Tuesday, July 15, 2014

45 Days in London: Day 22

Life in London: The Particulars

Did I mention our flat comes with a cleaning lady? Oh my word, I feel so spoiled! We keep our apartment clean anyway—beds made, dishes washed—but yesterday it was so lovely to come home after a long day to the lingering fragrance of cleaning products, and every surface glistening. Bliss.

This morning was big-time laundry day. (Alas, no wash-woman comes with the flat. Haha.) We put it off as long as is humanly possible because the washers and dryers downstairs are so expensive. So while the students were in class and all the washers vacant, I cleverly did three loads at once. But get this: It costs 3 pounds twenty to wash, and 1 pound fifty to dry. Four pounds seventy per load, times three is 14 pounds to do a week-and-a-half's worth of laundry. That's $24.00! Imagine my lack of joy when Mr. Cool arrived with another load of darks to wash, right after I'd finished the other three. There goes another $8.00, bringing the total to a whopping $32.00. I will never take my washer and dryer for granted again, EVER.

And now a word about food. We have had NO bad food here in London. In fact, all the food we've had here has been great--from the ready-made meals we pick up at Waitrose (Britain's version of my beloved Trader Joe's), to the corner Pret-A-Manger, to the lovely restaurants with the linen tablecloths. There is great international cuisine here, but in addition, the local populace has jumped on the fresh, sustainable, organic bandwagon. Everything offered is healthy, natural, tastefully presented, and delicious. Gone are the days of Britain's reputation for terrible food. Bring on the new cuisine!

Best treat we've eaten so far (besides the Brioche from Aux Maravilleux) is Thornton's Mini Caramel Shortcakes. The packaging reads: "Scrumptius shortcake squares covered with a delicious caramel layer and topped with smooth milk chocolate." This decadent snack produced audible moans from each of us!


I have felt very close to my family while I'm here, even though we're thousands of miles apart. I think first of my dad, architect and stellar art educator, every single time I see a great monument, a quaint cottage, an ancient stone wall, or an important work of art. I especially think of him when I spot a great place to paint!

I also remember my mom, who was his faithful traveling companion for thirty years. Many times I've felt like she's right here, pointing out a marketplace where she bought my favorite shirt, a church where she loved the choir and the organ, or a site Grandpa Bennett used to sing about in the Christopher Robin songs.

Almost daily I think about Jeff's wonderful parents, too, who served over the London South Mission for three years, and the memories—large and small—of visiting them here when our children were little. I feel such fondness for this place and for them.

I love writing to our missionary daughter about our travels, and reading her enthusiastic responses. Last week we sent her a scratch-and-sniff map of Hampton Court, complete with water closet. She told me she laughed so hard when her companion sniffed it. And I'm so excited for our oldest son to join us so we can share it all with him first-hand.

I guess it makes sense that this land steeped in history, this melting-pot of cultures, this city with the famous underground network, this bustling travel hub drawing people from around the globe would also be a place that fosters familial connections of the sweetest kind.

Science Museum

So many great ideas, so little time. This afternoon we spent a couple of hours at the Science Museum, and were completely drawn in by the new exhibit on James Lovelock...leaving ourselves barely any time left to explore the rest of the museum. We'll definitely be coming back here.

Greek tragedy in a modern setting: Medea

Call me a cretin, but as soon as I hear the words "greek drama" I pretty much have to stifle a yawn. However, this production at the National Theater was outstanding. Completely hopeless story, yet still relevant considering worldwide current events, and ongoing women's issues and race issues. The way they made use of the chorus was amazing. This show held me spellbound the entire 90 minutes. Here was a tragic, violent story handled beautifully, tastefully--in stark contrast to the production of Titus Andronicus we saw last weekend.

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