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A day in the life of a London lawyer

a day in the life of a london lawyerI discovered Lisa’s blog earlier this year and it became an instant favourite. She shares my enthusiasm for London and spends lots of time out and about exploring the city whenever she gets a chance. I’m so pleased she could make time in her busy schedule to talk about the typical day in the life of a London lawyer! It’s clear that even when things have gone crazy at work she still takes time to appreciate what London has to offer.

A day in the life of a London lawyer

I would love to be the kind of person who springs out of bed in the morning at 6am, squeezes in at least a 5k run before sitting down to a healthy breakfast before heading to work. I am not that kind of person. My alarm goes off about 45 minutes before I need to get up because I need plenty of time to wake up. After hitting the snooze button several times I drag myself out of bed and get ready for work.

When I moved to London a few years ago I was keen to avoid hours spent on the tube, commuting to and from work pressed into someone else’s armpit. So I made sure that I picked somewhere to live that was within walking distance to work, it might cost me a small fortune in rent, but the cost to my sanity is immeasurable.

My walk to work is punctuated with some pretty big tourist sights, so much so that I often think that if I could get up a bit earlier in the morning, I could definitely combine my commute with running a walking tour. I pass by the London Wall, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and if I choose to walk to work by the river, rather than through the city, then I pass by the HMS Belfast and the Shard. It’s the little things I enjoy the most though, like the fact that hidden under an office building I pass are the ruins of Roman baths.

Once I get to work I generally get something from the canteen for breakfast and eat it at my desk while I’m checking through my email, reading updates and working out what I need to do that day. How I actually spend my day varies but can involve research, drafting notes of advice and attending client meetings.

My day is broken up into units of time of six minutes and whatever I do in the day is recorded (so that it’s possible to charge clients for the time spent of their matters). We are expected to record a minimum of 7 hours of time a day (our contractual hours – 9.30am-5.30pm minus an hour for lunch) and there are codes for different client matters and also for non-chargeable matters (such as team meetings, general admin, business development and pro-bono). Units of six minutes might seem weird (five minutes would seem more natural) but using six minute units mean that an hour can be broken up into ten units for ease of recording. So, for example an hour spent on a matter is recorded as 1.0 (or 10 units) and a 5 minute telephone call is 0.1 (1 unit). However busy my day is, I always try and get out of the office, even if it’s just to eat lunch quickly by the river.

There are horror stories about the hours that lawyers work but the reality varies from firm to firm and from department to department. It just depends on how much work you have on at any given time. I probably usually work from 9.30pm to 7pm but can be much longer and I’ve certainly had a few nights when I’ve finished in the early hours of the morning. If I need to work that late then there are generally a few of us in the office working on the same thing and a sense of camaraderie definitely kicks in when you all take a quick break to have a takeaway dinner together.

After work there’s normally someone available and willing to go for a drink, but whatever our intentions, we seem incapable of going for a ‘quick drink’ as one drink invariably turns into two and that early night I promised myself usually quickly turns into a whole evening of drinking and chatting.

I’m quite lucky as although my boyfriend is also a lawyer, he tends to get home before me and so if I call him when I’m about to leave, dinner is normally cooking or ready by the time I’ve walked home. I tend to avoid making plans for weekday evenings as far as possible as I can guarantee that when I make plans, that’s the night I have to work late to get something done. I hate being flakey and having to cancel or move plans, so as far as possible I try and only make plans I know I can keep. So although my evenings are usually spent in, I do try and make the most of my weekends though to compensate.

By Lisa from Not Quite Enough

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Sunday Selection

Happy Sunday! I hope you’ve all had a great weekend so far. Last night I went out for the first time in months, just for an early dinner in Shoreditch, practically next to the station, but it was nice to see glimpses of old London. That’s definitely what I’ve missed the most. I also got to go on the tube – a nice new(ish) Metropolitan train. I think I’m more of a train geek than I realised.

What are your plans for today? If you’re quick, get down to 19 Princelet Street today (just off Brick Lane). It’s a rare opportunity to see a 1719 Huguenot merchant’s house that became a hub for different religious communities. We went last year and although you’ll have to queue I can’t recommend it enough!

