The Waitangi Day Pub Crawl was a great way to bump in to other New Zealanders who I knew were in London but in many cases had no idea they had made the move as well. Dressed as some fine Haast Eagles, the crew (Critty, Asty, JK, Tess and myself) made a late entrance and after getting split up, managed to catch up with a whole bunch of friends from back home.
Despite the English national past times of whining and insisting on forming queues, London is a pretty cool spot to live in. The daily commute on the tube soon became routine, including the lack of embarrassment in squeezing into what in anatomical terms are only potential spaces, on the packed central line for the commute into central london. Given the commute took 30-40 minutes each way, it was a good way to do a bit of easy reading. Having started the original adventures of Sherlock Holmes soon before departure, it was quite fitting to get off the tube at Tottenham Court Road, Holborn and Baker Street which is just where the book was set. I was amazed though how impersonal the tube is, with people actively avoiding eye contact or any kind of human interaction, despite it taking a big chunk of their daily lives.
The advent of the smart phone is amazing for newbies like me, trying to find my way in the big smoke. The maze of busses, underground, overground and trains is hard to get your head around, but a quick check on google maps soon has you on the way. However, it did prove to be my downside on one occasion when heading to Ollie and Steph’s place for a dress up murder mystery dinner. Although the app could find their place, switching to ‘directions from current location’ sent me to middle of Notting Hill not somewhere near Chelsea.
It wasn’t as bad as other transport fails. The worst was after exam celebrations, dressed in only a t shirt and a loan cardigan from a classmate due to my puffer jacket having been stolen at the club, then falling asleep on the bus home, but this version of the N98 bus instead of terminating near my home as it normally did, was an extended variety terminating in the country somewhere near Watford. Coupled with only a glimpse at my phone map to orientate my walk home before battery ran out, resulted in a long cold walk for about an hour and then another bus, only to arrive as my flatmates were getting up for work.
It wouldn’t be a proper big city without quality museum time – Lunch time trips to the British museum just around the corner from school to see the Rosetta stone, night visit to the Science museum and roaming the majestic Natural History Museum to explore the species mankind has pushed to or over the brink of extinction. Liz, our tireless course administrator jacked us up an outing to explore the palace of Westminster and the changing of the keys ceremony at the Tower of London. Unfortunately, the Yeoman Guard (Beefeater) from Bunnythorpe (a village of about 50 people near Palermerston North) who was the only Beefeater to not be British, and who we met when I was a kid in London, had retired a year earlier.
Plenty of time was spent exploring eateries and pubs around school, Soho, the East End and elsewhere. A few stirling IPAs were sought and found, which was a nice change from the warm flat english bitters and ales which was the go to staple otherwise.