After substantive research and price comparisons, I have today acquired:
1. 1 x Double duvet (ie: ‘doona’ in Australian)
2. 2 x pillows
3. 1 x Mattress protector
4. 2 x pillow protectors
5. Double duvet cover, pillow cases and fitted sheet set
6. Towel set including two face washers, two hand towels and two bath towels
Total cost: £31.00 (A$71.70). Not bad.
* I have had to slow down my normal walking speed in London. People here walk FAR too slowly. Given I had to walk more slowly in Queensland in comparison with Melbourne, I’d say my walking speed here is about the pace of a constipated snail.
* I hate smokers and there are too many smokers in London. Most of them seem to be European, which is more an indication that Europeans need to be delivered a decent anti-smoking campaign than anything else.
* Buildings in London are heated FAR too much. The average temperature of buildings here is about 30 degrees. You sweat when you are inside. It’s stupid and wasteful, and I am sweltering in a tank top most evenings here in my flat (with a system I can’t control much, and the window *open* it’s so hot in here). Stop it, Londoners. You live in a cold climate. Stop trying to be Australian indoors. Perhaps then you will reduce your carbon footprint.
* Check-out people at supermarkets are essentially lazy. They sit at their terminals (something I approve of, instead of standing the way they do in Australia), but they don’t help you put your things in bags and they expect you to hand over money, pack your bags and get away from their terminals all at once. It strikes me as actually pretty rude. Don’t get me wrong – I actually like packing my stuff. But if they gave me a bag that was open and I could put my stuff in without having to pick bags up off the counter, struggle to open and then have to catch up with the array of goods that are essentially thrown at me with little regard for how things are being squashed, and the check-out person belligerantly demanding money simultaneously, then it may in fact be a little more pleasant.
* On normal days, Londoners are far too demanding of their public transport service. They have what is possibly the best public transport system in the world (with the exception of their lack of transport on Christmas Day) and the fact that illness and lack of staff may delay a service for 10 minutes is not cause to complain loudly to remaining staff who are trying their best to accommodate problems with the system. Sit down, shut up and wait. You have no idea how lucky you are to have a service that runs at least once every 15 minutes (and more commonly, once every 2-3 minutes).
* London is heaven for those of us who live off Lean Cuisines in Oz. Pretty much everywhere has microwaveable dinners which are both tasty and reasonably priced. I so don’t need a stove here. (Well at least, not until I move to my next place!)
* For anyone setting up in London, you need to know a few things:
(i) Argos (http://www.argos.co.uk/) is your friend. Think Kmart, only you don’t actually look at the goods in a store. You just order them online and pick them up from your nearest store, which is a narrow shop front with a distribution centre at its back. So it’s pick-up only.
(ii) Primark is also your friend. This is basically ‘Best and Less’ only the quality of the clothes and homewares is actually pretty fabulous. Same stock too: clothes, sheets, towels and the occasional doona, pillow, blanket or cushion.
(iii) There is no Bunnings Warehouse. And no rehabilitation centre for its loss, either. However, there are little individual tool shops dotted all over the place, and where they fail, you can try Homebase (http://www.homebase.co.uk/) which is like Argos, only more home-oriented, or try some electrical stores which are also everywhere.
(iv) The equivalent of Dick Smith Electronics is probably Curry’s Digital, and the equivalent of Tandy is probably Maplin. I haven’t found a JB Hi Fi equivalent yet.
(v) If you migrate here you can’t register for a General Practitioner until you have a job. You can’t get a job without a bank account. You can’t get a bank account without a letter from a recruitment agency. Therefore, do as I did, and register with a recruitment agency, even if you have a job. It’s just easier. Plus you get a free UK sim card for your mobile phone with £5 credit on a pay-as-you-go account. Sweet.
(vi) Don’t even think of travelling without an Oyster card in London. Everything uses them (underground and overground trains, buses, trams and so on), and they are half the price of a travel ticket. Also, when you get through Customs at the airport, don’t follow the signs to the ‘Trains’, which in Terminal 4, lead you to the left of the exit from Customs. Instead turn right, and go as far as you can until you see the sign directing you to the Tube. The fare will be £4 (on Oyster) instead of £14.50 for a single journey. No 20 minute time saving is worth £10.50 (A$23.90).
* Vegemite is everywhere, though it is expensive. A 220g jar will set you back about £2.10 (A$4.75). Worth it. And Berocca is stocked in every Superdrug store. So your Vitamin B levels should be fine. Probably worth getting some Vitamin D tablets for winter though. And light deficiency is a problem. Even at Tube stations there are advertisements everywhere for light supplement devices. The Philips Wake Up light (http://www.wakeuplight.philips.co.uk/) is being sold everywhere. But it’s the BriteBox and other Seasonal Affective Disorder Light Therapy devices that will probably be more effective. Even buying a simple infrared heat lamp (see, for instance here) for your standard reading lamp will get you the heat and light you need to overcome most symptoms of light deprivation with 30 minutes exposure per day.
I think that’s it. More observations will be added as I go on. I am beginning to think there should be a book on these kinds of tips. This is the kind of information that should be available for Aussies in London and isn’t. Any publishers interested?