Arriving into London was amazing, mainly because it felt a lot like home. We woke up early because we only had one day there and had a lot of things to do. First thing was to catch up with an old colleague of Marks who is now living in London. Although I was just meeting her for the first time I know Mark really enjoyed being able to talk to someone about the difference he felt in himself after leaving work. She also told us about how she had just voted in Brexit because she was an Australian citizen living in London. From our point of view that seemed odd. She has only been living there for less than a year but had a right to vote in one of the UK’s most life-changing referendums. Lunch was really nice but by the end we had spent our entire days budget on one meal and it was then that we realised just how expensive London could be if we didn’t watch what we were spending our money on. London’s gift to us was making sure we experienced London as it is for the locals – rainy.
It rained for the rest of the day and we were soaked by the time we made it to the Australian High Commission so we could vote in the Australian Election. The High Commission is a beautiful building in the heart of London. As soon as I saw the building I got a little bit excited and blurted “Do you think they will have a sausage sizzle like they do back home?” Mark rolled his eyes at me as we walked closer but I think he was secretly hoping there was one too. It was so weird stepping into a building and hearing so many Australian accents. We were greeted by a man who said we were a very “colourful looking couple” and I took that as a compliment as I assumed he was talking about my yellow rain jacket, not us being weird. He directed us over to the VIC line where we were marked off and given our voting papers. The process was so quick that we thought it would be quicker to fly to London and vote in future elections instead of waiting in line at home. The only downside of course is the lack of sausage sizzles in London. Feeling very proud of ourselves we went to the British Library simply because I love libraries and could spend hours in them just looking at books. The British Library is spectacular. To access what they call ‘reading rooms’ which is where most of the books are kept, you need to register and show documentation of a local address so we were unable to go and actually read the books but they have collections throughout the library that you can go and see. We spent most of our time looking at the amazing historical collection containing all different types of documents, from all different parts of the world, from all different periods in history. It would take an entire day, if not longer to look at each item and understand the enormity a lot of the items had on history. There were spiritual documents, original Beatles lyrics, scientific documents, literature and writings from artists. It was an amazing room that wowed me at every turn. The first thing I would do if I ever lived in London would be to go to the library and register.
After being in the library we headed out to dinner to catch up with another friend from home and we caught up on her time living in London and the differences she has found between London and Melbourne and had generally a really good night that felt really normal which was just what we needed after quite a few days of travelling.
We are at the airport now though taking in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. When we went to bed last night the news was saying that the UK was to remain in the EU, however when we checked XE this morning for exchange rates the site crashed which prompted us to check the news and what do you know? the UK has voted out of the EU. I won’t bore you readers with my detailed view on why I thought the result was a good one but simply say that travelling around a lot of Europe recently has shown me that change in the region was needed and the UK has just began this change. A defining moment in history and I hope only positive things come from the Brexit vote. We have friends and family all over the UK and Europe and even though I imagine things may become difficult for a short time I hope in the end the UK and eventually Europe are better off.