Woke up about 7:30, to the usual clip-clopping of the Royal Artillery Cavalry on their way down the street for their morning exercise in Regent's Park. A gaze out the window confirmed it would be another day with the standard forecast: the proverbial "sunny intervals".
Pulled on the jeans and t-shirt, and ambled downstairs. The distinctive slamming of the front door and then the gate indicated that the girls were off to school. Another family bonding opportunity around the breakfast table missed (sigh).
But, with in-laws Neil and Betty in residence, I hoped that a pot of tea would be awaiting in the kitchen. I was not disappointed.
With deference to the distinctive autumn chill in the air, I pulled on my Patagonia top, hooked Pudding to her leash, and joined Pam on the sidewalk. Every morning there is yet another layer of fallen beech and sycamore(?) leaves covering the sidewalk. But, thanks to our council taxes, a fleet of russian street sweepers will soon be all over it, each with a broom and cell phone headset, more engaged in the dialog than the clean-up.
Our favorite bakery/morning spot, Gails, was too crowded so we chose an italian cafe just down the street from the (10+?) options within 300 yards. After latte's and some scrambled eggs, we parted ways as Pam had a meeting with the Kensington Women's Club at the Royal Geographic Society HQ.
So with Pudds leading the way, off to Regent's Park it was. And this park, as with all of the green spaces around, reminds us what an incredible city this is. There are hundreds of immense trees - probably all bigger than the largest in Golden Gate park. The grounds are immaculate – lawns mowed, fringed with perfect english border plantings. We walked through the more wild wooded areas no sudden surprises from (how do I say this in a P.C. way?) 'overnighters' as I often encounter in Buena Vista Park in the mornings at home.
We did an inside loop of the park, about 2.5 miles. Pudding annihilated the last vestiges of the sweet shampoo scent from her recent bath by rolling in goose and duck droppings as she tends to do. Damn dog.
Returned to the house and took care of a few administrative details, e.g. trying to get the freight station to deliver our goods shipped from the U.S. with no further customs and storage charges !##!!@@##. Note to self: never use container shipping again.
After a shower & shave, I'm off to the St John's Wood tube station, just about 5 minutes walk. Three stops later I transfer to the Piccadilly Line, emerging in Knightsbridge to meet Pam at Harrods. This place is way over-the-top. The sports floor is more about fashion than competition, as a browse through the horseback riding, shooting, and cricket sections confirms. And the Egyptian Escalator belongs in an Indiana Jones set, that's for sure.
We had salads for lunch at one of the many Brompton Road cafes catering to shoppers like us. Then Pam had a lecture on the new ceramics exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum (yawn) so I decided to have a look at the Natural History Museum across the street. Very, very impressive. I just scratched the surface in my 1.5 hour visit, but besides the very well done and immense exhibits there is an overwhelming sense of empire and history as you look at stuff collected by Darwin himself. Wow - will be going back (it's free, after all!)
We got home in time for our afternoon tea and a bit of footie on the telly (which led to a brief nap) but then rallied for 'back to school night' at ASL.
Whenever we go to the school, I feel a reassuring surge of the familiar with the abounding american expatriates – you fully understand what people are saying, including the nuances. 75% of the teachers seem outstanding, and the facilities are far superior to our school in SF. We agree that the girls are off to a great year.
Continuing to revel in the familiar, we shared a hamburger afterwards at our local pub, "The Duke of York". Funny enough, the waitresses all seem to be russian, and one addressed Pam as "darling" in just the way that Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle would have said it --- weird! So ends the day.