Finally, happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there, especially mine. He’s always amazing but I couldn’t have got through the last few months without him! He’s made me the best fish finger sandwiches, taken me out for coffee and taken me to hospital appointments and physio sessions. Best of all, when traditional painkillers failed to help he gave me Reiki and took my pain away.

Now here’s a selection of what I’ve been reading this week:

The Onion doing what The Onion does best with their spoof Buzzfeed site.

Photos from inside the Thames Tunnel.

A tour of London – in song.

Some good news – ‘anti-homeless’ spikes have been removed.

Going underground during a World Cup match? TfL and ESPNFC will keep you posted.

Have a great day, Carla

A day in the life of a London writer

A day in the life of a london writer

Today we get to see what a day in the life of a writer looks like, courtesy of Jenny Landreth. Aside from being a writer, Jenny is also a script editor and is currently working on a new animated series for children’s television. 

Jenny’s latest book, Swimming London, is out now and I’ve got a free copy to give away. Just leave a comment by Tuesday 17th June and a winner will be chosen at random. Happy London swimming!

A day in the life of a London writer

My normal day starts with getting a child off to school, and our dog walked round Clapham Common. I often meet John, a writer friend, with his dog and we compete about how busy we are. (He always wins, in quality and quantity.) John rescued my dog once when it fell in the pond and I just stood there flapping my arms screeching ‘he can’t swim! He can’t swim!’ which is kind of ironic, given that the thing I most write about is swimming. I’m grateful to John that he saved my dog’s life, and that he only mocks me a bit for it. ‘Oooh, I’m such a feminist, I need a man to save my dog’.

Coffee fuels my morning, and I work at home from nine with a full cup at my side, doing whatever scripts or writing pieces need my attention that day. I am never ever distracted by Twitter. Never. My best days are those when I don’t have meetings in town, so I can make my own schedule. Then I head to the pool around 12ish, and call it research. I live ten minutes from Tooting Bec Lido, the country’s largest outdoor pool and my spiritual home (unheated). The days I get to swim here are the best of best days.

The water temperature dictates how long I’ll swim for. On a sunny June day, when it’s up to around 20 degrees, I can loll around a bit, take a few lengths slowly and enjoy the feeling of sun on wet skin. Afterwards if I’ve got time, I’ll get a coffee from the fantastic new café and hang out with other swimmers, talking about – well, nothing and everything. Swimming mostly. If I didn’t have them to talk to, I’m sure I’d end up being one of those people who chases the postie just to have a conversation with an adult. This is my community, and I treasure it. Stripped down to our cossies and swim hats, we are all equal. Luck is a theme here, and I am very lucky.

Swimming in cold water makes me disproportionately hungry, and I go home for a massive lunch and a work-filled afternoon. Definitely not on Twitter. Definitely no napping. I tend to stop when my daughter gets home, try and hang out with her with varying degrees of success now the teen years loom. Then I cook supper, we eat and watch rubbish TV. I admit, I might just glance at Twitter at this point. On a really good day I go to the theatre or cinema with my old man. Then a late evening walk round the block for the dog, and it all rolls round again.

PS: I am aware that dogs can swim. But it didn’t LOOK like he could. Before you start on me.

Jenny Landreth

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Sunday Selection

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Happy Sunday! I hope you’ve had a weekend full of sunshine and sangria

Here are a few things I’ve come across on the Internet this week:

Is Help to Buy irrelevant in London?

This note was handed to someone on the tube (via Reddit)

Free journeys on vintage London buses.

Has London become the new Constantinople?

Interesting discussion about how much you need to earn to live comfortably in London.

Have a great week ahead!

Sunday Selection

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This week lightning hit the Shard, QPR got lucky and the 2014 elections came and went. Here are a few other random bits and pieces I’ve read on the Internet this week:

London’s slimmest house weighs in at £450,000

How London voted in the 2014 elections

Where to swim outdoors in London (and keep your eyes peeled for an outdoor swimming A Day in the Life in the next few weeks)

Areas served by London’s major train stations

Have a great weekend!

