Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Week 7

It’s hard to believe we are already wrapping up week 7 here in London.  People continuously ask me with what seems to be a mixture of grave concern and slight bewilderment, how I am doing.  It’s a rare thing to stop and think about this foreign concept of myself and my well being whilst chasing after a tireless four year old for the better part of the day.  However, I tried this week to really put it into perspective so I could have some coherent answer to this popular question besides, “Um, good . . . uh, yeah . . . (deflection) Liam has transitioned beautifully . . . errrr . . . (moment of clarity) Keegan really loves his new job . . . and oh yeah . . .(change the subject) the Flat is great . . . “  No wonder my pseudo answers never seem to turn away those imploring stares that burn straight into my soul.  I suppose it’s fairly straightforward . . . Life is really pretty good regardless of circumstance as long as we still have our family unit up and running (unlike our internet connection and cable which we are still patiently awaiting), I have a few hours of work to do every day while Liam is at school, I can fit in a little exercise somewhat regularly, and finally, I am able to find even just one or two really good friends with whom I can chat about tireless four year old, family unit disconnects, waiting over 2 months for internet connection in the UK, etc.  The packing, the goodbyes, the leaving.  Now that broke my heart.  More than I thought because to me at least, it felt like the end of something really great, not the least of which was the end of another fun summer.  So perfectly timed though.  Close one door, open another.  The end of summer, the beginning of school. The last glimpses of warm weather as we stretched our legs out, the beautiful colors and forewarning yet awakening chill of Autumn settling in.  All coinciding with starting a new life.  The hard part is over.  Now it’s time to hunker down and wait for winter, to welcome the [VERY early] twinkling allusions to Christmas, to light the fire in our living room, and . . . 
to finally feel at Home. 
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And....just because I never want to take this too seriously, this week we took Liam to a city farm.  If you don't know what that is, and believe me, I did not either, it's just what you may think.  A farm.  In the city.  Complete with hay and manure and a train track running along the side.  Bizarre, yes.  Pumpkin yielding, no.  But great pigs though don't you think?!  
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Week 6

As a nod to our former days as good ole American connoisseurs of Halloween, this weekend I attempted to set up a visit to a farm to pick some pumpkins from a field.  This vision came to a grinding halt when the first local I asked looked at me sideways, and said, “You know you can get pumpkins in the grocery store, right....?!”  Right then.  Moving on.  Instead, I went furniture shopping.  And might I add, selfishly enjoyed myself WAY more than driving multiple hours to find said farm in the middle of nowhere only to spend five minutes tromping around a glorified mud puddle ISO perfectly shaped pumpkin (which of course doesn’t exist to my ever specific, detail oriented 4 year old), and paying large sums of money for a large pile of imperfect pumpkins (because according to 4 year old, if you can't get quality, go for quantity) that rot roughly 8 hours after we carve them.  Call me scrooge if you must, but secretly (and not so secretly as I confess to unknown amounts of people at this very moment), as an adult and parent, I despise Halloween and was relieved to hear for the most part, Brits fancy it just as much.  Brilliant.

Bonus - the furniture shopping was an extreme success.  I left the boys at home on Saturday and went on a little adventurous excursion by myself.  Apparently, vintage furniture is synonymous with gritty neighborhood shops so I had quite the back alley tourist experience.  Loved every minute of it.  I felt as though I was blazing my own trails from shop to shop, throwing caution to the wind, and paying no heed to Frommer . . . because let’s face it . . . sometimes the best thing you can do in a city is to run as fast as you can away from the sites in the guidebooks (unless of course, what you want to do in a new city is fraternize with a bunch of other American connoisseurs of Halloween).  In the meantime I managed to find a couple of cool little neighborhoods I wouldn’t mind taking Keegan and Liam back to AND currently I am sitting in a proper chair, NOT on the floor, and my computer is sitting on a proper desk NOT on a cardboard box.  Now how the hell am I going to get this desk home on the plane .  .  . 

Photographs of Tube stations just never seem to get old . . . 52 Weeks10 52 Weeks11 IMG_2281 52 Weeks12 IMG_2292 And for those of you who thought I was kidding about an entire aisle being devoted to "Biscuits . . ." IMG_0104Cheers!  Ok, ok, Happy Halloween too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Week 5

When Keegan and I discussed all of the gazillion details regarding moving to London, leaving our furniture behind to avoid exorbitant shipping costs and an excrutiating long wait on the other side with nothing to sit on seemed like a good idea at the time.  Exciting, even, when I thought of having the free reign to design a fabulous flat in London as my new part time job for the first few weeks.  As it turns out, not so much really.  Searching for a statement piece that makes a whole room, stumbling across the perfect piece for the perfect spot, or even decorating ONE room from scratch . . . all fun and interesting projects.  Selecting and buying every single basic piece of furniture for a large 3 bedroom rental flat AND making it feel homey, lived in, and like ours (without the “luxury” of a car) has proven to be my match.  I have learned 1. I do not make decisions easily or quickly.  2.  When I do make a decision, I usually change my mind (again, the convenience of a car eluding me)  3. I loathe Ikea.  Ikea . . . no small coincidence my I-phone autocorrects the word “Ikea,” to “Okra.”  Okra . . . has some appeal to it in the beginning, but in the end for all of the labor it takes to make it presentable, really just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.  At any rate, I digress.  Slowly I can capture glimmers here and there of the coming together of a Home to return to in between our adventures and speaking of adventures . . . 

