On Thursday evening I headed into the City with my camera and tripod for a photography tour of some of London’s architecture at night. I figured this may be my last chance to do something like this for a while!
The tour was only two hours, so it could only cover so much ground, and it focused more on some of the newer buildings, like the ones known as “the Gherkin,” “the Cheese Grater,” “the Walkie-Talkie,” “the Shard,” and the Lloyd’s Building. There’s another one going up right there called “the Scalpel.” Londoners tend to have strong opinions about the look of these modern skyscrapers, but love or hate, they are certainly iconic-looking. We also finished down by the Tower of London for a nice view of the Thames and Tower Bridge. I’d love to do some more nighttime photography of some of the older buildings, like St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben), but that will have to wait for another time.
The Gherkin, when I first arrived
The Gherkin about 20-30 minutes later
The Cheese Grater
The Lloyd’s Building
Doing some long exposure street scenes as cars and bikes go by
One of my favourites from the night. A bus was stopped across the street and another bus went past it
You can see a bicycle heading up the bike lane, its light is moving slower than the car lights
Beautiful stained glass
Standing right next to the Walkie-Talkie building (right side)
Step 1: Get locked out of your house while taking the rubbish out. Barefoot. Sans phone. Visibly pregnant.
Step 2: Stand there looking bewildered until a nice housepainter/some-type-of-home-repairman having a smoke across the street calls out to see if you’re all right.
Step 3: Take him up on his kind offer to climb over a neighbour’s fence for you, because fortunately you’ve at least left the door to the back garden open.
Step 4: Start knocking on neighbours’ doors, to see if anyone with an adjoining fence is home. Of course, neither next-door neighbour is home.
Step 5: Extend the search. Find a kindly old man who will let you borrow his flip-flops so you’re not wandering the streets of London barefoot. Feign being impressed when he tells you the origin of the flip-flops is Australia. Try not to be grossed out by wearing old man’s flip-flops from down under.
Step 6: Take the parade of pregnant woman in distress, housepainter bloke, and old man around the block and start knocking on doors of houses that might back up to your garden. Traipse through anyone’s kitchen who will let you to see if their garden does, in fact, have a connecting fence.
Step 7: Repeat Step 6 until you find a back fence that does actually adjoin to your garden.
Step 8: Ask somewhat irritated homeowner to borrow a ladder. Watch a stranger climb into your back garden and pray to the Lord that the dog doesn’t bite him.
Step 9: Walk back around the block and you’re in!!
Step 10: Ask the dog what good she is if she’s not going to attack a strange man that climbs over the fence and comes in the house.
Step 11: Realise your new neighbourhood reputation is that poor pregnant American woman who does stupid things and begs strangers to help her.
Step 12: Bake everyone cookies and banana bread. Because darn it, you’re a good neighbour.
When we saw there was an Apple Day Celebration at Fulham Palace happening today, we jumped at the chance to do something that falls in the Fun Fall Activities category. An apple festival! At a palace! We’re in!
After getting off to a rocky start thanks to road works causing terrible traffic, resulting in our bus trip taking twice as long as it should have, we made it to Bishops Park and Fulham Palace.
There was a farmers’ market set up in the park outside the palace, so we stopped there first for some lunch. (If there’s anything we love doing on a weekend, it’s going to markets and festivals.)
Fulham Palace dates back to the year 700, and it’s served as a bishop’s residence for 12 centuries. It was mainly used as a summer home until the 20th century, when it became the principal home of the Bishop of London.
We found the apple festival set up inside the Walled Garden, and enjoyed some live music, lawn games, and some tastes of the apple cake baking contest entries.
There were actually fewer apples for sale there than you’d expect, but I found one box of Fuji apples, the only Fuji apples I have been able to find in this country, and they were crisp and delicious, as apples should be. (If you CAN grow them here, why don’t more farmers grow them??)
After consuming three apples, a slice of apple cake, and a can of sparkling apple juice, I think that will keep the doctor away for today.
On the way home (faster by train), we got caught in a brief downpour, so we ducked into Waitrose (grocery store) to wait it out. And lo and behold, they finally have pumpkins for sale! And they are shockingly inexpensive! This beauty was just £3! We just had to carry it home, uphill, somehow…
What I’ve found myself really missing lately is the way America does fall. Here, they acknowledge the season of autumn, but oh-so-subtly. Americans LOVE fall. The day after Labor Day, the pumpkins and Halloween decorations come out at the stores.
My Instagram feed blows up with pictures of hiking through colorful leaves, trips to the pumpkin patch, hayrides, apple picking, pumpkin spice lattes… and I miss it all. I’ve got my fall decorations up around the house, but I have yet to see a single gourd on a porch or Halloween decoration in a window.
I’ve asked lots of the local mums about if and how they celebrate Halloween, and it seems like people DO celebrate it in this area and there is some trick-or-treating on our street, but it’s just not nearly as big as in the States. I’ve also heard (and I’m not sure how true this is) that when kids do dress up in costumes, it’s usually your classic Halloween characters: witches, pumpkins, ghosts, etc. E really wants to be Dory, so she may be the only fish in the sea.
Another child was over at our house last week and saw E’s new Halloween plate (a big thank you to my MIL for sending us a little piece of the Target seasonal section!), and asked if it was Halloween. Her mum said no, it’s way too early. Too early? ALL OF OCTOBER IS HALLOWEEN MONTH, THAT’S JUST A FACT, ASK A SCIENTIST.
I broke out my Ugg boots this week, as it’s finally chilly enough for them, and at eight months pregnant, I am all for wearing the most comfortable things possible. Another mum at nursery school dropoff actually said to me, “Nice boots, expecting snow?” Honey, please, obviously you can’t actually wear Uggs in the snow.
And I certainly miss the seasonal foods. I miss the honeycrisp apples at the farmers’ market, and baking everything I can think of that starts with a can of pumpkin puree. I have been baking loaf after loaf of banana bread and batches of zucchini (“courgette”) muffins in a vain attempt to quench my craving for pumpkin muffins, but it’s not working. So today I took a bus to a grocery store called Partridge’s, near Sloane Square, which was rumored to have cans of pumpkin, which I have not been able to find anywhere.
Jackpot! It’s not Libby’s, but it will do. I bought six. I hope they last me to Thanksgiving, but that may be a long shot.
Partridge’s has a large American foods section, mostly junk food, all expensive.
I love me some Skippy peanut butter, but holy moly, $13.50 for one jar? I think we should start asking anyone who visits us from the States to bring one suitcase full of Costco-size jars of Skippy, and then we can resell it to expats for £8.99, undercutting the competition, and make a fortune. Peanut butter imports will be my new business. Who’s in?