Listen to a Londoner: A Final Word

I was a Londoner for the last four years. It taught me infinitely more about the world and myself than I ever could have expected to learn if I hadn’t gone abroad. These four years, I will never, ever forget. But what it also taught me was that there is so much out there to explore and so I’m moving on to new adventures. Here I will use this last Listen to a Londoner to turn the tables and answer some questions from you guys.

Q1: Where is your next adventure leading you?
LLO: First to New York to see family and friends for about a month then a one-way ticket to Colombia for as long as it takes to decide whether I can make it my next home.

Q2: Will you ever move back to London?
LLO: Never say never, but as much as I do love London, I don’t have any plans to at the moment.

Q3: What is your reasoning for leaving?
LLO: There are a few reasons. One, for love and the invitation to move to Colombia. And two, because I need a change of pace. I need to feel grass on bare feet, look up to the sky at night and see stars and walk out of my front door without the chance of being trampled by commuters or hit by a double decker bus. I need a bit of stillness.

Q4: Was finding a job difficult in London?
LLO: While I did freelance work on the side occasionally, I had two main jobs while in London and both of them found me. I posted my CV on Gumtree and got called up for interviews. Granted that was back in 2007 and then 2008, so the situation is different now, but it’s not impossible if you’re flexible.

Q5: What brought you to London years ago?
LLO: Curiosity and obsession, I suppose. In 2004, I spent a semester abroad living it up in Knightsbridge and travelling on weekends so I had this idea of London as an ideal place. After I graduated I immediately came back to London to relive that fantasy, but of course real life kicked in!

Q6: What is the most influential part of London to you?
LLO: Not sure if you mean area or aspect, but if you mean area, definitely all around Brick Lane and if you mean aspect, then the diversity without a doubt.

Q7: Will you continue a blog where you are going?
LLO: Yes, it will be just like this one but in a different location. I will post the link in an entry here when I get one so check back around March or so. To bridge the gap, I have another blog now called Little Photography Observationist. Feel free to stop by and say hi!

Q8: How easy is it to make friends in London?
LLO: It’s very easy to meet acquaintances and people to hang out with. You meet them through flatmates, other friends, work colleagues and at random. But to make real true long-lasting friends is a lot more difficult because everyone seems to be on a visa that runs out sooner or later and they leave to be replaced by new friends. London is a transient place and though the people you meet are incredible and influential, they don’t always stick around. I was lucky and ended up with an incredible group of girls.

Q9: What is your favourite coffee shop?
LLO: I don’t drink coffee, but have two places I love to go for tea that also have coffee: Sacred Cafe on Ganton Street and 1001 Cafe on Brick Lane – both have amazing atmosphere, though very different from one another, delicious tea and yummy snacks. If I were to go for coffee, Monmouth is good and I’ve heard great things about Flat White in Soho, though I’ve never gotten around to going inside because it’s always too crowded for my taste.

Q10: Where is your favourite place in London to be alone, think, and escape the crowds?
LLO: A walk in Hampstead Heath is brilliant for all of that. The Thames path that runs down the southwest portion of the river is nice as well. Of course, these are summer activities, so in the winter, I will go down to the basement of Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street or have a hot chocolate in Scootercaffe on Lower Marsh Street near Waterloo.

Q11: As a writer in the city, what in London has inspired your writing the most while you’ve been here?
LLO: The diversity of the people and the details that are a result of this mixture of lifestyles – the smell of kebabs mixed with curry mixed with Japanese food and South African BBQ, the many languages that mingle in the air when you walk through a crowd, the tolerance and openness to try new experiences, the music of Jamaica and Ireland and India, celebrating the customs of all different cultures. There is a world in this city.

Q12: Top 5 things you will miss?
LLO: In no particular order and not including people:
1. Savoury muffins and relax tea at Sacred Cafe on Ganton Street
2. Street art around Shoreditch and Brick Lane
3. Diversity, people watching and walking around aimlessly with my camera
4. Walking through the market with a choice of lunch – Tibetan, Ethiopian, Moroccan, Brazillian, Japanese, Peruvian, Chinese, Indian, South African, Colombian, Jamaican, Finnish. You name it.
5. The amazing and always changing shopping options!

