Thursday, 14 December 2017


[proh-kraps-tuh-ney-shuh n, pruh‐] 
the act or habit of procrastinating and then turning around to notice that what you really need to do still hasn't been done, to the point that it is both startling and horrifying and you say out loud (again), "Oh crap!"

verb (used without object)procrapstinated,procrapstinating.
1.  to defer action; delay something craptastic that really really needs doing.

...Such was the state of my kitchen this morning:  The sink was full.  The drying rack was full.  The dishwasher was full.  The giant, obnoxiously lengthy countertops which would -- nay, should -- be a prep-chef's dream were covered (as usual) by a mess of school papers.  The only available prep space, two linear feet in front of the toaster, coffee maker and kettle, that is always, ALWAYS kept clear, was encumbered by the food processor, used measuring cups (both dry and liquid) and a splatter zone of molasses, flour, sugar, and other trappings of gingerbread.  The stove top held two trays of miniature gingerbread loaves.  

I can't breathe when I'm surrounded by clutter, which amuses/bemuses Fis, who thinks I should then just die and get it over with because he sees what our house always looks like.  BUT, the power of procrastination is strong in this one (remember the alphabet fiasco of 2010-2014?).  In my defence, I am one person against four (and a dog).  And each of these produce awe-inspiring amounts of art, notices, letters, invitations, and laundry.*

And I desperately "needed" to return two emails, send a few texts, and maybe tweet.

In times like this, I fall back on my project management training, which, if it has taught me (and Fis) nothing else, it has at least qualified me to run on the spot with my hands over my eyes, screeching, "Critical path!  What is the critical path?"

(Fis loves that.)

So, I started emptying the dishrack, then turned around to update my contacts so that I could find more people who use What'sApp.  This involved scrolling through my network, and adding +1 to about 20 phone numbers.  And then updating my profile photo.  And then turning around to see that my kitchen was somehow still a mess, despite it being 15 minutes later:  "oh crap".

I opened the dishwasher and took out three knives and a bowl, while thinking how lonely mornings are here, as none of my North American friends are up yet.**  Then I sent a tweet and responded to an email from the kids' school.  During this time, nobody finished emptying the bottom rack of the dishwasher!  Nor the top!  

Oh crap!

So, I finished the dishwasher, then went back to the dishrack, which still had to be fully emptied so that the still-wet plastics could be piled in there to dry, and started sorting through the vast expanse of possibly-but-probably-not important paper on the Ideal Prep Space section of the kitchen.  Imagine my shock and horror when I turned around to find that my counter was still a sticky mess, the sink was still full, and the cupboards had been left open.***

So, breakfast dishes went into the dishwasher, food processor components were washed and piled on top of the drying plastics, and the counter was wiped, with only 7 or 8 pauses to check email.  




Writing this up was absolutely necessary, because if I turn my head very slightly to the right, I see the pile of Christmas cards that are sitting there...that maybe I should have been writing instead this whole time.****

Oh, crap.

* I'm exaggerating, of course.  The dog only produces laundry from his wardrobe of festive jumpers and coats (rain and winter) and his blankets.  Very few invitations, and no art.  I'm not that crazy.  (Note:  no art of cultural or commercial value, anyway.)

** I'm fine, I promise:  this is after coming home from dog-parking (verb) or my running group.

*** Crap!

**** Let's just get this out there:  "writing" Christmas cards this year consists of "addressing the envelopes".  The printer lost the cards for over a week, so we're running a bit behind.  I normally like to include a personal note, or at least a signature, or at least at least an irritatingly-upbeat form letter, and I am so very ashamed of our cards this year.  Also, in the interests of full disclosure, Chris' Scottish heritage has rubbed off on me (see also, single-income family in X-tremely X-pensive City), so a lot of the cards will not be mailed until our arrival in Canada on the 26th,***** or even hand-delivered, thus saving a stamp or two.  

***** We will try to have some kind of "come see us!" afternoon at a restaurant or possibly even our still-for-rent house while we are back in town. (Bring your own chairs!) (And prospective tenants!)  Please reach out if you'll be around?

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Fancy Ladies and London Snow

All grown up!

Our beautiful Tamsin Toonamint recently celebrated the big 0-5, and did it in style.  She made her theatre debut in a small/tiny/wee production of Beauty and the Beast, and then was properly feted by eight of her closest friends at her birthday party.  We went swimming at the local pool and dined on pizza and cake.  Wonderful!

