We arrived in London last week and it’s freezing! Well, it’s the 50s so not technically freezing but still! Quite a change from Majorca. I can’t believe it has been 11 years since we came to London for Rafe’s 30th birthday and 16 years (!!) since I studied abroad here. Just days before 9-11, I arrived in London as a wide-eyed 20-year-old. This city has always held a special place in my heart so it’s nice to revisit it. That, and we’ve officially maxed out all our time in the EU.
Each day, we’re making an effort to check out different neighborhoods. When I lived here oh-so-long ago, I didn’t venture out much from the central part of the city so it has been interesting to see other areas.
We’re staying in Hackney (think Brooklyn) on a road that used to bear the cute nickname of “murder lane.” But that was in the 90s. It’s still a little rough around the edges but way cheaper than staying somewhere more central and it still has everything people like us enjoy: a wood-fired-oven pizza joint, multiple beer gardens, a coffee shop/record store, a coffee shop/bike shop, and a yoga studio housed in a refurbished train depot. Hipster neighborhoods are kinda the same the world over, aren’t they?
The first day we went to Marks & Spencer, a seriously wonderful grocery store I’d been missing. Then off to the local playground where Theo was excited to play with kids his age. He kept informing us, “the kids speak English here! But a different kind of English!” Then off to the local pub for a proper pint and fish and chips. (Great travel tip about London: many pubs are child-friendly!)
Since then, we’ve adjusted to the weather and the sad lack of sunlight. It has been getting dark by 4ish. While London is a magical city for wandering when the sun is shining, that’s a rare occurrence this time of year (or anytime, let’s be honest.) Thankfully, there’s a lot going on here to keep us busy. Just in the last few days, we’ve taken Theo to the V & A Museum of Childhood (featuring toys from all the way back to the 1600s), the Discover Children’s Story Centre, and the Natural History Museum. Oh, and a stop at the Disney Store for a Halloween costume. (It was the only place I could think of to procure an Iron Man costume, his little heart’s greatest desire.)
For Halloween itself, we found out that there aren’t a lot of neighborhoods were trick-or-treating happens but one of the few main ones is St John’s Wood, a fancy neighborhood where a lot of wealthy American ex-pats live. We wanted to go early since we knew it would get crowded later on, but Theo fell asleep on the underground ride there and rousing him awake was challenging. When he eventually woke up, the streets were as crowded as could be with roaming packs of candy-hungry children. He got into the swing of it quickly though and even went up to houses all by himself by the end of the night. All in all, a fun evening was had, even if the candy was unfamiliar (unwrapped violet flavored candies, anyone??)