Things I occasionally miss about London

Usually very little, to be fair. This past (almost) year I’ve been having way too much fun most of the time – creeping around a new country, speaking terrible Spanish and avoiding mirrors because excessive gin consumption has left me looking like Keith Richards. I miss the obvious things of course. Family, friends, Jaffa cakes. Other than that, 90% of the time I’m enjoying my new semi-nomadic life.

Today is one of those days where I’m missing London. It doesn’t happen very often but this week my city had one of its three annual days of rain. Instead of being moderately depressed I actually enjoyed it, because it reminded me of home. My other home, where Tesco plastic bags run wild in the streets, queues are a way of life and if your house doesn’t have a six month supply of tea bags, are you even really prepared for the apocalypse?

I didn’t grow up in London, but it was home for several years and I consider myself, for the most part, at least half a Cockney. So without further ado, here’s a mini love letter to some of the things I miss about the Big Smoke:

The Underground

Not even joking, I used to enjoy the Tube because, being a bike wanker who cycled everywhere, I only took it once or twice a week. I love the anonymity on the Tube, the way nobody wants to make eye contact. I love when, during rush hour, somebody gets stuck between the doors and pretends like nothing happened. I love targeting manspreaders by ‘accidentally’ putting my hand/bag on their leg. When I briefly lived in West London, I used to stay at friend’s houses in East and enjoy my hour-long, hungover journey back to Fulham with coffee and usually some terrible music to keep me company. Say what you want about the Underground – strikes and delays aside, it’s pretty cool.


Grumpy Londoners

It’s raining. Commutes are a bitch. Having to wear grey a lot of the time. House prices. Coffee prices. Cocaine prices (apparently). Nightlife coming to a screeching halt at 2am in lots of places. Tinder. Not having enough cash for your weekly cheeky Nandos. There’s a lot of reasons to be a grumpy old fart in London – I know this because I used to be one. There’s a great quote in Zadie Smith’s book NW, where one of the protagonists takes too long to make a decision in a corner shop and feels ‘the shame of having inconvenienced another Londoner’. Literally everyone is grumpy and in a hurry, but I feel like that’s part of the British charm in general.



My city in Spain is extremely white. I am an extremely white person myself, even I find this weird. One of the things I love about London is that it’s a total melting pot – like lots of parts of America but with less racism. You can walk down a street and hear multiple languages, see multiple continents represented in just a few steps. My area in East London had sizable communities from Bangladesh, West Africa, Turkey, the Caribbean and Poland to name just a few. Plus hipsters. This was pretty great because of the food options on offer, but also because I felt like I was part of a truly diverse, global community.


The parks

Victoria Park in the summer is one of the best things in existence. Hackney Downs comes a close second, followed by Allen Gardens just off Brick Lane, which was always a little bit dodgy. One time I was offered drugs three times in twenty minutes, by three different dudes. They were all very nice though.

The God awful weather

I actually like rain in small doses. Plus the weather gives you something to talk about – it’s a British tradition.

My people

I miss my London friends all the time. One of my crew recently relocated to Bermuda which has made it even more difficult for us to all get together more than once or twice a year. Weekends used to be sitting in coffee shops in East for several hours talking shit about work/people/life, drinking overpriced gin and blatantly ignoring the impressive London landmarks everywhere. The friends I’ve made on my travels in the past year are absolute legends, but I’ll always miss drunk brunches in E8 with a group of grumpy Cockneys.


For some reason I can’t find good bagels here.

There’s probably some other stuff too but I forgot. I’m not sure when I’ll be back next, but I’m keeping my Boris bike (or should it be Sadiq cycle) membership well and truly open.


Deciding to leave: part dos

In my first post, I talked about my *cough cough* perfect Millennial life in London and the steps I took to get me into a resemblance of a grown up lifestyle. Now I’m going to talk about how everything went a bit mental.

People will look back on 2016 as the year that the world really, really messed up. Britain chose to depart from the EU, the Americans put a tiny-handed ginger Hitler in the White House and to make matters worse, we lost a bunch of beloved celebrities (whatever year it is that you’re reading this, there’s still a good chance that I haven’t gotten over the death of Prince yet). I decided to follow the trend.

