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Monthly Review: May 2020

Submitted by Bethany on Sun, 05/31/2020 - 10:00

Author’s Note: I stopped blogging regularly in 2020, but now in 2023, I am using Google Photos and Google Maps timeline to recreate a post about what we were up to each month! 


May started off strong with a Zoom reunion with some of my closest friends from seminary. We were also figuring out this new format and someone suggested we use it to have a game night, hosted by the incomparable Taylor (my former roommate and still friend.) We met in the afternoon for everyone else, late evening for me, and it was so much fun. Our 10-year anniversary of graduation was on the 10th, we Zoomed on the 2nd. We definitely talked quite a bit about how we weren’t taught to do any of this online ministry stuff in seminary! 

It was in this month that we discovered the Little Venice area of London, which, like so many cool areas of London, was within walking distance of our flat. Here is some information from a sign I took a picture of: “The Grand Union Canal has several branches, known as ‘arms.’ Its main line connects London and Birmingham, stretching for 137 miles (220km) with 166 locks along its route. At the London end the Grand Union connects into the River Thames at Brentford in West London.”

We enjoyed many sunny evening walks along the canals, (again, I have no idea what people mean when they say the UK is gray and rainy all the time, that is so not our experience!) 

By the 8th, I was so sad about not being able to go out to a pub for a Full English breakfast that I decided to recreate one at home. I then promptly remembered why I had never done this before (and haven’t since!) - it is so much work! I will happily pay the £5-£9 at a pub for someone to do all this work for me. During lockdown however, this did satisfy my craving for the moment! [I was missing toast/fry bread and should have made my life easier with hashbrowns instead of those potatoes, but we didn’t have a freezer at the time. Steve gave me a passing grade on this attempt.]

That same day, the Queen addressed the nation on the 75th anniversary of VE Day. She spoke at the same time that her father did all those years ago, and she recalled witnessing the jubilant celebrations in London that day. She noted that we couldn’t celebrate this anniversary in the way that we would wish, but it was fitting to honour their sacrifice with sacrifices of our own to keep each other safe. You can read the full speech here
[Author’s Note: There is a fabulous movie called A Royal Night Out that is a fictionalized story of what Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret got up to on VE Day, we watched it on Disney+ and I highly recommend!]

As our stamina built and our walks got longer and longer, we explored further and discovered new areas of Hyde Park. We found the Italian Gardens which were constructed in the 1860’s, as a gesture of love from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria. It was quite the grand romantic gesture!

Joel needed new shoes because of all the walking we were doing, so he ordered some online. They came with a bunch of coupons for things we didn’t need…including a voucher for £50 off a case of wine! With free next-day delivery! We don’t really drink much so I’m not sure why we fell for this - I blame it on lockdown. Next thing I knew we had 12 bottles of wine delivered to us. (Note: I’m writing this in September 2023 and we still have 4 bottles left!) 

Since hairdressers and barber’s were considered non-essential, Joel could not go anywhere for a haircut. I had cut his hair a few times while we were traveling, but neither of us found it a particularly pleasant experience. We had so been looking forward to paying the pros for this service! With no other options available, we decided to give Joel a buzz cut. You can tell he was really happy about it. 

With not much else to do, I decided to “attend” the Festival of Homiletics this year as for the first time they were offering an online option. (I had gone in person a couple of years and always loved it.) It was quite a different experience sitting on my air mattress in my tiny flat in London during lockdown…but it gave me something to do! 

Since I had conquered the Full English breakfast, I decided to go for another British classic - the Sunday Roast. But I figured I should start with just the meat since I had never done a roast before. So I served it with American sides (mashed potatoes and gravy, seasoned corn) rather than the traditional British ones (roasted potatoes, yorkshire pudding, stuffing, and lots of veg that varies but generally includes roasted carrots, parsnips, greens of some sort.) It turned out pretty well but it was so much work I again vowed to leave this classic meal to the experts. 

It was near the end of this month that Mike and I finally decided to try Sunday worship on Zoom. It was starting to become the trend among churches so we replaced our previous attempts (Facebook live stream, pre-recording) with this and it worked pretty well. It was still a lot of work to pre-record music - the church musician would record himself playing, send it to me, I would record myself singing, then we would edit it all together - but it meant we didn’t have to do that for the whole service. Little did I know church on Zoom would be the way of the future for good!

Around this time we also found what was perhaps our favorite Notting Hill discovery - Happy Donuts! This adorable little donut shop is located on Portobello Road and is so small you might just miss it - but it has a bright red exterior and tons of delicious looking donuts on display. We decided that we would treat ourselves to two every Sunday (if we were meeting some health goals, which, with all the walking we were doing, was happening pretty easily!) We started off with trying the Peanut Butter Custard and the Ferrero Rocher donuts. 

We also wandered and found another park where I was surprised to discover that Palm trees grow in the UK! I’m sure we had seen them before but I really took notice of them this time. I had long associated Palm trees with Florida, as that was the only place I ever saw them in the US. I guess I just always assumed they needed to live in really warm, tropical environments. But now that I notice them, it turns out they are all over the UK!

Eventually, we started to get bored with the areas we could explore on foot and wanted to branch out further. There were some Santander Cycles parked right outside our flat - bikes you can rent for fairly cheaply by the hour. So on Monday the 25th we rented a couple bikes and rode to see how far we could go! We ended up crossing the Albert Bridge over the River Thames. (And again, it was a perfectly gorgeous sunny day.) Restrictions were starting to loosen a little bit at this point, so that evening we were invited to a socially distanced BBQ at my colleague's house, just two doors down. I didn’t take any pictures but the food was incredible! (Also I was happy not to have to cook for once!) 

Here's a cute selfie from one of our park wanders!

On the last day of May we made it to another far edge of Hyde Park, this time stumbling across some amazing Elephant sculptures. 

There was also this gorgeous horse head. 

In one area of the park, a Black Lives Matter protest was happening. The murder of George Floyd had occurred just a few days prior by police in Minneapolis. And it was truly heard and noticed around the world. We stayed for a while to listen to these speakers who were reminding people that “the UK is not innocent.” Often, when things like this happen in the US, the UK wants to pat itself on the back for not being racist. At least, not being that racist. But unfortunately, the UK is not perfect, and there are instances of police brutality here, too. (Though, generally, without guns, as police don’t tend to be armed here.) 

You know, it’s funny, I spent most of lockdown thinking we didn’t do very much, therefore there was nothing worth blogging about. But it turns out we got up to quite a lot! I don’t think it would have made very interesting daily posts like I used to write when we traveled, but I sure am glad I am going back and recreating these monthly posts now. It’s bringing back so many fond memories! 

XOXO, Bethany