After spending 12 days in London, it was time to return home to Taiwan and to our real lives. Real life for Paul meant studying and work and for Queenie meant stepping into a new job. The vacation was meant to have been 14 days but because of the struggles we had getting here, we could only stay for 12. We really had a great time and have many great memories.
Of course leaving any place is easy but leaving family anywhere in the world is hard. Leaving my Mom is especially difficult as we know she is alone in London and only sees her family sporadically. Despite this, she is incredibly positive about her life and is really very active. We were very happy to see how busy her life was.
(Mom in the Eagle)
(Mom in Piccadilly Circus)
We are really proud of Mom. She moved to London in her mid-fifties to start a new life for herself. In the time she has been in London she has built a network, bought an apartment, found a steady job and found things to do to keep her active and busy throughout the days and weeks. She has built up some good friendships and learned how to travel around the city by herself. We think she has done an amazing job and we are very proud of her.
Mom was also a brilliant host. She made us feel incredibly welcome in her apartment and even though it was the first time I was going to London and the first time Queenie was staying in my Mom's home in London, we felt like it was our home. We felt as if we had lived there a long time. We were really comfortable. Mom also made sure we did and saw everything we wanted to see and do. She helped facilitate our schedule and helped to get information and details about places we wanted to go. She also made some great suggestions like visiting the War Cabinet.
Mom's neighborhood was also a great neighborhood to live in. Since she lives in a mainly immigrant community their shops stay open fairly late, similar to what we are used to in Taipei. Many of the other places we visited in England closed down at 5:00pm. We were always surprised by this. The stores in Mom's neighborhood remained open till around 9 or 10 pm. It made life a little more convenient.
Mom also had a lot of great little restaurants in the neighborhood. The restaurants were mostly Middle Eastern and even the restaurants that served traditional English fare were run by foreigners. The place we ate traditional bacon and egg breakfast every day were run by Pakistanis. The other breakfast shop was run by Eastern Europeans. The bakery accross the street was run by Iranians and Afghanistanis. The eclectic mix of people made it an interesting place to live.
The convenience of the public transport in Mom's neighborhood also made it an ideal spot to live. Mom had a Tube station right across the road from her and she had a bus stop right outside the her front door. Her Tube station was also only 15-minutes from central London so getting in and out of London was very very easy. All in all, the place we lived was the best we could have been in. We really appreciated Mom's hospitality and we will always cherish these memories we shared with her.
Our final day in London was a little difficult. Knowing we would be leaving in the evening made it tough, but we spent the day shopping in some stores, we made sure we finished the vacation off with a great big English breakfast and we even went for a beer in an old English pub up the road from Mom's house. When we parted of course there were some tears shed but we once again focused on the future and the great memories we will have together in the years to come.
London was great. We look forward to visiting again very soon. We owe a great deal of thanks all the people who made our journey a pleasurable and exciting one including Mom; Richard, Keziah and Noah; Marcel and Denise; Ken and Mr. and Mrs. Shabaaz. Of course, we should also say thank you to London, it really is one of the great world cities.