At the beginning of 2016, I’d accepted an exciting new job opportunity, I was looking for a house with my then-boyfriend, we were planning our future, I was even making my own green juices (I know, I know). By June I was broke, single, and rapidly regretting my decision to take the aforementioned job as I became disillusioned with my chosen industry. I wasn’t on a huge downward spiral as such, I was just a bit lost.
It wasn’t all bad. Things hadn’t been right with my boyfriend for some time and we quickly realised that we weren’t ready for a major commitment. I re-evaluated the industry I had chosen to work in and realised that there was a lot that I didn’t agree with, but that was ok – I didn’t have to dedicate my entire life to it. Things weren’t terrible, I didn’t quite move into a garret and start drinking laudanum, but I had no idea where I was supposed to go from this point.
Then came the obligatory clichéd epiphany moment. I went on my first solo trip in October, to Barcelona, a city I’d always wanted to visit, and it was there that everything changed and suddenly the world wasn’t quite so apocalyptic anymore. It was quite possibly the large quantities of sangria, or the excellent weather, but either way I fell totally, irretrievably in love, not with a person, but with the city, and indirectly, with the idea of freedom. I realized that this new period in my life shouldn’t be seen as a failure or a crisis, but a time for new opportunities. Why should I settle into the same pattern everyone else was, when so many of them clearly weren’t happy? Why should I settle down when I actually just wanted to explore?  I was single, I had no ties, I was finally having the quarter life crisis that everyone else had been banging on about and there had clearly never been a better time to indulge the crazy streak.
So I decided to quit my job and move to Spain. I studied for my TEFL certificate, quit my job, accepted a job in Barcelona for the summer, and tried to learn Spanish properly instead of picking it up from Pitbull videos. I’m leaving in a few weeks. Some days I’m beyond excited. Some days I feel like I’ve gone completely insane. Either way, it’s pretty crazy, but I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life other than the fact that I need to make a change.
I don’t know whether I’ll make this into a blog, or a book, or just hide it somewhere on my hard drive never to be discovered. It’s a form of therapy for me in one sense, allowing me to articulate my thoughts. I also hope it will be a hilarious insight into moving abroad and all that guff about finding oneself. If anyone does read this, I hope you enjoy it. Let’s see how it goes – and don’t forget to remind yourselves of the craziest things you’ve done lately – see if you can top it.




Deciding to leave: part uno

*puts on terrible rom com voice* What’s the craziest thing you’ve done lately?

I’ve been known to make a few crazy decisions in my short but moderately eventful life. If the human experience was a giant conga line, I’d be at the front, getting everyone involved, changing direction at inopportune times. To quote my father ‘we’re do-ers in this family  – DO-ERS!’ No jokes at the back, please.
Despite what some would call an impulsive streak, I’ve pretty much always done what was expected of me. I did reasonably well in school, I chose extracurricular activities that were actually constructive (e.g. taking up musical instruments instead of experimenting with hallucinogenics). I did well in my exams, went to university and did reasonably well there, albeit while developing a strong affinity with gin and rugby players. I finished with a good degree, toiled away in unpaid internships and crappy dead-end jobs to make money, got a job in an industry I’d always wanted to work in, and the rest is history.
It’s worth noting at this point that during this period I was still rolling with the crazy streak, but with caution, because I was always wary of not screwing up my future. Controlled spontaneity, planned recklessness, was the name of the game. I’d go out all night but still show up to all my classes. I’d consume all the gin (and occasionally other things) that came my way but sweat it out in the gym afterwards. My motto should really have been: ‘All things in moderation, even moderation’. But we digress. Despite indulging my crazy streak when appropriate, I did well. I worked hard. I mean, really hard. When I finished university I was working call centre jobs and other ad hoc moneymaking schemes half the week, to make enough money to spend the other half of the week in London, doing ridiculous tasks in the name of internships and public relations, daahhllling. Once I was asked, on a day off, to travel into London to deliver an item of jewellery to a photo shoot. The errand took me over three hours and I got lost twice, but it was ok because it was exciting. This was a necessary stepping stone to a dream career.
It paid off – at 21 I was living with friends in London, working in my first ‘proper’ PR job. At 23, I was in a management role earning more money than I knew what to do with, living in an area of East London that was just dodgy enough, plus I had managed to snag a good-looking, successful boyfriend who didn’t have a face tattoo or live in a car. I had a solid group of friends, a vague future plan that involved owning a home, getting married and popping out at least two children. They say your Twenties is the decade in which you make mistakes, fumble through a façade of adulthood while desperately trying to find yourself, but I didn’t buy it. I looked at my perfectly on-track life with an air of smugness while friends and acquaintances struggled around me.
Well as you’ve probably guessed by now, the whole reason I’m writing this is because everything kinda went to shit. Stay tuned for Part Dos…