Finding and creating adventures in everyday life.

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London – Day 5 – Sunday in the City

London – Day 5 – July 14, 2019

Headed off to Tower Hamlets Community Church. This is the church that Colin and I attended when we were dating and after we were married. Our friend, Tony Udin, from YWAM and his wife Anni are the pastors. It’s a great, multi-cultural, community-focused church and it was a joy to be there. Both the boys attended classes and had a great time.

Tony at THCC

There were still people attending from when we used to attend and it was good to see them as well as meet new people over tea and coffee afterwards. Zane was impressed with the treats on offer afterwards.

A bunch of the old crew headed off to Spitalfields Market after church – G&B, Tony & Annie, Claire and her son, Micah. We met up with our other Clare and everyone dispersed to get some lunch. There are heaps of food trucks as well as more permanent places in the market. When we used to go to the market after church on Sundays, the market had a few food places and a rustic market where people sold handmade goods. It was actually at this market that Colin and I decided on a design for my engagement ring and local jewelry maker made it for us. It wasn’t ever super crowded. These days, it’s crazy on a Sunday afternoon – there are heaps of built in shops and restaurants, tons of vendors, and thousands of people!

I really wanted to get falafel as that was one of my favourite things to get in the past. We found a falafel place and they made us an amazing falafel pita. It just so happened that right next door was a Jamaican place so we got a patty, a Ting, and a grape soda. Now to find a place where we could all hang out and catch up.

Amazing Falafel!

Jamaican Tastes – Patty

Jamaican Tastes

Jamaican Tastes

One of my favourite things about London is that you are never very far from a green space. Parks, church yards, and gardens. Right next to the bustling market were some gardens that belonged to local residents, but they were open to the public at certain times. Clare let us in on this secret and we found ourselves in a lovely green and quiet space and were able to spend time enjoying our lunch, chatting, laughing, and catching up while the boys ran around and played with their new friend, Micah.

Sunday afternoon lunch and chat.

Longtime friends.

Friend selfie. (It was quite bright.)

After saying goodbye to some of our friends, another friend, Karen, and her family joined us and we sat and chatted for a while. It really is amazing to reconnect in real life with all these quality people.

Catching up with friends.

On a side note, when we were preparing to go to London, we had a serious chat with the boys that they would be near us the whole time we were there – never far away, always in eye sight. They were getting a bit restless by now as we chatted and told stories. We had seen a koi pond earlier on the other side of the market. They asked repeatedly if they could go back to it. I took a deep breath and gave stern instructions to stay together, and just sent them off by themselves into the wilds of London! They were fine.

After we said goodbye to our friends, we still had a few things on the list for the day and they were all pretty close. We had a look at the Gherkin, which used to stand out so much, but is more understated now that there are more buildings around it, it’s still a great building though. We went to Leadenhall Market and found some cool art. Graeme was following the cricket and keeping us updated on the results.

At the base of the Gherkin.

Us and the Gherkin

Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market

Then we wandered through The City towards St Dunstan-in-the-East. The City on a Sunday evening is perfect to see the sights, and enjoy the architecture and art as there are no crowds. St Dunstan was one of my Pinterest finds and it did not disappoint. It’s a garden inside the ruins of an old church. We had it to ourselves for most of the time we were there and it closed right after we left. It was a bit magical.

Foliage wall and wrestling brothers.

Strolling through The City on a Sunday evening.

Colin’s favourite building.

St Dunstan-in-the-East

St Dunstan-in-the-East

St Dunstan-in-the-East

St Dunstan-in-the-East

St Dunstan-in-the-East

St Dunstan-in-the-East

St Dunstan-in-the-East Photobomb

St Dunstan-in-the-East

By this time, everyone was feeling a bit hangry and we headed off to find dinner. We happened upon Savage Gardens which was quite cool as Truly, Madly, Deeply by Savage Garden was one of the songs at our wedding that my sister and brother-in-law sang. Colin sang a lovely rendition for us.

Savage Gardens

We had a lovely pub meal and everyone revived a bit. Had a great pint of Black Dragon cider which had such a different taste – very honey-like, but not too sweet.

The Tower at Twilight

We went over our plans for the next couple of days and headed back to the hotel. It was nearly 11 pm and time for bed!

16,360 steps

6.82 miles

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London – Day 4 – Old Stomping Grounds

London – Day 4 – July 13, 2019

We all slept through the night. It was amazing! Didn’t start the day until 10 am – breakfast at Gregg’s – no more of this neglecting breakfast business!

