This weekend I said goodbye to my home in London.
I had lived there less than a year but it was a whirlwind of a relationship…
I hated it at times when I felt stressed, lost and alone. I resented how little money I had to do all the things I wanted to do, that I still want to do (The Book of Mormon, Madame Tussauds and the Saatchi Gallery are on the list).
But now I’ve left the city for my dream job in Manchester – a place I’m sure I will love once I discover it – I have realised how much I loved living in the Capital.
Here’s quite a long, but by no means comprehensive, list of things (NOT PEOPLE) I will miss…
(P.S. Mancunians if you’re reading – what do I have to look forward to?)
1. Getting around
Okay, the Tube is pretty unbearable at rush hour in the summer where you’re guaranteed to smudge your makeup on somebody’s white shirt as you are thrust into their armpit, but London’s transport is the best in the UK.
The Underground gets you across the city swiftly, so you can go from two completely diverse places (eg. Fulham to Hackney) in minutes.
Or, when you’re feeling like a tourist, the buses let you see heaps of historical landmarks as part of your daily commute.
2. There is always something to do
Yoga, ice skating, ping pong, book clubs … even naked dining is possible in London. And you’ll be invited to hundreds of events by people with the vaguest link to you, they’re just glad of the numbers.
(And reformer pilates is considered standard, which is great)
3. Late nights
The City never sleeps. You party until the sun comes up and find breakfast at any hour.
4.The South Bank
Just walking along it, any hour of the day, soaking up the Thames (not literally).
My (old, sob) home, and its own little suburbia away from the hustling and bustling in Zone 1.
6. The British Museum
In fact, all of the museums. Although now Dippy the Diplodocus is going, the Natural History Museum has gone down in my estimations.
7. The National Gallery
And the rest…
8. The shops
You can find anything from a Selfridges to a tiny specialist shop in London, as well as stumbling upon pop up shops and markets all the time.
Alice Through The Looking Glass on Cecil Court is my favourite with unique, rare and interesting iconography inspired by the Lewis Carroll novels.
9. The trendy people
And wistfully knowing that you’ll never look that edgy.
10. Bumping into people you know in the busiest place in Britain
Despite there being around 8.7 million people in London, you still bump into people you know – even people you haven’t seen in years. Then there’s those special people you wish you could stay for.
11. Haggling for a curry on Brick Lane
It’s all around £12 per head, but that won’t stop you marching up and down the street in east London, bargaining for an extra onion bhaji like you’re abroad.
12. Fried chicken
And when you’re done with the curry and a night out, there is no shortage of fried chicken shops. If you’re a sucker for chicken nuggets like me, that’s a huge win.
Everyone comes to visit (and usually they stay with you)
14. The parks on a sunny day
They’re all great: London Fields, Clapham Common, Hyde Park, Richmond Park … and, of course, braving a dip in Hampstead Heath.
But a walk in the is Greenwich to gaze at the London skyline is the preferred spot for me, it’s just far enough from the centre to forget about the stress of the city.
15. The foxes
Because, although they are quite mangy, they can be cute
16. Free literature
Boarding the Tube, you are never short of something to read. Whether it is London Evening Standard or Timeout it’s one of the only cities where most people are reading papers on public transport, instead of staring at their phone.
17. The mass of cultures
The city’s demographic is so diverse there’s an opportunity to meet and experience people and cultures from all across the globe, all from the luxury of your own doorstep.
18. Direct flights to anywhere in the world
Perfect if you’re a holiday-holic like me.
19. Boarding a short train for Bath, Oxford, Brighton, Windsor, Winchester and other parts of the UK
For when you need a day away from the city.
20. The way Londoners grump about national events like the Olympics and Queen’s 90th birthday, but secretly enjoy it
Because we love being the centre of attention, really.
21. The Christmas lights and window displays
Nobody can resist strolling down Oxford Street to see the twinkling lights or checking out the huge Harrods display.
Battling the crowds at Christmas is worth it for what are essentially works of art.
22. Night buses and Tubes
The Night Tube is an absolute dream – you can get home from whichever bar you find yourself out, without forking out for an Uber (or having to deal with five cancelling on you because it is so busy).
The night bus is a little ropier, but it does the trick – where else in the UK can you get from A to B so efficiently on a budget?
23. Midweek drinking
Because nobody has far to go (see above), the opportunities for midweek drinking after work are high – just make sure you don’t peak before you eat!
24. Oyster cards
Most other transport systems in the UK don’t quite have the same ease of travel
25. Having a great restaurant, coffee shop and pub within walking distance
Who needs Deliveroo when you’ve got it on your doorstep?