and so it was that i landed in london on a typical london ‘summer’s’ day…. cold, grey & chucking it down with rain….. this could only be made worse by the fact that i had left a ‘winter’s’ day in cape town at a hot & balmy 27’C!

to get to our destination we then had to drive through some of the dodgiest parts of the east end (not the prettiest part of london) which to be fair don’t look great in the sunshine let alone the greyness…. by all accounts i should have fallen into depression but it was as if by the wave of a magic wand i felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders & sunshine engulfed my heart…. london called & my heart answered – man, i LOVE this town…. greyness, coldness, rain-ess, dodgy-ness & all!!!!! what a relief!

being on a tight budget after being bankrupted by my airticket i decided to make an effort to resist the temptation of using cabs & stick to public transport (that good old oyster card!). my husband to this day insists that if i had to have used public transport during my time living in london we would never have lasted 17 years!!! so lucky enough for me the weather cleared quite beautifully with just one daily torrential downpour so i was able to pretty much walk everywhere that i needed to go. i realised that after 2 days i hadn’t even used my ipod so entranced i was with the sights & sounds of this incredible town.

the town buzzes. it buzzes 24/7. it’s really hard not to get totally caught up in it. even in the rain! and so for days i buzzed around on cloud 9 living & loving every minute….. on top of the world as they would say!

things i absolutely loved about london:

  • seeing all my friends
  • the energy that pumps through that town
  • shopping, shopping, shopping
  • TOPSHOP (need i say more???)
  • amazing restaurants
  • being able to walk home late at night after restaurants
  • walking the streets feeling safe (it actually took me a while to lose the ‘nervous’ feeling i have already adapted for living in south africa)
  • the amazing transport facilities (everyone complains about the public transport in london & yet when you no longer have it & you go back you realise just how absolutely incredible it is!)
  • efficiency – i had to sort out my child’s south african passport whilst in london – it took me 10 minutes (including queuing) i applied for my ID in south africa…. 4 months later i am still waiting for it (a blog about that will follow soon!!!).
  • sleeping with windows open
  • free wi-fi practically everywhere
  • PRET – man i really didn’t realise how much i missed PRET – in fact i probably could have foregone most of the restaurants & just eaten at PRET!!!!!
  • the diversity of the people & the places
  • time-out magazine – a bible – just reading it makes you feel like you are alive!
  • news in general – actually hearing about what is going on in the entire world!!!!!
  • finding waitrose & m&s cheap (!!!!)
  • interesting, unpredictable & diverse conversation at dinner tables
  • the fact that in the week i was there, there were 5 major festivals playing host to some of the worlds best bands – a feast for the ears – none of them featuring kylie, coldplay or friggin’ u2!!!!!!!!!

ok…. to be fair my list could probably go on forever!

but then i realised there were things i was missing from cape town too….. i now, i now…. shock horror!!!!!

  • the men in my life – obviously!
  • getting to places quickly – in ct you can just jump in your car & be anywhere in pretty much 10 minutes max. people complain about traffic in cape town…. man, they have NO idea about traffic!
  • the weather – life is always easier when the sun shines – but having said that when the sun does shine in london there just could not be a better town in the world!
  • i would say the size of our homes – but to be honest we all think london homes are tiny but in reality, especially compared to homes in cape town, they are pretty much on par space wise with some of my london friends living in much bigger homes than my capetonian friends.
  • having a nanny / maid. this would be a luxury for most of my friends in london. most might have a cleaner coming in a few times a week but to have someone full time would cost quite a bit of money.
  • quite a few of my girlfriends in cape town don’t work or only work part-time. in london every single one of my girlfriends works.
  • but i think the biggest realisation i had was the difference in working hours – people work much, MUCH longer hours in london. a ‘normal’ job sees you leaving for work at 7/7.30am with most people being lucky if they arrive home around 7.30pm & that’s only for people without a serious commute on public transport. in cape town even if you live outside of the city you are looking at 30 minutes drive to be in for 8.30am (the usual start of work) and everyone pretty much leaves at 5.30pm latest. both my husband & i live 5 minutes from our respective jobs. in london most of my friends have to take turns trying to get home early to see their kids. this would probably be the part that would stress me out the most as in south africa i am so spoilt with the fact that i am able to be home early enough to hang out with my little one and equally as importantly my husband can be there too. if we lived in london he would probably see our son on the weekends only which would be awful! most of my time spent in london was ‘childless’ so this wouldn’t have bothered me in the slightest…. but it definitely would bother me now! to live the standard that is required in london to make it enjoyable more than likely both parents would be forced to hold down pretty serious jobs with pretty serious working hours. the work ethic in south africa is a lot more forgiving!

overall my time in london was just beyond fantastic. only upon my arrival back in sa did my husband let on to me that he had been terribly concerned that a) i would even get on a plane to return & b) what kind of depressed state i would be in when i did return. having said that no-one was more surprised than me by the ‘highness’ of my spirit when i returned to cape town. i absolutely adored every minute in london. it still totally owns my heart. it is still my home. it will always be a home to me. i dived straight back into the mainstream & slipstreamed along as if i’d never left the pool….. but do i see myself living there right now with my little one. nope. there is just no doubt that the lifestyle in south africa is just SO much easier for families with kids. having said that i also realised more strongly than ever that south africa is not for me either. being in london once again highlighted the reality of the violent crime in south africa. it reminded me of the freedom one feels when you don’t need to live behind bars & security gates & lasers & alarms & security guards & guns. yes, in cape town we do live in a ‘bubble’ where perhaps reality doesn’t quite feature but it’s not very far off (only last night i was out with a friend whose neighbour had been attacked & raped a week ago!! now there’s a reality check when you need one!!). so we have pluses & minuses all over the place but for me SECURITY always wins. especially when it comes to my family.

we are only here in sa for a very short time & so i aim to do my best to find all the amazing things in this country & make the most of them (& i’ll be sure to blog about them!!!) whilst praying that nothing terrible happens along our journey. one thing that became even more clear to me after my travels was that if it wasn’t for the crime in south africa you definitely could not fault the lifestyle which really only stands to make the whole scenario of this country THAT much more of a tragedy!

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