I have lived in several southwestern communities, small liberal artsy towns like Guelph and Kitchener, the lovely technical hub and home of Oktoberfest and I’ve grown to love them all. But London is another story. If London were a child it would be one of those kids with a face only a mother could love. It takes time to get to like this oddly backwards Conservative Reform uptight dot on the map. After almost 10 years of life in the other London I can categorically say I love you London. It was a marriage of convenience to begin with, I suppose, forced here by job promotion and we may have started as friends but we’ve grown to be lovers…
And without any further ado:
Things I love about this other London:
- Sunripe: The fresh food at this adorable quaint, family-run market Sunripe is the best in town. Cannot go a week without my after Yoga pit stop to secure our supply of pluots, bananas, clementines. You get the picture.
- Covent Garden Market: I love this market for its variety, its very centre of the town nature, lovely little Spriet Family Theatre upstairs and its flower, sweets and gift selection.
- John Labatt Centre/ Budweiser Gardens: Did you know that it stood in for the hockey arena in that shortlived campy night soap called MVP? Scenes were often shot at the old ice house, the market and the Labatt centre. Also it puts us in the game, so to speak for years we were sidelined (excuse my sudden need to use sports figures of speech) but now we attract Lenny, Keith and Gwen.
- Storybook Gardens: Seriously. Love it because it’s literary. Also because it’s fun and educational and if you carefully time it you can either get in on their anniversary special every year for like 50 cents. Love the skunk, love the wonderful water play area. An attraction that London is known for – we used to drive every year when I was a small Guelphite – just to see Humpty Dumpty and the seals. I think I might have fainted back then if they’d had the splash pad and pirate/tot’s area. Train and carousel often are extra.
- University of Western Ontario: We Londoners have such a love/hate thing with our university it’s kind of comical. Without this hub of research and vital economic engine we’d be just another city. This is not my Alma Mater, but fingers crossed my children will one day be able to attend this close to home excellent world-class facility. (I chose Waterloo because I didn’t want to be a snooty Londoner back then 🙂 We attract some of the greatest minds in the world to study here for a time. To bad we don’t do a better job of keeping those minds here.
- The London Hospitals: I hate being sick, but our medical professionals are the best and therefore best to be sick here. When my then five-year-old broke her arm walking at a London park, well there was no place better for her to be helped back to health than the Children’s Hospital.
- Springbank Park and Gibbons Park: the first is located beside Storybook Gardens in Byron and the second well it’s downtown by St. Joe’s hospitals and has great opportunities for gatherings and simply afternoons out with the kids.
- Childreach: It is no longer known so much as Childreach, http://www.childreach.on.ca/ but it is an excellent resource for new parents and children under the age of six. Before it was taken over and dubbed one of the Ontario Early Year’s Centres it was Childreach simply reaching a hand out to families who want more parent education or a drop-in play group for their children.
- The London Anti-Bullying Coalition: This is a shout out to my ladies, Corina Morrison and Kathryn Wilkins, who saw a need and stepped up to help London families. Truly the parent’s voice in the sad bullying maze. http://www.londonabc.ca/
- The London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society: For being there when so many children need help and for being the best at what they do, and being so progressive in terms of understanding parents sometimes need education and a little help. Because I adopted both of my children from London CAS and will be forever in their debt. Because they know that the fate of a child is the fate of the world. Because they never stop trying. Because they get that post-adoption supports are vital to the success of adoption.