Well, after a whirlwind tour of South East England, we’re back in Canada. It’s definitely a bittersweet return home. While I’m glad this means more time to write, see friends and celebrate life with family — we really had a lovely time in Reading and met some truly wonderful people.

Plus, we saw the freakin’ Queen.

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No really, you can just about see her hat. It was a very nice hat.

Be still my colonial heart. It was thrilling and I saw her smile for two seconds. It was warm and friendly and made her look better than she does on television.

I was actually a little surprised at how much excitement the pomp and circumstance generated, and how easily I got caught up in all the hoopla. It’s not like seeing the Queen was a life long dream — but everyone was just so happy to catch a glimpse of royalty, that it was easy to join in the fun. 

So I acted appropriately and ran around with the babies, taking snaps with Police Constables, Marines and even the Town Crier. Kids make a great excuse to get nice and close to a fancy uniform.

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I’m actually going to miss these birds and their rousing 3am moonlit trysts.

For Ivy’s birthday we went to Peppa Pig World and I think I had more fun than the kids — welling up the second we entered the park. There I was practically sobbing in the middle of screaming kids, pink piggy rides, and inane theme music. I think it was just the idea that my children were about to have mind blasting fun that set me off — somehow connecting to my own fun moments of childhood in one huge surge.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see the biggest assembly of Muslim families outside of Jummah — all coming together to enjoy a cartoon family of pigs.

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Eryn watching closely and praying with one of her adopted Jummah “aunties.”

I will miss Fridays in Reading. Each one started with an hour of fun crafts and rhymes at the Museum of English Rural Life, and then Jummah at the Reading University Muslim Society. That’s where a seriously amazing group of women took care of my babies for over an hour every week. I can’t express how welcoming they were, how important it was for me to connect to other people — and to have Eryn and Ivy look forward to Friday prayers just to meet up with their “aunties.” It’s really a brilliant, little community.

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Running to say “bye” to the ducks.

Over the last few days I’ve waxed nostalgic — experiencing the sights and sounds of Reading “for the last time,” collecting treasured memories of one of my new favourite cities. Walking the river Thames at night is simply amazing. Every library and museum has something amazing to offer to engage kids — and usually for free. Forbury Park is a treasure trove of green space and Palmer’s Park has the best playgrounds. Cornwall Pasties are delicious, but stay clear of the tomato-basil and cheese — it gave me a horrific (HORRIFIC) bout of food poisoning. Don’t miss out on the halal chicken at Rooster’s or the full halal menu at the Subway on Oxford Road. Skip the South Asian restaurant, Chennai Dosa, and instead go to the buffet Spice Oven for great halal Indian food.

Visiting Reading also gave me a unique opportunity to meet with a reader from South Africa and we spent a lovely afternoon talking like old friends, making grandiose plans to take on patriarchy, reclaim women’s spaces in the mosque, smash misogyny and take silly pictures of each other in the middle of a train station.

And in case you ever need to know, the BEST scones and tea can be found at The Rose tea room in Oxford.

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It’s amazing how much you can get done in a day when you’re up 3 hours before the sun.

So now we’re home, slightly jet-lagged and missing the quaint 19th Century styled parks, cobble stone roads and red brick houses, romantic waterways, sleepy and colourful canal boats, and people saying “cheers” when I thank them for helping me with the girls.

I imagine things will be back to our “normal” shortly — even though Eryn now forces me to put on a fake British accent while role playing.

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