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.

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

Greg, if you are reading this please stop here and don’t read the rest of the post. Actually if you are anyone who works with me please skip this blog. Look, if you know me in a work capacity just go and look at this picture of a puppy doing yoga instead.

Ok now that they have all gone, let me tell you how utterly stupid I’ve been recently.

I am a stupidly responsible person, I am uptight over most things but in particular being safe and looking after my possessions are my top two. Call it being single and having to get myself from A to B – I am accountable for my entire being. But no matter where this high level of responsibility comes from…I am the one you can give your handbag to when you go for a smoke.

So this is the awkward part…

I don’t know what the hell has happened to me recently, but I have left my work laptop in not one…but two bars in London. You can see why I told Greg the IT guy at work to stop reading, he would have a heart attack if he knew poor lamb.

The first incident was actually at a work function where we all went to learn how to make sushi. I got rather merry and wielded a knife with such artistry that I was named Queen of Sushi. Well, not quite but my sushi was judged the best out of the thirty or so people who were there and I won a sushi making kit.

My plan had been to head home for an early night but after my win the glory and the rice just went to my head. I ended up at an underground cocktail club necking gin and it wasn’t until I got home that with a sinking feeling I realised I didn’t have my laptop. Thankfully the sushi teacher had found it under a table and I was able to make a mad dash to collect it at lunchtime the next day.

I thought I had learned my lesson, I thought this was a once in 28years experience and it had scared me straight. I would never again lose my laptop (particularly not my work one) and I would return to my former responsible self.

And I did, for five whole weeks I did and then came the gin.

I was at the City of London Distillery which is one of my old haunts (it was the bar I went to for after work drinks when I was at my first London job). I made the rookie error of putting my handbag on the floor on one side of me, and my laptop on the floor on the other side of me. Two gins down I happily went on my way to meet a friend for dinner in Shoreditch.

It wasn’t till 1am that night when I sat bolt upright in bed realising I had once again left my laptop in a damn bar. Simple right? I could go and collect it the next day right? Haha what about me makes you think it would be that simple.

I realised the lack of laptop at 1am Saturday morning. I was flying out to Sweden for work on Sunday (where I would seriously need my laptop). The bar was closed on Sundays so Saturday was going to be my only time to pick it up, but two major problems…

  1. This is London and there was a high chance someone would just have walked off with it
  2. I was going to see both parts of Cursed Child (the Harry Potter play) on Saturday….and the only times the bar was open was when the play was on

I didn’t really sleep for the rest of the night, with the choice of missing the Harry Potter play or Greg being disappointed in me going round and round in my head.

From first thing Saturday morning it was a military style campaign of me ringing the bar every ten minutes to see if someone had handed it in. Turns out bars are not open first thing on a Saturday morning. I managed to get through to the bar at lunchtime just before leaving for part 1 of the play; after I ashamedly confirmed that my laptop was a Dell with an Apple sticker on it (don’t ask), they said they had found it!

First problem ticked off. But also who would have thought you could leave a laptop twice in London and people would hand it in?

Anyway the second problem had me running out of the doors at the end of Part 1 and flagging down a cab. Jumping in and shouting ‘Fleet Street’ at the driver is perhaps the most London I have ever felt. I made it to the bar and the lovely bar tender handed me my laptop with one hand and a G&T with the other (I think I was looking slightly harried). Fuelled by the power of gin I made it back to Harry in time for part 2 and to Sweden in time for work on Monday.

Moral of the story: think twice before leaving me with your handbag…maybe staple it to me somehow.

I don’t think I have ever told this story on my blog, the story of the first time I lived in London. I was 18, loved a good headband and was ready(?) to go to the other side of the world for a semester abroad. Questionable fashion choices aside it was a life changing experience driven purely by sisterly one-upmanship (I was a horrible little sister!). The exchange lead to me vowing I would never again live in London because it was such a terrible and boring place – clearly I shouldn’t vow things quite so often.

I have to back track quite far for the start of this journey, back to high school. My sister is three years older than me and when she was in university she investigated doing an exchange (to America I think?) but decided not to go in the end. It was a completely rational call but to my jealous 16 year old brain saw this as a cop-out, and I vowed that when I was in University I would go further than my sister and actually go on an exchange. Little sisters are just the best. Fast forward to my first year of a double degree and I had backed myself into a corner, I had no option but to start filling out the forms to apply for my exchange.

There were so many thinks I was particular about (I think I was wanting one to fall through so I didn’t have to go). I wanted to go to the university closest to London (ironically it was in Kingston-upon-Thames which is where my parents lived during their OE in the 70’s), I only wanted to go for six months and I categorically did not want to stay with a host family. I was so afraid of ending up having to stay in the spare room of some real life British people that I applied for university halls before I had even submitted my exchange application (I ended up being the only exchange student to get a place in halls thanks to my eagerness).

I almost backed out so many times. I realise that I should have just been grateful at this amazing opportunity, which I was analytically but emotionally I was a wreck. Moving to the other side of the world terrified me, I am such a control freak homebody that London was the opposite of what felt right to me. But, but… I had vowed that I would not be my sister, I would go ahead with the exchange. So I did. It was my first flight by myself, first time living away from home, first time managing money by myself, first time making new friends since primary school. It was fucking scary.

When I arrived in Kingston after a 30 hour journey I discovered that the Middle Mills halls where I would be living was more like flats rather than dorms, my one was 8 bedrooms with a large shared kitchen and two bathrooms. I looked to the reception guy to make me feel at home or give me any words of encouragement at all, but he was a tired uni student who probably had an essay due. He showed me to my room, gestured over to the other side of the car-park “that’s where the washing machines are”, warned me about the fine for setting the fire alarm off and then left me to it.

My room looked like a cell. It was freezing outside. I had gone from my nice house and parents who brought me gin on demand to sharing with 6 strange boys and one girl. The bathroom didn’t have any toilet paper in it. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I needed a shower as first priority but I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the light or make the water hot, a cold shower in the dark felt appropriate given how I was feeling about the move in that moment.

After my shower I was doing my best to unpack through the jetlag when I heard a knock on my heavy duty, automatically closing,  fire proof bedroom door. It was the only other girl in the flat, Jenny, who just so happened to have the room across from mine. I kid you not it was like my guardian angel was there to greet me.

I think she was just happy that another girl had moved in (let me tell you, living with 6 guys in their late teens is…interesting), but for me it was a ray of hope that everything was going to be ok. She had put aside half of the dinner she made just in case I arrived hungry that night, gave me a spare roll of toilet paper and offered to show me where the supermarket was the next day. I still didn’t know if I had made the right decision moving to London, but at least I had made my first friend.

This post has been slightly longer than intended, so I am going to leave off here and create a part two featuring my first adventure to the pub, bring stalked by foxes and lectures.