Last week Jay Lee and Laura McQuillan shared their experience of living in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. This week, we join Jonny Falconer and Georgina Rood, who are working and living in London, England.
I met Jonny and Georgina in a past job and we have been firm friends ever since. Jonny and Georgina have a kind of odd couple friendship. Georgina is loud and gregarious with Beyonce hair and a killer laugh. Jonny is a old school kind of guy, kind of quiet, who has a dry sense of humour and a passion for food. Despite their differences, they have found one another across the world and are living the classic Kiwi lawyer OE. I caught up with Jonny and 'G-Rood' to find out what life had been like since moving to the motherland.
JONATHAN FALCONER AND GEORGINA ROOD - CURRENT LOCATION: LONDON
Name: Georgina Rood / Jonathan Falconer
Age: 28 / 28
Occupation: Lawyer / Lawyer
Location: London / London
1. How are you doing over there? Why did you move away (i.e. describe the series of events that led to you finally making the jump)?
Georgina: I’m doing pretty well! Setting up a new life here has been a challenge, and I think that people underestimate how difficult the first few months can be - I certainly did. But now I’m relatively settled - I have a good job, a nice flat, and am beginning to know and understand at least some of the different parts of this amazing city and its people! I’m also really enjoying exploring the wider UK - so far I’ve been to Bristol, Bath, Cambridge, Canterbury, Belfast, Oxford and the Cotswolds.
I am a born and bred Wellingtonian and, before I moved to London, I had never lived anywhere else. By the time I got to my mid-twenties, it began to feel a bit suffocating. I had always wanted to live overseas, and particularly in the UK - and the ticking clock of the visa eligibility age helped get me moving!
Jonny: I’m doing really well! Loving London and all it has to offer. It was a little overwhelming at first - the scale of the city, navigating the tube and public transport and the endless options of places to eat or visit and things to see or do. But it quickly becomes the new normal (that said I’m still not sure being crammed in a Northern or Central line train during the morning rush will ever feel normal).
I was lucky as I’d managed to secure a job at a law firm over here before leaving New Zealand removing some of the stress associated with the move. But that’s not to say it wasn’t without it’s challenges - if you’ve ever thought flat hunting was hard in Wellington just try it in London.
"If you’ve ever thought flat hunting was hard in Wellington just try it in London!" (Jonny)
For me I think there were three major driving factors: great career defining experience, a change of scene and an opportunity to travel the UK and Europe. A move to London had been on the cards for a while. I remember graduating university thinking I’d take on my grad role for a couple of years and then head over - but at the end of those two years I just realised I wasn’t ready. After spending four and a half years working in Wellington I realised the time was right.
2. Are you alone?
Georgina: Aren’t we all, at the end of the day? London is a pretty overwhelming place, where you can feel quite lost in the crowd. I like that - it’s such a change to Wellington, and the anonymity can be quite nice! At the same time it can be quite lonely. I haven’t found that to be much of a problem myself, given that I have so many friends over here.
Jonny: I was lucky in that I had a lot of friends over here which made the move (and the decision to move) somewhat easier. That said it’s not as easy to catch up as it is in Wellington as people are so spread out, busy with work, travelling and the like. I’ve also be fortunate enough to meet a great guy since moving over (Hi Ross!).
3. So when did you live in Wellington, and for how long? What do you miss about Wellington, apart from friends and family (i.e. describe in some detail the memories of the city you have)?
Georgina: I lived in Wellington from 3 January 1988 til 1 May 2015 - my whole life! It’s funny what you miss, you tend to only realise these things gradually. I miss little things, like knowing where to go without thinking about it (I have no idea HOW people coped in London without City Mapper or Google Maps), and knowing which shops etc to go to for specific things - where do I buy underwear without Farmers? (Answer: Marks & Spencers). I miss reliable baristas. I miss the harbour - the way you can see it from so many different parts of the city, and the way Wellington huddles around it. By comparison, the Thames is this funny, twisting, unchanging thing which you don’t realise is there until you stumble across it.
"Where do I buy underwear without Farmers?" (Georgina)
Jonny: I moved to Wellington in February 2011 after finishing university in Dunedin to take on a graduate role a law firm. I left after almost four and a half years. I miss being able to walk almost everywhere I wanted to go, knowing where everything is, the cafe culture and coffee.
4. Do you think you might come back - we don’t be offended if not?
Georgina: Yes, my family is in Wellington - and I do love it. But I don’t like attempting to predict the future - who knows where I will end up?
Johnny: I think it’s too early to tell.
5. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Georgina: Bircher muesli with greek yoghurt. I normally make it myself but had run out of oats so bought some from a good cafe near work on the way in. How bourgeois London is THAT?
Johnny: I’m kind of ashamed to say that during the week it’s fairly standard for me to grab breakfast at “Pret” as I just don’t have time to sort it at home before leaving. This morning’s order was a pottle of mango (w/ lime) and coconut yoghurt. I’m also ashamed to say I grabbed a Venti Cold Brew at Starbucks.
6. What are your favourite places to eat out where you are right now - where did you like going in Wellington (ie what do you order, what are your favourite dishes)?
Georgina: Hmmm. London is amazing for food (obvs), you can find anything you like. I went to an amazing Turkish place in Dalston recently - the middle eastern food generally is fantastic here (even the fast food versions are good - there is a Hummus Bros near my work and they do amazing hummus and meat bowls with pita bread). It’s always great to get a pub meal on a cold weekend too! My favourite cafe near work is a place called Ludenwic (the old Anglo-Saxon name for London) - they do decent coffee and delish cakes. Oh and amazing cardamom buns at Fabrique, a swedish bakery next to Hoxton Overground station. Fantastically sticky and spicy.
