I was a Londoner for the last four years. It taught me infinitely more about the world and myself than I ever could have expected to learn if I hadn’t gone abroad. These four years, I will never, ever forget. But what it also taught me was that there is so much out there to explore and so I’m moving on to new adventures. Here I will use this last Listen to a Londoner to turn the tables and answer some questions from you guys.
Q1: Where is your next adventure leading you?
LLO: First to New York to see family and friends for about a month then a one-way ticket to Colombia for as long as it takes to decide whether I can make it my next home.
Q2: Will you ever move back to London?
LLO: Never say never, but as much as I do love London, I don’t have any plans to at the moment.
Q3: What is your reasoning for leaving?
LLO: There are a few reasons. One, for love and the invitation to move to Colombia. And two, because I need a change of pace. I need to feel grass on bare feet, look up to the sky at night and see stars and walk out of my front door without the chance of being trampled by commuters or hit by a double decker bus. I need a bit of stillness.
Q4: Was finding a job difficult in London?
LLO: While I did freelance work on the side occasionally, I had two main jobs while in London and both of them found me. I posted my CV on Gumtree and got called up for interviews. Granted that was back in 2007 and then 2008, so the situation is different now, but it’s not impossible if you’re flexible.
Q5: What brought you to London years ago?
LLO: Curiosity and obsession, I suppose. In 2004, I spent a semester abroad living it up in Knightsbridge and travelling on weekends so I had this idea of London as an ideal place. After I graduated I immediately came back to London to relive that fantasy, but of course real life kicked in!
Q6: What is the most influential part of London to you?
LLO: Not sure if you mean area or aspect, but if you mean area, definitely all around Brick Lane and if you mean aspect, then the diversity without a doubt.
Q7: Will you continue a blog where you are going?
LLO: Yes, it will be just like this one but in a different location. I will post the link in an entry here when I get one so check back around March or so. To bridge the gap, I have another blog now called Little Photography Observationist. Feel free to stop by and say hi!
Q8: How easy is it to make friends in London?
LLO: It’s very easy to meet acquaintances and people to hang out with. You meet them through flatmates, other friends, work colleagues and at random. But to make real true long-lasting friends is a lot more difficult because everyone seems to be on a visa that runs out sooner or later and they leave to be replaced by new friends. London is a transient place and though the people you meet are incredible and influential, they don’t always stick around. I was lucky and ended up with an incredible group of girls.
Q9: What is your favourite coffee shop?
LLO: I don’t drink coffee, but have two places I love to go for tea that also have coffee: Sacred Cafe on Ganton Street and 1001 Cafe on Brick Lane – both have amazing atmosphere, though very different from one another, delicious tea and yummy snacks. If I were to go for coffee, Monmouth is good and I’ve heard great things about Flat White in Soho, though I’ve never gotten around to going inside because it’s always too crowded for my taste.
Q10: Where is your favourite place in London to be alone, think, and escape the crowds?
LLO: A walk in Hampstead Heath is brilliant for all of that. The Thames path that runs down the southwest portion of the river is nice as well. Of course, these are summer activities, so in the winter, I will go down to the basement of Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street or have a hot chocolate in Scootercaffe on Lower Marsh Street near Waterloo.
Q11: As a writer in the city, what in London has inspired your writing the most while you’ve been here?
LLO: The diversity of the people and the details that are a result of this mixture of lifestyles – the smell of kebabs mixed with curry mixed with Japanese food and South African BBQ, the many languages that mingle in the air when you walk through a crowd, the tolerance and openness to try new experiences, the music of Jamaica and Ireland and India, celebrating the customs of all different cultures. There is a world in this city.
Q12: Top 5 things you will miss?
LLO: In no particular order and not including people:
1. Savoury muffins and relax tea at Sacred Cafe on Ganton Street
2. Street art around Shoreditch and Brick Lane
3. Diversity, people watching and walking around aimlessly with my camera
4. Walking through the market with a choice of lunch – Tibetan, Ethiopian, Moroccan, Brazillian, Japanese, Peruvian, Chinese, Indian, South African, Colombian, Jamaican, Finnish. You name it.
5. The amazing and always changing shopping options!
Q13: Where is your favourite bookshop in London?
LLO: Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street, Stanfords in Covent Garden and the Book and Comic Exchange in Notting Hill. The first two have excellent selections of travel books and cultural fiction and the third has that old musty bookshop smell and second-hand treasures galore.
Q14: Top thing you will look forward to leaving behind, and why?
LLO: Easy. Crowds and chaos. While they make London what it is, they can also drive you crazy if you don’t get away sometimes. It gets annoying trying to go shopping with umbrellas poking you in the eye, people stepping on your feet and having smelling armpits at nose-level on a hot summer tube ride. I’m looking forward to some personal space.
Q15: What song or album would you consider as your soundtrack for your time here, and why?
LLO: I’ll just give you a few unrelated songs even if it’s cheating: Prodigy – Out of Space which reminds me a of a few crazy house parties and bonfires we’ve had; Is this Desire by PJ Harvey for a similar reason; anything Oasis after anoter house party that involved everyone singing along; U2’s One and Set Fire to the Third Bar by Snow Patrol and Martha Wainwright for some great gigs and of course, anything by The Stayaways – a local band I grew really close to and have seen them live more times than I can remember.
Thanks again everyone for all of your comments and encouragement and stay tuned for another blog coming up in a few months. In the meantime, check out Little Photography Observationist.