A few weeks ago I paid another visit to London. I had reached the blessed halfway mark of my pregnancy, so it was time for the twenty-week ultrasound. The appointment itself was on Tuesday morning, but because of flight times, I stayed in London until Friday evening.
I've become somewhat of a pro at planning my time on these excursions. I'm saving all the real touristy sites for when we will all be together as a family (I've learned that those things are really the best the first time you go), so I looked for things that were interesting, but not necessarily of general interest.
I did, of course, go shopping. Because, London. I didn't, however, get anything for myself. Instead I bought the now-traditional English candy and some thanks-for-holding-the-fort-down-for-me gifts (clothes) for Kathleen and Sophia. They have really been a great help for all of my trips this spring, and I thought they'd enjoy a real token of my appreciation. Since they both now pay for their own clothing, they were delighted with the new dresses I bought them. I tried to find shoes and a jacket for myself, but nothing called to me. It turns out also that it's a lot easier to look for those things online. Of course you can't try them on, but it is certainly a lot faster than walking from store to store.
That evening I treated myself to a delicious dinner at a restaurant in Kensington. Brandon and I were talking on my walk to dinner (the shortest way there was a lovely stroll through Hyde park), and he requested I take pictures of each of the seven courses. It was almost like having a dinner companion as we texted about the food. Almost.
The weather was much cooler than in Tashkent - it was a good day if it got into the upper sixties - and it also rained a few days. Thankfully I managed to get a sunny day for my personal tour around historical London city with my Italian tour guide. I guess it wasn't a popular day for tours, as I was the only one in the group, which turned out well when I got the time wrong and he came back for me despite being half an hour late. One day I will be a fully responsible adult, but evidently it isn't yet.
I also got to see family. Brandon's brother, his wife, and their daughter (two weeks younger than William) live down by the temple, so we met for a temple session one afternoon. It was lovely to attend, as I haven't been for a year. Afterwards we had dinner together and caught up. Every time I see family I always regret that I don't get to see them more often. I'm pretty lucky to have such great family on my side as well as Brandon's.
One morning I took a croissant making class at a local bakery. I've never been able to get my croissants quite right (usually they leak butter everywhere and I get fried croissants), and the class provided some useful pointers. I ended up with a baker's dozen croissants at the end of the class.
Thankfully, I was meeting friends for dinner that evening, so I was able to pass them on to them and their four boys because there was no way I could finish that many croissants on my own before they went stale. After dinner, the mom and I went to The Man of La Mancha with her two older boys where we got to see Kelsey Grammer play the part of Miguel Cervantes. I can see why it's a popular musical; it was pretty entertaining.
My flight out was scheduled for Friday evening and I had to check out of my hotel that morning and it rained most of Friday. So I took a tour of Royal Albert Hall and then attended the matinee performance of the Royal Ballet's Cinderella. The tour was interesting (and dry) and I got to learn that Eric Clapton has performed there over two hundred times. Who knew he was so popular in London?
The ballet was a novel performance, as it was staged in the oval floor of the hall. My seat was on the front row, so I got to see the dancers very close. I enjoyed it immensely; it was the perfect thing to do on a rainy afternoon.
After that it was dinner with friends, back to the hotel for luggage, and on to the airport for my overnight flight home. I was greeted with an immense sigh of relief from both Brandon and the children. They do very well while I am gone, but life is always easier when The One Who Creates Order is around to, well, create order. Running an eight-person family is definitely a two-person job and I'm always so impressed that Brandon can do it on his own after putting in a full day's work at the embassy. Life is definitely harder on him when I'm gone than it is on me when he is gone.
I have now spent over five weeks in London over six different visits, and so the thought of spending three months there isn't very daunting. It's nice to have gotten to know the city so well, as it will make the adjustment period a lot easier. We are in the process of securing an apartment, and when my contact in London mentioned the street, I knew exactly which street and neighborhood he was talking about. I had been to the closest grocery store, Tube stop, and park. Outside of cities I have actually lived in, I have visited London the most of any other place in the world. So I think that we'll probably be okay.
We have just under three months until everyone gets to pack up get ourselves over to London. It's enough time to enjoy the rest of our summer and get some good relaxing in before we have to start stressing about all of the logistical hurdles. The children are all excited to live in a place where they speak English and there are lots of lovely parks to play in. I'm excited to have lots of good food to cook and interesting places to take the children to. Brandon is looking forward to having the whole thing done and being back home again.
Until next time, London!