Yes, the 5-year-old is wearing makeup.  I felt it important that her eyes should "pop" under the stage lighting. 
(TLC, call me!)

The proud birthday girl/unicorn in her birthday finery.

We were also struck by a terrible snowstorm! (by London standards!)  (kaff)  The kids pulled out their new snowsuits (well, new to two) and splashed off to the park, where they built their first (possibly only) snowman of the winter!  He was mostly leaves.  The snow melted by that evening, but it was pretty and very Christmassy while it lasted. 

The Hufflings Three and furry sidekick, whom Fis has re-named "Kenny Zoggins".

I've been told to expect temperatures between 0 and 10, and lots of drizzly rain for the next few months.  Upside:  no shoveling!  Downside:  lots of drizzly rain. 

We are looking forward to some proper Canadian snow in a few weeks.

December seems to be a very busy month for cocktail events here.  With the help of some brilliant babysitters, we have been able to get all dressed up and mingle with, well, complete strangers for the most part, but it's fun.  I have developed quite the taste for wee little hors d'oeuvres (ingested in bulk), served by fancy waiters.*  This was taken at the end of the evening - imagine how stunning I must have looked when we first arrived!   (Obvious answer:  even more stunning.)

* We usually have to stalk the good ones.  Chris followed the pigs in blankets server for a good 10 minutes, much to the amusement of some, well, complete strangers.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The Tooth Fairy Pays HOW Much, Now?

(Alternate title:  Fluor--idate good times, come on!)  

Far be it from me to disparage English dental hygiene, but Ailsa has now lost FIVE TEETH since we arrived in London three and a half months ago.  FIVE.

(Telling her that selling her teeth to fairies is not a viable career option is so far falling on deaf ears, at £2 a pop.)

Monday, 20 November 2017

Half-term Halloweenies 2017

(Alternate title:  Fashionably late)

Yes, yes, it's been forever since the last post.  

I can explain.

Here in the UK, children get a one-week break, called half-term, at the end of October, which is horrifying enough.  But -- BUT!!! -- children whose parents thought they were so smart by enrolling them in a school with a French curriculum get TWO WHOLE WEEKS OFF.  Yes, my kindergartener, who has diligently been painting and learning her phonics in both languages, and probably eating a lot of paste (as one does), clearly deserves two weeks' rest from her travails.  

Celebration dance due to arrival of care package from Grandma.
Luckily, every other child in England is off for the first week, so anything you'd want to do with the kids is packed to the gills with other kids and their parents', who look about as frazzled as I did.  (Do.)  

The first week was full of local-ish activities:  the library, the parks, pubs with the dog, the Army Museum (2nd visit - it's super cool), and a 4-person production of the Jungle Book, which was fantastic.  The 2nd week, we decided to branch out a bit more.  Yes, we left London!

And it was great!  We took the train to Oxford and explored Oxford Castle, an old prison.  Our car was finally properly licensed, so we drove to Salisbury and Avebury to see A stonehenge and The Stonehenge (amaaaaazing).  
A stonehenge at Avebury, with reference dog.

Stonehenge ... wait for it... ROCKS!

We went to the zoo for some spooky activities with other French-speaking children, and generally had a great time.  On Halloween itself, we went to Ikea (everyone was happy about that!), then took Vaughn to his kickboxing class before trick-or-treating in the "Little America" section of our neighbourhood.  It was chaotically busy and exhausting, but they came home happy with a respectable haul of loot, most of which has been ingested already.

"Abbey Road with Halloweenies"

Anyhoo, as I survived two more whole weeks with my children (kaff - nominate me for sainthood - kaff), I thus needed -- nay, deserved! -- two full weeks of recovery time, spent jogging with the dog, cleaning my flat, coordinating at least two different workmen's visits per week, and somehow getting nothing else done whatsoever (aside from a solo trip to Costco and Ikea in the car!) (I lived, and so did most of London, thankyouverymuch).  Coming up, between now and the next two-week break (I ask you!):  Tamsin's birthday.  Then Christmas.  And Vaughn's birthday.  And several million social-ish events that require dressing up, sometimes in "Canadian casual" (jeans), sometimes in cocktail dress, and sometimes in "Lounge Suits", which I had to google.  And I found this:

Although the question looks, at first glance, to be written by a Canadian (did your eagle eyes spot the telltale "eh"?), I'm pretty sure the use of "lippy" and "squillion" mean that it was not.  I had hope for a minute there.

