Fire!!

So, it’s November, another year nearly gone.

For those who are visitors from other worlds, let me tell you a few things about this time of year.

We don’t really do Halloween. Well, some families do, and you will see skulls and pumpkins around, but mostly not.

We do do Bonfire Night. November 5th. Fireworks and a big bonfire.

When I was little, we had our own, as did most families. They were generally disappointing and also somewhat unsafe, so I think most people go for one of the public ‘organised’ events, like Alexandra Palace. As the big day is a school day, I imagine most events will be this weekend. A quick look online will help. I haven’t looked, as I am elsewhere anyway, but down by the Thames is often good.

Kiddies used to make a pretend man, a ‘Guy’, who would get burned, based on Guy Fawkes. They would ask for a “penny for the Guy”, but you don’t see that any more (if you do, and they have made an effort, you can give them some change). If you don’t know what it all celebrates, look here.

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Card clash

If you are using public transport in London, you can use an Oyster card or a contactless credit or debit card. Yes, you can also use mobile devices with eg Apple Pay.

You often see people putting their wallets directly onto the readers. If these contain more than one card that could be used to pay for travel, it is possible that the wrong card is chosen by the machine, or no card or all cards are used. This is the so-called card clash.

Do avoid it by carefully taking your card out before using it.

https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/oyster/using-oyster/card-clash

Bank holiday

The end of August brings us a bank holiday. It is the last public holday until Christmas.

I don’t believe it celebrates anything in particular, just the end of summer.

It used to be that banks and other shops closed on these days. Travel was disrupted. The world came to a halt.

Now it’s less so. You may find that some train lines are closed for engineering work. Museums or shops will probably be open, but do check. Transport sometimes operates a different, reduced service.

If you are visiting during the last weekend in August, and have plans, do double check your plans are not affected.

The big red one

We know that a large number of London visitors come from the USA, and, unless you live in a big city, you will be more used to driving and less used to public transport, certainly on the scale found in London.

Bus travel is really great if you are not in a hurry. You get to see lots of sights in relative comfort. But getting onto a bus is not the simplest thing in the world if you are not used to it, and drivers are typically not helpful.

So, here are a few practical tips.

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