When we visited Europe during the first few months of this trip, we were all sad that we didn’t make it to Dublin to see our dear friends Jen, Eoghan, Ryan and Zoe. So, it was with great excitement that we planned a long weekend there on our Euro 2.0 swing. In 2016, the boys and I had traveled via the Virgin “rail and sail” from London, and had really enjoyed the trip, so we planned a repeat, to show Kyle how fun it was. It didn’t go quite as planned, and Kyle has included the less-than-fun trip in his Best Worst Moments blog. We did make it to Dublin, about 6 hours behind schedule, and the ever-gracious Jen met us at the port close to midnight.

On Saturday morning, Eoghan was off on an excruciating-sounding endurance race, so the rest of us went for a lovely, leisurely hike in solidarity. We walked a loop up though the Ticknock Forest to the Fairy Castle, passing by coconut-scented gorse and stopping at a babbling brook where the kids scooped handfuls of clear water while I waited for a far darrig to come spirit them all away because clearly we had entered an Irish folktale.



Luckily, we all made it back to the car safely.

Jen had emailed a few days before we arrived offering up whatever domestic opportunities I had been missing while on the road – full use of their beautiful, fully stocked kitchen, a washer and dryer, etc. What I didn’t anticipate was that she would engineer a flat tire for me to help change as we were picking Eoghan up from his race. I’ll fully admit that Eoghan did most of the heavy lifting (after running and biking some ridiculous number of kilometers up hill and down dale), but I got my hands dirty, at least.

Saturday night, the boys all went to see Captain Marvel while Jen, Zoe, and I settled in with a cozy fire, good conversation, and some reruns of the Great British Bake Off. It was my favorite kind of evening.

We recently watched and loved Sing Street, so on Sunday morning Jen was kind enough to take us to Dillon’s Park where we could get a good view of Dalkey Island, a key location in the film.


Then we headed over to watch the second half of Ryan’s rugby match. It was a brisk, windy spring morning, and I hopped around trying to stay warm, wishing for a hot coffee, while adolescent boys of all shapes and sizes ran around comfortably in shorts and rugby shirts. We got a primer on the rules of rugby and Ryan’s team emerged victorious. I think, however, that after seeing some of the more emphatic tackles, Max and Henry will probably not be taking up the sport.


In the afternoon, our friends Greg and Caroline came to the house for lunch. Greg and I worked together in San Francisco in the early 2000s and his open heart and Irish humor tended to be a highlight of my days. We met his wife, Caroline, when we visited in 2016, and liked her instantly. She matches him in wit and kindness, and exceeds him in beauty (sorry, Greg). It was a great afternoon of laughter, reminiscence, and delicious food.

Jen, Greg, me, and Kyle  – looking exactly like we did when we all lived in SF

Speaking of delicious food, I can’t really put into words just how much delicious food we ate over the course of the weekend. I’m not sure if Eoghan and Jen were worried we had been malnourished on our travels or if they were just being their regular generous selves, but we ate our weights, at least. Even Ryan got into the act, making pancakes (that the boys devoured) for breakfast the first morning.

Monday was a bit of a logistics and organization day for us. We took (probably too much) advantage of Jen’s generosity, and left her with a box worth of stuff that we had been carting around but not using, to be shipped back to the states.

Needless to say, we loved our time in Dublin and it was only the anticipation of meeting up with even more friends in Paris that kept the boys from abandoning ship and just staying in Dublin. We left Monday afternoon with full hearts, full bellies, and slightly lighter backpacks.

London calling

The Clash’s cri de coeur from 1979 seems to be newly relevant in these strange days of “will they or won’t they” Brexit chaos. No one seems to know what’s really going on, not even the folks doing the thing. There seems to be a massively consequential vote in Parliament daily, and yet nothing is resolved.


In the meantime, we’ve been having a great time in London. It took a few days to adjust to the time change, but we’re no longer waking up at 4am or falling asleep at 7pm. It’s colder than I’d like, but Henry is ecstatic about that, and cheerfully refuses to wear his sweatshirt even when I can SEE the goosebumps on his arms.

We hit the ground running, visiting the British Museum the morning after we arrived.

