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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Moving Abroad: What to Pack

The flat is filled with the scent of cardboard boxes. Boxes, like stacks of political yard signs, have an evocative smell you forget until you meet them again. It all comes rushing back. My moving friends will likely have traumatic flashbacks upon seeing these photos. Sort of like when Huw Edwards warns BBC viewers about upcoming flash photography -- be warned, but know, too that it is all going very well. No complaints. Nothing missing, broken or just plain forgotten. Yet.

We're sheltering in place amidst packed boxes, disassembled beds and any and all charm we've amassed is bubbled wrapped for an ocean voyage. We're picnicking in the living room for meals. Only two more days of this until the boxes and furniture all depart and rental furniture arrives. All going well so far and I've only been a tiny teary. The movers, bless them said, "we don't mind if you cry. But usually people don't do it until the last day."

Somewhere in these stacks is my pig. Would be funny to see "pig" written on the wrapping just like "lamps" and "coffee table." And because I now speak British English, I'll know what "trollies" and "brollies" mean when we unpack in Nashville.

But still. You want to know what to pack when moving abroad? Pack whatever it is that you use and like and would miss. Not unlike going on vacation. This isn't the time to live without. Moving is hard enough without going on a lifestyle fast. This isn't a campout - it is your life. So take your 4 tubs of cookie cutters. Or whatever it is that makes you feel at home.

And by all means, be sure to bring the important things back, too. While I was doing the school run yesterday apparently there was some question between the movers and the Mister about whether these "sticks" were rubbish. Smart men all of them to delay a decision for my return. Apparently they cannot recognize a multi-fuctional piece when they see it. Don't they know this is a key component of our Thanksgiving tree?  Great Halloween decor. The possibilities are endless.

Maybe hearing the quiver in my voice, Big Brother asked me "aren't you excited about moving?!  I'm SO excited! I feel like now we know London and we got it all figured out. So it is a great time to go and do that somewhere else."

Wise counsel, my love and I couldn't agree more. The good news is, we're good at finding places we love to live. The bad news is, we're good at finding places we love to live!  And while I'm not super at maths, that all adds up to good news.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Beating Retreat

The drumbeats of our departure have begun. This decorates my kitchen.

The movers come this week for our sea shipment. My kitchen counters are in complete disarray. Emotional status similarly askew. Real time. Real mess. This is much of the "don't pack yet" pile that needs to find an orderly home in the next few hours. While we sort through our life's collection, the flat is on the market and enduring showings in hope of finding its next lucky tenants.

We know once the sea shipment goes, it will be painfully obvious that we're temporary here, but it will also be somewhat liberating. And it will be (hopefully, if the timing works!) wonderful to be new in Nashville with all our "old" things already there and just waiting to be unpacked. We've found it is easier to live with less in the known place. 

But no time like the present for celebrating!  Baby Sister turned FOUR (cannot believe it either, friends!) this weekend. She spent the day at Buckingham Palace watching the rehearsal for Trooping the Colours. We all walked over (some biked, some scootered) and had a picnic lunch during a hiatus in the trooping. Then Baby Sister and I stayed for a bit longer to soak up the pageantry. It was a sweet way to be with my baby on her birthday.

I'm fairly sure that Baby Sister won't turn five in the shadow of Buckingham Palace with cupcakes from Selfridges. You heard me right. I still haven't baked her cake. It was that kind of weekend. Did you see my kitchen?  

A little messy and sentimental, a lot of fun and the band plays on! Lots of pomp and circumstance and all sorts of celebration. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Coronation Celebration

Did you think with all my going on about Sicily that we weren't celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Queen's Coronation?  Not quite!  I'm so tickled that my royal collection hasn't yet been packed into boxes.

Not to be outdone by my own decor, Regent Street has hung these beautiful purple banners (although honestly not as striking as the Union Jacks for the royal wedding or flags of many nations for the Olympics) in honor of the occasion.

I blame the visual overdose of British icons so soon after we arrived that pushed me into collecting. It was a natural instinct to nest. Or a touch of post-move psychosis. Definitely a bit of nervous energy and abundant enthusiasm for our new environs.

This treasure was part of the Coronation celebration in 1953. I bought it and shared it with the Jubilee exhibit and soon it will adorn one lucky wall in Nashville. We had about 30 minutes in our new house last month and I spent more than a few of them noodling through where this would best be displayed. Time well spent.

I know the movers come in a few days so the end is near, but I just found this tiny bench used in the Abbey! Or that's the narrative I'm giving it. No one is quite sure, but it is hard to imagine a woollen kneeler (currently favorite footstool for the smalls) monogrammed with ER and 1953 being used for something less than special. The coronation mayonnaise* on top didn't come with. Just saving you from having to look at another photo. I fear you've just dozed off.  Shortly after you read, "Queen. la la la...."

But rest assured we're in celebration mode here, passing the coronation mayonnaise, cheering heartily.  And even better, making plans to attend the Coronation Festival at the Palace!  You should have heard me ordering the associated lunch from John Lewis over the phone. ("American royal fanatic on Line 4. American fanatic, Line 4.") I confided to the woman taking my order that I hope church bells would begin to ring out announcing the royal baby's arrival just as the Mister and I tucked into our souvenir hamper of treats. We can only hope, right?

I take pride in settling in to our new homes and can't really be held accountable for all the fanfare that was for the taking while we've lived in London. It has been a spectacularly festive time to be in this wonderful city. But short of needing two shipping containers or a museum annex, I'm likely going to need to curtail my collecting in Nashville. But I hear they have great vintage prints, amazing antiques and retro kitsch galore.  Well. Let's just say I already have old Moon Pie boxes on display.

It will be fun to put it all together in a new house. To unpack these London totems and remember it all. Just like the best souvenirs.

Hip, hip, hooray!

*and don't get me started on coronation mayonnaise. I don't even like mayonnaise and I want this elevated to a food group. If I can figure out how to make it the basis of a summer soup, my life will have been a huge success.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Home Again, Home Again

Our last big European trip is behind us. We were grateful to come home to a sunny London. Hooray for one more day off before we begin what promises to be a whirlwind few weeks.

It really does seem like summer now. The carousel is out in Hyde Park (and the Barbie cars too, Big Sister would want you to know), the Mister and I've had Pimms and we lingered over dinner at the Serpentine. The calendar page turns and a proper summer begins.

It will be short and terribly busy, but we've got another summer in London. Here's hoping the sun stays as long as we do!