Tuesday, November 30, 2010


     I am changing the format of my dates.  I just helped Sean with his expense reports and I was trying to organize them by date and well, their date format makes more sense.  I have a few things I want to mention before I go into our Monday adventures.
    First, I was out on a run and I turned the corner from our flat and saw a plaque on the building.  I stopped and read it.  It said something along the lines of "E.M. Forester, famous novelist, lived here".  Then it gave some dates. Cool! We could've had tea together.  He must have had a nice view out onto the green.  He could probably watch all the foxes.
   Second, we are experiencing some slight issues with our private little alley way.  Apparently it's not so private. I was sitting in Starbucks doing a previous blog post when in comes Sean and exclaims "SOMEONE POOPED ON OUR WALL!!!"  Um, ok Sean, Please explain.  The way our alley is set up is that it's sort of a little "L". You enter off the High Road and it's like a little tunnel/alley then along the long arm of the "L" is the row of flats.  Does that make sense? So, as Sean was leaving the flat he passed through the little tunnel/alley and saw some big poop on the wall, then down on the ground.  He excitedly, disgustedly, explained this to me while we sat in Starbucks. I really hope someone was eavesdropping.  I sort of brushed it off and figured it was a fox. Hopefully a fox. Who knows! When I came home later in the afternoon I walked quickly past the supposed shit spot. I did NOT need to see any alleyway excrement.  Sean yelled at me from the kitchen window to go back and look.Ugh.  Really Sean? Really? Sure enough feces on the wall.  We sent Ogue some texts and he saw it too.  I'm sure it wasn't the least bit odd that all of a sudden he's getting messages from the new neighbors about poop on the wall.  It did however ignite some good conversation between him and Sean about the dark alley and possibly getting the landlord to install a sensor light to deter the dumper.  Good idea. In the meantime we'll keep our outside light on, although it doesn't shed too much light.  But, it's kind of gross and hopefully a one time turd.
     Third, I am in LOVE with how people end everything with "cheers".  They don't say thank you, they say "Cheers" or "cheers cheers" or "cheers love".  I just love it. Today the mail man was delivering a box that had my little computer desk in it. He kept saying "It's a big box darling, cheers, it's heavy, can you lift it love? oh you can, cheers, good, cheers cheers good evening".  When you go to the store or out to eat instead of saying "thank you" or "have a nice day" they say "cheers". I love it. LOVE IT. I can't bring myself to say it yet.  I think it'd be like trying too hard right now. I just stick to my harsh thanks.
    So Monday Monday Monday.......I went to Starbucks for some free internet but didn't stay long. It's just distracting there.  So many kids to watch and I was sitting by the front windows so I spent most of the time staring out into the street.  That was the day Sean came in way too excited about poop.  Later on while I was sitting there I saw the funniest thing.  A mum was walking in pushing her stroller ( I think they call them prams here) and following close behind was her little daughter pushing along on her scooter.  The mother pushed the button to automatically open the door and she pushed her stroller right in. Just as the little girl was about to enter the doors closed and the little girl starts screaming "MUMMMMY MUUUMMMY YOU LEFT ME OUTSIDE!!!  HELP YOU LEFT ME OUTSIDE!!!". It was hilarious. The girl was so upset. The mom was laughing too so I didn't feel too bad for finding it funny.  It's also probably one of those stories that's funnier if you're there.....  After that I headed home, past the poop and had a late lunch with Sean.
   Upstairs he was hunched over his laptop and phone and notebook, scheduling appointments and booking flights.  It turns out he has meetings a lot sooner than he thought, tomorrow, Tuesday.  He was pretty much set for suits and shirts at this point but he desperately needed a new overcoat especially with the looming snow in the forecast.  Hm, we decided to go to the mall. Ha! Our THIRD time.  What did we do in London? We went to the mall. A LOT. So we headed out to catch the bus and do some evening shopping.  We heard on the news that the Tube workers were on strike and the trains were all messed up but it seemed like the buses were fine.  On our way out Sean got a call from one of the sales guys that he's been doing a lot of work with from another company.  They invited him out to their Christmas party later that evening.  We quickly did the math and figured we had exactly 30 minutes in the mall to find him a coat.  Good thing we were familiar with the mall!
   We found him a spiffy coat which was also on sale! ANDDDDDD The sleeves were long enough! Bravo.  We were ahead of schedule and decided to slow down and go look at shoes for him.  Next thing ya know, his phone is ringing and it's an invite for me to join in the party. Holy Moly what to wear?!?!?!?!? Apparently the attire was "smart casual".  Sean was planning on wearing jeans but scratched that and decided to step it up a notch and wear some nice dress pants.  Smart move.  I however had no clue what I had. I couldn't remember for the life of me what dresses or skirts I had. I panicked.  Instead of taking chances that I had something wrinkley laying in the corner of the bedroom we decided to mad dash it to the ladies' section of the department store and find me an outfit.   We had about 20 minutes.  That is NOT long.  I buzzed from section to section grabbing all sorts of stuff but it was Sean in the end who found me a nice black skirt and sweater.  We ran to the bus stop and barely waited two minutes for the next bus.  Thankfully there was no traffic and we rushed to get ready.
    Sean planned the trip into the city and we prayed that this tube strike wouldn't affect us. But it did.  We got to the connecting stop and found all the gates locked up and lights off.  These workers were angry and stops were getting shut down left and right.  In the end we had to walk which was not fun in fancy shoes but made it just on time.  I was a little nervous.  I didn't know who these people were or what to make small talk about but as it turned out they were just there to party and drink. Brilliant! The party was at this Belgium beer restaurant and we sat in a tunnel.  I don't really know to explain it. I won't try.  There were tons of other Christmas parties going on and it seemed like everyone in the place was having a grand time.  The company was very welcoming and I'm SO glad we dressed up fancier than what we thought we should. Everyone still had suits and dresses on!  But we sat down and almost immediately shots of something were brought out and everyone cheers-ed to Christmas and started drinking.  Beers were brought to the table and bottles of wine followed close behind.  I wasn't sure if we were eating dinner, even though there was a Christmas menu in front of us, or just drinking the rest of the night.  We had Christmas poppers but not many people put on their paper crowns.  Dinner was ordered and everyone was such a hoot.  It was so great to listen to everyone chit chatting and it was made clear that NO ONE would be talking about work.  It was their time to kick back and have some fun.  Sean and I had some great laughs and it was wonderful talking about London and our experience thus far.  Everyone was so friendly and welcoming or else they were just drunk or both.  We asked about the foxes we were seeing in London and we were told that they are urban foxes and are quite a problem in London. They can't control them and are everywhere.  We were then told about a story that someone read about a fox sneaking into someones house and going up the stairs to where the baby was sleeping.  Then the fox ate the baby's face. Wow.  We'll keep an eye out for those foxes.  That story was then followed by one of the owners of the company telling us how he was out hunting once and shot a fox at point blank. He then gave us a little demonstration on how it died. Wow.  Then more shots were brought out.  The food was delicious, the company was thouroughly entertaining and although I love spending every hour with Sean, it was nice to be in a big group of loud partiers.  I think my favorite point of the evening was when one of the sales guys was punished for showing up two hours late to a meeting.  His punishment: a glass with double shots of baileys and orange juice.  It looked like curddled cake.  He then had to drink this awful mixture and hold it in his mouth while his boss timed one minute. Then he had to swallow it. It was painful to watch but completely amusing and the entire table was in an uproar with laughter. Twisted. There was also a lot of yelling about someone's dessert tasting and looking like "shight" or shit.  That went on for a good ten minutes. The booze was kicking in.
  But seriously, seriously, it was so much fun to be out and about and sharing some good times with some new faces.  We didn't leave the restaurant till late and it was gorgeous going home.  Right behind the tube stop the London Eye was lit up blue and people were all on the street hustling and bustling.  The ride home was short.  The train would come up to a stop and the conductor would announce that it's closed and we'd pass by.  Hopefully this strike will get resolved but no one seemed too upset. I guess it happens a lot.
   I'm so glad we got to go to one of these Christmas parties we've been seeing advertised.  It was great to get out with people who aren't me or Sean and it was just plain old nice to have some wine and some good laughs in this new place.  I mean, Sean and I are having a blast here and things are getting easier. But you know, it's good to go out sometimes! Well, I don't think I have anymore talk about poop or drinking so  Cheers. Goodnight my lovlies.  

