I have to say, it’s kind of blowing my mind right now that it’s already time to write this post. Some days it feels like we just got here and other days, particularly the ones where it Just Won’t Stop Raining, it feels a whole lot longer, but definitely not three years long. It’s passed in a flash and I’m sad to see our time here end, but I’m also ready to break out of our London routine and try something new for awhile.
The past three weeks since we’ve returned home from Northern Ireland have been nothing short of chaotic as we’ve been busy wrapping up our lives here and prepping for the big move. Although, now that I’ve done it, I can say with both wisdom and experience that it is approximately 3,987,456 times easier to move abroad the second time than the first. With no home to sell, no cars to sell, no pets to re-home, and very few belongings to pack, we have had a lot more time for the important stuff this time around like…
…seeing all of London…
No, really. I mean all of London. If we hadn’t already seen it, we saw it sometime in the past three weeks. I have 2,000+ pictures to prove it.
…saying goodbye to our friends…
Always the saddest part, but thankfully most of the people I’ve befriended over here are just as crazy about seeing the world as I am so I’m fairly certain we’ll cross paths again at some point along the way.
…and saying goodbye to our home.
Since our lease was up mid-June, we had to move out of our flat 10 days shy of our actual moving day. I was pretty bummed about that, especially since this place is the longest we’ve ever lived at a single address as a family and I’ve grown far more attached to it than I have most of our other homes, but we made sure to give it a proper send-off. We spent our last weekend there cooking all our meals at home and enjoying the places we love the most around our neighborhood before moving into our Airbnb for the remainder of our time in London. (Which is where I’m currently writing this now…from the bed…in my pajamas…at one in the afternoon.)
Moving day fell on Lexie’s 14th birthday, so she started the day at home and ended it in a completely different place, but we still managed to eat at her favorite Vietnamese restaurant for dinner and then celebrate with cake at our temporary “home” after a very long day of packing our suitcases and everything for our sea and air shipments and then making two trips to get everything to our Airbnb. (Best birthday ever, right? I’ll make it up to her next year.)
So now that we’re on our way out of London (only three more days to go!), I figure it’s as good a time as any to list out some of the things I’m going to miss the most about living here. I wrote a similar list when we left Tennessee, which always cracks me up when I reread it. (Anyone else cringe a little when they read things they wrote a long time ago?) Anyway, here are some of the many things (in no particular order) that make leaving London so hard.
THINGS I’LL MISS ABOUT LIVING IN LONDON
1. Being able to (comfortably) walk everywhere. We won’t have cars in Singapore either, but walking two miles in Singapore’s 90° F heat and humidity sounds like an entirely different beast than the minor annoyance of London’s continual rain so from now on I will just be lazy and take the subway, thank you very much.
2. The iconic scenery. Turning corners and coming face to face with some of the world’s most iconic landmarks never got old for me. Three years later, I still get goosebumps every time I’m in Westminster and hear Big Ben chiming the hour. London is definitely hard to beat in the recognizable landmarks department!
3. Ease of traveling to Europe. Okay, so this one isn’t so bad since we’re really just trading Europe for Asia which we intend to travel just as extensively, but I will still miss how easy it is to just hop on the Eurostar or catch a cheap flight on a budget airline and be practically anywhere in western or central Europe in under two hours. I love Europe and I’m going to miss it greatly.
4. Sainsbury’s. I tell people all the time that London is the very best place for first-time expats because it is ridiculously easy to live here for those of us coming from North America. One of the things that makes it the easiest – Sainsbury’s. All of the foods and products I’m used to back home (or really, really good substitutes) can be found here. I’m trying to keep my expectations low for grocery shopping in Singapore so that it will be a happy surprise when I find my favorite flavor of jam in the grocery aisle and not disappointment that I’m going to have to go two years without it.
5. The lack of a language barrier. Everyone in London speaks English, all of the channels on TV are in English, and nearly everywhere we’ve traveled within Europe, most people have spoken English. Truth be told, I’m kind of excited for the challenge, especially while we’re traveling (most people in Singapore speak English), but I’m sure there will be plenty of times when I will miss how easy it is to ask a question and be understood.
6. The accents. The British accent is one of my favorites and I’m sad I’m going to be leaving without having perfected mine. I’m also going to miss having someone ask me, ‘You a’right today, love?’ everyday when I leave the house like our porter used to. (That was the best, seriously.)
7. Friendships with the most multi-cultural group I’ve ever been a part of. Whether I met them through Lexie’s school or the larger expat community here in London, the majority of my friends here are from different countries, and hardly any two are from the same one. That is a pretty unique feat, I think, and one I probably will not be able to replicate in Singapore since we’ve chosen to go the American school route this time.
8. Our flat. Okay, so maybe we didn’t always have hot water and our upstairs neighbors liked to repeatedly slam their doors at odd hours of the night and our bed was so uncomfortable that we’d have to take turns sleeping on the couch, but I still loved it. So much. As I walked out our door for the last time with my suitcase in one hand and my dying orchid in the other (no man left behind!), I really had to fight back the tears. Despite some of its issues, it’s still been one of my favorite homes I’ve ever had.
9. Living in Chiswick. Yep, you’re going to hear me say this again – Chiswick is the best place to live in London for families. Just the best. We have been so lucky to get to enjoy all the things that make Chiswick so special for three whole years – our phenomenal high road with over a mile of shops and delicious places to eat, the proximity to the Thames, and all the gorgeous parks and gardens that made escaping the hectic pace of the city so easy. If we hadn’t wanted to see more of London, we never would have needed to leave the comfort of our little borough.
10. The everyday London-ness of life here. This one is a little hard to explain, but it has a little something to do with the way all of the streets look like movie sets and a lot to do with the life happening on them. People walking their perfectly behaved dogs, vendors selling fresh flowers or fruits and veggies at nearly every street corner, everyone shedding as many clothes as possible in the park at the first sign of sunlight, the sea of umbrellas when it rains, the happy vibe in the air when it’s finally warm enough to sit out on the cafe patios without heat lamps and blankets, and don’t even get me started on how much I love this city at Christmastime! This is what I’m going to miss the most.
11. The weather. Just kidding! That is the one thing I’m positive I will not be missing while I enjoy my year-round flip-flops weather in Singapore!
This is it for awhile, guys. We head back to the US for a quick round of family and friend time on Friday and then leave from Nashville on the 4th of July for Singapore! I’ve got one post scheduled next week and then hopefully the next post I write will be written from a warm spot pool-side as I (very, extremely carefully) acclimate my skin to the sun again. :) See you soon!