top things i will miss #6

I can almost guarantee that years from now (or three weeks from now when it’s gone), in my heart this will have jumped to #2. But for now I will miss sixth most of all:

#6 Jonah’s accent.

I never expected it, but it happened. I guess from spending time with Melissa and his little friends and watching cartoons and some of the electronic toys he has and I guess just being out in the world, Jonah has an accent. To our families and friends back in the US, it sounds very British. To British people it sounds, depending on who is listening and what Jonah happens to be going on about, English (but not posh), proper cockney, a mix, American. To me he sounds like Jonah. I can’t deny the way he says “water” though.

And no one can deny the “naughty” below.

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top things i will miss #7

Well, I had high hopes for this list. But then I slacked off, and now we’re almost moving and I certainly can’t be bothered to blather on about this.

I wish.

Because the thing is, we are getting down now to my real, important, vital, precious, top things. And this one is a good one. You don’t even have to live here to know about this one. I will miss

#7 English terms and expressions.

I love giving my poppets a cuddle, especially when I think they’re being lovely and brilliant and clever and look smart but not so much when they’re being cheeky. The lovely parts make me broody. Unfortunately for Bryan. Jonah only knows about using a trolley at the shop and then going to the till. When we bring our food back to the flat we make it on the cooker and when we’re all done we put it in the rubbish or the bin or I guess really the rubbish bin. We take lifts and buggies and prams places and look out for lorries and the post and past the pub and sometimes the loo but always make sure we’re home for half five. He knows how to put on trousers and trainers and to shun jumpers. I’ve been minding and popping and faffing. I’ve wondered any joy? There are always bit and bobs, niggly ones and jiggly ones. I believe in “s”s over ‘z’s and signing off with an x. There is a difference between a biscuit and a cookie and so I am glad there are two words. Mash and veg mean I don’t have to speak as long. Ace. Courgette and aubergine make them sound more delicious to me. Quite. Rocket makes it seem more fun to eat. We should have all agreed it was jam all along so jelly could just be jelly. For no particular reason I am partial to booking over reserving for eating or the cinema and although it took me five years, I called the weather bloody the other day and a sarcastic brilliant might have snuck in there as well. Autumn is more lovely. Going on holiday too. Especially if we’re knackered. Chat is the best. Chatting up, chatting to, chat show on, a person with good chat. Driving is more fun with a boot and a bonnet involved. I could take or leave petrol. I would welcome an excuse to say tenner though. I love all the high streets to go down on the way, and passing charity shops that I don’t frown upon like some. On our way to the aeroplane. Seems more adventurous spelled that way. But I will be gutted to leave.

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5 signs today that it’s time to go interlude

  1. Bryan is still sick. He got the flu the day we landed here over 5 years ago. It’s full circle. Buh-bye.
  2. It was snowing on and off all day today. No accumulation and sometimes it would just last for a minute. But still. This is like the 18th time this winter. In London! It just feels like the Apocalypse is coming or something.
  3. Two businessmen sitting at the next table from Simon and me at Giraffe each ate an entire hamburger with a fork and knife. I’m just done.
  4. After an afternoon session at our favorite indoor soft play today, I took the boys for a snack at the cafe in the leisure centre. Gwyneth Paltrow was with her kids and some other kids at the table next to me the entire time we were there. But, I’ve already seen her. It’s time to head back to a place where I have only seen Jay-Z once.
  5. And this is the most divine sign of all: When I was in Boots this morning and I was buying a few things, I put in my Advantage card like I always do and the clerk actually exclaimed “You have enough points!” It’s been a loooong time since that has happened and it has to mean something. I have used up my Boots points. Our work here is done.

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top things i will miss #8

Besides our flat, there is no place in London I have spent more time than

#8 Waitrose and John Lewis.

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urlI am a HUGE fan of these two chains and their parent company. And yet, I am never able to satisfactorily articulate why I think they’re special and not replicated in any sense in the US. Yes, Waitrose is a grocery store chain. Or I guess as a British person would say: supermarket? Food shop? I don’t even know. And yes, it sells food on shelves in aisles. I guess it looks sort of ordinary. But then you shop there a few times, and it’s eternal love and I know most people feel the same.

The staff of these chains are also the owners, so it’s no coincidence they come off extremely professional, personable, helpful- from the person stocking shelves to the one at the till. For five years I have seen the same people working the tills. No turnover has to mean something good is going on.

waitrose02And I have a deep, deep, deep and abiding crush on the very clean, fresh and sometimes whimsical store-brand product design.

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It makes me want to buy everything Waitrose-brand, which isn’t hard since they seem to make their own brand of everything, even the unexpected.

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And I’ve mentioned that I never have to wait in a queue when I’m done with my shopping.

