5 Years ago today I said an extremely tough goodbye to my family at the airport and boarded a plane to London. I had nothing but my suitcase, £1000 to my name which I had saved; and a desire to better my life and make my dreams come true. Thanks to the generosity of my cousin and his wife, who kindly let me stay with them for a couple months while I got on my feet in a new country, I had a lucky start.
There have been extremely tough moments when I’m missing my family and friends so much and the impulse to pack everything up and return home to South Africa overwhelms me. Many nights I have cried myself to sleep due to loneliness engulfing me and frustration at myself at not being further in life than I want to be at my age.
There is a huge amount that I am thankful to London for. One of the biggest things it has given me is self-sufficiency. I am able to do things for myself and make my own decisions and this has given me a great sense of independence. I now have the courage to go out there and make my dreams come true and to take opportunities when they come. I’ve always been more introverted than outgoing but since I’ve moved to London I have found I have gained a bit more confidence. I am able to have a conversation with someone I haven’t met. I normally wouldn’t have had the confidence to even think of doing that. I am also so thankful for the wonderful friends I have made since being in London. You know who you are and I love you all so much.
Also since moving to London I have become slightly better at cooking, as I no longer have Mom’s home cooked meals. I find I can now actually make edible meals hurrah! I even bake cupcakes which don’t come out too badly. So I’m very pleased that I am not a complete disaster in the kitchen now.
Since moving I’ve had two huge dreams come true. I took myself to New York and Las Vegas to see Celine Dion’s show. I had always dreamed of seeing the sights of New York for real, not just from films and TV. I had also always wished to see Celine’s show in Las Vegas. Celine having been my favourite singer, since I was little. So off I went all on my own (I still can’t believe I was brave enough to do that) I wondered around New York taking in the sights, saw my lovely friend Lindsay who I met online and still thought it was so surreal that I was actually there. Then I flew to Vegas and stayed in the very Pink Flamingo hotel. I took a day tour out to the Grand Canyon which was incredible.
I was on a plane and coach with one British couple and a Japanese tour group. Then it was the night of Celine’s show. I donned my sparkly green dress. Took myself off to Spago for dinner and then it was time. I was third row from the front. A video about Celine started playing and then the curtains opened and there Celine was. I could see her so clearly.
I held back the tears as the enormity of that I somehow had made this happen for myself washed over me. I never thought I would ever get it right and here I was in Vegas and New York. Then I went to Celine’s show again on another night(I wasn’t going to go all the way to Vegas just to see it once!) and I ran into my lovely friends Cheryl and Curtis, which was a lovely surprise. Suddenly I didn’t feel so alone in Vegas.
The second dream I had come true was meeting my favourite author Marian Keyes. This was something I never thought would happen and I am beyond grateful it did. Marian not only gives so much joy through her writing and twitter but truly has one of the most giving and kindest hearts. Marian gives her time generously to all the people coming to see her. Her humility, kindness and honesty are truly inspiring. These memories I cherish forever. I think over that memory of taking a trip to beautiful Althorp house to meet Marian for the first time, with great fondness. Marian instantly makes you feel at ease and you can completely just be yourself. Marian has certainly brightened up many a sad or bad day for me.
Another surreal experience was attending a taping of Celine’s performance for X Factor UK. I again donned my sparkly dress and excitedly took my seat. In my defense they had said dress in something sparkly! The green dress was the sparkliest thing I owned haha! The stage manager came on before it all properly started and was chatting to the audience. Then he noticed my green dress and got me to come down on stage and do an Irish dance. I duly went and did an Irish dance. He had thought I was wearing the dress for Louis the judge who is from Dublin. It was great fun and the Tash before London, would never have done that in a million years!
The other thing I feel quite proud of is completing my first ever marathon in Paris last year. A few years ago the thought of even entering a marathon, wouldn’t have crossed my mind; never mind actually completing one. Now I’m training for my second marathon in Edinburgh and my 3rd in Berlin. We will see how that goes! I might be just a bit too ambitious there but I will be running for the lovely Starlight Children’s foundation UK, who I work for. So it will be for a worthy cause.
Some of my other highlights are my trips to Ireland, still one of my most favorite countries. My trips to Belgium, Prague for the Christmas markets which was beautiful and France.
I also can’t get enough of the wonderful west end shows over here. I’ve seen some incredible ones since I moved to London. Some of the ones that stand out for me are Matilda, Wicked, the curious incident of the dog in the night, Billy Elliott and of course Les Miserables.
So London a huge thank you! I owe you so much and am grateful as you have been good to me. I am sure there will be more ups and downs to come but I will find the strength to make it through. Here is to more incredible trips, experiences and dreams coming true.
One last special thank you to my best friend Kelly. You are my sister forever and always and I’m so grateful for you. I wouldn’t have made it through this long without you here in London. I love you millions my friend.
Happy 5 years London 🙂