Image: Michael Holskinson

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Humans of New York blog

Every so often you come across a blog that grabs you. You inevitably find it at 11pm and before you know it it’s two in the morning and you’re greedily reading every post they’ve ever published.

The Humans of New York blog is one of those blogs. It’s a simple concept executed to perfection. Uplifting, inspiring, thought-provoking… all those adjectives that don’t come close to describing how you really feel.

I love it when a small piece of a New Yorker’s life appears in my blog reader during the day. Sometimes it’s just the distraction I need to focus.

Humans of New York blog

“I was never once afraid to fight. I was a brawler. A bull. I even fought in Madison Square Garden. But it knocked me out for a whole year when my mom died.”

Humans of New York blog

“Saddest moment? How am I supposed to choose between losing my parents and seeing my friends die in Vietnam? I don’t categorize those things. Listen, a person is like a rubber band ball. We’ve all got a lot of bad rubber bands, and a lot of good rubber bands, and they’re all wrapped up together. And you’ve got to have both types of bands or your rubber band ball ain’t gonna bounce. And no use trying to untangle them. You know what I’m saying?”

Humans of New York blog

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“A mom.”
“What’s going to be the hardest part about being a mom?”
“Bath time.”

Humans of New York blog

“If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”
“Be kind and thoughtful.”
“What’s your greatest struggle right now?”
“Being kind and thoughtful. Because I’ve got some friends that are driving me freaking nuts.”

All images from Humans of New York – http://www.humansofnewyork.com

A day in the life of a London civil servant

 A Day in the Life of a London Civil Servant

A day in the life of a London civil servant

When my alarm goes off at 5:30am I’m usually already awake. I get up, shower, put on a suit and by 6am I’m sitting in the kitchen with a cup of tea and a bowl of porridge. If the paper has been delivered I’ll read The Telegraph whilst I eat, otherwise I’ll read The Times on my tablet.

I leave the house around 7am and walk the three minutes to the station. At this hour I usually get a seat on the Central line so I spend the time reading my kindle and listening to music. At the moment I’m rereading my favourite book, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and listening to the new Elbow album.

At Stratford I’ll change onto the Jubilee line to get to Westminster. During tube strikes, of course, I have to change my route, but that can be fun – especially if I can get a boat from the Tower of London to Westminster.

At 16 I did three week’s work experience at the House of Lords and got to use the private exit from Westminster station that takes you straight to the house. Using the private exit was a thrill, but the government department I work for doesn’t have its own private exit and I don’t miss it. I’ve worked in Westminster for six years and the pride I feel every morning walking past parliament doesn’t fade. During November the Abbey grounds have a memorial field to the dead of WW1 and 2, which is a really humbling experience.

I work 10-12 hours a day and lunch consists of a sandwich from Pret or a tin of soup. I used to walk around St James Park most lunch times but I don’t have time anymore. I’ve recently discovered the College Green at Westminster Abbey which is just round the corner from the office; when work calms down in the summer I’ll be there eating my lunch as the weather warms up.

A few times a week I’ll meet former colleagues or friends after work. I like traditional English pubs like St Stephens Tavern in Westminster or the Princess Louise in Holborn. I also like modern bars such as the Holborn Whippet or the Covent Garden Cocktail Club. In the summer, I love walking down to the Albert Hall from work, meeting my girlfriend and seeing one of the Proms. People think classical music is elitist, but for £10 you get a seated ticket in a beautiful venue. Much better value than a concert at the O2!

If I’m heading straight home, I’ll walk to a tube station a mile or so away, like Holborn, to stretch my legs. It’s a great walk up through Soho. Sometimes I walk all the way home, which is roughly 12 miles. My route takes me through the West End, Soho, the City, Clerkenwell, Hackney and finally close to the Olympic Park. It’s a great way to see how London really is just lots of villages thrown together and connected by the Tube and the buses.

