In the airport as we left London, I bought a soft, cozy cashmere cardigan that I have worn constantly since being home, wrapping in the memories of London.
Paris is a city you visit; London is a city you live in. While we spent a week in Paris being tourists and seeing things, we spent a week in London simply being. We shopped in all the High Street stores in St. John's Wood near our flat. Beatrix visited Hamley's Toy Store, and was in heaven. We met friends in pubs, my friend Ben took us around the new building at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Patrick's friend Matt flew down from Paisley for the day to join us.
We did to tourist-y things too. We did a bus tour, and a Thames River boat ride (so many changes in that area — and I hate to say it, but the Shard is beautiful!) We spent the morning at the Tower, where Beatrix told us about ghosts and we had a fantastic Beefeater guide. We drank tea at Kensington Palace. We went to several museums: the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the (new) Tate. We saw Matilda on the West End (in great seats!), and went on a fantastic ghost tour (Beatrix's high point of the trip).
We went to 2 Christmas markets, including spending a day in wonderful company in the Hyde Park one, which is hands-down the most American thing I've ever seen in London. We had lots of delicious fish-and-chips. We went to markets. I drank not-enough cider, and ate pounds of HobNobs and a few Lion bars (still not enough of either). We walked down Fawley Road to look at my old flat. Beatrix became a pro at the Tube. We found the Darlings' house (from Peter Pan) and had a delicious Italian dinner at Polpo in Noting Hill. We enjoyed mussels at Belgo Centraal, noodles at Wagamama, and sushi at Yo Sushi. We stumbled around with a 25 year old A to Zed and got lost only a few times.
I really came into my own in London, almost 30 years ago. It's a city I know well, and love fiercely. It's the only other place I could really consider living (if I suddenly came into a LOT of money...), and it was wonderful to ignore Thanksgiving and to share that with my beautiful family.