Girls Week in London

You may have noticed in May if you follow me on Instagram that I had a seemingly sudden trip of a lifetime to visit my dear friend who lives in London, England. I wanted to record a few more details of the whole experience for my own failing memory (#momory) and also for any curious blog stalkers who may be curious why and what was going down.

One of my dearest lifelong friends, the Maid of Honour at my wedding, Mary, moved to Europe a number of years ago. Since her family lives in my hometown she was always coming back occasionally to visit me (and them, I suppose) but in the past 6 or so years, we never had more than a few hours together each year for a lunch or tea, or her wedding.

Mary and her husband and their beautiful daughter live in central London now, and since we both turned 30 this year we had talked more than a year ago about arranging a trip for me to come visit her. The plans fizzled out when she and then I got pregnant, but then suddenly were re-kindled when her husband so kindly and generously asked me to come spend a week that he had to travel for business and he wanted someone to come keep her company. My own wonderful husband stepped up to the plate of taking care of our 3 for a full week, with lots of help from my Mom and Dad, so plans were finalized and I had a few weeks to prepare, get a new passport, worry and wonder if the kids and I could make it apart from each other for so long, and then finally head over the ocean.

Taking the kids to the park before we headed to the airport

The goal of our time together was for me to help Mary take it easy and maybe even make her life a tiny bit easier by being around to help with her 4 month old. But we snuck in a little bit of walking the city and seeing some sites from afar and filled the rest of the time with the most wonderful food and conversation.

In front of Buckingham Palace

It just so happened, and I only found out about the coincidence after my tickets were booked, that my older sister Katelyn had an overnight layover in London while I was going to be there. She was on her way home to Atlanta from the Holy Land. It turned out to be another incredible gift of the trip to get to spend a few uninterrupted hours in conversation with her catching up and hearing all about her pilgrimage.

I tried to keep a little journal note of the places we saw each day, and I will share that along with some pictures of the highlights  (Sorry it’s LONG!) But I also wanted to share some of the other reflections that having actually some time to think and reflect gifted me with.

I was really blown away by how needed and enjoyable it was to have time to think. I guess I hadn’t noticed just how thinly I have been stretched the past few months, but it was so wonderful to get time to organize my thoughts and think about bigger and better things than the immediate and urgent, and it inspired some of the longer lasting efforts I’ve maintained to keep up with things (such as youtube lectures) that keep my mind active since the trip.

I also was so happy to get to focus on my friendships and benefit from the incredible gift of wonderful friends. Truly, friendship is such a gift and should be fostered even when it entails sacrifice. It was hard in some ways to leave the kids and trust that they could survive without me (spoiler alert – they did fine, as did I) but it was very worth it!

Riding the Tube

Day 1

Mary suggested I take NoJetLag to help with the flight, and along with frequent walk/stretch breaks, lots of water drinking, and trying to sleep instead of WATCH ALL THE MOVIES, the flight went really well and I didn’t have any tough jet lag when I got there. Or maybe I just had no sleep routine/habits to get out of so I didn’t notice much difference.

Mary met me at the Gatwick airport and we tried to find the best train route to the city – Whew!! there are a lot of trains and options! I was so grateful to have her there to help me figure it out. There were some train delays but we eventually got to London Bridge Station and walked around their old flat, near the Tate museum, had amazing sandwich and tea in a sweet little cafe and talked constantly as we walked through Borough Market (traders have been trading here 1000 years) and got flowers, coffee and bread, passed the Globe Theater. Walked toward the Shard building, stopped to nurse baby, took the metro to their stop walked through gorgeous park to her flat for bath and dinner and endless chatting and catching up of all the things.

