I feel like I've said this a hundred different times and in a hundred different ways. But, after all this time I adore you. Even when you drive me utterly crazy.
After exclaiming at my British accent (for some reason I seem to be at pains to tell people I am of antipodean origin) people always ask me how I ended up living on the other side of the world. It's a strange combination of a gypsy soul, an obsession for old buildings and the unusual feeling of homecoming on Heathrow tarmac despite never setting foot on English soil before. But the reason for staying is you (plus a bloke and green-eyed cat which are both definitely your fault.)
Expat life with you isn't always easy. Don't let our sun-filled Instagrams of coffee be taken as unseeing tokens of rose-tinted love notes, but captures of contented moments which are occasional requirements of homesickness. Don't think that I don't have occasions that the grass seems greener. Don't assume that I never think of cheating on you with sun drenched homes.
Over the years I have called you a lot of deserved names. Tempestuous, stunning, old, demanding, fantastic, incorrigible, sassy, boring (which was unfair of me), mischievous, inscrutable, over-the-top, busy, magical and usually wonderfully ridiculous.
I have watched the rain drip down windows and collars for grey weeks on end, cursed at train delays caused by leaves, sat in quiet confusion at the unending stiff British upper lip, run breathlessly into closing tube doors, ordered ridiculously expensive treats from the other side of the world, tripped up cobblestones and learned how to hack London life.
But, we can walk past icons everyday, turn up at the box office of an evening and watch award-winning musicals ridiculously cheaply, disappear from London for a day trip to the countryside or beach within an hour or so, experience a night at the Opera losing myself in the haunting strains of contrapuntal melodies, nestle by pub-side fireplaces, eat in luxury hotels to soft piano music, pick up delicious burgers that will drip gravy everywhere or just wander into secret bars for weeknight cocktails with friends.
Since I've lived here, 4 years of blogging has opened my eyes to all kinds of amazing things in your streets. I've had afternoon tea with her Majesty the Queen in person, listened to Big Ben toll up close and watched the changing of the guards and herded sheep across London Bridge. I've discovered how to make expat life better, that friends become family and realised that homesickness is a passing gift that isn't often thought about.
Over the years we've explored you so much that I struggle to recommend just a few 'must see London landmarks' to my tourist friends - aside from them ALL which is never helpful - but there are still so many places to find adventure in for this London Kiwi.
You are full of stories. And promise. And mystery. And I love you still.