25 Things I’ll Miss About London (and 5 Things I Won’t)

My connection with London has evolved over time like a lifelong relationship full of good times and bad, thrills, excitement, intensity, passion, heartache, complexities, fun, love, breakups, reunions and commitment.  

London-2

Our complicated relationship began in the Australian outback at a time before the Internet and satellite television existed.  My first exposure to the iconic landmarks that make London unique came from early-age picture books.  My education of the country that populated our first white settlement with their criminals began with history and geography lessons at school.   The early stereotypes I formed were influenced by sitcoms exported to one of the two TV channels we had such as Are You Being Served, George & Mildred, Fawlty Towers and The Goodies.  And I learned from an early age that it felt great to beat the English at cricket.

Our long-distance relationship evolved into a personal one in 2000 when I arrived in the country with a two year working holiday visa.  My new education of the city began as I discovered the bridge I thought was London Bridge was in fact called Tower Bridge, that Leceister Square is pronounced ‘lester’ and not ‘le-cester’ and that the novelty of the tube wears off during rush hour.

As our relationship blossomed, I began to appreciate that it was great to be so close to Europe but I didn’t need to leave London to learn about other cultures.  I learned that any night of the week can be a ‘party night’ but going to the pub for ‘one’ usually meant ‘one session’ and not ‘one pint’.  And I learned “train delays” is an excuse for being late to work that is never questioned.

When my working holiday visa expired I forgot to go home and twelve years later we symbolised our commitment to each other in a UK citizenship ceremony at Camden Town Hall.

But now we are breaking up.

It’s not you London – it’s me.  I need to explore other lifestyle options.  I need to spend more time on the things I love most.  I need to live in the moment and see what life wants to throw at me.  But I hope we can still be friends.  And who knows, one day in the future, maybe we can try again.

It’s not the first time I’ve packed my bags and headed on a career break, but it’s the first time I’ve done so without a return ticket.  Does that mean my relationship with London is over?  No.  Does that mean it’s no longer home? No. Does that mean I won’t live here again? No.

But for now I bid it farewell and find myself reflecting on the things I will miss most (and least) about the place I’ve called home for the past 12 years.

 

25 Things I’ll Miss About London

  1. Random conversations with friendly and opinionated Black Cab taxi drivers who know their way around and are happy to accept the £4 fare from the supermarket to my flat
  2. The melting pot of cultures that provides the opportunity to make friends from all over the world
  3. The surreal experience of walking past internationally recognised tourist attractions on a daily basis.
  4. Experiencing the rollercoaster of emotions that is an inevitable part of supporting the England football team
  5. The child-like excitement that fills the air on the first real snow day of winter (before it turns to mush and creates transport chaos)
  6. The inability to be bored in a city that offers a range of free or affordable cultural, sporting, shopping and night life activities
  7. TV re-runs of Only Fools & Horses that still make me laugh out loud
  8. The fact that not everyone supports the royal family, but they all support the bank holidays given for weddings and jubilees.
  9. The parks and wetland centres that provide an escape from city living without having to physically leaveLondon-1
  10. The dry, witty and self-deprecating British sense of humour
  11. Marks & Spencers ‘Extremely Chocolately Chocolate Mini Bites’
  12. The buzz I feel walking along South Bank as I soak up the energy radiating from the classic London architecture and landmarks.London-4
  13. Its proximity to Europe and the direct flights to other international destinations that make it so easy to explore the world from
  14. The BBC and its incredible wildlife documentaries and commercial free viewing
  15. The public transport system that makes it possible to live without a car, makes everything in London within easy reach and provides the option of a night out without a designated driver.
  16. Boarding a train for an easy day out in Bath, Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, Windsor and other parts of the UK
  17. Enjoying the safety and accessibility that allows me to explore the city on foot whilst soaking up the atmosphere, character and history of the distinctly different areas.
  18. The first sunny day of the year when pale skin turns pink, M&S food-to-go is in demand, the parks are full of vibrant, happy people and we enjoy the delusion that a great summer has begun
  19. The small blue “…lived here” signs scattered around town on buildings, reminding me they were once occupied by artists, musicians, writers and other creative souls who were inspired by the personality of the city
  20. The endearing habit of Londoners to approach big events such as the Olympics and Royal Wedding with cynicism and negativity, but throwing themselves into enjoying them when they arrive
  21. The invigorating impact it has on my imagination as I walk through different parts of the city, yearning to be a time traveller to explore the same streets in different ages
  22. Photographing the deer rutting season in a colourful Richmond Park, on a chilly and sunny day in AutumnLondon-5
  23. Selfridges Xmas window displays and the Oxford Street lights
  24. The collection of personalities, accents and backgrounds of those that make their livings at the various markets around town
  25. The pubs: Sunday roast at a riverside pub, sipping Pimms on the street outside an overflowing city pub on a sunny Friday evening, raising a pint in celebration of a goal scored on the big TV screens during an England football match, and so many more!

