Friday, July 18, 2014

Slices of country life

I want Lady P to get something a little hard to express out of this, and subsequent, trips to the UK - as well as quality time, of course. I want her to soak up a bit of Englishness. A sense of home. And that home (sometimes) is a place with wonky stiles over misty meadows, where eggs are kept out of the fridge, and postboxes are red. Where beaches are not packed with volleyball nets and fringed with palm trees. Where sheep and ducks exist in fields, not just in storybooks. Where marmalade and marmite, scones and 99s are eaten. I also wanted her to do lots of running around, raise her stair climbing skills (we have none at home), be windswept and to splash in puddles.

I am getting it.
Practising on the bandstand steps, like her cousins before her

Grazed knees

Gleefully shouting 'baa'

Damp, slightly cool sand
Literally licking the marmalade out of the little dish it came in
I reckon a few weeks of this every year will keep the little English girl inside her alive.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Quality time

When you're only going to see your family once or twice a year, you have to make those times count. This year we were lucky to have my parents reaching a significant birthday as an excuse for a weekend away. All three of my sisters, their husbands and their children in one house for the weekend. It was brilliant.

I'm talking about having the run of a huge old school house in a picturesque Yorkshire village. A family sports day including a handstand competition and a potato-and-spoon race (anyone who knows my family and our legendary lack of athleticism will find the very concept hilarious). Afternoon birthday tea with the kiddos - followed by a massive dinner for the grown ups when they were all tucked up in bed. Albeit they were awake till 10 with the excitement of sharing a room with their cousins.

I'm talking Lady P taking baths with her big cousins who are basically rock stars in her eyes. A treasure hunt in a rambling house, organised by my oldest niece who gave us all certificates of participation. Older cousins pushing younger ones on swings, roundabouts and see-saws. A rambling run with my little sister and favourite running companion, replete with stunning Dales views and only getting a little bit lost.

Grown ups chilling out while seven small children ate cakes together on a picnic rug on the lawn. That brilliant thing where, when I lost sight of Lady P for a few minutes, a quick shout up the hall 'Anyone seen my baby?' brings the reassuring reply of a three year old saying 'Yes, I'm helping her on the stairs', and I could settle back down to a gossip with my sisters.

And Lady P shouting 'Bapa! Bapa!' as her Bapa (Grandpa) attempted a sneaky nap, giving in moments later to jiggle her on his knee and read her stories. A family trip around a lovely ruined castle, my nieces and nephews so delighted one of them actually went to bed that night wearing his paper crown.
About 2/3 of us in front of the house

Race time: my child is the naked one going the wrong way

Lady P tickling Richard III's toes at the castle
Dreaming of kingdoms

Pure bliss and the making of many happy memories. Bring on next year's trip.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A belated happy fourth

As I said, I've been too busy to blog. But we did find time to mark the Fourth of July - and I'd like to wish my American readers a Happy Fourth too. We had a G&T and a burger on our balcony overlooking the north sea, and felt very far from the US of A.

Back in Hermosa I believe the town was going wild. Apparently July Fourth is one big party. As we were leaving the flags were already going up.

Including some on our street: everybody woke up one morning to find a little flag outside their house. It was a rather sweet marketing campaign by a local realtor. You know how I feel about their ridiculous ads - but I thought this was a cute idea.

Until the next day. When another realtor had come along and put their flags - twice the size - next to the original flag.

Way to advertise yourself as a big old douche bag, right? I know who I'd want to sell my home. The first one, the agent with the good idea.

However I suspect in a land where bigger is better, and no commercial opportunity goes unexploited, most people will go with the guy with the larger flags.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Too busy to blog about it

Wow. I've managed to post at least once a week through several complicated house moves. Through the birth and early weeks of Lady P. And through the return to work and the beginning of that juggling thing we do when we work with small children and still want to have a life that includes cooking proper dinners and taking the odd run. I always kept posting.

But this trip has defeated me. For the first time ever I have been too busy to blog.

There are two good reasons for my lack of words:

1. Despite being away for a month, I'm actually still at work
Only without childcare, and in a different timezone, and with no data roaming on my work phone. Which makes me a bit busy and quite stressed. I didn't want to fritter all my holiday allowance away so agreed with my boss I'd work most of the time I'm here. I thought it would be easy. It is not.

After a few fractious days, TLOML and I sorted out a schedule of sorts. We both get short windows of time each to sit and properly work. For the rest of the time it's conference calls from the playground, and hurried emails between putting Lady P to bed and having dinner with TLOML.

2. There is way too much fun to be had here
So this is the other reason and it's a better one, I think. There are cousins to play with. Granny to chat to and toddle about with. An aunt who knows all the good songs and games. Auntie Kath & Uncle Al's garden to explore. Ducks and sheep and horses in fields to gaze at. Cliff lifts and slides and see saws too. There's a lot here that six short months ago was a bit beyond Lady P and is now completely enthralling. We have enough help around us that we could just palm her off on her favourite auntie, or my mum, and get on with our work. But I'd really rather be there for the fun stuff.
I don't want to miss this

Something had to give and I'm afraid it was the blog. Rest assured, I've got my priorities straight.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Homeward bound

Yippee! This time next week we'll be in Saltburn! We are heading home for a whole glorious month: 4 weeks with family and friends up North, bookended by a night or two in London at the start and end of our trip. It is a supreme indulgence, and I am supremely excited.

I have been feeling increasingly sentimental about lovely Britain of late. As in, welling up a bit, can't quite finish my sentence as I ramble on about how Lady P will miss out on autumn mists, and school uniforms, and proper apples, and cricket. (Yes, I edit out things like UKIP, the Tory disembowelment of our welfare system, and persistent light rain).
Saltburn! Aah.

England! Sigh.

I long for home! Much more than I did last time we lived in the US. Maybe we can blame my current trash TV favourite, I Wanna Marry Harry, which is full of shots of misty fields and golden stately homes and cream teas. Sigh. Or maybe just an increasing awareness that American bread tastes like sweet, salty nothingness.

On reflection, I think something about being in the US permanently has given me permission to indulge in full blown sentimental nostalgia about home.

At the same time, being in the US indefinitely (permanently?) requires me to get to like it a whole lot more - and being settled here makes that possible. I know why we came here, and the way we decided to make it work (namely with a long stretch at home every year). I also know the many benefits of living here: the Hermosa Beach lifestyle is a very easy one to fall in love with. We're happy here - to the extent I feel almost guilty about it. Like I'm cheating on England, where I always said I wanted to live forever.

I hope we can have our cake and eat it to. That is, enjoy the career and lifestyle benefits of being in LA. And still nurture those precious relationships with family and friends - and Lady P's knowledge of her English roots - with a long trip back each summer. I wonder though. I hope our month in Saltburn just cements this feeling that this works, and we don't lose too much by being here. And not that after we leave I cry for a month...