With another chapter of my London adventures about to close I felt a quick blog was in order.

Actually it is just a diversion from the horrible task of packing on what would otherwise be a pleasant Easter Monday that should rather be spent eating and drinking with friends. Thankfully I will be doing that this evening thus avoiding The Last Supper in a place I have delightfully called home for the past six months.

Not that I haven’t had a surfeit of eating and drinking and socialising lately or that I am in any way denied the pleasures of life as in fact in a day or so I will rediscover the delights of Italian cuisine as I head for my villa in the Tuscan hills. And quite frankly I am looking forward to it: my own bed, my own view, fresh air and the magical almost free water from the hills which makes its way into my taps. And the chance to plant my veggie garden!

But always when I leave London I am sad. It’s not just the #galleriesandlunch lifestyle which has become my special hash tag…..it’s that every time I leave I am missing a dozen things I really, really want to do. Next week I am not only missing a once in a lifetime treat of climbing 350 stairs up inside Big Ben…which is hardly ever on offer and would be magical, I am also missing more eating and drinking with friends and more #galleriesandlunch.

The fact is that I am deeply in love with my London Life. Which is not to say I sometimes don’t hate it and want to lash out at it and my fellow Londoners; I do, but in the main I totally love the life I have created here in a very short period of time.

I used to think that I knew this place well. I was proud of the fact that strangers stopped me in the street to ask directions and I almost always knew the answer. But the longer I am here the more I know without any doubt that I know tidally squat and that to know London is a life’s work.

So the question is should I have something other than an SW postcode? Should I return to an NW that I had at aged 24 or venture into an EC where I have only worked as a twenty something year old? The NW is nice – lovely wide streets, not filled with grotty rubbish and the stuff of SW. Sort of very Camberwell or Kew – Melbourne I mean, not their UK forebears but, on balance, not quite my scene. Very suburban I say, although the estate agents would have a field day praising these areas as the ultimate address. So I ventured into EC just for a look see and it’s really not my scene either. Plenty of potential; some already realised but still too run down and a bit seedy to be really honest. I was expecting all sorts of great galleries and trendy shops and was sorely disappointed. So for the moment, possibly for all time, I crossed that area off my list too.

To me the whole point of living in London is to live in a café society where you only have to cross the road to find your ultimate coffee shop (well, unless it is run by an Aussie or a Kiwi that is extremely difficult in this city), or a hairdresser, a nail place, half a dozen restaurants, a Waitrose or Marks and Sparks food shop, a bottle shop, an on-the-street green grocer, a Barclay’s bank and the tube. And for heaven’s sake the tube absolutely must include the Piccadilly Line…without that your bit of London is a disaster!

Deeper into the bowels of the earth than any other, opened in 1906 a whole 43 years after the Metropolitan Line became the first underground in the world, the Piccadilly Line transports over 200 million passengers a year and, for my part, goes to almost everywhere I want to go: Piccadilly Circus, Fortnum and Mason, the Royal Academy, all the South Kensington museums, Hatchards book store, Harvey Nicks, the British Museum, the 22 or 19 bus to The King’s Road, King’s Cross for the Euro star and Heathrow for the rest of the world.

And yes, for the past 6 months it has also been the tube for my Earl’s Court address which I am moving out of tomorrow. I shall miss the glimpses of my lovely rear garden that was but a promise throughout winter, the sight of people’s legs walking past my desk as I type in the basement looking up to the street, the Troubadour with whom I share a back wall, and Ferdinand the big ginger tom who has been not so much my companion as he is incredibly anti-social, but rather the reason to come home to feed from time to time when I remember. I won’t miss the incredibly bad drainage from the sink, the loo that often needs 5 flushes to do its thing, the holes in the black painted floor and the ill fitting windows from whence the winter chills whistle in. I won’t miss the inadequate heating system, and the constant bags of rubbish outside the gate from the pub next door, or the Starbucks over the road that I never visited, but I will miss the owner’s amazing collection of Coptic crosses and her books, the old barber’s chair in the corner, the myriad mirrors in every room and the proximity to my good friend Linda Bee with whom I do pilates and almond croissants, one rather more than the other!

