For the first 6 months we lived in London, the list of things we missed were mostly “creature comforts.” Now that we are closing in on two years abroad, our list is much shorter. We have either learned to live without, found a substitute, or in some cases, even an upgrade. For example: when we first arrived, we were both really missing Mexican food. We’ve learned to cope by making quesadillas at home and occasionally splurging on a trip to the mouth-watering Mexican tapas restaurant in Notting Hill, Taqueria. So it goes with a lot of other examples – we’ve just adjusted. I’m not stockpiling Kraft Mac & Cheese, Crystal Light, or Secret deodorant anymore. However, last night, over a bottle of Australian Shiraz, we got to talking about some of the random little things that we haven’t found decent upgrades/replacements for. Many are silly and inconsequential, but here comes the whining:
American gyms: What I wouldn’t give for a big box gym these days. Two story ceiling height, dozen of cardio machines, a Spin room, a yoga studio, ample free weights, stretching space… do I need to continue? I blogged about my gym several months ago and admitted that I was sacrificing quality/space for location, I don’t regret that decision, but every time I climb on a treadmill which stares at a white cinderblock wall 2 feet in front of me, I want to cry.
Bath & Body Works hand soaps: This is silly, I know. But I really miss these! The hand soap sold in the grocery store here is really harsh and decent high street brand shops sell hand soap at ridiculous prices. (Like, $15 or more). I miss my $4 Japanese Cherry Blossom foaming soap.
Inexpensive pedicures: At home, I could easily budget for a pedicure once a month, no problem. Any strip mall, in any town would have a nail shop offering a pedicure for under $30. I would have to travel outside Central London for the equivalent in price and value. Try booking an express pedicure in Chelsea and all you get is a nail polish swap with a little nail filing.
Target: Call me a lazy American, but sometimes I want to go to one place to buy a sports bra, picture frame, cat food, and shampoo.
Dinner Parties: It took me a while to realize that I missed this so much. We spent many a weekend night having friends come to our house, or going to other people’s homes for dinner and wine. I am sure plenty of locals here do the same, but our flat is so tiny, we don’t have the space to have more than 2-3 people over at any time. I miss being a hostess.
An efficient washer/dryer: This one has been a constant source of pain, especially when I am exercising consistently. Our washer/dryer combo fits two bath towels and some socks, and takes over 2 hours to get through a cycle. I’m basically doing laundry every day.
The radio: How 1990s of me? As David put it last night, “Sometimes I don’t want to have to select what I listen to.”
Brunch: I admit there are decent places to get breakfast in London on a weekend, but there are two problems. Most places stop serving between noon and 1pm, and the extent of the breakfast menu is eggs benedict. Perhaps my new favorite blog My Brunch Guide, will correct me, but nothing can beat a Sunday at Millie’s Diner in Richmond, Va where the Bloody Marys are flowing, the eggs are epic, and the potatoes are spicy and delicious.
To be fair, I should write a counter to this post titled “Things I don’t miss,” but I’ll leave that for another day.
So, what is on your list of the things you still miss, even if you’ve been abroad for a while?