Monday, November 29, 2010


  We will call this post the shopping post. That is what we have been doing the past three days, or so it seems.  The weather here has been gorgeous. Cold, but gorgeous. I don't know what this big fuss about storms and snow was about.  It was great shopping weather.  Ogue tipped us off that Ikea was where it's at if you want to furnish your place for cheap.  With that in mind and a decent budget from the landlord, Sean and I made the 45 minute trek by train to Wembley where there was an Ikea.  This was our first time in an Ikea so we were both a little apprehensive but excited.  It was huge.  We got our pencils and paper and started heading through the showrooms in search of a work desk, futton, chairs, coffee tables, and anything else we could get our hands on. It was pretty nice to see their  mini rooms set up to show how all their furniture could come together.  The price tags were even more prettier.  We took a long time sitting in all the armchairs and did a pretty decent job of compromising between the two of us.  In the end we narrowed it down to two simple chairs which we would order in black.  We also picked out a cute little table that we could put between the chairs.
    Next we found Sean a desk with an attached bookshelf.  It was plenty big for him and his work and the added storage shelves would be a big bonus.  Next thing you know we had a futton picked out and were getting a little tired of the non-stop shopping.  We were able to skip the kids section and the bathroom section and more of the bedroom showrooms.  I loved that they had everything laid out in sections and you follow one main aisle to all the different areas.  They even had big arrows painted on the floor to keep the flow moving through the place. I think it worked! At the end was their cafe and of course we stopped for their Swedish meatballs and some fries.  I was pleased that we found the furniture we needed but was even more pleased to discover that we missed the ground floor which was all the accessories, smaller furnishings, storage and headed straight for it after the meatballs were done.  Holy Moly!!!! Things were so cheap! I started with one of those large Ikea shopping bags but filled it instantly with seat cushions for the kitchen chairs.  Then came the drawer organizer. Then the frying pan and wooden spoons.  Knives. I was overwhelmed. My bag was filling up fast and I had to remember that we took the train here and would have to take it back.  But we each had two hands so we got a shopping cart and figured between the two of us we could manage the trip home.  We added a duvet and duvet cover to the pile. Small trash bins for the bathrooms.  The cart was filled.  This place was huge and I just couldn't believe the prices.  They had EVERYTHING!!!! I was already nervous about the size and weight of our filled cart so Sean and I decided to skim through the rest of the place and make our way to the cash registers before we got carried away.  I think it was a little too late.  Towards the end they had a whole plant section with every type of good looking, healthy, indoor plant you could want.  That really caught our attention.  Sean had the brillant idea to leave me in the Christmas section while he went to see if they had some sort of delivery option so we wouldn't have to carry all this ourselves.  They did. They had several options. Several cheap options.  We could take it with us, we could order it online, we could buy it then they can deliver it the next day or we could take a cab back home with our stuff for a flat rate.  Ding ding! Sold on that idea! With that new piece of info we turned our cart around, despite the arrows pointing us in the other direction, and went back for all the things we passed up because our one cart was already full.
    We were both excited to be finding all the things our apartment has been sadly lacking.  Even finding a tiny trash bin for the bathroom was exciting.  I pulled out another cart and in went two rugs, three small rugs for the bedroom (they are just like Chris and Emily's shaggy rugs!  We couldn't find a big enough one for the room so we spotted the furry little rugs. hehehe!)  some storage rack thingy for the bathroom, clocks, hooks, curtains, laundry basket, storage baskets, more pillows, spatulas, plants, plants, and pots for the plants. It was exhausting.  Sean and I probably did at least four circuits of the place and we spent a total of five hours in there.  
  After we went through and paid for everything we waited about 20 minutes for the next cab to show up.  Thank goodness it was a mini van.  Unfortunately there was a horrible car fire on one of the major highways so traffic was backed up beyond belief.  What was supposed to be a 15 minute cab ride took a little over an hour. Thank goodness to heavens that it was a flat rate and we weren't being charged per minute!
  As soon as we were home and through the doors we started ripping open packaging, laying out rugs, covering beds, throwing the throw pillows and giving our new little plants new little homes in the little windows.  This stark cold apartment was finally feeling like a living space.  It was like an instant house from Ikea!!! I just can't get over that store.  Even how well it's organized and laid out.  Those Swedish designers...smart thinkers!   We made out pretty darn good and it feels so nice to have some cozy things in the place.  The duvet is amazing and warm and exactly what I was looking for.  It makes such a huge difference and I'm sleeping better (except for when Sean kicks me and tries to push out of the little bed).  We ordered the furniture online after we got the go ahead from Fergal so hopefully that will be in around the 7th.  Still no new news about when the bed is coming but we are getting better with practicing our patience.
  Later that night Sean and I went out to celebrate.  The pub we wanted to go to was packed so we tried out a new place.  I think the thing to do here is go out on Christmas.  Everywhere we go there's an advertisement for Christmas dinner, book your reservation, here's the menu for the evening, here's the different options.  I guess no one stays home!  It would be neat to see how Christmas is done here but I'm still thrilled to be going home.
    Saturday was grocery shopping day. I hated shopping back in Boston. Just never liked it. Always dreaded it.  Well, here, it's 20 times worse.  I dragged Sean out with me but I could tell he was a little overwhelmed.  I didn't know where anything was or what anything looked like so I had to go up and down every single aisle.  Plus the place was packed with everyone doing their shopping for the week's meal.  We were at least smart enough to plan out a few big meals for the week and had a fairly organized shopping list on his iphone.  Sean bought the Martha Stewart Everyday Food App...AWESOME! You can search recipes, save them, then make a big shopping list.  It was really handy.
    I could see the patience quickly draining from Sean's face and even I tried my best to get this done quickly but it was just so hard trying to find even some simple ingredients.  We did alright, got home and I went back out to get some veggies from one of the little corner stands.  It was incredibly cheap and they had a good selection of things.  Sean went and did some errands and I snuck into the Blockbuster to see if I could find some cheap, previously owned movies.  I picked out a couple comedies for Sean.  We play a lot of scrabble on his iphone.  I win. A couple other forms of entertainment were needed. 

   We had a pretty quiet evening, watching movies and making dinner.  I tried to roast a chicken.  I had to keep kicking it back in the cooker though and REALLY roast it.  It kept coming out raw. Gross. This oven is surely going to take some getting used to.  But finally we had dinner and veggies and wine and beer.  Not a bad evening!
    Sunday was our adventure to the mall.  The really really big mall.  Sean had an agenda to get some work clothes.  Some nice shirts, ties, an overcoat perhaps.  We spent a long time popping in and out of stores, looking for the right sized shirt with sleeves long enough for Sean's arms.  He made out pretty good though!  There were a lot of suit shops!! We looked at shoes, coats, even watches.  The mall was mobbed though and it just kept getting busier and busier.  I somehow managed to find myself a new coat for pretty cheap at H&M and also a new little purse.  Everyone wears these little purses over their shoulder and across their chest.  Big enough to hold your wallet, keys and phone.  Now I can be stylin too! I'm not used to carry a purse but here I have to because I always have stuff with me. It's starting to hurt my shoulder and back and I can just picture in my head what my compensation patterns are looking like.  But I digress!
     We felt pretty good about our purchases and I was parched and done with the mall after a couple of hours so we headed home.  Oh! I forgot to say, we took the bus there which was a first for me and Sean.  It's pretty cheap and quick! On the way to the mall we sat up on the second level and got seats right up front. It was kind of scary, I won't lie.  I thought we were going to run everyone over.  The bus home was packed and I thought the whole thing was going to tip over. It looked so top heavy. I wonder if that has ever happened.....Sean and I got up a couple stops early and passed a luggage store where he picked up a really nice looking briefcase/laptop bag.  It was a pretty good price too. It pays to shop around!
  Later that night we got online and video chatted with my mom and then with Sean's mom! We were even able to give them a tour of the flat although it was probably hard to see.  Not a bad weekend at all!
   So Sean bought these little USB devices that plug into your computer and detect internet signal through the phone signals ( I have no idea how they work).  He calls them a "woobie" the store calls them "dongles". Either way, they sometimes work and sometimes don't.  It's a simple solution right for getting internet at the house but again it's pay as you go so not the cheapest solution (why I'm at starbucks right now and not at home using the dongle).  It works most of the time on Sean's computer, sometimes though his keyboard doesn't work. When I plug it into my desktop it causes it to crash. That is scary. I haven't even tried it in my laptop.  Sean called customer service to see why the dongle was causing my computer to crash. Sean put it on speaker phone so he could eat dinner and talk.  It was hilarious!    "Sir, Now please unplug the dongle.  Now plug the dongle back in. Dongle Dongle Dongle Why is my dongle broken??"  After a couple glasses of wine this was pure amusement for the evening. We never got it straightened out so I think this Starbucks will just have to do for a little bit longer.  It's fun people watching though.  Everyone is bundling up with this cold weather.  Lots of nice coats and scarves, all the babies are bundled up in their buggies in their little sleeping bag type thingies.  A lot of the restaurants and cafes still have outdoor seating.  I think it's pretty much for all the smokers but it's kind of nice when they have heat lamps under their awnings and it's not that cold.  Ok this is getting pretty long so I'll stop here.   I want to start planning a trip to a museum soon.  Sean told me the Tube workers are on strike so I think I'll wait til public transportation settles down a bit. Chip Chip Cheers!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


