To London, with love.

We’ve really come to like the school calendar here. A year-round school model, with two week breaks sprinkled throughout the year. While it does make it tricky for both parents to work a typical full-time job, we do really enjoy the opportunity to set out to explore every couple of months.

So this Fall break we chose to explore the UK. As is our routine, I join the family for one of the weeks while they get to enjoy another week free of any mom-enforced rules or order. I joined them for the days in London and then departed before they set out to explore Scotland.

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Becoming obsolete but still so iconic and photogenic.
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We did take in some fish & chips, among other wonderful meals. There is no excuse for a bad meal in London, the choices are endless.

I do love London. It’s the New York of Europe. There is something there for everyone and it is an incredible blend of people, culture and language. We love the British accent, and all their “cheerio, pip pip, blimey” expressions. But to be honest, their accent was the one we heard the least. Every other accent under the sun is there in every possible role. Londoners, it would seem, are all of us.

This fact is a big part of the Brexit issue. Given its looming deadline, we anticipated that there would be a great deal of Brexit frenzy and chaos. Surprisingly, this was not the case. Not to say that frenzy & chaos weren’t present, there was plenty of that, just not Brexit related. The focus was the climate.

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The view over Trafalgar Square from the National Gallery

 

Fantastic demonstrations and tent villages bringing London traffic to a standstill, blocking bridges and taking over Trafalgar Square. It was an energy we’ve not felt in Switzerland and I loved being in the mix. Hypocritical as that is, having arrived by plane, contributing to the problem.

Our life in Switzerland has otherwise allowed us to reduce our family’s carbon footprint in a way we couldn’t in Alberta. Traveling by train, bike or foot most everywhere we need to go. Walking or biking for our daily commutes. Walking to get our groceries. I’d like to claim that these are choices we’ve made in a conscious effort to be more green but that would be a misrepresentation. We make these choices because it’s convenient. The convenience offered in our part of the world is what makes it easier to be green. But our responsibility to save our planet can’t rest in just what is convenient.

It’s the inconvenient changes that are trickier but oh so necessary by us all. The inconvenient truth, as Mr. Gore had phrased.

This post wasn’t meant to be a platform for the environmental conversation but then again, shouldn’t every platform allow for that dialogue? Shouldn’t that awareness be a part of our everyday, our every choice? I’m trying to maintain that level of awareness constantly and mostly I find it easy to do so. That is, until I question how we reconcile our air travel. I’m just not ready to give that up. We have convinced ourselves that the way we’ve minimized our footprint in our day to day life makes up for it but I know that sweet Greta would say “it’s not enough”. We all need to do everything we can, even and especially the inconvenient bits.

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Helena getting into the action of the protest.

I had originally been horrified by the lack of recycling here in Switzerland. Generally I still am as there is just SO MUCH PLASTIC in all of their food packaging and it ALL goes in the garbage. That was the part the horrified me. But I’ve come to see it differently now. In North America we were able to recycle nearly all the plastic, or so we believed. But the stories of shipping containers full of North America’s molding, smelly, rotten plastic, arriving in developing nations is not a story about recycling. That’s a story about pretending to be green so that we can all feel good about ourselves when it’s a farce! Switzerland doesn’t allow you to put all your plastics into a recycling bin because it ISN’T ACTUALLY BEING RECYCLED! In their always pragmatic way, the Swiss aren’t about to pretend that something is happening when it’s not.

It’s inconvenient to feel guilty about so much plastic going into the garbage but it’s the reality we need to face if we’re going to make a change. A decision I need to make with every purchase I choose.

And patting ourselves on the back because we now use stainless steel straws is ridiculous. Banning straws will not save our planet. We have so much more to do!

Right then, climate rant aside, where were we? We were talking about London, weren’t we?

It was fabulous. It is fabulous. It is a place to go back to again and again. Ideally by train or boat if you can…

Here are some more of the scenes we enjoyed along the way.

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Poor guys, they really look quite miserable.
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The courtyard at the Tower of London.

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The garden at Kensington Palace.

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Covent Garden
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We went exploring in search of some Banksy works.
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Camden Town – great people watching and Banksy sightings.
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Diego catching the prisoners’ view from the Tower of London.
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My new obsession – a perfumery called Le Labo. Bought a scent for Manolo – the first cologne he has ever worn.
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The highlight of the trip – both performances of The Cursed Child
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The Palace Theatre – home to the Harry Potter production and where Andrew Lloyd Weber lived when he wrote Phantom of the Opera.
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Taking a break on a stoop in the theatre district.
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Scones and clotted cream for the birthday girl. We brought all the cards and gifts sent from family which had arrived in the mail for her special day. She was a happy girl.
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The tour of the movie set for all of the Harry Potter films. So worth the trip!
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Tower Bridge – truly a spectacular sight.
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A lovely spot for a late afternoon snack while we escaped some rain. Otherwise the weather was fabulous. 
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The sights on Bond Street.
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Diego is a fan of London too. I’m a pretty big fan of Diego. 

An amateur singer at Covent Gardens – such talent.

The energy around China town in the theatre district. You know how much I love a soundtrack to our adventuring.

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Snuck out early for a coffee with my date one morning.
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Notting Hill – never disappoints.
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Gender neutral AMPELMANN sign. Well played London!
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The National Gallery – one of the best free art museums in the world where you can see spectacular works. I was excited to show Helena George Stubbs’ Whistlejacket only to find it on loan elsewhere. Boooo

Can’t wait to return. Thank you London.

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