So far, I am completely out of touch with London fashion, but am pretty sure it involves dark hose and booties.  I went out and found some cute, cheap booties, and ordered a pair of sparkly high-top, high-heeled sneakers as well.  The kids think they look "like teenager shoes."   I'm ok with that, even though I'm still "completely out of touch with London fashion".

So, it's back to the charity shops for me (yaaay!) to get appropriate clothing.  In my teenager shoes. 
Sparkly, high-top, high-heeled sneakers.  As one does.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Sk8r Boi (and scooter grrrl)

While Ailsa does her gymnastics in a warm, dry gym, the remaining Hufflings like to bring along their wheels and force me to hang out under a cold, dank overpass while they practice their mad skate skillz.  I have to say, they have a great time, and they're getting pretty good!

Here, they've switched wheels for giggles:

Saturday, 14 October 2017

CBR: SO cranky

Alright.  The Cranky Book Reviewer has been quiet.  Too quiet.

Since we discovered* the Westminster Library our first weekend here, we've been great customers (helping to fund it with late fees, for example), and I've noticed that perhaps, in Canada, I was mostly exposed to North American literature, whereas here, there are so many authors/artists that I've never heard of, because they're (probably) British.

I've read several books each by Carys Bray (somewhat interesting, but not Marian-Keyes enough to hold my attention**), and Gyles Brandreth, who, for some effing ineffable reason decided to write Oscar Wilde/Arthur Conan Doyle fan fiction.***

So, yes, here I am, obnoxiously criticizing highly successful, intelligent, published authors, because they have achieved what I haven't (and not just because I'm afraid to start again) and therefore are cheating, somehow.  (Warning:  there is more of that below.)

I digress.  For now.

I have always been a sucker for female celebrity comedian non-fiction; the apex of the genre (it is so a genre) is Bossypants by Tina Fey, which I have read at least seven times.  (I firmly believe that by doing so on a regular basis, I will one day achieve my dream of being Tina Fey, or at the very least, having her read that book to me in person while I drink wine.  And also we're best friends.)  That is the kind of thing I want to write, something that inspires and makes you laugh and realize that you want to be friends with the author or just wear their skin as pyjamas.

The rest of them vary in their appeal.  I've read memoirs ("memoirs" is used loosely) by Andrea Martin, Jenny Lawson, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, and in the last two weeks, those by Lena Dunham and Miranda Hart.

Let me start with Lena.  She published Not That Kind of Girl  when she was 28 (I think?) so has therefore lived a very long and interesting life as an entitled millenial and should totally be telling other young women how she got where she is.


Don't get me wrong - her work is excellent, she's brilliant, etc. but she is also the privileged child of rich artists, and has capitalized on their connections due to that.

And not that there's anything wrong with that, because I would do the same, and love to do the same, but, well, see cheating comment above.  I'm just not interested in learning from someone who decided to be obnoxiously "quirky", abused lots of drugs at a young age because she was bored, rolled her eyes as a sport and was given every privilege, every opportunity, all while living off her very rich parents.  It reads like a spoiled (white) rich girl, but sort of wistful and self-deprecating and yes, very smart and very funny.

So I'm torn.  I loved it despite not wanting to like it at all, probably because she is so successful and so young, and her struggles weren't really struggles.  But mostly because I blame my parents, who have failed me completely by not being extremely rich, connected and/or eccentric.****

Finally, Miranda Hart, who is currently tied with Tina Fey in my heart (and yes, I will find her, our dogs will be friends, and we'll hang out), wrote a lovely-ish memoir called Peggy and Me, in which the adoption of a puppy changed her life.  She got into shape, wrote books, went on a successful comedy tour, rocked live theatre, starred in her own television show, renewed her belief in God, and met wonderful people, all due to her beautifully scruffy little dog.

I'm not saying that she's lying, that Peggy didn't do all that, but I'm saying that Ziggy (despite several of his own a-poocalypses) (such fun!) has just not yet improved my life to the same degree, despite looking sort of like Peggy and also being a dog.  I mean sure, he's been getting me out and actively exploring my new city, and he offers unconditional love on the condition that I've got treats in my pocket, but he has so far not fixed my extreme fear/writer's block, kickstarted my motivation to write, nor has he helped me convince Tom Ellis to star opposite me as a love interest in my very own television series.

So, to sum up, Tina, call me.

