Lucie Loves... Life // The next chapter: Au revoir, London — a little life change is on the cards
“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” ~ Robert Byrne
That’s what’s been going round and round and round in my head now for two years. I spoke recently, on Instagram Stories, (and to my closest friends and family) about a big life change that I’m about to embark upon.
I’m both terrified and ecstatic, in equal parts.
It’s a long post, so get yourself settled with a cuppa!
I first moved to London back in 2012, but it didn’t happen like I thought it would. My then boyfriend of 4-years had started making noises about moving out of our humble, lovely (and incredibly cheap) 4-bed rented house in Market Harborough — a complete steal at £450 per month! I still get nostalgic now about it’s log burner and garden.
Blissfully happy, I’d created a nest. I was doing the best job I’d ever had — and no, I don’t mean financially, I mean satisfaction-wise. But, like anyone in a relationship that they’d like to see work, I was prepared to up sticks (for the second time in the relationship) and move where he wanted us to go.
Moving to London
To cut a long story short. I’d thought it would take some time to find something decent, something that would both challenge me, benefit my career and give me a bit more dollar dollar than I’d been earning previously. Wrong. I found a job straightaway. Lucky me.
The only problem was... it would be a whole 12 months before my boyfriend got a transfer to a London role.
I was on my own.
The thing about moving to London — as you’ll be well aware, if you’ve done it or are looking to do it yourself — is that it’s bloody expensive. I put a call out on Facebook to see if any friends had a spare room I could move into. A couple of girls I’d been to uni with got in touch. For the princely sum of £390 a month (soon to increase to £420) I could stay in the box* room of their Hammersmith flat.
*Turns out this wouldn’t be the only box I’d inhabit in the next few years either. But that’s another post I need to write.
Coming to London meant that I’d not only left my old job as Curator at a film archive, but that I’d also had to hand in my resignation as Resident Blogger at Lucie Loves Highcross (yup! That’s where I got my name), something that I’d been doing for the last two years, and the job that had really given me a foot on the blogging ladder.
To stave off London loneliness, I poured myself into blogging about my life in this new city. The transition between Leicester life and London Town happened pretty quickly, and my evenings soon filled up with events and opportunities. I was going to be fine. I was fortunate that a handful of my best uni friends had made the move to London too, and they enveloped me with open arms.
I stayed in that tiny box room for a whole year. Thankfully, I had the most lovely flat mates, which meant my postage stamp living quarters were bearable. I’m laughing now typing this as I remember doing a kettlebell workout in the bathroom because I didn’t have the floor space!
12 months later, boyfriend in tow again, we moved into a rented flat in Kew Gardens, which would be my home for the next four years (with and without the boyfriend turned fiancé turned husband turned ex husband). I loved that flat!
After having spent a year in a box room I was determined to make the Kew flat my own, and I did. It was cosy, well-located and spacious —but also cost £1,450 a month. Oh London and your exorbitant rents!
I can’t quite believe that it’s been over 5-years since I moved down to the big smoke, and oh my, how life can change in such a small space of time!
Following the split from my ex, I stayed in the Kew flat for two more years. I guess with all of the upheaval that life had thrown at me, in that dark winter of 2015, I wasn’t quite ready — emotionally or otherwise — to give up my nest. It gave me a sense of much needed, yet rather expensive, security. I guess it was a way of putting my foot down and, despite all of the other things happening that I had no control over (his affair, our breakup, the divorce) I just thought to myself: “if you can hold onto this flat, you’ll be fine.”
My housemates (also two of my best friends) had decided they wanted to buy a house together, and I felt like the time was right for us all to move on. I remember having a little melt down thinking that my life in London was over, that I’d never be able to afford the rent on my own, and that I’d have to regress back to teenage years and move back up north.
But as luck would have it, they were incredibly kind to me after my ex moved out, and allowed us to split the rent three ways (instead of me paying half for my room and them half for theirs.)
Flying the nest
Eventually, when the time came to clear out my room, with it a surge of memories and paraphernalia from my old life, with him— good and bad — came crashing forth.
