Saturday, April 30, 2011

Royal walkabout after the wedding with pics!


So we made it down to the mall after our very fun party in the morning for the wedding. Initially I was NOT interested in the wedding at all and we were going to head out of town all together But we thoguht it would be too difficult to get back into the city afterward so we stayed and got into the spirit of the wedding.

I'm so glad we did. We had a marvellous time at our friends house and then around 2:30 headed down to the mall that runs from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace - it was wonderful. The crowd was huge but everyone was in great spirits, the bobbies were nice enough to let me slip out into the mall to snap photos of the palace. We just missed William and Kate in his father's car driving from the Palace to Clarence house - by a few minutes. Darn. But we saw plenty:
St. James Park with London Eye in background

Royal horses nearly ran us over

The royal horse yard with London Eye

Buckingham Palace from the mall (a bobby let me dash out into the mall for this one)
Cate and me at Westminster across from Big Ben

Big Ben and Downing Street in the background

The press boxes across from the palace

Red carpet at Westminster - the workmen let me slip out to snap this. Red carpet was yucky!

Westminster - could get the flags on top as I was too close to the fence and it was crowded

Me and the kids on the mall facing Trafalgar
The kids were bored for mosf of the time but I figure they'll be pleased when their older that we dragged them down there on the day. But  here's how they ended up:
He was more delighted to crawl around in the golfcart ambulance (with their permission) 
Cate asleep on Daddy's head infront of Westminster

It was a good day all around!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dusting off the tiara...

Okay, so I've decided to join in the fun and watch the wedding. It didn't take much coaxing to be honest. As the day draws near there is an undeniable excitement in the air here in London and I don't want to miss out.

No, I'm not going to camp outside Buckingham Palace or Westminster Abbey tonight like these folks - let's not go crazy here. But I have chosen one of Cate's tiaras to wear over at a friends house tomorrow for champagne brunch and a large screen telly. Should be fun as this is a fun bunch of folks.

Originally we were heading to Windsor for the day but travelling tomorrow is going to be a nightmare getting back into the city and seeing how I'm just getting over a wretched stomach bug (that's right sick AGAIN) and we've been out and about seeing the sights 'round the place, we didn't want to bother with it. We'll go next week instead.

So, I've popped some champagne in the fridge to bring, have dusted off the tiara, hired a sitter, bought a William and Kate flag and roped in the husband too. We're off to see the wedding...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Royal madness

Sorry for my absence - I've been up to my eyeballs with work, kids off school, illnesses (of course) and flat hunting. But I would be remiss if I didn't say something about the upcoming royal wedding which is about to over take London. I think it's wonderful that Princess Diana's son, the future king of England, found true love with someone who truly loves him and seems quite darling - at least to me. He deserves it, as does Ms. Middleton.

I just wonder if she's thinking, tonight is the last Monday night I go to bed as one of the great unwashed. Next Monday I'll be a princess!! I know that's what I'd be thinking. I wonder if she's picked out her crown yet. It must be quite a surreal feeling to know that the children she will bear will be related to King Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, etc. all those folks you read about in history books are now your family. Quite a huge undertaking if you ask me. But she seems like she's up for the task and William seems like a really normal fellow - with the whole future-king thing as an added bonus.

The city has gone a little bonkers. My sisters in New York and the Bahamas are gearing up to watch the wedding. I've sent them a few mementos which I hope arrive before the wedding such as Kate and Will face masks, flags and guides to the wedding. And I am under strict orders to buy every magazine and newspaper the day after. I've also picked up a few commerative engagement plates and teacups and will buy matching wedding ones as well - for them, not me.

I, on the other hand, really don't care about it. I think it's nice they're in love and getting married. And with the world in it's current state, it's nice to have a happy, uplifting diversion for a day. But I will not be one of the millions lining the streets of London hoping to catch a glimpse of them on their way to Buckingham palace. I won't even be watching on the telly. I will be at their official residence of Windsor for the day having a nice touristy looksee at one of Princess Catherine's new homes - well, the open-to-the-public (read: great unwashed) rooms. We might even go to Legoland.

I'll tape it and show it to Cate later in the day so she can see a real life princess in her carriage with her handsome prince. And then I'll let  her know Kate is a highly educated, working woman who married the prince because she genuinely loved him, not because she needed rescuing like the Disney princesses seem to need. Now, that's a real life fairy story ya!

Well, cheers to the happy couple. I'll bet she's pregnant by the end of the year. Hopefully it will be a girl who will be the future queen of England. Maybe she'll meet my X at school in 18 years and he will be the future husband to the queen. I like the sound of that. Now that's a REAL modern fairy tale.
Future King X

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Weird days

I've had a weird few days. Cate has been acting up a lot lately and it's really getting me down. The fact that I'm, once again, recovering from a nasty head cold and a rotten asthma attack, doesn't help.

