Just Do It

Coffee.  Breakfast.  Russell Square. Big Bus Tour!  First stop, Trafalgar Square.
trafalgar square gina sassy

We almost climbed the lions. And then we didn’t.

We said hi to Ben. Big Ben, that is.
big ben

We waved at the London Eye.
london eye

We giggled our way around the city.

The Queen was not home when we stopped by Buckingham Palace so we piddled around outside for a bit.
gate at buckingham palace

buckingham palace fountain

Then we went home for a break!

Drew took us to dinner at The Driver.
drew at the driver

They have a swanky new restaurant on the first floor. The ground floor is still a cozy pub…
the driver pub

Sassy and Gina seemed to have a good time.
gina and sassy the driver

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

A New Way to Celebrate

Spending your first birthday as an ex-pat can come with a mix of emotions. Drew and I have experienced the plucking of the raw nerve that is a birthday away from everything familiar and routine. This is why we wanted to give Candace a grand Annual Celebration of Life, even though she assures us she is not getting older anymore. The party was never intended to include butt and cleavage sweat (let’s all pretend I have cleavage), but the air conditioning at Bincho was definitely not working.

Satsuma saved the day.
cc and lc satsuma

A walk across the river landed us at Udderbelly. We caught our first London stand-up comedy show in the big purple cow that makes up the festival’s stage area.
udderbelly

Bob, where ever you are, I hope that someone has done the River Dance for you. You are right, that stag do was pretty tame. Then again, you didn’t pay them to entertain you; we all thought that’s what we had paid the comics to do. May you not get beat up the next time you are drunk and disorderly. And rude.

Of course, the party was also not meant to include a failed visit to Borough Market. (If you can figure it out, please tell me how I managed not to know that Borough Market is closed on Sundays after 20 months living in London. I am currently using the excuse that Portobello and Spitalfields markets are closed on Saturday but open on Sunday.)

Although I felt pretty terrible for having promised something impossible, I did have The Marksman on speed dial and David slapped our name on a table. I think The Marksman may have earned us another chance. It seems that Candace and Lee are not planning to break up with us just yet.
cc and lc marksman

That’s a relief.

Happy birthday my friend!

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Be Still, My Heart

I met them when they were this big.

Be Still Smyrna High

Before my eyes, in a very short time, they grew a little.

Be Still Smyrna High 2

And then a little more.

band camp

Until they were smarter than me.

cathedrals

It’s been a few years and I forgot they would continue to grow while I wasn’t looking – turning into globe trotting adventurers…

Europhoto

It was a dark and stormy night when the travelers arrived… (Ok, ok. You already know it doesn’t “storm” in London. However, it was my first real gully-washer in this here big city. Anyone who has known me a long time just laughed, snorted, and slapped their knee. At least in their head.)

These two lovelies came to visit after backpacking across twelve countries and just so happened to arrive on the day of the heaviest rainfall I have seen here so far. I think they may have been relieved to see a big bed with soft clean sheets (brand new sheets, I might add. Not to mention that there were vegan chocolate cupcakes, cheese and crackers, and sparkling wine to celebrate their arrival.) It dawns on me at this very moment that they may not have had dinner before arriving at my flat – and I didn’t offer to feed them a proper meal! I really didn’t think until this very moment that they probably didn’t have time to eat in the midst of their traveling. I had pasta and vegetarian sloppy joe fixin’s. I could have made them a hot, spiffing dinner. I could have taken them for fish and chips at The Slaughtered Lamb… What kind of hostess am I?! I might cry. Moving on.

They did quite a bit of site-seeing without me, but we managed a few fun things in our short couple of days!

We had sushi at Life.

Life

Life 2

We wandered across the Millennium Bridge to the Shad Thames area, where we had hot chocolate and a brilliant catching up.

Millennium Bridge

We wandered back home through the City of London via the Tower Bridge, admiring the gorgeous moon.

Tower Bridge and Moon

We visited the British Museum.

British Museum

We posed for pictures with the Tardis at Earl’s Court, had a pint at a pub nearby, we finally managed to see The Slaughtered Lamb, we sent a text to Levi Weaver, and we giggled. And then a taxi drove a little piece of my heart to the airport.

This time spent with these two brilliant and fearless backpackers caused quite a bit of self reflection. Sitting with them I felt so very old and uncool, but for brief moments so young and light. Moments of struggle and triumph from my little stint at teaching came flooding back. Images and emotions from the time I was their age danced behind my eyes.

I wasn’t an actual a teacher; it was more like I coached a competitive performing arts group. (Save the competition-negates-art debate for another day, just hear my story.) I was lucky enough to be driven to the brink of my patience, tried to the edge of my confidence, challenged beyond my imagination, broken and re-made a million times, to give and get back more love than I thought I could make or hold… Even though I wasn’t employed by a governmental body, I felt very responsible for a strict professionalism. I drew thick boundaries and always reassessed my relationships with the students involved as if I were on trial. (A few times I gave out too much advice and the anxiety quickly snapped me back to teacher-only mode.) But the fact remains that I fell in love with each and every one of them. It’s sort of the way that I feel about my beautiful, strange, sprawling, special, mysterious, and adorable nieces. Works of art. Amazing and magical creatures. They melt my heart and set me on fire. It’s fierce, I tell you.

The point is that I still nervously tiptoe to the line of friendship when it is extended by a former student – because those boundaries seem so much less clear now that the situation is so drastically different. But let’s face it: these girls are adults now, they are so much less impressed by what I say (so I can relax a little), and Kassi has become family over the past few years.

I miss my nieces. I am achy all over. Regardless, I am still thankful for the wonderful moments Kassi and Kelsey shared with me – in London! At my home in London, no less… I live in London!?!

Oh yeah, they left us a fab gift.

gift

Too bad Kassi didn’t leave me a translation of the directions for the acondicionador suave y sedoso.

City Life

One of the things I don’t want to give up, wherever we end up in life, is the convenience of recycling. I can’t tell you how good it feels to know that this pile of junk is going off to be re-used.

recycling

Recycling feels as good to me as having as little stuff as possible; it feels as good as having our minimal amount of things optimally organized.

And recycling reminds me that the Ks are coming next weekend!  There is a lot to do to get ready for them, those brave and beautiful globe-trotters…  There isn’t much in the way of five star accommodation in our little flat, but I am sure they’ll be thankful for the small luxuries the Huddleston Bed and Breakfast has to offer after their backpacking and bussing across 12 countries…  There may not be a masseuse on staff, but they will have somewhere to recycle.  I can, at least, take comfort in that.