     I'm combining these two days because I don't think much happened and I can fit them into one post.  Wednesday Sean took the train into France.  When we were coming over in November the lady at customs didn't stamp his visa so he needed to leave the country then come back through customs.  He went on a train, through the Chunnel, through immigration then right back to London.  I was quite nervous about this.  What if they didn't let him back in?? What if we have to move to France because that's where he's stuck? Sean made it back with passport and visa stamped and hopefully no future problems!
    Our first three boxes came in the mail.  I wasn't home when they were delivered so apparently the UPS man thought it was ok to drop it off to the neighbors.  Kind of odd, but at least we met the neighbors!  Two of the boxes were filled with pure clothing and shoes which meant I now had warmer boots and Sean had something other than boat shoes to wear.  The third box had my computer! It arrived safe and sound covered in layers and layers of bubble wrap.  Without the internet it's just a giant ipod though.  I wanted to unpack everything but we have no where to put it all.  We are still waiting for the second dresser and to hear back from the landlord.  We did eventually unpacked the boxes and refold our clothes to put in piles on the floor in the bedroom.  At least they're out of boxes and safely in our flat.
    I made soup for dinner.  I could only buy a small pot so I had to cut the recipe in half.  But it was GREAT cutting up vegetables, pouring, cooking and stirring.  Our kitchen table is currently being used as a computer desk so I set up a little table using two dining room chairs and our "couches" and we ate our first home cooked meal.  The rest of the night we tried to get internet in the apartment and do some research on where to shop for cheap furniture and homey type stuff.  This research continued into Thursday where we found ourselves at Starbucks early in the morning.  We took a look at Ikea but weren't too impressed.  Sean did a lot of shopping around on Amazon and I drank some tea.  This whole time we had been trying to get a hold of the landlord to find out what exactly was up with this silly little furniture and the massive furniture that was promised to us but still mmissing.  It was quite a bit of Sean going back and forth with voicemails, texts and trying to figure out exactly which guy to get a hold of.  We had two different names and several wrong email addresses.  Finally though, an Irish man named Fergal agreed to come over and talk with us about a few of the issues we were having with the place.  Apparently the place is owned by several guys and this Fergal dude is the one we need to talk to.
     Later on Thursday we tried out a new cafe, Ogue had suggested it for cheap internet, but I think he got in good with the owners because the lady behind the counter was ready to charge us 3 pounds an hour for internet. Holy Moly! No thank you.  Unfortunatley we ordered our cappuchino and tea before we asked about internet so we had to sit and drink and come up with another game plan.  Fergal was scheduled to come over at 3 ish and I had to find yarn and knitting needles for the knitting group which meets every Thursday.  I rushed off into central London to a place called iknit London to see if I could grab some supplies.  Sean headed back home to wait for Fergal.
    I found a couple skeins of yarn and some large needles.  It will do for the evening.  In the meantime, Sean was back home talking things over with Fergal.  We made a list of issues we wanted to bring up, ready to defend our contract but Fergal turned out to be a very nice man and we needed to get on his good side.  He laughed when he saw the furniture and told us that that was the wrong bed.  Had he not seen the finished place? Wasn't he the landlord? Why is this the wrong furniture?  He showed Sean how to use the alarm system and little hints to the hot water heater and other odd things in the flat that we were confused about.  I was delighted to hear that Fergal told us that he'd get rid of the mini furniture and allow us to pick out our own stuff.  He gave us a budget and we made plans to go shopping.
    While I was out shopping for wool (not yarn, but wool) Sean also had his chance to meet the neighbors.  He ran over to talk to Ogue about the internet situation but Snowflake came to the door.  They were supposed to be out of town for the week but she fell and hurt her ankle so they ended up staying in London for Thanksgiving.  Snow's mum was also there.  I haven't meet the misses yet, just Ogue.  But anyways.  Ogue stopped over to talk to Sean about the internety type stuff and I guess they chit-chatted for a while.  He showed off the world's smallest couch and Ogie gave us the tip that they did not get their place furnished.  Instead they went to Ikea and just bought everything.  Hm.......Ikea.......it's sounding better and better.  Ogue had a lot to say about how he was trying to get internet and some of his simple temporary solutions.  I think they were having a little mini Thanksgiving next door because their chit chat session was cute short when Snowflake's mom came over to call him to dinner.  We didn't cook anything special or go out anywhere.  We had left over soup and I got ready to go to the knitting group.
    The knitting group was really cute.  There were 8 of us and everyone was working on something different.  I sat next to two women, Avril and Marjory.  Avril lived in Toronto for two years so knew about Buffalo and the Great Lakes.  She was a lot of fun to talk to.  She reminded me of Sean's Auntie Kim, her personality, her haircut, even her glasses.  This was the British version of Auntie Kim.  Marjory was an older woman from Scotland.  She knitted with one needle tucked up in her armpit.  Her accent made it quite hard to understand her but what I did understand made me laugh.  She was knitting from some pattern that was in Norwegien so she was trying her best to translate it or make it up as she went.   She also talked about how she volunteers and her eyes lit up when I told her I wasn't working here.  We traded emails so she could send me the link to the volunteer group that helps kids with their literacy skills and also invited me to another knitting group she goes to.   I didn't have a knitting project in mind so I was just going to do a scarf while I was there.  Easy. Check out the group, get a feel for the pub.  Everyone else was confused why I was making a scarf... "it's so boring!!!!" It was a little embarassing, but I'm glad I had something easy to do.  I loved just sitting there listening to all these ladies talk and chatter.  I think I will try to frequent this group and when I go home I'll have to dig some of my needles out of the POD and pick out some good patterns. I'll do a REAL project!
   It wasn't quite the Thanksgiving we were used to but it was still nice to hear from our friends and family back home.  We miss everyone so much and hopefully it will be easier to keep in touch once we get internet and a reliable phone line. Things are surely settling down or at least we've come to terms with the fact that nothing is going to come easy here, especially internet.  Thursday was our Thanksgiving, even though we didn't have the food, or the family, but we did meet the neighbors, we met the landlord and he seemed very reasonable and gave us a glimmer of hope.  Things were looking up. Thankfully!

  Oh oh oh, the other night, we were spying out our kitchen window (like we usually do, spying is fun and without tv it gives us something to do)  and Sean said "CARLA, OMG CARLA" he was super serious. I've never heard Sean that serious before. It kind of startled me and scared me.  "OMG CARLA, CARLA, THERE....IS...A .....FOX ....IN THE ALLEY"    Sure enough, quite a large red fox looking confused and lost, trotted through the alley.  This is the second fox I've seen here.  I saw one in the back of the hotel in the little courtyard.  Maybe foxes are like raccoons to us back home.  You may see one but they should be in the woods and not in the city, but you may see one.  So now, every time I come around the corner I expect to see a fox, or a bear.  We are having a fun time spying out our windows and watching people pass the alley.    Directly across from us there seems to be an office.  An older man works at his desk during the later hours in the afternoon.  He has horrible posture and needs to sit up straight. His desk alignment needs to be adjusted. His poor spine! The woman seems nice, and sits up straighter, she's on the phone a lot.  There also appears to be a younger girl working there.  She comes and goes a lot with mail, coffee and packages. Sometimes she brings her cat to work, he balances on her shoulder while she unlocks the door. Then we see the cat sitting in the window watching the birds.  Sean meows at it and tries to get it's attention.
Sean took this nice photo.  This is what we see when we look
out of our kitchen window/doors.  That's the cat in the window
in the office across from us.  Down below is the alley out to the
High Road.  The High Road has all the shops and retsaurants
so it's very convenient for us to just pop out and get to where
we need to be.  To the left is some building that we discovered
is completely empty.  Kind of sketchy but no one else seems
to be concerned.  You can see how we can get caught up in
spying on our neighborhood. 
MEOW Hello neighbor! Those are our bed
room windows in the reflection and that's where
the lady at work sits.  


