Tuesday, August 23, 2011

London Day 2- Golder's Hill Park (Hampstead Heath)

When I think of England I think less of London and more of the country side or small university towns.  The Inklings are to blame for the last, and as for the other, I think it's due to Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles, or The Secret Garden, or Wuthering Heights, or any of Jane Austen's books; they all make reference to vast country estates set amidst wild lonely moors.  Words like 'heather,' 'heath,' and 'moor' fascinated me as a child, describing something I did not know, most impressionable in George MacDonald's 'The Lost Princess.' Partly out of a desire to see this for myself and perhaps finally understand what those alien terms mean, I hoped to see a bit of it myself.

While googling public transit information last night, I came across a notice of a free children's fair in something called 'Hampstead Heath' or 'Golder's Hill Park.'  Turns out that "Hampstead Heath" is a huge public park that is in large part left as untouched heathland; exactly what will come to mind every time I think about rural England now.  A look on glutenfreefoodie told me that a highly-recommended pub was quite near, and the weather was forecasted to be alternately cloudy & sunny.  It was decided then!

Well, as so often happens, a lot went "wrong."  It rained, for starters.  We kept having trouble finding every spot we'd hoped to visit. The carnival was canceled.  The Butterfly Garden was only open while Éowyn was asleep, and buggies weren't allowed in. Éowyn threw a loud, long tantrum on several underground trains (complete with screeches, hand-flapping and screaming).  We reached the rave-reviewed pub after they stopped serving lunch (and three hours before the kitchen opened for dinner).  We couldn't find Daddy for dinner.  I went to pick E up to stick her in the high chair and found she'd peed all over herself (down to her socks).  Yeah, looking at all could totally get me in a bad mood.

BUT... (but God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us....)

There's a whole 'nother side to the story of our day.  First of all, the rain wasn't a drenching deal-breaker, but rather what I consider stereo-typical English cold drizzle.  No problem.  The ticket agent who sold me my unlimited week-long rail pass was kind and helpful.  I got a loyalty stamp card at the train station coffee shop and think I'll earn a free coffee by the time we leave (our apt doesn't have a coffee pot)!  Our detour to Brixton resulted in the yumminess outlined in this post.  We found every place we wanted to find, and talked to many kind helpful souls along the way-- my baby's giant blue eyes ensure warm welcomes with all but the coldest of hearts.  Golder's Hill Park was gorgeous, and Éowyn had a wonderful time touching all the flowers, watching the animals in their zoo, picking up acorns, sticks, tiny leaves and rocks, and "running" by different ponds.  We enjoyed a panna cotta at the pub.  A visit to a tiny used-book shop resulted in a British version of Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone (the one souvenir I wanted from London) as well as lovely hardback editions of Winnie- the- Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner and The Child's Manuel of Dinghy Sailing for Ryan.  I also grabbed a really cool book called Children's English History in Verse which means we will get to have our children memorize poetry related to every historical period we study (I can hardly wait!!).  On top of all that, the bookseller gave me an additional discount, and gifted Eowyn a small volume she had clasped in her hand.  He wrapped it up in a fun bag and everything.  She was absolutely mesmerized by this.  Over and over on the way home, she'd point to the book and say "Is my peh-sant.  I say tank-oo." She "read" it carefully over and over, meaning our train rides home were much quieter.  I had an extra set of clothes for her, and we were almost home come accident-time anyway.

Marvelling at "two 'ittle leaf!"

Raindrops on Roses

Being goofy- the cutest was her calling the lemurs "come 'ere, ee-mur!"

The deer were completely unafraid
We got to practice all our colors

Cool tree in the deer-field

On our first London bus ride
Note the heron perched on the house
So many little blessings all day long lead me to remember that it was, after all, a good day. :)

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