Last night we ordered room service, got suckered into watching Britain’s Got Talent and saw Susan Boyle come in 2nd to the most ridiculous dance troupe I think I’ve ever seen (Britain has talent, they just don’t know they do, I guess), packed our suitcases and got the kids to bed at a reasonable time so we could be checked-out by 9am to catch the train at 10am. We were in the taxi and on our way a few minutes early so we made it to Paddington Station in plenty of time to wait for our train.
After 4 years, we finally visited the Fuller’s Brewery. When we visited London in 2005 our taxi from Heathrow went right by it but because of the terrorist bombings that day, the brewery was closed to the public all week. So we left London without visiting. But today we finally made the trek out to Chiswick. I’ve been to a lot of breweries in the US, but the oldest, I think, dates back to the early 1980s. This brewery has been here for over 350 years (it became Fuller’s in 1845).
We went to Harrod’s so Gay could see it (I had been there years ago) and to get lunch stuff at their several rooms of gourmet delis. We walked to Hyde Park and ate lunch near the Albert Memorial before hiking across the park into Kensington Gardens to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground (no, not Paris or Monte Carlo, ha ha ha).
After my run in the gym and the kids’ mid-day naps, I was assigned the job of babysitting so Gay and Eric could go to the Tate Modern museum for the afternoon. I spent the afternoon helping Hudson practice his crawling (he can go anywhere he wants to…. backwards) and entertaining Havana between shows on CBeebies. Before Gay and Eric got here, Havana and I watched Kung Fu Panda.
Gay took the kids and went to Clerkenwell with Eric for the afternoon. I stayed at home and did some work for the first time on the trip, which is my form of relaxation. They walked around, took the kids to a playground and then went to dinner at another gastropub, The Peasant.
Incidentally, it’s pronounced “Clarkenwell” in the Queen’s English. Nobody knows what you’re talking about when you say it like it’s spelled. Speaking of pronunciations, “Grosvenor” is pronounced “Grove-ner”, “Leicester” is pronounced “Ly-ster”, “Gloucester” is similarly pronounced “Gly-ster” and “Hertford” is pronounced “Hartford” (they really hate Es, I guess) — even Mark, an American, didn’t understand us when we said “Hertford”. They must not tell UK kids to “sound it out” when learning to read.
Of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants, Murano was the only one where we could get a reservation on short notice. We knew we were coming here months ago so we really should have made reservations at his flagship restaurant (which requires a 2-month reservation) months ago. But we didn’t.
Hudson’s 9 months old today. He’s starting to learn to crawl and can push himself backwards easily but not forwards. In the last few days he’s started to work on getting up on his knees but hasn’t yet figured out that he should move his knees and hands forward. He can take a few steps if you hold his hands in the air and he can stand by himself against furniture for a few minutes until he falls. He’s continuing to develop his lungs and can be very loud when he wants to be. He has successfully put food into his mouth, but still prefers that someone else do it for him. He can sit up on his own very well at this point but will often fall over, much to his surprise. Minutes after this photo was taken, he did a face-plant right into the street.
We invited Mark, Lee and Eric over for dinner at our apartment. Gay made a roasted lamb with potatoes and asparagus, Lee made a mint sauce and Mark made drinks with Pimm’s. They gave Havana a book, which was very thoughtful, and Lee read it to her at the end of the evening. Mark then read one of her other new books to her as well.
After a week in London, I’ve found two notable things about beers here. One is good: low-alcohol beers. The other is less good: taste.
First, on taste, I’m disappointed in the beers here. Many years ago, if you wanted good beer you looked for a beer from Germany or England for the finest beers. That was when Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors ruled the beer world in the US. If you wanted a lager, you found a German beer. If you wanted ale, the UK made the best. Not anymore. America’s craft beer industry has done an amazing thing for the reputation of American beer.
We planned to head out to Hampton Court for a food festival going on this weekend with Mark, Lee, Eric, Lee’s sister and her family. But after the kids’ afternoon nap and getting them ready and to the train station, we wouldn’t have made out there until 4pm or so. So instead, we walked up to a very crowded Regent Street to Hamley’s Toy Store, the FAO Schwarz of London. Havana is still too young to understand what a toy store is, she seemed to think it’s just a big playroom. She immediately spied the train sets — Thomas & Friends train sets. I don’t think she recognized Thomas (a children’s show narrated by George Carlin, Alec Baldwin and others), she just seems to love all trains.