After a long hiatus, it’s time to ressurect the blog (mostly due to the urgings of friends). What, pray tell, is the reason for this visitation? Glad you’ve asked.
A little background. My dear hubby has (if you have been here before, you’ll recall) been in the Air Force nearly 30 years now. Last summer he was in Iraq and I bounced between Washington and Colorado while he was away. When he returned and was just settling in back at the Academy, he found out that the powers that be had denied his extension there in Colorado Springs, and decided we would be moving. In a few months. (This is a story for a different day, marked with stupidity and waste. I digress). We waited anxiously by to see what said powers would determine and finally toward the end of March Brad gets an email, from some dude saying he’s our sponsor—–in LONDON. Seems we would be moving to London for Brad to work with the European Office of Aerospace Research and Development.
Talk about a shock. Just a few days before I had been weighing the possibilities; “I hope it’s not Florida—-what would I knit in Florida?” “I’d really rather not go back to Dayton.” “Salt Lake City might be good.” “Albuquerque is close enough for a long weekend in the Springs.” But London??? Never seriously entered my mind.
So, not four months later we were on our way, and as I write this now, I’m sitting in a lovely hotel room in the western outskirts of London, England.
Today, I think I’ll begin with the Top Ten Things to Love About London. I’m sure I’ll find more and more, but let’s start here:
10. CarGiant. Seriously. We went poking around a used car lot the other day that was the bestest and biggest I had ever seen in my life. All makes and model, some I’d never even heard of. And the best part? In the 2 hours we were there not one salesman approached us.
9. Fish and Chips. One of my favorites anyway, but here, you can get them about anywhere—every pub, most restaurants. I’m not sure about take-away (to go) orders, but every time I’ve had them, they’ve come with peas.
8. Shortbread. With tea in the afternoon. Enough said.
7. Newspapers. There are so many!! “Real” news, gossip. Some of each. I usually find one on the train to occupy the ride.
6. High Street. Each village has one, a place with shopping and eateries, banks and so forth. Obviously some are better than others, but it’s a pretty sure bet that you can find something to eat and a coffee if you can find the high street.
5. Theatre. You just would not believe the choices; I can’t imagine New York has a better theatre district. There must be 20 musicals on stage in London right now, in addition to the dramas. You can see a play at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre for 5 pounds. You can get good seats for much less than in America.
4. Public Transport. I know there are cities in America with excellent transportation systems; New York, Chicago, DC to name a few, but there really is no place you can’t get by either train, tube, bus or a short walk. We’ve been here two and a half weeks and only wished for a car once.
3. Double Decker Buses: Along the same lines, but almost as good as a thrill ride (if you are lucky enough to be up top and in the front seats). You see way more from the bus than from the tube (obviously). One of our first evenings here we just hopped on the city bus going east to see what we could see. What we saw was Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul’s and the Tower of London. We passed the theatre district with all the bright marques, rode above the crowds and had a great time of it. If you’ve got time, the bus is the way to go.
It bears mentioning here that the trains, tubes and buses are in really good shape and kept very clean and tidy. In some cities that’s not the case (gee, I wonder what I’m sitting on, what’s that smell), but I’ve never once feared for my health or my trousers here in London.
2. Parks and Open Space. London is really not all that big a place, geographically, yet 10 million people live in Greater London. Even with that many folks dashing about, there are wee parks/squares everywhere, and many large beautiful parks you can stroll through. Our first evening in the city we left our hotel near Paddington Station and walked to Hyde Park. Now here is a great example of open space in a big city. It’s attached to Kensington Park (home to Kensington Palace), and one can litteraly walk for hours on the paths that wind through the grounds. There is an ‘open air’ theatre in the park (with a new version of Peter Pan playing), the Prince Albert Memorial, Diana Memorial Fountain and Memorial Playground (which is excellent, I might say), as well as a man made lake and tons of trees and birds—–it’s a wonderful place. And that’s just one example; there are also St James Park, Regents Park and a host of others I’m anxious to explore.
1. History. The number one thing about this grand city must be it’s history and it’s buildings. In America, we think of a really old building as being of the colonial era, perhaps 300 years old. There are high street shops in London older than that. The hotel we are staying in right now has buildings that date back to the 17th century. The Tower of London is an amazing place, begun in 1066, it has been a royal residence, a prison and several other things over the centuries, but is still home to the beefeaters and their families. Amazing. Just to walk through buildings and grounds where Henry VIII and his wives lived, where his daughter Elizabeth I lived, it’s surreal.
I’m sure over the next three years I will find more to love. Maybe next time we’ll explore the top 10 things to be frustrated about.
***I would love to add photo’s and I’ll bet you’re wondering where they are. They are stuck in my camera, and the cord is somewhere either packed and yet to arrive, or in the mail. Frustrating.