You lived in Australia – Why on earth did you move back?
That is probably the question most people ask me when they find out I used to live in Australia for 5 years.
Home is where the heart is and while I do love Sydney, no city could replace London in my heart.
I grew up near the M25 and on the tube (just!) so London has always been part of my life. School holidays were filled with day trips to London. Then after Uni and a spout of travelling I moved to London. Only by sharing a house with 6 other people (yes you read right), I was able to afford to live in Zone 2. After the bills were paid there was little money left over so my weekends were spent exploring the different parks and having picnic and fizz with my friends, trying to find alternative nights out to the usual bars of Soho, Piccadilly circus and Covent Garden that we found quite touristy. Looking back now I barely scratched the surface of London.
Then I moved to Australia. Living in Australia puts what Europe has to offer into perspective. When you put the shoe on the other foot and look at the Aussies that come to the UK – you will find that every other weekend they are off exploring some place of other taking advantage of our easy access to Europe. You put Australia in the middle of the world map as opposed to the UK and you will see that you are literally in the middle of nowhere. With my wanderlust bug deeply embedded in me, this scared me slightly.
I remember flying over London on my trips home. The view from the plane filled my stomach with butterflies as I traced landmarks along the iconic bends in the River Thames. When I went into London to meet friends I felt at home pounding the streets at the accelerated London pace, felt comforted by the smoggy smells of the buses and underground and enthralled at the endless possibilities for exploring and socialising. There was no doubt I was head over heels in love with the place and it took moving to the other side of the world to really appreciate what was right in front of me my whole life.
I had 5 amazing years in Australia and really got to enhance my career in travel, but turning 30 forced me to look at what I wanted long-term and what I wanted was London.
I didn’t necessarily want to live in the more central zones (not that it was much a choice anyway with costs being so high) but I wanted to be close enough to enjoy the beautiful English countryside but be close enough to visit and commute to my happy place.
I had bought a flat in Zone 7 as an investment so after cheeky 9 month stint of backpacking round the world I landed myself a job in the big smoke and moved into my flat. On my first day commuting into London I had major delays on the way home, I didn’t care – I was on a high, occasional train delays are a small price to pay to be back home where I belonged in the greatest city on earth.
I have been back for over 3.5 years. I make a new discovery each time I’m in London. It’s vastness astounds me. It has character, charm, history, diversity and passion. I love exploring it’s many parks, going to visit the grand buildings of Buckingham Palace or the Houses of parliament. It’s not just the grand buildings that amaze me – I love exploring the different areas and finding new pubs. Its filled with the old of the Tower of London, the new of the London, the cool of Shoreditch and the classy of Mayfair.
It’s now also even closer in my heart. It’s the city where I met my husband, where he proposed to me and where we got married. We live outside the capital now but given a free weekend day you will usually find us wandering around the streets of London making new discoveries.
It’s not just a love of London itself but the opportunities it creates. In 3 years I have visited Budapest, Lisbon, Salzburg, Valencia, Barcelona, Seville, Edinburgh, Cotswolds, Bath, Bruges, Ghent, Malta, Palma, Venice, Slovenia and Gibraltar. I often hear people say “Oh I’m only going to Spain on holiday”. Just because its close doesn’t meant that its not a totally amazing concept that 2 hours flight
Keep your eyes out for my further blogs on my favourite things to see and do in this wonderful city.