This weekend we attempted our first mini getaway with Liam up to Edinburgh, Scotland.  Keegan and I have found over the years we are quite compatible as travel companions.  The minute we threw a 4 year old into the formula, however, we learned pretty quickly we will have to revise our attack.  All in all, it was a really lovely weekend, exploring the Old Town of Edinburgh and seeing Liam soak up all this information about castles, knights, fortresses, cannonballs (RIGHT up his alley), but it was cold, it was rainy, we walked a LOT, and pubs didn’t readily welcome children so thoughts of sliding into a warm cozy booth and settling into a pint of the local brew while Liam plays on my phone quickly dissolved.  My explanations to Liam about meeting everyone's agenda while traveling seemed to fall on deaf ears.  Good learning experience and of course, with many many countries on our list to explore, I am confident we will come up with the perfect formula once again.

Ikea Flatpack Hell (albeit entertaining to a 4 year old) looks like this:
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Glimpses of home amidst the chaos:
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Forget the blisters from screwing together pieces of fake wood.  Pack the bags and head out of town!!
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I might have to move to Edinburgh just so I can go to Wellington's every morning!!
Fruit Scone, Jam, and Clotted Cream.  Stop it.
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I have to admit myself, cannons ARE pretty fascinating . . .
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Monday, October 8, 2012

Week 4

Occasionally, out of nowhere, a wave of "This vacation has been really great, but gosh, isn't it about time we went home now?!" passes over me.  Walking around the streets of London, seemingly going about a normal life, seemingly maintaining our normal routine, I feel sometimes anything but normal.  Like a visitor in someone else's life.  Where are all of our belongings?!  Where are all of our friends?!  Why is there an entire aisle devoted to biscuits in the grocery store and why does everyone sound so much more distinguished than me, even when yelling obscenities back and forth from the car?!

Then, a huge double decker bus will go rambling by an inch from the sidewalk and shake me back to reality.  The unmistakable beauty of our neighborhood and new places we continue to explore overcomes my sadness for home.  The novelty of hopping on a plane to Scotland on Friday for the weekend makes me giddy (stay tuned for week 5 photos of that trip!!).  The rest of Europe beckons.  My husband comes home from work everyday with a smile on his face and my son is, to put in B's (my relocation coach from Securely B) words, "just a little dude embracing his new British persona) And . . . well frankly . . . the biscuits are quite tasty.

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As in interesting foil to all of the classic beauty by which we are surrounded, Liam and I checked out the East end early last week for some vintage furniture shopping.  While I was shooting the below images, Liam wanted to know why I was taking pictures of such ugly things.  Oh young grasshoppa....how MUCH I have to teach you . . .
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Heading down to the depths of the Tube . . . IMG_2092 IMG_2093
I think the fact Liam learns the majority of his reading skills this year will be one more reason London will be so memorable for me and this time in our life together.  Liam spontaneously started working on some words while I was cooking.  It's funny how it all kind of comes out of his head in such a jumbled way, but I think to him it makes perfect sense.  These are words he was working on, not left to right, top to bottom, but bottom to top, starting at the bottom right hand corner, going across, and then up to the next rows respectively from left to right, right to left, left to right.  Should be an interesting year :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Week 3

I think almost every person I spoke to about moving to London, raised an amused eyebrow and said, "Oh yeah, London is AWESOME.  (meaningful pause) The weather isn't so great though....."  Well, this week certainly seemed to diminish that description a bit.  When I tell people here I am from California, I receive pity, a rub on the shoulder, and a look that seems to say, "Oh, you poor, crazy fool.  What on Earth would you move here for?!"  Ask me in a couple of weeks, but for now my reply to that is, .... whatever...we just keep on keeping on.  I continue to walk Liam to school, 1 mile each way (which, if you haven't done the math yet, is one mile there+one mile back to the house+one mile there+one mile back to the house, which in effect = a marathon by the end of the week!), the shoes get sloppy wet, the hair a complete frizzy mess five minutes after I style it, and a bit of a chill settles deep into the bones.  But hey, I am in London people.  I have a boy.  He is four.  What am I supposed to do, sit in front of the fire with a glass of wine and watch BBC while Liam literally bounces off the walls?!  As lovely as that sounds and incidentally, is probably just what my upstairs neighbor does all day (minus the bouncing Liam)....we have things to do.  This week was all about exploring . . . . in the mist, in between raindrops, under the umbrella, stomping through puddles, etc.  Forge ahead.

Forge ahead and attend a traditional Sunday roast at your local pub while the rain pours down outside and the fire blazes inside.  This is in fact quite spiritual for those of you wondering why am I not paying the church due visit.  This is how we started Week 3 here in London :)
Liam and I headed out to some amazing museums this week as well.  Our landlord recommended the Museum of Natural History and the Science museum, both of which A. Kept us dry ....and.... B. Were absolutely stunning both in architecture and content.  I had to drag Liam out of both of them.  C. One word....FREE!!!
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We don't always explore indoors when it's raining.  We headed up to the Hampstead Heath one day for some romping around after hitting the museums.  I mean, come on England.  Just ridiculously beautiful.  The whole time, I was envisioning coordinating a fantastic photoshoot . . . an engagement, a family shoot, or even just the oh-so-fun Annual Anderson Family Christmas Card Self Shoot.  I expect this blog will be seeing more Hampstead Heath photos...IMG_1977-1
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Ok, ok.....I talk a big game.  Yes, we get out there, but not without the requisite humungous Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie and Cappuccino or better yet, a bag of salty potato chips and a pint of....well...anyway...you get what I am saying....  The rewards for exploration and good attitudes in the rain are great . . . both for Liam and Mommy :)52 Weeks5-1