Monday, August 31, 2009

Notting Hill carnival

Okay, let's start:

At first area is rather, well, soviet:

Not actually a problem because soon you reach Kensington and Chelsea borough... to find shops and yards all boarded up:

Minutes later, you understand why:

Wait, what's the ...

Nevertheless, it was great to be there:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

August 27th

Kuwait: British soldier was kidnapped at knifepoint by muslim fanatics

Essex: Muslim leader was kidnapped at knifepoint by white racists

Luckily, Lord shows not only perverted sense of humour but mercy as well: both of them survived.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Accomodation 2

Nondescript doors that can be seen to the left of London shop fronts lead to living flats above ground floor commersials. Carpeted staircases behind are rather narrow and a group of visitors can take them by single file only - not just for more comfort but it is the only way possible. Landings between step flights are also tiny. Actually, they can hardly be found.

All this can suprise a Russian person with a habit for towers housing. There is no even a "pod'ezd" as we understand it, more likely a common corridor in a communal flat! Thankfully, usually there are no more than four or five flats in such houses so collisions aren't an obstructive problem.

Another distinctive type of inexpensive London accomodation are two-storied so-called victorian houses, which are also partitioned to flats often. These recognizable buildings and those can be seen on link above together form the face of 2nd and 3rd city zones.

Though buildings are easy to classify, flats planning in the alike houses is seldom repeated and can be totally unpredictable, so there can be nice suprises. For example, our flat boasts ceiling window - almost an impossible feature for inexpensive housing in Moscow.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Transportation 2

Another thing that suprises a newcomer is about those famous doubledecker buses. Maybe it is just me stagger while the problem is not that serious, but it was funny for me to find myself stuck for a moments with this.

The story begins when you first find lower deck overcrowded and hear driver continuously asking passengers to move upstairs. Well, that's the chance for you as an impression greedy visitor and you take the stairs looking forward to experience a bit of London romance.

And these expectations to face something new turn out to be truth, because upper deck is really something different. First, usually it is more dirty there. While food scraps, unfinished drinks in deformed cans and paper cups, etc. are rarely seen below, on the upper deck it is usual for the rubbish to be found. Second, things are less private there, I mean, people don't care that much for they being loud on a phone or throwing something to their lads in the opposite corner, and so on.

Third, it takes time to get used to the street view from above - even familiar neighbourhood looks somehow different, with other, previously skipped details cathing your sight, so the stop you need might be easily missed.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


The post which is nearly forgotten in Russia is an essential part of everyday life in UK.

When you shop online your orders are delivered by post, not by third-party couriers even within the city (actually, post is the last option when doing same thing in Moscow). When you apply for some government or private service in many cases documents can be sent by post too without visiting the office. Your mobile operator sends SIM card to you in the envelope and so does your bank with your credit card. Your postcode is an obligatory field in the majority of personal web forms.

In other words, Royal mail is something people really use.

As to mobile communications, there are differences too. Most of the Russian people use pre-paid (or Pay As You Go as they say in UK) plans for their mobile phones. Here in UK it is for newcomers and tourists with most Britons using credit plans and paying monthly. One of the consequences is that you can't top up your account as easy as it can be done in Russia, i.e. using one of the numerous terminals, ATM or any nearest shop. In UK, you can't top up simply telling or entering your mobile number - you must have a special magnetic card with you that is associated with your number and is read to gain access to payments.

You can still top up with cash in some shops showing special signs or in the branches of your provider (don't forget your access card!) but often you can top up only with amount multiplying 5 pounds - i.e. 5, 10, 15 and so on, no way stations.

Of course, you don't have all those problems if you have local credit card - if you do, you can use any ATM for it or pay online (much easier than in Russia), or even set automatic withdrawal from your bank account as you run out of money (in three clicks again). The thing is that when you have all the necesary credentials to obtain a card from local bank, you don't need Pay As You Go system because Pay Monthly is also available for you.

Unfortunately I don't have much to say about internet yet but I will next week.

Friday, August 7, 2009




The differences comparing to Moscow are remarkable.

First, the borough has bigger impact on the rent rate than other factors i.e. property size and condition. As to Moscow, the only disparity is between central area and all the others, and in London for the same sum (600-650 pcm for instance) one can get a room with shared kitchen and bath, small but self-contained studio or a relatively spacious 1 bedroom (actually, 2 russian rooms) apartment - all depending on the city district.

Another difference to note is that shared flats and houses are much more popular. People can share property for years even being mid-aged professionals which is usually not in option in Russia. At the same time, they don't use to live with parents in London which is a common Russian custom.

City social structure is also not linear - expensive central boroughs are surrounded with cheaper and even slummy ones and then there is a ring of more expensive areas again. So, you can't simply judge by the distance.

Also, every flat has got it's own planning and layout here because typically the buildings are houses intended to be one big property but divided into smaller flats later. Projects and standard houses are either social subsidized or new suburbian development. There is a number of decent and even luxurous ones but not so many to make city's portrait. Typical London house has two or three floors with chaotic entrances, outdoor ladders and so on.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Why to relocate

By this moment there are at least two things here that I am totally and unreservedly comfortable with comparing to Russian analogues - I mean fonts and climate.