Live From London

9 – September – 2011

WE GET SETTLED

As of tomorrow, Katie turns 15 and we will have been in London for one month. Both are shocking to me!

I have to say that, for the most part, the adjustment has been smooth.  We are settled nicely into our house and school, and new routines have officially begun.  My chauffeur cap is off for good as we walk everywhere.  The “cross country” drive from OG to Greenwich has been replaced with a two minute, two block walk to school.  The biggest adjustment is the weather…it is like we get a daily visit from “Irene” here.  Literally find myself drenched every day.  We seem to be in mid-November as far as I can tell weather-wise.   Most importantly, it seems I own all the wrong shoes..shocking, I know given my obsession and rather huge collection.  Nonetheless, cute flats do not work in pouring rain, high heels are useless when you walk everywhere, and leather boots get soaked through.  I am on a mission to figure out the proper footwear and will keep you posted.  And, no, “wellies” are not the answer!

I have joined many organizations (but avoided from doing any volunteering at school).  In fact, I walked into a PTA meeting today and lasted 5 minutes before walking right out!  It is great to be anonymous — I just acted lost!!  Instead, I have signed up to take a Master Class on Dickens (it is his 200th anniversary this year).  My dorky English major inner geek will be very happy re-reading the classics and attending walks and lectures throughout London and the countryside.  I am auditioning for a professional choir that performs at the Royal Albert Hall as well as other established venues throughout the city.  I plan to attend lectures, museum tours, walking tours, country retreats to castles, antique fairs…you name it, I’m in!

Or course, I am also walking Lucy.  My dog walking friends will be pleased to learn that Lu is getting acquainted with her new city lifestyle.  The dog who never chased a bird in her life (on all those walks through the fields with ducks, sparrows, etc), now chases EVERY SINGLE pigeon we pass on the street.  She crouches low, points, and then charges, nearly dragging me into pedestrians, traffic, and telephone poles!  Then she loves to rub herself into the ground cigarettes on the pavement.  She smells like she has a pack-a-day habit!  Once we get to the parks or “heaths” she loves running free and chasing the wayward pigeons and other dogs.  You will be pleased to learn that, once again, Lu is the only family member with “staff”.  I have found that Brits LOVE dogs, especially spaniels.  My Brigit Hall look-alike dog walker refers to Lu as “my gorgeous girl” in the most wonderful accent.  The other walker takes her for long 2 hour romps through the heath in Hampstead.  Last, I found a dog “spa” in Wales that will pamper her with homemade treats, tailored exercise, and feather-beds filled with relaxing music!!  You cannot make this up.  They even come and pick her up from London!!   And, as many of you already know, Lu has been to the Four Seasons with us in Hampshire where she was welcome everywhere but the spa!  She even came to Stonehenge with us!!  Lu travels in style.

It appears I have devoted more space to Lu than my daughters.  So I will provide an update.  Katie loves high school and all the freedom ASL gives her.  She has made the field hockey team and has become friends with some really nice girls, some new this year and others not.  She is psyched to go to movies with friends, getting herself there on the tube.  She likes her teachers and still struggles not to get lost every day at school – to be fair, it is the most confusing building I have ever seen.  I am challenged with directions, as most of you know.  But even Jeff, who could be dropped from an airplane in the middle of the night and still find his way around, cannot seem to figure it out!!  Jackie has already had a sleepover and several play dates.   She is going out for the soccer team, a sport she has never played.  Apparently, that is where her friends are headed, so off Jackie goes as well.  We have found a club lacrosse team that plays on Saturdays, and she is eager to join.  Jackie’s biggest challenge seems to be navigating the cafeteria!  Both girls are off the birthday parties this weekend, so all seems to be good with them.

London is an international city but can seem like a third world country at times.  Getting the TVs hooked up is a “nightmare” and “sorting out” cellphones is impossible. Suddenly Cablevision seems both efficient and competent.  My toilet that won’t flush is deemed “intermittent” and my “hob” (stove top) that does not work is “curious”.  The service men arrive on the scene the first time just to confirm that something is actually wrong (as if you planned to wait around all day for them to come just for the heck of it!)  The next visit, a week later, they fix a “bit” of the problem but always need to order another part.  Hence, about 3-4 weeks later, things get “sorted out”.  The London lingo is constantly surprising me.  You think you are speaking the same language, but not so much it seems — “bit and bobs”…”cheeky buggers”…”rubbish”…”bins”….and other silly words seem to fill my repertoire lately!

Anyway, I hope this drivel has not bored you too much.  I miss all of you and look forward to news from the home front.

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