I’ve been back in Ireland 6 months now and I’m so happy with the decision we made to come home. Work has never been better and getting to spend so much time with the family has been a dream after 11 years away – that’s right, I lived in England’s capital for 11 years, I clearly loved it and here are my top reasons why
1. There Is Always Something To Do
Let’s say it’s a Saturday morning, you get up, hop out to the local café to pick up your coffee, a croissant and the paper and then by lunch you want to get out and do something, with places like Kew Gardens, the Natural History Museum, Borough Market, (one of the many) Flower Markets, Covent Garden or eating somewhere wonderful at 3am, all is in reach – there are literally thousands of things you can get up to on a whim!
2. The London Underground
I mean sure, we absolutely used to freak out if the board said we had to wait for longer than 5mins for a tube to arrive, BUT it is also the finest public transportation system I have ever come into contact with. Sure, the strike days are an absolute disaster BUT for all the rest of the days, we’re safe in the knowledge that we can pretty much get anywhere in roughly 40mins or less. I loved how much walking was part of my day-to-day too, used to really blow the cobwebs away and kick start my day on the right foot (sometimes literally!). The arrival of the night tube is amazing too – although I’m sure we’ll all miss swapping horrendous Night Bus stories the next day.
3. Afternoon Tea
It is EVERYWHERE! There are even some London pubs that have an afternoon tea option. The sandwiches are pretty, the cakes are delicious and the scones are something else – whenever I had guests over and they wanted to “do something properly English” I’d suggest afternoon tea and I sampled a fair few during my time so I think I’m at liberty to say that the very best I tried were here and here
4. DryBy London
This place is the absolute BUSINESS for hair and nails, I’m only sorry I found out about it so late, it had been open for two years before I discovered it so I’ve only managed to visit a handful of times but each time was utterly wonderful. Their nail artists are second to none and their hair stylists are amazing (I’ve only ever had blow-outs here, not colour or cut). When Himself and I popped back for a visit in December I made a beeline to DryBy and I’m sure on my next visit I’ll be doing the exact same thing!
My home away from home, oh how I miss Chiswick. It was the perfect blend of town and country. You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting 14 pregnant women, 17 dogs and 25,000 children, but it was beautiful and I truly adored all the places I lived in whilst I was living there (four in total). The Bread Shop bakery is where your Summer figure goes to die, but you don’t mind because their breads and doughnuts are what dreams are made of, you always have a fantastic brunch available just a stones throw from where ever you are standing and there are multiple parks around to get away from it all too. One of my fondest, early memories of living in Chiswick was crashing out on Chiswick Common in the baking heat with one of my oldest friends (an ex-pat herself) and thinking “I could stay here forever”.
6. The West End
London is littered with theatres, both Off West End (Fringe) and The West End. The ones in town are fantastic, big and bold and with a smattering of Broadway off-shoots there’s something for everyone. However, they have hefty price tags and a weekly theatre outing (unless you’re made of money!) is just not going to be a good idea for the bank balance, so for a solution I say, look to the fringe. Some of the best new pieces of work will be found there, “The Play That Goes Wrong” started above a pub in Angel for example and they have gone from strength to strength. The talent on show too is – in a lot of instances – West End standard because everyone involved has worked on the West End at some point! You’re spoilt for choice and should absolutely take advantage of it.
Wonderful, beautiful Harrods – no weekend trip to London would be truly complete without a visit to Harrods. It’s old and creaky in parts and new and squeaky clean in parts, a true juxtaposition – which fits perfectly with London itself. Obviously it’s a fantastic place to shop for clothes, but my three favourite places to go in Harrods are Shoe Heaven (Manolo, Louboutin, Dior, Chanel, Olympia, Burch the list goes on), Urban Retreat (the spa, hair, nails – all with shopable products) and last but by no means least, The Food Hall (room after room of deliciousness, I always loved buying coffee beans, burrata and fresh ravioli there)
Coming from a country not ruled by Kings and Queens, it seems weird when you first get to London, cause her noggin’ is on loads of things (not just the money!) so you actually see her throughout a normal day quite often! The Royal wedding was very exciting to be around for, there was SO much hype, it was mental, but all very sweet and good natured it was a lovely time to experience the people of England.
9. The Walk Over The Thames Between Embankement & The Southbank
It’s a gorgeous walk, parliament, the London eye and so many other iconic buildings are in view, it’s beautiful in daytime, it’s exquisite at night with everything lit up – just a little trickier to appreciate in Winter when the wind off the Thames would cut straight through you – it’s baltic!! Great spot for a tourist snap if you’re on the look out for one!
10. It’s A True Metropolis
36% of the population were born elsewhere and over 300 languages are spoken within it’s borders. At 18 years of age, after living in a quiet enough area of Dublin, it was quite the culture shock to suddenly be dunked into such a melting pot of diversity, I thrived on that and it’s something London are so proud of and, in my opinion, should be.