I’ve always had mixed feelings towards London, even though I’ve lived here all my life. Growing up I loved taking day trips into central London to go sightseeing or shopping or just discover something new and random, but I still always felt like a tourist in my own city. London is just that big that you can never truly feel at home everywhere. You might get to know your little pocket that you live or work in, but there will still be so many other areas to explore. Up until recently that concept scared me; I felt like London was this endless unknowable thing that was too busy and stressful and just didn’t feel like me. I missed Bristol and the way I felt at home and comfortable there, I could walk everywhere, I saw people I knew in the supermarket or walking to work, and I always knew which events were going on or new cafes were opening.
I’ve been working in London for 5 months and I only just now feel like I actually belong here. I’ve learnt to embrace the beast that is London, and see it for the potential and opportunities it offers. Last week I was standing in Soho waiting for a friend and I had a bit of a moment where I realised, I don’t feel like a tourist. This feels natural. The massive buildings and crowds didn’t seem intimidating, they just seemed like part of life. I’ve also come to the conclusion that London is pretty damn beautiful, especially at night. I recently discovered the greatness that is Uber (how had I not done this before?!), and driving across London made me appreciate it so much more than I would have done stuck under someone’s armpit in a stuffy tube. All of the lights. Turns out shiny things really do make people happy…
Now that I’ve started spreading my wings and exploring new areas of London, I feel a bit ashamed about the way I spent my weekends here for the first couple of months. I literally only ventured into the areas I knew, fearing the long unknown journeys to new places or the possible expense. It’s only once you see what else is out there you realise that going to the same grimy club Friday after Friday gets very boring. I love a good slut dropping sesh at Red Rooms every now and then when you’re with a massive group, but surely the whole point of living in London is making the most of having so many possibilities at your fingertips.
This would be the perfect London evening:
1. Straight from work to a cool new cocktail bar where they serve drinks like “does a bear shit in the woods?”
2. Dinner at a random independent yet not overpriced restaurant, where they hopefully serve something pulled pork or mash related
3. Bar hopping and buying many many drinks (or getting rich businessmen to buy them for you), avoiding anywhere looking remotely sleazy
4. Running for the last tube home but stopping off for a drunken McDonald’s
Result = a lot of London memories and experiences without spending my months wages on club entries and cabs home. And hopefully a less stinking hangover than one of the usual out-til-5am nights.
I’m not saying that I’ll stay in London forever, I still don’t see myself settling down here (that’s if I could afford it – damn London prices). But for now it’s just right. The commute is draining and longs my life but it hasn’t killed me yet. I’m still leaving work every Friday ready and excited for more London experiences. Most of all, pretty much everyone I love is here. And having those crazy lot to go out with makes London the best place to be.