Friday 4 August 2017


To quote Maya Angelou, I know why the caged house bird wife sings drinks.

Pardon me to anyone who has children, and (for some reason) chooses to watch them herself.  And apologies to Miss Kat, Mme Zakia, Whitney, Pri, Amanda, and Ruby -- the wonderful people who, over the years, have watched our children when I was working.  (I should probably apologize to Maya Angelou, too.)  In my defense, though, I'm both 1) unskilled and b) doing this for free, but honestly there is no amount of money and/or training that could make spending this much time with my children ok.

I will perhaps feel better after (another) glass of wine.

True, we are new to a city, we are still jet-lagged (but I think this is the last day to coast on that one), none of our stuff has arrived, so we are essentially squatting in what is basically a large hotel suite with a kitchen, and our indoor time is limited to reading books, colouring, and playing snap and Spot It.  But I feel that we have been spending so much time outside that they should be starting to appear as regular children, instead of as rabid werewolves.  Who are jet-lagged.  And who get up multiple times a night with nightmares and to pee.

I have always admired the expectations that the British hold for their children, in books, at least.  They are expected to be cheeky and impudent on command, and politely quiet to the point of being subdued the rest of the time.  British literature has led me to believe that joyful shouts come from brisk exercise on the moors, and that otherwise, children generally are exceedingly well-behaved yet rosy-cheeked, or dying of consumption with a stiff upper lip; those that are petulant have a reason:  they're dying of consumption.

It doesn't help that literally EVERY CHILD we have seen out and about, both walking and at various parks, is polite, respectful, and kind, but jolly.  I saw an 11-year-old boy leaving a park, saying, "Thanks Mum!  I quite enjoyed that!", and a 10-year-old boy today called out to Ailsa, who was (of course) climbing a tree, that she "ought not to climb so high, because she might worry her mum". Note, these were both boys.

Hufflings and assorted cherubic playmates in tree, circa 2017

I suppose the kids we've played with are only a small subsection of "British Children", but overall, they are exactly what I want my kids to be:  active and cheerful, but when a smaller child joins the game or steps onto the equipment, they slow down to include them.  In contrast, mine just seem loud, bossy, screamy, loud, undisciplined, loud...  I'm extremely worried that the other parents will just assume that they are -- gasp! -- American.

This seems awful to write, I know, but the answer is simple.  All I need is a governess.  In return, I will... hmmm.  Ok, I can't pay someone until I have a job myself, but maybe they can do it as community service?  All I need, then, is a Feloness.  Apply here!

All this aside, we had a not-too-bad day today.  We started at a park, met up with some kids they had played with yesterday, and traded info for a playdate - this is a Big Deal, the first step towards making friends.  We came back home for an early lunch of my famous scrambled eggs, toast, and salsa, jam and "sandwich pickle"* as condiments, then headed out to our first foray on the tube.

I didn't need to bring my map of London with me, because I had my cell phone!  No problem!  GPS works so well!  ... until you're in a tube station, or on a tube, and you don't know which stop to get off at, and you can't get any cellphone service, and also you're an idiot.  We were debating going to London Bridge instead, because the stop is actually named, "London Bridge", but luckily, we were going to a popular destination, and the friendly announcer announced it in a friendly way (as friendly announcers are wont to do):  "Green Park.  This stop also for Buckingham Palace."

Buckingham Palace is just across Green Park.  First, we had to find our way out of the tube station and into Green Park, which was a lot more complicated than it seemed, mostly because the person holding the cell phone was still an idiot.  After walking one block the wrong way, turning around, walking two blocks the other way, crossing the street, and walking one block back (now standing exactly across the street from the tube station we had come out of, only twelve minutes before), we saw the entrance to Green Park, and in we went.

We saw police horsies!  Not quite as handsome as our police horsies, but still quite handsome.
It was yet another beautiful park, which, quite frankly, are getting rather tiresome.  But yes, it's green, it's lovely, it has trails and paths and beautiful old trees, neat little lawnchairs you can sit in for only 1.60 pounds sterling per hour**, and at the very end of it you could see majestic wrought-iron gates topped with gold.  In any other place, I would assume that it's just gold paint, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be fancy enough.

Here we are in front of the gates, and the Queen herself is inside!  I'm sure she would have come out to say hello had she known that we were there.  Also, somebody please teach me a better angle for selfies.

The Union Jack was flying, which, as Tamsin explained to me (again), it means the Queen is inside.  It was surprisingly exciting for all of us!  We're going to try to take a tour of the palace on another day, to see the inside, but the outside was very impressive.

The giant Victoria monument was spectacular.  Every angle was beautiful, and I had fun trying to explain what "allegorical" meant to a 7-year-old.***
What good is a beautiful, gold-topped monument if you can't scale it?

We walked back through the park, stopped to climb another tree, and stopped for a snack (Starbucks #3!) before we ventured back underground.  The trip back seemed faster than the trip out, and we headed home for some big glasses of wine water.

Up...up...up... back out of the tube station.  The kids suss out the theatre posters.
I decided to trade 45 minutes of television for the kids if I could have 34 quiet minutes of yoga for me.  During their 45 minutes, I made another alsational German Shepherd's Pie from scratch, using just salt and pepper as seasoning as we have nothing else.  After browning it, I slow-simmered the meat with the carrots and onion for about 30 minutes, adding some of the water from the potatoes as a thickener.  I put it in the oven at -- who knows, it's in Celsius, and it hurts my brain -- for about an hour and twenty minutes, to further let the flavours deepen.  Aside from having to spend time with my children, I'm rocking this Domestic Goddess thing.

But back to that bargain I made for yoga:  during my time, guess how many minutes I got?

Two.  I got two measly minutes of peace and quiet before Ailsa hurt her foot on the wall of her bedroom - when I followed her in, More Stressed and Less Relaxed than I had been just two short minutes ago, Vaughn was standing on a couch, and Tamsin was in the middle of throwing stuffed animals off her bunkbed.

Seriously, interviews for Felonesses start tomorrow.  I'll even feed you!

* Good God, London!  "Sandwich pickle", indeed.  What fresh hell is this?

** There were about 30 chairs, only one of which was occupied - everyone else was sitting on the grass around the chairs.  I can't make this up.  I assume that they are carefully monitored and that you get a withering glance if you sit in a chair for free.  It is so freaking civilized here, I could pee myself!

***I suppose it would help if I knew what it meant myself.  Oh well.

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