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!