mistaken email screenshot

I don’t know my lines!

This is what happens when your brother comes over from the states and you get a babysitter and partake in a few beers:

family ugly necks

Ugly chin faces. We love you Kristen!

After a few more beers, this happens when you log into your caseywilliams@gmail email address to verify your UnTapped [beer app] account:

mistaken email screenshot

Hello 40+ cast members. I’m Casey Williams and I don’t know my lines!

No one responded to my obvious plea for help.

Weekends in London

As in, weekends if you live in London but not in central London, and have two kids under the age of 2.5.

We spent this glorious three day weekend exploring and enjoying  and of course doing chores. It was supposed to be kind of terrible out, but thankfully the sleet, hail, and rain ended Friday night. Saturday our goal was to get out of London… And we just managed to do so. And avoid a £20 fine each for not having the right ticket. St. Albans was a lovely town.

Sunday was chores and preparation for our friends to come over to dinner. Max ended his portion of the evening by saying “Bye Uncle,” indicating he thinks all men who play horsey, drink beer, and barbecue with Dad are Uncles. He’s basically right.

And now it is a lovely lovely day – Bank Holiday Monday. Seriously that’s what it’s called. Apparently the bankers need a break… And so do we. **UPDATE: I took a four hour nap. Clearly I needed the break!**

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Train time! Very very exciting. On our way to St Albans for the day!

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We went to St. Albans, just outside of London. I think it counts as our first outside of London day trip, though countryside residents may disagree.

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In front of the St Albans ginormous church.

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Walking on the grounds of St. Albans church.

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Outdoor lunch I at the ubiquitous pub, this one in St Albans. Not pictured: the 600 year old clock tower behind us.

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Saturday night – We learn why the swing has straps on it. Viv didn’t even squeak, though she was falling out of her swing and had lost her pacifier. She was just happy to observe pizza making!

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Sunday – Chubby mcchubbers, ready to take on the sun.

 

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Max “helps” with the buggy on our walk to Crouch End for groceries and beer. A 20 minute walk means far better selection, and a great way to enjoy the weather.

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Can’t I nap on the sidewalk?

 

Instagram

pumpkin london

Halloween in London – Yes it happens

We’re finally in our new flat! As we tell Max, our semi-permanent flat where he will live longer than he has lived anywhere else in his short life. He definitely understands. 😛 We’ve been here since October 14, and have unpacked all 23 of our boxes and made numerous online purchases. What did people without cars do before the internet and delivery? I suppose order from catalogs?

Anyway – we’ve been so busy ordering stuff and unpacking that new stuff and figuring out things like the internet, that I still haven’t taken an informal tour of the flat to show everyone. Just know that it’s 30% bigger than our place in Brighton. Yes really. Bizarre, I know.

Instead, let’s talk Halloween in the UK. It’s slowly catching on, though nothing like it would be in the US. For example, our pumpkin is still sitting intact on our very public front stoop! Younger people commonly go out to bars or parties in “fancy dress” (ie costumes), but not nearly the volume we would see in the US, especially with the humdinger combination of Halloween on a Saturday!!

We were planning on using trick or treating as a way to meet our neighbors, but thankfully I read this primer on Halloween in the UK. You don’t knock on doors that don’t have Halloween decorations out. In the US, I guess the rule is don’t knock on doors that don’t have a light on. Sadly, no one besides our stoop had any decorations, so we’ll have to conjure up another way to meet the neighbors (besides getting the old ladies upset about the foxes on our boxes).

We took a trek down to Chalcot Square on Primrose Hill (3.5 mi away) per this Urban Mum’s advice. About 25 minutes on the tube – not too bad. It was a freaking mob scene though! Think Salem MA, only like 1% of that amount of people. Ok that’s a bad analogy but there were 10+ kids at all times at the doors. After the first house, Max clearly understood what to do – stand there and wait for it to be offered! He did try to enter one house, and take another little kid’s candy, but in general it was a success – he got 6 whole pieces, including a lolli, so we called it a night and went back home.

All in all, I was happy that there was some kind of Halloween, though next year we might try slightly closer to home. I would post a photo of Max on T’s shoulders but my phone took a swim this morning and I can’t turn it on. Fingers crossed it will go on tomorrow. Here’s a video from earlier in the day on our way to the Farmer’s Market: Tiger Max Loves Buggies. (Tried to embed it but failed.) So instead, here’s a shot from T’s instagram account, expat_dad:

tiger toddler halloween

Notting hill carnival

Notting Hill Carnival 2015

It’s Europe’s largest street festival, and it’s in our backyard. Literally. The Notting Hill Carnival is a celebration of Afro Carribbean culture, replete with jerk chicken, hours long parades, speakers the size of a house, thousands of people, hundreds of police, several helicopters, and day drinking. Lots and lots of day drinking.  And then all night drinking.

We were warned that someone gets knifed here every year, but as we were going to have to suffer through hours of noise and trash, we thought we’d check out family day, ie Sunday. The first parade is at 6 am. On Sunday. We skipped that for the 1030 start. We left the house with max in his B is for Bob (Marley) tshirt and in a backpack. Our first taste of the festival – speakers 10 feet tall blasting out calypso, a man ODing and throwing up on himself, and a gang of people trying to prevent two guys from fighting. Awesome.  We quickly exited the sketchy area and headed to portobello road and the parade route.

But as parades go, it wasn’t exactly timely.

