Continuing on with the Q&A series, here's a question about Jeff and I living in London as children:
Q: i really would like to hear the story of how you guys both ended up in london and what it was like living there!
A: Jeff and I both lived in London when we were in elementary school. Our dads both worked for large oil companies at the time (they're both engineers), and London's a common destination for oil & gas stuff, so they both moved there temporarily for work. My family was there for two years, and Jeff's family was there for slightly longer (they got there before us and left after us). We actually lived really close to each other, but our families never met because Jeff went to the American school, and I went to a traditional British girls private school (Halstead Preparatory - check it out, they still have the same uniforms as when I was there!).
See the little colored dot pins on the collars? Every girl was a member of one of four groups (kind of like in Harry Potter... haha) that were named after early principals and teachers of the school, so you wore the color of your group on your collar.
I have such fond memories of our time in London. We rented a house that was sort-of in the country, and it had a giant backyard with a goldfish pond that backed up to a horse-training facility. My sister and I loved to run all the way to the back of the backyard and watch the horses jumping over the obstacles. We'd feed the goldfish and stick lettuce and carrots down all the bunny holes. One side of the backyard was adjacent to a sheep field, but the other was lined with hedges, and we were convinced that there was a magical tropical paradise on the other side of the hedge. Haha!
Kristen and I "played dress up" ALL the time in London. So fun!
There were definitely some major culture differences. When we first lived there, I got invited to a "fancy dress" birthday party. So my mom got me all dressed up in a fancy dress, and we went. When we got there, we found out that "fancy dress party" really means "costume party," and all the other children were dressed up in Halloween-esque costumes. But someone found some angel wings for me, and I was an angel. :) They don't really do Halloween over there (I think they do more now, but not so much at the time), but my parents still wanted us to be able to trick-or-treat, so we hosted Halloween parties where the parents would go into all the bedrooms, bathrooms, and closets with candy, and the kids would run down the hall knocking on the doors and saying "trick or treat!" Haha.
I completely had a British accent by the time we moved back, so some of the family videos from that period are pretty hilarious! While we were there, my parents took advantage of how close we were to so many European cities, and we travelled all around Europe (Ireland, Holland, Scotland, Wales, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Finland, and maybe more than I don't remember). Of course, I only remember the things a six-year old would remember (wearing giant wooden shoes in Holland; losing my blankie in Rome; looking for Nessie the Loch Ness monster; the crooked tower of Pisa; the city of Prague smelling like leather; meeting Santa Claus in Finland; etc.). My parents were brave to go all over the continent with my sister (who was 2 when we moved, and 4 when we moved back) and me (4 when we moved and 6 when we moved back), but I'm glad they did it!
Somewhere in Europe...
Elsewhere in Europe...
We've been back to London to visit a couple times since then, so I do have plenty of grown-up memories of Big Ben and such. My favorite is still Windsor Castle though, because I have such fond memories of going on field trips there when I was little!
Here's Jeff with a model castle he built for school in England (and some pretty rad clothes, haha!).
There are some American things that you just couldn't get in England though. Like certain breakfast cereals. And Barney. So when family came to visit, they would bring us all those important items. Clearly Barney was a big deal to both of us...
So yeah. We lived in London, and it was pretty neat. We're never satisfied with American fish and chips, and we like to watch British movies like Love Actually and try to make our accents come back. It's pretty weird that we were halfway across the world, living really close to each other when we were little kids, but we didn't meet until a decade later when my family eventually moved to Houston! For all we know, we could have passed each other at Sainsbury's (British grocery store) and not even known it!