Things I don’t really love:
– Cigarette smoke. I don’t know if the UK government has just thrown its hands in the air with regard to public education campaigns about the harmful effects of smoking, but I did notice that cigarette packs have pretty bold and obvious warnings. It sure feels like a LOT of people smoke.
– That I can’t make my kids wear their neon shirts every day, because every where we go there are so many people! And I miss just being alone, driving alone in a car or even being alone in an aisle in a grocery store.
– The frustrating lack of public toilets. I get it, I mean I know it’s the problem of big cities with indigent people. Despite our efforts to be more proactive with our kids and their bathroom needs, (using them before we leave and when we are patronizing restaurants) it still feels like someone always has to wee RIGHT NOW. In fairness to the English and their polite manners, no one has ever turned away one of our kids when we’ve been desperate.
– The noise. You’ll see this in my other list too. It’s one of those love-hate things. But sometimes I just long for quiet.
– The people who expect you to move out of THEIR way. They just keep on walking, full speed ahead, directly toward you and it’s really a “move it or lose it” attitude.
– The lack of people I love. I know I’ll make new friends, but the kids and I feel a little lonely at times. No play dates, not much social interaction at all really.
Things I really love:
– Girls in Hijab. Something about these girls and women moves me. Maybe I’m projecting my ideals of modesty, courage and spirituality on them, but regardless they are committed to their religion.
– The smells! When I go running I usually seem to end up running “upstream” in a river of commuters. I love it. There are so many perfumes and colognes. And of course there are so many delicious food smells, so many ethnic foods and bakeries too.
– All the beautiful people I see. I’ve noticed in the past couple days that living here in the corporate part of the city I’m seeing a more refined demographic. The people I see each day are well-dressed, well-kept professionals. But it’s fun for me. They look so grown up and “smart” – as the British say.
– The cheese section in the grocery store.
– The bakery in the grocery store. My favorite treat is a shortbread cookie covered in caramel with Belgian chocolate on top. Mmmm it’s so good. So far I think Nero coffee shop has the best one.
– The street/tunnel performers. I think I might have to carry less cash with me because I just want to give it to them all. Walking through the tunnels while changing trains or rail lines can get so tedious, and when there is music it just makes everything better. I’ve seen accordians, violins, a saxophone, a rapper, singers, guitars… you name it.
– The way everyone calls me or the kids “darling”. It’s so kind and friendly. People are constantly knocking the kids over or bumping into them. There aren’t many kids around here and our kids are learning a little too slowly about being aware of the people around them. But most people are quick to apologize when they’ve bulldozed a toddler. “Sorey darling!”
– The food. We certainly heard our share of “British food is terrible!” from people when we said we were moving here. But as Richard likes to point out, let’s be honest here. We are moving from Boise Idaho. Is someone going to claim that Boise has better food? (No offense Boise! We love your food!) There are international restaurants everywhere of course, and even our experience with local food has been great. Pie and mash hit the spot for meat and potato people like Richard and Cameron.
– This is obvious, but the never ending supply of museums. We’ve barely dipped our toe in and I’m in love. Two years won’t be long enough to see all the museums.
– Despite being in this huge city it doesn’t take long to get to the countryside. And what a beautiful countryside!
That’s probably enough for now. I’m sure as time goes by I’ll discover new treasures and annoyances.