Sunday, February 18, 2007

Catching up

I can’t believe it’s been 10 days since I last posted. For those of you who are checking regularly, sorry about that. We’re in the last stages of settling into the house, and the early stages of branching out and making this our home.

This past week was Ian’s first half-term break. Over here this is serious business—each of the three school terms is halted by a week or so of vacation time right in the middle. I guess they’re preparing them for their six weeks of annual vacation (to start!) when they grow up and get jobs. Anyway, some of the folks we know take pretty exotic trips during half-terms, although most people ski at this break. In California when you go on a ski trip you might go local if you’re on a budget, or maybe to Mammoth on a longer trip, or you might even splurge and go to Tahoe once in a while. OK, some posh skiers among you might go to Utah or Colorado, but work with me here. The thing is, all of those places are basically in California (stop raising your hand about Tahoe and Nevada—I get it). Here when people go to ski they go to France, or Switzerland, or maybe even Austria. Yep, this isn’t piling the kids in the car and driving up to Big Bear. It’s getting passports and plane tickets and going to another country for a few days of world-class powder.

We haven’t really been here long enough to save much holiday money, so we opted to stay in London and see some things around here. Julie and Ian went to Greenwich, and Ian stood on the Prime Meridian. We all went to the Aquarium, which to be honest was a little underwhelming. After you’ve been to the Aquariums in LA and Monterey it’s hard to get excited about one in a place where the real discussion of aquatic life is about which species is best for fish and chips. We dropped in at the Natural History Museum to say hello to the dinosaurs, and the next day went to the British Library to see an exhibition of London maps. We stopped at the room where they have the Magna Carta, some Beatles songs handwritten on napkins, and the oldest complete copy of the New Testament (Sinaiticus, if you’re interested).

On Friday night we had a family over for dinner. They’re from the US, and have been in Europe as missionaries for the last 10 years or more. Their work involves providing Christian community for people who are, as they say, ‘allergic to church’. We enjoyed our time with them, and I hope to see how ACL can partner with them in a more effective way. On Saturday we had a lovely dinner with a couple from the church. She’s Thai and he’s from Germany, but they live and work in London and attend the American Church. It was some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had—green curry chicken and shrimp with asparagus. Today after church we went to another family’s house for a big Sunday meal. Ian played with their kids (15 and 17), who were great sports with our guy. After the meal we walked to, yep, the Natural History Museum again for an exhibition of wildlife photography—the finalists from a worldwide contest. It was amazing. If you can find it on the Museum’s website, it’s more than worth a look.

Tomorrow we get back into our school week rhythm. Getting up at 6am or so, going on the bus with Ian to catch our train, then walking him to his school. I’ve missed it, though I enjoyed sleeping until 7 most days this week. In ten days we get our first long-term visitors—Roger and Carol are coming to stay for a while, and we’re pretty excited about having them here. Next Sunday is the first week of Lent, so I’ll be working this week to prep a series for the weeks leading up to Palm Sunday and Easter.

More news later.

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