Today I have been in my flat a month and I can’t believe how quickly it has gone. In ten days it will be Christmas Eve and the year will be over. And what a year it has been. When I made that momentous decision on Valentine’s Day (10 months ago today, and thank you Ian) to not build a business around the success of my book on internet dating and instead to leave town with a begging bowl and a laptop, I had no idea what would happen.

Happily I still don’t and that is at least part of the joy I experience on a daily basis! I’ve spent a magnificent summer in Tuscany, in Turkey and in Tunisia; in Denmark and in Paris, in Sicily and in London. And now its winter with my weather app telling me it feels like minus 5 outside, and yet I go out and willingly walk everywhere soaking up the energy and atmosphere of this beautiful city.

London inspires me. I guess that’s it. I’ve always said I liked it better in winter because you were only here if you loved it or had to be here when all the tourists chose somewhere else in the sun. And of course it has changed enormously from the London I lived in variously between the ages of 22 and 28.

It is still the most vibrant city in the world; one hears more languages here in a day’s march than you would hear anywhere else on the planet. But that essential British is still evident in the people I deal with. Ladies on phone ticket lines are extraordinarily polite, my estate agent is simply amazing, my landlady keeps asking if there is anything else I need that she can buy for the flat, and it feels good to deal with people here. I have not heard a single “’ave a nice day” or “’ow are you today” from a check out chick, or if I have it fell on deaf ears.

Travelling in the tube is another thing. No one stands up for anyone and if they did I would be insulted that they thought I was deserving of a seat because I feel like a spring chicken and that works for me. I certainly have a spring in my step from walking everywhere and the precise mile from my flat to the Sloane Square Tube Station is a breeze….even with all the amazing diversions of The King’s Road with its myriad boutiques and cafes to gaze upon, and its myriad people with their Peter Jones’ shopping bags to avoid, I still do it in a mean 15 minutes and its getting shorter!

What I wanted from my travels was a bigger life. I wanted to be more involved with people, find more to stimulate me, be closer to the places I wanted to visit and have the opportunity to find where the next piece came in the jigsaw puzzle of my life.

So far London seems to be it. I came with the new identity of “The Invitation” and have had a full dance card since I stepped foot on England’s green and pleasant land. I have met and been befriended by some wonderful people whom I now call friends and am creating some lovely relationships with people who are involved with life, with business, with contribution and collaboration and the arts and who love living here too.

Mostly we agree that London is expensive but quite frankly in some ways it is cheaper to live here than Melbourne where things like food are incredibly expensive. Public transport here is costly but with the privilege of my British passport I have managed to get what my son ungraciously calls an old people’s pass and it costs me nothing for London tubes and buses. I’m very grateful for the British passport! One Aussie friend told me it took her £15,000 and many reams of paper and many tears over many years to get hers, and another friend who has created an entire network of colleagues and friends here is being frog-marched through security next week because his application for an extended visa was denied. Thank you dad for being born here and for jumping ship in Oz almost a century ago. You gave me the best of both worlds. Oh, and the National Health is busy trying to retrieve the number they gave me 40 years ago! Best of luck I say as I don’t wait with baited breath.

So far my month has been consumed with lunches, dinners, drinks, theatre, music, and people. I have done more than in 6 months in Oz. I eat out at least once a day so I have dined at some amazing places around this large town such as The Chelsea Arts Club and am a habitué at my local Chelsea Quarter Cafe where I seem to be almost daily for a coffee or a croissant or a delicious mini mince pie.

I have a weekly evening date with my friend Linda who stays over after we share something wonderful in London. Last night it was Billy Elliot which was her Chrissy present to me and it was fabulous. Last Sunday it was my treat to the candlelit Messiah at Royal Festival Hall where the orchestra was all dolled up in satin knee breeches and frock coats and wigs.

Seeing Stephen Fry in 12th Night was also a treat: an all male cast in a sell-out season…thanks to my delightful Octogenarian friends Gillian and Peter who insisted I move heaven and earth to get a ticket, and which I enjoyed thoroughly with my wonderful and interesting friend Charlotte whom I met in Florence a decade ago. Charlotte and I are doing the theatre again tonight at the Royal Court in Sloane Square. Sunday I will be singing Christmas Carols at the Royal Albert Hall with my friend Brigitte and a couple of thousand others….now that will be fun! There is always something wonderful and interesting to do in London and it excites me greatly to be part of this thriving city.

