It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Lockdown, Everywhere We Don’t Go

Last night, PM Boris Johnson held an emergency press conference to announce that London and much of Southeast England would be moving into Tier 4, effective at midnight. This came as a surprise to most of us, because as far as we knew, it was a 3-tier system. Tier 4 was a totally new level they’d just added. The new strain of the virus they’ve discovered here in the UK seems to be even more highly transmissible than the original coronavirus.

For some, this meant canceling their Christmas plans to get together with family or friends. For others, such as my friend Amelia, this meant a mad dash to pack up the car and get to Granny’s house in the countryside before midnight, when their family Christmas plans would turn back into pumpkins. So now instead of isolating for a few more days between the end of school term and mixing with extended family in other households for Christmas, many families will just go for it and hope for the best.

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A December to Remember

In the past few years, my kicking-off-Christmas posts have been about all the many fun activities we have planned for the month of December, and the incredible number of things there are to do in London this time of year. As is the case everywhere, the holiday season here in London is looking a lot different this year.

The Christmas lights around London were quietly hung and lit with no lighting ceremony fanfare and festivities.

Photograph: Jonathan Hordle/PA Wire

Christmas markets and school nativities and even pantos have gone virtual. There will be no Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, no tickets to the Nutcracker, no visits to Father Christmas’ Grotto, ho ho humbug.

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What a Week: Half Term, Halloween, Election Day, Bonfire Night, and Lockdown

As we anxiously await the results of the election in the Divided States of America, here’s what else has been going on for the Walks Between the Commons.

Last week was the half-term school break. We’d had flights and a place to stay booked in Italy, but obviously that was cancelled. So the challenge became: How can I give the girls a normal-ish fun half-term/Halloween/4th birthday in a pandemic?

We started by borrowing a car from a very generous friend for a couple days, so we could do some day trips out of the city.

Ready to go pick out our pumpkins!

I chose places that were all outdoors, and which claimed they were capping the numbers of visitors allowed in and had staggered entry times and all the other measures attractions are having to take now to make them seem safe.

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Portugal Part 2: Lovely Lisbon (With Kids)

lisbon tiles

Wow, a lot has happened since I wrote Portugal Part 1: Pretty Porto (Without Kids). I feel very lucky I got a couple trips in over the winter, before the disaster that is 2020 (henceforth to be known as “The Devil’s Year”) really kicked off. Obviously, you won’t be reading about our family’s European travels for the rest of the year, as all the trips we had planned have been cancelled, but I can take you on a virtual trip to Portugal, as I recap our family holiday there back in February.

So let’s mentally hop out of the handbasket headed to hell, and follow me back to those carefree, pre-pandemic times… a whole five months ago… feels like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?… Continue reading

VE Day

Last Friday was the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day. What everyone needs right now is something to celebrate, so Londoners got pretty into the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day and attempted a “social distancing street party.”

The girls and I got into it too, decorating the front of the house with bunting and both Union Jack and American flags. Continue reading