From our humble bedroom window here in Enfield I can make out what locals would describe as a “sizeable back yard” (as well as the neighbours counter-part) , yet another row of typical street town-houses and yet another overcast morning. Just kidding, this morning was quite a rare pearler of a morning – not a cloud in the sky and a comfortable autumnal chill in the air. The accepted norms here, in terms of real estate, would give any staunch Kiwi a great excuse to have a good old fashioned rant, and accompanying rave, on how much better we have it at home. And, for the most part, he/she would be right.
For all the forward advice I’d received about London prior to getting here (and believe me it was a seriously mixed bag of “awesome”, “dumb”, “stink”, “choice” and “eeeeh… it’s OK”) I had little idea of how accurate almost ALL of this feedback was. All of you that have been to and seen London for yourselves will be rolling your eyes (Ha! Like I’m not used to that old manoeuvre) and saying “Told you so ya dickhead”, but I have differed in opinion with feedback on other places/cities/experiences enough over the past four months to know not to take such subjective statements for gospel.
Yes, I’d been told about the finicky-yet-somewhat-reliable underground public transport system likened (in name) to a cylinder. I’ve now found the secret code to deciphering the colours, names and winding passageways that make you feel as if you’re going to pop up in Northern Africa, and I can report my findings to be satisfactory. I’d also definitely been told about the even finickier nature of the weather system that seems hell-bent on confusing the proverbial excrement out of locals and tourists alike. The past “summer” here in the UK has been considerably different to what we’d expect back home and, in past months, London’s daily weather forecast has looked almost identical to that of Auckland – in the middle of winter. I’d ALSO been told of the similarity, in quantity, of both household letterboxes and the number of pubs within the greater London area (I have no definite statistics to back that up unfortunately). And I can confirm this with a great amount of happiness. In short, London is frickin’ cool once you get over the crazily fickle weather (and run screaming half-naked onto any patch of semi-vacant grass as soon as the sun is out in full force) and the occasional inconvenience caused (usually in the weekends) by signal failures and “ongoing maintenance” on public transport.
Ams & I are now in full Job Hunt mode, characterised by our wary computer-screen-blasted eyes, the numerous cups of tea and coffee being made and our reluctance to leave the cosy confines of our bed when our alarms go off at the leisurely time of 8am. So far we’ve found; recruitment agencies think their farts smell like blooming rose-buds on a UK May morning, any reference to a Tier 5 “Youth Mobility” visa should be left to the very END of your CV and following up on a weekly basis saves you the anxiety associated with wandering whether your lazily-put-together cover letter has led to someone even looking at your CV. Both of us have endured various peaks and troughs in motivation and the odd “existential funk” (in which I took a leaf out of the legendary Ron Burgundy’s book and went suit shopping!). But we’ll persevere.
We’ve definitely enjoyed our time in London thus far and have done our fair share of touristy adventures to the likes of Camden Markets (where, if you’re not careful, you’ll wind up with the equivalent of a ream of regular A4 of tattoo shop brochures), Shoreditch (awesome little street market with fantastic fresh food – meat pies!!), Trafalgar Square (bigger and better than I expected?), Chiswick (catching up with Team “Chizzick” – Glen & Jess and Blake & Jenna) and briefly visited Clapham Junction & Tooting Broadway (Phil). We’ve seen our fair share of Monopoly-related streets and perched our cold rare-ends on the lane-dividing fence on Waterloo Bridge to watch the pretty-darn-impressive fireworks that marked the end of the Thames Festival. We’ve strained our necks gazing at the biggest of the world’s Bens, the London Eye as well as counting the aeroplanes ominously circling Heathrow. London has countless worthwhile events, sights, suburbs and is far greener and friendly than most give it credit for. But I still miss NZ.