Most kiwis living in the UK eventually decide to go home. Some people may not have a choice, it could be that their visa has expired, while others may want to move back home to start a family, get a dog, buy a car or just simply because they miss the lifestyle.
Leaving London is the easy part. You get to go home to an amazing country, see all your old friends and family, and eat all the pies you want. But I thought it might be good to list some of the things you will miss once you are sitting on the couch in NZ watching Shortland Street and wondering why no one wants to go to the pub.
Exploring Europe for next to nothing
Firstly, the obvious one. Most Kiwis spend their first year or two seeing as much of Europe as possible. I was no different and was constantly flying to a new country and spending practically nothing. I remember paying £5 to go to Italy a few years ago. These prices are not quite as common these days but you can still find decent flights for under £100 to most places in Europe.
So if you are planning on leaving anytime soon, make the most of it, go to that country you have been thinking about, because once you are home, you won’t be popping over to Berlin to hit the Berghain for the weekend.
There’s nothing quite like the pub
Yes, I know we have pubs in NZ, but they are not quite the same. We have cool bars and nice restaurants and even some English pubs but there’s something quite different about going to a tacky English pub full of expats than going to an historical 200-year-old pub with a great selection of ales, plenty of dogs sniffing around, and maybe a ghost or two.
Many of the pubs in the UK are old, and I mean older than anything in NZ. We just don’t have that history, and I know I’m going to miss the English pub life. Plus beers are expensive back home now. No $3 pints unless you join a bowls club.
Getting surprise drunk on a Sunday
Following on from the pub, the Sunday session is another activity I will miss. Rarely do people go to a pub on a Sunday in New Zealand, in the UK it’s like a religion and I have spent numerous Sundays having a roast, reading the paper, or getting surprise drunk on a Sunday with friends down at my local. This I will miss, the Monday hangover I will not.
The general availability of booze
Yes you might think this is just a dairy what’s the big deal? But actually the big deal is the booze. You can only buy booze at a supermarket or liquor store in NZ. I was recently back for a holiday and wanted to buy a couple of roadies for the walk to Laneways. My friends laughed at me when I suggested going to the offie.
Also the fact that you can buy booze 24 hours a day in the UK is awesome/bad depending on how you look at it. When you go home your drinking and partying habits will change, again this could be awesome/bad depending on your viewpoint.
Eating out is much more exciting
NZ has some of the best, freshest most delicious food, so it’s not all that bad on the food front. But you will miss some of the best restaurants in the world as well as having a new place to eat at every week. Plus the curries. Oh my god the curries.
London is a foodies heaven and nowhere in NZ will be able to compete with the variety, price and just plain awesomeness of the options available to you when going out for a meal in London. I know when I finally leave I will be eating out every night for a few months to tick off all my favourite joints. Not to mention the pop ups and random concepts that all seem to start in London such as Burger Lobster (pictured above).
Drinking up… the sunshine in the park
I will definitely miss going to the park on a sunny Saturday and having some beers and perhaps a BBQ, a picnic or a kick around. I know people go to the park in NZ but I don’t think it’s so ingrained in the culture there. Most people have backyards so they don’t need to head to the park and the parks we do have just don’t really compare.
Hampstead heath, Regents Park, Richmond park and London Fields, to name a few, are all very different from each other. To spend a day drinking in the sunshine surrounded by other people doing exactly the same thing is a glorious way to spend a weekend.
Hitting up the festivals
Big Day Out is no more. NZ have Laneways, Splore and a few others I’m sure, but England and for that matter Europe do festivals properly. Mud, thousands of people and amazing line ups. NZ just can’t compete when it comes to these. So, if you haven’t been to one, make sure you go.
Glastonbury is obviously the biggest in the UK but, with tickets selling out in minutes, sometimes it’s easier and better to look further ahead. Rosklide in Denmark is massive and a good option if you want the bigger festival experience, Secret Garden party in the UK is great for something a little smaller and quirkier. If you can’t be bothered to leave London, there are also many weekend festivals such as Field Day and Lovebox.
Finding an awesome gig any night of the week
Following on from festivals, going to see bands is one of my favourite past times and I will certainly the miss the options available in London. Any day of the week you can find a good band to see whether they are selling out the 02 or playing to 50 people at the Lexington.
You will not have the opportunity to see as many great bands as you will in London, so start checking out the listings and see some of those acts you’ve been meaning to. Songkick is great for keeping track of the bands you want to see so download the app and never miss another show.
Being taken for a ride, anywhere you want
How many night buses have you passed out on and ended up at the end of the line? Probably more than you’d care to admit, but at least there are night buses, and tubes and trains and even trams. You will even miss the tube (maybe not at rush hour) but when you want to visit a friend in Auckland and they live in Titarangi and you don’t own a car what do you do? Walk? Hitchhike? I don’t even know.
I’m not going to recommend you start riding the tube more often out of sheer nostalgia, I’m just saying you will miss the ease of getting around in London.
These cheeky delights
You will miss minstrels, trust me, everyone always asks me to bring these when I go back for holidays. Eat these and load up your luggage with any other English treats you desire such as prawn cocktail crisps, haribo and flying saucers.
Here are a few other things that you will miss:
Snow: You may curse it when covered in it, but there’s no doubt you’ll miss it
Fried chicken on every street corner
Random events popping up such as Canalival & Mass pillow fights in Trafalgar Square
Culture on every street corner
And castles… castles in general
This isn’t an exhaustive list and I’m sure everyone will miss certain things about London. The people, the hustle bustle and the energy of London can’t be experienced anywhere, but console yourself with the fact that NZ is a seriously great place to be going back to.
You may miss your favourtie pub, but you will get to live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. And eat a hell of a lot of pies.
Photos by Alex Ward
Minstrels photo by Flickr.com/MaxWarren