February 4, 2013

Some lounge while others toil

Some lounge while others toil

oh ya , we have snow

oh ya , we have snow



December 7, 2012

The kick-off to do one cultural activity per week officially began today at the Valentino Master of Couture exhibition at Somerset House. The exhibit is perfection. Human scale in a stunning 18th century public building that began its life as a Tudor palace. Like all of England’s royal history the buildings past is fraught with horror and peril, but has been resurrected as a cultural jewel in the city of culture. Glorious after glorious gown on display mannequins staged as a runway. Calligraphed name cards on front row seats prominently state Valentino’s famous clientele.

Okay, it depends on what your definition of culture is whether or not this exhibit qualifies. In the words of Valentino “I like spectacular things of beauty but really I have simple taste.”

I have been living in England for five months. Five months is a concise amount of time from which to assess one’s environment if one is awake – which I am on most days. We left our American hamlet in July to re-locate to London, three school age children in tow off for an adventure. And it is.

London is truly one of the great cities on the globe. Welcoming to all cultures, sharp, posh and the most literary city I have been where I can speak the language. I mention that caveat because Barcelona and Madrid appear to be well steeped from a literary viewpoint but, alas, I cannot read Man of La Mancha in the native tongue. Paris also feels literary, bookshops on many streets, people holding and reading books in cafes, metros. The front of Parisian bookshops are filled with serious books that would be in the back heap collecting dust in US book stores – that is if you can find one. But I digress.

This blog is about living in London.

Every story ever heard about living in a different country rings true.
It is:

Utterly Fascinating:

The day is heightened with a learning curve a mile high – if you want it to be. Journeying outside the door requires Google maps, trains, cars, buses and numerous questions of generally helpful strangers.

Sensorial Beauty:

London and England are stunning. Architecture and physical beauty delights the eye. Twenty minutes outside of Central London bucolic sheep graze on the hillside. What the English think of as “far” we Americans think of as “nearby”. As I have been told many times since arrival, “We are a tiny little country” and as a result, nothing is particularly far away.

London is a city of Culture:

The school run begins with classical music and ends with classical music. Several good classical stations play on the radio and no one complains when I turn them on. The children sit back and relax. What really amazes me is how the classical stations refer to the “school run”. Picture hundreds, maybe thousands of children across England taking in beautiful, soul filling music everyday.

The arts are supported by the government in a big way and are offered as respite for all. Museums are free and the performing arts are bolstered by people with deep pockets, happily and as a matter of course.

A Literary City:

Not just in the Dickens, Bronte historical way. People read here. On the train, tube or bus at least 70% of the passengers are viewing the written word. And not eating. Notice any contrasts here? The British school system focuses on reading well. Aside from US cable – which is less popular here than one might expect – there is an absence of endless children’s programing. The little ones are encouraged to pick up a book as a way to amuse themselves and for many it sticks.

Peace and Calm:

The English are organised. They que up for lines and everything requires an appointment or reservation. Visiting Santa, ice skating outside of various palaces, bowling – you better make a rezie or it will be a cheerful “I’m sorry. We are fully booked. Better luck next time.”

This culture of order transcends into a general sense of calm. It’s like generational knowledge – great when you have it, follow it and know that it’s good.

Oh, and treat yourself to a little online entertainment, www.valentinogaravanimuseum.com.

The man is a genius.

August 13, 2010

This time of year is somewhat goofy. Trying to step around the hot, hot , dog days of summer while enjoying the time before school starts and managing all the children being home. Not an easy task. My children have all decided this would be a good time to get a puppy. I have put this idea off for a year and a half. We had a much loved dog for 17 years. But losing her was very painful and then not having a dog to care for became really easy. No walking the dog, no feeding the dog, grooming the dog, running to the vet. You get my drift.  Just now, as in this summer,  I have an actual itch to have a dog again. Not necessarily another Bichon, maybe try another breed. Back to school and back to dog walking. HHmmmm.

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