Life of love, fun and secret bars
Emma Crease moved to the UK on an OE, like most Kiwis do, but her love for an Englishman means she has made London her home.
What is your full name and where are you from?
Emma Creese, from all over the North Island. I went to primary school in the Waikato, high school in South Auckland, university in Wellington and then spent a bit of time in Whakatane.
What inspired your move, and how long have you been there?
I came to London on a two-year working holidaymakers visa, and a decade later realised that I basically never left. I wanted to explore some of the building history in the United Kingdom and Europe (as a break from my architecture degree) and accidentally fell in love with an Englishman over a pub bar top.
What do you do there?
After five years of travel blogging as a hobby at Adventures of a London Kiwi – a past time which has taken me all over the world – I have recently launched my own freelance social media business. I help small, passionate businesses develop their social media channels and marketing.
What are the greatest advantages to living there?
The endless history, a proliferation of antipodean cafes, the ability to go to Paris for lunch (I have, twice) and the sheer opportunities that abound here if you have the courage to seize them.
It can be crazy busy, sometimes quite isolating, the coffee used to be rubbish and the streets often don’t have road signs which drive me crazy even with the advent of Google Maps. But, you learn to avoid the peak madness, make new relationships, the coffee is improving at a pace of knots and, well, it would cost millions to improve the street signage – but at least Google Maps are improving day by day.
How expensive is it compared to New Zealand? How much is a beer?
Food and clothing often seem to be cheaper, rent is fairly high and transport is expensive. But, if you’re savvy, there are so many free and cheap things to do in London. A pint (just over half a litre) is around £4.50 or around $7.80.
What do you do in your spare time?
Travel around the UK and Europe, explore, eat good food, tell bad jokes, lurk on Twitter, uncover London secrets. Over the years I have herded sheep across London Bridge, climbed Big Ben, had afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace and went zip lining across Wembley Stadium.
What’s the local delicacy and would you recommend eating it?
Toad in the hole: sausages baked into Yorkshire pudding batter and served with gravy. Once you try one you’ll never forget. If you’re really lucky, it will be followed by sticky toffee pudding.
Easiest way to get around?
Underground train without a doubt. Even though there can be delays, even though it gets packed at peak commuter times, and even though it isn’t cheap, the underground is by far the most convenient way to travel through London. I also love the small design details that decorate the platforms, tunnels and carriages – detective statues (Baker St), echo chambers (Tottenham Court Rd) and a pipe holding an entire river over commuter heads (Sloane Square).
What’s the shopping like?
Brilliant. From luxury boutiques that supply the Royal family and international chains, to tiny businesses that specialise in umbrellas.
Best after-dark activity?
Theatre in the West End, drinking cocktails in secret bars.
Best time of year to visit?
The best time of the year to visit is spring or autumn – the weather can be fairly tempestuous, but the feeling in the air is amazing. Wildflower-filled meadows and royal parks all ablossom, incredible sunsets and autumn fireside evenings in cosy pubs.
What are the top three things you recommend for visitors?
Have afternoon tea somewhere beautiful. Visit the Tower of London – the queues are totally worth it and Buckingham Palace in the summer. Take a picnic into Richmond Park in good weather, and in bad weather find a cosy local pub to snuggle into.
Besides family and friends, what do you miss most about home?
The quick access to sandy beaches and my Dad’s bacon and egg pie.
How easy is it for you to get back to New Zealand?
It’s a minimum 24-hour flight – usually 30 with transits. It means we don’t go home as often as I would like – though one year I flew to New Zealand three times thanks to a lucky competition win.
For Kiwis looking to move there, which industries are seeking fresh talent?
There is always so much happening in London that I find it hard to say – in my personal experience many employers here love Kiwis because of our work ethic and ‘‘can do’’ attitude.
Emma Creese and her husband, Richard, on their wedding day.
Emma standing outside Buckingham Palace during a garden party.