One of the great things about going to visit family living in a historic and dynamic city is that you get to experience non-touristy, neighbourhood life. (I hope all my UK and Commonwealth friends will appreciate my remembering to put the u in.) L, E, and ABC live with L’s parents in Plaistow. The row houses there remind me of ones that you see in some US cities.
L’s parents love gardening. The weather in London is mild enough for flowers outdoors in the winter. There were definitely no flowers co-existing with Christmas wreaths at our house in upstate New York!
We were surprised to see a tree full of parakeets! Apparently, escaped parakeets have led over the decades to thousands of these birds flying about London.
We learned that while most of the utilities are underground, the phone lines are not. Londoners get a lot of use from one utility pole!
While we sometimes went in a family car, we most often got around by train or bus. Never having lived in a large city with good public transportation, I appreciated the extensive network of routes. While people in the US tend to think of double-decker buses as tourist vehicles, they are the common bus on most routes. They can carry twice as many people as regular buses and there are definitely a lot of people on the move.
ABC loves to go on the buses and trains, especially when she can sit in the front of a train car or the top level of a bus. She likes to pretend she is driving.
Another advantage of being with Londoners is that they can direct you to phenomenal neighbourhood fish ‘n chips shops that a tourist would never find. We decided on haddock and there was so much food it overflowed the plates!
It was also great to have so many home-cooked meals, especially when we had Filipino dishes. Given that most of us came down with a cold, it was especially great to have homemade soup.