So far this year I have taken 23 flights. This means a scary amount of time hanging around in airports, and in particular time spent waiting in the boarder control lines to get back into the UK. I snort laugh in the direction of any panicking Brexiters who continue to proclaim that the UK has no border controls…yes you fucking do.

Normally it is around 45 minutes per trip that I have to spend waiting in the snaking queue surrounded by jetlagged, hungry and confused fellow non-Brits. The worst was a two hour wait where I almost popped a ventricle because they only had three agents on. The best was like winning lotto after a trip to Berlin where there was not a single person in the line ahead of me.

I am normally the one that power walks (read: gallops like a millennial zombie) to the Border line as fast as my jandals will let me, just in the hopes of getting there before whatever plane of foreigners that has just arrived. But with the amount of flying I seem to be doing (and I am about to be in Germany for all of July) I was getting wholeheartedly sick of the hours I spent in that damn line. I’m not even going to start on a rant about those stupid landing cards and the people who forget to fill them out.

So I did what I should have done a year ago and joined the Registered Traveler Scheme. Essentially if you meet the criteria you can pay the government £70 a year for the privilege of using the e-gates (turning your 45min+ wait into a 5min wait). I think what took me so long to sign up is that I still consider it a bit of a rip off, and it’s not like waiting in a line for a bit is going to kill you. But when I only have two days in London between trips I just don’t have the time to waste. Government you win this round.

Anyway since this seemingly ends my interactions with the front line of Brexit, those hard working border control agents who have not smiled in 80 years, I thought I would bring you my most memorable ‘getting back into the country’ stories. Although in saying that, I tried to use the e-gates for the first time this week and it threw up a ‘Seek Assistance’ error and I had to go to an agent anyway. Sigh.

  1. Airport: London Heathrow

The very first time I came into the UK on my ancestry visa, all excited about moving to London, the agent asked ‘Who did you get this visa through’ and I answered “my Mum’s Mum”. “Your GRANDMOTHER” he angrily replied as if he had caught me out in a massive lie, before going on to ask if she was still alive. I said no, to which he said the sentence that still sticks in my brain to this day “Well, as least she was a bit useful then”. Fuck you Mr border control man.

  1. Airport: Stockholm Arlanda

This is still the best thing that has happened to me in an airport. After flicking through my passport for a good five minutes (and me getting more and more concerned about what was wrong) the good looking Swedish man checking it looked me straight in the eye and said “I’ve had you before”. I mean, I always have a good time in Sweden but not so good that I would forget sleeping with someone. After seeing my startled expression he turned bright red and clarified that he had stamped my passport before.

  1. Airport: London Heathrow

On the trip from Berlin mentioned above I was riding high that I got to go straight to the desk (after still having to walk through that snaking line even though there was no one there) but then the agent started quizzing me about my job in detail that I had never seen before. ‘What type of analyst are you’, ‘What are your hours like’, ‘Where are you based’ – I thought it was because I was dressed in a kitten t-shirt and ripped jeans so he was skeptical weather I was telling the truth. Nope, turns out he was incredulous that I was full time employed rather than going contracting. He said I was making a big mistake, and that if I went contracting I would be making far more money and have a better CV. Maybe that’s why the lines take so long, because they are not only protecting the border but also giving out career advice.

  1. Airport: Cologne

It was a late flight and I was feeling rather ratty, when I handed over my passport the boarder agent frowned as he flipped through it. He then called over his manager who joined him in the intense study of the pages. Then his colleague sitting with him in the booth got involved with the flipping and the feeling. At this point I was wondering if I was going to be on the next plane out of there but no, after all that he stamped and handed my passport back to me saying “New Zealanders have the most beautiful passports”. Thanks?

People keep asking me when I am going to move home. I don’t know if it is my advancing years (apparently at 28 I should have kids and an alcohol habit already…I have one of those things), that I have been in London past the 5 year limit or that recent terrorist attacks have made everyone work hard to justify London life – but it has made me really think about why I am still so in love with London.

I don’t know if it is even love any more. I have written time and time again about how much this city gives me life, I’ve written sonnets to its energy and beauty. But now? Now something has changed in my feelings towards London Town, it’s all becoming a little less exciting and a little more stretched out and comfortable around the edges.

I’ve always said that London is a hard city to live in, it steals your energy and your money. Unless you put effort in it is an isolating place to be and don’t even get me started on the practical side of things like rent and windowless bathrooms. Today though, today I think my perspective of easy and hard has changed. I am so time poor these days that I want to be able to experience life and friendship in small intense bursts because that is all I can manage. And my dear London is perfect for that.

Last weekend I had two hours free before hopping on yet another plane. I got the tube to Old Street, had breakfast at Ozone (massive benefit of dining alone is you never have to queue for a table), then wandered through the world of street art that is Shoreditch before heading to Heathrow once again.

