London from an Outsider’s Point of View

London is a world apart from other cities in the United Kingdom which can make the first trip a little daunting, but you can’t help but fall in love.

It is true that London, at least compared to the rest of the country, lives in a metropolitan bubble almost unconscious of events outside of the capital, which is ironic when you think that this is where Members of Parliament convene to debate what is going on in the United Kingdom.

[A]lmost wherever you turn in London there is something that grabs your attention, making the city one of the top tourist locations in the world. The capital is easily accessible, not just domestically but internationally, with no less than six airports with direct links into London. Whether you catch the tube from Heathrow or hire a car at Stansted, the Thames is within your reach.

Losing your London Virginity
The first day in London is completely daunting with so many stations, more busses on one road than the entirety of your hometown and plenty of taxis to boot. Deciding on your mode of transport is difficult in itself – luckily, the Underground system is second to none and gets you from one side of London to the other.


It is easy to see why many Londoners do not drive much around their city, instead relying on public transport which, at least to an outsider, appears to run like clockwork. It is a far cry from waiting for the bus anywhere else – half an hour later in the pouring rain and still no sign.

The main sites for any London novice include the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace among many others. As grand as these locations are, and they really are stunning, the one thing they do not encapsulate is the real London.

Finding the Real London
What people consider to be the ‘real’ London differs from person to person, but mainly the cities true heartbeat lies in more modest settings. With numerous markets around the city, arguably the most famous of which is Camden Market, you can grab a slice of a more modest slice of the capital while picking up some really unique gifts to take back home.

Oxford Street is everyone’s go-to shopping spot when entering London – you will quickly realise exactly why it is known as Europe’s busiest shopping street with an estimated half a million people visiting the area every day.

Having the courage to explore further afield will come with great reward. Covent Garden possesses a fantastic shopping area with a local market and is near a number of London’s favourite theatres if you are looking to dabble in a slice of culture. Do not make the same mistake as many London newbies do if travelling to Covent Garden Underground Station, please take the lift and not the 193 steps thinking it will be quicker. It won’t.

Heading Home
Every good story must have an ending, as does a trip to London. Regardless of whether your stay is just for a day or a week, you will be looking forward to your next trip to the Smoke. If not because returning home to your desolate town makes you pine for the streets of London, it will be to see or experience what you simply did not have time for.

Being an outsider obviously tints your view of London, with residents undoubtedly having their own stories to tell. For those that voluntarily travel into the capital, the city is presented as a place of endless opportunity, if not a little on the pricey side, and somewhere that has something for everyone.

CabbieBlog-cabThis is a sponsored guest post for which CabbieBlog has received a fee. Proceeds from these articles help keep the wheels turning on this site offering free content for anybody with an interest in London. All links here conform with guidelines set out in Write a Post.

London Trivia: A safe bet?

On 26 February 1995 Barings Bank, Britain’s oldest investment banking firm, and the world’s second oldest merchant bank (after Berenberg Bank), founded in 1762 was forced into bankruptcy after an employee in Singapore, 28 year old Nicholas William Leeson, speculated in derivatives on Tokyo stock prices that resulted in losses exceeding $1.4 billion. A trading jacket thought to have been worn by Leeson while trading was subsequently sold for £21,000.

On 26 February 1797 the Bank of England issued the first £1 banknote it remained in circulation until 1983 when the £1 coin was introduced

Pentonville Prison held a week long training course for trainee executioners who learned how carry out an execution with speed and efficiency

The first Palladian building built in Britain was Queen’s House, Greenwich commissioned by Anne of Denmark, wife of James I

The name ‘Bunhill Fields’ as in the Burial Ground is thought to be derived from ‘Bone Hill’ an area used as a burial ground for centuries

Henry VIII’s Chelsea Manor, which he gifted to Catherine Parr as a wedding present, stood where 19-26 Cheyne Walk now stand

William Hogarth’s Harlot’s Progress was inspired by the life history of the infamous Sally Salisbury who worked Covent Garden’s brothels

French Ordinary Court EC3 takes its name from a fixed price menu or as Samuel Pepys called it a French Ordinary

Arsenal tube station was originally Gillespie Road renamed when the club moved North. It is the only station named after a football team

In 1860 Sir Edward Watkins, Chairman of the East London Railway developed plans to build a ‘channel tunnel’ linking Britain with Europe

From his Wapping soap factory John Knight produced the famous Knight’s Castile soap, which won a medal at the Great Exhibition of 1851

On 26 February 2010 The Barbican hosted an ongoing concert given by 40 zebra finches with guitars as perches and cymbals as feeders

CabbieBlog-cab.gifTrivial Matter: London in 140 characters is taken from the daily Twitter feed @cabbieblog.
A guide to the symbols used here and source material can be found on the Trivial Matter page.


and more statistics . . .