Whenever I get in I try to read some fiction to switch off before bed, but sometimes I’ll cave in and watch some TV – my current guilty pleasure is Modern Family. If I haven’t been out I’m asleep by 11.

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Fancy china, delicate finger sandwiches, arguments about whether the cream or jam goes first on the scone, tiers of cakes, maybe even a cheeky glass of champagne. Is there anything quite as delightful as afternoon tea?

My friend Katie had been asking us to go to the Prêt-a-Portea Berkeley afternoon tea with her for years and eventually we caved in (such a hardship…). So one Saturday afternoon we put on our best frocks, met at Hyde Park Corner station and prepared ourselves for a decadent feast.

The Berkeley Afternoon Tea

Berkeley afternoon tea

The Prêt-a-Portea afternoon tea is inspired by, you guessed it, fashion. The menu is transformed every six months to follow the changing seasons in fashion and we were able to enjoy Autumn/Winter 2013.

Paul Smith china

Afternoon tea is served on this fine-bone china by Paul Smith for Thomas Goode. How pretty is it?! I love the bright colours and they really brighten up the tables in the Caramel room where tea is served.

Paul Smith china

The tea menu at the Berkeley was good. The choice isn’t huge but sometimes that’s a good thing as who really wants to spend fifteen minutes reading a list of teas? You can order as much tea as you want and you can change your tea from pot to pot. In the end I simply went for the Berkeley blend which was perfect, followed by a pot of fresh mint tea at the end.

Prêt-a-Portea sandwiches

After you’ve chosen your tea it’s time for the sandwiches. Between us we had a vegetarian, pescetarian and someone who is gluten free so our plates of sandwiches varied slightly but we all thought they were delicious. But to be on the safe side, we happily agreed to a second serving of sandwiches just to make sure.

Prêt-a-Portea savouries

Next we tried a selection of savoury treats. I’m not entirely sure what was what but it was nice. By this point we needed something sweet and really wanted to try the cakes…

Prêt-a-Portea cakes

Can you blame us? Talk about something that almost looks too good to eat.

Burberry Prorsum heart patterned ginger biscuit trench with caramel icing

First up, the Burberry Prorsum heart patterned ginger biscuit trench with caramel icing. It might be the closest I get to the real thing so I savoured every bite! It was nice but a bit more ginger would have been great.

Prêt-a-Portea cakes

This plate of cakes was the business. They looked too good to eat but that didn’t stop us. I did wonder whether it would be a case of design over substance but I needn’t had feared – these were some of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten. My favourite was the Giles antique gold chocolate feather set on a base of Sacher torte. Although the Saint Laurent essential Autumn red “Classic Duffle 6” Victoria sponge cake bag came in a close second.

Prêt-a-Portea cakes

Afternoon tea wasn’t quite perfect – we were missing our fifth spice girl! She’s off in California so we thought we’d let her know what she was missing out on. Anything to keep her away from kale smoothies.

Prêt-a-Portea doggy bags

Just when we couldn’t eat anymore the prettiest doggy bags turned up at our table. I’ve never treated a handbag so well in my life; getting those treats home safe and sound on the tube was a mission!

At £39 a head, Prêt-a-Portea at the Berkeley isn’t an everyday indulgence. It’s a lot of money for some tea and cakes but we spent a good three hours there chatting, having fun and eating some lovely food. It’s a special treat, an excuse to dress up and something to look forward to (you need to book months in advance).

We’re now thinking where to go next for afternoon tea later this year. I’m a big fan of The Modern Pantry but would like to try somewhere new – any suggestions?

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Thoughts about breaking a leg

I’ve broken my leg so there won’t be any blogs about London life for a little while. I don’t have any hobbies, I just spend my spare time exploring London and trying new things in the city, so to have that taken away for any amount of time was always going to leave a huge gap in my life.

It’s been just over a week since the accident and I’m frustrated by the lack of freedom. My mind is still sluggish after the operation and painkillers add to that weariness. To get my mind back on track and to collect my thoughts I’ve set myself the task of free writing a short blog post every couple of days.

Anything to stimulate my brain and make a connection with the outside world!