In those two hours I got more stimulation, relaxation and felt more like ‘me’ than I used to in an entire weekend when I first arrived. I used to be so concerned about what everyone else thought of my life, that I was doing everything ‘right’ (shout out to my fellow perfectionists), that I got overwhelmed by the city. Now that I have to focus so much more on getting the most out of small bits of life that I have finally played into London’s sweet spot.

Forget trying to do everything. Forget long days traipsing between markets, attractions and halfway across the city to meet a friend you don’t actually give a shit about. London now lets me experience a world of amazing opportunities, just a little at a time. I spent so long caught up in what I was missing out on that I exhausted myself in the attempt. Now I am getting pure childish enjoyment in taking London one bite at a time.

If I was in New Zealand I would wait for months anticipating (hoping) a new brunch place opening up. In London with hundreds to navigate (download my app if you want help!) it was more a ticking off the list exercise rather than relishing the moment.

I don’t doubt that my relationship is going to change time and time again with London, but for right now I have no intention of moving on. This city is still full of likeminded friends, opportunities beyond what I could get in New Zealand, and pretty damn good coffee. And now that I am not killing myself to see it all, I can finally get round to enjoying it.

It’s finally time to announce my first secret project…I launched an app! It’s been a long time coming but you can finally have me in your pocket all day long (in the least creepy way possible). What is this app I hear you cry? Well, one of the most requested things is for me to put all my coffee, brunch and things to do recommendations on a map, with this app I’ve been able to do one better.

My London by Runawaykiwi is like having a know it all friend ready and waiting to introduce you to this crazy city. Once you download it you will find such delights as:

  • A just arrived in London survival guide for when you need to register with a doctor, buy furniture for the flat or you just want to make friends
  • Links to my latest blog posts
  • Coffee recommendations based on years of hard research
  • A ‘freaking out’ section for when you are at your lowest and just need someone to tell you it will all be ok
  • And of course, if you are in the middle of London and have a brunch emergency, it will tell you where near you does a Runawaykiwi approved brunch

The reason I wanted to create an app is for me five years ago. That curly haired innocent kiwi trying to decide what was good or not based on anonymous London reviews. All I wanted was for someone I trusted to tell me if I was going to be wasting my time. Yes I could spend endless hour’s googling for cafes or things to do, but it was really hit and miss depending on the person recommending it. Well, you know me (after 700+ posts probably better than I know myself) and hopefully trust my version of London.

It’s taken me about six months to get it to where it is today so I am slightly freaking out at the thought of people actually using my little old app. I’m sure there will be some teething problems, but please shout if there is anything I can do better.

At the moment only the iTunes version is up and running because I am in the middle of an argument with Google. Fingers crossed the Android one launches as soon as possible, I will blog about it as soon as I hear anything back from the Big G.

This is the first time I have done anything like this, so let me know what you think! You can search the app store for ‘My London by Runawaykiwi’ or click this link: Take me to the app store

I never quite know if you are interested in little life update posts or not. For all I know you only come for the raging over Clear Blue adverts and stay for the brunch recommendations. But since you aren’t exactly here to ask…I guess I shall ramble on about where I have been recently (and why the blog has been so quiet).

I swore to myself at the start of the year that I was going to calm down on all the travel. In theory I live in London, which is slightly hard to do when I’m not here half the time. That vow lasted all of five minutes, since March I have spent two weeks in Sweden, two in New Zealand, a weekend in Berlin and I got back from a few days in Cologne last night. Looking at that I consider the vow a total and utter fail.

I know that it sounds like the dream (I would have thought that a few years ago) but when you are traveling for work its long, hard and stressful. No matter how sexy the destinations its pretty much just me in a conference room and then back to my hotel for spreadsheets and Skype meetings. I do however love my job, so I just have to lump the stupid travel. Although I have just brought a felt underlay for my ironing board so don’t say my lift isn’t full of thrills.

Anyway, the whole travel thing makes the blogging thing rather hard to keep up with.

I have actually done something fun recently. Last weekend when I was in town for a couple of days I made it to the Tate Modern to see the new extension. It is still my least favourite modern art museum ever (I find it so hard to find the damn art), but the view from the top is hard to beat. And climbing the ten flights of stairs to get to the top counts as a high intensity workout I’m sure…

So where am I right now? I am in bed in my flat in London listening to the sound of my washing machine while trying to stop this cold before it goes full flu. And what am I doing right now? I have two top secret projects that I am working on at the moment (seriously, my blog is starting to feel like an abandoned step-child) one of which I will announce next week, the other should be mid-June. I know its entirely lame to hint at exciting things. But give me this one – the one coming mid-June I just spent all my savings on so I feel entitled to a little build up.

I am now back for two whole weeks so I am planning on doing some actual London fun times. It is time for me to actually get out and do rather than sit at home and work. Any suggestions for what I should put on my list?

xx