words that don't exist in English: British flag

10 delightful words that don’t exist in English – but should

There are few nations preoccupied with social decorum as deeply as the Brits. We can have entire conversations consisting solely of the word ‘sorry’, we express our anger by apologising and when we’re really rageful we do such radical things as refusing to offer tea.

Our inability to cope with testing social situations is perfectly summed up in this delightful anecdote by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author, Douglas Adams.

English is a rich and diverse language but, alas, in some situations it leaves us lacking. Here, we describe 10 foreign words that don’t exist in English each of which perfectly describes a very real predicament. Continue reading

7 cultural faux pas in London

On every corner: the extraordinary history of London

London lacks many things: picnic weather in July, a resilience to winter snow, an effective solution to the hipster invasion. What it does have in abundance – more so than almost any other city in the world – is an inexhaustible well of intriguing history. It spills forth from domes and spires, flows amid the currents of the River Thames, and rushes through the veins of our subterranean network.

In fact, so bountiful and broad is the history of London, one could easily walk past something different every day without realising its significance. Here we list 10 extraordinary historical sites hidden beneath a banal facade. Continue reading

London Bridge at night-time

Hello, London

We’re home.

We bid farewell in August last year. Seventeen countries, four continents, one international date line, and a complete circumnavigation later, we’re home.

Things are different. Boris bikes are red now. The Tories have a majority. And Robert Peston grew hair.

Men seem taller. Women are more glamorous but perhaps I only think this after a year in hiking gear. Heels. God, they feel amazing. Suddenly I’m elegant again. And then of course they hurt but, hell, they’ll get me from Charing Cross to Sagar where I’m meeting friends for dinner. Continue reading

City life: how not to let it crush your soul

As our year of travel enters its final month, I find my nerves jangling at the thought of returning to London. My hometown is a big, rambling concrete jungle with few manners on display. Ask me to describe a scenario typical to, say, Samoa and I would tell you how Samoans constantly swap seats and rearrange themselves on buses to make sure as many people as possible have a seat, usually even offering their own laps (see #4 of 5 surprising facts about Samoa). Continue reading

16 ugly buildings I actually sort of love

I’ve spoken before of my part-time love of architecture. I openly admire Gothic and Art Noveau but secretly I’ve always loved Brutalist. I say ‘secretly’ because Brutalist buildings are ugly – seriously ugly – but there’s also a bleak and haunting beauty amid the ugliness. Here are my favourite Brutalist structures (sometimes known as ugly buildings) from around the world.

In general, I have plucked images from Wikipedia rather than using artsy, filtered shots from funky angles, so that I can showcase the true horror of these structures. Tell me what I missed in the comments below. (Or call me a philistine devoid of any taste whatsoever.) Continue reading

Farewell,-London

Farewell, London

Today is our last day in this blustery city we call London. It feels strange, particularly for me as it’s the only city in which I’ve lived. Peter has moved around – Norwich, Cambridge, Northampton – but for me London has always been home. It’s where I made my friends for life, where I graduated, where all my nieces and nephews were born, where my father passed away, where I fell in love, where everything I hold dear resides. Continue reading

London Underground rules

London Underground rules

As we approach our last journey on the awful/amazing London Underground, we publish a primer for the uninitiated…

Ah, so you’ve arrived in the City of London, the land of tea, crumpets and people who say sorry a lot. The land of Notting Hill and Love, Actually and bumbling gentlemen who blush when complimented. The city of Yeoman Warders and the Queen’s Guard, and quirky social rituals that are just so charmingly English. Continue reading