Tag Archives: government

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.

Follow on Bloglovin

Unadopted street, Hampstead

Frognal Way unadopted street sign, Hampstead, London

I was taking a stroll through Hampstead recently when I came across this street sign for Frognal Way, one of the most expensive streets in the UK. I’d never noticed ‘unadopted’ text on a sign before and I was rather intrigued.

Apparently an unadopted street is a street that is not maintained by the local Highway Authority at public expense. This official description is taken from the new snazzy gov.uk website:

‘Unadopted’ roads are those roads not maintained by a highway authority as defined by Highways Act 1980. The description of such roads covers a wide range of circumstances.

For most unadopted residential roads the duty to maintain it falls to the frontagers, ie the owners of the property fronting that road, which may include those where the side, or length, of their property fronts the unadopted road. Those buying property on an unadopted street should be made aware of the situation regarding their property and their related liability for the road. Under Highways Act 1980, local highway authorities may adopt streets that they are not currently responsible for maintaining, but this is purely a matter for local decision.

Mystery solved, although I’d love to hear from someone who lives on an unadopted road about their responsibilities for it.

A bright future for England?

I don’t pretend that this blog is anything other than pretty pictures and talk of food, but with the attention of the world once again focused on England I thought I’d share something to do with the Royal baby and life in England that I read today in the Guardian.

Emily Harle at Left Foot Forward writes a powerful piece projecting the futures of the other 2,000 babies born on 22 July 2013. While the media will scrutinise the new prince, these children will be monitored by the NHS and social services, but not all will be protected, she writes.

226 children of the 2,000 will live in overcrowded, temporary or run down housing and eleven will be homeless.

A shocking 540 children will live in poverty, with 290 of this group experiencing poverty despite having one parent that works.

We should maintain and improve—not cut—the services that children need, from help during their early years right through to careers advice and youth services. It is these services that will help to determine the paths of each of the 2,000 children born in the UK on 22 July 2013.

If this is true, I’m not sure where England will be by the time that little baby boy takes to the throne.

Zadie Smith – NW

Zadie Smith is the poster girl for North West London. She might spend half her year teaching Creative Writing in New York, but really she’s just a girl from Kilburn. If you work hard, you can succeed… or so the cliché goes.

‘Kilburn?’ I hear you say, your voice infected with a questioning tone. Yeah, Kilburn. A North West London area between Cricklewood, Willesden and… Maida Vale. Yup, London is a place of thin borders between rich and poor. In fact, Kilburn has reached dizzying levels of fame of late, as Tour de France and Olympic cycling champ Bradley Wiggins spent his childhood in NW6 too. Continue reading

Housing and Property in London: How to Spot a Housing Lie

I have been working in the property sector for a year and a half and, much to my surprise, I find it fascinating. Lots of column inches in the papers are dedicated to housing issues (many property supplements have been culled, but property and housing issues feature in the news more) and it is a topic everybody has an opinion about.

I read about ‘Generation Rent’ everyday yet I wonder how many people my age have even the faintest idea about mortgages, finance or housing. Without experience working in the industry I know I would not have the knowledge I have today. I am pleased that I now understand the market, policy and legislation, and that I can also identify a fake stat delivered in a reassuring manner.

As Minister of State for Housing Grant Shapps has delivered a fair share of porkies, and while he never lies outright (spin and inappropriate use of statistics is frowned upon) he does, perhaps, arguably, maybe MISUSE statistics in the standard come-to-be-expected politician way.

Instead of ranting and raving I am going to step down from my soapbox and direct you to a blog from the policy department at Shelter, explaining how to spot a housing lie.

Politics aside, everybody should be able to understand the numbers and form their own conclusions. So go take a read, and I promise I will be back blogging about frivolous matters tomorrow.