Revisions and a “Revival”

26 September 2011

This has been a time of adjustment.  Every Sunday I ask the girls for an update.  Last weekend, Jackie told me she had enjoyed our “little adventure”, it was really fun, and now it was to go home! Katie told me that “London is not ready for the Dishners”!  I suspect they were both a bit down after they got excited to join a club lacrosse league only to learn that they had about 8 years more experience than the majority of players.  The coach told them to join the adult league on Wednesday nights from 8:00 – 10:00 pm.  The thought of playing with 20+ years olds (God forbid even 40 year olds!) was not appealing.

Truly the biggest adjustment we have all felt is how relatively unsporty life is in London. I know there are cricket matches, football (i.e. soccer)  madness, and shooting clays, but there is absolutely no mania for school sports as there is in Greenwich.  People are not obsessed with travel teams, weekend special programs, intense tryouts, etc.  This is quite refreshing on one hand and a bit disconcerting on another.  It is hard to shake those American ways that become ingrained and indoctrinated after years of sports immersion!

Things are a bit calmer here.  For example, Katie plays Varsity field hockey and was invited to tea with the other team after her game this weekend – how civilized!  I am thrilled to attend her tounament this weekend as it will take the family to Paris – riding in the Eurostar across the chunnel beats driving up 95 to New Haven for a jamboree!  It is odd to see Jackie play a sport that is completely new to her – soccer.  She is making great strides but struggles to keep up with the girls who have been playing for the past 10 years.  Nonetheless, the team is really spirited and welcomes newcomers, so she is having a great time.

Another thing that requires adjustment is the American School.  I brought cupcakes in for Katie’s birthday and felt like I had entered an episode of 21 Jump Street.  It makes GCDS look like a country club!  It is strange not to “be known” – I can tell teachers are sizing me up and down—“Is she a crazy mom?” I liked the embraces I got from the teachers at GCDS and miss that familiarity.  To their credit, the girls are enjoying the diversity, the ability to wear jeans and TOMs every day, and the freedom.  Katie joined up with some friends during free period last week and took a bus to Subway for lunch (gotta love the choice of restaurant!)  The other day, I walked out of the tube station to see Katie and some friends strolling down the street sucking on frapuccinos on the way back to class….Really?!  Jackie walks around the neighborhood, bopping from friend to friend, like she is the mayor.  I put her in a black car last week with a friend to go to the movies on Finchley Road.  I watched the car drive off with my daughter and wondered if I’d lost my mind….I wouldn’t let her go to Portchester by herself and now she is out in a city in a car on her own!!  You know what they say, “when in Rome….”

We have had some fun family excursions recently.  First, we were invited to the Good Wood Revival out in the country.  It is an annual vintage car race on an old estate that used to be the site of car racing from 1948-1962.  Everyone dresses in vintage attire (think I Love Lucy dresses and up-dos) and tons of vendors bring various wares from the previous decades for sale.  There was even a vintage Tesco supermarket stocked with all the products from the ‘50s –- Jeff walked out with a case of Mallomars.  He was thrilled!!  Now this can be added to his standard diet of Twizzlers, beef jerky, and Coke.

It was Fashion Week last week, and I got to attend a fun designer showcase with lots of reduced merchandise for sale.  It was quite a fun event with food, music, and, of course, tons of clothes and shoes!   Speaking of clothes, we visited Buckingham Palace this Sunday to see Kate’s dress while on display.  We enjoyed the labyrith of elaborate state rooms as we made our way towards the gown, jewels, and wedding cake. The dress was gorgeous in its subltety and showed off Kate’s tiny proportions.  Jackie’s one comment after seeing the magnificent cake was that Carlos the “Cake Boss” could have done a better job!!  Classic.

I did some baking myself and was very proud to finally figure out my oven.  Cupcakes, a birthday cake, and banana bread were all succesfully baked once I discovered that 180 = 360 degrees. I also discovered that lugging heavy bags of groceries home from the local markets is charming only one time.  After that it is a complete drag, especially when it is raining.  I decided to do the grocery shopping on line, and learned that I cannot understand the metric system at all!  To prove it, on my last order I mistakenly ordered a single serving of mint ice cream (to everyone’s dismay), one carrot, and enough rice to feed a Third World nation!!  Evenually, I will get this “sorted out” and become efficient.

There is always something to “sort out” at my house, and this past week it was my alarm system.  I have the “comfort” of knowing that the last three tenants were burglarized at this address.  So, I decided to pay an exorbitant amount to get the alarm working again.  I asked to get it hooked up to a central station to alert police if the alarm goes off.  The guy looked at me like I was crazy.  “Why?”, he said.  “The police will only come one time and after that, they don’t necessarily repond.”  Further, he explained the alarm itself is considered a decent deterent.  However, he did point out that if the alarm were set off, it would call my cell phone to alert me – this made total sense to him.  Exasperated, I said, “If I am home alone and an intruder breaks in, the alarm will go off and then call me to tell me”.  His response, “Exactly”!!  I sleep with one eye open…..

…which explains the bags under my eyes, only worsened by my pallor from lack of sunshine.  I am hopeful that the heat wave this week will remedy that.  It is going to be 80 degrees two days in a row!  That must break a record somewhere in Britain!

I was grateful for the mild weather last night when we had 20 people over for dinner.  I thought I’d cook until I remembered that my oven is only slightly larger than Barbie’s.  Thus, I resorted to pizza and managed to feed the gang and seat everyone between the garden and the dining room.  This was no small feat.  Lucy was, as usual, the worst party guest ever, treating herself to pizza off people’s plates, banana pudding, and various cookie crumbs.  She topped off her feast by opening the pantry and eating an entire bag of choclate chips!  I have since had to put locks on the kicthen doors since Lucy knows how to open door handles…especially when food is on the other side!  There are not enough walks in the Heath to ever bring Lu’s waist line back in shape!  New location…same old tricks!

This week promises to be a good one as all my classes commence.  Today I attended a lecture on the history of Kensington, tomorrow I am off to the Degas exhibit, Wednesday is tour of the Tate followed by an antique fair, and Thursday is my first Dickens Master Class —David Coperfield is finished and I am off to Great Expectations!  Friday is Paris. All is all, a lot ot look forward to!

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