Why I’ve decided to leave London by Paige Toon
I love living in London. Today I went with my family to Westminster Abbey, the place where thirty-eight monarchs have been crowned king or queen in the last thousand years. The history is breathtaking, and this incredible city is surrounded by it.Recently we took the kids to see the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, and in a couple of weeks I want to visit the Tower of London because I haven’t been since I was little. There are so many things that I still want to do here.I’ve lived in London for years – ever since I went to the University of Greenwich where I met my husband. We got married at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden and I used to work up the road at Heat magazine before I had children. I’d spend my lunchtimes wandering the streets, past Pineapple Studios where the dancers can be seen through the windows, through the packed market with its many buskers, down to the river and across Waterloo Bridge with its spectacular views. Other days I’d walk through Trafalgar Square, past the majestic lions and Nelson’s Column, down to the gates of Buckingham Palace, returning to work via St James’s Palace and the back streets. I felt like I knew it like the back of my hand, and I’m rubbish with directions, so that’s saying something. I still get a little thrill when I’m driving in town and know which way to go at Seven Dials.
Yes, I love London. I got married here, I’ve had two children here, and in the next few weeks I’m utterly determined to make the most of living here. Why? Because I’m leaving.
We’re moving to Cambridge. I love “the city”, but I grew up in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia, and I’m a country girl at heart. Cambridge is one of those places that has the best of both worlds. We went there last year for only the second time and I was struck with the sudden realisation that this was a place where we could live. We were punting on the River Cam and I remember seeing some random guy sitting on the grassy banks with his trousers rolled up, reading a book and drinking a takeaway coffee. I thought: that’s what I want to do, dammit! Maybe not with my trousers rolled up because I hate my legs, and the reality of it is that I rarely go anywhere without at least one child attached, but even if a relaxing solo afternoon by the river was just a dream, living in this amazing city wasn’t.
Cambridge is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. The architecture is stunning, the shops are all lovely and it’s still a city so you have everything you need. But then there are the surrounding sleepy villages, the river, parks and greenery.
It’s going to be hard leaving all of our friends – I know I’ll miss them desperately – and of course we’ll be saying goodbye to the city that has been our home for the past seventeen years. But until moving day comes, I plan to live London life to the full. I’ve too often taken it for granted. Isn’t that always the way with the place where you live? I know I haven’t made the most of living here and that’s something I’ll probably regret. I’ll just have to try not to make the same mistake with Cambridge.