Sleeps To Go…On A Small Island

I have been reading Bill Bryson’s Notes From A Small Island during my commute this week and this morning, I read a page that really struck a chord.

One of the things I am asked by every second (or maybe third) Brit the minute they hear my accent is ‘what are you doing over here?’  Well, let me refer you to page 46 of Bryson’s tome:

“It has more history, finer parks, a livelier and more varied press (nowadays lively in a sinister, phone-tapping kind of way it would seem), better theatres…leafier squares…and more courageous inhabitants than any other large city in the world.”

He also talks about the ‘incidental civilities’

“cheery red pillar boxes, drivers who actually stop for you on pedestrian crossings …lovely forgotten churches …sudden pockets of quiet like Lincoln’s Inn and Red Lion Square…black cabs, double-decker buses…polite notices, people who will stop to help you when you fall down or drop your shopping, benches everywhere.”

It inspired me to think about some of the things I love about London and as I was gazing out of the window of the number 57 bus tonight, here are the first five that sprang to mind:

  • the light – it’s soft and beautiful and drapes itself gently over great expanses of countryside within 30mins of London
  • the fabulous place names – I am just dying to get on the bus to see what Seething Wells is all about and St Martin In The Field overlooks not a field but Trafalgar Square

  • the squirrels – skipping across the railing along my front garden, in the tree overhead, the little ones daring to venture a little way along my front path towards my open door before scurrying away at the behest of the bigger ones
  • the sun worship – with the merest hint of sunshine, Londoners appear from every nook and cranny and cram themselves along river banks, in parks and all sorts of public places to bask at lunchtime, after work, on weekends and any available opportunity
  • the irony – the Brit’s do that dry, dry wit better than anyone else – and really know how to poke gentle fun at themselves (and others) as a result.

There are loads of other things and I could go on (and on and on) but this post was inspired by someone else’s vision of the place I call home.  So what about you?  I’d love hear what you love about London, whether it’s your home, your home-away-from-home, a memory captured for holiday posterity or a trigger for the nostalgic yearning of days gone by.

What do you consider worthy of note about this small island? 

ps…there are 20 sleeps to go peeps…that’s less than 3 weeks for all your Gidday shopping and shipping. Just as well I’m super-prepared with my wishlist at the ready should any of you need a little helping hand.  I mean let’s face it, who has to have a wedding to partake of one of those Bridal Register thingies?

6 Sleeps To Go…A Clear Path…

I woke up this morning dreading the fact I would have to trudge down the icy streets into Kingston to get my phone exchanged (long story). The radio told me (several times during my 2 hour semi-snoozing lie-in) that it was -4C, the high would be 1C and that we could expect more snow this afternoon.  Oh joy!

And then I opened the front blind to find that some kind soul had shovelled the snow from my front path! Bless…a little Christmas spirit right on my front doorstep.

I also saw a wicked snowman further down the street and found myself quite enjoying the crisp air on my face and the crunchy snow underfoot.  And just as I’m typing this, a squirrel has bounded along the railing and up into the tree, leaving a bit of a snow shower in his wake.

Sigh…I love Sundays!

An Enterprising Young Bear….

I was reading some of my recent blogs and it occurred to me that a) they are all a bit serious of late, especially when you read them one after the other like I did and b) it has been some time since we caught up with the light of my life, young Alfie Bear.

(Yes I know J is the light of my life but shhhh! We mustn’t let Alfie hear…it’s all about him you know!)
Anyway, Alfie has been mooching around and generally presuming that all of life revolves around him.  He still loves watching the squirrels scurrying about outside from his comfy window position but doesn’t get to do this so much now that the blind is closed during the weekdays when I am at work.  He gets bored quickly and likes to keep busy and it would appear that he’s been putting this time to some use.  We recently discovered a little project of his…it would appear that he’s been quite an enterprising young bear and has joined the ranks of celebrity (or should that be celebratory?) brands with his very own gin & tonic – he told me that I gave him the idea as I always seemed to enjoy a Gin & Tonic with Daddy so much!  
Alfie also loves to ‘participate’ and he takes great joy in being the centre of attention. During the unwrapping of my 40th birthday presents, he took quite a liking to one of my sister’s gifts – a pair of bedsocks with cows heads on them – and took it upon himself to demonstrate how much better they looked on him!  The photo says it all really….
Anyway, that’s enough about Alfie for now…too much attention will go to his head, things will just become impossible and I might just have to have a few stern words with him…or give him THE LOOK (you know, the one ALL mother’s have that manages to silence …well…everything really)…but he has such a cute face and how could I possibly stay cross…
What’s that you say?  He’s not real?
Bite your tongue!

Strawberry Fields & Sticky Fingers

So I am here wondering what to write about today…deliberating over a review of the Star Trek movie I saw last night or the AMAZING chocolate-caramel cheesecake at Frankie & Benny’s afterwards (will these hips EVER be thin???) Or perhaps a vent about the non-collection of my recycling AGAIN. Maybe a little pre-sojourn into my busy week ahead…

But it’s all being eclipsed by one thing…


Not just any strawberry either. My very first one to go all red and be ripe for picking…how bloody rude!

I’ve been monitoring the progress of two particular strawbs, waiting for the perfect moment for picking them so that J and I could share the sweet taste of [strawberry] success together. It was all planned for the weekend…and when I went out to pick them, this one was gone.

Crushed (not unlike a strawberry daiquiri – at least when you’ve finished and you are trying to suck more from the dregs at the bottom of the glass), I plucked the remaining one from the bush and took it inside, cut it in half and sadly offered to share it…strawberry scrumptiousness indeed!

I have been thinking about the likely culprits – who do you think got their sticky ‘paws’ all over my strawbs? Could it be the neighbour two doors down, outwardly supportive of my gardening exploits but with a deeper desire to poach the fruit of my labours? What about the local wildlife – maybe it was an ambush conducted under cover of night by Bob the badger (J tells me he’s been seen lurking in the area) or a raid by a posse of Windmill Rise squirrels or one of those well-bred, well-fed, Kingston foxes, breaking cover from their usual stomping ground amongst the bin sheds.

But someone in particular has been looking rather pleased with himself of late and I’m beginning to suspect that maybe the culprit is closer to home…

So what’s this all about Alfie?