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How to survive in London as a Northerner

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As stereotypical as it may be, it's a well known fact: Northerners don't - or shouldn't - like London.

It's full of pollution and angry people, nobody speaks to each other, pints cost a fiver and a piece of your soul, and from personal experience there's just not. enough. gravy. I come from a place up t'North where I once had a good ten minute conversation in a Sainsbury's aisle with a stranger about tupperware, whereas in the South it seems pretty difficult to even crack a smile out of a kid in Hamleys.

To be honest, frankly the worst and most heart wrenching sight I've seen recently in London is a Greggs and a Waitrose in the same vicinity. Greggs doesn't deserve this.

Everything adds up to theoretically make London my idea of a living hell - so why do I secretly love it?

Perhaps it's the slice of tranquility served up at Primrose Hill, or the way the city lights shine over the Thames in the evenings. The abundance of art galleries and independent start-ups, the diverse and multi-cultural population that make up the fabric of the city, or the tear-jerking yet heart warming Bowie memorial besides Brixton Market.

Maybe it's how even though London is notorious for the lack of eye contact and friendly just-because conversation between its residents, there's a hugh sense of pride and community, especially in times where unity and togetherness is needed.

Looking between the lines and dissecting the stereotypes, it's not all that bad. So, for the Northerner willing to try not to tear out their hair in the capital, here's some tips on where to go and what to do.

Where to go for: Gravy

CLEARLY this is the MOST important part, so it's going first.

If you're a Southerner reading this article, did you know that we Northerners actually bathe in gravy? It also makes up 60% of our bloodstream. The first time I ever had a roast dinner in London it was at a pub in Bethnal Green, and without exaggeration, there was a teaspoon of gravy. Not only that, but they had poured this said teaspoon of gravy into the bowl-plate before putting any food on it. When I have gravy I want it to be poured over everything in mass amount the waves that Moses created, I don't want a paddling pool.

However, my dreams came true when I visited Number 90 in Hackney Wick, who not only offered the most beautiful veggie roast I've ever tasted (sorry, mum) but gave us a boat of gravy and even said "if you'd like any more just let us know". It was honestly pornographic. Though a couple of points are deducted for serving wine in a tumbler with a straw.

Where to go for: Grass

I should point out here I'm talking about actual, real, you-can-sit-on-it grass - I'm not pushing drugs. Despite London being built up to the sky (and down to the pits of hell around the Central Line) there's so many parks to sit, relax and start appreciating nature again. My personal favourite place to sit is Primrose Hill above Regents Park, which boasts a view hard to compete with. Take along a very alcoholic picnic to relax in a true Northern manner.

Where to go for: Cool shit

So I think that Leeds and Manchester still win for the 'cool shit' award, but London isn't short of its hipster cafes, vintage paradises and independent shops. We Built This City on Carnaby Street offers London souvenirs created by independent artists - a refreshing break from the I Love London t-shirts and bedazzled Union Jack purses. Mixing music, culture and travel inspired designs, there's something for everyone no matter where you're from.

Brick Lane and Shoreditch High Street have an abundance of independent boutiques selling all sorts, from vintage clothing to second hand records to artisan doughnuts.  

Where to go for: Cheap, comfortable accommodation

Staying at YHA St. Pancras felt like the perfect location. Situated opposite the Kings Cross / St. Pancras stations not only did I not have to lug my bags across London on tubes packed full of people who look at you weirdly if you as much bring a handbag on board, but I was then a short ride away from everywhere I wanted to visit with access to the Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria, Circle, Hammersmith and Metropolitan lines.

As Northerners it takes a lot to squeeze a pound coin out of our hands, but this hostel doesn't break the bank with beds from just £17.00 and super-friendly staff - priceless.

It does turn out that London isn't that bad after all, and actually - I like it a lot. Just don't tell anyone I said that.

Lucy travelled to London with YHA. National Student readers can get 10% off YHA stays with code NATSTU-017 so start your adventure today.

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