We headed off to Whitechapel. This was a big nostalgia day! We wandered through the market and I bought some earrings. I love to see all the different fruits, vegetables, and products from other cultures.

Back in our old stomping grounds. Whitechapel Market.

Amazing variety of produce.

The Kray’s Pub and where Ronnie Kray was shot and killed. Proper East End.

Jude and me on Whitechapel Road.

We took a bus back the way we had walked and went to the Whitechapel Gallery. I was a frequent visitor here when I lived in London and particularly when I was at art school. It’s one of my favourite galleries and they have expanded it significantly. There were some cool exhibits with pieces about rural life in other countries. There was also some art that we didn’t quite “get”, but it was fun.

Waiting for the bus.

At Whitechapel Gallery

Whitechapel Gallery

We wandered down Brick Lane and saw heaps of street art. The boys sure were getting an education! We stopped at a park by Code Street and the boys played on the zip line and the cool obstacle course-like playground. I had a look at more of the graffiti and actually got to see people working on some of it.

Brick Lane

Checking out the Street Art

Zip Line!

Kid Time

Street Art in Shoreditch.

The Brick Lane area was pretty rough and undeveloped when I lived there, but it is now a super trendy area with lots of restaurants, shops and galleries. One of the strangest things was walking down Hanbury Street and seeing all the shops – it was so odd. The only thing that used to be of much consequence there were the Hanbury Community Project where Becky and I worked and where we had The Cavern, and the Jack the Ripper tours that stopped across the street at one of the spots where he killed one of his victims.

Me outside Hanbury Hall.

We went into what was the Hanbury Community Project and is now a cafe. It’s a really beautiful space inside and if I lived in London, it would definitely be a place that I would hang out. The building has an amazing history and is a listed building. Here’s what it says on the Blue Plaque outside the building: Hanbury Hall:

Built 1719 as a French Huguenot Church. Used by La Patente Church 1740 onwards. John Wesley preached here. 1787 it became a German Lutheran Church. Used by the Baptists then the United Free Methodists. Charles Dickens gave public readings here. 1887 Christ Church bought the building as its Church Hall. 1888 Annie Besant and Eleanor Marx-Aveling held the matchstick girls strike meetings here which helped to establish the British Trade Unions. Throughout its life this hall has served Church, community and nation.

Becky and I weren’t sure why they forgot to include our time there! It’s quite cool to think that in this amazing building we taught classes, had the Cavern, and it’s also where Colin and I had our engagement party.

With my boys at Hanbury Hall

At our engagement party at Hanbury.

Hanbury Hall has changed a lot!

Hanbury Hall

We decided to have a curry for lunch and were sad that Cafe Bangla didn’t exist anymore, but were thrilled when we went to the place where it was, to discover that the Princess Diana painting as well as the other creative art pieces were still on the walls. Sadly, they weren’t serving lunch, but the owner let us go in and take photos. Then we went to his other restaurant which also had cool art on the wall. It was so good! Poppadoms, amazing curry, peshwari naan. The owner kept checking in with us and we had some great conversations. When it was time to go, he called us family, gave us all hugs and wanted to take a selfie with us. It was a fabulous experience.

Back under the watchful eye of the lovely Princess Diana!

Favourite foods, favourite places, favourite people.

London Mural at Aladin

London Mural at Aladin

London Mural at Aladin

Poppadoms and chutneys.

So good!

Garlic naan for the win!

Family Curry!

Curry at Aladin Curry House.


With our new friend at Aladin Curry House.

We carried on down Brick Lane and headed to Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium on Bethnal Green Road. Zane was so excited and then so brokenhearted when we discovered you have to be 12 to go in. He coped well though and we carried on down Bethnal Green Road and memory lane. We passed a shop where a friend used to work and it turns out she still does and was there so we got to catch up a bit with Marlene.

Once again, we ended up at a McDonald’s for a cold drink and a 99 Cent Flake Ice Cream cone – they’re still 99p at McDonald’s while being more expensive at Mr Whippy.

99 Flake

I wanted to get some photos of St John at Bethnal Green which is where I used to help and teach art classes with the homeless and also got to put some of my art in an exhibit. When we got there, the doors were open and there was an art exhibit happening. It is such a cool space for art and the art was amazing. The exhibit was in the sanctuary, up in the balcony and down in the Crypt which was where the classes that I taught were. It was great to see the space being used so much for the community. There are all sorts of classes being held throughout the week down in the Crypt and we saw some people making sparkly costumes for the Notting Hill Festival.

