I can’t believe I’ve come to day 365. Where did the year go? It’s been a little busy I guess…
I’m not going to write a big list of things that have happened, because that’s exactly what this blog has been about all year – so if you’re a regular reader you will know and if you’re not, well, get back to the start and find out!
I’m not going to lie, writing a 365 blog has been a challenge (one friend did ask “WHY would you do that to yourself?!”). At first there was so many new things to write about that it was easy. But gradually as life settled down, as it is wont to do, it was hard to write daily, both for lack of time and subject matter. I did think about just a photograph on some days but that didn’t always work either (because hey, even in London you still walk the same way to work every day!). Sometimes I was overwhelmed with things to write – like our visit to NYC – and other times life just chugged along. And even more times there were (are) things I was unable to blog about at all. So recently it's been rather more adhoc.
1.You become ridiculously impatient. As you fight back tears at the whopping THREE minute wait for a tube, you'll wonder how you ever handled missing the hourly train back home with such grace.
This is the opposite for me. I drove everywhere in Norfolk and becoming accustomed to the trains down here has been VERY HARD. If you don’t follow me on twitter (which you should by the way) you will have missed the almost daily RAGE that arises from having to commute with South Eastern Railway. I don’t have to get the tube as part of my regular journey but it IS really annoying when you just miss one and have to wait aaaaages (ie 3 minutes) for the next one
2. Paradoxically, you'll gladly wait an hour for a table at that cool new pop-up. You're choosy with your patience.
Not MrS and I. We’re a bit beyond trying to be that cool however we are prepared to book 8 weeks ahead to get into somewhere we really love. The only thing we might queue for is Burger and Lobster.
3. You become a total food snob. When you're trying a new cuisine every week, going home for a standard 'Spoons with your mates feels wrong. (Dem onion rings, tho.)
The main thing we think when we go to Norfolk for “spoons with mates” is how much bloody cheaper it is. (See here)
4. You lose all concept of what 'affordable' means. IT's FINE to spend 90% of your wages on rent, right? It's just how it is in London.
Ah, no rent for us pair of Generation Xers, although a mortgage, obvs. But oh those London House Prices. MrS and I were looking at a holiday cottage on the river in Norfolk and he suggested it may command as much as £750-800k and I said “pffft, more like £450k”. Yes. Indeed.
5.You develop storage skills like no other. When square footage costs precious money, you learn to make do. There's no surface, corner, nook or cranny that can't be turned into storage with a quick trip to Ikea.
Well, I’ve been here a year and in parts of the house you still wouldn’t know I existed. I don’t think we have a larger than normal amount of clothes and shoes between us. And if you remember me as an Imelda Marcos wannabe you would be amazed, nay shocked, at how few pairs of shoes I manage on now. However, we still spill over into an extra wardrobe in MasterS’s room (it’s ok, you didn’t REALLY want to come home this summer did you C?). All my winter clothes are stored in Norwich and I have to plan ahead by bringing them back on the right weekend. I fear I brought all my summer clothes back too soon… I am gradually imprinting myself on the house. Every now and then I pull out the contents of a cupboard and yell “is this beautiful, useful or especially sentimental?” at a bewildered MrS. This weekend we will finally be hanging up pictures and photos.
6. You become an eternal optimist. That persistent leak in the kitchen? It's a snazzy water feature! The mouse problem? They're pretty cute, really, and at least they aren't rats, hey? Repeat to fade...
See point 4 – we’re very lucky to own not rent…
7. You no longer care about personal space. You've had so much crotch-to-crotch contact during rush hour on the tube that having personal space actually feels a bit weird these days.
This is true to a certain extent. Although I’ve not had to call out any “Boob brushers” or “crotch grabbers” I have told a drunk man he was being inappropriate and reported a verbally aggressive man to the driver of a train at Lewisham.
I am also lucky that invariably I am commuting with MrS. And he’s 6 foot 2, so hey, who’s going to rub up against him?
8.You no longer go to the pub, you go outside the pub. The overspill is where ALL the action goes down.
9. You sort of dread having visitors from home. The whole 'the rent/booze/cinema/milk costs HOW much here?!' never gets old. OH WAIT IT DOES.
We don’t have this so much from visitors, as our only real “visitors” are our little darlings so they don’t notice the cost of anything. Funny that.
10. You end up hating almost all pedestrians. The texters, the swervers, the slow-pokes... They really should teach 'how not to be a dickish pedestrian' in school or something.
Add to this the moronic cyclists, the cretins who stand in front of the ticket barriers, the stand-on-the-left-of-the-escalator idiots, the backpackwankers, the selfish bag-on-the-seat fools, the MANY MANY witless tourists….
11. You bask in your own unimportance. So long, town where everyone knows each other's business. Here, you can do what you want with whoever you want and nobody will know. Muahaha.
True. Unless you write a blog about it of course ;)
Seriously though, no one gives a damn what you wear, look like, who you marry, what you eat, what nationality you are.
12. You firmly believe Contactless is a human right. Going back home and having to spend the five longest seconds of your life typing your PIN is a nightmare. And there's a special place in hell for places that only accept cash.
I’m a newbie to cashless. It’s ace. And if anyone dares to use an old fashioned PIN in front of you in the queue in Pret in the morning woe betide them.
13. Boredom is no longer a thing. From museums to parks and all-the-pubs ever, there's never an excuse to be bored in London.
This is so true. And so many of them are free! When I first moved here we made a point of trying to go to Norwich once a month and then equally try to do something in town once a month. We eat out a lot but recently everything has been so manic that our local adventures have taken a back seat. In a few weeks we will have time to breathe again. The only things we struggle with is the dog. Even though we have a dog walker every day we still can’t really stay in town for anything later than just a drink without forward planning. Fortunately, a friends daughter has recently been helping with her but it’s just like having a baby again – not much spontaneity unless the kids are home from Uni.