     I feel like I'm falling behind without internet!  Starbucks here is hit or miss with their signal but we found that if you sit at the table, next to the window, across from the counter the internet works fairly well.
    Tuesday was a day of shopping and running around Chiswick. After a rough Monday we decided it was time to just cheer up and just be thankful for what we do have.  I guess we really are trying to get into the Thanksgiving mood.
    Sean left for the day to go into Central London for a  meeting at one of the hospitals.  He dressed up best he could with the clothes he had here.  I thought he looked pretty good!  Later when he came home he said he was "woefully undressed".  Everyone was in suits, cufflinks, ties, nice peacoats, and their leather briefcases.  I guess his old timbuktoo bag couldn't stand up to the challenge.  Luckily he could use the excuse "I'm still waiting for the rest of my clothes to be shipped so I had to wear whatever was in my suitcase" even though we both know that there's no nice suits coming in his boxes.  We have plans to head to the mall and do some shopping either Friday, Black Friday, or this weekend.
   So anyways, with Sean gone for the day I decided to head out and see what I could pick up for the apartment.  I started at Starbucks.  I needed some coffee and internet.  I'm addicted to peppermint mochas and I need to stop drinking them.  They're just so good.  I drank my mochoa and made my list of things I needed to look for.  It was quite a lengthy list.  Sean and I are making so many lists here. Things we need, things we want, things we REALLY need, emails we need to write when we have internet, grocery lists, etc etc lists etc etc lists!!! I went to the grocery store first to buy things to make soup! I needed some warm spinach, tomato, rice, chicken soup.  That's my go to recipe. It took me forever to find the few straight forward ingredients I needed.  I circled the store for a 20 minutes just looking for chicken broth. I never found it. I had to settle on those little cubes, which took me another 20 minutes to find.  I was delighted to see that instead of cans they use those tetra packs.  I didn't have to worry about buying a can opener.  I made it out with my ingredients, minus garlic, I had no clue where the garlic was, no clue and I wasn't about to circle the store for another 20 minutes just for garlic.  A short walk home from the store, then I unpacked and headed back out to get some kitchen items and house goods.
     On my way out the door I ran into our neighbor.  YAY! I met the neighbor  and he wasn't that creepy or scary.  We chit chatted for a bit.  His name is Ogue. Or that's how I'm spelling it because the only way I can remember it is if I say, rogue, like rogue wave, then drop the R. Ogue.  He lives with his wife, Snowflake. Ogue and Snowflake. Awesome.  They just moved from the States about a month ago.  Ogue and Snowflake, Americans like us.  Ogue, gosh, I keep wanting to call him Ogie, told me that he is from NH, grew up in Texas then lived in Boston for 5 years after college.  Snowflake's job brought her here to London, like Sean, and Ogie is along for the ride, like me! It was fun chit chatting with him.  I asked how he was liking living here and he said "fine, fine, it's good".  Then he asked me if we were trying to get internet and phone.  I said "YES!!! yes we are! It's so frustrating!!!!"  Then Ogie asked if I wanted to know a hint. Um, will this hint help us get internet??? Yes, Give me a clue Ogie!! He then lead me to the entrance of the alley and squatting down, he pulled four wires out of the ground, four wires with ends all frayed.  These are our phone lines.  He then pointed up to a box and told me that those wires need to be connected to that box. I freaked out. WHAT????? He said we can't get any internet or phone till those wires are hooked up to that box.  Wait, wait, wait, Ogue, you've been here since the beginning of October and you still don't have internet??????? It's true, he didn't, he said he has had to wait for someone to come look at the place. Then they said the phone lines didn't work. Now he is waiting for someone to come fix those wires. But someone first has to come look at the wires. Waiting waiting waiting. impatient impatient impatient. We then talked about how it will help if Sean and I get in on trying to get this internet things figured out too.  He asked for my phone number but I told him I honestly had no clue what it was. Ogue said yeah,  I don't remember mine either then asked if we were frustrated beyond breaking point with getting everything set up here, phones, banks, etc. I said yes, we were.  Apparently we aren't the only ones.  It was so nice to meet Ogue and great to hear that Sean and I weren't the only ones having a tough time although I would have like to have heard that he has internet and given me tips on how to get it fast. Sorry Ogue, showing me four frayed wires in the alley is NOT a tip or a hint or anything I want to see. But, I met one of our neighbors and it made me really happy feeling that we were starting to make the slightest connection to our neighborhood.
   I ran out to Robert Dyas, the local hardware/homegood store. It reminds me of a mini Bed Bath and Beyond....but mini.  I grabbed a few items, as much as I could carry, and was excited to get some silverware, a knife, cutting board, a soup pot, an iron, and a DUST BUSTER!!!  The flat still needed some more cleaning  and this little vacuum will surely help.
  So I got home, got to cleaning and charged up my dust buster.  Sean came home and gave me a grand recap of his trip.  He seemed excited to go out and go shopping for some nice clothes.  Maybe a nice scarf, a nice coat, etc. Yay shopping!!!
  Well I can't remember what happened the rest of the day.  I shouldn't leave blogging for so long.  But I got started on buying things for the apartment, Sean had his first meeting in the UK, we met the neighbor and our dreams of getting internet were shattered.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


     Oh boy, where to start on Monday's events?  Monday was frustrating and probably one of the lowest lows of the trip.  I woke up incredibly grumpy after a night of non-stop tossing and turning. I wish I had my sleeping bag and camping pad then I would've slept better.  Sean told me I was angry in my sleep and I kept making angry grunting noises.  I'm tellin ya, I need a good sleep!  Sean went for a quick run around the area then headed to Starbucks to use their internet for the day.  Shortly after he left I realized there was no coffee in the house, not even caffienated tea, so I too headed to Starbucks.  That place was insane! So Chiswick has a lot of kids and families and apparently they all hang out during the day in the coffee shop.  It was mobbed with toddlers running around the tables, little newborns howling on the top of their lungs, and mothers chit chatting away.  In the back corner of the shop there was a playground area.  A Starbucks with a playground!!!!  I found Sean hiding in a dark corner on a big, plush, velvety purple couch. I asked him how hard he thought it would be to walk out with one of these couches and carry it home.  Not too hard probably, the little kids could create a diversion while we stroll out of there with real furniture.  Maybe we can swap it.  Those toddlers will love the mini couches we have.  It's their size.  So there was Sean, huddled in the corner, staring at his laptop, willing the internet connection there to speed up. Most of the time though it wasn't even working.  He had a long to-do list and needed the internet to find phone numbers, get bank accounts in order, and do work.  He had only been there 15 minutes and already looked like he wanted to strangle someone.  I quietly sat across from him making lists of things we needed for the apartment while drinking my peppermint mocha.
   The first thing Sean tried to do was call Virgin to see how things were going in terms of setting up internet at the flat.  He called them about a week ago to put the order in that we want it installed only to be disappointed with the news that they couldn't get anyone out to our place for another ten days.  So, Sean called after about a week of waiting since no one had contacted us to set up an appointment.  It became clear that the sales guy who took Sean's order a week ago didn't actually take his info, or his credit card number, or his address or name.  He wasn't in their system.  All this waiting for nothing.  We thought we were in que for internet.  A week behind.  I then listened to Sean as he explained his frustration to one sales guy after another, manager after manager, wasting precious international minutes on his phone.  Finally 45 minutes later he got forwarded to someone who seemed like they could help.  Unfortunately, we waited a week for nothing.  Now we are told that first they have to send a spotter out to see if our apartment is even set up for internet.  That may take 10 days.  Then if it is, we go back in que and wait for someone to actually come out and install it.  That may take 10 days.  So, it looks like we'll be hitting up Starbucks or searching for a pub with wi-fi for the next couple of weeks.  Awesome.  Sean looked like he was ready to explode.  He NEEDS internet to do work. Not just to blog and email.  He NEEDS to be online.  Right now his office is the Starbucks which is populated with tiny kids enjoying big, nice, soft, real couches while yelling in his ear.
     After that frustrating call Sean left to go see if he could get a phone.  His blackberry was barely working here and he wasn't getting any reception on that phone. If we can't get internet at home then he at least needs a phone that will work.  He got an awesome iPhone (JEALOUS!!!) but could  once again only get a pay as you go deal.  Maybe after he's lived here for six months he'll have just enough credit built up to get a plan.  With the pay as you go deal you have to top up your phone with money in order for it to keep working.  We still don't fully understand how to top-up.  No one will really explain it either because it's obviously something everyone already knows how to do, or should know.  Silly Americans, they don't know how to top-up.  Even those Starbucks toddlers were probably topping-up.
   The kids got louder and louder as the day went on and Starbucks' internet signal was dwindling and disappearing.  It was so slow.  Our sure-fire, big hope for internet was fading.  If we can't get internet here, then where can we?  Oh and, Starbucks closes at 7pm.  Everything else (except the pubs) closes at 5.  After a long day of sitting in Starbucks we left.  We stopped at the store to grab some frozen pizza, figuring we can just throw that in the cooker and we don't need any special cooking utensils.  I sat down in front of the oven to try to figure out how to use it.  I then realized that this is a really small oven.  I hope my lasagna dish fits.  I read the instruction manual and after fiddling for a bit I got it to heat up.  Holy moly it stunk! Since it was new it said to leave it running for 30 minutes.  We were starving and couldn't wait.  Sean ran downstairs and ordered a pizza from the pizza shop next door to us. (That's how impatient we are right now) The guy was pretty nice and told us that the building that we're in now used to be shops on the bottom floor then apartments up above.  The shops never got business though because the building is tucked away off the main road.  The pizza was decent.  Satisfying.  We're saving the frozen pizzas for the rest of the week.
    Sean was trying to get an internet signal in the flat using his phone and some do-dad thingy he bought but it didn't work.  Again, a weak to almost nonexistant signal. Starbucks was closed.  His phone wasn't working.  He wasn't picking up internet. Gah what to do? He did discover that if he sits up in the nook with the laptop on the window sill it may work, just enough, just barely enough to load a page in a few minutes.  Better than nothing.  It doesn't work though if you sit back in the nook.  You have to be on the edge, almost out the window.  He was able to do some emailing and research directions for his trip to the other side of London where he had a meeting on Tuesday.
   While we were searching for an internet connection we got news that the boxes we packed to ship over may not be getting to us anytime soon.  There's three boxes filled with clothes and shoes and jackets that are supposed to be here any day but we keep getting messages that they're stuck in customs or something.  Who knows.  Then the other ten boxes filled with our stuff, including kitchen stuff, won't be shipped out till this Friday.  They're being shipped a slower and more cost effective route and may not get to our door for another two weeks. HOLY MOLY!!!!! TWO WEEKS?  I love eating out, but we've been eating out for the past two weeks already.  I want to cook.  A month without cooking?  I could go out and buy stuff now, pots and pans and such but then when the boxes DO get here I'll have double of everything.  Plus I can be using that money towards other things like miracle grow for the couches and bed.  I'm getting sick of eating out.  It's expensive and not healthy.  I can keep cooking frozen pizza. Or maybe we can have cereal for every meal.  I did break down and buy two plates even though we have plates in the box that's hopefully coming over so maybe I can just make salads.  GRRRRRrrrrrrrrrr.  The other hugely frustrating thing is that in order to ship these boxes cheaply through this route means that there also needs to be a very detailed packing list of what's in each box.  I didn't make that list, now someone has to open my boxes, unpack them, then pack them back up.  I spent sooooooooo freakin long packing those boxes.  I made sure things were way too organized, unbreakable, unmovable, it was like a jigsaw puzzle fitting everything in there just right.  I spent so much time packing those.  All those days I stayed home because "I have to pack for London".  Not to mention all the money we spent on packing tape.  I covered those boxes.  I didn't want them to break open.  SO.FREAKING.ANNOYING.  I cried. I just want my stuff. I just want to start settling in here.  I'm losing patience fast.
    After being here for about two full weeks now I've come to realize that we're kind of in this weird limbo of being tourists and being residents.  We have a home, we have an address but it feels nothing like a home.  Things we were promised by our landlord are MIA and already we feel that this long, professional contract that we had to sign (and pay for) is worthless.  The things we were given make us feel like they ripped us off.  Internet is nowhere in our near future.  Our belongings are only-god-knows-where.  I can't sleep at night.  We don't know anyone here and although Sean and I have each other it still feels so lonely.
    I want to be a tourist and go enjoy the sites of London but I just can't right now.  I'm worried about everything.  How can I go sightseeing when there's an entire flat that needs to be cleaned because everything is covered in dust.  When you go on a vacation eating out every meal is fun, it's what you plan for. Staying in a hotel is fun because you know you'll be going home soon.  I guess maybe I had too big of expectations that once we moved in things would start to settle.  I sound like a debbie downer here. I'm sorry.  I guess I'm just feeling a bit frustrated and quite homesick.  Thank goodness I have Sean, I'd really be going bonkers without him.