And Miranda, maybe I could swap dogs with you for a week or two, and we could see how it goes?*****

* I don't mean "discovered" like "founded", but that we walked by it on the way to the park.  Besides, the people who have famously "discovered" places and cultures have also famously destroyed/exploited them, whereas as I mentioned, we are supporting it by paying numerous dues because my "system" to keep all library books in one area of the flat is flawed.  Let's see Columbus do that.

** Go ahead and judge.  I'll own it.

*** Although I did love his Word Play.

**** My mom and dad aren't rich enough to be "eccentric."  They're just weird.

***** I will settle for a tea date.  And Tom Ellis' phone number.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Assorted Odd Huffling Facts

Hufflings eat weird food.  They always have.  Here, they eat an entire bag of Beetroot Horseradish Dill crisps, and really don't share enough of them with me.

Hufflings clean up good.  Like their mom, they dress in sweats and tatters most of the time, with mussy hair and food on their faces, but when they do it up, they do it up right.  We went to a housewarming on the weekend, and took the tube across town.*

The ride home is never as exciting as the way there.  It's late, we're all tired, and Tamsin adopts a relaxed post-party posture while Vaughn catches up on current events.

* Benefits to having to walk/take the tube everywhere:  no designated drivers needed!  (hic)

Thursday, 21 September 2017

DG Explores British Cuisine to Mixed Reviews But Mostly Shock and Horror

When in Rome, as they say.  (For some reason.) (Even when they're not in Rome.)

But, I digress.

With the convenience, wonder and confusion of online grocery shopping a weekly challenge, I have discovered that:

  1. Everything you order is much smaller than you think it will be.  Teeny tiny, in fact.  We went through a jar of mustard in 3 weeks, somehow.
  2. When you think you ordered something, you probably ordered something else.  Like, you wanted pickles to go with your sandwich and you ended up with that dreaded "sandwich pickle".* And/or
  3. It just doesn't look/smell/taste right.  Like yellow mustard.  Even though it's a familiar brand (Heinz), instead of being a bright...well, mustard yellow, it's a pastel, and therefore suspect.  And Quaker Instant Oatmeal:  it's different.  Different flavours, different texture, but you get past it, because meh, it's oatmeal.
  4. You will forget at least 3 critical items, but can't just order them separately because there is a £40 minimum. So you have to wait until next week, or find £40 more worth of stuff to buy.  (However, as you can order wine, beer, and liquor in the same order, it's doable.)
  5. There are some things that you just can't get here.  Like chili powder.  No, I don't want "powdered chillis", nor will I spell chilli with two Ls, dammit.  Or seasoned salt, the "spice" we sprinkle on our macaroni and cheese.  Or, for that matter, decent macaroni and cheese, which is PC White Cheddar Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese, although there are several (unspeakable) varieties of canned mac and cheese available...  I shudder.  
SO, if you're looking for an appropriate housewarming present or care package, maybe it should include any or all of the following:

Image result for clubhouse chili powder
Image result for twizzlers

Image result for bridge mixture

Image result for a job that is mentally challenging

But, I digress again. This is a cry for help!

Now being just the Domestic Goddess and literally having nothing else to do and intensely interested in providing only the best meals for my family, I have started watching cooking shows here and there instead of day drinking.  So far., and have been inspired by up-and-coming local legend Jamie Oliver to try a few recipes (or "receipts", as they call them here). (No again!) (see also, there is only one damn L in chili.)

On Tuesday night, fresh from Vaughn's first kickboxing class (so many pushups and burpees!  I gotta say, the kid held his own... must be from all that training at home**)... um...where was I?  

Oh yes, I made lamb koftas.  Ground ("minced") lamb is very easy to come by, and is a common food.  The kids have adapted already, even the squidgy little one who wasn't keen on the idea until she ate some on a pizza with arugula ("rocket").  (Lamb pizza!)  I had to improvise a bit with the ingredients, adding za'atar (which contains sumac, so was close enough), tomatoes for extra colour and taste, and using both mint and parsley from my kitchen garden***.   It was a hit!  

Last night was not as much of a hit, according to the peanut gallery. I made cauliflower cheese, which I had never even heard of until I saw Jamie's show.  But, why not?  It's essentially everyone's favourite food (cauliflower) baked in a roux that is green from everyone's other favourite (pureed broccoli) and a sprinkling of cheese, bread crumbs and almonds...and thyme from my kitchen garden!  Who wouldn't like that?

Everybody but me, it seems.  Humph.  The important thing was that I liked it, and it's good I did, because that's going to be my lunch for the next four days.

