It’s just a little bit ironic that the best Fourth of July celebration that I’ve ever been to took place in London last week. I was actually racking my brain trying to think of a close second and couldn’t come up with one. I’m sure I’ll even be hard pressed to have a better one in the future. But let me go into a bit more detail on why this one will be hard to beat.

First of all, it took place at Winfield House, the US Ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park. I’ve been to Winfield House a couple times since we arrived, once for work and once for the Children’s Christmas Party, but what a difference between the two events! Don’t get me wrong, Christmas was absolutely stunning, but it was also indoors. So much of our time was spent trying to get our son to behave and not lick the mirrored walls in the Yellow Room.

Friday’s event was outside in the beautiful backyard…about 12 acres of it, to be precise. Winfield House has the largest private garden in central London after Buckingham Palace. So there were no antiques to demolish within 100 yards of us at any given time.

Winfield House.

Winfield House.

A lovely sculpture in the gardens.

A lovely sculpture in the gardens.

The weather was phenomenal. While the East Coast of the US was getting battered by Hurricane Arthur, and the west coast of the UK even had a nice band of rain sitting on it, London was getting some of the best weather it had all summer. The sun was shining, the breeze was warm, and the temperatures soared to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I actually used my umbrella as a sunshade several times. Couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day!

There were bouncy castles involved…two of them. Our original plan was to arrive at 1:00pm when the event started and not to overstay our welcome. We’ve learned that overstimulation and exhaustion are not a good combination, and kiddy temper tantrums have ruined the tone of several events in the recent past. We gave it two hours tops.

Instead, we stayed till 4:30pm and ended up having a great time…our son spent two full hours on the bouncy castle with breaks for a walk around the gardens with Mommy, a nice pick-up “football” game with an embassy family from his nursery school, and a leisurely meal of hot dog and bun on the picnic blanket we’d brought and strategically placed under a lovely shady tree.

A solid accidental crack on the head from another jumper was the only thing that eventually dimmed his enthusiasm for the bouncy castle, and he was content to finish the day sitting on my lap in the shade eating ice cream.

One of the two bouncy castles.

One of the two bouncy castles.

Our little picnic blanket in the shade.

Our little picnic blanket in the shade.

We also brought a friend. After the initial round of embassy staff had signed up for the event, we were informed that we could pick up tickets for friends. So we invited another lovely family from our son’s nursery school. Unfortunately, the mom and the kids were going to be out of town on the day, but my hubby is good friends with the dad, so we convinced him to join us sans famille.

So we had the added enjoyment of great company, and every now and then the guys would watch our son on the bouncy castle, and I would sit blissfully on the picnic blanket with a plastic cup of wine and enjoy the moment.

In addition to all that fun, we got a great picture with the ambassador on our arrival. And our son even got a swag bag from a vendor tent set up by the embassy’s bank branch. I think the only thing that could’ve made it better would’ve been mid-day fireworks. But THAT might have been a bit over the top. 😉

Me...having a very American moment.

Me…having a very American moment. 🙂

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