  Sunday funday!  I woke up after sleeping pretty well and got to work packing up the rest of the hotel room.  I wanted to make sure everything fit in our suitcases and we didn't have loads and loads of stuff to carry.  Sean got back from his trip in the early afternoon and he was antsy to check out and head over to Chiswick.  We got a cab and loaded it up with all our stuff.  It barely fit in the station wagon.  It was kind of sad saying goodbye to the hotel and small staff of people that worked there.  They were all so friendly and very helpful.  But we waved goodbye and headed over the river.
Our little utility room right when you walk in.
The tiny washing machine is now in that space.
The water heater is in the big cabinet on the left,
but there's some good storage for some small odds
and ends and a place to put shoes. 
  It was nice to drive for a change instead of taking the train.  We drove through a REALLY nice neighborhood called Barnes then over the green and gold Hammersmith Bridge.  I think I want to head back to this area someday for a long walk around.  Before we knew it we were at 303D! I was excited to see Sean's reaction to the place.  We both took a slow walk around the flat commenting on things we liked and the things we were surprised with.  Sean was pretty upset that he didn't have a desk yet and that half the furniture was missing.  Then he saw the couches.  I think he was in shock with what they called a "couch".  I spent the entire day on Saturday cleaning and the place was still a mess.  What is really upsetting is that the landlord said he was getting professional cleaners to clean the place before we moved in.  I should have left it messy and made him get people in there to clean but I couldn't wait and I didn't want to unpack all our stuff into a dirty house!
  After inspecting the flat Sean and I went to "The Old Pack Horse" pub ready to inhale a much needed meal.  We were expecting the regular pub food but were a bit confused when we saw the menu only had Thai food on it.  It was still decent and we were happy to not be starving anymore.  We headed to Sainsbury to buy some food to start stocking our cupboards.  Nothing too exciting but it's funny how everything just takes so much longer to do here because we're not used to it.  Just finding things in the grocery store took forever.  Nothing looks the same and then we want to compare prices and then we have to convert prices. OYYY oy oy!
   The rest of the evening was filled with cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning.  Sean tried to get some work done but couldn't get any internet, not even on his phone.  I guess we live in a black hole.  Either that or the big brick buildings that are surrounding us are blocking any service we can get.
  Our options for dinner that night was either cereal or sandwiches.  I still can't cook anything because we have no kitchen supplies so we tried to buy stuff we didn't have to cook.  We also had to buy bowls and silverware since those things are also in the boxes we haven't received yet.  Not wanting sandwiches or cereal we headed downstairs to the fish-n-chips place and stuffed our double chins with fried food. It was pretty good! But then again, most fried food tastes heavenly.
  We tried to get a good night's sleep but that was pretty impossible.  The coils in the mattress were poking me so I had to sleep on top of the comforter which meant that I pretty much froze the rest of the night.  There was lots of tossing and turning, Sean kept trying to sleep diagonal on the bed since he's wayyyy too long for it, so I had to keep shoving him over.   It was anything but comfortable and relaxing.  I missed the hotel and made me miss home.  :(
There's a lot going on in this photo. Let me explain. This is Sean.
These are our mini couches.  They are rock hard and I don't
think the fabric that is covering them is real.  It's fake. Notice how
they barely go past Sean's knees.  Notice those white tags. Those
are to let us know that they are fire retardant.  Dang, I wanted to
burn them and destroy them.  See the iron railings behind Sean?
That's our little balcony.  I will throw the couches out there, into the
alley below.  Ok, see the car down below on Sean's left side?  That
is our cab driver that brought us from the hotel.  He was an old
man that insisted on pulling all the way into the alley to unload us.
We told him "no, it's too narrow" but he insisted.  That's him down
there 15 minutes later still trying to back out.  Do you like the purple
curtains? Did you notice the little wheels under the couches?
 I guess if we have visitors it's safe to say that they will
NOT be sleeping on the couch!  
Here's Sean relaxing.

11/20/10 Move-in Day!!!!

Well, I thought I hit "publish" when I was done with this but I guess it didn't work.  It's been sitting here ready to go.....now I need to catch up on the three days I missed!  