St John on Bethnal Green – hidden by the lovely trees.

St John on Bethnal Green

The balcony of St John on Bethnal Green

Art at St John on Bethnal Green

Art at St John on Bethnal Green

Art at St John on Bethnal Green

One of my angels in an exhibition at St John’s Bethnal Green years ago.

One of my pieces that was in an exhibition at St John’s Bethnal Green many years ago.

Art at St John on Bethnal Green

In the Crypt of St John on Bethnal Green where I used to teach art classes.

It’s hard for me to explain how meaningful it was for me to share these spaces with the boys. It’s probably not as meaningful to them, but it is amazing to see them in these places that were so important to me and such a big part of my life.

We walked back to Weaver’s Field Park and the boys played on the playground while the adults sat and chatted. Again, there was the variety of cultures in the space and I loved that the boys just jumped into and were nonplussed by it all.

Bethnal Green Station.

My heart! Heading down Bethnal Green Road.

Heading into Weaver’s Fields. Part of the sculpture is a security camera.

Relaxing at Weaver’s Fields

We carried on to see our Cheshire Street flat. So many good times in that place. Also the cold and the rats in the garden and the endless pasta bakes.

Becky and me at our Cheshire Street Flat.

Back to Brick Lane to the bagel shop and then toward Liverpool Street. We found a place hear Spitalfields Market to sit and eat our bagels. There was a big screen tv showing Wimbledon and lots of people watching.

Bagel Shop! Meeting all your bagel needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

Ordering our bagels.

I loved seeing my boys in so many places that are meaningful to me. Brick Lane.

Enjoying our Brick Lane Bagels.

We took the train back to Stratford. Back to the pub for drinks and talks while the boys played on the playground.


Lovely day on Memory Lane.

20,997 steps

8.75 miles

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Photo Challenge 2018 – Week 33

We went to the coast a few weeks ago while Colin’s Mum was here from New Zealand and had a lovely time. Below are a couple of my journal entries from our time there talking about one of my favourite memories from the Summer.

Journal Entry – Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Week 33 5

There’s something magical about children and the sea. They face down and challenge it to games of skill and courage.

Week 33 8

I hear Zane’s shivering hum, but they show no signs of coming in or wanting to come in and probably won’t until we tell them to.

Week 33 7

Their hands are so cold they can barely bend their fingers, and yet they bend over and plunge their hands into the wet sand, grabbing handfuls and race back into the waves to jump and throw sand and bury their feet while trying to stay standing as the waves pound against them.

Week 33 9

Over and over again they leap into the waves and I see the vast expanse of ocean beyond them, not the placid, gentle ocean of a tropical beach on a clear day, but the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean on the Oregon coast. They look small and I shiver at the thought of them going out too far, but they stand strong and yell a challenge to the sea and then turn and run, laughing, towards the shore as the waves chase them down and dwindle until they are ankle depth and then disappear altogether. Then it’s time for the boys to turn and run back out into the crashing surf – out into waves that come higher and higher as they successfully face the waves before and they venture a bit further out.

Week 33 6

Week 33 10

I sit on the shore, comforatable on my blanket, in my warm hoodie, taking photos, capturing memories with both my camera and my mind. As a worst case scenario thinking, I’ve already thought about what I will do if I see one of them go too far and get knocked down, but I want them to push their limits and be brave and take risks. I’m watching and rejoicing as they do what kids so at the beach. I’m also a little bit jealous of their carefree abandon and wonder when, as we grow up, getting cold and wet outweighs the joy of jumping in the waves.

Maybe today is the day that I will join them and make some memories.

Journal Entry – Thursday, August 23, 2018

Thinking about yesterday…

We arrived back at the house after 5 pm – it was cool and foggy, but I was determined to venture out into the ocean with the boys. Off we went to the beach. I must admit, I was feeling a bit of, “This is something I should do.”, and those first steps into the water were freezing! After a few minutes, all I can say is that it was pure joy. The boys showed me the game they had been playing in the waves earlier and I joined in. We had so much fun. I was soon numb and no longer noticed the temperature (so this is how they last so long without coming in!). We jumped and ran and ventured further and further out into the waves. We laughed so much as the waves hit us and we occasionally fell down.

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Week 33 3

Because I was with them, the boys went farther out than they had yet gone, into bigger, fiercer waves. I felt brave and powerful even while feeling small and fragile in the face of the waves coming at me. Finally, we came out of the sea and Daddy was waiting with dry towels and I still didn’t feel cold even though my legs and feet were bright red because of all the blood racing to my extremities trying to do its job.

