It’s hot in London. Legitimately hot, even by American standards. Sure, Baltimore gets hotter and definitely more humid, but pretty much everywhere I need to go is air-conditioned: house, car, office, stores, restaurants. I miss air-conditioning SO HARD right now. And what I would give for a ceiling fan!
I’m typing this with my feet swishing in the inflatable paddling pool I bought for the kids, which was maybe the best money I spent all year. I’m living off of sorbet and rosé. People are queuing outside stores to buy fans. The grocery stores are literally sold out of ice cream. These are dark times.
Actually, it’s the longest day of the year, which makes for overly bright times, especially when trying to get the kids to bed, or keep them in bed in the morning. (Sunrise today: 4:43; sunset: 21:21.) Close the blinds all the way and then there’s no air circulating. Leave them open and it’s bright as midday even though it’s their bedtime.
Alas. The temps are supposed to start dropping tomorrow, and I am really, really looking forward to that.
The last thing I wanted to do tonight was stand over a hot iron, but E has her school play dress rehearsal tomorrow, and I hadn’t yet made her costume, so needs must. She is the continent of Europe in the play, so I came up with this cheeky little number:
London just can’t seem to stay out of the international news lately, and it’s not been positive press. Between Brexit, the special election, the terror attacks, and the recent Grenfell Tower fire, it’s been a wild few months, and Londoners seem… edgy. Stirred up.
My parents were visiting for the past week, and our activities were a mix of fun things and not so fun things. On Thursday night, my dad and I had tickets to see Van Morrison perform at Hampton Court Palace. Such a fun thing! Not a fun thing: E projectile vomiting all over me (and the floor, and the walls) 10 minutes before we were supposed to leave.
I had never ever in her four years of life seen her vomit, aside from spitting up as a baby. But oh was it worth the wait. The volume. The sheer force. It was spectacular. Gastric fireworks.
Fortunately, my mom is a very generous grandmother, and she said we should still go, and she took care of both girls. So after cleaning up the mess and myself, my dad and I headed to Hampton Court Palace.
I had figured we would be out on a big lawn on the palace grounds, but the stage and seats were actually set up in one of the courtyards, which made for a really intimate venue. So cool!
We first headed for the gardens where they had some food and drink stands set up. Most people had packed picnics, which I would do next time, as the queues for the food carts were really long.
As I sipped my wine, I took in the magnificent surroundings on a perfect summer evening and couldn’t believe that an hour ago my feet were covered in vomit.
Van went on right on time, opening with “Moondance,” and played for an hour and a half with no breaks. For being in his 70s, I thought his voice still sounded great. He also played the sax and harmonica, and jammed out pretty well. There were maybe too many slower numbers, so the crowd’s energy didn’t really pick up till the end, but again, he’s 71. He ended with “Brown-Eyed Girl” and then went straight into “Gloria,” and that had the crowd on its feet.
After I got home, I was getting ready for bed when baby R started crying. I nursed her and then she vomited all over me (and the chair, and the carpet…) so I bookended my night once again covered in vomit.
We had plans to go to the seaside on Friday, but the girls were both just so sick with this stomach bug, we had to change our plans. My parents and I basically tag-teamed all day caring for the girls, big shout out to them for all their help! M was in Norway for the Styrkeprøven bicycle race (blog post by him hopefully forthcoming), so I would have been on my own.
The girls seemed better enough by Saturday morning that we headed to Brighton, a day late. I had wanted to get out of the city for the weekend, somewhere relatively easy to get to that didn’t require renting a car, so Brighton seemed to fit the bill. I’d gone for the day last September, but it turns out it’s a pretty different experience going in the summer.
It was, as they say here, heaving. The trains from London were packed with beach-goers. There were (very sunburned) people everywhere. And it was hot. Brighton is apparently quite the party destination for Saturday night, particularly for hen and stag do’s (bachelorette and bachelor parties). Sunday morning I went out for a jog along the beach (doesn’t that sound nice?) and the beach was just trashed. People had passed out on it and were still lying there, there were bottles and cans and rubbish everywhere, and the pavement smelled like urine. For someone who grew up going to Cannon Beach in Oregon, this was about as far from that seaside experience as you can get (well, I’ve never been to the Jersey Shore, so..?).
The girls both enjoyed the aquarium, though, which is included in the membership we bought at the London aquarium, and got us out of the beating sun for a little while.
And my mom and I had a blast going on a ride on the Brighton Pier together. And the woman running the guest house we stayed in, the Sea Spray Hotel, was unbelievably good to us, and didn’t even make us pay for the Friday night we had booked but weren’t able to stay.
When we got back to London on Sunday evening, I took my dad out to one of my favorite pubs for a Father’s Day roast. The shady beer garden—and cold pint—felt like heaven.
Yesterday, my mom and Baby R and I braved the oven-like conditions of the London buses to go to Kensington Palace while E was in school (poor thing, her upstairs classroom is like a sauna this week). I walked through the Diana fashion exhibit again so my mom could see it, and then we did the King’s and Queen’s apartments, which were quite toasty. Walking around the sunken garden was breezy and shaded, and this year they’ve planted a lovely white garden in memory of Princess Di, since it’s the 20th anniversary of her death.
We had originally planned to have afternoon tea at the Orangery, but it was really too warm for that, so we had a perfect salad lunch and iced drinks there instead. We’ll save our mother-daughter afternoon tea for a cooler month.
So that’s the update from sunny London on the summer solstice. Now it’s time to attempt to sleep with all the windows wide open (why don’t they believe in screens here?) and our one pathetic fan, until first light appears at 3:55 a.m.