Loving Living in London!!!
We have been here for nearly 3 weeks now and can I just say we are having the time of our lives! There is something so uniquely different from living in or visiting a city and trying (as we have done up until now) to cram as much into a visit as is humanly possible. We made the decision to stay in this spot for a month because we have visited London several times and loved it every time but always left feeling as though we hadn’t even scratched the surface. After “living” here for 3 weeks, we still feel as though we could spend a year here and not see and appreciate all there is to do. That said, we have certainly given it a good effort and thus far, we have only spent maybe 2 or 3 lay days getting caught up and doing chores.
The FOO FOO stuff:
You would have to live under a rock for the past few weeks to not know about the devastating hurricane to hit the Bahamas. Dorian, a cat 5 hurricane which is now being classified as the longest lasting CAT 5 hurricane, made landfall on Elbow Cay in the Bahamas. This has been a particularly impactful storm for us here in London because as many of you know, Alec and I, up until a year ago, owned a home in Hope Town on Elbow Cay (a 6 mile long island in the Abaco’s). If you read the early postings of the blog, you know that when Jack was born Alec and I decided that we wanted to give him a different and unconventional child hood. While we were deciding what that would look like, we purchased the Plantation Beach House because at the time, we thought living on the island would be the approach we would take to offering him that life. Over the years, the idea morphed into living on our own “island” and traveling the world making all of our worlds bigger. Over the past 9 years we have made friends on Elbow Cay and that island has been the location for many celebrations and special holidays not only for us but for friends and loved ones with whom we have shared this little jewel in the middle of nowhere. We have always felt blessed to have been able to re-charge in this amazing spot.
Below is a before and after photo of the home that we owned. The before shot was taken 3 years ago from the lighthouse and the after picture was taken by Marcie Ferraro (a pharmacist) who was over there doing humanitarian aid with her husband Mike (an ER Doc). We feel so blessed to call them friends.
But the reason why Im writing about this is because it has given me so much to think about this week. Of course, a natural disaster of any kind in any place is heartbreaking to watch. But watching this one I had a sense of – yes, great sadness at the loss of this special place but guiltily I had the sense of a bullet dodged having sold the house just 1 year ago. This got me thinking to other “bullets dodged” in my life and how many times I have had that sensation or the equally jarring sensation of regret having failed to listen to that nagging voice that tries to tell us when it is time to “let go” of something.
In my life I have “moved” through many phases and I have often laughed as I explain that everyone should take their life and shake it up every 10 years and do something totally different. I have moved more times than I can remember, I have changed careers a few times, I have shaken things up and each time, there are “things” that no longer fit. They may be club memberships or houses but they also may be relationships or jobs. Each time I move through a new “phase” it is ALWAYS the result of some inner yearning. Some feeling coming from somewhere I can’t identify that tells me its time to make a move. It is almost NEVER invited. It is never comfortable. Im nearly always (only 1 exception to this) resistant at first to this change but the change persistently nags at me demanding to be heard. When I embark on these “adventures” I nearly always struggle with the things/places/people/ that I leave behind. In some cases, it is clear that it’s time to let go but often it takes discernment of months or years to be sure. Take for example my leaving the Flight Attendant profession to go back to school to become a pilot. This one plagued me for years before I finally relented and pursued the dream. I had 3 near and dear “friends” all flight attendants who literally stopped speaking to me the day I told them I was going back to school to learn how to fly. While working this out with a trained phycologist, I learned a very important lesson that has stayed with me through all of the changes I have made. “Just because you spent a lot of time with someone, it doesn’t make them a friend”. This has been a wonderful litmus for me over the years. Learning the difference between a friend and an acquaintance and being willing to tell myself the truth about it without judgement or remorse.
But back to the Bahamas. When Alec and I decided to leave our careers and embark on this journey – the destination of which is still undetermined, I really struggled with the loss of a career that I loved so dearly but was costing me more than I was willing to admit. We also struggled over the Beach House which we loved dearly and didn’t want to give up. We decided to spend some time together and individually “trying on” the various scenarios to see what “felt” right for both of us and at the same time also to decide whether or not to sell our home in Florida. We both reached the same conclusion. Though we hated to give it up, it was time to sell the Bahamas house. We also both felt that the time was not right to sell the Florida house. Even though we hated to do it, we listed the Plantation Beach house for sale and sold it a year ago. Whenever a decision is made, there are other roads not taken. I think there is always a bit of nostalgia over the road not taken, but such is life right? Every decision comes at the expense of another one. Right now I feel gratitude that we sold when the time was right to sell. Recognizing when it is time to do something – to make a move, to change jobs, to leave a relationship – thats the key right? But taking that next step is what determines the life you are going to lead. I have always believed in that tiny voice that tells me its time to do something. I now believe that the voice is the God inside of me directing me and because I have spent years believing it and enjoying the results of those decisions I don’t even think twice anymore. I used to call that voice The Universe but the voice was always the same. Call it anything you want but ignore it at your own peril!!! Ok enough about the foo foo ….. and back to beautiful LONDON!!!
