My sister Annie and her kids, Patrick and Keira, came over most days to play during our time in New York. Together, the kids sang the alphabet song, splashed around naked in the paddling pool and chased my parents’ cats. From her cousins, Sophia learned the joys of American food like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, goldfish, Cheerios and hot dogs. The main thing they learned from her was how to misbehave. Annie, a special education teacher, has taught us how to incentivize good behavior with a chart - circles to be filled with stickers as reward for doing or not doing certain things, with a grand prize of an ice pop or other small treat once the chart is complete. Perhaps we could all do well with charts. Sophia's British accent has started to dull a bit – it started with the words “half” and “tomato”, with American intonation gradually creeping in. After spending the day with her little friend Brecken, whose parents are from Michigan, she started pronouncing some words – like “water” and “four” in a way that actually sounds MORE American than how I speak. Crazy. The funny thing is she seems to know what’s going on, and often gives me a crafty glance when she’s about to give a word the US treatment. But then, to ingratiate herself with Daniel, she’ll go back the old way of saying things, tossing him a “harf” or a “bin” to keep him sweet. That said, she is still a London girl at heart, and misses her mates Rocco and Oriel, and her godfather Chris terribly.
Claire – On maternity leave from career as editor of monthly finance trade magazines, and occasionally a freelance translator. Half-American/half-English, raised in the suburbs of New York, has lived in London for almost nine years.
Daniel – Furniture designer/maker based on London’s Columbia Road flower market, for ten years, also an aspiring painter and DIY supremo. On one-year career break to reconsider options. English by birth, but mother is half-American and spent part of her childhood in Bronxville, New York.
Sophia – 3.5-year old spitfire who loves school, singing, swimming and being a big sister
Lulu – Born May 8 of this year, a model baby who eats, sleeps and gurgles.
Special guests – American, British and international friends and family who drop in along our trip to see whatever part of the country they fancy. They’re welcome to travel in the car with us and sleep in an adjoining tent.