There's not much I can tell you about London that you wouldn't already assume: history, architecture, culture, fashion...it's all here. I haven't even seen the center (or should I say "centre"?) of London yet, but I've seen all of the above in spades.
The highlight by far, though, is spending time with my sister, my new niece, and my brother-in-law. This trip is really about family for me. If Erica lived in London, Ohio, I'd be visiting her there, too. I've wanted to spend time like this with her for years and, I suppose, Gabi's birth inspired me to act.
Since arriving yesterday midday we have walked all over Erica and Mike's beautiful neighborhood and tooled around some of the posher London outskirts, Primrose Hill and Hampstead. Erica and Mike recently bought a house in a little tract development in a suburb of London. But, please don't think "tract development" as in every suburban sprawl city in the states. Imagine 100 year old brick cottages, tree lined streets, an immense greenway filled with meadows, forests, playgrounds and a creek. It's one of the most charming neighborhoods I've ever seen and I'm thrilled that Mike and Erica are raising their family here. It's also a very Jewish neighborhood, one of few in the UK. This is one of the things that appealed to them when they looked for a house. They can walk to their shul from home, for instance, something that is required of orthodox Jews on Shabbat (Erica and Mike are modern orthodox, I suppose). There is a real Jewish ghetto near by, filled with much more orthodox people, but where Erica and Mike live is a more diverse Jewish community and the two synagogues there have congregations that run the gammet in observance practices.
I love that I'm enjoying London with a local. Erica and I spend our time walking, driving, eating and gazing at her beautiful daughter. Gabi is totally delectable in a way that only little babies are. She has incredible cheeks, the Stonefield dimpled chin, bright blue eyes, and a stellar disposition. She's starting to make those wonderful baby coos and ahhs that are the beginnings of spoken communication. She's so alert and social, rarely fusses and is charming me with her sweet smiles. I'm loving it!
Erica had asked me before I came if I'd teach her to knit while I was here, so I brought needles and yarn for her. Today we visited a local department store that also had a nice yarn department and I gave her an introduction to knitting and yarn and the tools of a knitter. She absorbed it all, even though a sleep deprived new mother. Tonight, after Gabi went to bed we pulled everything out and began...the beginnings of a beautiful blue scarf.
Saturday is Shabbat and Erica and Mike don't drive or work or cook or do anything much but rest. They've told me I'm welcome to anything I'd like, including taking the train into the center of London. I'm a bit hesitant to do it alone, but I'm sure I can handle it and so I think I will. Now I'm off to read up on the museums to see which ones to visit.
I'll leave you with some images from my first days here...