When I looked out my window this morning, I didn’t see three rows of train tracks or hear a symphony of honking taxis. Instead, I saw green grass and birds swarming our four feeders, and listened to my cat meowing outside my bedroom door. Toto, I have a feeling I’m not in London anymore. In my first London Callin’ Y’all post, I mentioned that I like to call myself a city girl after growing up in metro Atlanta. While that is true to an extent, that extent is nowhere near as far as I thought it was. I like living in a busy area where there is always something going on, but I think I found my limit in London. I quickly developed a love/hate relationship with public transport. Its convenience and efficiency make getting around easy—once you’ve learned how to decipher all the maps and time charts. It’s easier than it looks, I promise.
You pretty much have to rely on public transport in the city; driving on a daily basis is a foreign notion to many. As I walked around, I noticed very few areas for public parking, not to mention the streets are always so crowded. On that note, the “hate” side of that relationship stems from the crowds. I’ve never liked large groups of people in any situation or environment, so navigating a crowded tube train or bus was not my cup of tea. Being Panini-pressed amongst a throng of people in a tube car is not an experience I would like to repeat. I would gladly take my Chevy over the tube at rush hour. Urban living is fun for a while, but eventually, you’ll want or need a break. London is blessed with lovely green parks and colorful gardens, which are perfect for some relaxation. St. James Park is home to a gorgeous rose display.
But if you really want to get out of the hustle and bustle, Hampstead Heath is the place to go. It’s north of the city and takes about 45 minutes on the Northern line, but it is well worth a visit. I had not seen that much green anywhere in the city, even in all the parks combined. As much as I loved the greener areas in London, they are nothing compared to my drive through Virginia and the mountains, especially in the fall. Blacksburg living has rubbed off on me; I’m craving mountains and the tunnel of maroon and orange leaves that surrounds Interstate 81. My “city girl” mindset has diminished in the three years I’ve lived in Blacksburg, and after a month in London, I think I’m okay with that.
Maybe I’m more “metro” than pure city. Lastly, you cannot travel abroad without noticing the accents and intricacies in the other language. American English is vastly different from British English, especially with a Southern twist. I tried to keep my Southernisms to a minimum, but I couldn’t help letting a few “fixin’ to’s” and more than several “y’alls” slip. I don’t think “y’all” caused too much confusion, but “fixin’ to” threw a few Brits for a loop. I learned a few new things about British English, too. They call Sprite “lemonade,” and what Americans call “plain” lemonade is called “cloudy lemonade” over there. I learned that one night when I ordered a drink at a bar, and the bartender asked if I meant “lemonade, that fizzy stuff?” It’s funny to compare my thoughts in my first London Callin’ Y’all piece, plus my thoughts on English fashion and the amazing cafe scene, along with my reflections here. London is a fantastic city, and I can’t wait to make a return trip. I’ll be sure to take my wisdom from this trip with me. But until then, I’ll enjoy my mason jar of sweet tea while reading Shakespeare on my back porch.
Kate Robertson is a features writer for Pretty Southern, and a senior at Virginia Tech, studying communication and English. Originally form Atlanta, Kate plans to graduate in 2014 to launch a professional career in writing and public relations. Follow her on Twitter @kate3robertson.