I woke up today and being a millennial went straight onto twitter. The first tweet I saw was simply “Oh fuck” from a seismologist monitoring underground nuclear testing, not exactly the person you want swearing on a Sunday morning. North Korea had let off another test and this one was a biggy. As I sipped my tea I moved on to aimlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram which were far less terrifying.

I don’t know how seriously to take the threat of a North Korea induced nuclear winter. On one hand, with ego driven nut cases in charge of the big red buttons it feels like all it will take is either one seeing a tweet about their haircuts. But on the other hand I have to trust that the international bodies that have been set up since the last few wars are there to protect us and are possibly doing a good job.

I think where I have put nuclear attack on the Runawaykiwi worry scale is somewhere between embarrassing myself during a work presentation and chocking on a penny that someone has left in my tea (not a fantastical situation, this has actually happened to me). Given how this year has gone maybe it should be higher, but the absolute lack of being able to impact this fate means it is quite far down on the list.

In rather terrible timing I have been attempting to read books lately after years of only reading things in tweet form. Reading itself is not terrible, many people would argue that it is in fact a good thing. The problem is that that Taloned witch Lex recommended I read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, a delightful tale of living in a post-apocalyptic reality. In the book the apocalypse comes in the form of a fast acting flu that kills most of humanity rather than a Trump vs North Korea pissing contest, but the effect is somewhat the same. (Side note: it is a amazing book which unveils the story in a very clever way as well as creating a terrifyingly realistic post-“oh fuck” world).

This combination of book and tweet made me think on a Sunday morning made me think about where I would want to be when the world ends. Given how much I agonise over my physical location (I still manage to have a weekly existential crisis over it) the answer was astoundingly quick and simple: New Zealand. The reality is that in a post-apocalyptic situation New Zealand just has so many advantages. Low population density in relation to the size of the land means there is a chance we can get enough food for everyone. Fewer guns means the initial riots will have a significantly lower chance of death. And with the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude there is every chance that NZ will just keep trucking along as normal pretending everything is ok. Oh, and my family is there.

Now, I choose London with every fibre of my being because of the history, the culture, endless museums, galleries and markets. I choose it for the ability to make my own choices, be 100% authentic to me and to have career opportunities that don’t exist back home. But in an apocalypse? I don’t think any of that matters. Mum making me a cup of tea from tree bark foraged from behind the ear of a sheep will matter. And knowing her she will make it taste delicious.

So essentially I have to comb over every detail of Trump’s tweets to try and get the last flight out before that big red button is pushed…too bad I’ve already muted him.

  1. I spoke with a British accent when I was a toddler for no apparent reason
  2. Endless walking is where I get my best ideas
  3. I go through 4 pints of milk in a week
  4. Cotton Candy grapes and flatto Peaches are my favourite seasonal fruits
  5. Watching Disney parks vlogs is my easy wind down
  6. I once made a hovercraft for a school project and a miniature trebuchet just for fun
  7. I avoid popping candy, burpees and sunlight glinting off cars because they all make me feel like I’m having a migraine
  8. I hate surprises, I read all the spoilers before I go to a movie (Game of Thrones was the dream scenario)
  9. Pikelets (mini pancakes to you non-kiwis) are my ennui food, and I make it with the measuring cup I stole from my Mum
  10. I am very easily scared by people coming around a corner too fast

When I first started blogging it was all afternoon tea all the time. In part this was because there used to be a kick ass blogging afternoon tea every month or so, it was a perfect combination of making friends and adventuring over London. But it was also because afternoon tea is just such a ‘London’ thing to do, and back when I was young and enthusiastic anything that made me feel truly ‘London’ was top priority. I have relaxed into living here a lot more now (ok, can my friends stop sniggering at the concept of me being ‘relaxed’) and so the afternoon tea with its high cost and dry-ass scones have drifted away.

That was until the other weekend when Emma invited me along to try the bunch afternoon tea at the Le Meridien Hotel. Of course I was excited by the concept of a brunch afternoon tea because brunch is an awesome lifestyle choice, but mostly I was excited to hang out with Emma. NB: We were a guest of the Le Meridien Hotel…or more specifically Emma was and I am just really good at gatecrashing.

Emma is not just my first blogging friend in London, I think if I remember rightly she was my first friend in London. We had followed each other on twitter shortly after I arrived in the UK and for a while traded expat woes in 140 characters or less. One day about six months into my London adventure I went to my first ever blogging event (man this post is full of firsts), it was a ‘Ladies in Blogging’ evening where we learned…something? I’m sure it was really important, and I am also sure that I should have been paying closer attention (5 years into blogging and I still can’t tell you a sparrows fart about SEO).

