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London Bombings

July 7, 2005

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We were finishing up in the breakfast room of our Bayswater hotel when the bombs went off during London's rush hour. We were less than a mile from the tube explosion near Edgewater Road, but didn't find out anything until an hour or so later, after we had spent some time hanging around Kensington Park -- me with the girls in the Princess Diana Memorial Playground, Jen shopping at Zara and H&M on the High Street. When we went to meet her, we saw police removing the shattered window of a red, double-decker bus -- the result of an accident, it seems, but a strange indicator of the chaos that was hitting London that day.

Ellie's first question: "Was it Paris?" The day before, when London had beat out Paris for the 2012 Olympics bid, she had asked if any country had ever gone to war over an Olympics bid. We had assured her they hadn't, but the doubt apparently lingered.

After the explosions, the buses and tubes shut down, and throughout Thursday morning we stayed in and near the park, often in pouring rain, while things sorted themselves out. The one explosion we heard was a bomb squad detonating a mysterious package just down the block from us -- across the street from the Afghani embassy, as a matter of fact.

Around noon, the sunshine broke through, and things began to seem a bit more normal again. With the transit closed, all of London was out walking. We joined the throngs of commuters walking the streets and parkways, many in high heels or pin-stripe suits, and made our way on foot down to Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, to show them to the daughters in the shining afternoon light.