Expat Life

And We’re Halfway Through May

And We're Halfway Through May

She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
Winter is dead.

A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

More and more I find myself looking forward to writing these “life lately” type posts. A lot of the little things we do were getting lost in the shuffle of travel stories and, as much as I enjoy traveling, it’s these little moments I’d rather be preserving here anyway.

And We're Halfway Through May And We're Halfway Through May

And We're Halfway Through May

Picking up where my last post left off, we kicked off the month of April by celebrating Easter, our second one in London. As far as holidays go, we’ve been pretty lucky being able to keep up most of our old American traditions here in London (except for July 4th) with only a few slight variations.

This Easter, we had to sacrifice our annual picnic because April in London is freaking cold and windy and rainy. No bueno. Our first year, we still had a picnic, but it was inside. On our living room floor. Using the comforter on Lexie’s bed. We just decided to scrap the whole thing altogether this year because a living room picnic is such a far cry from the outdoor kind surrounded by curious baby chicks that it’s almost depressing.

Easter morning is still the same, though. We get up early and fill Lexie’s Easter basket with surprises and then watch her open it all. And we get dressed up in clothes we haven’t worn on Easter before. They just look a little more fall-ish that spring-ish now, because wearing bright colors and exposing skin for longer than it takes to shoot a family picture in 40 degree weather is just silly. That is definitely one thing I am looking forward to when we return to Tennessee – there, spring and Easter go together like peas and carrots. Here, they’re more like chalk and cheese. (A new expression I just learned from one of my British friends over the weekend!)

And We're Halfway Through May

The day after Easter, my parents flew into London to see us. We spent a week with them exploring London and traveling through the Scottish Highlands. We spent most of our time on the Isle of Skye, but to get there, we needed to drive all the way from Inverness, so road trip it was! I’ve never been anywhere so scenic in all my life. It’s the kind of place you could easily spend a month living and traveling around in, but unfortunately we only had just a few days. We made it count, though. We went on a bunch of hikes on the Isle of Skye and drove around to see some of the island’s prettiest spots.

It was hard to return to London. Really hard. We’re almost at two years here and living in the city has started to grow a bit, well, old. I’ve never been a city girl and I knew moving to London wouldn’t turn me into one, but even I’ve been surprised by how quickly the novelty of living in the city has worn off. City life was a fun distraction for a while, but I really miss fresh air that isn’t tainted by car exhaust. And lovely as London’s old buildings are, in my opinion, they just can’t compete with the natural beauty of the mountains and the sea. Luckily, we’ve got another hiking/outdoorsy trip planned for later this month in Wales. I can’t wait to see how the scenery in Wales compares to England and Scotland. I’m so glad we’ve made a point to finally see more of the UK. Maybe blowing our budget in Sweden and having to keep our travels closer to home for awhile wasn’t such a bad thing after all!

And We're Halfway Through May

Speaking of traveling, we just recently returned from Liverpool. It was a trip centered almost entirely on the Beatles, so we hit the Beatles Story museum, booked a 3-hour taxi tour that took us around to many of the places mentioned in their songs, and spent our last night singing, dancing, and sweating it out underground to a Beatles cover band in the Cavern Club. (Freaking amazing.)

So many people wrinkled their noses when we told them where we were going for the bank holiday, but I’m calling their bluff. Liverpool is an awesome city, and not just for Beatles fans. After two days of non-stop Beatles touring, we spent our last day by the river and Albert Dock, even taking a ferry ‘cross the Mersey, just like the song.

This weekend when we leave for Wales, that will make three trips taken in a span of only six weeks. That is a lot for us, so I think we’re going to cool it for a bit and wait until after Lexie’s birthday in mid-June before we go anywhere else again. As exhausting as it can be to travel and plan this much, I’m really glad we’re doing it. We’ll be in Europe one more year and we’re determined to make it count!

And We're Halfway Through May

In non-travel related news, I finally got to do something I’ve been waiting to do for awhile – see a performance at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater! The reason it took awhile was because I had a very specific performance I wanted to see – Romeo & Juliet – and the tickets for that tend to sell out only slightly slower than that of a Justin Timberlake concert. Last year I dropped the ball, so this time I had an alarm set on my phone to alert me when the ticket sales were opened to the general public and I managed to get us good seats on the only night we could go the week it was at the theater.

