With Clear Purpose


The purpose of this adventure, is, of course, to see new places and live in a new culture and travel and have new experiences.

But at the very core of it all, my purpose is to show my children that we can be brave.  We can do hard things.  We can — and will — try something new.  We don’t have to cling to the familiar, we can embrace the unknown and in doing so, become new, better versions of ourselves.

We can be nervous about how it will go, but that won’t make us turn back.  We’ll take chances, try new things.  Not reckless chances, mind you.  Thoughtful ones.  Is thoughtful abandon a thing?  That’s how we want to live — with thoughtful abandon.

We won’t live the life we were handed.  We’ll make our own life, based on active choices and without fear.  We will let experience and change shape us, and then decide how we want to live based on who we become.

And so, with clear purpose, we move on into this new life.  We will be brave.  We will actively choose to try something new, something different, and see where it leads us.  That is the point.  That is what I want my children to take away from this.  (That, and maybe a cute British accent.)

How Many Boots is Too Many Boots?

Boots are my favorite shoes.  They come in so many varieties, and I basically want them all.  Especially this burgundy suede pair.  (Hello, Matt…Christmas is coming!)

These Chelsea boots are the ones Matt got me for Christmas last year.  They are amazing, I wear them constantly, and they are perfect for walking all day and still looking cute.  I feel like everyone should have a pair.  In England, actually, I think everyone does.

I also have these ankle boots, and while they are NOT great for walking around all day, they are great for looking adorable.  They go with skinnies and skirts, and always make me feel fierce.  Love these, even if my feet are sore at the end of the day.  (My Nana always said, “It hurts to be beautiful.”)

These are the wellies I have, from LL Bean (except I have the tall pair).  Although I’ve had these for years, they’re basically a necessity here where it rains almost every day.  I also have the fleece liners that go with these, which I highly, highly recommend. 

These Doc Martens I’ve had since they were cool the first time fifteen years ago.  I’m glad I kept mine (which I actually bought on my first trip to London in 2000), because they’re definitely back in style.  And bad-ass, obviously.  I’ll probably save them forever — you know they’ll come around again eventually.  Mine have a steel toe, though, so they weigh about 50 lbs.  My legs get a workout when I wear these all day.


These winter boots are the best boot purchase I’ve made in years.  Super warm, super comfy, and cute.  I think they’re supposed to be warm down to -40 degrees F.  If I’m ever somewhere where it’s that cold, I’ll let you know if they work, but they have been great in winters in DC and Boston so far.

These are the boots I currently “need” because the pair I have are absolutely beat up.  Riding boots are a staple I think, and I wore my last pair into the ground.  So this is my current top choice to replace my retired riding boots.

These are also on my wish list, or something like these.  I love wedge heels — I just feel like they’re easier to walk in and they’re something a little different.  I’m not sure if I love the contrast sole/heel or if I’d rather have a solid color.  Still debating. 

Clearly I have a problem.  Because that’s eight pair of boots, and I feel like it’s the bare minimum that I “need”.  Does anyone else share my obsession?  I’m sure I’m not alone.

First Weekend in London: Part Two

London Eye collageFor our second day in London, we wanted to hit some of the big highlights of the city–the things we’d talked about with the kids for months on end and they were really excited to see.  We got late morning tickets for a tour of the Tower of London, and we got twilight tickets for the London Eye. 

It’s always easier to buy tickets for this kind of thing online in advance, in my opinion.  You may still have to wait in line to actually get in to the place, but at least you don’t have to wait in line twice — once to buy tickets, and then again to get in.  Also, I feel like you’re more likely to find discounts and deals if you go the online route.  When you’re standing in line with 30+ people waiting behind you, you don’t always have time to figure out the best deals.