 Saturday move-in day!!! I could barely sleep last night, in fact I think I only got about four hours worth of rest.  I couldn't tell if I was nervous, excited, uncomfortable or what but sleep just wasn't happening.  Finally at 3:30 am I caved in and took a nyquil just to knock me out.  I had too big a day ahead of me and I couldn't be cranky and tired.  I'm such a little kid.
   Waking up wasn't too bad.  On the weekends the hotel serves breakfast till 10:30 so I hit snooze a dozen times then got my butt out of bed.  Eating breakfast alone was terribly boring so I quickly downed some eggs, mushrooms, special K, and my fair share of coffee.  I needed to be strategic with what I was going to carry over to the flat today.  I didn't want to take trips back and forth but I also didn't want to go empty handed, that would feel like a wasted trip.  I figured I could get laundry done so I packed a suitcase full of dirty laundry, towels, and bed linens and then headed over to Chiswick.
   The tube was crazy today so fussing around with a big suitcase was a tad annoying but nothing fell in the gap.  I minded the gap.  Chiswick is buzzing on the weekends apparently!  The sidewalks were filled and everyone was out shopping and eating and walking around. There's at least three daily fruit and veg stands set up in Chiswick.  The prices of produce look pretty good and I'm looking forward to having a mini farmers market a few blocks away.  I've become a veg snob after our CSA box an everything in the grocery store (home and here) just looks disappointing or fake.  But as I was saying.  Chiswick was movin and grovin today.  I quickly stopped in to the real estate place to pick up the keys and the contract.   It took me a good five minutes to figure out how to open the door to the flat.  To open it you have to jam the door handle DOWN really hard then on the way out to lock it you have to JAM it really hard up.  All in all the place looked good! It smelled like new paint and pizza (there's a pizza joint 5 feet from our front door).  I took my time looking around and making mental notes of things.  There was no office furniture for Sean.  No desk yet, no chair, no futon, but supposedly it's being delivered Monday.  The landlord had put up curtains, which we thought he wouldn't, so that was a nice surprise to see dark purple drapes.  Purple;  Sean's favorite color after poop brown.  The washing machine was installed in the utility room so I  dumped the stinky suitcase in front of it.  I headed upstairs to the kitchen/reception room.  What a cute table and chairs!!!! It's perfect!  They put a "couch" and "chair" up there too which made me literally laugh out loud when I sat down in them.  I don't know how to describe them.  First of all they had wheels on the bottom, which makes sense seeing that the landlord probably doesn't want to ruin the new floors, but you sit down and go flying across the floor.  They are so hard and stiff.  They are also incredibly tiny!  They are a good size though for my American Girl Doll.  Too bad I'm not 7 years old still. I don't think covering them in pillows and blankets will work.  So yeah, the kitchen looked great and I was shocked to see how much space we still had after everything was in there, granted the couches were mini size.
   Heading up to the third (technically called the 2nd) I held my breath.  The moment of truth.  What kind of bed did we get? My heart sank when I saw it. Our lease agreement said  we were going to get a king but there is no way that's a king, even here in London.  My king size sheets (which were freshly washed in the washing machine) from Tk-Maxx were hanging off the sides.  I don't mind a small bed but poor Sean has to deal with his feet hanging off the edge.   If I were him I'd be cranky about that.  I jumped on the bed, thinking that maybe it's at least a little bit comfortable.  I literally cried.  Now now, I know, I know, I'm spoiled with our nice fluffy couch and heavenly bed back home but this thing was AWFUL.  It made the rock hard hotel beds feel like a cloud.  I tried to cheer myself up by realizing that at least it was brand new and hadn't been used by numerous tenants before us.  Maybe I can get a dozen of so of those mattress pads to help cushion the coils that were jabbing into my rib cage.  I'm sorry if I'm sounding like a bed snob but after you have a good nights sleep on a good mattress and you wake up completely refreshed and happy you never want to sleep on anything else (unless you're camping!) There was one dresser in the room which again was very tiny.  Along with the bed and couches it too was on wheels.  I pushed it around and had some fun rearranging the room.  I also climbed into that little odd nook and discovered that I can spy on the neighbors from there! I felt like I was in Amelie when she watches the old man painting Renoir copies in the apartment across her.  It was exactly like that.  MMMmmm I wish I packed that movie, I have the urge to watch it now....such a happy colorful movie.
   I made my shopping list and headed out to Sainsbury, the supermarket that's just right around the corner.  It's a pretty decent store and it will be  nice to have a relatively cheap place close to home.  I bought laundry detergent, sponges, rags, soap, and a drying rack oh and reusable grocery sacks.  The flat was sill covered in a lot of construction dust so while doing laundry I planned on giving the place a good wash down.  I threw some laundry in without reading the instruction manual, because I hadn't found it yet, and got to work dusting.  I kept running back downstairs to check on the washing machine.  I was nervous it was going to flood, or catch fire or explode since I just dumped in detergent, pressed buttons then turned some dials.  About an hour into the first load I found the instruction manual hiding in the cupboard and realized that it was also a dryer!!! Gah! After I bought a fancy schmancy drying rack! This whole time we were told it was going to be just a washer.  Well that was a pleasant surprise but I'll still use the drying rack, in fact I left it full of laundry to dry overnight, figuring I'll save some electricity.
   I made sure the fridge was working.  It was. It was cold.  It also made a low growling sound like a dinosaur, but I didn't mind.  It reminded me of 27 Anawan, that fridge made noises sometimes.  I tested the stove top, yup put my hand on the burner while it warmed up, but was at least smart enough to remove it once I felt the slightest bit of heat.  The showers worked. The toilets flushed. Check, check and check.  The kitchen has a little mini balcony thingy with cute french door that open up so I flung those open to make sure they worked.  There's an insane amount of light switches in that place so it'll take a while to get used to them. I'm excited for Sean to see the place and can't believe he's missing move in day!
   Right now I'm sitting in the hotel lounge, as usual, drinking a glass of wine, minding my own business when in walks in a very interesting group of folks.  They're all dressed up...there's a smurf, Mini Mouse, Batman, Popeye, Luigi, Mario, Sleeping Beauty and a girl wearing the Twister spinner board on her head.  Interesting. Not sure what that's about......
  Cheers! Goodnight! Last night in the hotel!

Friday, November 19, 2010


    It's almost time to move!  Lindsay said she walked past the apartment and it looked like everything was in order.  They may have even put curtains up in the windows!  The keys and move-in packet will be ready for me on Saturday! In the meantime Sean and I walked down the street to Tk-Maxx to see if we could score some cheap bedding.  We did alright, we got a  comforter, sheets and bath towels.  It gave me a piece of mind knowing that we'll have something to sleep on once we move in.  The rest of the day was relaxing, I read and watched tv while Sean did work and packed for his trip to  Manchester. 
   Today Sean left for a short weekend in Manchester so that left me with the job of packing up the hotel room and getting things organized for the mini-move.  I have a plan to go to Chiswick early  in the morning, get the keys and do a load of laundry ASAP.  I am curious to see how this works out since there are no dryers.  There's a washing machine (kind of small too) but no dryers so everything has to hang dry.  I should be able to pick up a few drying racks for pretty cheap at the local home store.  The other idea I had was to use the towel warmers that are in both bathrooms.  These towel warmer racks seem pretty fancy but I think they're useless for towels.  They'll probably make a better drying rack, oh or even a sock warmer on cold winter days.  Mmmmm nice warm socks before going out. 
   It's pretty boring without Sean here.  I walked down the street to the pharmacy, Boots, equivalent to our CVS and then stopped into the bookstore on the way back.  There were a lot of cook books on sale so I picked up a teatime baking book for pretty cheap.  I think I can get used to his teatime thing, especially if there's little cakes or cookies involved!  I'm having a hard time getting used to the fact that places really don't give you refills on coffee or even giant cups.  I like my bottomless cups.  Annnnnddd I also solved my problem of not having a coffee maker here.  I don't want to buy one since I wouldn't be able to bring it back to the U.S. (the whole power cord thingy not fitting into the outlet) so instead I'll pick up a cute little French press.  Yup these are the things I've been thinking about lately. There's a lot of things we can be worrying over but coffee is pretty high in my mind.   So maybe I'll have coffee and cake and Sean can have tea and cake at tea time. 
   In the beginning of this teatime baking book is an introduction.  It may be a little long but I'm going to copy a little paragraph on the history of tea in Britain.  I would try to summarize it  but to be honest I'm just too lazy:
      By sitting down to enjoy a cup of tea and a sandwich or a piece of cake, The British are perpetuating a ritual that has its origins in Britain in the mid-17th century when tea started to arrive via Holland and Protugal, which had established trade routes to Japan and China a hundred years earlier.  Merchants and aristocrats imported small amounts of tea into Britain in the 1650s, but it was Charles II's marriage in 1662 to a Portugese princess, Catherine of Braganza, that establihsed tea drinking as an accepted practice.  Catherine brought to London a 3 pound chest of tea as part of her dowry and she quickly introduced this to her friends at court.  Regular consignments were soon being ordered for the King and Queen and tea drinking became a fashionable activity.  Meanwhile enterprising merchants, keen to increase sales of this new commodity, engaged in elaborate advertising campaigns, and gradually the trend spread.  Tea was served, and loose tea sold, in the coffee houses that had sprung up in London and some provincial towns in the 1650s, but the high tax levied by Charles II meant that it was very expensive and therefore out of the reach of the working classes.  Ale and gin continued to be the standard drinks of the majority of the population until 1784, when the tax was reduced from 119 percent to 12 percent and tea overtook gin and ale in the popularity stakes.  Had the tax remained, it is likely that the British would have ended up drinking coffee like the French and Germans.
  So there you go, a little tea history!  On that note I am heading down to the hotel lounge to eat some apple crumble and ice cream dessert.  Hopefully there'll be more exciting news to report soon with this move in! Cheers goodnight.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


