Live like a local.
We had it all planned out. I would dye just the tips of David’s grey hair red. Then in 4-6 weeks when he goes to get a proper haircut, any remnants of this brilliant idea would be cut off. Then he would do the same to me. All hair in love and war, it’s all hair and square.
Until it goes wrong. This story does not have a hairytale ending.
I’m desperate, I video chat with our kids so they can help me with the hair necessities. They were laughing so hard they were ZERO help. Clearly, David needed a shoulder to dye on. This took way too much time because once we decided that he needed to wash out this bad idea, it was too late. His hairs were thirsty for color. We must have been caught in a conundrum – In England, RED must really be Metallic Orange because there is no question, Bozo the clown was not pictured on the box.
It’s no big deal. We’ll just cut it off! Ummmmm but with what? I have no scissors, heck, we don’t even have a proper bed to sleep in. My hands are dyed, I must order scissors from online. The kicker, they don’t arrive for 4 days. Four long days, Four working days that he must endure video chats. Four days in which I hope he doesn’t hair a grudge. I couldn’t make heads or cattails of it.
My parting words: Don’t dye this at home! But really, dye not? If we’ve learned anything, life is too short not to have some fun! Anytime, Anyplace, Any hair!
Shout out to David! “Just one look at you and I know it’s going to be a Lovely Day!” How could I not love this adventure?
The black and white chronicles
When I see B/W photos I see a period frozen in time: Officers and Civilians, Affluence and Impoverishment, Tradition and Culture. What was and how it must have been? Who walked where? What conversations were being had by whom? Everywhere I’m surrounded by chronicles explaining the history and its rumors. My imagination runs wild until reality abruptly reminds me of the here and NOW. Where laughing or talking violates no rules, and yet it’s eerily quiet. We pass strangers in the street providing the wide berth we've all become accustom. We share nothing and yet, together, we are all experiencing what will soon be history. Full circle, it’s once again a time of black ‘n white. But it doesn't have to take away the color in our lives. I can choose the exact same scenes and pay attention to the colors along the way! There is usually a silver lining in every cloud...
Every day David and I ride a bike along a relatively deserted 6+ mile trail passing many famous landmarks then happily we’re reminded that someday friends and family will, once again, come to visit. This route has become something of an ordinary journey for us and yet I’m elevating it to a “must do” when you come to London. It is unmistakably full of stunning sights. Try to imagine that soon we'll be able to stop for a picnic or grab a beer from a local pub!
Let me virtually take you on our ride. Each individual place is worth spending more time exploring but we’ll show you our commute and you can decide what interests you so you can delve in deeper when you visit. Remember, it has two lives: Black n White of the past and vibrant Color of the present, there is plenty of beauty in each. We’ll start with The London Wall built by the Romans, ride through the city to St. Paul’s Cathedral where its dome remains the highest in the world (thank goodness, whenever I’m lost I just ride towards it to find our temporary housing). Then we meander onto a protected bike trail almost the entire way to Notting Hill, where we live. First, steer along the river Thames where you can’t help spot The Tower Bridge, The London Bridge, and the Westminster Bridge overlooking the remake of Shakespeare’s Globe. The landscape is dominated by the modern London Eye and the Shard. We continue cycling through with Big Ben towering over us, and Westminster Abbey: the traditional place for coronations and burial sites for British Monarchs. Continue onto the entrance to Buckingham Palace, where even during COVID the Queen’s guards are visible. Next we come upon Wellington Arch: proclaiming Wellesley’s defeat of Napoleon. From here it’s pretty much a straight shot through the luscious grounds of Hyde Park where you can see where past meets present because there are so many leisure activities woven throughout the statues. You can choose to go for a walk, take a bike ride, jump on a horse, swim, take your chance with a pedal or row boat, even hope for enough solar power to go on the UK’s first solar powered boat. As you continue, you won’t miss the grand Royal Albert Hall, it was originally built to promote understanding and appreciation of the arts and sciences but he died before it materialized. What a heritage! Finish up the ride through the beautiful Kensington gardens / palace and then onto our modest flat. I’m pretty sure our place won’t go down in history so you won’t see any B/W photos!
If any of this ride is of interest to you, I’d love to share some, or all, of it with you when you come. As wonderful as it’s been seeing it without the crowds, I will welcome the hustle and bustle of tourism once again. London is doing a concerted effort to make safe biking a possibility!
There are two types of contagions, but only one we seem to be focused on right now: a disease spread by close contact. I’m not going to write about that. We’re living it, no need to read about it too.
I ask you to consider the other. The one we have a more profound ability to control: The spread of a behavior pattern, attitude, or emotion from person to person or group to group through suggestion, propaganda, rumor, or imitation. A harmful, corrupting influence.
We’ve all been keeping our social distance and I am no different. I am in the middle of a move where our new flat is 6 miles from our temporary one and we often need to go between. (If you don’t know, all of our furniture, kitchen supplies, general possessions are in transit from the US to the UK and we do not know when we’ll actually get them so we can move in) I have been needing to go to the new flat because I accept delivery of sorts. I try to walk or bike one way and take the tube the other. Usually I take the Tube late AM when often I am the sole rider. But last night I needed to take it home in the early evening. I’ve gotten in the habit of keeping power bars with me because it’s often long hours between meals and I’m stuck in a flat with no way to prepare or buy food.
So, I’m on a more crowded tube car then I’ve been accustom lately. There are only 8 of us in the entire car, all positioned with the correct distance so we wouldn’t breathe on one another let alone share a smile. Eyes down and keeping our hands in our pockets seems the best way to guarantee we don’t touch a handrail or pole someone else may have contaminated. Then the doors open, people look up then quickly down, and everyone noticeably shifts uncomfortably in their space. This man’s face was weathered and his exhaustion could be felt as he entered and sat minding his own business. It was clear he was aware of everyone's disgust and judgement. He was directly on the opposite end of the car from where I was leaning. Everyone now has their eyes down, but I can’t keep my eyes off him! His holey shoes, ratty clothing and filthy hands were unquestioningly heart wrenching. He catches my eyes burning a hole in his psyche, and I immediately fidget. I feel the protein bar in my hand. I pull it out and gesture to him that he’s welcome to it. All without saying a word we moved towards one another shrinking our required 2 meter distancing. We meet in the middle of the car and I hand over the bar. Simultaneously, everyone starts to move. Some are digging in pockets of their too tight of pants trying to retrieve a coin, others searching in their purses or their pockets for that something. They all, there wasn’t a person that didn’t, find something to give that man: money, food and genuine compassion. It was all done in silence and it sent chills down my spine. It was the most shockingly beautiful scene I could have witnessed. He was overwhelmingly moved, but not more than I was.
Kindness is contagious! Along with many other nasty things! I WILL hold-on to what is admirable in this world.
Don't take life so seriously.
I'm Jody. I love to travel. I love to take pictures. I love to meet people and find interesting places. I also love to write about and post pix of what I've found. But, I've been told that I write like I talk - in streams of consciousness. So, if proper grammar and well composed sentences are a must for you - my posts will make you crazy. If you want to follow my journey as I learn about really cool places and offer some great tips about living abroad, read on!
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