The year I fell in love with London

November 2014

There’s no doubt that 2014 has been a tough year, after much heart ache and second chances, Rich and I finally accepted that things weren’t going to work out and went our separate ways.

After plenty of dark days and an ocean worth of tears, I finally started dating someone new, the sun came out to play and suddenly I was discovering a whole new side to London, and I liked it!

Then I lost my job and the first thing that everyone said to me was “Where are you going to go?

I realised that I’d spent so long saying how much I wanted to leave London that in the meantime, I’d actually started building up quite a nice little life that was proving difficult to leave. My best friend and all of my family were just a train ride away in Manchester and my London bestie was a 5 minute overground ride away. I could have (almost) all the sunny escapes my heart desired whilst also enjoying life back at home.

Then one Saturday morning as we lay in bed laughing, my face tanned from sunbathing on the balcony and hair lightened ready for my trip to Greece, the new guy looked up at me and said “You belong by the beach“. Our summer fling didn’t last much longer after that but his comment stuck in my mind way longer than our relationship did.

A new focus. 

Suddenly single again, I focused on friends, hobbies and travelling.

Yoga had always been a huge passion of mine and I’d been saving for a teacher training course all year. A yoga retreat to Spain in September made me realise even more how much I wanted a change but also that something was missing… I needed a real place to call home.

I’d been living in a flat above perhaps one of the busiest streets in Clapham for the past two years and whilst it had many happy memories, I realised I’d been making a lot of concessions for the main plus-point: cheap rent. When I’d originally moved in in July 2012, I was expecting to be there for six months at the most. Rich had moved in just around the corner and I spent more time at his than I did at my own place, thinking this would eventually lead to us moving back in together. But, sadly we split and 6 months in the flat quickly became two years. During that time I grew close to my housemate Monica and we’d sit for hours in the kitchen drinking red wine and dissecting our lives, then Polly moved in and nights out in Clapham became a regular thing. I was having the best time I’d had since I moved to London but it was hardly a haven of relaxation and when the nights out got tiresome and I wanted a place to chill I was left a little stumped. The fact I would occasionally open my curtains to see Rich walking past my front door didn’t really help to bring a sense of tranquillity to the situation. So, I decided to put the beach daydreams on the back-burner for a while and instead focus on finding a ‘home’ in London.

housemates

Speaking of the beach…

In the meantime however, now that I wasn’t saving for a full-time escape, I could book another short getaway and who better to rope in than my London bestie, Charlotte?

I’d already done a bit of research into where we could head for a bit of winter sun and top of the list (mainly because of the cheap flights) was Mexico.

Cue text to Charlotte, “Lottie, just think we could be spending Christmas on the beach! Drinking rum, soaking up the sun, seeing the sights, staying up ’til it’s light!” It didn’t take much persuading and soon enough we were planning a Saturday night in, drinking Prosecco  and booking our flights.

Flights

Once the flights were booked, we could focus on the fun part, where to stay!

I’d already done quite a bit of research the previous year ahead of my Central American adventure and so I had a rough idea of where we should stop. Thankfully Charlotte was open to all of my suggestions and we eventually settled on the following itinerary:

1 night – Cancun

4 nights – Isla Mujeres

5 nights – Playa Del Carmen

3 nights – Tulum

1 night – Cancun

The flights had come to just over £700 each and as it was kind of an impromptu trip (aren’t they all!), we needed to keep accommodation to a budget and so opted for hostels over hotels, apart from in Isla Mujeres where we decided we deserved more of a luxury spot to rest our heads.

Hotel Roca Mar

Hotel Roca Mar

Adventure is calling.

I’d already visited Cancun and Playa Del Carmen on my previous trip so Isla Mujeres was definitely the spot I was most looking forward to exploring:

Isla Mujeres

And with just three weeks to go, the sunshine couldn’t have been needed more… 

One drizzly Saturday afternoon I received a last minute text from a friend to say that she could no longer meet me for coffee. I’d been stuck in the house the evening before and all morning and for someone who hates having nothing to do, I was feeling a little gloomy. But instead of wallowing, I grabbed my jacket, wrapped myself in a big scarf and set off for the shops. As I walked up a back street heading towards the bus stop, who do I see??

Yes, after 4 months of (almost) no contact, Rich was striding towards me, coffee in hand. My stomach flipped and a grin spread across my face as we embraced, both holding on for just a little too long before falling into small talk about family, holidays and work. Eventually we said our goodbyes and I wandered around for the rest of the weekend in a daze, questioning whether fate had had a hand in our meeting.

 And then I finally realised, maybe it was time to start something new.

beginnings

I watched it begin again…

Then one Tuesday as I sat in a bar with my friend drinking hot chocolate, I spotted a familiar face. Two weeks later, we’d gone from dates one to three in the space of a weekend and I was left grinning from ear to ear after each one. Silly poems brightened otherwise dull days, ice skating at Somerset House, lunchtime kisses and walks along the river that turned into full afternoons and evenings I didn’t want to end.

But one minute we were ‘on’ and the next we were ‘off’ so I decided that I’d leave him to play that little game, whilst the only thing I was going to be chasing was the sun.

Plan for Mexico; swim in the sea, drink too many cocktails, do yoga on the beach and stay up until the sunrise. I could worry about where to live in the New Year.

To be continued…but first, Mexico.

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