One of the joys of moving here for me was certainly not looking for apartments (just hire a UK relocation agent for that and make it easy on yourself!), but, rather, getting to explore the literary joys the city has to offer.
I’ve always been very bookish, and I enjoy creative writing as well, so my interests began to carry me beyond the city limits as well when I first learned of the Room to Write organization in Northern England. Run by published British authors Wendy Robertson, Avril Joy, and Gillian Wales, this writers’ retreat takes place just outside Durham at Whitworth Hall. The organization itself acquaints one with several delightful writers from the region who can advise on further travels around Northern England and Scotland, as well as recount Durham County’s dynamic history surrounding its mining past—pop culturally, Durham may ring a bell for you as the setting of Billy Elliot (currently performed onstage in the West End) and parts of the first Harry Potter film (the immense Durham Cathedral is a mandatory visit regardless if you care about that movie or not!). In any case, the escape from the traffic and bustle of London gets to be a most-welcome one after a while, and there is nothing more tranquil than a retreat into the English countryside. Staying at Whitworth Hall is in and of itself a worthwhile refuge, so, even if you didn’t want to take the 3-hour train ride up to Durham to stay there specifically, it’s worth researching hotels converted from stately homes to acquire a quintessential English experience—you’ll feel right out of a Jane Austen film, which is a big deal for us young Yankees who are smitten with old Britain’s period architecture and history. A couple resources for investigating such are:
Best Loved Hotels – http://www.bestloved.com/accommodation/stately-home-hotels-in-uk.php
Signpost – http://www.signpost.co.uk/stately-home-hotels-london-and-the-south.htm
At any rate, a move opens endless underrated travel opportunities within the UK itself, so don’t feel you always have to hop over into Continental Europe or, if you’re only visiting here, restrict yourself to accommodation in London alone.
I would also like to give a shout-out to the lovely and talented writers who showed up to my conference with newly published books in hand. They’re in the midst of launch parties and learning the joys of marketing one’s own work in print, so I congratulate them and wish them high sales and loyal readership! I likewise recommend them (in addition to Wendy, Avril, and Gillian above) to you if you’re interested in local British authors and the insights their work provides into the UK’s regions as well as other exotic locales you might travel once you move to London.
Anne Ousby – Patterson’s Curse
Erica Yeoman – Devil’s Drove
Eileen R. Elgey – The Smile of Deceit