A Few Announcements

I feel so guilty I’ve been neglecting this blog, especially considering I have some important announcements to make. I haven’t been writing blog posts lately, not because I haven’t been doing anything worth writing about, but rather, the opposite. My life has been insanely busy lately, so I have a lot of posts to write when I get an opportunity to take a break and breathe.

Pretty good self portrait of what my overloaded head feels like lately; thank you, Yayoi Kusama

The time has come for us to return to America. A two-year adventure in London turned into five years, because we’ve loved the life we’ve made for ourselves here. So it’s with some very mixed feelings that we are moving back to Baltimore, MD, after school lets out in just a few weeks. There will be a longer post on this, reflecting on our time here and what went into this decision, but likely not till August or maybe September. I want to give our living-abroad blog a proper wrap-up, but have neither the time nor the emotional energy to do it just yet.

People keep asking, “What about the mouse hole??” Well, it was time to say cheerio to the mice, too. It was coming to a natural end as the lockdown rules loosened and life started to return to something resembling normal again. And the homeowners were ready to have their home and their privacy back, particularly after it ended up on Google Maps as a “tourist attraction,” and more and more people were lingering outside their front door.

Here is the text of the open letter I wrote about the end of this particular era:

Dear Wakehurst Mouse Hole Fans,

This week marks a year since my daughters and I first added a little felt mouse to a hole in the wall—which I now know was intended to be a boot scraper once upon a time—with the hope that it would make passersby smile during the difficult time we were living in.

I never in my wildest dreams expected it to turn into something so big and reach so many people.

I’m awed and honored by the feedback (and the press!) I’ve received, and am truly grateful for all the notes and pictures and mouse-sized gifts people have left for the mice.

However, I never intended to continue it for so long, and all good things must come to an end. And after five wonderful years on Wakehurst Road, we are moving back to the United States of America this summer.

Our gracious hosts, the homeowners, have been unbelievably tolerant for the past year, but it’s time to let them have their house back, and the peace and quiet they deserve. They didn’t choose to turn their home into a tourist attraction, and they’ve been more than accommodating.

I hope you’ll join me in thanking them wholeheartedly for allowing this during lockdown, and now that lockdown is over (hallelujah!), respectfully let their property go back to being private. After next week, anything added to the boot scrapers may be removed by the homeowners.

So please enjoy this Wakehurst Mouse Hole grand finale, and do be sure to pop round the corner to check out the other two mouse holes!

And finally, an exciting announcement: As many people have suggested, I am writing a children’s book about the boot scraper mice. I’ve teamed up with super-talented local illustrator Erin Rose @erinroseillustration and we hope to get it published. (Any children’s book publishers out there? Message me, please!)

Please continue to follow me on Instagram @ewalkphoto, or at my blog walksbetweenthecommons.com, for future announcements about the book.

Happy tails and a fond farewell,

Beth (and the mice) xx #wakehurstmousehole

So as you can see from the letter, the other announcement to share is that I’ve been working on writing some children’s books! More detail to come on those soon, too, I promise. I think the lockdowns let me exercise the creative muscles in my brain, and I uncorked something in there that maybe got bottled up when I wasn’t using it enough. It’s exciting, and it feels good to let the creativity flow again.

We’ve got some massive life changes ahead of us, so I am giving myself the freedom to just enjoy what I can about being in London to the very fullest, in the short time between lockdown and moving. That means squeezing in a year’s worth of London fun with my friends here into a period of just a couple of months.

So amidst the chaos of planning an international move in a pandemic, and buying a new house sight-unseen, and selling a house, and periodic covid tests, and a basement flood, I’m somehow finding the energy to swipe on some mascara and get out there and live my very damn best London life while I can. I can sleep in September, right?

I’ll be back here then, to recap all the fun things we’ve been up to, and report on the Big Move.

Till then, I’ll leave you with the Wakehurst Mouse Hole grand finale (all three boot scrapers at once!)

Flying From the U.S. to the U.K. During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Well, we made it back to London. (If you didn’t read my account of flying from the U.K. to the U.S. a few weeks ago, you can read it here.)


There were definitely more people around, in both the airports and on the plane, on our trip from Dulles to Heathrow than we saw going west in July. I think we saw a lot more people in the Washington Dulles airport this time because we weren’t in an international-flights-only area of the terminal; there were plenty of domestic flights departing from the gates around us. Continue reading

Flying From the U.K. to the U.S. During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Well, we made it back across the pond and to Virginia on Sunday. Deciding whether or not to make the journey back to the States this summer to visit family was probably a harder decision than when we were offered the opportunity to uproot and move to London with a 3-year-old and another baby on the way. More complicated.

Obviously, flying during a pandemic is risky; however, at the current time, the only people allowed to enter the U.S. are U.S. citizens, and Americans entering the U.K. are required by law to quarantine for 14 days, so direct flights between the U.S. and the U.K. are practically empty.

(BTW, I’m looking into donating to a carbon-offset project, because I feel pretty guilty about flying on a nearly-empty plane.)

Non-essential businesses have only just started reopening in London this month, and for the time being, the U.K. has things relatively under control.

Sign: Please no hugs no handshakes during coronavirus season
A local bar’s new outdoor seating on our high street last weekend, which is now closed to vehicles on the weekends

The U.S., clearly, does not. But fortunately the area my in-laws live in is not a big crowded city, and we are pretty much just staying put at their house. We recognized that this could be our only window for the rest of 2020 for flying to America to see our family. And while being locked down and not able to get to each other, we realized just how far away we really are. We decided it was important to go while we have the chance. Continue reading

Day 80: The End of Our Captivity, Sort of / Black Lives Matter

In our America, black lives matter poster

And on the 80th day (which was this past Tuesday), R went back to nursery school, effectively marking the end of this period of isolation for our family.

79 days in captivity chalkboard
Our count-up calendar is over, at least for now

She was so excited. We had talked about how things would be different there, and she seemed fine with it, as long as she got to go back and see her friends and her teacher. Hearing my 3-year-old ask about seeing her best friend again, “Can I touch her?” was just heart-wrenching. Continue reading

Anecdotes, Part 4

{My Anecdotes are posts in which I comment on my observations of unexpected cultural differences, or just amusing incidents that don’t really warrant their own individual blog post.}

1. Well, today is finally The Day. Brexit deadline is finally here, for real this time! No more extensions! Except that no one really knows what’s going on or how things are going to change or what it will mean for them, personally. It’s still a mess that no one knows how to handle. Continue reading