In the weeks and months leading to my great escape from London I couldn’t wait to be rid of the place. Now, less than a year later, I feel a strange sort of homesickness.
It seems absence really does make the heart grow fonder. It could be the fact that New Zealand is moving into winter now and the European summer is on its way, but I’m really starting to miss the London chaos that I wanted to escape not so very long ago.
Off the top of my head, these are the top 10 things this New Zealander misses most about living in London and the United Kingdom in general (besides my mates).
As the weather gets cooler here, I find myself missing good old English pubs more and more. New Zealand has better coffee and cafes than the UK, but great pubs are few and far between. I wrote a blogpost about London’s best riverside pubs; suffice it to say, I spent A LOT of time at the pub during the five years that I lived in London.
I had a real love-hate relationship with Transport for London when I was living in the UK, but now that I live in a city without a good public transportation system I really wish I could jump on the London Underground with a million people and travel anywhere in the city within an hour. I’m sick of trying to find somewhere to park my car.
Richmond is one of my favourite places in London because in the summer my mates and I would go there and spend a day drinking by the river. It really is a rather lovely spot, though, even if you’re not there just to drink.
It’s rather difficult trying to keep up with what’s happening in the English Premier League when you live in a country that’s 12-hours ahead. There are few things that will get me out of bed in the middle of the nights and, sadly, football just isn’t one of them.
Variety is the spice of life and sometimes it’s just a little bit boring when everyone sounds like you do. The enjoyment I’d get out of listening to the different English accents never got old when I lived in London. Nor did it seem to get old for my mates, who would relentlessly mock my Kiwi accent daily.
I love Borough Market. The food market in Southwark was one of my favourite places to visit in London on a Saturday morning because there’s just so much delicious food on offer and my eyes were always bigger than my stomach. Auckland has a pretty sweet French market in Parnell but it’s just not the same.
What can I say? I’m obviously a big fan of London’s many great markets. At Camden it was almost as much fun people-watching as it was to browse through the markets. And we’d always grab some Chinese food for lunch down by the canal.
I don’t know how other international visitors to London feel about this, but I loved it that I could always grab a sandwich for lunch from my local Tesco, Sainsbury, Cooperative or Marks and Spencer. I loved the convenience and the variety of supermarket sandwiches in the UK. I’d often grab a little packet of crisps, too.
London is home to the world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis championship: Wimbledon. I’ve never really followed global tennis but, in London, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the excitement when even non-sport fans follow The Championships. I went three years in a row and now I feel like I’m really missing out come time for Wimbledon.
Living in London was like living in the centre of the universe. It seems there’s always something of global importance happening, whether it’s the London during the 2012 Olympic Games or the ludicrous News of the World phone hacking scandal. It’s very exciting.
At times, even living in New Zealand’s largest city is like living in some quiet little backwater on the edge of the world. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the world…
Looking for more London posts? Check out the following: