Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ladies Who Lunch

Sorry, blog addicts -- this past week ended up being unexpectedly busy for me, so I haven't had much downtime to post updates.  I'll try to sum up the past several days as best as I can remember...

TUESDAY, Josh had a business dinner after work, so I took the train into Kingston, had a burger at Byron's, and spent the afternoon shopping for various odds and ends we still needed around the house.  Nothing glamorous, I'm afraid -- mostly cleaning and kitchen supplies.  I picked up some stuff for dinner at M&S on the way back, and collapsed in front of the TV until Josh got home.

WEDNESDAY morning, I got a call from Ingrid, a fellow AWC member who lives in Wimbledon, asking if I'd like to meet up later.  We were both headed to the town center to run errands, so we met for lunch and came up with a list of ideas for local activities we could try to plan with our fellow Wimbledon-area AWC members.  Our first idea: an afternoon matinee at the local movie theater on Friday, before my month of chaos began.  I spent the rest of the afternoon running exciting errands like getting prescriptions refilled and picking up my framing job.

THURSDAY morning I met my friend Diana's former neighbor, Lisa, near St James Park to attend a meeting of the Kensington & Chelsea Women's Club (KCWC), of which Lisa is a member.  She had emailed me earlier in the week inviting me to join her, so I thought I might as well check it out.  The KCWC is similar to the AWC, but it's for expat women from all over the world, not just Americans.  (According to the club president, they currently have over 1,000 members from 55 different nations.)  I was a little surprised at just how similar it was -- they have all the same activities, an almost identical monthly newsletter, and even use the same tour company for their travel group.

The speaker was a doctor who specializes in breast cancer screening and diagnosis, and I suspect half the women in attendance tried to schedule a mammogram as soon as they got home.  He gave a very interesting and educational presentation, but it was a bit scary.  It seemed an appropriate topic, though, as our mutual friend, Diana, had just completed a 3-day breast cancer charity walk in San Francisco.  After the meeting, there was a lunch at 86 St James, a few blocks away.
86 St James
We had a lovely, 3-course lunch with a carving station buffet and dessert trolley and chatted with two ladies from Australia and Africa.  It was all very posh, and frankly, a little more formal than I would have cared for, although I had a perfectly nice time.  Lisa said she thought the KCWC was more "upscale" than the AWC, but I don't know if I would consider that a plus or a minus.  In any case, I decided to hold off on making a decision about joining until after our month of visitors and travel is over, since it doesn't make sense for me to pay dues if I won't be around to participate in any of the activities.

After lunch, Lisa asked if I'd like to come to the hat store across the street with her, as she wanted to replace a rain hat she had lost.  I decided to tag along, which turned out to be quite an experience.  The hat store across the street was Lock & Co, which has been in business for over 300 years and is probably the most famous hatters in London, or even the world.  It was more like a hat museum than a store -- complete with historic hats on display in glass cases -- but they also had a nice selection of cute but practical rain, sun, and warm winter hats along with the more sculptural styles you'd see at fancy weddings.
Lock & Co Hatters, est 1676
It didn't want to embarrass Lisa -- or get thrown out -- by taking photos, but I did sneak a quick one of the ladies' section while the sales clerk was helping her in the next room.
Hat madness!
The sales lady picked out a few warm winter hats for me to try on, and they were kinda cute, but I wasn't prepared to spend over $100 on a knit cap.  Even the most basic of hats was well out of my price range, and one fancy feathered number was £575!  I'll have to make do with my $20 sun hat from REI for now...

I parted ways with Lisa and headed towards Trafalgar Square to do some souvenir shopping, passing St James's Palace on the way.
St. James's Palace
And walking through Waterloo Place, with all its statues and memorials...
Crimean War Memorial
As I passed through the square, I checked the Olympic countdown clock.  Only 316 days to go!  (From last Thursday...)
Trafalgar Square
Since Trafalgar Square is a pretty touristy area, it was easy to find souvenir shops, and I picked up a few small trinkets for some friends' kids that we will be seeing in a few weeks.  Then I walked back across the Thames and took the train back to Wimbledon from Waterloo Station.
Yes, I'm in London!
FRIDAY morning, I went to a Zumba class at a teeny fitness studio a few blocks away.  They had a Groupon for 6 classes for £12, so I've taken a few classes there to find something I like.  I felt like I'd been hit by a truck after taking a Pilates class there, but Zumba seems more my speed.  Unfortunately, the studio is so small that even with only 3 people in attendance, there's barely room to move around, and the instructors seems a bit inexperienced.  I'd be willing to cope with one or the other, but I think once I've had my 6 classes, I might try taking some at the YMCA or the Wimbledon Leisure Centre to see if the instruction and facilities are any better.  Since I was already gross and sweaty when I got home, I spent some time tidying up the front garden before taking a shower.

In the afternoon, I met up with my local AWC friends Ingrid and Nancy at the Wimbledon Odeon theater to see a matinee of Jane Eyre.  We all enjoyed the latest interpretation of Charlotte Brontë's novel, although there were a few unexpectedly startling moments where we nearly jumped out of our seats.  It was nice to be able to do something social that didn't require a 45-minute journey on the Tube.

Friday evening, Josh and I went into Kensington to attend the monthly AWC cocktail party at the fabulous flat of my friend Kristin.  As usual, there was plenty of wine, tasty snacks, and good conversation.  I recently learned that these monthly gatherings were originally held in the AWC office and were rather poorly attended, but once Kristin and Lynda volunteered to host them in their swanky Kensington flats, they became much more popular.  Hats off to them!

SATURDAY, we spent most of the day cleaning the house, doing laundry, grocery shopping, and cooking in preparation for our first dinner party.  We had our friends Bethie & Jason (and adorable baby Charlotte) over along with newer acquaintances Katie & Ben.  Since we all moved to London from DC, we had plenty to talk about.  I meant to take a couple photos, but we were all having such a good time that I forgot.  Sorry!

SUNDAY, we finished doing laundry and cleaning the house in anticipation of our next round of house guests.  Josh's parents arrived that evening for a 2-week visit.  Josh met them at Heathrow and they took a taxi back to our house.  By the time they got here it was after 10 pm, so once we gave them a tour of the house and got them settled in, we all turned in for the night.

This (MONDAY) morning, Josh packed an overnight bag and headed off to work in the London office so he could catch an afternoon train to Brussels, where he will be attending a conference tomorrow.  I initially considered going with him, but since it was only an overnight trip and his parents are here, we decided it would be better to plan a weekend trip on our own some other time.  I took Josh's parents into the town center to exchange dollars into pounds and then walked them to the Tube station and showed them how to get to King's Cross where they could catch a train to Cambridge -- where Josh's dad is attending a conference.  

I went from having a house full of people in the morning to being on my own this evening, but it's kind of nice to have some quiet time to myself after such a busy week.  I was able to watch the premiere of Season 2 of Downton Abbey, which I recorded last night.  It's frustrating that many of our favorite US shows air here 6 months later, so it's nice to get to see something BEFORE it airs in the US, for a change.  Especially a show as good as this one.  If you haven't seen the first season, and you like those Masterpiece Theater-type period dramas, I recommend watching it on iTunes before Season 2 airs in the US in January.  (nyah, nyah!)

I seem to be in danger of becoming one of those "Ladies Who Lunch," which is really not at all my personality type.  I do enjoy having the time to explore London and meet new people, and I'm looking forward to being able to do some traveling with Josh, but I do hope to eventually be a little more productive.  Hmmm...  If only I could get someone to pay me to write this blog...


  1. You know darn well I'll knit you a non-wool winter hat for FREE anytime. In fact, I crocheted a hat for myself once during a flight from here to DC. Hope Josh's parents have fun during their visit!

  2. If you can make one like this, you'll save me £95:
    (not that I'd spend that much on a hat!)


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