The British Museum



We then visited the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studios that afternoon. The boys enjoyed it just as much as the first time we went, in 2016, and after three years of waiting, were blissfully happy to get to the butterbeer.


Max had his stitches removed a couple of days after we arrived, at the Junction Health Centre here in Battersea. It’s an NHS walk-in clinic, so available to all, and free. We waited just a short time, the facilities were modern, and the NP who removed the stitches was fantastic. We could do healthcare like this, America.

So many of the museums here are free, and we’ve taken advantage of that to sample a number of them. Victoria and Albert, the Science Museum, and The Natural History Museum. We paid to visit the Churchill War Rooms, and it was entirely worth it. Over the last few years, I’ve read a number of books* that take place in London during WWII, and the war rooms really brought depth to some of the stories.

Churchill War Rooms: The Fine & Warm sign indicated the current weather for all of the people working underground for hours / days straight

A personal highlight was finding the home where my great-grandfather George Pitter was born in 1871. He left England in 1903 for North America, traveling west across Canada with his family. By the time my grandfather, Earl Clifford Pitter, was born in 1919, the family was in Victoria, B.C. and would sail for Oakland, California when he was just one year old.

8 Trevor Square: home of Tania’s great-grandfather and his family in the early 1870s
8 Trevor Square
Railing around Westminster Abbey. According to family lore, Tania’s great-grandfather George Pitter (blacksmith) worked on this railing in the late 1800’s.

I’ve had the chance to catch up with friends here, too. Serendipitously, my former colleague Catharine was in London for a conference and we met for a delicious lunch at Padella, before I rejoined Kyle and the boys at the Sky Garden.

View from the Sky Garden

On St. Patrick’s Day, we shared a Guinness and an enormous Sunday roast at The Prince Albert pub with my college friend Tricia, who lives the expat life here with her husband and two adorable children. After lunch, we wandered through Battersea Park while experiencing what felt like all four seasons in a brief hour. Sun, rain, wind, and then sun again. It can be hard to keep up.

Battersea Park playground

We also took a day trip to Oxford, where we had lunch with Ellie, who took the boys on many an adventure in Paris when we stayed there in 2016. The boys loved seeing her again, and talked her ear off. I think she appreciated the break from studying.


After lunch we walked around town, marveling at the history. The university lists 1231 as the year of its founding, but it has been a place of learning since 1096, or earlier.

The “Bridge of Sighs”, New College, Oxford

We’re off to Dublin next!

*  Books: Life after Life and Transcription by Kate Atkinson, The Night Watch by Sarah Waters, Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.


A crazy day

Seriously, I’m not joking. Last night at about one o’clock I was up late listening to an audiobook that I just got and I heard something from outside my room. My room is the only one downstairs and I thought it was my mom or dad coming down to do something because they couldn’t sleep. But when I looked at my door (all of the doors inside the house are tinted glass so I could see the shadow of whoever was standing in front of the back door) I could see a shadow of someone that didn’t look like anyone who should be in the house. I still thought it was my dad though so I open the door and looked out. When I saw the guy I just kind of froze and stared and for a second he stared back and then he ran. I was confused about why and how he was in the house and couldn’t really think straight so I just watched him run out the back door and jump over the wall around our house. That’s when I started thinking again and I knew instantly that he should NOT have been here and I ran upstairs and woke up my parents and told them that there had been a stranger in the house and they came down and checked if anything was missing. Nothing had been taken because he had just got in. In the morning though we found my mom’s kindle on the other side of the wall he jumped over. Our landlord also found his ladder propped up against the wall at the window to the stairs. It was really crazy that it happened on the last week so we only have to be worried about it for a few days.


OK, while I was in the middle of writing this I went out into the living room to ask a question and I suddenly felt dizzy and I fell and my head hit directly on the corner of the wall and I got a big cut and it bled a LOT. I had to go to the hospital to get stitches but I’m OK now and I just got the cut cleaned and have to get the stitches taken out in London in 5 days. For now I have to take antibiotics twice a day so it doesn’t get infected or anything. I will try to get the blog about my cousins’ visit done soon but it’ll be much harder to in London because we will be so busy. Hope you’re having a better day than I did. Bye.