London is one of the biggest and most vibrant cities in the world. Many people in England (especially those living in the North) are understandably upset that nearly all politics and wealth seems to centre around London, rather than power being shared out equally. Some people think that a few Eton-educated MPs living for a while on a Newcastle sink estate could do them good! Did you know that Newcastle has not returned a Conservative MP for decades?
Having said that, it’s worth writing a separate post on London. Because although it has issues, what starts in London often trickles elsewhere. And there lots of wonderful things going on here, to bring back local community spirit.
London is actually more of a ‘large park’ (according to American fan Bill Bryson, most locals don’t appreciate that they live in one of the greenest cities in the world) divided into 32 villages, or boroughs. Of course you are going to find more greenery if you live in the wealthier outskirts of Barnes or Chiswick. But you don’t have to go far to find some green space.
The Orchard Project is now national, but began as a London charity. It has been re-planting a lot of the fruit and nut trees that have been lost to commercial land in recent years, teaching locals also how to look after the trees. Not only do you get free fruit, but this (and fellow London company Hawkes) will take donated apples, and give you free cider in return! The Edible Bus Stop is transforming ugly eyesores into beautiful local food landscapes.
Wildlife abounds here, from the endangered stag beetle (those big grubs you find in soil are baby stag beetles, so leave them alone) to red deer, in Richmond Park (there is controversy over the amount of money that is made from selling venison through deer culling: in Maryland, contraceptive devices work equally work with no cruelty). The pigeons at Trafalgar Square are not around so much, ever since Ken Livingstone tried to have them starved or attacked by hawks, but you can contact Save the Pigeons, who can help with any injured ones you find. Did you know that pigeons save street cleaning bills of an estimated £10 billion a year?
One area where London thrives is public transport. Just one purchase of a Freedom Pass (or if you’re disabled, a Taxicard) and you can more or less get around the whole city either for free or at low cost. It pays not to have a car sometimes, due to the congestion charge. And many people walk or cycle to college or work.