Monday, 7 October 2013

Little things about London

People keep asking if we're happy to be back and to be honest, it's a difficult question.

So far, the Doctor is frustrated with work, I'm still struggling with my health issues (awaiting a specialist appointment next month) and although the boys like their new schools, they are definitely missing the space we had in America. There, they could run around a huge garden, or play outside with the neighbours' kids. Here, we are renting a house with a small decked garden. They want to kick footballs around and I'm terrified they're going to break one of the fancy garden lights, or even worse, someone else's window.

We definitely miss the New York weather. The mornings have been dark and gloomy, although it hasn't been that cold yet - a contrast to the beautiful light we had most mornings on Long Island, in every season. The climate in New York is definitely drier and sunnier (although of course could also be very dramatic, and fiendishly cold).

But there are little things about London that I notice, and love, that makes it feel like home. I love independent shops like our local greengrocer, a family run place where the proprietor and his daughters sound like they're straight out of Eastenders. I definitely feel these were lacking in the States - or perhaps it was just that those sort of places tended to be Hispanic bodegas, where I didn't feel part of the culture at all.

I love the English love of gardens - however small they may be in London. On Long Island, almost everyone had gardeners, or landscapers as they were known, but they did very little, so lawns tended to be big and beds low maintenance. That certainly isn't the case here. Walking down the narrow South London residential streets to the boys' schools, you'll suddenly pass a wonderfully scented lavender bush, lovingly tended roses, or a blooming fuschia in someone's tiny front garden, while back gardens glimpsed over fences are laden with fruit at the moment - apples, crab apples, pears and the last of the blackberries.

And, much as I enjoyed my spell in the suburbs, I like being part of a city again. The fact that I can be at my desk in the morning, at an art gallery in New Bond Street forty minutes later (for work, not leisure) and back in my house for lunch. And the diversity: within ten minutes I can be in the crowded markets of Brixton, reggae music blasting, or among the genteel shops of Dulwich.

I like that I understand what's on the school calendar - Harvest Festival, Fireworks, Christmas Pantomime  - and don't have to constantly ask people what things mean. (I just saw an email from our mums' group in America that was headed "hanging bag mums" - now can anyone work out what that means?)

Long Island, you were wonderful. But London, much as I hate to admit it sometimes with your grey skies and grime, you are home.


Expat mum said...

Hanging bag moms? Hmmm...that's a new one on me. Maybe it's a euphemism.

Was Living Down Under said...

"Happy to be back?" It's amazing how weighted that question can be. If only it were as straightforward as that!

Anonymous said...


Conuly said...

Hanging bag mums? Sounds like bad writing, and difficult to parse, but if I had to guess I'd say that mums is short for chrysanthemums, and they want people to volunteer to hang the ones that come in decorative little peat moss baskets. Or else they want advice on the best way to do it.

That, or they have all decided to affect a British accent while they go around lynching homeless mothers.

Muddling Along said...

Hanging bag mums? Sure this isn't a damn you autocorrect moment? You will tell us what it means. Please

nappy valley girl said...

Full marks to those who said chrysanthemums.

Here is the full text of the message (I admit I am stil not really sure what they are)

"Hi All,
I am in search of mums that are grown in a plastic bag . there are several layers and it lies flat against the house. I bought these last year out East but may not be able to get out there. Does anyone know where I can get them locally/?"..

Was Living Down Under said...

Given that Americans call Mums - MOMs, I think you're probably right. Chrysanthemums - ones that you get in a hanging basket/planter. I'd never make a good detective.

Iota said...

Of course we immediately think Mums means Mums. Whereas if you call Moms Moms, then you would assume that Mums meant something else, and you wouldn't have a problem

Obvious, really.

You capture the vibrancy and variety of London well. (That's "you capture well...". There isn't a place called London Well. Just to clarify.)

Nota Bene said...

Home is where the heart is...whatever the weather!

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