Fourth of July 2021
Last week was rather busy, with a few highlights along to way. During the pandemic, I have tried to diversify my time to keep myself positive. The tourists have not yet begun to arrive in droves back to London, so my tour guiding hasn’t been as busy as it would be for June. July is typically my busiest time, but alas this summer (like last summer) will be rather slow.
If you have been following me on social media, you’ll know that I have taken up open water swimming. It is a fantastic exercise and I really love that I am able to enjoy the outdoors in this way. As a London tour guide, I spend most of my day outdoors, so being cooped up in the flat has been quite a challenge. Of course, I have been cycling and walking where possible, but something about swimming has been all the more enjoyable. I even wrote an article about it for the Focus magazine. Focus is an ex-pat organisation. I have been writing for their quarterly magazine for years now, and I was happy to write my next article for them about my newly found hobby. Believe it or now, there are many open water swimming holes here in London. While I am not a massive fan of The Serpentine in Hyde Park (too much bird poo), there is Hampstead Heath, and a few others too. NOWCA is the organisation that operates the open water swimming, and for a small membership fee, you can swim until your arms fall off!
I also kicked off another virtual London Summer Camp for my online classes on Outschool. There are five London Summer Camps, and each one “visits” three different locations. In the end, your child could learn about 15 different London sightseeing places, along with their history and current significance. This week’s camp included the Cutty Sark. I used to live right across the street from it. The new layout of the visitor’s experience is fantastic. Many think that the fire in 2007 destroyed most of it, but in fact only 10% of it has been ‘recreated”. The rest had already been removed before the fire began. So what you are seeing is in fact the real deal.
I met up with a fellow tour guide for lunch. Tina (aka Miss B Takes a Walk) and I qualified for the City of London tour guiding course together back in 2011, so we have been colleagues and friends for 10 years now. Where does time go? We have had many adventures together, including when I dress up as “Lady Amber of the Colonies” for her Georgian Dining Academy events. Long live the 1700s! (well, the fashion, anyway!) We met up at Cinnamon Bizarre, a quaint and delicious Indian street food restaurant in Covent Garden on Maiden Lane. I love this place, and she had never been, so I was delighted to show her a new place to eat. The cocktails? Oh, yes! We did the research for you, dear reader, and we can recommend The Last Flower and the Espresso Martini.
One of the things on my “must do this at some point” list is getting our British passports. It isn’t an urgent requirement, because my husband and I have Indefinite Leave to Remain. However, having the right to vote in a country where I own a home, a business and pay taxes has become increasingly important to me. Getting a passport would also mean dual citizenship, as I’m not quite ready to give up the USA status. I think voting is the main driver now, because since Brexit happened, all the EU advantages are gone. The process of getting a passport stars with a test: Life in the UK. This is one of those test that even Brits say they could not pass. I passed with flying colours. I think I got two wrong: one question about where minor crimes are processed in Scotland and one question about the Northern Ireland Assembly. The rest was a breeze!
The biggest event to happen was my second vaccination shot. I got it on the 3rd of July and we went to Texas Joe’s BBQ to celebrate. It was feeling good, we had some delicious barbecue, and England won their football match that evening. We ordered some extra food to take home for 4th of July the next day, as I had found an American watermelon to enjoy too. This was huge! I mean, huge watermelon, but also a huge find for me. I haven’t had a large American watermelon in ages. We never go to Texas in summer, and the watermelons here are ridiculously puny. They are small, round and without flavour. They are from Brazil or someplace. They just do not compare to American watermelons. When I saw one, I was so happy! I couldn’t carry it home, so I bought a fourth, as the shop owner had cut a few into pieces.
On the 4th of July, my second vaccine kicked in. Achy, headache, fever, and lots of pain, I ate my watermelon while bundled up on the sofa, watching USA vs England rugby and David Attenborough’s Perfect Planet. I was miserable. Today, I am slowing coming back to life, and hope to be stronger as the week goes on. I wish you all a happy and healthy July!