London Calling

 

I  recently spent a couple of months in London visiting all the people and places I love and miss. During this time, I also met the lovely Yewande who asked if I would like to write this article sharing what I love and miss about London.

 

I first went to London in 1990 to visit my good friend James. I felt immediately at home as if I lived around the corner instead of across the other side of the world in Sydney. This was largely thanks to James but also because of the similarities perceived at first. The differences, at times subtle but more often stark, made the place more fascinating soon after. My love for London and the UK germinated then and I was blessed with a number of opportunities to live there subsequently.

I have had the good fortune to live in London on and off for the best part of a decade and still have the luxury of visiting the great city as I need my fill on seeing friends and visiting favourite haunts. Nothing beats whiling away the day strolling about various pockets of London, soaking it all in.

The diversity of London offers something for everyone and I recommend lashings of everything.image I love the markets, the clubs, the restaurants, cafes and pubs, the parks, the galleries, Selfridges, the shopping, the architecture, the Thames and the people.

Hell, I even miss the underground and the mice that roam the tracks. I miss the double decker buses and the taxis you can fit your Vespa in if need be.

One of the best things about living in London is the easy access to travel. I love to travel and nothing beats popping over to explore a new town when you have a weekend free. Dash to Heathrow on a Friday night to soak up a completely different culture for a couple of nights before back to the grind on Monday morning worked better at reviving my spirits than any other tonic. The world really is your oyster when it comes to travel options from London.

I wouldn’t be surprised if reading all this your mind goes to the weather, a common complaint about London and the UK, but frankly I never minded the weather. I love skiing so as winter approached I was always excited about the Alps. The cosy pubs, of which there are absolutely plenty, are also divinely inviting during any inclement weather and in fact are at their best during these times. Would you also believe that the smell of the tall grass in Kensington Gardens on hot summer days reminded me of home in Australia? And don’t get me started on the balmy long days during the summer.

Finally, on a more unusual note, what I also miss about London is the dog-friendly nature of the city. I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home for quite a while (which I also miss) and through it had the pleasant company of many a dog including beautiful Simi, a very large Akita. No one batted an eyelid as I took this horse of a dog on busy buses or the tube, dining in fine restaurants or shopping. It was fabulous! Sadly it’s not the same in Australia.

I recently wondered whether London is a place for the young, that I had been there and done that and maybe it’s time to let go but decided absolutely not. You can take the girl out of London but never London out of the girl. See you soon London.

Guest Contributor Hülya Yilmaz  lives on the other side of the world now. However, she loves to visit London when she can.

About Yewande Okuleye

Cultural Historian|Londoner
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