Cate had a massive asthma attack on a playground with friends earlier this week and it set everything in motion. I had to cut our play date short to rush her over to the doctor. The poor little girl couldn't even run or play or anything. She was just coughing and throwing up. It was awful. We got it under control and two days later we enlisted in Fairy School.

I've been overindulging Cate because she's been ill, I should preface this post with that fact. We met a friend there with her little girl, who is just adorable. The two girls had a wonderful time. But there were two factors that made the day weird. Cate was sloshing glue all over the little bunny bag she was supposed to be decorating, so I stepped in and showed her how to put sprinkles on it. She had a fit. Granted I should have just stayed out of it and let her slap glue on it if she wanted. She smacked me, four times. I was stunned. If we were at home she would have been put in a time out and the crafts would have been put away. But we were in public and I'm never sure what to do. I bent down to eye level and held her shoulders and said quite firmly, "Don't you dare hit me again. We will go right home. Right now. Do you understand me?" She nodded but was huffy and acted like a brat. I let it go but I was embarrassed and kinda shaken.

There was also one of 'those' mothers - stick thin, wearing a pair of cargo pants that didn't quite fit so her butt was hanging out and she was in our faces hoisting up her waistline for two hours. My friend and I were quite annoyed - she was also photo-mad - taking pictures of  her child and standing all over so no one else could get in. My friend was irritated and I don't blame her. It was her daughter's first Fairy School so she wanted to document it. Cate is a veteran at three trips to Fairy School.

The kids had a wonderful time, regardless of Cate's acting up and the annoying mom. As we were leaving I bent over to pick up my purse, scarf, Cate's jacket, etc. I noticed a £10 note on the ground. I had slipped my change into my pocket which included a ten pound note. I picked it up, assuming it was mine and we left.

About three hours later when we were heading out again, I stuck my hands in my pockets and noticed I had TWO ten pound notes! I was aghast. I had picked up someone else's money. I called my friend to see if she was missing it. I know it's not a big deal but still! I have never stolen anything - well, I take that back. I did steal the odd boyfriend or two back in the day when I was young and foolish. She never got back to me so I'm assuming: 1. she thinks I'm weird, or 2. she didn't get the message. Either way, I put the money in the collection plate at mass today. I don't need bad karma!

The house hunting had me in a tizzy as well. The place I was really hoping would be 'the one' was terrific but when Fen and the estate agent went into look at the master bedroom, the current tenant admitted that there was a mold problem with the flat and that clinched it for me. I'm running away from mold, I certainly don't want to walk into another bad situation! Everything else I'm being shown is not cutting it - at all.

I guess I'm being negative - I don't mean to be. I'm having one of those weeks where nothing is really flowing right. I feel like I'm stuck in the wrong gear or something. Maybe it's lack of alcohol - I gave it up (during the week) for Lent. That and sweets. Thank heavens there's only one week left until Easter. I expect to be in a drunken stupor by the time the royal wedding occurs.

The one real highlight of the week: London Book Fair and dinner with Lou from Larches at the Archers. She's ALWAYS a good time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The hunt begins...

Tomorrow I'm going to see another flat. This will be the fourth that I've seen. The others were just to see what was out there, and none of them were right - I call them test runs. However, tomorrow the hunt begins in earnest and I have my eye on a great one - at least it's great on paper. I'll have to see if it's up to snuff in person.

My dream: giant mansion with many, many rooms and loads of ground - acres if possible with a pond featuring a spouting fountain. Much like Oprah's home above. What I'll settle for: two bathrooms, outdoor space, more room and less stairs upon entry. Space and two bathrooms are the real must haves. Everything else is negotiable.

I know one thing for certain - the next place we live in, regardless if it's 'perfect' or not - is where we're going to stay for a few years if not for the remainder of our time in London. It will be the fourth place we've lived in London in 14 months! That's crazy.

Cate was told we might be moving and she doesn't quite get it. But she does understand that this means a bigger bedroom for her. We haven't mentioned that X will be living with her, regardless if we have three bedrooms or not. We decided before he was born we want the two of them to share until Cate is about 7 or 8 - when she'll want sleepovers. She's started to mark the Argos catalog for beds she'd like and other necessary items such as a princess night stand complete with light, mosquito netting in pink with fairies, and posters. This is all for her 'new bedroom'. Hmmm... she certainly caught on quick enough.

I don't think I mentioned that she got into our number one school choice and I'm absolutely delighted. We confirmed the acceptance and she is IN, baby! So now my hunt starts in earnest within a half mile circle of her school.