Q13: Where is your favourite bookshop in London?
LLO: Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street, Stanfords in Covent Garden and the Book and Comic Exchange in Notting Hill. The first two have excellent selections of travel books and cultural fiction and the third has that old musty bookshop smell and second-hand treasures galore.

Q14: Top thing you will look forward to leaving behind, and why?
LLO: Easy. Crowds and chaos. While they make London what it is, they can also drive you crazy if you don’t get away sometimes. It gets annoying trying to go shopping with umbrellas poking you in the eye, people stepping on your feet and having smelling armpits at nose-level on a hot summer tube ride. I’m looking forward to some personal space.

Q15: What song or album would you consider as your soundtrack for your time here, and why?
LLO: I’ll just give you a few unrelated songs even if it’s cheating: Prodigy – Out of Space which reminds me a of a few crazy house parties and bonfires we’ve had; Is this Desire by PJ Harvey for a similar reason; anything Oasis after anoter house party that involved everyone singing along; U2’s One and Set Fire to the Third Bar by Snow Patrol and Martha Wainwright for some great gigs and of course, anything by The Stayaways – a local band I grew really close to and have seen them live more times than I can remember.

Thanks again everyone for all of your comments and encouragement and stay tuned for another blog coming up in a few months. In the meantime, check out Little Photography Observationist.

Cheers,

Steph

Listen to a Londoner: Mariano Ortiz

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you’re up for being interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

Mariano Ortiz

Mariano is a born and bred Londoner. With an emphasis on social integration in everything he does, he loves to engage people through teaching English language, giving salsa dance lessons and playing vallenato accordion. He also runs Latinos in London Ltd.

LLO: Where are you from originally, how long have you been in London and what brought you here?
MO: My parents left Colombia in the seventies. They went to Spain to study at university. As luck would have it, they only met when both were on holiday here in London. They fell in love, got married, then I popped up and the rest was history – our life was to be here in England. I have therefore been here all my life, since 1983, and now enjoy my days running Latinos in London Ltd, teaching English, teacing dance, teaching music, bringing artists in from Latin America for concerts and providing consultancy services to London Concert venues with acts that appeal to Spanish/Portuguese-speaking audiences in London.

LLO: Latinos in London has well over 4,000 members on Facebook. Tell us what it’s all about.
MO: Latinos in London branches off from Timeout London, for whom I did work experience when I finished my A-levels. It will become a fully functioning and interactive website this year. It basically provides English speakers across the world with an insight into Latin American and Iberian happenings in the UK without the biassed coverage most other bodies do because there is indeed no regulator or actively working critical body here. We seek to become that regulator and in addition bring about advancement in all aspects of community and politics but are well aware that the only way to hold the attention of as high a percentage of the public (especially a cross-section of generations) is by focussing on events and providing the service of a comprehensive events and curent affairs media body.

In addition to reporting news and current events both in the UK and abroad, we promote everything from book launches to film screenings via concerts, night clubs, conferences, lectures and many other events. Our site will launch once we have our critical agenda and critical team together because the most important thing we are looking to do is operate a critical and political branch to our project which should hopefully promote improvement and advancement of Latin American / Iberian communities in the UK. We are clearly not all illegal immigrants looking to scrounge off the UK welfare system, nor are we all Saints – thus a clear-speaking unbiassed media body is required by all to tell things as they should be.

Most other bodies are unable (and moreover unwilling) to do this based on:

1. The alliances they have with community groups, consulates, embassies and past or present advertising clients. Spanish language newspaper editors portray our 32 consulates and embassies in the UK as perfectly oiled machines of absolute efficiency when in truth most are far from this. Even more farsical is the tabloid style coverage these bodies give to news related to immigration, by which political candidates are judged to be pro-Latin based only on their backing of “possible future amnesties” – which indeed addresses the many of us in need of regularisation in the UK but portrays us as little more than a community in need of such things when a significant percentage of us would rather see politicians addressing issues concerning trade agreements.

2. The solely financial objectives they have and the limitations these entail: publicity clients, diplomatic bodies, service providers, restaurants and so on cannot be badmouthed or criticised as this will lead to bad business and the small “mafia” of regular advertisers in these newspapers have grown to become “family”.

We, as a community, need to remove ourselves from the ghetto mentality that reigns within too many of us here in the UK and allows things to remain sloppy and half-hearted. Latinos in London Ltd is 100% privately funded and has no restrictions or limitations. It additionally is the only platform producing daily and in English.

