I learned that it is easy to accidentally turn your fridge off, via its fuse switch, and spoil a week's worth of carefully selected Waitrose ready-meals. I learned that posh people say "what" (pronounced "whot"), not "pardon" when they want you to repeat something you have said. I learned that the Central Line is London's hottest tube line and personally experienced this when I rode it to Stratford on London's hottest day in recorded history.
And I learned that while living in London will expose me to countless new people and new experiences, certain things about my personality will not change. No matter how badly I wish otherwise.
Since moving to London, everyone wants to know what I have been doing (plays, museums, festivals, galleries, etc.) and what I plan to do in the future. The truth is I haven't seen one play and I have only found time to spend one afternoon at The National Gallery. My desk is covered with ripped out events pages from The Evening Standard and Time Out London. A further stack of neon yellow Post-It notes cover my laptop: polo match, Notting Hill, weekend in Paris, Borough Market.
|The National Gallery - George Stubbs|
I have advocated lots for travel that fits your personality. With Paris, I always tell people if they don't like crowds and Renaissance art to skip the Louvre and the Mona Lisa and enjoy a calmer cultural experience at l'Orangerie. Find what you love and experience it within a new culture.
Right now my priority is making a home in London. For the last four weeks I have been racing around London with lists buying everything from a goose down duvet to a 6-in-1 screwdriver. I have finally unpacked my suitcases and found an instant coffee that almost replaces my beloved Nespresso machine. I have been out most nights and rarely fall asleep before midnight. I have bought used books at my local charity shop and signed up for a Boots Advantage Card. It's exhilarating but also exhausting.
I learned that, as with Paris, I need to find my own London.
Things you see written on a London pub's chalkboard sign...
At a pub near Euston Station regarding television coverage of the Tour de France, "See France without having to leave the pub!"
Why are the croissants at Pret a Manger so amazing? They shouldn't be so delicious. I always expect them to taste like a suburban Costco croissant but instead they are so flaky and so buttery that I end covered in crumbs and staining my outfit-du-jour. And how is it that 90% of the time their croissants are still warm and the place smells like a Paris bakery at 4am on a Sunday? Wikipedia describes Pret as a fast food chain?!
My favourite London purchase (so far!)...
This morning I found a black and white photograph of Audrey Hepburn in the Marie Curie charity shop just down the road from my flat. Chris and I bought a print of Audrey at the Notting Hill Market when we came to London in 2007. It was one of our only souvenirs from that trip and still hangs in our house in Victoria. I feel there is a special synchronicity to my purchase this morning.