Category Archives: travel

Lines composed in a Marriott a few miles from Tintern Abbey

I wrote this over the weekend but have just now gotten around to posting it… 



I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity

— William Wordsworth

             Here we are, American expatriates living in London, living the adventure, and I post for you my thoughts on mittens and chicken nuggets.  Where, you ask, are the castles?  Wherefore the museums and cathedrals?  The Tower of London?  And those double decker busses?  Where the hell is the adventure, the romance of our life here in London?

            Well, guys, it tends to be just like a life anywhere else.  School runs, swimming lessons, playgrounds, and laundry.  We change poopy diapers here in London pretty much the same way we did back home.  We just pay more for the clean ones.

            However, knowing that we would be here only for two years has given us incentive to see things.  Lots of things.  Our neighbors say to us “You know, we’ve actually never been to Brighton.”  And that’s fine for them, because Brighton will always be there, and, as far as they can tell, they will always be here, a short train ride away.  Not so for us.  We know we will only once be strangers in this particular strange land with two tiny people.  So, we take day trips.  We have what we call “adventures.” 

            We load the boys into the car, we drive places.  An hour in, Zachary starts complaining and Benjamin falls asleep.  Your typical day trip with children.  Most Americans are pretty familiar with this.  But, at the end of our day trips, there are castles.  There are historic estate homes where they filmed Jane Austen adaptations.  And, oftentimes, there are moats.

              Some weekends, we don’t take trips.  We take the boys to Covent Garden where they listen to string quartets or go to the newly reopened Transport Museum.  Or, we catch a bus down the road, take a quick trip, and end up at the Science Museum or the Natural History Museum.  In nice weather, we head up to the Peter Pan themed Princess Diana Memorial Garden in Kensington Gardens.

            “What shall we do this weekend?” I ask J.

            “I want to go to a castle,” Zachary opines.  Right.  Just what every three-year-old expects to do on Saturday morning.

            And now, we’re leaving.  In a few months, we will pack up.  I will not miss the noise.  I will not miss the pollution.  I will not miss the cold and unfriendly mothers at my son’s school.  And I sure as shootin’ won’t miss the rain.  I might, however, miss the castles.

            We will go to L.A.  There, the beach and the La Brea Tar Pits will be part of the boys’ everyday life.  Whereas once we visited monastic ruins in Scotland as a short vacation or the Royal Pavilion in Brighton as a day trip, now we will decide on a Saturday morning to throw on some flip flops and head to the beach.  Life will be very different.

            J and I are away for a few days.  We have left the boys with their visiting grandparents and headed out to Wales.  This morning, we tooled around Tintern Abbey, just as William Wordsworth did before us.  And, as we climbed around the rather impressive ruins, I realized this would probably be our last visit to a place like this.  Already, we are busy thinking about the next place, the next move.  Life will be very different.

            But we will still be doing school runs.  We will still be doing laundry.  We will still be changing poopy diapers.  Life will be very much the same.

I picked up an extra post card today for you, a blog friend.  The first person to post a comment asking for it will get a Tintern Abbey postcard, signed by me, in the mail.