The One Where We Move to London

You have no idea how hard it has been to sit on this news until all the relevant contracts have been signed and sealed. I’ve been itching to tell you… sitting on my fingers to stop myself pressing publish.

DorkyDad has accepted an exciting new job with an international charity based in London. I’m incredibly proud of him for taking on such a big challenge, and trying to use the knowledge and experience he has from working in higher education to benefit another sector.

Now that we’ve had a few days to absorb the news, pop the champagne and wave our pompoms, the reality is starting to sink in that Clan Dawkins is moving to Englandshire.

Oh my.

We are doing this completely the wrong way round. Most sane people start off in the city, and then escape to a mid-size town, before ending up in a village to have their family. DorkyDad started off in small-town America and I started off in the Western Isles… we met in Edinburgh… and now, with a 2 year old, we are moving to a city with a population bigger than that of Scotland.

Ach. We have never been a family do to things the ‘right way’.

I am by turns excited and terrified.

I go to sleep with a smile on my face, imagining myself in the London I know from watching Richard Curtis films; entertaining friends in my swanky Notting Hill pad, chatting to famous authors at book launches, and running through the snow in pants and bare feet to kiss my Mr Darcy.

And then I wake up imagining myself in the London of the riotous news footage. I have been scaring myself by looking up crime statistics online. I am starting to think that two mornings of nursery for DorkySon will probably cost more than our mortgage. People are telling me I should be joining school waiting lists now. Right now. Preferably yesterday.

I suspect, and hope, the reality will be somewhere in between. London is a place that extends far beyond what I know from film and television. I am vastly reassured by the emails I’ve had from friends, some of whom have children too, telling me that they love it; that it’s a wonderful city, that I will never be bored and yes they do have parks and green spaces there too, most of which I won’t be mugged in.

To keep the excitement and terror in some kind of equilibrium, I am making trade-offs in my head.

For example… on the downside, we are unlikely to find a flat that will accommodate our massive and beautiful dining table, which was bought for an Edinburgh sized room. But on the upside, we can go for sunny-day picnics with my London-based brother and his girlfriend. On the downside, we’re probably not going to have a big private garden for DorkySon to roam around in. But on the upside, we can spend every weekend wandering round the London Transport Museum (or we can just pay £1.30 and go for a ride on the nearest red bus, which will probably keep him just as happy).

We have so much to learn. Who knew that Barnes and Barnet are two entirely different places? That the Circle Line isn’t actually a circle anymore; that rents are advertised per week instead of per month; and that the same property can be marketed by half a dozen different agents. It’s enough to make a wee Scottish girl’s head spin.

What I would really like, right now, is for someone to hold my hand and sort out all the details. Find us a perfect house, at the perfect price, in the perfect area. Make sure there’s a big old park nearby, a choice of affordable nurseries, some great shops, and a leisurely fifteen-minute walk to DorkyDad’s office. While they’re at it, they could throw in an annual membership to the Tate Modern, and dinner reservations at Nobu for the weekend we move down.

But that’s not going to happen. Richard Curtis didn’t write this life. So I have to put my big girl panties on – top up my Oyster card, keep trawling through the property listings, and start packing my books into boxes. It’s an adventure. I can do adventures; I’m just a bit out of practice.

There is a lot we are going to miss about Edinburgh – enough to warrant its own post in the next week or two – but like Alice in Wonderland, with her oversized limbs poking through the windows of a house and her giant head jammed against the ceiling, we’ve recently been feeling like we have outgrown it. When we stand on our front porch and listen to the wind, whispering in the trees, it’s telling us that it’s time to move on.

So we are. Moving onwards and, hopefully, moving upwards.

Look out London. Here come the Dorkys.

Helpful suggestions for places to live, places to avoid, estates agents to give a wide berth etc are very welcome, either here or across on the DorkyMum Facebook Page. And if anyone has a flat they’d like to lend us for a couple of months, now’s the time to speak up!

34 responses

  1. Wow!

    Edinboro will miss the Dorkys. Good luck in Englandshire (never had much luck there myself recently!) I don’t envy the organisation but I do envy the enduring, endearing, Dorky spirit of adventure.

    Best wishes


    • Ha! Thanks Zoe, really appreciate the kind words 🙂 Will definitely still be following you from afar – and will make lots of excuses to come back and visit Scotland. Today’s stressful question is whether I’ll be able to buy Irn Bru down there… xxx

  2. Congratulations! London’s brilliant, so many things to see and do. Dorky Son will never be bored – and neither will you. Best of luck to Dorky Dad in his new role. I hope the move is (as much as possible) a stress free one.

