“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” – Roald Dahl
Now this is a post I started last week, as we have just landed in a new city and a new country (again)! We have moved to London and are currently in the process of relocating our life in rural Kildare to one of the biggest cities in the world.
I love the above quote and since we’ve arrived here in late March, I’ve been walking around thinking happy thoughts and generally smiling for most of the day. I feel like I’ve gone from being a country bumpkin to the big city all over again – the smallest things are amusing me.
I was in awe of the relative ease of using public transit, most likely caused by the over communication during travel of upcoming destinations and volume of large city maps at each transit stop – there is Transport For London signage everywhere. For the first few days, I forgot I had a smartphone because I simply did not need it to navigate the tube or inner city boroughs. It just seemed so easy and intuitive. I am not the first to say I have a great sense of direction but once you know the basics, it’s easy to navigate.
There’s the morning Metro, London Evening Standard and Time Out London found scattered on transport seats and handed out freely at tube stations and on street corners. There is no reason to feel out of the loop with what’s happening in the city or around the world each day. Perhaps it’s because of my journalism background or the fact I started off working in free daily and weekly newspapers, but I love reading the city’s print media and finding out what events are happening around town. My daily news sources have already tripled since we’ve arrived from Ireland!
Spring has sprung
There are buds blooming and vibrant green leaves have burst out onto branches all over the city. The weather’s been hovering around 15°C and going up past 20°C some days. People are leaning on street ledges during their lunch hour for a bit of Vitamin D and lounging in parks when they can. Children are playing outdoors and the birds start chirping from 4am, with the sun rising before 6am. The days are getting longer and every day seems to promise new things to discover and adventures to be had. It’s a great time of year to move to a new place, everyone is coming out of hibernation and I’ve even seen the odd stranger smiling to themselves as they stroll past.
Exploring new neighbourhoods
We have been staying with friends in Lambeth on the South side of the city and will be moving North West to Camden in May. It’s a good 30-40 minute tube ride with two changes to get between both locations but there is so much to see and do on either side! We spent our first weekend having lunch at Camden Market, then strolled towards Kilburn, exploring Chalk Farm, Belsize Park and Hampstead along the way. I had to visit the Canadian Embassy in Trafalgar Square, so we walked home from there past Big Ben, over the bridge at Embankment and through Vauxhall on the South side. We had Easter Monday in Notting Hill, walking up towards Kensall Rise and then catching a bus back through Knightsbridge and Chelsea – sitting up front on the double decker bus is like being on the hop on, hop off tours! Another sunny Sunday was spent walking through Waterloo and Southbank en route to Covent Garden before doing the loop and coming back South again via the Tate Modern. With the weather being so mild, it’s easy to walk 5-10kms without realising it.
We’ve encountered some friendly strangers since arriving, even though I had mentally prepared myself not to make eye contact on the tube and to keep my often plastered to my face grin to myself. But it’s hard to do that sometimes when the weather is so lovely and there’s so much to see. One friendly chap in his white collar work clothes offered to help the husband and I carry our suitcases up the stairs in one of the tube stations. I’ve had to go bridesmaid dress shopping in Oxford Street and when my phone battery died, the sales staff let me charge it at their till and even snapped photos of me to send to the bride in Australia. I was getting ready for dinner one night and came outside to meet the husband playing keepy-uppy football with some kids outside. Apparently he was just hanging out there waiting for me in his suit jacket and they figured he looked like he knew how to play so they kicked him the ball. I laughed out loud when I came downstairs to see him busting out his Ronaldo moves. Add to that our catch ups with friends in the city from Australia, Ireland and England, everyone has been so welcoming since we’ve arrived.
London via Ireland
Even though we’ve moved 600km across the Irish Sea back to another big city, I have been finding the people and surrounds quite nice. Nothing can beat the hospitality found in the West of Ireland but it’s not as confronting as some might think. Maybe my trip to New York prepped me for this move or perhaps it’s thinking like Roald Dahl – either way we could all take a page out of his book when changing scenery and trying something new!