 

5 Things I Won’t Miss About London

  1. Crowded trains and lack of tube ‘etiquette’ during rush hour
  2. The predictability of unpredictable weather, and the month of January with its grey skies and short days.
  3. Tube strikes
  4. Tabloids, their obsession with reality TV stars and their harsh coverage of sporting failures
  5. Expensive accommodation and lack of a large backyard

 

The Final Word

Like any relationship, it’s been a roller coaster.  There have been ups and downs, laughter and tears and I confess there were times I was unfaithful.  But even when I was cheating on London with other countries, a piece of my heart was stamped with the country’s flag.

It’s a sign of a great city that saw me struggle to limit my ‘most missed’ items to 25 and to find as many as 5 things I wouldn’t miss.

To help me compile this list I asked my friends what they would miss most and least about London and the responses were pretty consistent.  But two responses in particular summed it up perfectly:

“London itself” and “London is generally taken for granted by everyone who lives here and immediately missed the moment they leave”

Goodbye London my dear friend – it’s been a blast and I will see you again!

London-3

 

(Thanks to all my friends who helped me compile this list)

Have you lived or worked in London?  Do you agree with this list?  What would you miss most and least about London?

 

 

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Kellie is a traveller and photographer who is most at home when exploring the world beyond it. Through the intersection of her travel, writing and photography passions, she shares her experiences to inspire others to create there own. The desire to live life instead of existing through it has introduced Kellie to inspirational locations throughout seven continents and from this a passion for landscape and wildlife photography has evolved. She feels a particular connection to the polar regions and Africa. You can see more of her photography at www.kellienetherwoodphotography.com

Comments

  1. I love this. I left England 25 years ago, and haven’t missed it all that much until quite recently. I didn’t live in London (I’m from the north), but I have a very big crush on it at the moment, which has been growing over the last couple of years — we’ll see if it develops into the real thing! Many of the reasons you list are ones that draw me – the soccer apart! I’m working on a similar post as I’m leaving where I’ve been living in a few months, so this kind of thing has been much on my mind. Right now, after reading your post I would happily pack up and go tomorrow!

    • Thanks for your comments Linda. I see from your blog you miss M&S, which featured twice in my ‘things I’ll miss list’ so it seems great minds think alike!! I’ve had my ‘why am I living here’ moments throughout the last 12 years, especially in winter, but it really is a wonderful city (and country), I love it!

  2. A great list, Kellie. As a London blow-in from Northern Ireland, I’m with you on a great many of them (positive and negative), and that’s a beautiful photograph of the deer. All the best on your travels!

    • Thanks Julie. I took that photo of the deer as I was heading to the exit of the park after a rather disappointing day of deer spotting. I heard a rustle in the bushes a few metres to my right and he popped his head up – in camouflage!

  3. I’ve lived in London most of my adult life – and my writing reflects that. I keep saying I’m leaving…and I keep ending up back here again. So glad you enjoyed your life here…and may wherever your travels take you work as well. I think a ratio of 5:1 is really not bad at all!

    • You are right, 5:1 is a pretty good ratio! Maybe we’ve uncovered a new ‘popularity measurement’ for cities! I love your website, a ton of great content for enjoying London – these suggestions are always better when they come from someone who lives here!

  4. Ditto! I lived in London for a year after college and came running back for some California sunshine. I miss it terribly again for many of the same 25 reasons you listed. This was a great read. Thanks!

  5. That is a fabulous list and shows that you really appreciated your surroundings. How will you cope without life in London?

    Some great choice of photos to go with your post too.

    • Thank you. Yes, I certainly had a rollercoaster relationship with London but when I started compiling this list and found it easier to find things I’d miss than not miss, I realised what a great place it really is! How I cope without London remains to be seen….!

  6. Hello Kellie,

    I’m also a photographer and have lots of photo’s of London on my website. I completely agree with everything you said. I spent over 5 1/2 years in London and have been missing it more and more ever since I left… You pretty much were spot on everything you said.

    I also miss the markets (Portabello for their Antiques and visiting my silversmith. Brick Lane, Spitalfields, Borough Market), the availability of European products at a cheap price, the sweet arugula and amazing Buffalo Mozzarella and Buffalo Milk. Little organic shops and places (especially the Carrot Cake at Gail’s, The wonderful Italian Pizza Shops, the tasty Risotto and Piadine at Carnevale). I gave over five years of my life to this City, it became a second home to me, so of course Nostalgia is always going to creep in.

    Thank you for writing this. You summed up all my thoughts perfectly!

    • Thanks for the comment Daniel and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’ve just been checking out your website, some beautiful shots there! Another Londoner once said to me ‘people in London complain about it until they leave – and then they miss it terribly’ and whilst not everyone complains about it when they live here, I think he is right to a certain extent. It really is a fantastic city!!

  7. Hii.. i am also missing london v badly…. and my son tooo… lived a real life in london…

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