Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you want to be interviewed, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Always looking for new volunteers!
Wendy McCooey, 34
Wendy is a southern Tennessee girl with a sales and marketing background who loves to travel, cook, craft, take pictures, blog, (currently job shopping) and do just about anything if it’s fun. She’s is now seeing what Notting Hill and the rest of London (if not the world) has to offer.
LLO: Give us the basics first: How long have you lived in London , where are you from originally and what brought you to this brilliant city?
WM: We moved here October 2009 from Nashville, TN (yes, I have a southern accent, but my husband does not) due to a job transfer with my husband’s company.
LLO: What’s the best part about living in your postcode?
WM: I live in the W11 which is Notting Hill (yes, the inspiration for a lil’ rom-com you may have heard of) and love it here. The energy and the layout of the area is perfect. It’s city living at its finest, but somehow it still manages to keep some neighborhood “small town” charm to it. Maybe it’s due to all the cool independent movie theatres, the Portobello Market, or maybe the adorable strip of Westbourne Grove/Ledbury area. Whatever it is, it’s home to me now and I smile just thinking about it
LLO: Favourite place to find a taste of home?
WM: If I’m craving pancakes, I hightail it to Balan’s on Kensington High Street for their American Pancakes. I’m a breakfast girl, so these cravings come more often than they need to. If it’s not pancakes, it’s buffalo wing sauce and the closest thing to ours at home is the voodoo sauce at Henry J Beans in Chelsea. It’s delicious and I get it with their yummy chicken crunchies.
LLO: Tell us about a memorable “expat in London ” experience.
WM: Well… although my husband moved around a lot as a kid, I did not. I had always pretty much lived in the Nashville area until we packed up and moved to London. I was ready for a change, and so I said, “Yes, let’s do it”. So I quit my job of 7+ years, told my family and friends, packed our stuff, shipped it off, got on a plane and never cried really. UNTIL we landed and later arrived at our new home – “our flat”. Once that door shut, something happened. I cried, hysterically. My husband could not bring up anything related to back home or I would cry. There were a lot of ups and downs for me for many many months. Not for him though; he adjusted just fine. It took me three or four months before I could call London home and truly be 100% happy with my decision. However, now I couldn’t imagine moving back to Nashville any time soon. I guess the most important thing that happened to change how I felt was making new friends here. I have a great group of new friends and I would really miss them if I were to leave. Oh yeah, and the nonstop traveling around Europe doesn’t hurt either.
LLO: If I had one day in London , where would you tell me to eat and drink?
WM: I would tell you to eat at either Osteria Basilico in Notting Hill for the tastiest tortellini that you will ever eat or The Ebury on Pimlico Road for their gnocchi. As for drinks, the bar at Just St. James near Green Park/The Ritz. Order anything to drink, you’ll like it. Or if you want more low-key with loads of charm, head on over to Churchill Arms (Kensington) for a tasty pint of their organic Honey Dew.
LLO: Favourite places for a Saturday night out in the capital?
WM: For a Saturday night, if you are wanting to do something special I would say dinner and go see WICKED (I’ve seen it 4 times and can’t wait til the 5th) or just walk around Oxford/Regent St and people watch for a while and then crawl into a pub and drink until your heart’s content.
LLO: What’s the strangest or most amusing thing you’ve seen since moving to this city?
WM: The most amusing thing was a lady on the tube, probably late 40’s. She was fair-skinned, dark hair, bright red dress and nails, sitting in front of me. Just as I noticed that her toenails were so long that they were growing down in front of her toes (like cupping them), she hopped up in this almost empty car and grabbed the “hold on” bar and starting swinging on it. She grabbed hold, lifted her feet up and just started swinging. Then she put her feet down and swung her hips to the left while still holding on, stretching herself and then changed to the right and did the same thing. This rotation went on for a good 15 minutes. Being a girl from the South, I wasn’t sure if I needed to laugh or be scared.
LLO: Best London discovery?
WM: Kensington Roof Gardens! It’s amazing and believe it or not, Virgin owns it. (Where this picture of me was actually taken).
LLO: If someone came to you saying they wanted to explore London for a day, but wanted to go off the beaten path, where would you send them?
WM: I would send them to Postman’s Park to start, then off to Camden or Brick Lane and just tell them to walk around. Those areas have so much charm and energy, not to mention all the food you could want at your fingertips. Every few feet you see something new and cool to check out. At night, take a Jack the Ripper walking tour and to finish the evening a pint at Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street.
LLO: Favourite place around here for a culture fix?
WM: If we’re talking museum, it’s gotta be the British Museum. I feel like I’m the luckiest girl in the world when I walk in their gorgeous lobby, take a left and cruise on by the Rosetta stone on my way to the Parthenon area. I’ve visited numerous times and it never gets old. The Lindow man in there is also pretty badass.
If we are talking Theatre, Jersey Boys is amazing, but WICKED is out of this world terrific in every way possible. I can honestly say that I will probably go see it as many times as I can, it’s just amazing. Although I’m a big Dirty Dancing fan, the Dirty Dancing that I saw here was Horrible, to the point that at intermission I wanted to ask for my money back and leave. I have tickets to see Les Mis in September, so I’m really excited about that!
You can also never go wrong with the exhibits at V&A. I’m currently dying to go see the Grace Kelly exhibit there.
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