Of Winnie-the-Pooh, Anne Boleyn, and Sodden Shoes: A Tale of a Weekend in the Countryside

Memorial Day Weekend in the States is also a bank holiday weekend here in England, so we had planned a getaway to the English countryside, from Friday to Monday. One of M’s business associates had recommended the Griffin Inn to him as a family- and dog-friendly place to stay. He told us to ask for the room over the pub, so the baby monitor reaches down there. Good tip!

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Urban Gardening

I finally feel like I’m settled in this house, now that it has a terrarium. I’m only half joking. Tonight I went to the London Transport Museum for a terrarium workshop put on by London Terrariums.

I’ve made quite a few terrariums before, having attended three different workshops back in Baltimore, and then venturing out on my own and making them at home in glass containers sourced from Goodwill. But obviously I couldn’t bring any of them with me when we moved to London.

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Celebrity Sighting

I had my first London celebrity street sighting today! As I don’t live in an area known to be home to celebs, like M’s coworker who has seen Hugh Grant a couple times when he’s been out walking his dogs (so he SAYS, anyway), I don’t really expect to see many famous people when I’m out walking around in my area. But today I was headed to Clapham Junction station with my girls, and walked right past and made eye contact with “Nurse Barbara” from “Call the Midwife,” one of my favorite TV shows!

Charlotte Ritchie, who plays Barbara Gilbert

She looked a lot edgier and more hip in real life, much less sweet and prim and proper than her 1960s character. I am definitely not the kind of person who would feel comfortable approaching a famous person and asking for a selfie, so I have no photo proof of my encounter, but I’m sure it was her! Now that I think about it, I really should have shown her my baby and asked if we could get on the show as extras….

Vauxhall City Farm

I heard about Vauxhall City Farm from a nanny I sat next to at E’s swimming lesson, and it sounded worth checking out. It’s a quick train ride (only about five minutes) from Clapham Junction and then a five-minute walk from the Vauxhall station. And it’s free!

For a “farm” in the city of London to take little kids to, it was really good. There are animal food dispensers so kids can pop in 20p and get a cupful of duck food to feed the ducks and geese, or some grass pellets to feed the sheep and goats. And this was a good time of year to go because OMG BABY LAMBS ADORABLE!

There’s a nice-looking cafe too, and you can host a child’s birthday party there, which I would seriously consider if I hadn’t already booked E’s party for her gymnastics place.

They also offer horse riding lessons there, though obviously that is NOT free.

The only issue was it closes at 4 p.m., which I didn’t realise, and we didn’t arrive till 3:40, so we got kicked out pretty quickly. At least we didn’t have to pay admission. We will definitely go back another day when we can spend more time (and I remember to bring some 20p coins).

The nanny also said there’s a good playground nearby, which I didn’t see but will look for next time we go. May 23 Update: We went back this afternoon when we had more time, and this time I came prepared with 20p coins to buy food to feed the animals. We got to stroke a 2-week-old lamb, which was soft and fuzzy. (Side note: they say “stroke” rather than “pet” here, and I’ve had children ask if they may stroke my dog, and the other day a young boy asked me if he could stroke my baby, which I found hilarious. And he then happily stroked her fuzzy head.)

We had time to go to the cafe for a treat, too.

And then we found the nearby playground, which had a pretty great slide built into the hill, plus an in-ground trampoline.