Then, because Murphy’s Law, the night we were set to go it seemed all of the tubes in the entire city were delayed. A journey that should have taken an hour on one tube, took six. (Tubes, not hours!) We were late, of course, but luckily didn’t miss too much. And let me just say, if you do ever have a chance to see something at the Globe, go. I doubt it’ll even matter what you see, it’s just a cool experience. I loved that in the absence of elaborate sets and fancy costumes, the focus was on the acting alone. It felt so intimate and personal, like watching someone perform in your gigantic living room with hundreds of friends. I hope to take Lexie again next year if they put on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s her favorite!

And We're Halfway Through May

And We're Halfway Through May

Somewhere between Easter and Mother’s Day, the warmer weather we’d been waiting on finally rolled in. And with it, my let’s-spend-every-single-moment-we-can-outside good mood. And so we’ve done. Every weekend that we haven’t been traveling, we’ve walked down to the river near Strand on the Green and watched the tide come in. There is something about this area that I just love. It feels more like an island or a small river town than a part of London. We even considered not renewing our lease at our current flat and moving down here, but with it just being a mile from home as it is, we decided to stay put.

This is where we spent Mother’s Day last weekend. It still wasn’t quite warm enough to leave our jackets at home, and probably won’t be for awhile, but at least we could sit outside, our legs dangling over the embankment, and soak up a little sun without shivering uncontrollably. This, and Thai take-away for dinner equals a pretty perfect Mother’s Day in my opinion. Oh, and surprises like this to wake up to…

And We're Halfway Through May

Gosh, I love that girl! June is looking like it’ll be a slightly less busy month than May and I’m really looking forward to that. Especially since it’s the month my little chick turns 13. I’m about to be a mother to a teenager! Don’t even ask me how I feel about that because I’m not sure yet. I can’t quite seem to fathom it. I can still remember when she was a toddler, counting up how old I’d be when she was a teenager. And now here we are. I can’t decide whether the passage of time is more beautiful or cruel.

On the subject of time passing quickly, next week marks our 2-year anniversary in London. I swear it feels like we’ve only been here six months. Three years seemed so long when we signed that contract, but now we’re over halfway through. It’s hard to wrap my head around it, actually. If I can get my thoughts gathered together in time, I hope to be able to share a little more about that next week. Anyway, thanks for tuning in for another episode of my ramblings. Hope you all have a great week!

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  • Mrs. Match
    July 22, 2015 at 2:28 PM

    Wow, 2 years! The time really has flown by. I can still remember reading all of your fun house posts, and about your chickens. The novelty of living in a city would wear off quickly for me too. Sounds like someone is getting a bit homesick! Do you guys have a plan for what happens after the contract is up?
    LOL, that poem Lexie wrote is adorable! Love catching up with you guys and seeing all of your fun travel pics.

    • Sarah Shumate
      July 27, 2015 at 12:20 PM

      Actually, it’s looking like we might be staying in London a little longer than our original 3-year contract now. Ha! I can’t say I’m thrilled, because I’d definitely rather move somewhere new, but I’m not disappointed either. We’re going to move to another part of the city so at least we’ll be able to experience a new flat and neighborhood. That should shake things up for me a bit! But after that…yeah…I think I’m ready for Asia! :)

      I’m so glad you left a comment! I haven’t blogged in months, nor read any other blogs, but I’ve missed you! I hope you guys are enjoying your new-ish home!

      • Mrs. Match
        July 28, 2015 at 5:23 PM

        Asia would definitely be a big change. I have a good friend who lives in China, and I always tell myself I’ll go visit. Maybe when Piglet gets a bit older! I’ve been mia from blogging too. Summers are always hard to keep up! Missed you too friend!

  • Emmymom
    June 17, 2015 at 4:51 PM

    So fun you were able to see the show! Love all the pictures! It will be exciting to see where you end up next

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    May 28, 2015 at 10:30 AM

    I love Liverpool as well! I’ll sing it’s praises with you :) Also, I love lexie’s green hoodie!

  • rorybore
    May 24, 2015 at 4:12 AM

    the Liverpool adventure sounds awesome and amazing!!!
    But the live Shakespeare – you can’t beat that. I used to go to Stratford Theatre here in Canada – which is probably the 2nd best place in the world to see Shakespeare performed. It’s just amazing. And I agree with Lexie — A Midsummer’s Night Dream is my favourite too – so I really hope she gets to see it.

  • Amy @ the tide that left
    May 21, 2015 at 9:58 AM

    Your ramblings are my favourite!

    We don’t have Easter traditions, but I think that will have to change now we have a kid. I especially love the idea of dressing up nicely for the occasion.