This place tomorrow is in that radius. It has two large bedrooms, large lounge, open plan kitchen/dining/living, a conservatory, large patio and back yard, two bathrooms, etc. Like I said - sounds perfect on paper. We'll have to see how it pans out in the end. Fingers crossed folks. We could use a break on the housing front. Keep the good thoughts coming...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Books are here to stay - and a whole lot of crap!


This week was a complete wash. I have strep throat AGAIN. If it doesn't go away my tonsils are coming out. Ugh. I don't need this. Cate has it now as well. It's Easter break for the next three weeks so she's home on the sofa watching Toy Story 3 while Fen has X out at Toddler's World for some Daddy/son time.

This is the first break I've had to sit down and write. It's true, writing is like a muscle, if you don't exercise it, it's harder to do, you lose a little something. So bear with me!

London Book Fair starts tomorrow and I'll be front and center cruising the isles, running to my appointments and meeting folks. I love a good book fair - Book Expo in the US, London Book Fair and Frankfurt are definitely my favourites. I'm also meeting some folks for a fun dinner tomorrow so I'm looking forward to that.

One of my favourite people on earth is here. She came by yesterday and we went out for lunch, a little exploring of Hampstead and a stroll through the Heath. She's a bigwig in the digital publishing world so it was really interesting to hear her take on the future of this industry. I can't tell you how relieved I was to hear her say that she doesn't think the physical book will ever go away completely.

I'm a book-aholic. Truly. I love reading a good book, turning the pages, dog earring the paperbacks (always a book mark for the hardcovers) and then once done placing it on my shelf like a trophy. I also love cruising bookstores, seeing the books, reading flap copy, taking in the covers and making my decision. I love libraries for the same reason (and more - I love a good library). I even love checking out the book shelves of someone's home - says a lot about a person, I think.

So to hear that the book is here to stay was nice indeed.

Theresa, my friend, and I took the kids to a little pub near the heath that has a cute little garden area. We were catching up on friends, business, and just having  a great time. Cate was just beginning to feel lousy so she was unusually quiet, which if you read this blog often enough, you'll realize is VERY out of character for her. but she ate, and sat like a little angel. X was his usual boisterous self - just happy to be involved at the table, munching on fruit, cheese and bread. He kept making the weirdest face - he's a little goofball so I didn't think anything of is until the wind shifted and I got a whiff of him. Realizing that he needed a change I reached over to check.

 Oh my heavens it was like he had exploded and stuff was oozing out of the top of his diaper, over his shorts, his jacket, shirt, the high chair. It was disgusting and a unholy mess. Theresa howled laughing. She doesn't have children and I think that's going to remain the case after yesterday! Just as I noticed it the food arrived - we had ordered a few platters of hummous, tabbouli, guacamole, cheese, meats, etc. with bread! It looked great but I had a mess to contend with. To all parents out there - this was a 10 napkin (serviette) and 15 baby wipe job. You know what I mean. He was such a mess I changed him right there on the patio, shielding the other diners, who were very understanding, while I stripped him down, encased all clothes, wipes, napkins in plastic and redressed him in a new, poop-free outfit. He was quite happy about it and continued to eat. I ran to the loo, cleaned up and did what any seasoned parent would do - apologize to the folks, check to make sure the kids were okay and then tucked into lunch and a good laugh with my friend.

Let's hope today goes a tad smoother!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Oops!

Sometimes I'm a twit. Today was one of those days. Often, I stop into the charity shops to peruse the book shelves. I've found quite a few great books and paid about £1 for them.

Today I popped in one and saw a book I love: Eddie's Bastard by William Kowalski.
I was so surprised to see it I had to pick it up. It's a great book about a baby who is left on the doorstep of a cantankerous old man with a note that simply says, Eddie's Bastard. Eddie is the man's charismatic son, who died in the war but apparently had an affair that resulted in this child. The old man takes the child in, names him Billy, which leads to a fascinating, yet unconventional childhood.

It's an absorbing coming-of age story, but is funny and tragic yet always fresh. It begins with a birth, ends with a death and has a middle filled with wisdom and wonder set around a once great family in a once great town.

I opened it and was shocked to see it was a first edition AND signed by the author. I was so excited I paid the £1 and rushed home to put it next to my own signed edition that I've had since the book was published in 1999 - it was edited by my boss at HarperCollins when I worked there and signed by Mr. Kowalski in our offices. I couldn't wait to email my old boss and tell her what I'd found in London!

Well, imagine my surprise when I couldn't find my edition. Then I remembered in my absolute haste to move last year I packed up most of my work clothes, boxes of books, etc. and lugged them all over to that charity shop and donated them. It took them that long to unpack the rest of my boxes, take out my edition of Eddie's Bastard, place it on the shelf and then have me breeze in and re-buy the book I donated a year ago. What a doofus!

I won't be donating it again. In fact, I think it's high time I reread it!