Of course I also live in a thriving street. Right in the heart of prosperous Chelsea, between the Thames and The King’s Road where a single bedroom flat costs about $1.3 million Aussie dollars and on every rubbish day you can see where my next but one neighbour Tamara Eccleston has been shopping from the selection of designer bags on the pavement. My nearer neighbours, with whom I share a joint wall, have been very busy visiting their daughter in hospital. Around June she will give birth to the 3rd in line to the British throne. So my outrageously priced mega-quid a week rental has its perks!!

I’ve been to business meetings with people in microfinance for developing countries, coaches and trainers, and a great bunch of Aussie entrepreneurs who invited me to be their Chairperson (which I declined but will go on their steering committee), and I have won myself a nice coaching contract with a Canadian film producer without even having to lift a finger. I feel I am being honoured for who I am and what I bring to the table wherever I go and I have to say I love that. Whilst the missing piece has not yet showed up, I know it will when the time in right. And life is a journey, yes??

Almost the best part has been my regular date day with Hugo. When he left Australia 18 months ago I got on with life, had my book to publish, and had 3 months in Europe myself just after he left so I hadn’t realised until now how much I had missed him. Now, hanging out once a week, on his day off, lunching or going to a movie is an absolute delight. Even more delightful is seeing him so happy in a loving relationship with his Latvian girlfriend Eve. She doesn’t take any nonsense from him, is gentle and soft, very easy on the eye and smart enough to allow his and my close relationship to flourish. It is wonderful seeing them happy and in love.

There are a few potential partners on the scene for me too now and it will be nice if one of them is not Mr Right Now but Mr Right but I will take my time on that one!

I have spent hours on The Reformer (Pilates, you know) and on Monday I have an evening date at The Reform Club after my lunch date at BAFTA. I have been to parties in Northumberland Avenue within a stone’s throw of Nelson’s Column; I’ve been on the 32nd floor of a seriously modern building near Liverpool Street Station where my son’s ancestors used to graze cows in their dairy that had the milk run in the East End. Looking out of the windows I was in awe of the city end of London and the changes since I worked there in St Mary Axe, The Minories and Mincing Lane in my 20’s. My old building was 8 stories high and one of the greats in those days…now it is about where the famous gherkin is and that is not even so high these days! London has changed amazingly and the city end is a buzzing hub. I love it.

I’ve been to Portobello Road market, and Columbia Road market in the East End, and to various Christmas markets at the Chelsea Physic Gardens, on the South Bank and at the Royal College of the Arts. Next week I will go to Borough Market to get some edible goodies for Christmas. The lights and decorations celebrating Christmas are superb. Everywhere I go I am amazed and delighted: from shop windows to department stores, even the garage of my flat has two huge silver wreaths decorating its doors and I am reminded of the last couple of years in the richest suburbs in Melbourne-town: Stonnington gave us cardboard boxes around the already planted trees in High Street and Malvern and Toorak roads. Not a light, not a piece of tinsel, nothing of the beauty that you can create for the wonderful celebration of Christmas. This place is a city of magic at Christmas.

Having always been the Christmas Queen I am delighted to be hosting a small but wonderful family gathering for my Hugo and his Eve in my flat. They will have a brisk walk from North Kensington to Chelsea because there is absolutely no public transport on Christmas Day in London, and then there will be all manner of goodies including the traditional Christmas dinner and a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pap which was kindly contributed by my landlady.

New Year’s Eve will see me in Copenhagen and late February Linda and I are taking a small group to the Arctic Circle to thrash around in sub-zero temperatures looking for the Northern Lights which NASA says are the best this year for decades. Let’s hope so. This trip has been high on my bucket list for ages.

So enough is enough. I must put on the lippie and the fur headband to keep my ears intact and head down The King’s Road for some Christmas Shopping.

Blessings to you all for a lovely festive season in warm weather. Enjoy those turkey sandwiches on the beach…with the emphasis on the turkey not the sand!

Those Aussie friends whom I traditionally celebrate this time of the year with, know I miss you and love you. My step daughters Bec and Sarah and their families, Rozi, Andy, Yvonne, Pammie, Vicki, Tam. Our friendships will be toasted on the day. And to Poly. I miss you always and send gentle purrs to you.

Thank you to so many of my readers who have expressed delight in my occasional blogs. I have loved writing them….and let’s assume that there will be many more exciting things to pen over 2013.

Until next time, with heart