But I will be back after just a few days in Italy and in the shake of a wild boar’s tail, I shall be returning to continue my love affair with this city from another delicious stop on the Piccadilly line: Knightsbridge. I lived in Knightsbridge many years ago and did my food shopping in the Harrod’s Food Hall which was delightfully decadent and outrageously expensive and maybe I will do it again although I must say it no longer holds an allure for me. But it will be nice to experience some warmth of spring in Hyde Park which will be just over the road and to discover where my local coffee shop will be.

In the meantime I shall be in my Tuscan paradiso for a week or so, signing deeds and contracts and digging the first sod for my pool…which is all very exciting. I resisted the temptation for years, wanting to retain the country feel of the place but spending more time here has got the better of me so after many levels of Italian bureaucracy approval has been given and I am expecting the signed paperwork in a few days. How exciting! It will change the way I enjoy the place and of course make it more attractive to guests who want to rent their own Tuscan villa for a week or a month. And my son and his girlfriend are super excited – naturally.

And because this blog is #galleriesandlunch I must mention recent visits to the Tower of London gallery for a nostalgic exhibition of iconic 60’s photographs where you could sing along to Peter Sarstedt’s ‘Where do you go to my lovely?’, the Photographer’s Gallery for Andy Warhol and David Lynch, the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in Islington for de Chirico, the National Gallery for German Renaissance art, the V&A for Italian Fashion between 1945 and 2014 and the Ashmolean in Oxford for Cézanne and other impressionists.

Theatre has included Superior Donuts by the writer of Osage County and Sunny Afternoon with the great music of The Kinks and in addition there has been lots of movies, much eating and drinking: dinner parties, lunch parties, the Chelsea Arts Club and ‘at home’ with my son and his girlfriend where I have to revive my almost forgotten cooking skills!

I’ve been to Australia House for the Qantas businesswomen’s awards on International Women’s Day and to hear Maureen Wheeler of Lonely Planet this week. I’ve been to St James’s Palace to meet the Duke of Edinburgh, and to a delightful musical evening held by the Tait Memorial Foundation (from Melbourne) where I listened to the very talented Greta Bradman, granddaughter of The Don, and where I met one of the two young Aussie guys who, in 1969 bought a lion cub from Harrods and lived with it in their flat above a furniture shop in World’s End. When I told John Rendall I had seen he and Ace walking Christian down the King’s Road way back then he was nothing short of amazed. If you haven’t seen the YouTube video of their reunion with Christian, after almost a year in Africa with George Adamson, then you must not be one of the 10 million who have. Do! It’s amazing.

I’ve listened to a talk at the Royal Geographic Society about The Gentrification of London and with its 18% real estate rise in the last year have resigned myself to the next part of my life being as a tenant rather than an owner. And that’s OK. I’ve been through the Tower of London for the first time in 20+ years and Blenheim Palace which was strangely open on Good Friday. I’m back at Pilates and have spent £4000 (ouch) on my teeth in Notting Hill Gate, fortified afterwards, always, with vino at Jamie Oliver’s Recipease.

We had an amazing night at the Union Chapel Islington where Robert Macfarlane, Chair of the 2013 Man Booker committee talked with 2013 recipient the young and delightful Kiwi, Eleanor Catton and a reading by Kerry Fox. But I passed on the drinks afterwards as I had the most god-awful hangover I’d had in decades from a night well lived the previous evening.

So is it any wonder I love this place?? The variety, the opportunity, the fun, the people, the joy of living here has no bounds.

The Australia & New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts, which I am working with, is progressing nicely and we are excitedly looking forward to its opening by Tim Winton at the end of May. But there will be more of that next time and maybe something on Italy in the meantime.

Until then, with heart