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The true reason Waitrose blows me away is that I can shop for food and never once turn an item over to read the ingredients. They just don’t seem to stock foods made with curious chemicals, partially hydrogenated trans fats, ersatz ingredients, or anything that would give me pause in feeding it to my family. (With one categorical exception: the American food products it sells.) But this fact doesn’t mean Waitrose bears any resemblance to an expensive pretentious granola-fied chain like Whole Foods. I love Whole Foods – it has a place in my life – but it’s not an everyday kinda shop. Waitrose can be an everyday kinda shop. They sell what you know and what you like, but more likely to be made the right and real way. Like cheese puffs: a lifelong favorite of mine. I didn’t know until I moved here that delicious cheese puffs could be made with puffed corn, dried powdered cheese, and salt. I am changed.

And before I am totally done talking about Waitrose, it’s worth mentioning that not everyone pronounces it the same. I have met Americans (albeit, a very small percentage) who have just decided without good reason to call the store “Wait-Rose”, emphasizing the “t” as the end of the first syllable. I hate those Americans because EVERYONE knows it’s “Way-trose”, with the “t” actually leading the second syllable as a blended “tr” sound.

Even the dumb internets can’t agree.

But the smart internets can. Seriously, click on it. It makes me laugh every time!

john-lewis-logo-squareJohn Lewis. Part of the same partnership as Waitrose, it’s a great, solid department store. Again, good service, nice, quality, reliable, well-presented store-brand lines. Everything you need is in this store. Including a food hall. The one on Oxford Street I have been to 3,000 times has a baby & kid products mecca on its 4th floor. Thus answering one of those burning questions some Americans have when they arrive: But wait, you don’t have a Target or Babies R Us nearby? How then can I possibly bring a child into this world? Oh, John Lewis.

John Lewis is kind of what Macy’s would be if Macy’s was consistent and awesome and more John Lewis-like.

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Oxford Street is just crazy. (Photo stolen.)

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top things i will miss #9

url-4When I think back on my five years living in this great city, it’s highly likely that one of the strongest memories in my mind will be a collective memory of riding its iconic red double-decker buses. An image synonymous with the city and a favorite of tourists, the reality is that I would never have known of the buses’ charms were it not for having kids. Pre-kids, I was a tube rider. I live centrally enough to be able to pick from a variety of tube lines, or to just walk somewhere. Why take the slow bus to China, when you  can zip along underground? But then my life changed. I stopped working so didn’t need to commute twice a day, and more importantly, I now travel encumbered (is that a terrible transitive verb to use in reference to my children?) with at least 35 kilos of human being. The tube stations with their flights of stairs and mobs of people and long connecting corridors are no fun when rolling with kids. So by necessity I began to take the buses more and more and more until I just now know the routes I need.

And what a pleasure (at least not during rush hour). Drivers are pretty nice and will answer questions about stops. There is a designated space for a pram. You see more variety of people on the buses since they are good for kids and lesser able-bodied people and people not rushing. You get a gorgeous tour of London every time you ride one centrally. Just to go to a certain museum I pass Hyde Park, Harvey Nicks, Harrods, V&A. And oh my goodness, the buses down Regent’s Street! All visits to London should begin and end with that street.

My kids love the bus. We’re all happy on the bus. We are Londoners on the bus and we look at London from the bus. If one day I sepia tone this part of my life, it will be me at a bus stop with my kids. They’ll be yelling at me for a snack and I’ll be smiling. Because why yes, I do have a snack handy! And there’s the #10. See, we didn’t have to wait long at all! All aboard! And then it will flash to my weary bones collapsed on a seat, my kids happy in the pram in front of me. Take me anywhere, driver. And go slowly.

url-3On days when I don’t have the kids or when it just makes sense from A to B, I still love The Underground / the tube. For all the reasons you all already know: clean, efficient, well-lit, well-run, comfortable, respectful passengers, the hilarity of the stop names, and just my general love for the iconic tube map design (it’s the banner image of this blog after all). I’ve mentioned it before but it’s still a great story that it led the world in re-thinking public transportation maps. I am kind of a TFL groupie.

url-1I have waxed on about the black cabs so many times, I just don’t know what more I can say. They are amazing in every respect. They are so amazing, they make taking a taxi anywhere else in the world a let-down. I love the space, the facing the people you’re with, the etiquette, the professionalism of the drivers, the special driving maneuvers they’re allowed to pull, the fact that you can roll a pushchair/stroller right in. We have shared many taxis with friends and the ride is always part of the night. I’m filing that in my sepia-toned re-imagining of this life as well. A bunch of us buzzed in a taxi as electric London at night rolls by.

So yeah, I’ll miss

#9 the public transportation.

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top things i will miss #10

#10 booking your actual seat at the cinema

(reserving your actual seat at the movies)

It’s sometimes my favourite thing about the UK full stop.

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a weather interlude

Today was the coldest I have ever been in my life.

I know that’s not true but it felt true and that’s what’s important. I actually had to stop in Boots to un-freeze my hands. The security guard felt sorry for me.

So I decided to check the weather just now. I was thinking to myself: Self, maybe it will warm up later this week. That would be fun for your departure! It was spring-like last week. Anything is possible.

But then the month-at-a-glance was too good. Personal favorites are March 16 and March 24.

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A.M. showers, then a shower.

And if I ever start a band (I’ll sell merch), I am calling it:

Times of clouds and sun

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