After our lovely week up in Shropshire and our two days in Paris, once again we trekked Herbie down the English motorway into London for the weekend, before Keith had to head off back to the States. On the Saturday we managed to get in the Science Museum and Natural History Museum as well as a quick visit to Alex and baby Hux. Sunday my mum arrived and Keith left. I then drove Jay and my mum back down to Dorset for a very relaxing week in green pastures. Poor Herbie was about ready to die by the time we got him home. Old VW Bugs are not meant for long distance travelling at high speeds! Still Jay positively loved Herbie and spent every morning asking if we were going in Herbie and every evening making me take him down to the barn after his bath, so that he could say goodnight to Herbie!
The week in Dorset with my mum was lovely. We managed to see my grandparents every day for tea which was super. We also snuck in a day in Bournemouth at the beach which Jay adored. He went from fully clothed to t-shirt and nappy to t-shirt to total nakedness. We ate fish and chips on the beach and then had 99s walking through the town. We came home with sand every where, tight faces and a feeling of blissful well-being at being by the sea. I miss the ocean so much.
On the Saturday Luc drove down to look after Jay and my mum, (who had been in to hospital for an op on the Friday - nothing too serious but enough that coping with a highly energetic two year old was more than she needed; hence my brother...), while I went off to stay with my friend B. Naturally we shopped, did coffee and cocktails, shopped a bit more, watched all the people swanning in and out of the Southampton boat show while deciding which yacht we'd have. Although in the end we decided that really they're simply too much bother and we'd rather have a nice house in Tuscany! That evening we dolled ourselves up and went out for a wonderful supper and then drinks down by the waterfront before enjoying a leisurely stroll around Gunwharf in Southend on Sea. It has most definitely gone up in the world since I used to go there fifteen odd years ago! It's a bit like a glorified Docklands now - uber trendy with smart but overpriced condos overlooking the sea. Natually as B and I are apt to do we talked non-stop eventually collapsing into bed at close to four in the morning. Sunday I headed back to Dorset where after a fabulous Sunday roast (roast lamb and apple and blackberry pie and real custard!) at my grandparents' before Luc drove Jay and I back up to London and we started our last week of our month long trip back in the city I still consider home.
Our week in London went horribly quickly but was really wonderful. I was able to see Sophie and baby Hux every day and we took the boys to the park; St.James's, Hyde Park, Brook Green, Kensington, shopped, (the new Cath Kidston shop is a delight but very dangerous), ate delicious food (aahh M&S, I do love you) and discussed babies and family and work and everything else that helps us put the world to rights. Friday I took Jay up to Hamleys where we spent three hours in little boy heaven! Then for making me suffer through five floors of toys I dragged him to Liberty and TopShop where he was wonderfully angelic and well behaved and let me try on clothes. We then walked from Oxford Circus down towards Marble Arch only I got fed up of all the crowds so we scooted down a sidestreet and ended up walking through Grosvenor Square and past the embassies which I always enjoy. The buildings around there are incredible. We ended up on Park Lane, walked passed all the posh car showrooms and walked down to Hyde Park Corner where I showed Jay the Alfred Dunhill building at 27 Knightsbridge, where I used to work before we walked the entirety of Hyde Park to get to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. We'd been there about five minutes when it started to absolutely pour down. Jay positively refused to leave so, as any good Brit boy would do, armed with his raincoat and new Kickers he continued to play in the pouring rain while I huddled in the shelters with the other parents enjoying my cup of coffee. Eventually I got him back in his pushchair and we trogged off down High Street Ken before I finally decided we (the royal "we" of course) had done far too much walking and we jumped on a shiny red double decker back to Hammersmith.
Our final Saturday Luc and Claire took us to Richmond Park and we hired bikes and rode around the park enjoying the sunshine. Luck was with us as about ten minutes after we returned our bikes the heavens opened and in true English fashion it poured with rain. By this time we were huddled up in the Cricketers pub overlooking Richmond Green enjoying a pint and scampi and chips. Sunday Luc dropped Jay and I off at the airport at the horrifically early hour of 05hrs30 in order for us to catch our 8 o'clock flight back to Chicago. Eight uneventful but long hours later we arrived back in America to beautiful weather and the impressive Chicago skyline.
And now I'm back at work and Jay's back at school and as is always the case, it's almost as if I was never away, except that I have beautiful new clothes and shoes from Europe and a sense or renewed determination to work hard and save my money so that I can move back to Europe. Keith did a tremendous job on the house while we were away and finished the staircase and the kitchen door which now look beautiful in the original oak. He also built me a new wardrobe in our bedroom which makes choosing my clothes every morning a positive delight. Unfortunately I now have all my shoes in the spare room, (yes, all sixty pairs in their boxes) until I decide where they should go. Just call me Imelda...