(For those of you who are interested, the full photo set for August, since we left Paris, is here. I just keep adding to it. I’ll be making a set for each month from here on in)
We left a month ago yesterday. It seems crazy that we’ve been gone so long already, the time has gone by fast – it’s almost time for the kids to start school! Once they finally get a placement, that is. At the same time, it seems that it should be longer – so much has happened since we left Canada. Ah, time. Anyway, that’s enough cliches for now.
It’s been a fairly quiet week. We’re settling in, and the neighbourhood feels more familiar now. We’ve taken the bus a lot. Most of the buses that run in our neighbourhood are double-deckers. The kids love this – they like to sit at the seats right in front of the bus on the top floor. I have a hard time with it. I tend to get nauseous in buses already (my reading on the bus days are over. Knitting is still ok, since I can look forward while I do it). Being on the top, which sways a lot, and being right in front and seeing how narrow the roads are and all the near misses, and the cognitive dissonance of driving on the wrong side all the time, don’t help. So we compromise and go half the time. I’d let them go to the top and just sit at the bottom by myself, but I’m not yet comfortable enough here, being the crazy foreign lady with the loud kids and weird accent, to yell up at them that “This is our stop, let’s go” from the bottom of the stairs. I’ll get over it. Or they’ll know where to get off on their own.
I’ve found a small-but-good-enough grocery store a 5 minute walk from the house. And there’s a green-grocer right next door. That, combined with the butcher, fishmonger and cheese shop that were recommended to me by my landlady in Greenwich, which are a short bus ride away, and the awesome farmer’s markets on the weekends mean that my food needs are met. Oh! And there’s a fantastic, huge East-Asian (here, it’s called Oriental – Asian generally means just India) supermarket about 15 walking minutes away. So I’m good.
We did take in some sight-seeing. On Saturday, we went to the Royal Greenwich Observatory, which is next to the National Maritime Museum and the University of Greenwich. They are all at the north end of Greenwich Park, which is a huge green space. We walked around the grounds and then went into the planetarium to take in a show.
The kids’ favourite part, of course, was the huge playground at the end of the park. It really was good – with stuff ranging from toddler-sized to preteen size. Plus a giant sandbox.
Monday, the kids and I went into the city. The plan was to see Big Ben. Well, to see the clock tower that houses Big Ben. Big Ben, as every website (and now this one too) about London will tell you, is the bell that chimes the hours.
Then we took a walk. We saw the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, the Admiralty Arch and Buckingham Palace.
Oh, and we saw 12 Downing St. I had to take the picture through the bars. You can’t get anywhere near it. I’m guessing 10 is to the right of it. The guards with guns make sure nobody gets too close.
Seeing all this iconic stuff is weird, like it can’t be real. I told Dr. Thingo: “They just have this stuff out for the tourists. At night, they roll back the scenery and it’s all concrete buildings.”
I was disappointed that Queen Elizabeth didn’t come out to say hello. I should have emailed her I was coming. Then I found out that since the Union Jack was flying outside the palace, and not the Royal Standard, it means she wasn’t at home. Apparently, this time of year, she’s usually at Balmoral. Oh well.
Vorlon asked, “Who lives at Buckingham Palace. That’s a really big house for just one queen!”. So I explained that she has staff, etc, but then I looked it up. Apparently, she and Prince Philip live there, as well as the Princess Royal (that’s princess Anne, Elizabeth’s sister), Duke of York (that’s Prince Andrew, son of Elizabeth), the Earl and Countess of Wessex (that’s Prince Edward, also the queen’s son, and his wife), and Princess Alexandra (the queen’s cousin). Yes, the boys still live at their mom’s.
We’ll do more focused sight-seeing later, but for now, it’s fun to just walk around.