When you are not a native Londoner (and lets face it, there's few of them out there) moving to the capital comes as quite a shock. Particularly when you're coming from New Zealand, and realise everyone's advice is either really hard to follow (it's all well and good suggesting you don't think about how much everything really is in dollars, but the pain of paying nearly $40k in annual rent for a one bedroom flat will never really fade) or it's just wrong (really absurdly cheap flights, after taxes and surcharges are added, no longer exist. You might decide on a Wednesday night that it would be nice to fly to Italy that Friday, but if you do, it will cost you a fortune).
So you start low, and you build up. My first dwelling was a small bedroom in the leafy suburb of Putney, sharing a house with two Australian teachers. Beggars can't be choosers. My first flight was on Ryanair to Milan, flying me to another city a good couple of hours from Milan proper, getting me in to the actual desired destination at the ungodly hour of 1am Friday morning, and taking me back to London so early on Sunday morning that public transport wasn't running. The price of the taxi probably would have covered a flight that operated in daylight hours, run by an airline where you don't find yourself praying that duct tape on the wing is there for decoration.
As H1 and I have settled in, gained better jobs, and learnt the tips and tricks of survival here, we've come to realise most of the economies we made in the beginning were false. Not the rent (yes, that figure is real, but we do love where we live), but definitely the flights. We've also grown considerably less tolerant (a side effect of living in London) and far more snobbish (possibly another side effect of a London life, although more likely of age) and after a stunningly disastrous journey on that same nasty airline a couple of years ago (I can't remember exactly what happened...probably just the usual delays, combined with the complete and utter lack of understanding of basic customer service, but in my melodramatic memory wings fell off and drinks trolleys mowed us down) we made the timeworn declaration that never would we fly with them again. Another Scarlett O'Hara moment, fist in the air and all. And although we made this oath after every trip, this time we stuck with it, and made the move to BA. Who now keep insisting on striking every few minutes, recession be damned, so they now are also airline non grata.
Which brings us to the very real problem that we've concluded we will only be truly happy when we have a private airplane. H1 works like a demon, but still, I can't imagine the private airplane is too close. It would be considerably more than $40k, I think, and that's not an amount I'm comfortable spending casually.
Especially considering we have other places where we are obliged to spend that money, including but not limited to rent (as I've made clear), bills, food, going out, and...taxis. Yes, a few years ago the tube or night bus was good enough for whatever we needed to do, no matter what time of night it was, how far away it might be, how much time it could take, and how many heavy bags we had. Now, however, the London public transport system is going the way of Ryanair to us, and we find ourselves turning to taxis more and more - not every day, but when we're going on holiday (bags on the tube are a pain), when we're out late or in town (doesn't happen too frequently, I'm sure you're aware), or...when we're just really tired and lazy feeling (um, this one does happen a bit more frequently, on my part particularly). I haven't yet tired of taxis, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time until I'm frantically googling what the average salary of a chaffeur is.
And...trains. I feel obliged to talk about them a little bit, having mentioned them in the title, but that was more for a slightly catchy intro than anything else. We really don't catch trains often, not counting the tube. And when we do...well, they're ghastly. Of course. Overpriced and dirty, seems to be the rule. Last time we took a train outside of London, the journey back took us more than three times as long as it was meant to, and we had to spend some time in Staines.
Luckily, there's not often a need to catch a train - necessary only to get to other parts of England, we usually decide to go overseas instead. And take a plane.
Back to square 1. If you know anyone looking to get rid of a private plane - cheap - please give them my number.