Onward!  Next stop, Coronation Chicken?

Hey, where did everyone go?

* Sandwich pickle, in fact, has grown on me.  On a sandwich with "mature" cheddar and "french-style" mustard, it's quite tasty.**** 

** in our house, if you say a naughty word (from "stupid" and "butt" on up), you have to do one pushup for every year of your age.  So, if Tamsin calls Ailsa stupid, she does 4 (excellent) pushups.  If Vaughn, for example says, "Daddy said f&%$!" then he has to do 8 pushups!  And Fis has to do 44.  We are very fit.

*** Which I also ordered with my groceries!  And it's been a week, and it's still alive!*****

**** The kids and Chris still hate it.  More for me!

***** Update:  except for the chives.  They didn't make it.  I repeat, the chives are dead.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

I found my thrill...

Alternate title:  Primrose Hill Sweat Set 

So, there are many wonderful things about London so far.

For example, the kettles boil water for tea in literally 30 seconds.  It's ridiculous that this technology exists here, but not in North America.  I love it.  I have also purchased a teapot, so I can boil it quickly, then refill my cup over the next hour or two.  (Mom has promised to make me a tea cosy, so in the meantime, I use a dishtowel.  Which is probably simply not done.  Note to self:  only invite expats over for tea.)


Oh yes!  There are super-fun workout stations at lots of parks.  Now that I know better, I can call them by their proper name:  Trim Trails (such fun!).  There was a trim trail looping around behind the Nepean Sportsplex when I was little, and it was fun to do as a kid.  As an adult, I have discovered that I am far heavier than a child (ok, I am somewhat heavier) and thus enjoy these body-weight exercises proportionally less.

But, as gym memberships are very expensive (the cheapest I've found so far is £49*, and I'm proud to say that I think I held my poker face quite well when I got a quote from Virgin Active for £93 per month**), and I don't have all my ducks in a row yet to have my Canadian certifications recognized, I have been slumming it out in the open.

Now, I'd heard of the Primrose Hill Set, a very posh and famous group of people who sat on the hill in the 90s, but imagine my delight to discover that it's a 10-minute run from my flat, and also incorporates an amazing dog park, clean public washrooms and a fantastic trim trail!  I sussed it out one Sunday with the kids, and ran back on the Monday morning, to do a proper workout.


I was the least fit person there, by a landslide, and worked harder than I ever have (sorry, @StadiumWorkout, you don't even come close) to just barely struggle through a few reps at each station...and paid for it for three days after.  I'm not exaggerating:  these are, seriously, my fellow participants.

So far, I am Not Enjoying It At All, especially on rainy days*** when my already poor grip strength is absolutely nonexistent.  Or at the finishing move of the workout, which involves me sprinting running jogging whimpering to the top of Primrose Hill, then slowly coming back down for the cooldown jog home.  Or on any day (or two) after the workouts, when it just hurts to be.  But, as my goal is to become (re-become?) "prison fit", I'd best keep on. I want to feel challenged and exhilarated, not defeated, and I know that it will come, as long as I keep going.

After all, as they say, "whatever doesn't kill me will make me stronger."

However, as I like to point out, OR it will kill me.

Fun fact:  I walk up and down High Street almost daily, and hang out on the Hill (at the bottom of the hill, or at the top for an instant, gasping and aching), but I am getting very tired of being mistaken for Kate Moss.  Or would be, if anyone had ever mistaken me for someone exactly a foot taller and startlingly good-looking, which they possibly haven't yet.

Hey, it could happen.

* Thanks for the keyboard tip, Jolene!
** For example, I didn't splutter, "Don't you know who I AM?  Shouldn't YOU be paying ME to be here?"  See?  Poker face.
*** Most days are rainy days.

Or, hire me! (Less fun, but the idea is the same.)

Ziggy for Hire

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Survival Tips, One Month In

How to not get into a traffic accident in London: 
Don't leave your house.  Ever.

You can't tell if a street is a one-way just by looking at which way the parked cars are pointing, and definitely not by the width of the road.  Also, if some jerk is double-parked, completely blocking a lane on a narrow street, this is normal and acceptable, and you have to scoot around him quickly, hoping that nobody is coming from the other direction.  While shifting with your left hand.

This is all conjecture on my part, as I have not driven here yet, and honestly, now that I've experienced it from the passenger seat, really don't plan on it.  (My dreams of jaunting off to Haworth and the moors for a day are bubbling away.)  However, I do have a better understanding of why cars in Ottawa with red diplomatic plates drive the way they do.  After all, I filled out a form when I got here, showed them my drivers' license, and -- hey!  I'm allowed to drive here!