It’s been 8 years, almost to the day, since I started CabbieBlog with the first post given the prosaic title: Make a Cuppa and do The Knowledge. From its early formative years, the blog has transmogrified into an eclectic mix of tips, tours, trivia and tripe. This item in what’s becoming an annual posting on the anniversary date is a little like the State of the National address from the Oval Office.

[N]ow I’m working part-time this has meant less Stars in the Seat, but hopefully my posts, now I have more time, will be more considered, not that  A blow job is that cerebral.

In April I managed to ‘lose’ all my statistics and followers (apologies to those who didn’t receive an email update for 5 months), but those clever people at WordPress have restored my data enabling me now to give you what must be the most riveting read, not to say enlightening post, from your humble scribe this year.

So here we go, I don’t write the blog’s narrative with keywords to be picked up by Google’s algorithms, nor do I follow the current discussion to be found in cyberspace. As a consequence, the figures have plateaued out and with many of you reading from various feeds, I don’t see a sharp rise in page views anytime soon.

Anyhow enough of my ramblings, all you want to do is get on with digesting the figures from last year. As before, with the data amassed over the last year, I’ve broken it down to bite-sized chunks with comparable figures for the previous year.

Blog visitors and page views
I would have stopped a nascent CabbieBlog back in January 2009 if nobody clicked onto the site. The numbers of visitors and page views have increased slightly. This year although visitor views have increased those willing to loiter around CabbieBlog have decreased proportionately, indicating that I need to make the site more interesting.

Visitors – 28,813
Page views – 55,126

Visitors –  33,072
Page views – 56,276

CabbieBlog’s readers from abroad
Many of you might not be foreign, but simply ex-pats longing to reminisce of the good times spent sitting in the back of a London cab. The different countries whose residents have viewed CabbieBlog includes Jersey and Guernsey as if they were sovereign countries and curiously the European Union with 308 visits, first it isn’t a country and WordPress haven’t given it a flag. Could Brexit have something to do with this anomaly?

2015 – 136

2016 – 133

Number of comments
The yardstick of a blog must be how many of its readers decided to metaphysically put pen to paper and comment. To all of you, a huge thank you for your encouragement or discouragement. Your comments keep me submitting posts for your perusal. Although Brian Wright was this year’s top commentator, comments are diminishing year-on-year seemingly diverted to Twitter, Facebook or whatever community you lot spend all your time chattering in these days. But at least what comments remain are intelligent, relevant and insightful. I’m delighted, obviously.

2015 – 87

2016 – 29

Number of ‘likes’
It would appear that this year a couple of you have taken to the cyberverse to mark your approval of CabbieBlog, a huge thank you.

2015 – 0

2016 – 2

Followers of CabbieBlog
For those of you who can’t be bothered or don’t have the time, to check out my missives, you lot would have signed-up for regular e-mail updates or get a heads up from a RSS feed, Bloglovin’ or WordPress, whose simplicity allows thousands to read this blog without ever visiting it. As far as you’re concerned I’m no longer writing a continuous story, I’m generating atomised blogposts – which makes a complete mockery of attempting to count visitor numbers accurately anyway. I can’t calculate how many times you have taken the trouble to follow these notifications and read my rantings, but thanks for following CabbieBlog.

2015 – 130

2016 – 174

Posts written
This should be posts published rather than posts written, as sometimes (about one a month) a Guest Post has been uploaded, and it would be appear some of these guest posts have the correct keywords for Google’s algorithms to find. Last year’s most read post ‘10 Surprising Facts about the London Black Cab’ was one such guest post.

2015 – 128

2016 – 105


Most viewed and least viewed posts and pages
I has to be said that some subjects take on a life of their own while others just sit in cyberspace minding their own business. At the bottom of the table lie many posts with only one view a year, and some I suspect just sit there patiently waiting to be noticed.

Highest post
Ten cheap alternatives to Uber – 1,174
Lowest Post
Dear Diary . . . – 1
Highest page
Green cab shelters – 4,405
Lowest page
Pundon Calling – 4

Highest post
Ten Surprising Facts about the London Black Cab – 1,575
Lowest Post
A Sign of the Times – 1
Highest page
Green cab shelters – 3,997
Lowest page
National Geo – 3 

Pages written
Once in a while I’ll get round to writing a page that remains visible permanently and not buried below the three weekly posts. Here are the number pages I’ve been bothered to write recently.

