don’t want no money. Just wanted to wish a lovely lady a good d13936jay.”

Stunned, I somehow made it to my meeting on time with a reminder that sometimes it doesn’t cost anything to make someone’s day. That very afternoon, after a hairy commute back to London Waterloo, I sat on the train waiting for it to depart when I woman came up to me who was clearly nervous and told me it was her first time in London on her own. I invited her to sit next to me and confirmed that she had indeed boarded the correct train that would take her home.

We sat and chatted about this and that and my new friend commented that she was terrified to take her phone out and make a call in London on the off-chance that someone would snatch her bag. She told me that London seemed like a scary city to be in on your own and wondered how I dealt with it. Her parting words when she departed the train at her destination made me smile as she told me that ‘perhaps there were some helpful and friendly faces in London after all.’

pay-it-forwardHaving been reminded by a homeless man with barely a penny to his name, making someone’s day and paying a good deed forward is a gift more precious than any money can buy.


Filed under Thoughts for Friday