What South Africans can learn from living in London

Living in London can teach us South Africans some important life lessons.


We know how strange we seem to the English sometimes, what with our lingo, our passions for ‘braaing’ in mid winter and all the other quirks we export when we spend some time on Mud Island.

We should also take note of special lessons Londoners can teach us and here are a few I think makes London a beautiful place to live in.


1. Life is small but doable

For those fortunate to have lived in a generous house, with a front and back garden, welcome to the box. The box is your living space, and you may find yourself walking sideways, like a crab edging around the bed, fitting into the shower or passing someone in the passage.

We slide here, we don’t stride. There ain’t no space for big movements. However, one gets used to the lack of space, driving in little cars and thinking you live in Lego, sorry, Londonland.

2. Stripping the excess

Number one will teach you that bare essential living is just fine. Groceries are such that can be carried in one packet which will attack you all the way home on the tube, along the sidewalk and up the stairs to your box. Your hands have grocery scars. The big car won’t fit anyway – garages are for storing.

3. Appreciating the small stuff

This is most evident when the bus driver waits for you. Like having your birthday happy feeling. When your home returns to normal after the Chinese laundry episode. The train arrives on time, or you won £3 pounds on the Lotto. Not to mention the sunshine… but more of that later.

4. Heritage

Love them or hate them, they respect history. London is a grand testimony to the ages and to tradition.

5. Charity

They really do care and buskers can prove it. Giving of your time, or money is simply done.

6. Celebrations

Could have something to do with the weather, but it’s all out, party time for any occasion.  From hen parties to Valentine’s day, Easter and Christmas. The Queen, Royal weddings, anything is an excuse to dress up and go all out.

7. Public transport

It works. Most of the time.

8. Family  

Wonderful to see generations all together in the park and hearing young men talk of their ‘nan’ with such fondness.

9. Tolerance  

This is the best part of London for me. Respecting different cultures, languages, religions.  The rest of Britian may not be on board (am thinking Brexit here) but in London I am part of a greater community.

10. The weather

Moan we may, but a sunny day is a happy event. We revel in it and make the most of it.  And snowfall. Early English mornings. Late summer evenings – the in between is a great ice breaker when chatting, and what would we be if not weather people?

There are many more lovely idiosyncrasies about Londoners, and I enjoy discovering each and every one of them.

It also makes me appreciate life in South Africa, just a little bit more …