    Wednesday was an absolutely lazy day, Sean and I slept in super late, I was grumpy from a horrible sleep, and we had nothing special planned for the day.  We hung around the hotel playing on our laptops.  Sean was doing work most of the day and I was trying to research activities and events in the West London area.  We are trying to figure out how we will make friends!  Later in the evening we walked down to Putney High Street and did a little shopping.  I got a new skirt and sweater and Sean got a new pair of jeans. So exciting eh?
We have been lucky enough to get the wing backs
 by the fire at the White Horse.
   We have eaten at a lot of different pubs this past week.  I love the names of them; The Spotted Horse, The White Horse, The George IV, Packhorse and Talbot, Prince of Wales, etc etc etc.  There's a pub on every corner so it's not hard to find some cheap food and a pint.  Most of the places we've visited are very nice indeed!  There's a few differences from U.S. pubs that I've noticed.  A lot of places don't have bar stools but instead we have been seeing lots of comfy leather couches and big chairs.  I don't know if that's common to all places but it seems like Sean and I have been randomly picking the ones that do!  There's a lot of fires which is always yummy.  The other night when we got back to the hotel I realized that I still smelled like a woodsy camp fire.  A lot of places allow dogs and even children during the early hours of the evening.  We have been sampling the different pies and of course eating our weight in chips.  So far my favorite meal, beer, and atmosphere has been at the White Horse.  Sean and I both had some great Belgium  Trappist beer (I saved the silly beer label to paint later), potted ox tongue and pig ear appetizer, and then the wild mushroom, spinach and goat cheese pie. Soooo good and I think I make a version of my own at home.  Well maybe not the ox tongue part.....
One of the great bars on the Chiswick
High Road
   The weather here has been typical London weather, or so I'm told.  Rain, clouds, MAYBE a little sun poking through, then more rain.  Most of the time it has been cloudy and when it rains it's usually just a light rain.  I'm very curious to see what the winter is like here since everyone is warning us but I don't think anything can surprize me after Rochester and Dunkirk winters.  Sean and I have both been shopping for  new winter coats hoping for something a little more stylish, something the young professionals around here wear.  We have been doing a  lot of poeple watching while sitting at all these pubs so we've been taking notes and pointing out what we like.  It's funny how UGG boots are still rearing their ugly heads here. Although you never seem them worn with mini mini skirts, so they don't bother me as much.  However, I shouldn't be talking since I did pack my purple crocs (they only left the room twice, and that was down to the lounge).  I love how a lot of the girls are wearing cute shorts with wool stockings and then shorter boots.  They all look like something out of an Anthropologie catalogue.  Boots boots boots no gym shoes!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Turnham Green with a little lingering fog.
This park is just yards from our flat.  
     I can not wait to get out this hotel and start setting up house.  These beds are so hard and uncomfortable and the pillows are like bricks.  No wonder we are waking up tired and groggy.  I am also planning which meals I want to cook first although the few kitchen items I packed won't be arriving till our boxes get shipped over.  I will have to get creative or just eat raw carrots and apples.
     Sean and I headed into Chiswick to run some more errands and sign the final papers.  It was such a lovely train ride in.  There was a heavy fog over the rooftops and everything seemed so still and silent.  The sun was somewhere behind that fog which created an interesting sort of light and atmosphere, ghostly and calm.  Our first thing on the to-do list was to visit the bank and set up a new bank account.  Sean needed a stack of documentation in order to get just the basic of basic accounts.  An hour later we were heading out to the cell phone store next door.  Since we are new to the country, with no credit, no bank statements, etc,  we couldn't get a plan but instead had to opt for the pay as you go option. These are the little things that we just didn't think of before we came here.  It feels like we're starting from scratch here but things could be way worse!
     Oh! So I have a new phone! I probably won't be making calls back home but I can text and email! Holy moly fancy stuff for me. And did I mention the phone is hot pink?  I really didn't mind not having a phone but it will put Sean's mind at ease knowing that I have it handy.  I don't know the phone number though,  I have to figure it out and memorize it.
     Sean and I headed into a pub for a late lunch and were pleasantly surprised when we walked in.  THIS was the James' Gate of Chiswick!!! Fireplaces, big comfy couches, a patio, darts, and a menu with nachos.  It was such a great find and quite cheap.  We drank some beer, Sean worked on his laptop via the free internet, and I tried to figure out my phone all while cozied up to one of the fireplaces.  It also looked like this pub had free music every now and then which may be fun to check out.
     After lunch we met up with Lindsay to hear about the news on the flat.  She had the final paperwork for us  that included a list of all the things the landlord would put in the apartment for us.  We got most of the things we asked for including a "king" sized bed, two dressers, desk and chair,  kitchen table, futon and some small armchairs.  We also had a wish list with a few things like curtains and area rugs but those things got denied.  Oh well! We got the big stuff and it will be fun picking out the odds and end items.  I am very curious to see what these things will look like and I'm praying that the bed is a bit more comfortable than the hotel one.  If it's not, then I'm already planning on things to do to make it nice and soft.  Nothing is worse than a poor night's sleep. Our move in date is this Saturday but Sean will be out of town for work so I will meet with Lindsay, get the keys, and make sure everything is in order.  I think the first thing I'm going to try is the washing machine.  After a week of living out of suitcases I'm ready to do a load or two!!  Sean has been itching too to get his space for work set up.  So once we get the keys I think things will move quickly.  We also discovered that there is a tube stop and grocery store VERY close to our flat.
This is the odd little nook in the corner of the
master bedroom.  Not sure what
 we're going to do with it. 
     We headed back to Putney for dinner at the hotel and to start looking into setting up things like internet and a phone line for the flat.  Sean was hoping to have internet ready to go over the weekend but we were quite shocked when we were told it may be two weeks till someone could come down and set it up for us. Yikes!  But at least we're getting even closer now!!!! I can't wait to drag our suitcases across the river, do laundry and have a cup of tea!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


    8 a.m. and I forced myself out of bed and into the shower.  MUST. FIGHT. THE. ODD. HOURS.  At this point I'm thinking my tired mornings are due more to the uncomfortable beds and hard pillows than the jet lag.  I miss our bed and blankets and pillows.  I have been trying to remember where exactly in the POD we put our bed stuff....probably not too far in since it was the last stuff to get packed up.
   Today we hung out in Chiswick waiting unpatiently to hear from Lindsay.  We strolled down Chiswick High Road imagining ourselves living here and happy with our choice of neighborhood.  The area reminds me of Jamaica Plain with the families and little kids (makes you feel like it's a relatively safe place to live) but it has the shopping and busyness of somewhere like Harvard Square.  There are so many shops and boutiques!  We already found a yoga place that we want to visit daily and restaurants we want to dine at.  Unfortunately we had about 5 hours to kill before meeting with Lindsay so we set about hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop where we relaxed, read and did lots of people watching.  The night before I bought a book all about the River Thames.  This was in line with my attempt to learn all I could about where I was.  "Thames, Sacred River" by Peter Ackroyd, is a hefty book with everything you need to know about the river and it's a lot more interesting than it sounds!  I read all day while Sean ran around doing some errands.  He checked out about getting a phone for me and switching his carrier service over to someone in London.  We also need to get a local bank. 

   We met with Lindsay at 4 and she showed us the flat again.  We actually have three options to pick from.  There are four identical townhouse type flats built in one block together.  It's a new build nestled behind the shops and restaurants on the high street.  The owner was renovating all four.Ssomeone has moved into the middle and the other three were almost done.  They just need to install a cooker and the refrigerator, plus some cleaning then it will be ready for us to move into.  We liked two of the units, both on opposite ends.  Since they are identical units it came down to which one had the best overall feel.   In the end we decided on the one that seemed to be most open to the street.  The other end one looked out into a shop and it's trash . Gross.  After taking a good amount of time inspecting the place once more we headed back to the office to sign paperwork.  It was quite a long contract but Sean worked out everything and got it all in order.  The only thing we were still unsure on was what furniture they would give us.  We gave them our wish lists of things we needed and crossed our fingers in hopes that we would get what we needed.  Once again, it felt like a big step forward but we still won't be worry free til we hear back that the landlords agreed to our furnishings and we're all moved in to our snuggley London home.  It will surely be cozy!
   After our meeting it was short tube ride back to Putney for dinner and more work for Sean.  We are getting into a nice routine of going out all day to get errands done then coming back and working on our laptops next to the warm radiator.  Our quiet hotel lounge and bar seemed to be buzzing tonight though.  We were working away quietly, sipping our spirits, only to be interrupted by a loud, talkative, too-cool dude.  From eaves dropping we figured out that he worked for the Kooks and was in town working on something for their show this upcoming Thursday.  This guy was a talker.  He talked the poor bar tenders ear off.  He wouldn't leave the nice Blegium tourist lady alone.  Then he caught Sean's ear when he went to the bar to order another beer.  I don't even know how to describe the rest of the conversation.  We introduced ourselves, but could barely catch his name through his thick and half drunk accent.  I think it was Welshie...or at least that's what Sean and I keep calling him.  He was an interesting character originally from Wales but now living in Toronto and got excited when we told him we were from Boston.  We connected over the fact that we knew where the Middle East music venue was and how Welshie worked on a show there once for Tokyo Police Club.  Now that I think about it, I'm not sure if he told us exactly what he does for these groups.  There was something about managing, then guitars and saxaphones.  Who knows!  As we continued to share stories he got more and more opinionated which I'm sure his beers encouraged.  Sean ordered a beer and Weslshie told him he was drinking bad beer. Welshie was drinking Corona which was obviously the best beer ever.  We told him where we were looking to live and Welshie told us we were living in the wrong area and paying 10 times too much.  He made fun of my purple crocs and Sean's sweater.  Um rockstar dude, we're in a Best Western hotel lounge, why don't you go party with the Kooks if we're not cool enough for you? Needless to say, everything we were doing, drinking, eating, and wearing was wrong according to Welshie.  He was amusing for a while and I was secretly hoping to get some Kooks tickets out of him but I'm glad it was 10 and our bedtime.  We said goodnight to the lovely bar tender lady and gave drunk Welshie a hug.  Oh oh oh I forgot my favorite part.  Welshie was talking how after this show he's flying back to Toronto and going up North to spend winter in his cabin.  Sean asked if he was married and Welshie pointed to the ring on his right hand.  We were both confused why it was on the right hand but he quickly informed us that his left hand is his guitar hand and that his real wedding ring flew off during a show so then the Kooks bought him a new one which he now wears on his right hand.  Ohhhhhhh Welshie!