"Having been away, I appreciate how it’s relatively easy in Wellington to find a quality place to eat" (Georgina)
Wellington really punches above its weight in terms of hospitality - having been away, I appreciate how it’s relatively easy in Wellington to find a quality place to eat, and there are loads of new places serving the latest trends. Wellington certainly holds its own against London in that respect (just on a much, much smaller scale!) Favourite orders in Wellington: salted caramel cookies from Leeds Street, mackerel hash from Florries, all the sushi roll ends from Sushi B, and OF COURSE any coffee made by Tim at Customs on Ghuznee Street (hiiiii Tim).
Johnny: Food wise you can get anything you want in London. I know of people who are trying to eat a different cuisine one night a week for the whole year and that is possible here. I love a good pub roast and nothing beats a Brixton chicken shop at 4am on a Sunday morning. There’s a lot of chains as well and some of them are pretty good. I wouldn’t say I have a favourite or regular place over here yet as I tend to eat at many different places (as there’s so much choice).
I can be hard to find what you’d consider a Wellington style “cafe” over here. Back in Wellington I was a big fan of Florditas, Lorretta, Leeds St, Hanger, Capitol and Prefab.
7. Where do you buy your shopping for food when you eat in - where did you like to shop in Welly (i.e. what are the differences between buying food here and there)?
Georgina: The supermarkets here are excellent, with really good ready meals and tropical fruit all year round (I am addicted to mangos). There’s also a really big range, from the quite expensive (Waitrose and Marks & Spencer) to the very very cheap (Asda and Lidl). Groceries in general are much cheaper here than at home (not, however, if you are having to convert NZ dollars into pounds). They have take out lunches down to a fine art in London: places like Eat, Pret a Manger, and Leon are everywhere (you can sometimes see the next Pret from the one you’re at), and are pretty good for food on the go.
"All the supermarkets are great and the focus is very much on pre-prepared meals" (Jonny)
There is a much bigger emphasis on pre-prepared stuff here. At home, ready meals and things like that are seen as pretty sad and pathetic (and in general the quality is shit). Here it’s completely different. There is a huge variety, and the quality is fantastic. The supermarkets usually do great meal deals: a main, a dessert, and a bottle of wine for two for ten quid or something. There’s a shop down the road from my house that sells ready meals and nothing else (gourmet ones, of course darling - I live in West Hampstead).
Johnny: I mainly shop at Waitrose (there’s one near work), Marks & Sparks or Sainsburys (as they’re both close to the tube I use). All the supermarkets are great and the focus is very much on pre-prepared meals. I should also given a special shout out to Deliveroo which brings great restaurant food to my door (be it at home or the office).
8. What is the best thing about living where you are?
Georgina: The history. It is absolutely mind-blowing stuff for a history nerd from a country where the oldest buildings are from the mid-nineteenth century! There are street signs on my way to work that are older than our country, I swear. The mind boggles at how old some of the buildings are - we shouldn’t be allowed to touch them. And the weird feeling of recognising where you are, even though you’ve never been there before… (too many movies and books and documentaries).
Johnny:There’s so much going on - you’re never short of new things to do, new places to visit, bands to go an see, restaurants to try, travel to plan.
...and the worst?
Georgina: I have a heightened sense of things passing me by here. Everything just moves so fast, and there is so much to do, that it does feel quite overwhelming. Reading the latest TIme Out sometimes stresses me out, because there’s so much going on that I know I will end up missing!
Johnny: There’s so much going on… It can be overwhelming, hard to keep on top of and the hours I work can mean I sometimes have to miss out on things I’d like to do.
"Everything just moves so fast, and there is so much to do, that it does feel quite overwhelming." (Georgina)
9. What do you not miss about Wellington?
Georgina: The wind. And everyone knowing everyone else’s business.
Johnny: I’d second the wind.
10. Do you hang out with locals or mostly expats?
Georgina: Mostly expats, to be honest. It’s harder to make friends at work here, there is quite a different office culture. I’m working on it though!
Johnny: A fairly even mix. I’ve met a quite a few locals through Ross but keep in contact with friends from home that are over here. I also joined a (gay) rugby team as way to meet people and met some great people that way but work has got in the way of that in recent times. I’d echo Georgina’s comments that it’s harder to make friends at work here.
11. What makes you feel all wobbly?
Georgina: Hot yoga at my new favourite yoga place - Yotopia in Covent Garden.
Jonny: Day drinking - now that the sun’s starting to appear and the northern summer is on the way.
12. Share a special memory that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, one for where you are now, and one for Wellington?
Georgina: Just one for Wellington? I’ve got 27 years worth! I got a bunch of snapchats from my old flatmates today, of them dancing to terrible music around the lounge - that reminds me of years of doing that with tonnes of different flatmates in a variety of hovels, cottages, and apartments around Wellington! And I always laugh when I think of my last Christmas at home, when on Christmas Eve all my Wellington family were in hysterics around the dinner table while my seven year old cousin did Michael Caine impersonations. She knew she was on to a winner with that one.
Johnny: I think there’s too many memories of Wellington to narrow it down to just one but it’s fair to say all my good memories involve good friends, good friends and probably too many drinks. In London it’d have to be meeting Ross.
"And I always laugh when I think of my last Christmas at home, when on Christmas Eve all my Wellington family were in hysterics around the dinner table while my seven year old cousin did Michael Caine impersonations. She knew she was on to a winner with that one." (Georgina)
If you want more cool stories about Wellington and exclusive snapshots of life in the city, subscribe to the blog (above), follow on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and add me on Snapchat (residents_welly).