1. Walking. Yes, I know that now I live near to some of the most stunning coastpath and countryside known to man, but to get to it, I have to drive to it. In London, I was a hop, skip and a leap away from the London Eye on the south bank of the Thames. I used to walk to work along the river, past the Royal Festival Hall, the Oxo Tower, the Tate Modern, the Globe theatre and Borough Market (more of which later). Not a bad life at all.
2. Church. Yes, I am of the religious persuasion. In London, I attended a fantastic church full of diverse people including lawyers, company directors, a man in a clown wig (!), various activists/protestors, retired naval seamen, several BBC employees and a homeless man who would without fail fall asleep at the back and snore loudly through the sermon (cue much sniggering from the choir). The services were always well thought out, the preaching intelligent and challenging, and the music sublime.
Whilst I cannot fault the friendly welcome I have received here in the sticks, the services are usually a bit shambolic and the ten, regular attendees make the cast of The Vicar of Dibley look relatively normal.
3. Food. A recurring theme of mine. My first job was in an office at the bottom of Brick Lane, London’s curry capital. That first hot summer of proper, independent, adult life, I spent my lunchbreaks threading my way through the throngs of men heading to the mosque towards a gorgeous curry cafe on the corner. I would eat hot dahl and rice (not weedy like your regular ‘take out’ fare I can assure you) and would often finish a few of those startlingly fluorescent sweetmeats which are impossible to buy down here in Cornwall.
If I kept walking, curry houses turned into Jewish bakeries where one could buy fresh bagels stuffed with smoked salmon and cream cheese or great slabs of London cheesecake.
So much else to mention in the food category; cheap and cheerful Chinese at Won Kei’s, Borough Market (especially the mutton man, the black pudding which slices like meatloaf and the hot mulled cider on cold days), macaroons and velvety hot chocolate in Paul, and meals in my favourite West End restaurants.
4. Starbucks. I had a daily habit. It’s hard not to with one on every corner. Probably a good job I don’t live there anymore.
5. London. Just London. The view of the eye from St James’ Park, the buzz of Soho, the grime of Camden, the cinema in Peckham where everyone heckles EVERYTHING, strolling around St James’ Park on a freezing cold day, running the London Marathon then hobbling home over Westminster Bridge, the view from Waterloo Bridge, especially at night from the top of a bus, getting married in Trafalgar Square….
So many more, but I think that’s more than 5 things….