The importance of passion projects
For the past two years I’ve been working, and writing, blogging and writing a bit more. There’s been highs and lows. But through it all, it’s been cathartic, particularly during my darkest moments, to write down how I’m feeling. To try and make sense of my thoughts, for sanity’s sake if nothing else! It’s good to look back and realise how far you’ve come.
After a whirlwind 2016, picking up freelance contracts, blog commissions and dates here and there. I decided that 2017 would be the year I focussed a bit more on what I wanted. I worked my arse off solidly for 5-months contracting at Ogilvy PR, whilst juggling blog collaborations, with the plan being that I’d take a few months out to finish my much-needed blog re-design and complete a more personal project: finish writing my book.
I moved out of my Kew flat in September 2017 and into my friend’s spare bedroom in South East London. I felt lucky that I’d managed to find a temporary place to live, but I also felt a bit in limbo too. Unsettled again, after flying my Kew nest. But I knew I needed to cut ties with that part of my life.
I needed to look forwards. I needed to think long and hard about what I wanted next. And with it, where I wanted to be next. With so much water under the bridge, I knew I needed to get out of London. I mean, I love this city — I really do. But I feel restless. I’ve got an itch to scratch. (As you can see, there’s a lot of neediness going down... and sometimes a few tears too. But I know that this is something I have to do for me.)
The Great Escape
And so, 5 years later, I went back on Facebook again, asking friends for recommendations on where I could escape to for a few months in January 2018. I’d put off finding a new London flat or signing another 12-month tenancy, even turning down friend’s offers to find somewhere together.
I wanted to get out of London. I would literally be willing to go anywhere, within reason... The only pre-requisite: it had to be within the £500 a month budget I’d set myself.
Dorset? Lake Como, Italy? Soller, Mallorca? The Scottish Highlands? France? The suggestions rolled in.
I spoke to a few people, weighing up my options and then decided that I was going to do something that would tick off two of the things I’d put down on a list for myself, in my iPhone notes, back in June 2016.
And so, here’s my big news!
At the end of January 2018, after popping my belongings into storage, I’ll be leaving my life in London, and moving to France for a few months to write a book — my book.
In September 2015, shortly after breaking up from my ex, I started to write, and I haven’t stopped! There’s 70,000 words so far, cobbled together over the last 24-months. And I know that, if I’m ever going to make sense of them and finish it, I need to put time aside to do it.
Why France? Because it’s a place I’ve always had a bit of a love affair with — probably ever since I saw the scene with Colin Firth in Love Actually — and it’s close enough to home that I can fly back and see family or friends if I need to.
Dream a little dream
But another reason for France is this: flash back to the last days of university May 2008, sat in our lecture theatre, hearing a farewell speech from our tutors, I remember us being asked to visualise our futures.
I closed my eyes — and I kid you not — I imagined living in France. Walking out of a tall, old building, and living a good life, a happy life. It may have been Paris that romantic young me had pictured, but this little old townhouse isn’t too far from that dream I had, so I’m running with it! If it doesn’t work, I’ll come back and pick up more freelance work. But if you don’t try, you’ll never know!
Do I speak French?
Nope, not fluently, but I’m learning using the Duolingo app at the mo, and I’ve always been told that there’s no quicker way to learn than to actually live in the country of the language you wish to pick up and mingle with the locals.
I’m excruciatingly aware that I could be seen as incredibly self-indulgent, even a little narcissistic, to think that I can take a few months off to write my story. I mean, who’s even bothered? But for me, I believe I need this. It’s closure. The end of a chapter, of a part of my life that I’ll never have again. I know that there’s enough funny stuff that’s happened to make for some entertaining reading. So here goes!
I fly out to France on 20th January 2017, and you know what? I’m taking my new love with me.
Here’s to the next chapter, whatever it holds.
Over to you...
Have you moved your life to live in a new country? What advice do you have for myself and others doing the same thing? I’d love to hear about your experiences.
What I’m wearing:
- Trousers - Zara
- Glasses - Ace & Tate
- Bra - Panache
- Hat - Vintage
Photography - @IamJamesBarley