Monday, November 15, 2010


    I hate writing posts that are about us walking somewhere to check out the shopping but I have to for this one.  We forced ourselves to get out of bed at a decent hour but then lazed around the room working on laptops and doing "research".  After realizing that the rain outside wasn't going to stop and we'd have to brave the elements we headed out on our walk of the day.  This time we headed west in search of some REALLY cheap shopping.  The area we passed through was less than desirable so the dull view combined with the cold rain made our moods once again quiet and subdued.  It was a good two mile walk and at the end we had our giant superstore, ASDA.  It's Wal-mart.  No, it's really Wal- mart.  Things were cheap, children were screaming everywhere, and I wanted to get out of ASDA ASAP.  I don't know if we would go back there.  Maybe once in a while to stock up on cheap toilet paper and crackers but other than that I think we can find something better.  Lindsay, our real estate lady, has been very helpful with places to shop and deals to watch out for, so we'll be checking out her suggestions of stores.  We didn't leave empty handed though.  We bought some washcloths,  kit-kats, and more socks for Sean. 
   On the walk home we popped into Tk-Maxx to see what they had for homegood items.  I wonder why it's Tk-Maxx and not Tj-Maxx.  It's the same exact store and they are everywhere so it will be a good resource for home things.  Right now we are not buying anything although we've been tempted.  There are things I wish I had packed to ship, like our comforter, towels, and more kitchen utensils.  Silly things that we have which I don't want to buy again.  Oh well. Maybe while we're home for Christmas holiday I can rummage through the POD and pull out a couple of items.  Isn't it funny how attached you can get to a stock pot and sheets?

   So anyways. We ate dinner in the shopping center where the Tk-Maxx was and made the big decision to check out what movies were playing at the Cineworld next door.  With nothing else to do, rain pouring down outside, and it being 4p.m. and dark out we headed over to catch "Due Date".  It was nice to relax and eat a bag full of candy and get our minds off of real life things. 
   It was an uneventful day with walking, rain, Wal-mart and the movies.  We hung out in the hotel lounge, again, and hit the hay early.  Tomorrow is dedicated to Chiswick and getting that flat!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


    Alright here we go with some good stuff finally! The real tourist type things. Saturday was by far the hardest day to get up.  We slept in long enough to miss the hotel breakfast so I didn't have my coffee before we headed out and I was quite cranky.  Hungry AND decaffinated is not a good situation to put me in. Sean was quiet and in his head worrying about the flat situation, trying to email the real estate lady every fifteen minutes, until I talked him out of it. We ate breakfast at a very cute cafe down the street that boasted about their farm fresh and local ingredients drawing us in with their giant displays of kale right when you walk in.  The meal was the usual...grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, eggs, toast and yogurt and fruit.  Sean's meal came with something called "bubble and squeak" which was a big mystery til we googled it later that night. It was pretty good. I guess it could be compared to homefries, but traditionally made with leftovers from a roast dinner, so it had potatoes, cabbage and some other bits.  I like starting these busy days with a good filling meal and a hot tea or coffee. Little was said during the meal though, we have a lot on our minds I suppose.
   Sean and I hopped on to the Tube and headed into the real London.  We rode the train all the way to Westminster Bridge and emerged out of the underground station surrounded by waves of fellow tourists and sightseers.  Catching a glimpse of Big Ben we pushed through and found a tiny empty spot to stand and get the camera out.  What a great moment though!  All this time we've been wandering around all these little neighborhoods, nothing feeling too dramatically different, til now.   That was a "wow" moment right there.  Walking up those steps, seeing the river to the left with the London Eye looming over its banks.  The river was busy with boats and water taxis, people in line on gangwalks and floating docks.  Big Ben was towering high above the crowds over all our heads while tourists all around us bustled to take photos, buy cheap souvenirs, and push in throngs to the next site.  We claimed an area of empty sidewalk space and I reached in to grab my camera.  I handed it to Sean to hold while I zipped up my bag and then I heard "ohhhhhh Carlaaaaaaaaaaa". What? What? What? Did he drop it? Is it now floating down river? Did someone grab it and steal it? What? What? What? While I was fussing with my purse Sean went to take a photo, only to discover that I had left the memory card back at the hotel in the card reader device. Holy Moly! Seriously?!  In an instant I went from being totally enthralled, finally feeling that "a-ha LONDON" moment to pure disappointment and a little shame.  How could I be so silly? I know what it was, it was because I left the hotel without coffee! I wasn't in my proper state. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Sean so lovingly assured me though that we really aren't vacationers on holiday and that this isn't a one shot deal. We'll be back, maybe during the week with hopes of smaller crowds? Looking on the brightside it was nice to stroll along, or more like push along in the tight crowds, and not have to worry about stopping in the middle of traffic to get a good shot.  So, there we were, camera-less and walking along, trying to soak it all in.
   About 15 minutes into this walk I realized something very disappointing.  I knew NOTHING about this place.  Ok, I could recognize Giant Ben (it's giant, not big) but other than that I was clueless!  Why don't I remember these rich buildings from any of my art history classes? Why is the history so unknown to me? What is going on? I remember stepping foot in Florence and what a feeling that was.  Knowing the landmarks, knowing the artists, knowing the builders and the history.  Here though I feel lost.  It's kind of a feeling of panic where you want to get the most out of this trip but how can you when it's so hard to relate to these places?  Don't get me wrong, visually this place is breathtaking but I need to know more.  I pictured the history books we bought before the trip, longing for them, wanting to read nonstop,  but those were packed in the boxes that will hopefully be shipped safe and sound to us once we find a place to settle in.  The tour books had some information but again, I wanted more.
   I have always hated history class but I do like to know something about the place I'm visiting.  With the thought of spending at least a year here I made a personal vow to myself to learn as much as I could.  I would read all the books, muse over the guidebooks and google it all.  Even writing this I can't relay what we saw.  I don't know what we saw! We saw Big Ben and Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and then we took a long walk through Hyde Park.  It was all gorgeous and we stopped every few feet to say "hey awesome, wish we had a camera".  The weather was clear, meaning no rain, so it was pleasant walking about.  We wandered up and down random streets taking it all in.  Most of the afternoon we were silent, holding hands and trying not to get lost in the crowds.  Sean and I did a great job taking turns navigating our way around, stopping in front of churches, monuments, and show-off rollerbladers in the park.  We walked far and our feet were aching by late afternoon.   It was a quiet day for the both of us despite the noisy crowds.  The entire time we were anxiously waiting for a call from Lindsay and an update on our flat.  We don't want to spend a month in a hotel and  our patience is only so strong.  As soon as we settle in I promise, promise, promise that I'll head back out and really spend some time in "LONDON".  Sorry for the disappointment folks.  I feel like a lame tourist with nothing good to report.
   We wandered through Hyde Park for a good portion of the afternoon.  It's gorgeous there!  Lots of people walking and rollerblading.  Once we made it through we headed back on the Tube towards our hotel home.  Sean had a pub in mind that he wanted to visit in Parson's Green ( a few stops from where we were staying) but I was a bit skeptical since we weren't sure if they served food.  (I am happiest when I'm caffeinated and fed)  We stopped at the White Horse.  What a great place! We may have found our James' Gate of London.  We sat in the best seats of the place, two wing-backed chairs next to the wood fire and ordered a round of pints.  I don't remember what we got but the place had over 400 beers, wines and whiskeys. The beer menu was 40 page book.  The food there was AMAZING too.  Sean had some sort of duck with potatoes and I had a spinach, mushroom and goat cheese pie with a walnut and pear salad.  Sooooo goooodd!!!!! The beer, food, and fire were so comforting.  While we ate and drank toasty by the fire we got a call from Lindsay! It was hard to hear but Sean made out that the landlords finally liked our offer and conditions and agreed to meet on Monday to sign the paperwork and get things moving!  If things go well we could be moved in within the week! CHEERS! We may have a home! It could have been the beers we drank or the good food we ate or the good news we got but either way we both felt a huge weight lifted and things starting to look a little more promising.  If only we had gotten that news a little earlier in the day. Perhaps our sightseeing would've been a little more uplifting.  Sean and I took the subway a few stops home and ate some dessert at the hotel.  The staff and bartenders are getting to know us very well here and it's making me feel even more that we need to get out!
   I have never moved to a new town without actually having a place to live and how odd it feels.  Even when I moved to Boston I had an apartment I was going to that I found before I actually moved.  Sean and I have been spending our first exciting days in London apartment searching, figuring out the different burroughs, where the grocery shopping is, and where we can get much needed items for our hopeful apartment.  There's so much to think about and so many mixed emotions.  We are excited and nervous, awestruck and tired, homesick but hopeful. I hope we didn't pass the fun tourist phase!
   My apologies if this is not the uplifting tourist blog entry you were expecting.  This apartment thing is really weighing heavy on us! If this deal doesn't go through then it's back to square one which means even more time in the hotel and more fumbling around in a mini cooper.  We get tv now in our room which we won't have when we move, but I want to cook, and set up shop.  Sean needs an office and we both need a place to call home.  We're going through a lot of adjustments and I hope we don't sound too pessimistic.  Our bodies are trying to figure out when to sleep, we left our comfy apartment, and most importantly we left our friends and family.  We miss you all and it's hard while sitting at a pub to not turn your head when the door opens to see who walks in, hoping it's someone you know.  Ok ok ok ok. To lighten the mood....our steak and ale pies just arrived! Cheers and love and miss you all!