    I bought tickets to the Globe for Mr Tide’s 29th birthday, many, many moons ago. It was amazing and we always talk about going back. Hopefully once we’re settled in London we can find a way.

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 22, 2015 at 8:36 AM

      When Lexie was little, we always had an egg hunt for her, too, but she’s grown out of that now. No one is ever too grown up to stop getting a big basket of candy when they wake up, though! :)

      What did you see at the Globe? I’d love to go back again next year. The people in the standing area were the ones who got to interact with the actors the most, but I’m not sure I could stand in one place for three hours without passing out! ;)

      • Amy @ the tide that left
        May 22, 2015 at 8:51 AM

        See we don’t really do that either! I like it! I’m going to adopt American Easter traditions for the baby. An Easter basket sounds fabulous!

        We saw ‘As you like it’. It was amazing and so funny. I loved being under the night sky (I don’t know what they do if it rains!) Definitely need seats, that’s for sure. Next time I’m going to rent one of those little seat back things too!

        Also, did I tell you that we’re probably moving to Chiswick in July?

        • Sarah Shumate
          May 22, 2015 at 9:04 AM

          It does appear Americans make a bigger deal out of Easter than anyone does here in the UK. Our family doesn’t celebrate it as a religious holiday, but a candy-centered holiday with pretty dresses is something I’m on board with any day of the year! ;)

          I didn’t know you’d definitely settled on Chiswick! Great news! If you need any help moving in or finding things around here, let me know. I’m more than happy to help. I’ll be around most of the month except for a week or so in the middle of July when we’re in the US!

          • Amy @ the tide that left
            May 24, 2015 at 8:24 AM

            I think we push back against religion being part of national holidays so much that we sort of forget all of it. That’s going to change for the Tide family though!

            We’re 95% certain it’ll be Chiswick. My husband would like to live a little closer to the centre, but I think we’ll get more bang for our buck in Chiswick. I’m coming to London next week to start the flat hunt. It would be lovely to have some tips on the area when we do get there. It’s all so exciting!

  • Natalie
    May 20, 2015 at 12:22 PM

    I bet the scenic views were unbelievable and I bet the city would start to lose its luster for me too. I can’t believe it’s been 2 years!

  • Katrin
    May 20, 2015 at 3:05 PM

    I love reading your ramblings. :) That mother’s day poem is so adorable. :) And I love all the pictures, the dress in the first picture is so cute. And fantastic that you went to Liverpool. I love the Beatles and want to go to all these places too! Have a fantastic time in Wales!

  • Jessi @2feet1world
    May 19, 2015 at 1:22 PM

    Love the life updates :) Hope you have fun in Wales and I can’t wait to read your post(s) about it. Lexie is a highly talented poet! ;)

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    May 19, 2015 at 12:13 PM

    I love to see a little into your daily lives!! Where are you headed to in Wales?? We really must work on a time to get together. Maybe you could come this way to the country again sometime and bring the family! We’ll have to work on that!!

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 20, 2015 at 10:35 AM

      We’re headed to northern Wales and staying in Betws-y-coed. We kind of have a loose itinerary of hiking and driving through the national park. Should be fun! I would love for our families to get together sometime soon! Would prob have to be summer for us, though. Maybe after you get back from the States?

  • Melanie Fontaine
    May 18, 2015 at 8:06 PM

    I really love this life lately posts!! Please do keep them coming! :) I hope you have a great time in Wales this weekend – I’m already looking forward to seeing your pictures and what you think of it in comparison with Scotland and Ireland! I’ve never been to Wales, but I really want to visit and so I’m excited to see it through your eyes!! :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 20, 2015 at 10:38 AM

      I have a feeling we’re going to love Wales just as much as Scotland and Ireland. We always love the outdoorsy trips best, which I think you do, too. :) This will be our first time driving all the way from London to our destination, so I’m actually pretty excited about that part, too!

  • Stacie Stamper
    May 18, 2015 at 4:13 PM

    Great pictures, as always. And I love the life posts. Will you definitely be headed back to TN when your year is up?

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 20, 2015 at 10:33 AM

      No, where we go next is kind of up in the air! Cory will go wherever they have a place for him, I guess. Could be Nashville or it could be another office in the States – not sure yet!

  • Coba
    May 18, 2015 at 7:23 AM

    That was a really lovely entry and I enjoyed reading it so much. And wow, you managed to get tickets for Romeo & Juliet at the Shakespeare’s Globe Theater! So lucky. it looks and sounds like you had a blast. Hope, you have a great week, too ♥