We’ve been in London for almost a month! Hard to believe that time has passes so quickly. While I’m no expert in London or the people or culture, I thought I’d do a quick post on what we’ve discovered so far- great things, curious things and not so great things. Also a bunch of pictures of the kids- because let’s face it, watching the kids enjoy the city is pretty much the best part…and the pubs 😉
I think we’ve been to a park almost every single day we’ve been here. With no school and very little structure, it is a way to both see the city and give the kids time to wiggle. London is huge and busy, but breaking-up all this busyness are many, many parks- and they are all awesome!
They’re awesome because:
1. They are completely fenced-in. Now I don’t mean a tiny little wooden fence, or a partial fence, or a fence that could be scaled by say, a 6 year old who loves to climb. I’m talking 8 ft. tall stone wall surrounding the entire park with gated entries.
2. They have something for everyone. There are vast expanses of green grass for lounging and enjoying the weather (when it’s nice). There are play areas, fountains, statues, wildlife, lots of dogs and maps to help you navigate.
3. The play areas are completely fenced-in. There is only one way to get in, there is a large fence surrounding the play area that is usually composed of tall iron fencing combined with a prickly hedge that no child would dare tackle. That means that as a parent you can sit on a bench in an unfamiliar city, watch your children play and have no fear of them escaping the play area and no fear of the running into traffic.
4. Londoners take their play areas seriously. They are amazing and creative and well kept. Want to climb a gigantic life-size pirate ship? There’s a park for that! Want to play in a gigantic tree house? There’s a park for that! Want to climb trees with a backdrop of Buckingham Palace, there’s a park for that too! Want to walk up to an entire herd of wild deer- yep…go for it! Want a zoo in your park…let’s do it!
Here are some pictures of the parks we’ve visited:
|Park with a beautiful old church in the backdrop|
|Notice the fence/hedge|
|Those are real deer, there are about 20 of them, and we are really close. Richmond Deer Park!|
|Buckingham Palace in the background|
|Canada put this installation in St. James park. Your’re not supposed to play on it, but…..com’on…it’s basically a gigantic granite slide with maple leaves 😉|
|Iron gated wall around the park. Tried to climb, but couldn’t pass over. Parents FTW!|
|Meerkat zoo at Battersea Park|
|Perfectly manicured lawn. Girls stand in awe…|
|Gigantic bird play structure!|
|Jumping through fields of daffodils!|
Next up: Food!
More specifically, grocery shopping.
We are currently in Kilburn Park. Not a source of the largest or greatest grocery stores, but an abundant source of good, fresh food.
What’s been surprising to me is how little frozen food there is here. Even our version of a mini-mart (Tesco Express), has a substantial fresh food section. It’s hard to find frozen food here at all. If you want a pizza, it’s fresh. If you want curry, it’s fresh. If you want a sandwich, or 2 or 3 or 10, they’re all fresh! This is amazing, especially since our kitchen is a super depressing place to cook (dark, dark, dark). Some of the best curry we’ve have has been from the Tesco Express. A lot of the food is also local and marked as such.
We’ve been hungry, especially the kids. This seems normal for the amount of walking and playing we do each day. For awhile I couldn’t figure-out what was missing from their diet, but then it struck me. There are no crackers here. Ritz-no, Goldfish-no, Triscuit-no! The snack-time staple of salty, cheezy carackers is not available here. What you can find are aisles and aisles of biscuits (cookies). I feel bad giving the kids what I would consider dessert for a snack, but I think that’s the direction we’ll need to go, because there are seriously no crackers!
|Yummy and affordable fresh fruit and veggies!|
|Ditto prepared food|
|The Isle of Biscuits|
|Another Isle of Biscuits!|
|Tiny section of crackers 😦|
|Doritoes-no, Lays-no…but Sweet Thai Chili crisps, Ham crisps, Chicken and Thyme crisps- YES!!!|
|No Ranch dressing! Not cool London, not cool|
|Mac is surprised and excited to find the cake aisle 🙂|
|Basil, where did it come from? West Sussex. Who grew it? Stewart Ross 🙂 Thanks Stewart!|
|Our grocery bags also have the Queen and Prince’s stamp of approval- very proper!|
Now there are a few things that are sub-optimal. Certainly not awful, but they’ll take some getting used to.
First off, our washer/dryer. I say washer/dryer because it is just that, a washer and dryer in one! Sounds great, right? Except that it has heard more swear words from me (and management) than all other appliances in the flat. It is mean and confusing and likes to play games with me…like holding wet clothes hostage behind locked door until IT feels ready to unlock the door.
Meet evil washer/dryer:
Washer/Dryer does wash clothes, when you can figure-out the elaborate system of buttons, and when you’ve pressed said buttons in the correct order. If not, Washer/Dryer will hold your clothes hostage until you swear at it, push even more buttons, and eventually call maintenance so they can swear at Washer/Dryer and press more buttons.
Washer/Dryer also only holds about 2 loaves of bread and a bag of crisps worth of laundry…not nice 😦
When Washer/Dryer says the clothes are dried, it’s lying. They are not dry. They have shrunk considerably, but are still damp. There are not many appliances we miss from home, but our Washer and Dryer (happy, healthy, friendly, functional) are some of them.
These are a few bits and bobs. There are many more, but these were the most entertaining that I could think of right now.
We have been in London for almost a month and we are still just taking it all in- the food, the grocery stores, the parks, the appliances. We’re enjoying each day for all of the fun and minor frustration that it presents and overall we’re very excited to be here.