Notting hill carnival - where's all the people?

Dad and son

Happy despite the lack of parade, but sleepy, we headed back home for a nap. Well, the gentlemen napped, I learned how to crochet – kind of.

Around 5, we headed back out, this time with faux-ear protection for Max. The trash was way more, the people way drunk. We got some treats after struggling through the crowds. I chatted with some very drunk ladies who kept touching Max and my belly. Easier just to let it happen. Plus they defended Max from the weird guy in a wolf mask who kept pantomiming eating Max.

Notting hill carnival - treats

Who could eat this cute nugget?  Mmmm weird fried bread treat, curry, rice, and cupcake leftovers everywhere!

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Crochet flower headband

My crochet handiwork.  Carnival is almost like Halloween, but reggae calypso bright colour flower themed. I started crocheting straight lines but got bored. Thank you YouTube! Sadly I only has this weird pumpkin coloured yarn. I had visions of fall or something when I ordered it a few weeks ago.

Below is just some of the police battalions we saw. Police were every block. A remote headquarters was set up in the school near us, and the street by our house is ambulance central.

Notting hill carnival 2015

Literally walls of people.

Notting hill carnival - from the edge

This hyper lapse video gives you a taste of the sheer number of people. Businesses and houses board up like there’s a hurricane coming… And now I get why. So many people. So much alcohol and, um, other things. Loud loud loud music. It’s like Londoners never get to really let go – I guess drinking at the local pub not wearing scandalously skimpy clothing or a flower headband just isn’t the same.

There were more plain walkers than official parade people! And this all goes on tonight… Probably all night… And then all day tomorrow, a bank holiday. Joy. We won’t be partaking tomorrow.

Overall, for families I’d recommend skipping nap time to see the parade earlier in the day, grabbing lunch, and getting home by 3 at the latest. It got sketchy around 6. Yes the morning’s start was sketchy but overall family friendly. And the food was delicious! Though my tummy was a bit upset. Anyway, next year if we live nearby, I’d visit again in full feather floral headgear… And hopefully have a beer or three.

Paella

Portobello Road Part II

When T woke up, he was so sad he missed our morning trip, we walked back to the market. The only things we bought this time were food, and a 6 x 9 pan for brownies. Yum!

Practice walking

Someone loves his Aunts!!

Paella

It wouldn’t be true Spanish paella if the cook isn’t also talking on his mobile in rapid fire Spanish.

Pineapple tropical drink

Pineapple purée almost makes Portobello Road feel like a tropical vacation.

Portobello Road Market & the Cops in our back yard

One day, it’s utterly gloomy and damp, and the next it’s gorgeous. Thank goodness today is a Saturday! Sadly T isn’t feeling too well, but I suppose any day he gets to sleep in is a good day.

Well he got to sleep in after we recovered from the 4:30 am wake up caused by a helicopter hovering over our flat, and just not leaving. I got up and looked out back, only to see some cops hopping garden walls! Then out front in our “mews” (read: alley), there were two more cops and a police car (a ford hatchback of some kind).

Eventually we heard one of our neighbours say, He ran that way! There have been a string of home break-ins, and apparently this was another one. The police dropped a brochure in our mail box last week. I couldn’t decide if this whole event made me feel more or less safe, but settled on more because I certainly can’t imagine a helicopter and back yard chase in Boston if a citizen called about a break in.

Max slept through the whole thing, and the a few hours later we trekked down to the Portobello Road market. Think lots of stalls selling used and new clothes, antiques, food, groceries, and souvenirs.

Things I bought: a blue collar necklace, a used jean jacket, cheap sunnies (where my nice ones are, I’m not sure), two small house plants, and a doughnut. And some produce.

Things I almost bought: some fish for dinner, a Ceramic gold skull, and a billowy dress.

Things i couldnt find: two small ceramic pots, two bowls to replace the two we broke here, and children’s books. I swear, if I have to read Little Humans one more time…

Things we lost: one paci. Not too bad.

Doughnut

Max got something too.

Do you believe we were there yet? It's just a 15 minute walk from our apartment.

Do you believe we were there yet? It’s just a 15 minute walk from our apartment.

Portobello road flowers

Look they have flowers here in the UK too!

Portobello road

The road is shut down for the day (and Friday too I think).

Little Wormwood Scrubs

The best thing about London, hands down, is the amount of greenery that’s in the city! Sure, it’s a huge place. But you can bet there is nature right around the corner. About a 15 minute walk from our current location is a park called Little Wormwood Scrubs.

Wormwood Scrubs Map

Look, ma! Just 15 minutes away!

wormwood scrubs

In London’s Zone 2, Max and I went on a nature walk and picked blackberries!

We picked blackberries, climbed on logs, and walked through knee-deep grass… all around the corner from a densely residential area and a great Irish butcher. I suppose it’s similar to something like Blue Hills… but that’s not in downtown Boston, and this isn’t quite as big. The point is more that nature is everywhere, especially in the neighborhood we’re currently located. Though we’ll be moving out for a few weeks, we think our ultimate goal is to land back here.

Of course, there is a prison right nearby [regular] Wormwood Scrubs, and train tracks as well… but let’s assume the inmates are nice and secure.

HMP Wormwood Scrubs is the prison. Perhaps they have good views of the park as well.

HMP Wormwood Scrubs is the prison. Perhaps they have good views of the park as well.

Max and T are lucky to be able to enjoy summer days at parks like these, prison or no!