Went over to dear old Blighty for a week. We underestimated the impact of arriving in our first english speaking country in almost 11 months. It was great to speak with anyone and everyone...I chatted up strangers and was able to read signs and we just felt very relaxed and easy, not having to worry about struggling through purchases, able to ask directions, played with kids in the park, and to speak at a fast pace...it felt like a weight off of our shoulders. Mayzie would look at us numerous times, in astonishmenet, with her eyes big ..."Nick, Nick...they are speaking English!" "Yeah, I know Mayzie...you can say whatever you want over here, and they will know what you are talking about!" What a novelty. When we lived here, I remember being a little shy about my american accent, but now, it doesnt matter...you speak my langauge!
Another shock were the prices...the pound to the euro is almost at 1 to 1, so things were a bargain. I didnt think I would ever say that London was cheap, but it was for us on this trip...we had lunches, dinners, had beers, and bought stuff, without even breaking the bank, which wouldnt happen in the past. Its good to be on the euro right now.
We spent 3 days in London and 4 days in the Midlands, where we attended a wedding of our old friend Mike Tomlinson, whom our family have known since I was like 7 years old...we met the Tomlinsons in Singapore back in the day and have stayed in touch all these years, visiting eachother many times....the Tomlinsons are our second family at this point. Our days in London were great..we stayed with our friend Megan (Jenna nursed with her in London) and her 2 kids Ollie (5.5 years old) and Sebastian (1.5). Mayzie and Ollie got along marvelously...it was really great seeing Mayzie talk to another kid with confidence, singing together, sharing, and conversing, all in a language Mayzie can understand. We went to the park, watched some british cartoons, went into London on the double decker busses, on the tube, and to the Tate Modern, one of our favorite museums. We all felt very comfortable in London, and hardly needed the map...guess my London skills havent deteriorated too much. The city is alive and fun, and overly crowded and congested...but very vibrant. Megan cooked us some fabulous meals, and we really just hung out with the kids. I think they will remember eachother for a long time. Thank you Megan, for your wonderful hospitality..she even let us go out after the kids went to bed. We headed for one of our all time favorite pubs, the Jeruselem Tavern....a classic old, weathered, wooden London pub. Also, spent an evening with my old friend Trevor Earis, and his family...great to see them as always.
Train up to Birmingham...it was non stop socializing. As soon as we arrived, we had lunch with Pauline and Rogers friends and family, whom we have not seen in 5 years. It was good to catch up with everyone. The wedding was held in a church in Cheltenham, 45 mins south of Solihull, where the Tomlinsons live. A very british church wedding..traditional and very well organized. The reception was in an old pub called the Green Dragon. This place was beautiful..up in the Cotswalds, greenery all around, and with the changing colors of the trees, made for a fantastic setting. Had some real ales, some good food and socialized. There was only one other kid there, a 9 year old, who graciously played with Mayzie for many hours, thankfully, so mommy and daddy can get their drink on. Good times.
It was an exhausting trip, and again, one in which we are grateful to Mayzie for letting us drag her around...planes, trains, automobiles, pubs, meals, weddings...all adult things, but she managed very well. In a mad rush at Euston station, trying to get to the tube, she actually fell down some stairs...people all around, crying her head off...poor baby. We push her pretty hard.
In hindsight, maybe We should have moved to England...things would have been alot easier for us. But we wouldnt have known this, of course, unless we moved to Germany. I wouldnt be surprised if we end up there again in the future. We truly love british people (especially the Tomlinsons!), their humor, their music, the scenery, and of course the pubs. There were some things that surprised us, though, in comparison to Germany. The most for me, was how difficult it is for bikes in the UK...there really are very sad attempts at bike lanes and infrastructure is non existant. There seems to be alot more people there, and things are crowded all over. Mayzies kindergarten in Hamburg would blow parents away over in England...that is one thing the Germans have done very very well. So, it is not perfect, but would have been drastically less stressful for us.
England will always be there (until 2012 at least haha).