Sunday, 10 June 2012

Back to the Blog

SO... after a prolonged sabbatical, time to bring back our quaint narrative of Howell life in Britain. I cannot claim that this comeback is due to "popular demand"... as our readership, never enormous at its height, has probably by now mostly forgotten about this blog.

But nevertheless, even if this little record is mostly for internal consumption, here goes. It has been a busy spring of 2012 for the HowellinginLondon set. We've visited France (Brittany), France again (Loire valley), Greece (Crete) and Northern England (Lake District). Plus short weekend trips to Liverpool and (for me & Karen) Straford-on-Avon. We have had some great visits (my parents and Jessica/Peter/Jasper/Josie; cousin Addie from Nashville; Karen's ex-future-parents-in-law Frank and Linda and their son Dan). Too much to recount it all... but fortunately Karen has put the highlights in a quick video. 

A few more words on the main trips:
 - Brittany, France: a fun week visiting Aunt Martine and (briefly) Bernard at her lovely abode in Quimper, lots of exploring of this historic and gorgeous region of France, joined by my mom (who was en route to South Africa: highlights: great food, neolithic megaliths. Lowlight: a little chilly, although the weather help up much better than suggested! 
 - Loire Valley: long weekend visit to Jennifer, Andreas & Theo at their beautiful and relaxing country house south of Tours.  
 - Crete: a week staying in my friend Sergey's condo in village on the north coast of Crete. Wonderful spot, wonderful people, wonderful food. Really a great place to visit and the kids were superbly well behaved throughout, we all really enjoyed this. Highlights: carriage ride in historic Venitian town of Hana, hiking in Lambros gorge, quiet Panormo beach, water park.  Lowlight: Knossos Palace. Historic but not kid friendly. 
 - Lake District: for Jubilee weekend we headed north and had a nice few days staying in a Mongolian yurt and exploring this striking part of Britain. Highlights: Muncaster castle, their owl collection and gardens. Lowlight: almost perished driving on the country's steepest road (by accident) but took in some striking views.

And then a few words on life in London, which has been, generally speaking, pretty good. We are now feeling at home on Eton Avenue, and life is much less stressful and tumultuous as it was in year one. Kids are healthy and reaching the point where they are more independent and occasionally even cooperative. Sadie is 4, reading 3-letter words, obsessed with Wizard of Oz and pronouncing "party" (but not "banana") with a posh British accent. Parker is approaching 3, weighs about as much as Sadie, loves BMWs, euro coins (I told him not to get too attached!) and the song Yellow Submarine. Neither of them remembers much about life before London. Karen has been studying medicine and getting to know more folks here. I have been enjoying work, traveling quite a lot and becoming "#1 rated". 

And now time for a few complaints (which will be typically British of me): in case anyone reading this is unaware: the weather here stinks! It was a quintessentially cold, wet spring (although for some inexplicable reason we are considered to be in a drought and on those rare warm days they don't turn on the fountains), much worse than last year. And although the kids have been pretty healthy, neither Karen nor I can really say the same. I've battled colds for much of that chilly spring, while Karen has had digestive issues that seem to be associated with London-specific food intolerances. Both of us tend to feel miraculously better within a couple of days of leaving London. And life here does come with frustrations: poorly functioning transport (God knows how they will get through the Olympics) and some very expensive aspects of living here.

In all, though, it's good. We're still figuring out for sure how much longer we'll be here, but the most likely scenario is about one more year. Regardless, we're determined to continue to make the most of it...

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see how the Howells are doing. My take-aways:
    1) Yurts are easier to give up than memories of New Jersey.
    2) It is British to complain, but I thought it was also British to put up with the rain. So how British is it to complain of rain?

    Keep it coming!
    Dennis Andres