After two wonderful weeks in the UK, I’m back in Chicago and ready to shower this blog in photos and happy memories. For the first half of the trip, I worked from the London office while Randi gallivanted around the city during the day and took a trip to Paris with Tash. But we still crammed in a lot, starting almost immediately with the Heath…
Yes, within hours of passing through Heathrow’s pleasingly-efficient biometric passport gates, I was stomping around Hampstead Heath to sate months of longing for a swim in the mixed pond. It was quite a hunt, but the moment we splashed into the water was totally worth it. Joined by the wonderful Abbi, we dried off in the sole summery day of the week with a pitcher of Pimm’s and the first of many pub meals. Bangers and mash: job done.
The next morning, we kicked off our tour of Dominic-approved British institutions by visiting BBC Broadcasting House. Having fallen in love with W1A earlier in the year, Randi (this blog’s Director of Better) was also excited to stalk any room with the slightest connection to Just A Minute. I highly approve. As you can see, we also had a go at reading the news, during which I spoke the vast majority of words on the autocue in the correct order.
On Thursday night, Randi’s friend Maisie joined us and Matt, Laura and the (now engaged!) Caroline and Charles for a traditional night of wine, politics and unflattering photos. (At least of me.) Happily, the brashly well-connected and snappily-dressed members of the group had arrived first and marched right into a private room… I certainly wasn’t complaining.
The following night, a large group of us descended on NewsRevue – well I was hardly going to miss this, was I? – which was its usual excellent self. And also about 90% dedicated to the Labour leadership race, which I’d like to think of as Randi’s pay-off for taking in so much useless trivia about British politics. (Fear not, they also included Donald Trump’s rendition of America Fuck Yeah. It was great.)
With so much politics, it was only right that we toured Parliament – that absurd Victorian Gothic palace which still gives me thrills of excitement to walk through. You can peer over the balconies of as many staid state and federal legislatures as you want, and they are impressive in their own way, but nothing comes close to the combat fields of the green benches in the House of Commons.
But there are other British traditions which are equally important, and one of them is the cheerful determination to continue a back garden barbecue through the drizzle of a Bank Holiday weekend. So a million thanks to Cat and Matt for sharing this experience, and letting us crash at their new flat after celebrating Cat’s birthday with many fine people (Groupon and non-Groupon alike) at a nearby Leytonstone pub. Not pictured below are Biff and Christa, but rest assured they also made it!
So far this all sounds like a hurried clip-show from the last few years of my life in London, but I also got to try a totally new experience for me: Time Run, an escape-the-room style adventure. Katie, Randi and I were pitted against a team of Regans in an immersive time-travelling game which was SO MUCH FUN. And probably the closest I will ever come to becoming a Doctor Who companion, especially as we kinda failed the prospective companion test by not succeeding in our ultimate quest. But we did solve a whole bunch of puzzles along the way in three exquisitely designed sets, and I recommend booking yourself a Time Run unreservedly.
The other side to the week, of course, was just spending time with my family again. It never feels like enough time, but my mum was generous enough to throw an afternoon tea for the whole extended family in one go, so at least I got to see (almost) everyone. And for all of the running around, one of my favourite memories from this trip will just be sitting alone with my dad, in a darkened room, drinking Old Speckled Hen and listening to Doctor Who soundtracks and other pieces of music we share. It was good to be home.
Andy Regan, Matthew Appleton, Laura Rouse, Deborah Herrick, Abigail Osbiston, Randi Lawrence liked this post.