September and October were both crazy busy (we finally moved all our stuff out of my parents’ garage and dining room and into our new home) and frustratingly slow (hello solo parenting in a brand new neighbourhood). We are so relieved to finally be getting settled in a place we can call home for the next little while – it feels like a big exhale to be able to unpack.
At the same time, the transition is in some ways just beginning now that the boxes are unpacked. Now comes the longer task of putting down roots and making friends and figuring out what this next season is going to look like for me. Still, I’m grateful to be here finally.
Here’s some of the things I’ve been into this past couple of months…
I’m currently midway through both Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz Weber. Both are brilliant and I am highlighting so much. Actually, taking notes and photos of Big Magic because it’s a library book. I am soooooo happy to be back in an English speaking country if just for the libraries! There’s a small one just five minutes walk from our house, open on afternoons, or if I walk another ten minutes I get to the huge Peckham library with a view of London City skyline in the distance. The problem is overestimating how much I can actually read with a toddler to care for…
This month I also read an advanced copy of Sarah Bessey’s new book Out of Sorts, which I really loved. So much of her writing reflects the journey I have been on the last eight years or so, particularly the last few years. I almost wish I could have read it at the start, but now I found myself just nodding to so much. That there are other people wrestling with the same issues of faith and church as I am is just very freeing. I know I’ll be writing more about this book soon.
I read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler earlier in September too, and really enjoyed that one. It’s hard to write about without giving away one of the key plot twists, but definitely recommended.
The Great British Bake Off conveniently started the week we arrived in the UK after our big move and so became required viewing. Even Rasmus enjoyed it. Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood may be the best TV judges ever (I swear Mary flirts with him) and I was #TeamNadiya the whole way through. Really I just want to live next door to her and bake cakes with her every day. That’s not too much to ask?
Since it finished, we watched the GBBO Masterclass episodes where Mary and Paul bake a lot of the challenges themselves and explain the techniques, which was actually super interesting.
Now I’m just looking forward to Sherlock coming back to the screen oh so soon!
Our evening schedule currently usually looks like Rasmus cooking dinner while I put Kaya down to bed. Consequently, when I do get into the kitchen I apparently have a build up of cooking desire that makes me try recipes like this Vegetarian Pie (adapted slightly – ours was with butternut, barley, chestnuts, chorizo and caramelised onions!) with from-scratch hot crust pastry.
I blame Great British Bake Off for this overenthusiasm. Although it turned out really delicious (Kaya loved it) so I’m not complaining.
I’ve also made:
- this Pear Ginger Quickbread which was yummy (I halved the recipe, subbed half wholewheat flour and only used 3/4 the amount of sugar which was plenty),
- Beetroot Falafel, which were good but I’d add a lot of fresh herbs to the recipe next time,
- Medaljer, a traditional Danish treat, which is two shortbread cookies filled with patisserie creme and topped with icing. They have as many variations as Americans have cupcake flavours, but for my first time I just followed Rasmus’ Mormor’s recipe. (It’s similar to this one)
- I baked with Kaya for the first time and it was not a disaster! We made pumpkin muffins, and then I used up the rest of the pumpkin in these oatmeal cookies.
We moved into our permanent rented home at the end of September and it’s so nice to have been able to start exploring our new neighbourhood this past month. We live in SE London so have been discovering Peckham and Nunhead and East Dulwich so far. But our three weeks in temp accommodation near Kings Cross were also fun. A few things we’ve enjoyed so far…
- Camley Street Natural Park, just 100m from Kings Cross, is a lovely little nature reserve that my new friend Heather introduced us to one sunny afternoon. Perfect size for little ones (although mind the pond!) as it’s pretty small, but still feels like an escape from the city.
- Coram’s Fields is a children’s park (no unaccompanied adults allowed!) close to the Great Ormond Street hospital. It has these ginormous beautiful trees, lots of little, slightly worn play areas, and some rabbits and goats which Kaya loved. We went almost every morning while we lived nearby.
- When Rasmus’ parents came to stay a few weeks ago, we managed to get a walk-in table for Sunday lunch at the Dean Swift pub, just a few minutes walk from Tower Bridge. The portions were massive and delicious – I had the pork belly roast with crackling, roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding, the works. Really good, but you should definitely book if you want to go.
- St Paul’s Cathedral – not exactly a discovery but I’d never actually been inside until my in laws were here and it is lovely. We stayed for Evensong one Monday evening which was a restful experience.
- My new favourite place to watch autumn in all its glory is Nunhead cemetery (photo above), one of five Victorian cemeteries that were built on the then-outskirts of the city. It’s wild and overgrown and utterly beautiful. Tip: the phone number to call in case you get locked in is on the outside of the gate. Take a picture. (A lady walking her dog gave me that tip!)
…being close to my family again. This week I got to meet up with cousins who I haven’t seen since before Kaya was born. And I’ve seen my Grandpa twice in the last month on his trips down south from Scotland, which was never possible from abroad. My sister came up for the day on her day off. My dad is booking holiday just to come and hang out with Kaya and I for a couple of days. And it is all just wonderful.
…conferences and workshops. I missed this while we abroad. There were rarely Christian conferences and speakers to go to. This month I attended the Women to Women conference, which meant a chance to meet Sarah Bessey in person. I hung out with amazing and inspiring women at the Gathering of Women Leaders. And earlier I went to a small workshop run by the Parish Collective, on how to really impact the neighbourhoods we’re living in.
…seeing our baby. I finally got to go for another scan, my first since we left Luxembourg. And a baby changes a lot between 10 and 23 weeks. It was special to have Rasmus and Kaya there with me, and we just managed to avoid them telling us the gender! Hoping for another surprise.
…friends who send cards and skype me and write me lots of whatsapp messages when I am feeling lonely and isolated. Some of these are friends from old homes, some I’ve never met in person. All of them make me feel seen and known when I really need it.
on the blog.
It’s been quiet, I know. Mostly because transitioning is TOUGH. And I’m mostly just wanting to nap when not looking after Kaya. But I’m starting to find my energy for it again, and got out a few posts…
- Seeking Beauty in the Hard Seasons
- Surprise Harvest in the Wilderness (my September post for SheLoves)
- Everything New, Even Me (my October post for SheLoves)
- What Do You Need?
- Leaning into the Darkness (on Halloween and All Saints)
I’m linking up, as usual, with Leigh’s monthly What I’m Into post.