LLO: We’re looking for a great Latin American restaurant in London – best food and authentic Latin atmosphere. Recommendations?
MO: My opinion has changed over the years but at the moment I am against frequenting both typically Latin eateries and chain-stores of Macdonald’s style La Tascas, Nandos and Las Iguanas clown feederies. right now I am particularly interested in backing restaurants looking to push integration of that which is Latin American and that which is British/European in all aspects: menu, atmosphere, lighting, wine list, drinks, staff, service, etc.

In summary, my recommendations are Sabor run and owned by my dear friend Esnayder (also interviewed for Listen to a Londoner!) and Arepa & Co run by another visionary and lateral thinker, Gustavito.

LLO: Favourite unique London discovery?
MO: Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club

LLO: Best place to go out dancing or hear some great live Latin American tunes in this city?
MO: My house! I organise a monthly “Vallenato House Party” where people are welcome to experience an authentic Colombian “parranda” (party with live music) with all the essences of typical food, atmosphere and imported drinks. Come along and be transported to any typical Colombian Northern coast house on a weekend evening. Details: www.Vallenato.co.uk

For added fun, check out Latin American harp and clarinet maestros Diego Laverde and Cheveto Requena at Angel and Green Park stations when you get the chance.

LLO:  Which area of London are you most familiar with and what’s your favourite thing about it?
MO: I am still deciding on that!

LLO: Can you tell us about some great resources for Latin Americans coming to London for the first time?
MO: Learning English? Well I have been working as an English teacher and education guidance mentor since 2006 and believe the best advice anyone could ever receive is personalised – so in short, my contact details are 0781 569 65 94 /contact@latinosinlondon.com

LLO: Tell us about a great memory of something that could only have happened in London.
MO: Celebrating Barcelona winning the UEFA champions league a few years ago against Arsenal in Trafalgar Square. Colombian Barcelona supporters, we were playing vallenato into the night. Argentine Barcelona supporters, they were playing Latin rock guitar, Cubans had salsa cow bells and claves  and who were we sorrounded by? Joyous Tottenham Hotspurs supporters cheering and dancing along.

LLO: If you were to leave London in the near future, what 5 things (people not included) would you miss the most about the city?
MO:
1 – The mentality: Most people here do not allow social class and appearances rule their lives.
2 – The culture: Every country of the world is represented in this city
3 – The food: Fancy eating anything from anywhere? look for it in London.
4 – Employment flexibility: Fancy changing careers from sales to dance entertainment and then back again? Only in London.
5 – Night clubs and entertainment venues open 7 nights a week: We don’t know how lucky we are to have these.

LLO: You’ve got a free day to explore a part of the city you’ve never been to. Where do you go and why?
MO: My head hurts now.  😦  I can’t possibly think straight and answer for this. Sorry 😦

Thanks Mariano!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

Listen to a Londoner: Lisa Bolton

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you’re up for being interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

lisa
Lisa Bolton

Lisa is a northern lass from the French countryside who is integrating into London’s Colombian community. She’s trying to get used to overcrowding and living like battery hens whilst growing very fond of cultural diversity, chips and Primark!

LLO: How long have you been in London, where are you from originally and what brought you here?
LB: I’ve been in London for 2 and a half years. I was born in Salford, Manchester but have lived in nearly all my life in a forest in Normandy France which is where I call home. I came here for work and a new beginning. After finishing my studies and working in Spain for 2 and a half years there was little work in France so I made my decision one morning to come to London and find a new job!

LLO: Which area of London are you most familiar with and what’s the best thing about it?
LB: Having lived in various areas in London I really love Elephant and Castle and Brixton. As I said I grew up in a forest 2km outside a village of 467 people. I had a pretty sheltered life to say the least. I had heard so many horrible things about these 2 areas I was scared to death, but there is a really sense of community. Even though I have moved away from the area now I still enjoy going to Weight Watchers every week in Brixton and the Ritzy cinema is brill and there is a lot of different shops. And Elephant is the best place in London as there is so much going on, transport is excellent and you feel as if you are in another world. You can walk into central London in 30 minutes!!!

