It’s 10.30am time for a pint.
Saturday morning, it has just finished snowing, and a large contingent of New Zealanders are dressed up in costumes, confusing the hell out of tourists and locals alike.
There are doctors (Shortland Street), people in pink jumpers with multicoloured cotton wool on them (Hundreds and Thousands biscuits), giraffes (the Longest Drink in Town), and people dressed all in red with hats with giant googly eyes on them(Cookie Time monsters).
It is the beginning of the Waitangi Day Pub Crawl — a right of passage for any New Zealand expat living in London.
Our group has chosen the iconic dairy owner Mr Four Square; donning yellow jumpers and aprons saying ‘Mr 4’.
As we stride down the streets of London, it becomes clear that Mr Four Square has not quite reached international cult status yet.
“Who is Mr 4?” curious passers-by must wonder. “Where are Mr 1–3? Is Mr 4 some sort of superhero? What are his powers?”
“What time is the game?” a passer-by asks.
“Oh no, there’s no game, we’re New Zealanders on a pub crawl,” we reply.
The day starts at the Pride of Paddington pub, destined for Westminster, following the London Tube circle line.
In fact the Pride of Paddington is the only pub that we got into — due to the sheer number of people.
So instead we crowd around the street, and celebrate our country by drinking — ironically — cans of the Australian beer Fosters.
That is, until one of our crew unleashes an expired can of one of New Zealand’s finest brews — Double Brown.
The date stamped on the bottom of the can may have said this beer expired in 2016, but it tastes like the sweet nectar of university days.
Happiness in a little red can.
The temperature is barely over 3degC, but when the sunshine hits my cold pale face, we might as well be on the beaches of Barcelona.
And anything is an improvement on 2018’s pub crawl, when it rained all day.
2019 is estimated to be the 36th time the pub crawl has been run.
It is arguably the biggest kiwi event held in London and all with the permission of the police and London Underground staff.
The organisers do urge participants to follow one rule — Don’t be a dick.
Seems fair enough.
They claim there has only been one arrest in the past six years. Not bad.
And from the looks of things, most kiwis are following the rules again this year.
It is a long day, a journey akin to Frodo travelling to Mt Doom.
Along the way there are games of cricket, tube rides, losing the feeling in my fingers, getting lost, getting found again, and the annual classic of missing the haka which wraps up the crawl.