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Not only its suddenly famous nightlife and music scene but the strange geometrics of the Royal Exchange Theatre, the thundering echoes of Central Library, the shining plate glass and cobbles of King Street.
The architecture, the buzz, the cultural opportunities. But I had to find the right boyfriend first and – as my mother can painfully vouch – that took a looong time. Even though all we could afford were properties suitable only for visionary interior designers or serial killers. By the time a friend showed me a picture of a box-shaped, light-filled 1960s modernist house with big bedrooms and gardens front and back for the same price as the trapdoor flat, I didn’t care where it was. Before we considered the reality of living beyond Zone 6, we were residents of Surrey. I had repeatedly said, “If there’s one place I will never ever live it is Surrey.” Which goes to show that you should be careful what you utter as a cocky, urban twentysomething because the words might come and take a massive bite out of your behind when you’re a thirtysomething mother desperate for three bedrooms and a garden. Since then, according to Zoopla, the average price of property in London has gone up 28 per cent, or more than £130,000.On the train I’d search for me-alikes – mothers tearing into work in central London, doing their make-up on the train.But I could count them on the fingers of one hand, not including thumbs. We’d do up the house and then we’d get the hell out. And I couldn’t say I wasn’t excited the first time I saw the acid-green flash of a parakeet.Two ducks came to live in the communal garden for a couple of days.I started running along the Thames Path under willow trees and past teams of rowers.
I joined a gym that looks out over a field of horses.