LLO:  Tell us about your favourite unique London discovery.
LB: Uhmm, quite hard. I think it depends on what you are into and unless you are in that scene you wouldn’t know about it. Thanks to my circle of friends which is made up of Colombians I suppose it would be the Vallenato sub-culture and the private parties, functions, festivals and carnivals.

I would also say that the Fitzrovia live radio performances are a great discovery and brilliant. They often perform at the Globe’s pub The Swan. I discovered this through my friend and ex-flatmate who is an actor.

But of course my most precious unique London discovery is my fiancé Carlos who I met here.

LLO:  Where are your top choices for a night of dancing?
LB: I LOVE dancing but mostly salsa. However, I REALLY like G-A-Y to let your hair down and for cheap drinks! People there are really friendly and will come up and dance with you.

I don’t really like the “Latin” places here. The music is not that great and the dancing is quite the same. I believe La Floridita is great and it has been recommended, but I’ve never been. There is one place in Brixton called “La Mazorca” which is a bit of a dive and there are a few dodgy characters BUT if you go in a group they play great music and have a great dance floor. Otherwise, I have always had the best dancing time at improvised parties in various little bars and open air festivals like “Carnival del Pueblo”.

LLO: Give us an unusual or quirky idea for a date in London.
LB: To be quite honest I have no idea, probably not been on enough dates to know. But I recently met up with a former flatmate who told me he had had a few dates since we had last seen each other and one guy took him to a taxidermist shop! Needless to say he didn’t go out with him again!

LLO: If I only had one night in London and wanted to head away from the tourist trail for food and drinks, where would you send me?
LB: Gosh, this is a hard question as it depends what type of food I fancied. I have my favourite Colombian restaurant, French restaurant and Indian restaurant! But I suppose if I weren’t here I would be living outside the country and therefore it would probably have to be a pub where I could have steak and ale pie and chips. It’s not off the beaten track but the Horneman over-looking the river on the south bank near London Bridge is easy access and the food is quite nice also, but most good pubs could probably do the same.

LLO: If you want to experience another culture in London, what’s your first choice and where do you head to find it?
LB: WOW, the choice is incredible as London in itself is a cultural mish-mash. The first time I went to Whitechapel, I thought I was in some Asian country. It was incredible. Elephant again springs to mind. Latin American and African cultures are predominant and you can get by just speaking Spanish!

LLO: Tell us about a London memory that could only have happened in London.
LB: I am an English teacher on Oxford Street and I have large, very culturally diverse groups of people who maybe have never left their country before. They have strong preconceptions about different nationalities, colours, cultures, sexual preferences and, of course, religion. As a Teacher it is very hard to approach such sensitive subjects especially concerning homophobia and the stigma which every Muslim/Arabic student is viewed with. Some Latin American students have never met a Muslim let alone a woman in traditional dress. But one day in a class in which I had Baptists, born again Christians, Catholics, Buddhists, Russian orthodox, Shintoists and Muslims (from Turkey, Russia and North African countries) the debate turned to religion which I allow as long as everybody respects each other’s beliefs. The students all found common ground within their different religions and traditions using English. They all got along so well and were respectful of each other. I know sounds corny, but I really warmed my heart that despite all the war and hatred in the world, people from  incredibly different walks of life found they were all the same.

LLO: Who is the most interesting Londoner you’ve met and why?
LB: Everyone in London has had an interesting life and a story to tell. But one of my students, Maria, had come from the slums of Lima, Peru, and had been to a school run by nuns and financed by fundraising from Europe. She had worked her way up to become an English teacher and came to England to better her skills.

Doing the job I do has been a real eye opener to see that intelligent, highly qualified people who are psychologists, engineers, lawyers, film directors etc… perform menial jobs due to their legal status and language skills in order to learn the language. It really angers me when you see office workers ignoring cleaners knowing that they are probably for more qualified than them. It cost nothing to smile or acknowledge someone.

LLO:  If you were to move away from London in the future, which five things would you miss the most?
LB:
1) Cultural diversity
2) The choice of different products and restaurants
3) The different events
4) Primark
5) Public transport especially the tube (despite all the strikes, hahhaha!)

Thanks Lisa!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

London Art Spot: Karishma Shahani

Brightly coloured designs marked Karishma Shahani’s award-winning catwalk collection for the London College of Fashion’s Graduate Runway Show 2010. She came away with an award for “Best Surface Textiles” to add to her CV alongside the “Nina De York Fashion Illustration” award and “Fashion Graduate of the Year award.

