London is a gorgeous, cantankerous, sprawling behemoth of a city, and as if you couldn’t tell already, it’s stolen my heart (though I will always be a Kiwi all the way down to my wide feet and toes). A little balance is in order with last week’s 5 things I miss about New Zealand; the name of the blog is Adventures of a London Kiwi afterall…
1. The Architecture:
When I first came to England, I didn’t quite realise what spell it would cast on me, but the ability to explore the nooks and crannies, and never running out of them keeps me fascinated. Initially the plan was to be here only for a couple of years and was a springboard to travel around Europe. What I didn’t count on was how tightly London would snare me in it’s grip – in more than 7 years I’ve not tired of discovering new quirks, new history and new corners all with their own unique identities.
Some places are pretty grim I can’t sugarcoat it – sadly it’s inevitable that there are good alongside the bad, but you learn where they are (and which ones have tiny restaurants with the best underground food). There is simply everything here, from 7th-
2. Ease of public travel
I’m not talking here about commuting, that’s a whole different kettle of fish. But, you can move thousands of people across the whole city in less than an hour. That’s something special. (Also read 10 signs you’re becoming a Londoner & let me know how you scored!) This isn’t even mentioning the Channel Tunnel and access to Paris and Brussels within 2 hours. We are simply just spoilt for choice.
You can be whoever you want to be, there will be a group of friends somewhere. I’ve just discovered something – typing ‘friends’ into my blog search bar brings up 8 pages of results. I’m very blessed with people who put up with me.
I love New Zealand, but I think in my heart of hearts I was a wanderer looking for a place to settle. It’s taken me a long time to find a community that fits me in, because it never actually existed. I’ve ended up with several communities who I fit in various ways which is so much the better.
4. Food, glorious food:
Thai, Russian, Croatian, American, Kiwi, Brazilian, Czech, Lebanese, Indian (well, Anglo-Indian), Sri Lankan, Japanese, you name it (and funnily enough if it has a football team) there is bound to be a restaurant hiding somewhere offering delectable home cooking of their mother country. Sadly, I have it on good authority that really authentic Mexican can be little hard to find though – I wonder if it’s the lack of sunshine?
You can brunch, afternoon tea, sup(per), breakfast, dine, or even grab a packet of crisps in your local pub. Be aware of the unwritten crisp rules though – buy enough for the table to nibble and open the packet up. “This is a complex operation. Open the bag of crisps at the top fully, and then tear down the side seam and allow the tear to continue across the front of the bag to the opposite corner. This opens out the bag, which can then be placed on the table, for communal sampling.” Perennial favourites are Salt and Vinegar or Prawn Cocktail, but Cheese and Onion may also be appropriate (Ready Salted seems to be seen as boring). If you feel adventurous, try Beef or Worcester Sauce flavour.
And then Curry. Ohemgee. You aren’t a proper expat until you have fallen in love with an anglo-indian curry. My absolute favourite? Lamb Saag (spinach) Gosht with Mushroom rice and a Peshwari (nutty) Naan. So naughty, but oh so good. I do have one question though: what is up with 50 varieties of Baked Bean in supermarket aisles and the misnomered London Cheesecake?
5. The right to drive sheep across London Bridge:
Needless to say I’m just waiting for my turn.
So, Londoners/ex-Londoners. What do you love about this crazy city, and what have I missed off my list?