I was so amazed by the old and new architecture meshed together, the little gardens and very Un-grid-ed streets of flats and row homes. Kids walking home from school along the canal streets and riding their scooters in their uniforms, the beautiful park, the small space living, watching Mary be a mom to her sweet little girl. Amazing buckwheat crepe with emmental cheese and ham and fried egg. {These really are the best and I will share the recipe in a separate post because, the kids still eat them and we love them and they are gluten free (if that’s a concern for you) and so good.}

Day 2

We took the tube to Buckingham Palace, walked through Green Park, walked to Fortum & Mason (the Queen’s Grocer!) luxury goods, hats and scarves and their fancy nursing room, Gotta trust Mary to know all the posh places to stop and nurse a baby! Then we walked to Liberty to explore and see the Loewe collection and Carnaby shopping area. Had chicken pot pie (on my food London Bucket List!) at Le Pain Quotidien. I really wanted to see Selfridges (after watching ALL the shows and documentaries on them) so we walked through and but mostly check out the Selfridges food court (tried Tsuki Mochi– YUM!) and ambled through Oxford Circus, the Mayfair shopping district and then headed back to the tube and home during rush hour. Skyped the kids, Mary made a delicious supper, (again, I prove just how helpful I am) Then movie night; Bridget Jones Diary obvs.

Selfridges

Day 3 Thursday

Sleep in til 1! 1 pm! SERIOUSLY!!! So much for me being helpful with Mary and the baby. We leave at 2 to walk through the City Farm and get to the dock for a water taxi along the Thames past all the sights visible from the river. Tower bridge, London Bridge, Tower of London, the Eye, the Houses of Parliament. Walk up past Westminster Abbey, stop in at a department store (House of Fraser) and find the pink and blue tea room and have tea and scones there before heading to the Westminster Cathedral for a beautiful Holy Mass sung by their famous boys choir. Explore the cathedral, walk across the river and down past Mary’s old flat to meet our friend for dinner at a cute Italian restaurant. Take the bus home late. Skype kids and Brian and stay up too late.


Day 4 Friday

Woke up 9:30. Read, visited, headed out at 12 to walk through Mary’s area and meet her friend (and my friend now!) Marie at a cafe. Amazed at the beautiful old gorgeous winding lanes, canals, parks. Had croissants in the park beside the cafe and visited with Marie and her 3 kids for a long time, walk more through the Rotherhithe area, saw site of the launch of the Mayflower, Brunel Tunnel site, king Edward manor ruins, townhomes Mary’s wants to move into, and beautiful parks. Ended at Marie’s and have tea of course, then walked more to a great restaurant for fish and chips and then home, house and hours of GREAT discussion and conversation, and staying up in extroverts delight til 3am.

This little cafe just blew my mind!

Saturday

Headed to the National Gallery walking through Trafalgar Square, also saw Bob again and met Coco the Parrot, we walked through Convent Garden marketplace, and then Bob and I headed to Heathrow so I could meet Katie and brought her to Mary’s for the night, very good conversation, hearing about her trip to the Holy Land and catching up for the first time in probably 5 years without being distracted by babies.

Van Gogh

Sunday

Wake and leave early for Mass at the Farm Street Church (Jesuit parish, Immaculate Conception) BEAUTIFUL Latin sung Holy Mass. Get lunch at Pret, walk Katie though Fortnum&Mason to see the glamorous shower caps that millionaires must wear and saw glimpses of sunshine in Green Park, Londoners coming out like ants for the first Sunny day of the whole week. Took Katie to the train station. Katie went to the the airport for her flight home and Mary and I headed toward home and enjoyed walking in the sun along the canals and got tea at The Pear Tree Cafe and talked talked talked.  Mary made her wonderful buckwheat crepes again and Marcos arrived home from his trip and had the sweetest reunion with his baby again, I think around now I start to miss my babies. I give them some alone time and finish watching the Rubin and Jordan Peterson Interview and talked to Brian.

Monday

Marcos accompanied me on the trains to Gatwick and we had a wonderful discussion, got to know him much better and looking forward to the visit to Canada that they will have this summer in August.

Side note – in browsing the fancy shops I found the perfect perfume if I ever win the lottery. Jo Malone Rare Tea  Darjeeling

All in all it was such a great trip and I am so thankful to Mary and Marcos and Brian and my mom and dad and everyone else who made it possible, and if I have it my way at all, this won’t be the “trip of a lifetime” but just the first of many!

Advertisements

About Amy

Wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, Godmother, all those good things any many more. Crafter, extrovert, life-long-learner just for the fun of it, when my 4 little (and not so little) babies give me the chance for anything beyond keeping them fed and clean and our lives relatively calm and peaceful.
This entry was posted in Look Back and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Girls Week in London

  1. DGGYST says:

    Sounds like quite the trip!

    Like

I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s