It’s no surprise her eye-catching work has caught the attention of staff at Vogue, Grazia, Elle and ID magazine alongside quite a few others around the world from France to Russia to Hong King and Japan.

Her values of longevity in clothing, ethical fair trade and using “upcycled” and organic materials match the values of the forward-thinking audience she will reach with her vibrant collections.

For this week’s London Art Spot, Karishma tells us how life in her native India plays a massive part in her work, shows off some photos of latest stunning collection and lets us in on the details of her collaboration with American artist Amy Sol.

LLO: Give us an overview of your latest collection, Yatra.
KS: The collection draws inspiration and elements from the multiple layers of India’s vibrant culture that continuously create colourful, vivid and eclectic experiences for the onlooker. The colours are picked from traditional paintings of Indian Gods, and recreated through natural methods of dyeing. The surface texture adds to the multi-dimensional feel enhancing the use of natural fabrics alongside upcyled packaging materials.

In its essence this collection is a reflection of the Indian lifestyle of re-interpretation of materials and their function at every step; always re-using and recycling; creating heirlooms that are passed down through generations. Each garment is made with beauty, simplicity and versatility as its core which lends it a multi-layered and personality-driven charm. The designs combine a fusion of two extremes, making the collection experimental and unconventional, while being hinged on modern functionality.

LLO: Which aspects of life in your native India most inspire your work? What about aspects of London life?
KS: A lot of aspects ranging from the people on the road, to our vast history, culture, architecture, crafts, travel, the list is endless. London’s cosmopolitan nature is very appealing. Being a melting pot for people from all around the world is quite inspiring. UK too has a comprehensive history and its ties with India are aspects I like exploring.

LLO: Tell us about some of the materials that have gone into your latest collection – the bright colours, the recycled concept, etc. What’s the most unusual material you used or the most difficult to obtain?
KS: The materials in the collection range from calico and cotton to pure silk and silk tulle and then over to High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). The last being a material used extensively in packaging in India hence lending to the upcycled nature of this collection as the patterns were cut from previously used sacks. All the material in the collection barring the HDPE have been hand dyed to suit the colour requirements that give enough homage to their source of inspiration. The accessories include secondhand hand-painted shoes and piece from chandeliers, cut away sneakers and blankets. The toughest material to obtain was the HDPE due to its varied sizes and quality control it required to obtain large pieces to create the garments.

LLO: Do you remember a precise moment that made you decide you wanted to have a career in fashion?
KS: Just the simple fact of creating new things. Consciously or without realising, clothing plays an important part in defining a person’s personality for the onlooker and I’ve always found this aspect really interesting. So I can’t pinpoint a precise moment.

LLO:Which signature elements of your designs make them unique to you?
KS: Colour, texture, contrast

LLO: Not only have you won some impressive awards (including “Best Surface Textiles 2010 LCF BA Graduate Show”, “Nina De York Illustration Award 2010” and “Fashion Graduate of the Year 2010 British Graduate 100 Award”) but you also started your own label. What has been your proudest moment so far in your fashion career?
KS: Receiving the “Best Surface Textile Award” at the London College of Fashion Graduate show 2010 was a great way to graduate, a fulfilling pat of encouragement.

LLO: Your bio includes a degree in economics, experience in at an NGO and a stint as a production manager. Does your career background have an impact on the way you approach fashion?
KS: Yes it does. I do think that one needs to know all the aspects of the industry they are a part of; it’s not about mastering all aspects but just simply about knowing how things work, because everything works hand-in-hand. All my previous work experiences have shaped my outlook towards design and its end result. The work has made me travel and live in various cities, that in itself is an enriching experience.

 

LLO: Where’s your favourite place in London to gather fashion inspiration – both in the shops and on the streets?
KS: Camden Town. One of my absolute favourites. I love how you can find ‘anything’ in the market and see ‘anyone’ on the streets. It always puts me in awe at the diversity that is around us.

LLO: Any other up-and-coming London-based designers we should keep an eye on?
KS: Felicity Brown, Manjit Deu, David Longshaw to name just a few.

