UK '03

London Again, and Points North

Late summer '03, and September came around again, as it does pretty much every year; and time to head for Blighty again. This time we had yet another reason: a new granddaughter, just four months old.

The congregation will now say Awww.

The weather was wonderfully warm and sunny - wonderful if you didn't think too hard about the implications; global warming is one of those things that's already happening but people still talk about it as if it might - and even hot, by London standards. Perhaps for that reason, fashions had become very revealing; as seen in the first picture, some people could hardly keep their clothes on.

The children had moved since we were there last, to a pleasant Chelsea neighborhood. A much nicer area than Knightsbridge, which I'd never liked.

This place even had a little garden out back, where Lauren could train for a career in agriculture.

Or possibly the building trade. Grandma was happy to give her a few pointers on heavy equipment operation.

Lauren didn't seem altogether sure about Grandpa at first; we hadn't seen each other since last Hanukkah.

It was an excellent family visit but most of the details would be inappropriate for public narration. Enough to say that this grandparent thing can really grow on you. The week went by altogether too fast.

Saturday we went out to a really remarkable place on the southwestern outskirts of London; a kind of wetlands or wildlife preserve, maintained by some admirable trust foundation. Lauren calls it the "duck park" which is quite a good characterization; they have other types of waterfowl as well but Lauren is not into taxonomic nitpicks. As far as she's concerned if it has feathers and swims it's a duck and to hell with Roger Tory Peterson.

They certainly did have ducks, though, along with geese (and after all what is a goose but a kind of fascist duck?) and coots and swans and suchlike, and neato little footpaths winding here and there so you could check it all out. Really a splendid place; I had had no idea there was anything like that so near the city. Blessings on whoever is responsible.

They also had some large stones, the perfect size to seat a little girl in a momentarily pensive mood.

By now she was over her initial case of the shys and had gotten to be good buddies with Grandpa, especially after discovering his possibilities as a beast of burden.

Sunday morning she and Grandma went to church. She is half Jewish and Grandma is Quaker but the Church of England is nothing if not ecumenical nowadays.

That afternoon we began packing for the trip northward.

NEXT: Off To Scotland

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