Note:  I should not be allowed to drive here.

I am trying to find a "Driving for Diplomats" course, which is different than a "Driving for the Never-Drove" course, in that you need to actually break the part of your brain which thinks it knows how to drive and what the rules of the road are, because whatever you thought they were, they are not.  For example, let's say you're driving down a street in London, and you get to a stop sign.  What do you do?

If you think, "Stop!", you're wrong.  The correct answer is, "They don't have stop signs here.  You are obviously not in London."  Well, how do you know when to stop in London, you ask?  There is a double dotted line, of course.

And you're just supposed to know.

See?  I need to break my brain and start again.  Luckily, our Volvo (Mulva) is almost ready to go, and, at approximately 7 times the size of the average British car, will be able to squelch/thwart/conquer anyone who gets in my way, no matter where I am going and on what side of the street I am using to get there.

How not to get hit by a car or bike in London: 
Don't leave your house.  Ever.

Pedestrians don't have right of way at all.  Somehow, I still have the same three kids (I think) that I arrived with, despite several close calls, the closest being when we crossed with the crosswalk light (and a loud "squee" sound to prove that the crosswalk light was lit), and a cyclist nearly mowed Tamsin down.  Grrr.  Those double-dotted stoppy lines* don't mean, "it's ok for you cross here if I am approaching, because I will be stopping."  Sure, the car will stop, but it doesn't seem to be their job to make sure you are safely on the pavements (like a sidewalk, only British!) before they start again.

When I previously mentioned that children are expected to walk nicely and decorously with their parents, that also means that a random child, running ahead or lagging behind by even a little bit, is not expected (because it's just not done), and is thus fair game.

...come to think of it, maybe that's why children walk so nicely with their parents and nannies here.  The bouncy ones have all been run over.

(So sorry.)

(it's probably true)


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Excitement! Adventures Every Day!

Collection of images from our adventures:

Tamsin shows off the local playground - we go there every second day, at least!


Ailsa can fit this many grapes in her mouth at the same time.

Vaughn and Tamsin try to beat that number.  Gross, but funny!
The view of the courtyard, which is, to note, a "visual feature only".  Humph.
Stuff still hasn't arrived.  We play a LOT of cards.  (Thanks, Mrs. Kat!)  Even Tamsin plays solitaire and Crazy 8's like a pro now!


Ice cream at Regent's Park, after hiring a Pedalo.  (translation: we rented a pedalboat)

Sunday roast at a pub.  Amazing.

The kids loved it too.  And our dog is under the table!

A cricket match at Lord's.  We stayed for about half of one inning (2 hours).  The informative site explains that, "Although there are many more rules in cricket than in many other sports, it is well worth your time learning them as it is a most rewarding sport."  That remains to be seen.

More monuments to climb, this time in Trafalgar Square.

There are a LOT of lion statues here.

Waiting for the tube (and solving mysteries) on Baker Street.

Another selfie attempt at the Tower of London.

The girls wait outside the Bloody Tower.  Chilling!

A very friendly and photogenic raven poses while we queue to see the Crown Jewels.

To sum up, we have been doing a LOT of stuff, but the local playground is still, by far, the favourite place to go.  ... in fact, we're heading there now.

More Weirdness

First, let me apologize to any and all Brits for the below.  I think -- I mean, I've been informed -- that the language I use below is quite offensive here, and for that I'm sorry.  It's just that everything here is still SO WEIRD, and these words just aren't offensive to me... but maybe they will be in a few more weeks?

Let's warm up with just weird instead of inappropriate or profane.  I'm the idiot tourist (not a tourist!  ha!) taking surreptitious photos of the things that jump out at me as not normal in Canada.  Yes, I realize that I'm not in Canada anymore, but some of these things are just not...normal.  Words fail me.

Take this warning sign in an elevator:

I think it could also be a toe trap, small-child's-arm trap, tail trap...

Or this detail of the tube map.  I thought of my dear kindred spirit, Bec, and giggled like, well, like my 4-, 7-, and 8-year olds were doing.

Down in Trafalgar Square, one might ask, what has one thumb each and thinks the Hufflings are pretty cool?

These guys.  One might also ask the significance of a giant, elongated thumb... best not to.

