We've arrived! Pudds and I have re-joined the advance guard of the Shields family at our rented home at 25 St Johns Wood Terrace, London, NW8 6JL. Pudds shook off her 24 hour travel ordeal with a simple wag of the tail – indicating "no big deal" – as she stepped out of her crate onto the hallowed soil of her hereditary homeland for the first time. She hasn't skipped a beat, and is busy sniffing down her new domain. I, on the other hand, am still indulging in jet-lag induced afternoon naps of the deepest variety (and expect to continue in this for some time).
First impression: My but isn't this civilized!!!
The neighborhood is quite leafy and serene, but for a few late-night pub revelers, and the dawn hour cavalcade of the Royal Horse Artillery who ride smack down our street every dawn.
There is an amazing bakery/espresso outlet half a block away, various boutique restaurants, tony pubs, grocery markets displaying a bewildering assortment of perfect fruits and vegetables (incredibly putting Whole Foods to shame) plus a library and tube stop. Regents Park, huge and manicured to a tee, allows dogs off-lead and is just two blocks away.
We've already had several scrumptious meals. Let me think, going backwards: tonight dinner at nouveau Indian at Amaya with Colleen Graffy, lunch at a very hip pizzeria off of Brick Lane, yesterday dinner at a boutique italian place called Vineria just off Abbey Road in Marylebone, lunch at the Clifton Nursery in Little Venice (yes, fine dining al fresco amidst the specimens), dinner on Friday somewhere in the neighborhood I can't remember (had Sea Bream). And so on.
Even though school has not yet started the girls seem to have already merged into the social network. They've been out and mingling on their own since I've been here, having the tube and bus system wired in about 6 hours. They just now (11:30 PM) stumbled in from a get together at some incredible home in the heart of Regent's Park owned by 'the founder of Heinz Ketchup' (at least so we're told) with multiple jacuzzis and pools. Today Elie was escorted home from an afternoon (tea?) by a young lad who was precariously close to her at the door (according to Pam - I missed this event). In summary, I'm not worried about them feeling like outcasts, but on the flip side wondering if the 'family closeness' we hoped for in this grand adventure will come to nought.
The highlight today was a stroll down Columbia Road, where you find an outdoor flower market on Sundays. The street is very picturesque, lined with shops of a Dickensian aspect, full of unique crafts, antques, vintage clothing, etc. The flower hawkers were extremely vocal, rivaling the barkers on Broadway in the volume and costume. (Should have had a working camera - will get to that!) We also found the Dennis Servers House in this area. Very unique and transporting.