I'm becoming more and more impressed with this neighborhood of ours, Kensington. The history here is incredible! Every book I pick up these days seems to refer to it in some way... it was a hunting ground for Henry VIII, childhood home of Queen Victoria, the inspiration for J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, and the last home of Diana, Princess of Wales.
The other night, the girls and I walked down this nearby street: "Kensington Palace Gardens is a street which contains some of the grandest and most expensive houses in the world. It is the often cited as `most exclusive address' in London; it is one of the most expensive residential streets in the world, and has long been known as `Billionaires Row', due to the extreme wealth of its private residents, although in fact the majority of its current occupants are either national embassies or ambassadorial residences. As of mid 2010, current market prices for a property on the street are an average of £18 million."
(don't get confused - this is not the street I live on!! but it's only a couple of blocks away.)
So I'm inspired to explore this corner of the world a little more, despite the gray, drizzly weather. The kids and I ventured out to find Peter Pan today. This statue was placed here, with support of the author, in the early 1900s. It's a lovely statue and the kids very much wanted to play with it - making up games with the little animals around the base, running around and laughing - but I had to keep pulling them away so that tourists could take pictures of the statue. How ridiculous is that?
I was surprised by this one stretch of the gardens that is completely luscious green, in the middle of January. How is this possible? In the rest of the park, the trees are bare (though the grass is still mysteriously alive). But along this one corridor, everything is green, trees, bushes, ground cover. The signs indicate that in spring, it's bursting with flowers.
There is a fascination in this park with squirrels. People (including Cirque friends) love to feed them and admire them. Do they not have squirrels as commonly in Europe? My kids were delighted to discover that the squirrels in Kensington Gardens are practically tame - they are so used to being fed by people that they will run right up to you, and nuzzle into your hand.
So Kensington is great.
The other part of this blog post, though, is about my less-than-happy past few days. It was just a hard week. Baz and Ayla were out of school (teachers away at a conference). So I had all the kids for the whole week, and I expected that we'd pack the days with playdates and sightseeing. I called and emailed friends, asking them to get in touch with me as they made plans.
The first few days, I was energetic. We went to the playground. We went to museums. We did projects and practiced cooking and got new books from the library.
But by Thursday night, with no messages from friends at all, I began to feel despondent. My will to get through Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, by myself with the kids and no social contacts, seemed to just evaporate.
Still, the days had to pass, and I couldn't bring myself to drag them through another museum. So we stayed home. Ventured no further than the playground. Lots of books were read, games were played, and we're all still intact. For me it was lonely, and dull, and I'm not proud of the amount of time I spent surfing Facebook and reading novels, sending the kids off to play by themselves. I feel like I accomplished nothing, for three full days. And I'm really disappointed that our Cirque friends didn't seem to miss us all week. I don't know whether everyone just gets into their own routines and forgets the outside world, or if they're just disorganized...? All of the parents will say how much they want their kids to play with other kids. But I don't want to be the one initiating it all the time.
I'm also finding it so hard, not being able to visit the Cirque site. In previous cities, the energy of the circus sustained me ... just being around the tent, practicing Russian in the kitchen, watching the show from backstage, these things kept me feeling positive and connected. Now Greg disappears to work, and I feel so far away from it all. There's nothing to be done about this, except to wait it out.
This week promises to be better. School starts again, and Isa will have ballet classes, and my Mom and sister arrive for a visit at the end of the week! I'm ready to come back to life.