So we're back from London. Whoever invents a process for seamlessly transitioning from vacationing back to the real world is going to make Bill Gates look like a used car salesman. OK, that's a bad analogy but you get the idea. I have one solution but it involves inverting the work time/vacation time ratio and I haven't been able to sell it to any companies yet.

This year, we went to London without Sydney which had more far-reaching repercussions than I thought. The usual perks were evident from the second we set foot in the airport. Whereas last year, we used up our spare luggage space before we even boarded the plane, this year's flights went a lot more smoothly.

But I never guessed leaving Sydney at home we lead to the debacle that happened when the school guinea pig died. After confirming its death, Liza and Ann tried their best to make sure absolutely nothing went right. First off, Ann refused to call the teacher for fear that Ms. Collie would reap some sort of vengeance against people who kill pet rodents. Liza and Ann actually considered buying a replacement rat and passing it off as Gracie. I guess they missed that episode of EVERY sitcom since I Love Lucy.

And so it was I found myself in the middle of Leicester Square yelling into a cell phone, "Do not buy a replacement gerbil! Hello? Did you hear that? DON'T BUY ANOTHER GERBIL!" The denizens of London are apparently used to such talk 'cause no one around me batted an eye.

Visited the Tower of London and was duly impressed. Way too much to see in one day, though. After three hours, we were only about halfway through, although Liza says it's because of my annoying habit of stopping to read absolutely everything short of the legal disclaimers outside the washrooms. ("Will you come on? You can't even READ German!")

One evening of note we spent with my friend Simon at his aunt's place. We didn't give her much notice but she whipped up some fantastic Lebanese food for us. It was utterly fabulous and I think I'm still working off the weight I gained that night. Afterwards, we smoked our first hookah. And with a hubbly bubbly, no less. Seems a little labour intensive to have an after-dinner smoke but it was worth it. We even got some real baclawa to take home with us. Thanks to Simon, his Aunt Salwa, and his Uncle Joseph for a memorable evening.

Next big thing was Madame Tussaud's, a museum of wax figures. Very cool and a little bit creepy. They actually invite you to whisper in the ear of J. Lo's double to see if you can make her blush. Guess that's one way to target potential stalkers.

We took a train to Littlehampton one morning to catch Kim and David visiting David's mother on their way home from Canada. Little Harry is officially Liza's dream baby, complete with rolls of baby fat and a killer smile. We met the friendliest man in England who, by his own account, was left to his own devices for the day by his partner. From the amount he talked, I suspect his partner leaves him to his own devices quite often. But I shouldn't be rude; he was nice enough to take a picture of us.

Went to see Harry Potter in the city where it all began. Movie was good, theatre was nice although not worth £12 a person. I still don't know why Londoners don't riot at the prices they pay for things.

In the same area, we saw our first ever public urinal. I didn't realize they took the word "public" so literally. Always figured it was just a typo but there it was in all its glory right outside a theatre that was showing the sing-along version of The Sound of Music. Of course, being the uncultured slob that I am, it could just as easily have been some form of artwork. If that's the case, one fellow had some pretty harsh criticism for the piece.

Stopped at Harrod's for what I initially thought would be an hour or so but ended up being well past three. And we barely even bought anything. While strolling through the musical instruments, we saw a child prodigy testing the limits of one of the pianos while his dad sat nearby with a look on his face that said he was way passed being impressed by his son's abilities.

Last bit of note was a visit to the National Gallery which was really nice but I mention only so I don't forget I was there years from now.