Tomorrow night will mark four weeks since I arrived in London, but as I will be at dinner, following my first day of work, it seemed appropriate I write something now. My inner librarian, orderly and delighted in synchronicity, is especially pleased with this: that phase two of my new life begins four weeks after stage one. And although I am going to miss the relatively unstructured life I’ve been living – the one where I have been able to wander out and do things at a moment’s notice – I am also looking forward to actually settling down in earnest.
In a way, I’ve spent the past four weeks living outside the world. I’ve had moments of connection, but 95% of my time has been spent alone (happily so), and in my own head. It’s been wonderful to have the space to do that, but it can’t go on forever; it’s time, now, to actually start living in London, not just existing here.
It’s a pretty special thing, though, to get to have that much time to explore one’s new home before getting bogged down in the mundanity of life. Or, really, to have that much time to explore any city. I’m pleased with how much I’ve managed to achieve in my four weeks, though I’m aware, too, that there’s so much more I want to say. Part of me regrets the days of downtime I took; part of me is well aware that I needed them, just as much as I needed to get out and see things. And it’s not like the explorations need to stop, either – I will still have time after work, and on weekends, and eventually, I will have leave to take as well.
So how much have I seen?
That orderly side of me is going to take over again, I think. Here goes:
- I have walked an average of 12,813 steps per day (though that includes, at this stage, the day I spent in transit, so it’s probably over 13K in actuality)
- I have visited nine museums/historical houses (that I can think of at this moment):
- The British Museum
- The Imperial War Museum
- The Museum of London
- The Tower of London
- Kensington Palace
- Hampton Court Palace
- The National Science Museum
- The Victoria and Albert Museum
- Dover Castle
- I’ve been to five markets:
- Borough Market
- Brick Lane Market
- Camden Lock Market
- Portobello Road Market
- Petticoat Lane Market
- I’ve applied for countless jobs, and been offered five interviews (actual interviews, not just recruitment agency interviews), of which I ended up attending two.
- I’ve been on three trains outside of London:
- To Dover
- To Arundel
- To High Wycombe
- I’ve joined countless MeetUp groups, and attended five events with four different groups… all of which involved a pub (or a wine tasting).
- I’ve joined my local library, and borrowed several (actual, physical) books. And read them, too!
- I’ve watched basically no television.
- I’ve been to the theatre three times:
- In the Heights
- The Phantom of the Opera
- The Book of Mormon
- I’ve inspected exactly one room in a flatshare… and signed a rental agreement for it.
- I’ve done about 20 hours of contract work.
- I’ve cried two or three times, but never for long. I’m aware that there will be lonely and difficult times ahead, but for the moment, I’m feeling positive about my future.
- I’ve listened to the digital mix-tape my sister-in-law Josien made for me probably a dozen times, and especially this song, which is really speaking to me at the moment.
- I’ve planned one holiday for later in the year (I’m joining a group for Champagne tasting in France in November), and am working on a second (Christmas!).
- I’ve religiously tracked down good coffee using my London Coffee Guide app in four places; for the most part, I’ve actually been going without coffee most days.
- … and without alcohol, too, except with those meetups (and, all right, on my daytrip to Dover, and then I had an individual serve bottle of Prosecco this evening).
So… I’ve done a lot. I feel good about it. I have more planned: a dinner with my wine meetup group tomorrow, and a ticket to Tim Minchin’s ‘Groundhog Day’ on Friday. A walk on Saturday, and the Proms on Sunday.
And a full-time job. A new life.
I’m going to be fine.