I jogged past a nice little inn the other day with dragging Ziggy (it was the home stretch).  We had gone there for dinner already, and it's billed as being "dog-friendly" - more on that later - but we didn't want to risk having our dog kicked out of a dog-friendly restaurant, so we left him at home.  The food was amazing, the inn dogs (Gin and Fizzy) pleasant and calm, and we will definitely go back again, with or without the kids and dog in tow.  

What I hadn't noticed when we dined there was the lettering on the outside of the building, toting the "Gastro" inside.

Let me tell YOU, British people, that in North America, "gastro" can be applied to "pub", but if used alone, means "gastroenteritis."  Ha.

Ok, on to the juicy stuff.  There was a clickbait about a famous British man calling his wife a "k**b".  Well, naturally that peaked my curiosity, because I couldn't think of any swear word that starts with k and ends with b.  In other news outlets, it was reported as both "k***" and "kn*b", respectively, and I eventually found a very daring site that printed the whole word.

"Chris!" I hissed in horror, "Knob is a bad word here!  We can't even say knob!  Stop calling people knobs!"  

I mean, he doesn't often call people knobs, but it happens from time to time, but now I guess he'll have to stop cold turkey.

(Also, throwing back to my comment a few posts ago, where I thought I was being funny by using the word, fanny, I had been warned by British Friend Viv that "fanny does not mean what you think it means."  I naturally assumed that there was yet another meaning of fanny that she thought I thought it meant, and that fanny just meant bum, which is very saucy.  Chris read my blog about a week later and dashed in to the living room, practically panting.  "Fanny doesn't mean what you think it means!" he gasped, and explained that, in fact, it really, really does not.)

(Oh dear.)

Friday, 11 August 2017

Bad Mummy

We took the kids to the British Museum today, and "may" have triggered an existential crisis in our youngest, by mistake.

First off, it's a beautiful, giant, impressive place, the staff are fantastic, the restaurant was incredible (I had pea-and-mint tortellini for lunch - wow), and the kids were excited to choose two "trails" to follow:  the Ancient Egypt (in line to get in, Tamsin had asked if there would be mummies!) and Ancient Britain (Vaughn wanted to see stuff from the Saxons, because he knows more British history than I do), for which they got little guidebooks with items to find and activities to do.  So, great!

We walked through the mummy room -- which, let's face it, is the most interesting part of/main reason for an Egyptian exhibit -- on the way to the starting point, and they all seemed fine, but after about 20 minutes of searching and finding, we wound our way back to that same room.

COOL mummies.

Fantastic treasures.

So many sarcophagi (sp?) and embalmed people, including Cleopatra!  Not THE Cleopatra, apparently, but her exhibit was very interesting, so we stood there for a few minutes.

My little girl was standing beside me, the brim of her Paw Patrol cap hiding her face, her voice too quiet to hear, so I crouched down (painfully - knees are black and blue and swollen from yesterday's tumble) and had to ask her a few times to repeat herself before I understood.

"I don't want to die."

Oh.  Dear.

She was all quiet and white and teary.  At four and a half years old, she suddenly came face-to-face with mortality -- when does it usually happen? -- and did not take it well.  Over the next ten minutes or so, she had countless hugs, and bravely wiped away tears from eyes suddenly wiser and sadder.

She also doesn't want me to die (which is nice), and didn't really go for the Circle of Life explanation that had worked for the passing of our fish and Chewie, our hamster.  She kept repeating, "I don't want to die."

I told her that ...well, it doesn't matter what I told her.  She rallied after a quick trip to the bathroom, but I haven't yet.  How do you explain to a kid that it's ok, that at a certain point, it can be nice to and let the next generations do their thing, but that it wouldn't be ok if it happened too soon?  And what's too soon?  And if I promise her that she's not going anywhere for a long time yet, and neither am I, but if I do, does that make me a liar?


Before lunch, she told me that she hoped she didn't dream about this tonight.  We tried to give her enough other, good things to think about that she'll have more than enough dreams to choose from.

Now, let's hope that I can have one of those dreams, too.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Beauty is as beauty does

Just a few photos to brag about how really, really ridiculously good-looking the Hufflings are.

Who needs teeth to be gorgeous?
Ailsa shows off her fancy theatre hairstyle and her new dress.

Tamsin in her own fine feathers.
(Yesterday's kitty nose is mostly faded.)
She can only hold in the personality for a few seconds at a time.

That's better, but handsome is as handsome duuuuuhs.
Handsome boy in need of a haircut and an UNtuck.

Week one: done!

