Interview With Rebecca Blandford, App Creator, My London By Runawaykiwi

Rebecca, tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, and what first prompted you to move abroad?

I’m a kiwi from Auckland and I basically moved over to London because my mum told me to…yeah. I was a tax accountant back home (terrible life choice) and in the midst of hating my job my Mum suggested I move to London to figure out what I really wanted. I only thought I was going to be here for three months, five years later I’m still going strong! I love cafes, galleries, travel and stalking cats that I find on the street…You've been blogging as Runawaykiwi for a while – what made you decide to set up your blog, and what do you write about?

When I first moved over I found myself being so exhausted at the weekends that I just stayed in my flat. I felt like I was just wasting my time in London, what was the point of going through all the hard bits of being an expat if I wasn’t actually experiencing this crazy city? So I started my blog to force me to get out more, and oh boy did it work. I write about being a Kiwi living in London, the good bits and the bad, and all the things I do to make me fall in love with living here.

Do you have any tips for other expats who are thinking about starting a blog?

Just start writing! Starting a blog has been the best thing I have ever done, it made me live a bigger life, make friends that have made my life richer and gives me the best record of my life for the last five years. Don’t feel like you have to blog like everyone else, just do what feels right for you and start writing!

You've just launched an app aimed at people who live in London – tell us a bit about this.

After five years of solid brunch and coffee research (it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it) I decided to put all of my recommendations in one place. My London by Runawaykiwi will show you all of my favourite cafes near you, best tips for things to do, and it also acts as a survival guide for anyone who has recently moved here.

My London by Runawaykiwi

What do you think are some of the challenges expats face in London, and how can your app help with these?

One of the biggest challenges is that to enjoy London you have to go out there and discover it yourself. You can’t just sit back and expect amazingness to land in your lap, this city it just too huge and fast for that. So my app is intended to be that best friend who has lived here for a couple of years, that person who can let you in on all the secret best food places and things to do that the normal top ten lists overlook. My hope is that it will give people a little bit of bravery to go out and discover their own London.

Your 'freaking out' section sounds intriguing – tell us more about that.

I think one of the hardest things about being an expat is living up to your own expectations. You have built up this big life change in your head and inevitably it is going to be different to your daydreams. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. This means that every expat has those ‘freaking out’ moments, where you question every single decision you have made or are going to make – my freaking out section is meant to talk you through the panic! At the end of the day, it will be ok (trust me).

And finally, the most important question of all: what are your top recommendations for coffee and brunch in London?

My biggest recommendation is that no matter what cafe you go to, go early! I swear Londoners don’t start brunching before 10:30am, so if you want a table just get up half an hour early.

Coffee: the elixir of London life

In terms of the actual cafes though my current favourites are Milk in Balham, Granger and Co in Kings Cross and Sundays in Islington.

You can download the app from iTunes, and keep up to date with Rebecca's London adventures on her blog, Runawaykiwi.