I'll be honest. There's the odd moment, when I'm lying on the mattress on my laminate London floor late at night, having been woken yet again by a barking dog or returning party goer, that I wonder what the hell I've done.
If you don't know the story so far, essentially I persuaded the Pink House Husband it was an excellent idea to leave our pretty, pastel-pink, recently refurbished Victorian house in one of Edinburgh's poshest parts, and move to a beige Edwardian semi in deepest SE London.
In Edinburgh's Grange area, where we lived until seven weeks ago, the streets might not have been paved with gold, but they were lined with Landrovers. All the children who lived on our perfectly manicured lane of listed houses went to private schools, and were to be seen every morning in wool blazers, white shirts and striped ties - our kids included. The local corner shop sold artisan cheeses, the local pond was stocked with tufted ducks, and the local supermarket was Waitrose. Surely we were living the dream?
But something was missing. Or rather, nothing was.
I felt as though we'd skipped about 20 years of our lives and moved straight to the place, the house, the mind set you reach AFTER you've worked your ass off, raised your kids and reached your career potential. Only THEN, I had started to feel, could I fully enjoy the stillness and satisfaction, like when I've returned from a hard run and sitting motionless in the garden for 20 minutes with an iced coffee feels like total luxury.
Because I'm not satisfied yet. I have Stuff To Do and Things To See. And for me, London is the place to see and do them in.
So now we're back, yes, there are problems. There's noise and dirt and a whole new neighbourhood to get to know, not to mention sorting out the whole school situation (which, luckily, I have done; there's a lovely primary school at the bottom of our road and both kids now have places there - phew!). But on the whole, I couldn't be happier.
After I published the post 'Why I'm moving back to London' in March, I received loads of messages from people who were considering moving out of London but weren't sure if they'd regret it. It can be hard to appreciate what you have while you have it, and I'm in the fairly unusual position of having lived in London, moved out, then moved back in again. This move back has alerted me to the things I missed about the Big Smoke, some of which I never even knew I was missing.
So without further ado, here's my list of 15 things I missed most about London. If you're a Londoner, I hope it reminds you what a great city we live in; if you're a potential London leaver, I hope it helps clarify your thoughts; and if you live in a place that's not London, I hope it encourages you to come and visit (just don't forget your earplugs, and ALWAYS STAND ON THE RIGHT)...
The surprise of yet another stunning building round every other corner - this city is an architectural dream. And it has LOADS of multi-coloured streets
That sense of Londoner solidarity you feel when SOME TOURIST insists on standing ON THE RIGHT on the Underground escalator. I used to think this was merely annoying; I now know I actually enjoyed being annoyed
Street art: who needs galleries when you can appreciate the incredible creativity livening up so many London walls
Reading about a cool new shop/restaurant/art installation in a national magazine then realising it's just 15 minutes away from you (newest discovery: W.A. Green in Shoreditch - more on owner Zoe coming soon to The Pink House so watch this space)
The average summer temperature: yes we might complain about the rain, but (compared to up north) even when it's dull and grey, we can usually still get away with jeans and a t-shirt in the summer without getting chilblains (I had chilblains in July last year in Edinburgh)
The sense of local area camaraderie: I had this in North London, where we used to live, but wasn't sure I'd find the same sense of welcoming and belonging in the South East. I was wrong - if anything, it's even friendlier down here
Proximity to the Cotswolds/Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire - some of the prettier parts of the English countryside, and home to some kick-ass boutique hotels
Super-tall buildings - these give me an adrenaline rush for some reason. And yes, you should TOTALLY go up the Shard
Borough Market - food's just so much more interesting there, and turns out it's a great place to introduce the kids to new foods - they were fascinated enough to sample things they'd never try at home (even if they did then spit out half of it)
The past - having lived here for 12 years before having kids, the streets of London are filled with memories of my formative career years, during which I had a LOT of fun, drank a LOT of drinks, and started seeing the man who went on to be known as the Pink House Husband
The parks - London really does have kick-ass green spaces. I recently discovered a) the hidden St John's Lodge garden in Regent's Park Inner Circle, which feels like entering paradise (well, the closest I'm ever going to get anyway, due to THAT unfortunate hamster incident when I was 10), and b) the flocks of tame parakeets and herons being hand-fed in Hyde Park
TopShop on Oxford Circus. Who cares if I'm too old for it? No other TopShop - and very few high street clothes shops - come close
Japanese food. London does Japanese so very well. Mine's a miso cod and soft shell crab tempura at Roka please
Firmdale hotels. Charlotte Street Hotel, Soho Hotel, Covent Garden Hotel: all part of the fabric of my former London life, and inspiration for the fabric in my current London life
*cover photo of coloured houses in Chalcot Crescent NW1 by Candy Pop