We woke up pretty late that day, which we planned for, but it was 10AM when we all rolled out of bed — by far the latest our family has ever slept in anytime, anywhere!  By the time we got up and dressed, breakfast at our little hotel was over.  So we walked down the street and got breakfast in a patisserie.  Matt got the full English breakfast, which was HUGE.  It’s not my favorite combo of foods, though, so I stuck with eggs.  The kids were all excited because they each got hot chocolate or decaf cappucinos and felt very grown up.

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Driving on the Wrong Side

footpath to hill and dales

The footpath is probably the safest route.

Have you ever been skiing or sledding or biking, or some other physical activity that requires balance combined with speed, and just felt like you’re careening right on the very edge of control?  Like one false lean to the left or right will send you flying over the brink and you’ll be toppling out of control in the blink of an eye.

That’s how I felt learning to drive on these tiny English roads on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the street.

Jesus, Take The Wheel.

Land Rover

This is my car. She’s a 12-year old Land Rover Discovery. We call her Goldie.

The first few days of driving were white-knuckled, terrifying, very slow treks with no radio on and strict instructions to the children to keep it down because mommy needed to concentrate.  Matt drove shotgun, navigating, and literally every time we had to turn right or left, I would ask him to reassure me that I was crossing a lane (turning right) or hugging the curb (turning left).

It doesn’t help at all that many of the British roads are so narrow we wouldn’t call them bike paths in the States.  And there’s no parking anywhere (even way out here in the country), so the already narrow roads are often lined with parked cars half up on the sidewalk or the front lawn of whatever establishment they’re parked at.  Or that there are roundabouts (“Look kids, Big Ben and Parliament!”) with road signs so confusing they may as well be written in hieroglyphics.

It also doesn’t help that there are actual areas on actual main roads where the two lanes are purposely narrowed to one, and one lane is “given priority” over the other lane, which has to “give way”, or else the two lanes will collide head-on.  All in an effort to keep speeding down to a minimum.  It’s INSANE.

road in the English countryside

This is a two-way road.

But now, six weeks in, and I’m sailing down bumpy country lanes in my 12-year old Land Rover at 50mph, pausing at blind corners to ensure that no giant farm machinery is heading toward me around the bend, and cruising through roundabouts without a single shriek or jammed-on brake.  I’m giving way and passing on the right and not giving a second thought to the fact that I’m driving on two-way roads where two cars literally DO NOT FIT across.

I still think the British are crazy drivers and that the British road system was designed and maintained by lunatics and masochists, but at least I can make it to the kids’ school without pulling over and hyperventilating, so that’s progress.

Run, Forrest, Run

WP_20150917_09_28_21_ProThe other morning, about 20  minutes into my 35 minute run, I realized as I dodged the puddles and mud at the edge of the narrow road, that I’d seen exactly two cars while running.  And so I moved to the center, ran along the crest where the road was dry and smooth, and just sort of sailed.  It’s not often in my running life I feel like the road is mine, but I did that morning.

Then I had to move to the side to let a rider on horseback have some space.  Which, you know, was kind of cool too.  (You can just put that on the list of things I did not encounter in any of my runs prior to moving here.)

I don’t really like running.  I’ve said that before.  But, as I’ve also said, I like wine and beer and bread and cheese, and so I run. 

I’m not fast.  I’m not pretty.  And I don’t even run that far — 3 or 4 miles on an average day.  In general I view running as a necessary evil.  I don’t truly enjoy it, I’m not that great at it, but it’s a means to an end.  (The end being wine and cheese.)

Here in England, though, running hasn’t been such a chore.  It’s sort of chilly and completely not humid and most days it rains a little bit.  Basically perfect running weather.  And then there’s the scenery. WP_20150917_09_07_24_Pro

A few mornings here, I’ve actually lost track of the time as I’ve run, and suddenly I realize I’ve gone a mile and half without paying attention to my breathing or my runny nose or the pain in my left knee.  A minor miracle I can only chalk up to this being the view.

I’ll probably never love running.  But occasionally I don’t hate it, and that’s good enough to keep me going.