Jamie – 12 August 2011
I’m one of those guys who prefers the “zero conversation” haircut. Chatty barbers are not something I seek or want. So the strength of this preference was tested yesterday when I passed a barber in Aldgate who advertised free haircuts in exchange for stimulating conversation on current affairs, politics and religion. Interesting concept – particularly given the riots, financial market turmoil, royal wedding, etc. I mean without even trying there is a lot of stuff to talk about. But it’s not really free is it? It’s like sitting your final year examinations again where the marker is standing over you providing a real-time assessment with sharp metal instruments. No thanks. Later in the day I paid nine quid to the local guy who said nothing and did the job in 15 minutes.
Onto the riots. Thank you firstly to the many family members and friends who have emailed to check on our wellbeing. Thank you also to those who pointed out that when we were in Athens there were riots. Now we are in London. Riots. To those people I recommend avoiding Paris next week as that is where we will be.
We have had a truly amazing month in London and it is sad that this is happening in our last few days. That said, apart from a massive police presence everywhere and having to endure blanket media coverage, we have thankfully been able to steer clear of the trouble spots. Mounted police are something of a novelty for Australians. There are lots of them over here. We have been woken the last few nights to the surreal sound of horses walking up and down our suburban Fulham street. Clip clop clip clop. Quite reassuring really. Helps to counter the distant sirens that also punctuate our nights.
The last week has been fantastic. We have visited Hampton Court Palace where we met Henry VIII, or an actor who looked very much like him. Foster and Mylo cruised through the maze and then got cranky that Dad took half an hour to emerge.
We caught up with many of my old friends – including ones in Henley-on-Thames and Monks Risborough where the countryside and villages are unbelievably beautiful and where we were spoilt with hospitality. Bec and I also joined our great friends Nick and Jane van Marken for a wonderful night out at Zuma, an outstanding Japanese restaurant in Knightsbridge where the quality of the food is unsurpassed.
We also again availed ourselves of the cheap babysitting – this time for the whole day – and at Bec’s suggestion set off to explore the Spitalfields markets in East London. These are amazing markets where you can buy everything from WW2 Spitfire parts to the latest in High Street fashion (for a fraction of the price). Some of the authenticity was questionable but the characters we met, the enormous range of what was being sold, and the temporary absence of children made for a very enjoyable day. The babysitter also appeared remarkably unaffected when we returned which astounded me.
Travelling with young children is worthy of an entire blog in itself and maybe I will attempt it sometime, but not today. Suffice to say we love our children very much and could not think of doing a trip like this without them. But (sorry Dad, I know you hate that word) – it has also been frustrating, tiring and trying. You need, as they say, the patience of Job. As parents/adults it is hard to see the world through a child’s eye but that is indeed what we are forced to do every day of our travels. Some days it is incredibly rewarding. Other days it is a slog. All things considered however we wouldn’t swap it for the world.
…..OK, maybe I’d swap it for a romantic week in Paris one time, just Bec and I. Next time sweetheart!