We walked back to the house and the breeze felt balmy even though Colin insisted it was cold. At the house, Colin hosed us all down, getting the sand off – he was, perhaps, a bit too thorough with me and I was soaked and chased down the driveway with the hose, to everyone’s amusement.

Then it was hot showers and hot drinks all around. I honestly had the best time and will cherish those moments of shared experience in the cold ocean with Jude and Zane. It also won’t be the last time that I do it. Feeling very grateful.

Now I am left with a lot of deep thoughts, metaphysical musings about our roles as parents – protectors, partners, pushers.

Sometimes we watch and encourage and allow them to be brave and bold on their own.

Sometimes we participate and by our very presence, they go farther and do more than they would have done on their own.

Both are important, both have their own challenges and joys. We need wisdom when one should be done over the other.

As our children are out their on their own, we are learning and growing in faith and courage and joy.

When we leap in and join them, we are also learning and growing in faith and courage and joy.

Week 33 4

And right now, in this moment, this quiet morning on the coast, as I reflect and muse, the boys simply have a solid, wonderful memory of their Mom leaping out in the cold waves with them. They aren’t thinking about how I looked in my swimsuit or the fact that they are becoming more brave because they spent time in the ocean. They aren’t concerned with whether we have any good pictures to try to capture the moment. They aren’t deep in thought about life lessons, they honestly just had fun, and when it comes down to it, so did I.

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Photo Challenge 2018 – Week 32

Karate on the beach. The boys were so cold at sunset from playing in the water that they had a hard time making fists and keeping their fingers together for knife hands. They had the best time though and I love to see them doing karate in different settings. After all, dojo is everywhere!

Week 32 1Week 32 2Week 32 3

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Photo Challenge 2018 – Week 31

Weather-wise, I have to say that Summer is my least favourite season. Bugs, spiders, being hot, these are a few of my least favourite things.

However, one thing that I do love about Summer is that my boys are home and we have a more relaxed pace of life and more time together. This Summer felt transitional. There have been many transitions as my boys have gotten older and a few of them stick out to me. Walking and all the adventure that brings, turning 5 and starting school, turning 9 (this is when my true, solid memory begins for myself – I remember pretty much everything from the time I was 9 on), and then of course the transition this Summer – Jude leaving elementary school and preparing to begin middle school.

Week 31 2

Smiley Face!

This stage feels scary for me as a mother and for Jude as well, though for different reasons. I know some of the things that he will come in contact with – the influences, the choices, the meanness that exists. There are also many things that he will come in contact with that I haven’t the faintest idea about. For Jude it is all just new and unknown. He’s doing things for the first time, things that are old hat for some of us, but it’s unknown to him.

Week 31 3

Middle Schooler Face

Back to this Summer, the unknown is heading quickly toward us, we’ve said goodbye to grade school and middle school has yet to start. It felt like some of the time, I had my child, my Jude, with me. He played and pretended and was silly and carefree. Some of the time I had this new creature, Jude, my young man. He was serious and responsible and didn’t want to do “kid” stuff. It wasn’t even a day by day thing, some of the time, it was a moment by moment shift from boychild to manchild.

Week 31 1

I am excited to get to know this new facet of Jude and I will miss the child Jude. Whichever one shows up, I’m just super thankful that I get to be his Mom and be a part of his life.

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Photo Challenge 2018 – Week 29

Colin didn’t particularly want me to post pictures of his rank test, but he reluctantly gave his permission to post a few. Rank tests are, shall we say, interesting. We were talking about them and, try as you may, they aren’t often about perfect form or the absolute best stances, though that is what we are trying for (our horse stances at the end of the test feel deep and solid, when you look at the photos, they are far from deep). Rank tests, in my vast experience, are first of all about survival, about making it to the end, about not dying! They are also about remembering and performing all of the things that you have learned in karate up to this point. They are about self-doubt, sweat, and finally about doing something that maybe you didn’t think you would be able to do.

All that to say, I thought Colin did amazing at his Purple Belt Test and I am very proud of him to come back from an injury, face a rank test by himself after a full day of work, and do really well.

I was also super pleased to be on the outside looking in and being able to take photos.

Week 29 1Week 29 3Week 29 2Week 29 4

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Photo Challenge 2018 – Week 25

Our Annual End of School Camping Trip, this year at Prineville Reservoir, was all about sky and water. So many gorgeous skies – clouds, colors, bald eagles, swallows flying, fish catching, sunsets.

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