Despite the blue sky and white puffy clouds you see in the picture, I assure you, this was a brief moment of reprieve for the horrendous weather we had while we were busy trying to see everything London had to offer. Actually, most of the pictures I took were when the sun came out for a hot second because, well, everything looks so much prettier in the sunlight. And, I wasn't already busy holding my umbrella upright with two frozen hands.
That is the truth, in a long highlight wheel of images. This is why facebook and instagram are so bad for our psyche- we all think that every picture someone posts is the amazing moment that it looks like, and we get none of the background story.
All of that not to take away from the fact that we did have a great time while we were there! G and I do have the ability to appreciate the time off of work, experience new things, eat good food, see badly missed family, and all sorts even in the least ideal of weather. This was no exception.
We flew into Heathrow on a red eye and my brother, Kevin, picked us up since we were unsure about navigating the tube and train out to where he and his family live. Now that we've been there and used the public transit, we will be quite ready to hop right on and make our way out to Stowmarket with no problems. That makes me really happy- that we can take advantage of a good deal on a flight, and get ourselves almost all the way to my brother's front door without too much hesitation or hassle.
I got about 2 hours of sleep on the plane, G probably got less than that. And once we got to my brother's house, it was 9am UK time... needless to say, we fell directly asleep on his couch until my sister-in-law Jenni and 2 year old nephew Leo got home from taking my niece Lilly to school. We caught up with them and played with Leo and his many cars, trucks, and "diggers" which he repeatedly refers to as cah, lorry, and diggah. The brit accent is too cute for me to even handle. He tried over the next few days to say Ginny, but it started as Aunty Dingy. And then he got the G and it became Aunty Gingy. Good enough :)
The following 3 days were full of quality time. My favorite. G and I went with Jenni to a workout called Clubbercise - which is their version of club-like zumba- a follow along dance workout in the dark with glowsticks and the best of 90's and later pop hits. Basically, I could identify the format and release of every song from the past 10 years of Les Mills music. Super fun! We got to meet some of her girlfriends from work who usually join her- I love the far reach of group exercise in every form it comes in all over the world. Everything is better when done together. I wasn't winded, but I certainly had fun. I was super stiff and sore from being on a plane after an early morning Solidcore workout. Ouch. The only other "workout" G and I did was a 3 mile run around Stowmarket one morning- they have tons of running and bike trails all over their neighborhood and every street has a sidewalk. It's quintessential English country and it was beautiful.
We went to Nowton park and got to see Jenni's sister Sarah, and her two beautiful girls Chloe and Beatrix, as well as her parents Wendy and Mike (Nana and Popsy to the babies). She has such a wonderful family- it makes me feel so at ease for my brother to have that family and support there. We both have a serious underlying anxiety about family after what we have been through with our own parents, but are both lucky enough to have married into families that call us their own. Wendy and Mike are more parents to even me than my own parents, and I love them for that. We also spent an afternoon at Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm, which is an amazing petting zoo. The kids loved that almost as much as G. She loved feeding the animals and Lilly and I bonded over our very obvious genetic connection of not liking to touch things.
I cried a bit on the goodbyes, as I always do, especially hugging my niece and nephew who I know will have grown and changed significantly even in the short span of time between then and our next skype call. We caught the Greater Anglia train from Stowmarket to London and took the tube into South Kensington station where we checked into the fabulous Ampersand Hotel. Gorgeous space, comfortable bed, friendly staff. I can't say enough. I absolutely loved the neighborhood we were in also- in all of the places we toured of London Zone 1, Kensington was clean, slightly less crowded, had great restaurants and coffee spots, everything was walkable and tube stations are everywhere in case you would just rather. We walked all over Chelsea, Kings Road shopping district, and all the way up to Harrods, where we spent at least an hour overwhelmed at the massive amount of chocolates and pastries available.
Over the next two days, we used our London Pass to grab tickets to the Hop On Hop Off bus, our savior in the pouring rain, Tower of London, and Westminster Abbey. We also saw Tate Modern, one of what critics would call London's best new gallery, but it was quite a bit over our heads. I do appreciate art, and like to see the visual representations of what is on the inside of other people's creative minds, but some of these works seemed to be the expression of tortured souls who had no other outlet for their psychotic energy. So, I guess I'm just the kind of person who likes happy art. As my friend Kim Sheppard, who we met for dinner the last night we were in London, said 'Good art will give you a reaction. Doesn't necessarily have to be good or bad, but if you came away with a distinct impression, then it did what it was supposed to do.' Yes, my negative reaction to this gallery was certainly distinct, and made me think, and therefore, was effective.
On our last morning in London, the sun came out. We had until 2pm to walk around Kensington Palace Gardens and Hyde Park. Nearing the end of our walk in Hyde Park, the sky became ominously cloudy and opened up into a 15 minute hail storm while we stood under cover and watched the pellets rain out of the sky. Crazy!! London was very unhappy with us being there, and if we were basing our visit strictly on weather, we would say that we are not welcome. Because we were not in the city on a Saturday, we didn't get to see the full force of the many markets available such as Borough Market and Notting Hill. Perhaps next time!
Notice I didn't talk about food? Well, that whole recap is coming in next week's Midweek Snack. Stay tuned!!!
For a full highlight reel of pictures from our trip, you can google search #kimginuk2016 or find me on instagram @kay.shay