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.

Sunday Star-Times - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Disad­van­tages?

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.

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