    • Thank you so much! It’s starting to feel real now that we’re telling people – and that is definitely tipping me into excitement rather than nerves 🙂 x

  3. Wow! Sad to hear you’re leaving Edinburgh, but London will be amazing and Edinburgh will still be here (and only four hours away by train…) – enjoy!

  4. How exciting!! You will love it, 10 yrs on I am still not bored of it, although I am more suburbs based which makes it an adventure every time we board the train to the big city. Good luck with the move 🙂

  5. Ohh exciting news, I am sure it will be wonderful. Are you wanting to live in London then? You wouldn’t consider the leafy suburbs, we are a 25 minute train journey outside the city in Herts and I can fully recommend it here and the schools are fab and no wait lists!

    Mich x

    • Thanks Mich! We’ve ummed and ahhed over whether to go for London itself or live in commuterland… and we came down and spent a couple of days in St Albans to get a feel for it. We’ve not ruled it out entirely, but I think we’ll look in the city first, ratinale being that if you’re going to make a big move like that we may as well go the whole hog and be in a position to take advantage of everything the city has to offer. But obviously schools, leafiness and property prices are all under consideration, so if we can’t find anything that suits in the city we may end up out your way! xx

  6. Ohh no! Oh yes too, sounds totally exciting, who’s Young working for? Really pleased for you. But Oh no, you guys are great and I’ll miss you! (: Our loss is London’s gain. Looking forward to reading about your new adventure, Emsx

    • Thanks Emily for all your lovely kind words – I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about the adventure up here! There is so much we’ll miss about Edinburgh too, but you’ll all be welcome to come and visit! xx

  7. Well, important stuff first: yes, you can find Irn Bru down here. It’s not, you know, everywhere. But it’s certainly findable. Also, thanks for talking about the week/month rent thing. That confused the hell out of me, but somehow I thought it was my fault, rather than an actual cultural difference.

    and, !!!

    Most importantly though, when are you having ‘I’m here’ drinks?

    • Oooh, that’s a relief! Thanks Adam! The rents are confusing – I started looking at them and thinking ‘oh, that’s very reasonable, I wonder why everyone complains about the prices so much…’ and then realising it was p/w not p/m!

      I will definitely let you know when the arrival drinks are happening! And I will have a sign-up sheet for potential babysitters at it 😉 x

  8. Congrats again! Forgot to mention, and this is just personal, but I would avoid Foxtons like the plague… they have lovely properties on their books but they inflate prices and have been told off by the Office of Fair Trading a bunch of times for their dodgy sales practices. Also, and this is all estate agents, they claim and will market a property as being in one desirable neighbourhood (say your Richard Curtis Notting Hill) when it is in fact half a mile away in a less salubrious area (say, in rough a Ladbroke Grove estate). So my tip is to wander around an area, note down the streets you like, and then use rightmove’s ‘draw a search’ function – that way you avoid any confusions over what that particular area is or isn’t called! … Can you tell I’ve done this more times than I care to think about? xx

    • Yes indeed, you sound like you have a LOT of experience! You’re the second person to warn us away from Foxtons, so we’ll definitely stay away! I’m down for a wee wander round a couple of neighbourhoods next week, so that draw-a-search thing will probably be really helpful after that. I definitely owe you a thank-you-drink when we’re finally in and settled! xx

  9. Wowsers!! Big move! And Big congratulations! Having spent a very short amount of time in Edinburgh last week (was only half a day!) I’m wondering how you can tear yourself away from the place – it’s so beautiful! But having also lived in London for a while, I know you’ll have a fabulous time. Well done for keeping such a big secret for a long time, don’t think I would have such willpower!x

    • Edinburgh’s fab – a beautiful place! But this will be a big old adventure 🙂 And between poetry events and family and festival I’m sure we’ll be back up here visiting quite a bit. Thanks for the encouraging words about London – it is indeed a big old adventure! xx

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    • Ooh! Lucky you – Edinburgh is a wonderful family friendly city. Do you know it quite well? Let me know if you want any advice or suggestions about living here. Otherwise, see you ( in passing!) on the M1 🙂 x

  11. Good luck with the move, London isn’t all that bad. Mind you after 10 or so years i am looking at moving back to NZ soon. My only word of advice is much sure you chose to live somewhere that is has good transport links to where your hubby works.. tube strikes and train problems are a nightmare..

    Pop over from Love new blogs…. “hello”..

    • Hello! Thanks for the transport advice! It does feel like we’re doing this slightly the wrong way round… everyone else seems to be getting out of London just now! Good luck with the move back to NZ 🙂 x

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