MY FAVOURITE THINGS My favourite things

My name is Irina Young and I am a chartered linguist (BA, PhD, DPSI, CL, MCIL). I was born in a country which no longer exists – the Soviet Union. I have worked as a university lecturer and researcher for academic and business applications and have published a number of articles on general linguistics and methods of foreign language teaching. Currently I work in the UK as a translator, interpreter and interpreter trainer and participate in voluntary work providing translations for non-for profit organisations.

Your best advice to someone just

arriving in the UK? After unpacking and seeing the obvious tourist attractions, explore your neighbourhood. Pop into every shop, café, restaurant and talk to people, both those who work there and their customers.

The best place to meet people?

If you have children, find a local

playground. Your children will make you talk to their friends’ parents – that’s how I met one of my best friends! Volunteer at a local charity shop, a hospital or school. They’re always in need of people. You’ll meet the community and learn a

lot how the system works, which helps finding your feet in a new country. For leisure, check out Majestic’s free wine tastings, visit Sipsmith Distillery for a tour and gin tasting, or Fuller’s Brewery to sample local beers and learn about history. Join Parkrun – a nationwide programme of Saturday 5k runs, which are free, open to all and beginner-friendly. In either case, you’ll meet like-minded people.

Your preferred pub, bar and/or restaurant? I love The Cinnamon Club in St James’. If you like Indian cuisine, you will appreciate the modern twist of the dishes served in a beautiful building – the former Old Westminster Library.

Your favourite place for a UK

weekend away? Visit Scotland, you can’t go wrong. Fly to Edinburgh or take a train if time is not an issue. The capital is really walkable. Then book a tour to the Highlands from a small travel agency by the famous castle. No need to book in advance, just drop in and see what is available on the day. The tour guides are so good – they will tell you lots

of stories and are good humoured, but be prepared for their accent and ‘chinwag’ (banter)!

The ultimate boutique or

clothing store? I absolutely love the V&A gift shop – I would buy everything there, from original postcards to one-of-a-kind pieces of jewellery, accessories or items of clothing. You can find something beautiful and unusual for everyone

Your favourite expression you have adopted since being here?

“Not too bad” – the typical English understatement! 36 FOCUS The Magazine September/October 2019 The best breakfast/ brunch/afternoon

tea spot? When you visit Kew Gardens drop in for breakfast, light lunch or afternoon tea at The Original Maids of Honour, a historic and quaint tea room like no other, occupying the same shop since the middle of the 19th century.

What is London’s best

kept secret? Open House London, held in September, is the greatest architectural showcase. You can go inside so many buildings which are normally not accessible to the public. Look at the list of the buildings on offer and book a tour.

The best place to take

out-of-town guests? The Thames river cruise from Westminster Pier to Greenwich. You will enjoy all of iconic London from the river and have a walk in the park and visit the museum.

Your favourite neighbourhood or area

to explore? Strand-on-the-Green in west London. There are so many authentic pubs along the Thames but The Bulls Head trumps them all.

Your favourite food to eat in the UK? Fish and chips. J Sheekey does it best or Randall and Aubin in Soho. If you prefer something more relaxed the Sea Shell of Lisson Grove is my choice.

Your favourite place to walk? South Bank – it’s good for people watching too! Lots of places to eat and lots of culture. Don’t forget to book your New Year’s Eve party at the Royal Festival Hall early – the best view of the famous fireworks).

Favourite place to go for

some quiet? The British Library. Arrive early to get a good spot. For a family day out visit the London Wetland Centre, Gunnersbury Park or Gunnersbury Triangle for bird watching, trails and crafts.

Your favourite way to spend a

Sunday afternoon? Watch a film at the BFI, the Gate Cinema in Notting Hill or Everyman cinemas in multiple locations – you can take your food and drink to the theatre.

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