Since I left the capital city in February for life in the countryside, I’ve barely looked back. Life is quieter, I am calmer, and everything just seems more chilled.
But a couple of weekends ago we went back to London to see old friends, visit old pubs and see old sites and I realised… I miss it a little bit.
I definitely don’t miss the crowds or the teeny flat, but I miss the convenience and the variety, the diversity and the culture. But mainly, I miss our friends.
A couple of months ago our friends gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. They’re the first in our large friendship group to have a sprog and it’s so incredibly weird. When I’m with them it seems hard to imagine a time when she wasn’t around, and even though I know their new world is full of natural early parenting angst, they have adjusted to parenthood in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Although I am in no way the parenting expert, they seem to be handling it like absolute pros and everything just seems so…normal. It’s amazing to watch and she is amazing to cuddle, and I miss her.
Seeing their little tot change online makes me realise how much you miss when you’re far away from your friends. We have the same situation with friends and family in the north of England and in America too; children grow and change so quickly that photos alone make you realise how much you’re missing and how long it’s been since you last saw them.
We arrived in London on Friday night; the streets were crowded, the tube was sweaty and I wondered how on earth I lived here for as long as I did. But, even amid the pain of London crowds, it felt nice to be back. We went to the pub and grabbed a seat in the ‘garden’ – only in London do wet benches along the side of a busy main road constitute a garden, and only in London does a man come along with a broken bike, balance it on his head and ask you for money. Which I gave him, by the way, because this is impressive.
London pubs are not like country pubs, and though many would disagree, I’d go for a good old London hipster pub any day of the week. They’re loud and busy so you can always hide away in public, they’ve got a diverse group of customers and I feel totally comfortable in them. Whether it’s the quirky furniture, the small yet adventurous menu or the weird attention to detail in the toilets, you feel like you’ve entered a new little world.
Country pubs – or rather, my country pub – by contrast needs you to book a week in advance to get a table, the menu’s as long as the bible and the bar staff look at you in a slightly odd way if they don’t know you. You’re on show. Sure, the roaring fire, the railway memorabilia and the fact it is next door to my house mean I’ll keep on going back, but I miss those London pubs a whole lot.
The diversity and culture in London never fails to disappoint. I am always surprised by something I see in London, and I am always so impressed and proud of this incredible city of multiculturalism. If there is one thing London is brilliant at, it’s enabling inclusivity and anonymity both at the same time.
I missed the London buzz so much that this week, when a meeting in London finished early, I took a trip up to The Tate Modern and viewed London from the tenth floor. The view offers such a striking skyline that on a grey, dull day of drizzle it still felt so imposing, so atmospheric.
And then the next day, everything around us came crashing down as the country voted to leave the European Union. As a firm remain voter, I was devastated as the results came in and I struggled to identify with the country I claimed to love so much. But one look at London and there it was. It’s safe, and I trust my fellow Londoners to protect it.
It’s safe to say that for better or worse, the things I love about the countryside far outweigh the things I miss about London. But they’re all very sensible, fairly selfish things. I love the quiet, the calm, the clean air, the greenery, the flowers, the space and the cost of living. They’re things I need for my own sanity and self-preservation, and things we need and love as a couple. But I miss brunch (yes, I am *that* girl) and I miss spontaneous nights in the pub, and I miss the people I’d got used to seeing whenever I needed girl time.
Now… how to get those people out to the countryside to set up our own diverse, hipster pub – one that serves brunch, obviously.