My mother-in-law was a delight. We got on comfortably. She was easy to talk to partly because she did most of it. But not in an overwhelming self-centered way, but as someone who is very adept at socializing would. She knew just when to change the topic, ask a timely question to avoid awkward silences and generally kept everybody engaged and involved. It was a breeze and I genuinely liked her. She was humorously self-deprecating too, like when she joked about her absent-mindedness. She commented that if she were to try to time how long it took to fry an egg, she would most likely throw the watch in the pan and hold the egg up to her face. We laughed a lot that night. I could see where the boys got their humor from. Dinner was exquisite. John’s Mom was an excellent cook, not unlike most of our Kenyan Moms. The ability to Cook among Kenyan Moms is a badge of honor that is hard-earned by cooking for evaluative family members for years. One only earns true honors after they put in time like an Itamae (Sushi Chef). The meat had such a rich taste to it despite minimal seasoning and the vegetables were delicious as well. The food reminded me of what I grew up with in Kenya, naturally tasty and organic. Monsanto and other like companies do not have free run to vend their GMO products in the UK as they do in the States. Anyway, after a couple of adult beverages, we were off to bed. We had a busy day of sightseeing ahead of us.
Oh Paris! But that’s not for a few days yet. First up, Emirates stadium, home of Arsenal football club. I am rolling my eyes with half a smile as I write this. John absolutely insisted that it be the first place we start. I understand the fanaticism that people have to their sports teams, but Football (Soccer) fans are a whole other level. It is a religious cult of which your team is supreme. I knew better than to object. After all, I found his boyish enthusiasm so cute. So, after a delicious English breakfast of sausages, eggs, baked beans and fries, we set off. We took the over land train from Luton to St. Pancras station which is the twin station to Kings Cross station. In fact, strictly speaking, the station is known as Kings Cross St. Pancreas station. Once there, we decided to make a few short stops around London before setting our sights on the famed Emirates stadium. We got on the Piccadilly line headed to Heathrow. This is the same Cockfosters train we were on yesterday, I thought to myself with a smile. So it’s called the Piccadilly line, how quaint I mused. Two stops later we hopped off at Covent Gardens. The Piazza at Covent Gardens is a must see for first time visitors to London. It is a square that is enclosed by majestic, Victorian buildings that seem to have aged gracefully and with dignity. On one side is the Market Building that houses shops and restaurants and on the far corner of the square sits the Royal Opera House unassumingly.
I just love how the Brits use Royal in front of their national institutions. It sounds so…royal. For example their mail service is called Royal Mail, their armed forces are referred to as Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and so on. It is simply delightful I think. The best part of Covent Gardens were the live street entertainers. Living in LA I am no stranger to street entertainment. Everyday as I get off the train at Hollywood and Highland station there are numerous street entertainers. People dressed in dirty super hero costumes, hawkers, and a guy noisily pounding on empty paint buckets seemingly with no rhyme or reason. This was nothing like that. It was quiet and peaceful and yes, tasteful. I was noticing a theme developing in the UK. They like understated, tasteful elegance and I liked that! I was excited to see more.
Join us next week as we see more sights of majestic London and set our sights on Paris.