When I moved back to DC from London last May, Jon's parents offered to store 10 boxes of my things at their house in Suffolk. (At that point, we didn't know where we'd end up living, so I wanted to keep as much as possible there until it was decided!) Jon and I spent the morning of December 31st going through each one to see what he might want for his flat, what his sister might want for hers, and what was worth me bringing back to the States. It sounds boring, but it was actually a lovely way to close out the year: reflecting on the pieces that had made up my life and only keeping those that were, in some way, significant.
It did mean, though, that my suitcase was 9 kg overweight when I checked in at Heathrow yesterday. And that's nothing, really, in the grand scheme of being transatlantic! That number doesn't include everything I packed into two boxes to ship to the US on Thursday or the carry-on bag that I stuffed with items that wouldn't fit anywhere else. If you're ever thinking of moving across an ocean, know that the process is expensive and prolonged. Fun, right? That's one of the less glamorous bits of expat life...
I woke up at 8am on New Year's Day! True confession: everyone else staggered to bed around 2:30am, I'm told, but I conked out before 1. Party like a rockstar, right? Well, actually, I woke up at 5:30 with a cracking hangover, but fell back asleep after downing a glass of water and two Neurofen. The second time around felt great, and I went on the most beautiful short run around the reservoir at the bottom of the property while everyone else stayed tucked in bed. It was magical! What a way to start the year.
Last time I was in London, I saw the Bronze exhibit at the Royal Academy and loved it, so I was really excited to catch their show Constable, Gainsborough, Turner, and the Making of Landscape on Thursday. Unfortunately, though, it only took me about 7 minutes to feel disappointed by the exhibition. First of all, it wasn't as advertised or as expected - it was very small, and only two of the five rooms had any actual Constable/Gainsborough/Turner paintings! The etchings they featured (which made up most of the art on the walls) were beautiful, but not what I had come to see. And second, I thought the show was badly designed. It lacked the educational arc that the Bronze show had drawn brilliantly, the color of the walls actually detracted from the work, and some of the explanatory plaques were hidden behind doors. It was really quite a let-down!
However, Thursday wasn't entirely a wash. Because I breezed through the exhibit, I found myself with an hour to kill in Mayfair. What's a girl to do but stop into 6 high-end jewelry stores on Bond Street to start shopping for her wedding jewelry? Obviously I won't be buying any pieces from them any time soon, but it was fun to look around and even to try on some of the designs. I really enjoyed my experiences at Tiffany's, Georg Jensen, and Graff, though I felt distinctly unwelcome in Van Cleef. Their loss - I might not be able to afford anything now, but one day...
After midnight on New Year's Eve, my shoes lasted 5 seconds before being kicked off and tossed into a corner. They were gorgeous and not even really uncomfortable, but Sam's been dabbling in the dark arts of the DJ so we got totally into our dancing! We shoved all of the furniture against the walls and just went for it - the next morning, I discovered six more pairs of shoes scattered around the room!
Jon and I met up with an old friend and his new girlfriend for a bite to eat on Thursday night. We went to Polpo, a very popular Venetian tapas place in London, and ordered 4 plates to share. We got the chickpea/spinach/ricotta meatballs, the chili and garlic prawns, the pork belly with radiccio, and the wild mushroom pizzette - and, unfortunately, they were all a bit unimpressive. It could be that the restaurant is good though over-hyped, but we weren't too crazy about the food regardless. However, the wine was great!
I watched 3 episodes of Parade's End on my flight home yesterday. It's a BBC miniseries set in England in the nineteen-teens; the screenplay was written by Tom Stoppard but the original novels were published in the 1920s. I don't know why it's not getting real press in the US, but you'll love it if you like the upstairs bits of Downton Abbey and Sherlock. Basically, it's about a wealthy and privileged civil servant, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, and his marriage to his socialite wife as well as his relationship with a young suffragette in the years before and during WWI. It's gorgeous! (Editor's note: I just did a bit of digging, and it seems the first two parts will be aired in the US on HBO on February 26! You must tune in, dear readers.)
Not five golden ones, but 2 wedding rings! Jon and I went to Hatton Garden, the diamond district of London, to find our wedding band. We actually went to the same shop where he bought my engagement ring! Neither of us want anything out of the ordinary so it was a quick trip, mostly just to test out band widths, but it was still thrilling to try them on. I've never seen anything on Jon's hands before - it was a bit startling, to be honest, but I'm sure I'll get used to it very quickly!
And in other wedding-related news, we spent 1 hour over coffee with our new florist for the wedding in Suffolk when we were there over New Year's. Yes, you read that right - our new florist. It might be a bit awkward to explain to you why the original florists didn't work out, but the truth must out and I promise I will blog about it later. Anyway, it could be that fate had a hand in all of this as I'm delighted to have found Clare Robinson of Love Blooms and very much think that all is working out for the best!