At the drinks before the lecture I had my brave pants on and was actually making an effort to talk to other humans. After talking for about ten minutes to this English girl she turned to me and said “are you Runawaykiwi?”. Turns out this English girl was actually London Kiwi Emma (yeah she is basically the Dr Who of accents, I’m waiting for her to regenerate as cockney soon), and I would continue to stalk her for the next five years and counting.

I think Emma is one of the most generous people I have met. She is the very first person to extend an invitation to something blog related (she is a real champion of other bloggers) and has the best collection of obscure and weird things to do in London. Oh and she is also the very first person to laugh at me when my reaction to being scared in an escape room is to scream and fall to the ground. What can I say, my fight or flight reflex sucks.

Anyway…this post was meant to be about afternoon tea right? So it was partly because it was brunch themed, but mostly because the stars had aligned and Emma and I were in the same country and free on the same day. The afternoon tea was O for Awesome. I am totally over dry little sandwiches but at this afternoon tea you got a full English served in a Yorkshire pudding, yes it was as good as it sounds. There was also eggs benedict in a little pie thing, scones flavoured with red pepper, chilli and cheese, and of course a tray of sweet treats.

The best part for me was the cocktail that I had with it which was gin, Earl Grey, sage and raspberries. It was bonkers how strong the Earl Grey flavour was, something I am going to attempt to recreate at home. I can just put a tea bag in a shot of gin right?

Well…that was a longer post than intended. If you just wanted the short version: Emma is an awesome friend and if you are still on the afternoon tea wagon then the Brunch Afternoon Tea at the Le Meridien Hotel is a tasty one to try.

Xx

My lovely cousin recommended a book to me when I was home over Christmas:  Hap Working the World. The book is about a Kiwi guy who had a life mission to work on every continent of the world before he turned 30. It took me a while to get started on it because I thought it was just going to be either an Eat Pray Love experience or just a list of awesome things that he did, instead this book made me go all 2016 Kylie and ‘realise’ things.

This book is travel before social media. It sounds shocking, but yes travel did exist before Instagram. These days I am so damn skeptical about travel photos I see on any social network, you can almost put money on the real place not looking like it does in the photo. It’s not even filters or Photoshop that’s to blame (although they are 90% of the problem) it’s also photos being taken at 5am on a special press trip before reality dares turn up. They are beautiful photos, the places inspirational, but if I go there I will never experience that social media world that I lusted after.

Hap’s travel however is as far away from the Instagram dreamscape as you can get. Hap’s travel was sleeping in a car for a month because hostels cost too much, working as a fine dining waiter on a ship crossing rough waters (while seasick) just to be able to tick Antarctica off the list. Hap’s travel is being crippled by depression in locations that on the face of it are carefree and picturesque.

I think that is the crux of why I liked this book so much. I have written before about expectations of expats when they move to London; many people have this idea of what their time in the big city will be like, they will be young, wild and free. They will be the life of the party, not get bothered by the little things and be waking up early for every sunrise. This view is a little soul crushing in the end, because what these baby expats have forgotten is that they will still be themselves on the other side of the world; except now they won’t have a support network.

No matter how much I long to be in that Instagram of a beach party as the sun goes down, in reality I hate parties – they are loud, full of strangers and surfaces are always questionably sticky. Same goes for most social media posts that make my heart wanderlust, if I was actually there I would probably be obsessing over the small things, tired and shitty. {NB: I know that travel is life affirming and magical, but I am also very realistic that it is not all perfect, there are a lot of ups and downs when it comes to travel.}

I loved the honesty of Hap’s book. He had a mammoth goal, and did everything (except that) to make it happen. At the same time striving for and achieving his goal didn’t make life easy or perfect. In many ways he would have had a far easier life if he had listened to the Russian billionaire and settled down into middle management (seriously, Hap had some wild adventures). I think the chapter where he goes in depth into the feelings he had after completing his working adventure, it will resonate with anyone who has done something big and scary only to be put back into normal life.

I feel like this book should be compulsory reading for any kiwis in their late teens or anyone who thinks dropping everything to travel is a life panacea. Travel will teach you many things, and it looks brilliant and shiny from the outside – but you can’t run away from yourself and your own expectations. To be honest I think everyone should travel and live somewhere outside New Zealand at some point, it teaches you far more about yourself than you could ever learn staying in the same place. But going into travel with a realistic view of what it will be like will save you so much heart ache.

If you know going into London that it will be busy, you will feel lost and alone, that the winters are impossible and the summers far too short, that jobs that you love are hard to come by and that Europe while tempting is often given up in exchange for sleep-ins after spending all your money at the pub… then you won’t beat yourself up for ‘failing at London’ when it all inevitably comes true. God knows there will be enough good bits to make it all worthwhile, but they don’t eliminate the strength you need to get through the bad bits.