Hi Perfect Cuppa, why do Londoners never seem to carry an umbrella with them? I often see people getting really wet when it starts raining but they don’t seem to have anything with them, which is weird for a rainy country, isn’t it?

Now I’d like to set the record straight here: lots of people accuse our weather of being rainy, but the reality is that you’ll find most of that rain is in the North West, Scotland, Wales and South West, which is why these areas are so lush and green. In fact, the South East is relatively dry and during many summers we end up with a hosepipe ban (not being able to water your garden). We certainly do have our rainy

days, but the exciting thing that British people have discovered is that the weather changes here a lot and is totally unpredictable, even for weather forecasters. So if it’s rainy right now, the sun might come out in two minutes. And if you think you’re being smart by following the weather forecast to work out what will happen then be warned; the BBC's weather forecast for rain works one hour in delay – so a 60% chance of rain at 4pm actually means there is 60% chance that there will be some rain between 3 and 4pm! Which is why it might lead to some wet people. Also remember weather is an

important part of any chat for British people. We love talking about the weather and it usually kicks off with a question: eg “_______ day, isn’t it?” (insert the correct word for the day in question: cold, sunny, mild, rainy etc) Apparently almost 40% of British people have talked about the weather in the past hour, at any one time, which is truly remarkable! It’s proba- bly why so many newspaper headlines are about the weather, both celebrat- ing and moaning about it. So, go on, get in the mood and get your weather chat ready.

Dear Perfect Cuppa, I find it hard to get to know my British neighbours, colleagues, in fact anybody British. They always ask, “how are you?” but don’t seem that interested in the reply. Why?

Tis may surprise you but even infor- mal conversations can have clear structures and rituals. Especially with people we don’t know well, we tend to steer clear of personal questions. Te response to “how are you?” is usually an automatic “fine, thank you and you?” without much detail, except maybe saying life and/or work is busy or good at the moment. We very rarely share what we really are feeling at this stage in the conversation, even if we feel ill or are having problems, unless we know somebody very well. At the end of meeting somebody we

also have our ritualised chat ending. You might hear a British person say, “we must catch up again soon for lunch/ coffee”, this is a fairly standard way to end the conversation and sometimes can be an empty invita- tion. It means, “sure, let’s see each other again sometime in the future, but I’m not going to fix a date now”. So don’t expect to start looking at your diaries together at that moment. As a result international residents

How are you...?

sometimes tell me they find it hard to get to know the British, which can be true until you get them down the pub or out for a social event, when you will see that the drinking culture allows many inhibitions to be dropped. Heading to the pub with friends or colleagues after work or at lunchtime on a Friday is a great way to get to know people, and it’s here you will find out more about their personal lives in a relaxed way. You don’t have to drink alcohol; it’s more of a bonding social experience.

Hi Perfect Cuppa, London seems to be a relatively family friendly city, so any top tips of where to go and what to do?

Now that is a big question and I could write a book on that topic! Yes, there is a lot going on for kids in London and children are pretty much welcome everywhere, including in most restaurants or pubs during the day (except at very smart ones), until 6pm. My favourite thing about chil- dren’s London is that most museums are free to visit and, of course, we have access to a huge number of parks and outdoor spaces, usually with ex- cellent play facilities for kids. If your kids are old enough for walking around, then London is an excellent city to discover by foot, and when they get tired, just simply hop on a bus and travel on the top deck for a great view. Top tip: if you’ve just ar- rived the Number 15 bus will take you past the best landmarks and places to visit, so you can just hop on and off the route. If you want to keep up to date with the latest on what’s happening in London for kids, then I recommend you check out Time Out London for Kids, plus the Hoop app, which sends a helpful weekly newslet- ter with the latest events going on. Another way to know about family-

friendly places, activities and recom- mendations for nannies, tutors, cleaners etc in your part of London is to contact FOCUS.

FOCUS The Magazine 5

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