Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A Corner of this Land Forever London (almost)

No sooner than Cory and I had slowly begun our descent towards earth from our out of body Whitehouse extravaganza do we accelerate back up to manic traveller mode and begin the mammoth repacking of our 6 week stay in Chicago. Yes, it was goodbye to our new-ish home, our memories of a busily social and lovely stay in the extremely windy, and, no way could I live in this kind of cold much longer Chicago and time to board a plane for DC. One jam packed hamper-pushing to the theatre ride later and we were packed (almost) light and ready to fly. In just under 24 hours after our move into our swanky new River Inn suite has Christmas fever sprinkled its glitter glow about us and we have gone into Yuletide super sonic mode. Easier to say than achieve it would seem, as the past few days have seen us traipse the sunny and MUCH warmer streets of DC looking for relevant paraphernalia. Imagine looking for a tree and bits and pieces on a sunday afternoon in the financial district London and you're half way there. Eventually we found our way to Eastern Market, a Victorian brick number and trees were purchased and boys were happy. In our effort to stay light (yeah right) we have made most of our decorations. Pomanders out of tangarines, cinnamon sticks, candy canes (ok not all homemade) and a few little nutcrackers. Boy's father is passionate about the ballet - how tongue tied was he when we found ourselves next to Borishnikov at Obama's joint but a few weeks ago. Probably only the second time I have seen him like this. First time was at our registry office service but that requires a blog posting all of its own. We have tied ribbons around the pictures - oh yeah baby classy is my middle name - and there are pine stuffs draped over mirrors. We smell like a forest and that is just what the doctor ordered. Speaking of which, I have just come off the telephone with inquisition number two from insurance folk. A second doctor was prodding me for more info on my health. I answered the same questions as the ones on monday with the same answers. I think they are testing me for amnesia. In fairness I admit that on both occasions I forgot the zip code of our address (I am using my cousin's for practical reasons) I don't want to imagine what conclusions they are drawing and I have to wait an excruciating 10 days before I know if I am covered. The decision on whether to expand our family further was made easier by the simple fact that maternity cover would cost another $200 dollars a month on top of the $300 we had budgeted for. You can knock the NHS but it must surely top this. Hey ho. On to brighter thoughts. Like the psychadelic car crash that is perched upon our table. It's supposed to be a gingerbread house but it looks more like some LSD induced hippies had a fight with artificially coloured flavoured and preserved derivatives of sugar in a rainbow of shades, which is what you will need to wear if you are sat by it. Boy was happy with his work though. And mum too. And grandma too. And grandad when he sees it because he sent it over via good ole IKEA. Popcorn and cranberry stringing planned for tonight. All we need is an open fire. I think I am just allowing myslef to be seduced by the elegant spirit of DC. On our first day we walked up to the aptly named Georgetown. Unlike anything I have ever seen in the country to date, is a large, mostly residential area of georgian cottages, terraces and large townhouses. It was completely disorientating to me to explore the area, it felt like I was in a dream. You know the ones, where you are in a place but you know it isn't really that place. Put it this way, if I had been feeling nostalgic for the back streets of Hampstead I would only need walk around here. Down to the tiny details of the sash windows, the colour palettes, the foot scrapers still intact, the land rover 4x4s. Bricks. DC NW? NW3 more like. It even smelt like London. Aah. Turns out I miss the vaguely damp slightly less friendly atmosphere of the London streets after all. Nothing a good brew wouldn't cure I spose. Also it was fun picking out which house to buy and have shipped back brick by brick. We are down to top three. More of this anon. We made the mistake of dining in a phony french bistro but are anticipating a gastronomic mega tour in the next month or so. The city prides itself on its restaurants and there is a general genteel feel about the place. Everyone we have passed has been very well heeled, leather filofax mulberry bag and matching shoes kind of folk. The main street, georgian throughout, was wide and endorsed by all the usual mega chains amongst the bewitching boutiques but it was all in good taste and on a European scale. Most pleasing. If you have the bob to go with it I imagine. There were at least two people begging for money on each block. Reality bites.

This morning on our incessant hunt for the elusive tree we took the time to brace the crisp winter morning with a walk about the Whitehouse. Felt so very familiar to me this time my darlings (?). Still thrilling to think I had been invited in there. We saw the tree and each little one from each of the states, we warmed ourselves by the enormous smouldering yule tide logs dug into a pit, we squealed in delight when we saw the Thomas amongst the toy trains whizzing around the track laid out at the foot of the main tree and we braced a hunger induced mini tantrum as we tried to find somewhere for a snack. After a refuel we found ourselves the city's coffee roasters. Delicious coffee = happy mummy. The boy is learning this very well. In the mornings when I shuffle out and leave Cory to catch a couple more hours sleep, Sammy previously would ask me to read or such like. After a few mornings of me replying "After my coffee darling," he now simply asks, "Is it coffee time mummy?" Smart kid. Now all he needs to do is brush up on the old bean measuring coffee grinding water pouring thing and we will be on our way! Anyhows the place we found today - Swingers - has been roasting since 1916. We tried three sorts and each were exquisitely balanced and warm and bold and lush and perfect. The words illuminated on an old chrome sign above the well worn and loved counter read with thoughts that will carry me through for some time I think. That meditation on coffee read as follows:

It must be as pure as an angel
As strong as love
As black as night
And as hot as hell.



  1. I am a bit breathless after the race around Washington. You were indeed walking in tall cotton, but I think so were Sting, DiNero, Streep and the others who had an opportunity to meet you and Cory. Two thumbs up on the dress! Has the Kennedy Center tribute been televised? If not, then when?

    Granddaughter Sophie and her parents arrive Sunday.

  2. Thank you Ken! I just realised I had some comments on the blog! I bet you are enjoying little Sophie. It is just wonderful to be aroudn little folk this time of year don't you think? Sammy is very excited. We are enjoying DC very much. The Kennedy Centre performance will be televised on the 29th but just yesterday Cory received a letter from the producers saying his section hit the cutting room floor during the edit whilst they tried to reduce 3 hour show into a 90 minute slot for CBS! All friends and family most dissappointed!!! That's show business....Lots of love to you and Helen from all of us here