London the Travel
Since we arrived the weather has been incredible! Cool and sunny and gorgeous and perfect for doing all of the sightseeing we have done. Everyone knows about the iconic Palaces, the Beautiful Parks (did you know that 40% of London is GREEN SPACE) but the MUSEUMS are really incredible. If you came here just to see the museums you wouldn’t be disappointed. To start with, they are all free. Imagine that. Free! What a novel idea right? All of these magnificent works of art should be enjoyed by everyone regardless of ones ability to pay. Yes, yes I know someone has to pay for the upkeep and the salaries and the buildings and the electricity yes yes I know but thank God, people who can pay are paying. There are donation sites with lots of nice bills in there and there are also big donors who are contributing – besides the pennies collected on admission aren’t really paying the bills anyway so why not open the doors and let art reach the masses? Who knows? The right piece of art or history may just direct the next beautiful mind in the direction they need to go. I broke into tears looking at a stunning Renoir. Interesting fact here, not at all the piece of art that I liked the most but one that for whatever reason stirred in me such emotion it needed to find an outlet. And with free admission, we can return again and again. The only museum we have returned to twice in one week is the Science museum. The WUNDERLAB is a MUST Do for anyone with children. We spent 4 hours here and needed to spend 8. We watched very enthusiastic “Explainers” conduct experiments on everything from chemistry to friction. We watched a Rocket demonstration in which the Explainer, over the course of a short 20 minute experiment demonstrated to us the properties of Hydrogen and 3 of Newtons laws of Physics in a way that a 9 year old could totally grasp and will be able to discuss in 20 years. It was magnificent! The Wunderlab is a “not free” section of the Science museum but I think it cost us about L25.00 and was the best money spent this week! Here are a couple of shots of this trip:
The National Gallery was the most memorable for Jack and me in that there were original pieces of art from Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Degas, and so many others. Jack has begun expressing an interest in the Baroque style so we will spend some time exploring that in the months ahead. We walked into the first gallery and I asked Jack to choose a favorite painting. He slowly looked around, zeroed in on one to the left (a large master work) and said (from a distance of at least 10 yards) Oh Mom look, its Perseus slaying Medusa! From the mouths of babes! I looked closer and closer and closer still and thought hmmm yah could be… then I read the small print up close. This is the painting he saw: Luca Giordano (18 October 1634 – 3 January 1705)
The week of September 2nd was my birthday and 2 dear friends visited from home. We saved up so many things to do while there were here and below is a partial list of the ground we covered.
No trip to London is complete without a RedBus open air bus trip to get a feel for the city. And we spent a day with the Beefeaters at the Tower of London – easy since we are docked at St. Katharines Dock, a stones throw away! Below a picture of SKD with the classics in port
and of course, the London Eye. My birthday dinner was lovingly prepared by Jenn and Tracy and we had a delightful dinner aboard (my favorite way to celebrate). Afternoon Tea at the Dorchester and an evening out to see the Broadway Sensation Hamilton capped off a magnificent week with friends in this amazing city. And no, the irony wasn’t lost on us enjoying an iconic play about the American Revolution here in London. Hamilton was absolutely amazing! A simply unforgettable evening. If you have the opportunity to see it anywhere don’t miss it!
While the ladies were enjoying the night at the Theatre, Jack and Alec went to see the Belfast and a bonus trip to the Lego shop. Guess which day was the highlight for young Master Jack?
We said so long to our dear friends and then made final use of our London Pass by taking a water taxi to the home of Greenwich Mean Time. Below is Jack straddling the Eastern and Western Hemispheres simultaneously.
To say that traveling with an open mind is essential would be a gross understatement. We are daily reminded of why this attitude is so important. True to our mission of going with the flow we found ourselves at the entrance to the Naval college. We thought – why not and went in. Below are photos of The Painted Hall – referred to as the UK equivalent of the Sistine Chapel. Jack with his new found appreciate for Baroque art loved it – in fact, as much as we were all looking forward to the Greenwich Observatory, the Naval College really did outshine it for us. Everything from the ceiling to the walls – even the columns are painted. We listened to the audio guide; all of us laying on the benches provided for this purpose, and listened intently as the entire ceiling was explained to us. Without question, “the more you know about something, the more you can appreciate” it applies here. We all left in awe and wonder at the work that was left behind by this 18th century artist, Sir James Thornhill after 19 years creating this mater-work for which he was “knighted”.
The perfect juxtaposition to all of the museums and formality of the UK we have been enjoying was a day spent at Camden Lock. This place was incredible! It was described as the “punker” and “hipster” scene from the 80’s until today and what we found was so eclectic I can’t do it justice with words. I did take a few photos though and I think you will get the picture. Something that you can’t truly appreciate by photos is the food, however. There is truck after stall of every food imaginable – insane! And so delicious we were feeling good about our decision to skip the food festival taking place at the Tower of London. We took a look, considered the L60.00 admission (not including food) and decided that we could probably find something in Camden. Wow- yes we did!
And finally Jack got his day at the theatre with the Lion King. Running for 20 years at the Lyceum theatre, it plays every day to a full sold out house and it is clear why. The talent on stage was really fabulous and together with the orchestra it made for a most memorable day.
For the boating maintenance readers Alec has figured out the reason for the lost water pressure. We were pretty certain it was a bad accumulator but nope, just a simple filter change fixed the problem. Of course, the problem occurred while we had guests on board but as problems go, this wasn’t a big one. And the throttle issue is ongoing and still being trouble shot – no news on that front. Our move from one part of the marina to the next brought a new issue with wifi – hoping to get that sorted before we have new guests next week (or Jack moves out – he is missing Netflix). Still trying to decide which stops to make on our way to Portugal. We had neighbors give us some suggestions but open to reader input here. If there is a good boating location in Atlantic France or Spain we must stop – we would love to hear from you!