London Snow is not New Jersey Snow

It’s a December Sunday in North London and it’s snowing. Hard. Well, hard by UK standards, but it’s pretty decent quality and the snowballs have been flying all morning.  Of course we don’t have a snow shovel because it never snows in London.  Except for when it does, I guess.  It’s one of the things I was worried the kids would miss out on when we moved from New Jersey (lots of waist-high snow) to London (the occasional flake).  What is childhood without snow days, school closures, snow forts and angels, hot cocoa with marshmallows, icicles in your hair and red, chapped, frozen hands that could only be fully warmed by standing over a roaring stove fire for at least 10 minutes?

Before you go feeling bad for them, rest assured that they  have had a fair amount of snow exposure in the 8 years we’ve lived in London, whether skiing in France, visiting family back in the states during winter months and once or twice right here in our own backyard.  But today’s snow is real snow and now that we’ve rolled a ginormous snow ball and built the beginnings of a snow wall it’s time to clear a path from the front door to my car.  Being the resourceful person that I am, I improvised with a broom because I refuse to buy a shovel again.  Oh, yes, I said “again”.  I HAD a shovel which I ran out and bought the last time a huge snowstorm was forecast for London. It was only a few months after we moved here in 2009 and I didn’t really know my way around yet and Amazon wasn’t  the go-to place for purchasing random things yet so I walked to our local hardware store and was sold the only shovel they carried:  a surprisingly heavy, metal GARDEN  shovel. Actually it was more the sort of shovel one might use for a large landscaping job. No one in the store could understand that there was a whole different (lightweight) shovel meant for moving snow.


So I took that shovel back to the house we were renting and waited for the snow to come.  It never came. But this morning, I found what I think is a large garden spade or trowel outside– see photo– which might have been left behind by the previous owners of the house we now live in and it reminded me of two things:


  1. That shovel which I must have given away at some point, still in its wrapping out of irritation that I had to store such a useless item
  2. That I once had a blog and it was pretty good, as blogs go.


The last (and only) blog I ever authored was in 2009, the year my family and I moved from New Jersey to London. We moved for my husband’s job and it was supposed to be a three-year gig. Our kids at the time were aged 2,4,6 and 8 and what better way to broaden their little horizons than to move to another country?

The run up to the move was hectic enough, as you might imagine, but add to that the fact that by the time we got on the plane I’d just been through ten months of surgery, chemo, more surgery and menopause and we left more than just our house and some American electronics behind. We also left a worried and bereft group of family and friends who’d seen us through a horrible time and before the memories of all that had a chance to fade away (and my hair a chance to grow back) we were gone. The blog, Pfeffers of London, was a way to keep everyone updated on our adventures in understanding British culture as well as how I was feeling and doing health wise.

My blog was short-lived, crushed under the daily grind of raising 4 kids in a foreign country (and learning to drive on the wrong side of the road).  I also had to redefine myself within the context of a new group of friends who hadn’t watched me endure what I did. Which “me” would I present to my new community?  A few recent searches for that blog have been fruitless which is a shame as I would have loved to incorporate the posts into this one. So I’ll rely on my memory and bring forward some of the events of the past 8 years, as well as the year prior to our move which was, to date, the most critical, eventful and emotinally charged year of my life.

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