the millers take london

Well friends, we made it to London, though our journey was precarious and I still feel as though I am narcoleptic.



Our flight departed from Seattle at 2pm our time. Nine hours later, neither girl had slept…until the last 10 minutes of descent and landing (*fork in eye*). London is eight hours ahead, so when we arrived it was 7am local time. What could we do but forge ahead? We all had to get our bodies adjusted as quickly as possible.



I had no idea what to expect on the drive in from the airport. But our driver gave us a treat, whether on purpose or not I still don’t know. We drove past Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, hugged the Thames and took in amazing views of the Eye and the city beyond.

Sunrise over Big Ben

Sunrise over Big Ben

The girls then fell asleep. Again. This time just before we pulled up to our apartment (are you noticing that they have impeccable timing for this sort of thing?). We pulled them from the car and put them to bed for a few hours. When noon arrived we decided it was time to wake them or there would be no hope of a semi-normal bedtime later that evening. So we tried to wake them. And tried. And tried. No dice.

Our temporary home lies in this building, above the most amazing grocer. Waitrose is like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods had a gorgeous, delicious baby.

Our temporary home lies in this building, above the most amazing grocer. Waitrose is like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods had a gorgeous, delicious baby.

We’d pull them to different spots (couch, chair, lap) and they’d stir for a moment, then pass right back out. What finally worked was singing at the top of my lungs, “When ayyy was one ayyy had some fun on the daayyy I went to seeea! I jumped aboooard a pirate ship aaand the captain saaaid to me…” You know the song? Top. Of. My. Lungs. While stomping and clapping. It made them pissed as all hell but it woke them enough to stay awake for 5 minutes, and then they were awake enough to walk out the front door, and then when the sun hit their faces they were nearly almost awake.

Dave and I, semi-awake, on the tube.

Dave and I, semi-awake, on the tube.

That first day (it was only saturday, but it feels like about a week ago) we walked a lot, which will be our new habit here in London. We toured the London Museum, decided that the Brits don’t know how to make chocolate milk, and abandoned all hope of finding pizza, much to Charlie’s dismay . We rode the tube and counted double-decker busses, decided that the water tastes awful, fell in love with a grocery store and walked some more. That night the girls went to sleep at 7:30, woke off and on from 12-4, then slept soundly until 10:30 the next morning.

In this tiny playground we heard more different languages being spoken than in our entire lives in Seattle. I love how multicultural London is!

In this tiny playground we heard more different languages being spoken than in our entire lives in Seattle. I love how multicultural London is!

Day 2. Yesterday. I was itching to see their school–at least the outside and surroundings, since it’s still closed for summer. We had a slow start with some of the most bizarre children’s shows I’ve ever seen (apparently the British actors love to make asses of themselves in the name of children’s programming), rehydrated, and finally got enough coffee in me not to feel like the walking dead. Then we made our way to Swiss Cottage, the name of the neighborhood in which their girls’ school is situated.

Lucy on the front steps of her new school. I think she likes it!

Lucy on the front steps of her new school. I think she likes it!


Charlie was enthralled with the soccer…ahem…football games going on.

It is cuter than cute. White town houses go for blocks and blocks, leading to parks, cute little cafes and (cha ching!) a “leisure centre”, which is basically a community centre (oh my gosh, I spelled it that way naturally…they’re having their way with me already!) but way nicer than in the States. For a small monthly fee you can use the pool, gym, children’s play area, spa, etc. It seemed to be the center for the neighborhood, surrounded by a soccer field, playground, community center cafe, large grassy knolls and fountain. I could surely get used to living nearby.

The fountains just outside Swiss Cottage leisure centre.

The fountains just outside Swiss Cottage leisure centre.

Swiss Cottage/Belsize Park neighborhood.

Swiss Cottage/Belsize Park neighborhood.

Today Dave starts work. From now until September 1st I’ll be on my own with the girls along with our wonderful nanny and friend Beki, who out of sheer luck and happenstance also moved to London for a short while. In that time we need to find a permanent place to live, get the girls uniforms and other school necessities, find doctors for me, remember to look right instead of left whist crossing the street, and figure out what the hell “spotted dick” is, among other quirky British menu items. It’s all an adventure.


Just one of the bazillion pubs where you can have a pint and a bite outside. And kids are welcome in pubs! Amazing.

Stay tuned, friends. Love to you all!

xo Jenny, Dave, Lucy, Charlie, and London

bon voyage

Seattle, we’ve come to the end of the line, you and I. In a mere 24 hours I’m leaving your cool, breezy hills for an equally cool, breezy (but flatter) city across the continent and across an ocean. There will be so much distance between us. At least for two years, that is. Don’t go thinking I would leave you forever!

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Sun up over the beach at Fort Worden

I don’t want you to go making any big changes while I’m gone, okay? I’d like my house to still be standing and its cherry trees to always bloom soft pink blossoms in spring. I’d like my dear neighbors to stay my dear neighbors—protect them and keep them safe from disease and old age and the lure of selling in this lucrative market.


Home. I’m not crying! I’m not!


Goodnight couch, goodnight chair…

I’d like my favorite coffee shop not to be bought out by Starbucks, thank you very much. I would like the crappy grocery store down the street to stay crappy, because I still want to know exactly what’s not on every aisle and the name of every ornery checker and bag boy. And while you’re at it, pretty please protect the blind woman who walks miles in rain, sleet or snow every day along 35th avenue. She’s more reliable than the postman. You can go ahead and do away with the post office, though, if you need to make any major changes, or at least rename it “Dante’s Tenth Circle of Hell: Inefficiency.” The stamps could feature junk mail burning in eternal hellfire and…

I’m going off on a tangent.


Goodnight dog parks everywhere.

I’d like you to take a huge soft grey cloud—the kind that you’re famous for, Seattle—and wrap it around my friends and family. Keep them safe and happy but don’t let them forget me. Maybe every once in a while the cloud could whisper, “Jenny misses you…” or maybe not, because being enveloped in a talking cloud would just scare the shit out of them and make them pee their pants just a little. Or a lot. [Mental note: Jenny, steer clear of personification.]


Goodnight Lake Union.

How about this: give them sun in summer and rain in fall (but not too much). Let their visits to doctors only be for checkups. Light up Mt. Rainier when they’re having a bad day. Make their lattes perfect each time, and let the smell of Top Pot swirl through the air on clear early mornings. Remind them to phone me regularly. But above all, tell them that I love them. All. The. Time. And that I’m going to miss them more than cherry trees and Puget Sound and coffee and the perfect chocolate-glazed old fashioned.

Until we meet again,

Your Jenny

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