14. You don't bat an eyelid anymore. Lads-on-tour, preachers, hen dos, zanily dressed 'creatives' - you've seen it ALL. Probably on the circle line during one trip.
See also Point 11! This weekend just gone saw the austerity marchers mixing with people travelling to Ascot which made interesting people watching at Waterloo station.
15. Your coffee intake has inexplicably risen by 63%. Pret know your order before you even open your mouth.
I barely drank coffee til I moved here, now I have one on my way in at least once a week, so yeah I guess that’s a good guestimate!
16. You will fear buying a round with every fibre of your being. 'Tap waters all round? You guys look like you need some water. It's just as tasty as Gin and looks virtually the same!'
Ha ha not really relevant to me. I’ll just drink the gin thanks
17. You will feel guilty whenever you visit a chain. Every time you eat a Yum Yum from Gregg's, a locally-made artisanal doughnut dies inside.
This depends where you live and work. In Blackheath we supported the local cafes and restaurants. Now we order our meeting food from Pret and M&S because they’re right on our doorstep. Even the small village high street in Chislehurst has a Cost Coffee. I’m lucky to work next to Leather Lane where there are a plethora of cafes and street food stalls. If only I had time to go and enjoy them…
18. Travelling more than a couple of zones will feel like the longest trip on earth. Let alone going home to visit the family. Thank eff for Skype.
No one outside London realises how bloody long it takes to get anywhere. “Oh you live in London, we could stay and do X Y and Z”. Er, yes. It takes over nearly an hour to get to the centre of London from our house on public transport and we’re not even 10 miles out. When we go “into town” we go for the day too!
Also, anyone who tells you they’ve ever gotten to Kensington Olympia on the District Line is A LIAR. One District Line train goes there a year.
19. You will get cabs willy nilly like some kind of baller. Uber is a hard habit to break.
We’ve had limited (ie none) success with Uber, although Lindsey uses them like they’re her own personal transport system ;) We do get taxis home from town, but we also train in in the first place!
20. You're all about the hacks. Look at those tourist mugs, getting on that packed-out bus when Citymapper has told you there's another one in 0 minutes. Amateurs!
Yup, public transport and map apps coming Out. Of. My. Ears.
21. You end up walking everywhere. The places you thought were whole tube rides apart are literally a 4 minute walk. Your life has been a lie.
THIS THIS THIS! Yes! So many. I love walking round London (now my hip is fixed I like it even more.) The tube map is very deceiving if you don’t have the knowledge and walking is the only way to get that! Look: Leicester Square is only 250m from Covent Garden (and Covent Garden station is only accessible by lift or emergency stait case with 193 steps – that’s FIFTEEN stories!); Charing Cross to Embankment is about 300m; Chancery Lane to Farringdon by tube requires two changes and 4 stations yet they are within 5 minutes’ walk of each other. Mansion House to Bank: change once, 6 stops - as noted by Bill Bryson in Notes From a Small Island. AND you yell at the TV when someone gets on at one station and emerges at another on the WRONG LINE! The other way to learn is by bus. A bus journey in Central London is £1.50 for any length of journey. Having said that, I often overtake my bus on my morning walk from Cannon Street to Holborn.
22. You wear trainers outside the gym. They're like, COOL, here. Which is handy because of all that constant walking. You can't remember the last time you wore heels.
Yes! See point 21. I started off wearing flats but realised my knees (and then my hip) were getting wrecked. So now I have the most fluorescent pink Skechers “Go Walk” that I could find. MrS enquired why I wouldn’t want some of the type that “look more like proper shoes?” and I pointed out that I’d rather people realised they were trainers and I was wearing them for a reason than think I have dreadful taste in shoes.
23. You can handle a hangover like a pro. Drinking is not just reserved for weekends in the big smoke, so faking your way through morning meetings when you're holding back the sick/tears becomes a breeze.
EVERY night is party night in London. There’s not just Thirsty Thursday like the rest of the country. Oh no, there’s Oh-feck-it’s-Monday-again, God-it's-dull-Tuesday, Well-it’s-nearly-the-weekend-Wednesday, Fuckit-lets-get-pissed-Friday. Even Sunday night is full of people drinking in denial.
Whenever Lindsey and I go out on a week night we still spend the first 10 minutes commenting on how busy it is. Yup, you can take the girls out of the country… If you went out in Norwich on a Tuesday night, there’d be one other occupied table.
24. You realise it's totally possible to fall in love with a city. Head over trainers in love.
Yes, yes and thrice yes. After a year here I don’t feel like I’ve even remotely scratched the surface. I still look at that ridiculous fairy-tale bridge every day as I cross the river, stare in awe at the Shard, walk in the shadow of St Pauls, risk my life crossing the road and fight for pavement space with the tourists. There’s so much here to see and do, I want to do it all and just when I think I might, someone comes up with something else amazing I want to do, more fantastical places to eat and higher-up-in-the-sky bars to drink in. And I get to stand there with my new friend and together we yell “WE BLOODY LIVE HERE”
But of course, it’s not just the city I’ve fallen in love with. A year ago today I packed up the life I knew, had known for 25 years, and moved here to live with MrS. To believe in love again. Take a chance on love again. 3rd time for both of us. A triumph of hope over experience.
I don’t regret a single thing.
It really is never too late to change your life. Thank you for coming on that journey with me.
And thank you to these amazing people for making this the best year of my life so far
PS. I'm going to carry on writing here at Life and Love in London. Stick with me and hopefully it will get even more interesting!