At the age of fifteen I told my parents that I was leaving school. My plan was to work in a café over the summer holidays, save up for a ticket to London and start living my life as it was intended. After four or so weeks grafting in a café and coming home each day smelling of food, with green hands from having to drain cooked spinach all day I promptly decided that school was the more appropriate path to follow after all. Thankfully my parents had the smarts to just allow me to run with this latest brilliant idea until I changed my own mind. This was the first time I flirted with the idea of moving to London.
Eight years later, at a more reasonable age of twenty three with a university degree and couple of years work experience under my belt, I boarded the plane with a single (incredibly heavy) suitcase to move to London ‘for a year or so’. Nine years later I am still here. In this slightly grey, busy, a little dirty, non-ocean harboured city that I call home. And I love it.
When I had been here about three years an English friend asked me what it was that I missed most about Australia and my response was probably only something an Aussie would totally appreciate: ‘The sound of a screen door banging closed and the smell of frangipanis’. To me that conjures up thoughts of a stinking hot summers day, where the heat is so oppressive you can’t do anything but lie in front of the fan. Listening to the cicadas trill, smelling frangipanis and fresh cut grass.
After four and a half years here I got the fear. What would happen if I stayed in London forever? Did I really want to live here for the rest of my life? What if I liked my life in Sydney better? Could I marry and Englishman? I missed my friends and family and I missed Vegemite and Red Frogs. So off home I went for two years, to test the waters and see if I wanted to head back to the mother land for good.
I decided not, and have been back in London for just over two years now. It has been difficult at times; I have had to build my social circle almost entirely from scratch, and at the age of 30 that is not the easiest thing to do. But over the last decade I have built a pretty clear list of what I love about both of my home countries. Slightly scary that I am summarising my life decisions of the last decade into a list, but here goes;
Running along the Thames
Regent St Christmas lights
Snow in winter
2.5 hour train journey to Paris
Fish and chips
People so ‘Ra’ that I can only just understand them
People in tweed in Belgravia on any given day
The Coat and Badge
£50 flights to Marrakech
Red wine and the paper on a cold Sunday afternoon
The rest of my nutty family
The Bondi to Bronte walk
Amazing breakfasts (Australia has the best breakfast culture that I have ever come across)
Running along the harbour
Sydney Opera House
Stinking hot summer days
Being brown all year round
6 hour flight to Indonesia
Lying by the pool drinking Campari
North Bondi Italian
Red Frogs (the BEST sweets in the world that are impossible to find anywhere)
Thongs (flip flops) for 8 months of the year
Always knowing where I am
1 hour to the Blue Mountains
So there we have it peeps. Two lists to summarise what I love about Australia and the UK. But really, no matter how much I love Sydney, London is my home. I have lived the majority of my adult life here and anywhere else just doesn’t seem to fit as well.