Travelling to England from the States, I was under the strange illusion that arriving in the Motherland would have some kind of a loosely ‘home coming’ feel about it. I was after all doing the pilgrimage so many young Kiwis do when they decide to head off to explore the world. Yet strangely, initially Britain seemed a more foreign world to me than the good old U S of A. I’m not entirely sure why, but perhaps it was to do with the fact that while my stop in America was a visit, I was trading in NZ for this place as home for the next wee while at least. Whatever the case, after the awkward initial meeting one might liken to getting to know a new flat mate, I think Britain and I have finally found our groove, and I am loving getting to know my new buddy.
According to Samuel Johnson, when you’re tired of London you’re tired of life.
I read that saying in my Europe on a Shoestring book before I even arrived, but I really didn’t truly understand the words until I experienced the city for myself.
London really is such a feast for all the senses and thanks to a bit of local advice from the wonderfully amazing friends I have living here, I’ve been packing in as many of the sights as I possibly can: Colombia Road Flower Market, Brick lane, Chesham pubs, Village walks, Hyde park, Battersea park, Regent park (I LOVE how there are lush green parks EVERYWHERE), Borough Market, Tower of London, St Pauls, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Downing St, Oxford St, Shoreditch, Museums, and pints or two everywhere in between. To be honest I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this city before I arrived, but I have very quickly come to adore it and there is still SO much more to see and do.
I have been completely struck by the depth of history in London, having read so many books set here throughout the centuries, it really is something to see it and experience it all first hand. If I was blown away at what I like to refer to as ‘living history’ in the states, London really has upped the ante considerably. Every now and then I find myself just having to stop, and take a deep breath, and remember this is all for real, as I see the beautifully intricate buildings/architecture/monuments/landmarks that are surviving relics of the past.
Once you peel yourself away from London’s rich history into the present, it’s a city just brimming with life day and night. With the warmer weather becoming more settled it’s amazing to see Summer, and everything that comes with it, really kick into gear.
And if there’s ever any need to escape the hustle and bustle of packed tubes and busy streets, again those green parks dotted right across the grid really offer an opportunity to forget you’re even in a city. For a Kiwi it’s amazing how much those green spaces are needed to help re-energise you sometimes, the beautiful secret gardens are for me an example of city planning at it’s best.
I’ve split my time so far between London and Bristol where my brother and his family are currently living. And when the weather has allowed for it, it’s offered a good opportunity to explore a bit of the South West of England.
All in the company of a very adorable tiny sidekick, my niece Emily-Jane who I’ve been taking care of for a couple of weeks.
With Bristol quite a hilly city, pushing this wee tiny human up and down the streets has turned into quite the work out, and given all I seem to have been doing in London is eating and drinking it’s a pretty good thing!!!! Especially given the food theme has definitely continued here in Bristol. With my big brother being quite the chef and food critic, it’s forced me to explore and develop my own culinary skills a little! Inspired by some deliciously delightful Michelin Star Gastro Pubs he has kindly treated me to, I’ve definitely been upping my game in the kitchen department under his watchful eye. And this is what I’m trying to keep up with:
His prawn and scallop ravioli was mouth wateringly good!
Completely obsessed with the latest television series of Great British Menu, which has seen phenomenal UK chefs create menus inspired by the D Day landings, we’ve decided to head to Normandy to visit such significant historical locations for ourselves. And no doubt indulge in plenty of the French cuisine that’ll be on offer – I can’t wait.