10 Things I will miss about the UK

Here it goes… in just a few days and I’ll be on a plane to Namibia to volunteer in a wildlife sanctuary to kick off my 8 months of travelling.

It seems fitting to reflect a little on the last four and a half years of all the things I’ve loved about living in the UK and London.

1. The friends and communities I’ve made

It may have taken me a few years to cotton on to how to make friends in a brand new city where I knew almost no-one, but it was worth the effort. From rugby friends, Kiwi friends, flatmate friends, twitter friends, blogging friends, co-working friends, WordPress Meetup friends, New Zealand Society friends, New Zealand Business Women’s Network friends and travel friends. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many lovely people in my life and I feel so spoilt and grateful for everyone that has made the last few years in London so amazing. I’ll miss them all a lot.

Just a few of the many friends that made it to my leaving do

Just a few of the many friends that made it to my leaving do

2. The quirky things you can experience

Anything goes in London. It’s such a big city that so many different and new things are always going on. From walking sheep across London Bridge to walking around hunting out Olympic Mascot statues or Bookbenches.

The lovely Emma preparing to walk a sheep across London Bridge

My friend Emma gets ready to walk a sheep across London Bridge

Paddington Bear. Created by Michelle Heron

Paddington Bear Bookbench. Created by Michelle Heron

3. The art and culture

I love going to plays, musicals and art galleries. London has a multitude of all of these. Sometimes they are your traditional art and culture experiences and then sometimes they push the boundaries. From rooftop cinema, open air theatre in Regents Park to the free theatre at the Scoop. Sometimes they are amazing well-known plays and musicals, then sometimes they are the cheap and unique modern dance interpretations.

Art floods London with the East London Graffiti scene, the large array of galleries and pop ups. One of my favourites each year is always the Royal Geographical Society’s Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition, with amazing photography on display from all around the world. But interesting exhibitions are always popping up – like this Glass Art exhibition a few months ago.

Glass Art by Dale Chihuly

Glass Art by Dale Chihuly

4. The conferences

Conferences relating to photography, design, web development and WordPress have been incredible during my time in London. I could never dream of seeing such amazing work and speakers at such a low-cost in New Zealand. I’ve been so inspired by so many people that I even helped take on organising the WordPress London Meetups this year. The people you meet and knowledge you gain is always rewarding.

5. Not needing a car

Sometimes you can get incredibly frustrated with London transport and wish you could just hop in a car. Yet, when it is working well, the London Bus Network and Underground can get you from one side of London to the other in half an hour. You don’t need to concentrate on the road or pedestrians, all you have to do is sit or stand and wait for the transport to take you from A to B.

6. The enormous parks

The parks in London are some of my favourite spots to visit when I have free time, particularly in summer. Regents Park is stunning when the flowers are in bloom, then the walk from St. James Park to the leafy Green Park and Hyde Park is stunning. These parks are what make London livable. With very small backyards (if any) and an unappealing Thames river and no beaches in sight, the parks are more than necessary, they are vital.

Birds in Hyde Park - walking through the parks always makes me happy in London

Birds in Hyde Park – walking through the parks always makes me happy in London

7. The history

London has so many incredible old and well-maintained buildings that I could only ever dream of in New Zealand. My first job in London meant I was able to walk past the Royal Courts of Justice each morning on the way into work. This was just one of the many buildings to wow anyone.

8. The pub culture

I like that the culture in London means you can just pop down to your local pub and catch up with someone for a casual drink or Sunday roast. There is no pressure to drink too much, just good conversation with good friends.

9. The afternoon teas

Oh the Afternoon Teas. The tasty sandwiches. The clotted cream and jam on scones (yes I need to hunt out clotted cream when I leave) and the incredible sweet delights that are always different from place to place. Getting dressed up and having tea with the girls is always a treat and a fantastic experience.

Afternoon Tea with the lovely Emma (who also took this pick)

Afternoon Tea with the lovely Emma (who also took this pic)

The Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson Hotel

The Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson Hotel

10. The ease of travel

This is basically the reason I moved to London in the first place. Within a matter of an hour or two you can be in Europe and have a wide range of unique travel experiences at your fingertips.

Overlooking the stunning town of Positano in Italy

Overlooking the stunning town of Positano in Italy

So you may be wondering why I’m leaving London if I miss all these things? I wrote a post about making the decision to leave the UK a few weeks ago. But below are a few things I won’t miss about London:

  1. The NHS
  2. The commuting that is considered ‘good’ if it’s under an hour to get to work, standing in someone’s armpit
  3. The darkness of winter
  4. The poor custom service
  5. The busyness and fast pace of London

The good things have outweighed the bad for many years in London and I’m pleased to be leaving London on a high note. This won’t be the end of London for me, I’m sure I’ll be back to visit, catch up with friends and experience more in the future. But for now,

Farewell London x

routermaster-bus

(and thanks to Emma for taking this pic for me to remember my time here!

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