LLO: What’s next for you?
KS: I am currently working on developing an AW 11 collection, alongside a brand that further promotes social responsibility and traditional techniques for a sustainable future of products and fashion; that continues to become more aware of its power to change and assist changes in lives of all those involved. Alongside this, I am working on a collaboration project with American artist Amy Sol, whose phantasmagorical paintings always depict girls in flowing dresses wandering through luscious landscapes. This project for a social eco-fashion enterprise called “Jhoole”, a non-profit business, designed to uplift female artisans based in a weaver’s village in rural Madhya Pradesh, India which will culminate in exhibitions and fashion shows in the summer of 2011. Another, being a textile development project for a textile producer based on recyclability and sustainability of fabrics combined with a base to provide further work for craftspeople in different regions of India.

Thanks Karishma!

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

Listen to a Londoner: Cemay Ilgu

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you’re up for being interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

Cemay Ilgu, 28

Cemay has just moved back to London after seven years in North Cyprus and is very excited about it! She can’t wait to introduce the delights of London to her husband Berat and son Onur, as well as the newborn they are expecting any day now.

LLO:  Which part of London are you most familiar with and what’s the best thing about it?
CI: I guess Hampstead High Street, which has a lot of great childhood memories for me. The best thing about it is the combination of little pavement cafes and cute little boutiques – it’s not the most affordable of places, but it has a certain ambience that I like every now and then.

LLO: I’ve got one night in London and want to stay away from the tourist trail. Where would you recommend I go to eat and drink?
CI: Ah, there are so many places! But I guess the one place I know that has it all is The North Pole Bar, in Greenwich. You start off in the main bar for a pre-dinner drink, then go up to the Piano Restaurant, and then if you have the energy after the gorgeous food (or you just want to work it off!) you can go down to the South Pole Club and dance the night away! It’s a complete night out in one venue.

LLO: You’ve got a small son and another one due this week! Where’s the best place in London to take the kiddies?
CI: We took Onur, who’s now 21 months, to the Science Museum last month and he adored it. It’s great fun for the kids but they also get to learn stuff – a perfect combination!

LLO: After living abroad for quite a while and coming back to us, where’s the best place in London to go to get a taste of the food you’d find near your other home in Cyprus?
CI: Absolutely without a doubt it’s Kervan Sofrasi Restaurant, on Hertford Road in Edmonton. Not only is the food affordable, but it’s just outstanding quality. If you like Turkish food, I could recommend no better place.

LLO: Where’s your favourite bakery in London and the best thing they serve?
CI: I am a sucker for Pain au Chocolat, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better one than they serve at Maison Blanc, on Hampstead High Street.

LLO: You’re about to move house. Any flat-hunting tips for people just moving to the city?
CI: Don’t stick to just one agency and try not to limit yourself too much in terms of area – London has a fabulous public transport system and you’re always within reach of somewhere with great transport links – the best properties are often found a little way off the beaten track.

LLO: A new home means decorating… What are the best London shops to deck out the new place?
CI: For us normal folks, you can’t go wrong with Ikea! I’ll be honest, that’s where I have done most of my shopping! But I mixed and matched with bits and pieces I’ve found in places like Camden market, and charity shops are also great for sourcing one off pieces – we once found a 70’s style padded cocktail bar for a bargain £20!

LLO: Best place in London to go on a romantic date (when you get someone to watch the little ones!)?
CI: One of my favourite places that appeals to the Princess Jasmine in me is Pasha, on Gloucester Road. It feels really decadent. The food is exquisite, mostly Moroccan/Middle-Eastern cuisine, but it’s just a lovely, romantic place – all soft lighting and belly dancing!

LLO: What excites you most about being in London again?
CI: Honestly? The diversity and vibrancy, the way that you could do something new, eat something new, discover something new every day for years on end and never get bored! Very different to North Cyprus!

LLO: Favourite London discovery?
CI: A little Italian restaurant called Polpo on Beak Street in Soho. It’s tiny – seats about 50 people, and it doesn’t take bookings so you just kind of turn up and wait, but the food is out of this world – served in small tapas-like portions so you can try a bit of everything, and it’s a really lovely place to socialise with friends, so different as it’s designed to be like a Venetian wine bar. A fabulous little find! Prices are pretty reasonable too for London.

Thanks Cem!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.