Boy, I’ve used this space to complain a lot, haven’t I?
It’s not all bad.
In fact, some aspects of this have been quite terrific, as we’d hoped this adventure would be.
THE AREA IS ADORABLE
Matt’s studio, and therefore, our home base, is located in Bromley, an outer burrough of London. It is wicked cute, with all the British touches you imagine: roundabouts, peaky white houses with dark wood trim, and pubs plunked into the middle of residential neighborhoods.
THE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN REALLY NICE
We’re not making friends yet, but by and large, everyone has been kind and helpful, even when we’re doing dumb stuff like the ignorant imports we are, or when Dexter is having A Moment and we’re being a nuisance to public peace. A woman at the park the other day struck up a little conversation with me and I succumbed to a shyness attack and didn’t keep the chat going, and I’ve regretted it ever since, but it gives me hope that other doors will open.
The reputation of British people is that they are very sweet and polite on a surface level, but it’s hard to create real friendships. However, Matt could make friends with a speedbump, so I guess we’ll just see how it goes.
Speaking of Matt, when I asked him what he’s liked so far, he said our day in Brighton Beach, the people and “our rental car.” It’s okay – an Audi A4 hatchback – but he’s weird about cars and LOVES renting them, because it’s like an extended test drive where he can really settle in and experience the model. Told you. Weird.
THE SHOPS HAVE BEEN FAR, FAR BETTER THAN EXPECTED
When we’d tell people we’re moving, almost everyone was like, WOO EXPENSIVE. And yes, some things cost more, but on average, it’s about the same as the U.S. Not only that, but the grocery-type stores are pretty fantastic, with much more focus on both healthy foods and gourmet items. A surprisingly large number of things have been straight-up cheaper, even when you take the exchange into account.
THE WEATHER IS INCREDIBLE
I know it won’t last, but since we’ve been here, it’s been mid-70s and mostly sunny, with a nice breeze. The occasional overcast day or cool night takes the edge off. Whenever we chat with someone and say we’re moving from Florida, they always say, “You brought the weather with you!”
I’ll happily take credit for that because it’s been sublime.
AS FAR AS HOTEL PRISONS GO, OURS IS PRETTY POSH
We’re staying at the Bromley Court Hotel, and I have a whole photo tour I’m going to post, but despite my complaints about being stuck here, it’s a pretty great place to be stuck.
Although the hotel room feels tiny at times, it’s palatial by English standards. We’re very lucky there. The shower pressure is top notch, they have a highly-skilled chef with the awards to prove it, the gardens are beautiful and the people-watching has been excellent. Our fellow hotel guests have included other kids for Dexter to play with, loads of intriguing wedding guests and a cricket team. Did you know cricket rosters can be stacked with hotties? Because this one was.
Speaking of weddings, this place is known for them. We’ve witnessed incredibly complicated balloon structures, all manner of old-timey cars and drivers and a horse-drawn carriage. It’s also fascinating to me, to see what people in different cultures wear when they dress up. I see more hats in my future.
One of the weddings from this past weekend left paper confetti hearts scattered all over the garden lawn. During our morning post-breakfast pre-nap time outside, Dexter and I play a game where we place the hearts on each others’ hands and either wait for the wind to carry them off or blow them into the air, which delights him every time.
It’s pretty magical.