2015 – 4

2016 – 2

Number of words written
I endeavour to keep posts down to 500 words, this I usually manage to achieve, unless I come over all animated about the article’s subject matter, which usually is something connected to the diminishing cab trade.

Words – 57,033
Characters – 330,413

Words – 64,792
Characters – 375,629

If you ignore the search engines (with Google clocking up an impressive 23,573 hits). The next highest referrers are Twitter at 1,793 and considering I’m not linked into the behemoth, Facebook recorded no less than 1,319 hits. The figures below are far more interesting for me, being from other sources of London information to be found out there in cyberspace.

Londontopia – 483
Taxileaks – 408

Londontopia – 373
Ian Visits – 267

Sitting in the back
I devote a page of CabbieBlog to my bums on seats and in the past, I’ve enjoyed the company, among others, of John Hurt and Barbara Winsor. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recognise most sportsmen, or women, so they are not so faithfully recorded – although I did once see Boris Becker in the back. Because we have seen an exponentially large increase in the number of private hire licenses issues (over 20,000 since the current Mayor of London was elected) there have been less’ bums on seats’ and this is reflected here.

Andrew Wilson (author and journalist, better known as A. N. Wilson)
Adam Boulton (journalist – Sky’s heavyweight)

Nobody of note
I’ll keep a better lookout next year

In conclusion
This past year has seen the demise of some great London blogs: Three Days in London, The Londoneer, and my all time favourite The Accidental Londoner. I suppose the hay day of blogging has past and many writers now have other commitments. The latest generation now emerging onto London’s scene regard a long read as passé preferring selfies or publishing their missives in 140 words or less.

As CabbieBlog enters its ninth year I’m very excited by the weekly London Trivia that commenced on 1st January and will continue to be published every Sunday. This feature will increase the word count next year (I’ve written over 90,000 words), although I am doubtful that it is likely to increase CabbieBlog’s footfall.

Thank you for continuing to support CabbieBlog and for having the tenacity to reach the end of what must be the year’s most tedious post.

Taxi! Taxi!

This remarkable film from the old Rank Organisation shows how much the cab trade has changed over the years. The most obvious difference is that cabbies worked for a garage while nowadays all London cabbies are self employed, and that they learnt The Knowledge on bikes. Other more apparent changes since being filmed is the low traffic levels and the slight haze caused by air pollution.

London Trivia: Hidden in plain sight

On 19 February 1982 it was reported Brixton police had adopted a rather novel way of conducting identity parades. Suspects would mingle freely with crowds at the foot of escalators, the witness could then look down from the top and hopefully from some considerable distance identify the culprit. It was said to assuage ethnic minority’s reluctance in coming forward to formal identity parades. It possibly gave the suspects a chance to disappear.

On 19 February 1401 William Sawtrey thought to be the first English religious martyr was burned at the stake at Smithfields

In 2005 drug-crazed squirrels eagerly dug up and ate the secreted stash of crack cocaine buried in garden flower beds by a dealer to avoid being caught by police in Brixton

One of the first houses in England to be lit by electricity was that of scientist Sir William Crookes at 7 Kensington Park Gardens

Seven people have died by falling off the Monument to the Great Fire of London before the safety rail was built, curiously the majority were bakers

In February 1820 in a stable in Cato Street the Bow Street Runners captured radical revolutionaries who planned to murder the Prime Minister

On 19 February 1965 in just two takes The Beatles recorded You’re Going To Lose That Girl at Abbey Road Studios, site of the famous pedestrian crossing

Brixton Market was the first market in London to have electric lighting and stands, as a result, Electric Avenue

In the 16th century Elizabeth I decreed that, ‘no foteballe (football) play to be used or suffered within the City of London’

On 19 February 2015 The Tube Challenge, for visiting all 270 stations on the Underground was beaten by Ronan McDonald and Clive Burgess in 16 hours, 14 minutes and 10 seconds

As well as ferrying passengers from A to B, Watermen would pull bodies from the Thames, landing them at Southwark

The Queen has nine Royal thrones – One at the House of Lords, two at Westminster Abbey, and six in the throne room at Buckingham Palace

CabbieBlog-cab.gifTrivial Matter: London in 140 characters is taken from the daily Twitter feed @cabbieblog.
A guide to the symbols used here and source material can be found on the Trivial Matter page.