Happy Valentine’s Day, London-lovers! For those of you who love the UK so much that you’re moving to London, I’m continuing today from Friday’s post as a direct response to the second part of my previous mini-series, “Finding Your Comfort Zone After Relocating to London.” Whereas that two-parter addressed where Americans relocating to London, England can find a little bit of home in their new surroundings, this present one aims to embolden you to dip a toe outside that comfort zone.
So, to address the same categories I did in Part 2 of “Finding Your Comfort Zone” (which listed London venues and entertainment where American expats in London can get their Yankee fixes), here are some local counterparts:
Seriously, I wouldn’t know where to even begin listing off all the amazing restaurants in London by specific names, but I’ll see what I can do. First of all, British food has typically gotten a bad rap (perhaps regarded as a wee notch above the Irish and Scottish 😉 ), but when you relocate, you’ll taste it with new buds. I personally enjoy the traditional English fare to be found in pubs citywide (for examples, see “Speaking the Queen’s English [Food—Part 2]“); it’s the ultimate comfort food especially when ducking inside from cool, wet winter weather. “Gastropubs” offer a more gourmet touch to old favorites or new experiments—these are typically more upscale pubs (though many still have a cozy, laidback atmosphere) with a special license to serve their fine cuisine. Favorite gastropubs of mine include The Pembroke, The Easton, Duke of Clarence, The Peasant, and The Atlas.
Beyond British meals, I’ve said time and again that this is a city where you can really take advantage of ethnic cuisine. Restaurants devoted to food around the globe abound throughout the city in every neighborhood, but some concentrated areas where you can have fun sampling from Indian to Middle Eastern to Chinese include Brick Lane, Edgware Road, and Soho.
In addition to the popular stage plays and musicals to be found in the theatre district (Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, and The Strand, generally), don’t neglect off-West End theatres like The Old Vic Theatre (near Waterloo Station) and Shakespeare’s Globe (located at London’s original theatre district on the Southbank), or bargain tickets for stage shows at the Barbican and National Theatre. Conversely, you can enjoy some cheap pints and rock in any of the intimate music venues of Camden Town.
And where television entertainment is concerned, you’d be surprised, first of all, how many US shows derive from UK ones (see my post, “Moving to London: What’s on Your London Apartment Telly is Not So Foreign“), in addition to all the UK shows that are broadcast directly on the BBC America channel, like Gavin and Stacey and Top Gear. As for stations here, if you haven’t moved yet, you can peruse the websites of some popular ones like BBC, ITV, Living, and UKTV (which encompasses Blighty, Eden, Alibi, and Dave channels, etc.) and Sky‘s own channel offerings. Panel shows like QI, Mock the Week, and A League of Their Own are popular, as are reality shows like Come Dine With Me, Four Weddings, X Factor, and Got to Dance. I’m the first to admit I need to get properly acquainted with more UK fictional shows, as the abundance of familiar ones from home usually derail me (seriously, when is Two and a Half Men NOT on here?). But in addition to quality British comedy, the crime/sci-fi/thriller/paranormal genres are prevalent (my latest intrigue is the new Bedlam series), and if you’re one for soap operas, try out Eastenders and Coronation Street.
Again, the lists would get too long and never be fully exhausted, but hopefully this smattering of references gives you the general idea. As proud of your home culture as you may be, as an expat you do at some point have to adapt to your new locale—so move to London and step outside that apartment to learn what Britain has to offer so you have new, interesting things to write home about. 🙂