Shocking stuff

I want, in these blogs, to give simple, practical and, hopefully, reassuring information to visitors to London. I know, as a solo traveller, that there are always things you don’t understand about how things work in a new place. If you come here, you should have a great time for every minute you are here, not spend hours worrying about how buses work, for example.

Then you see blogs and videos from others giving information too. Some are good, others not.

There is one by a large American guy with a pony tail, I won’t say a name, who makes a lot of travel videos that are either “don’ts” or “shocks”. These are accompanied with videos of his young children messing about in whatever place it may be he is talking about, highly inappropriate in my mind for many reasons.

One of his past London shocks was, it’s a big city. The implication is, it’s unmanageable. For someone who claims to have been coming here over twenty years, not realising it is a big city looks like bad research. Anyone coming, even for the first time, must surely realise that a population approaching 9 million is not small.

One of his don’ts was, don’t be surprised if you don’t understand what British people say. No-one does.

Now… If he had said, ‘as you travel the country you will find strong accents in some places that can be a little hard to follow at first’, I would agree, and say of course, just as in the USA. But to say no-one understands them…? You wouldn’t say that about France, because, if you don’t understand French, it’s all impenetrable.

Another don’t was, don’t be surprised if you find British food that is almost edible. British food has improved, and it may still not be good, but it’s possible to find something to eat, maybe.

I could point out that most high streets are dominated by American chains, McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Starbucks, Pizza Hut and so on.

There is great food in this country, and there is slop, just like anywhere else. You get what you pay for. There are world class standard restaurants and caf├ęs. If you are coming to the UK, don’t just go for McDonald’s everyday. Try pubs, local restaurants. there is great variety. Let’s not condemn all UK food equally.

I agree there are chain restaurants that can be awful, but others that are great and good value. There are small, family run places that will treat you to some of the finest food you will have ever. And there are the tourist traps.

And, just because it’s not American does not mean it’s wrong.

YouTube etc

I do sometimes watch YouTube and similar sites. I look for videos that are instructional or informational mostly, or mathematical puzzles.

I immediately switch off (actually I ‘dislike’) if there are glaring spelling errors. You may think that’s harsh as I know people can have problems with spellings, but it seems to me that if you are setting yourself up as an ‘expert’ in some field, and know that you have word issues, it wouldn’t be that hard to spend an extra five minutes checking, or getting someone else to check, that the captions you include make sense.

I also hate when you pick a video that sounds helpful, like “How to do X”. You get through lots of crappy adverts and the person telling you to click subscribe and hit the bell, and lots of waffle about ‘sorry I haven’t done a video in a while because the cat had fleas’ and then you get to the substance. The first thing the presenter then says is “well, I’m not really an expert in this field…” by which time I am gone.

Even worse is when they contradict themselves.

There is a woman who does videos about Americans in London. I am not going to put a link, but you can find her easily enough if you really care.

One is about things not to do if you are having a short trip to London. It includes going up The Shard, and going on the London Eye (The Shard is the tallest building and the Eye is the big wheel, both giving you lovely views over the city and beyond).

Two reasons given are: expensive, but cheaper if you book in advance, and, weather may not be great and you may not see much.

Well, I could argue about those straight off. They are lots of money, but not as much as, say, the Empire State Building, which makes them look good value.

But there’s another video by the same person, about essential things to do while on holiday in London. The London skyline is “iconic” she says, so why not try the London Eye or The Shard.

Really…?

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone. It’s 2018.

So, what do we have to look forward to this year?

Winter Olympics seem to be the first major even of the year. The venue is South Korea. I always think I should enjoy winter sports more than I do. I remember as a child I liked watching bobsleigh, but things like ice skating leave me cold. There are some tough events where they go for long distances and then shoot things. There’s some football event, too.

There’s a Royal wedding coming up too. Prince Henry (aka Harry) marries Meghan sometime in May. They are saying that pubs will be open longer for people to celebrate. I don’t get that. What’s it do to with us when he’s getting married, except, I suppose, that we subjects actually pay for it. Oh, and yet another royal baby is due.

2018 will see the British Government sort out all the problems relating to Brexit. President Trump will visit the UK and will be universally hailed as the greatest president who has ever lived.

There will be some famous deaths. There will be terrorist attacks. There will be at least one major disaster where hundreds of people get killed.

Hmm. How long is it to Christmas?