Well, we have started checking off items on our To Do in London list.
  • Buckingham Palace - check!
  • Rode on the Tube and Returned Home With As Many Children As I Started With - check, check and check!
  • London Zoo - check!
  • Free Museums - check, War Museum!
  • Live Theatre - check, The Hunting of the Snark!
  • Noticing More and More Super-Weird Things About England - ongoing

The Zoo is walking distance from our flat - sure, it's a long walk, but our "walking legs" are getting stronger by the day.  We checked it out on Saturday.

Fun British Fact:  English zoos don't just have protected and endangered species, but extinct ones, too!  There is actually a time-travel portal, which takes you back to the time of the dinosaurs...hey, I was skeptical too, but they were very friendly and rideable.


Although these pictures, I suppose, only show that the zoo has statues of animals, there were also real, live animals, all very active and healthy-looking.  It started off slowly, though - we went to a "Lunch with Otters" presentation, and they decided to stay in their little cave, snoozing, instead of participating with the zookeeper.  She did a fairly entertaining talk anyway, and the crawfish that she was going to feed to the otters became the stars of the show - they kept escaping from the bowl and menacing the children with their wee little claws.  

Saturday was, amazingly, the first real rainy day we've had, but of course I didn't check the weather ahead of time.  Chris did, and brought an umbrella along, but the kids only had baseball caps on (their t-shirts dried quickly), and I just got frizzier.  It was a nice day at the zoo, actually - not too warm or cold, just sort of drizzly in spots.  At some point, Chris' umbrella fell out of my bag.  Whoops.

Side note:   Since we're still living out of our suitcases, I couldn't remove the old, chipped polish from my fingers or toes.   Knowing that my nail polish remover would be arriving within the next few weeks (oh please oh please oh please), I found a Groupon for a mani/pedi in a  
Now, SOME people might waste their money on buying another $3 bottle of nail polish remover, but I decided to be less wasteful (don't even try to make me understand the math).  Anyhoo, by happy accident, my fingers and toes match the Tube exactly.  

The kids had their first English Play Date on Monday with kids they had met at the park -- a boy Vaughn's age and a girl right between Ailsa and Tamsin -- and went over to their new friends' house, just a few blocks away.  It's a tiny little house, slightly smaller than our old one, but with a tiny little garden -- I'm so envious!  We joined them on Tuesday, as well, at the War Museum.  The kids had a great time, but it will be an uphill slog to get them to fully adopt Proper British Decorum.  

I expect, in fact, to die trying.

Today was even rainier than Saturday, so it was good luck that the day's adventure was to go to the Theatre!  Chris is off for the next two weeks, to help unpack and set up our flat (would be more helpful if we had anything to unpack or set getting tired of the same clothes), so we looked up deals, found a fun one for the kids (we were inspired by the book Aunt Tracey gave to Vaughn for Christmas last year!), and were taken on a musical romp to Snark Island.  It was hilarious (for me), and I will be humming the songs from now on...and telling the jokes (to the kids' chagrine - they have an excellent awareness of what "funny" is, and I, very often, fall short on purpose, just to get The Look from Ailsa*).

The curtain is about to go up, and everyone is dressed and ready with snacks!

Fun British Fact:  Hot beverages, like coffee or tea, are not allowed in the theatre, but you can buy drinks, candy and crisps to bring in with you.  

Aside:  I would like to point out to Grandma and Grandpa that we made it two full weeks without taking the Hufflings to McDonald's.  Personally, I think we can go much longer (what with no pesky grandparents about to take them to The Bad Place), but we were in a rush as we left the theatre, and needed to get to an appointment at the bank, so popped in for some Happy Meals.  Ailsa ordered chicken McNuggets, which came with dipping sauce, of course.  BUT WAIT!

Yep, you can dip your chips in curry sauce, even at McDonalds.  IT IS AWESOME!

She stuck with the Sweet and Sour sauce, but come on!

We bought Fis a replacement umbrella (thus turning him back into Chris... at least for a few minutes), and bought one for Tamsin, too.  At dinner, she enthusiastically exclaimed, "This is the best day ever!  I got my own umbrella!"

She and Ailsa were so good about sharing.

DG note:  Dinner tonight was chicken drumsticks with garlic stuffed under the skin, sprinkled with salt and pepper and mixed herbs, frozen peas, and some kind of microwave rice thing.  The chicken was a hit, anyway!

* The teenage years are being foreshadowed already.  So far, they're hilarious.