We’re in Enschede, the Netherlands! We just got here today, for a conference that Dr. Thingo helped organize. We were in London for just over 48 hours. But the year looks promising! You can see the full set of pictures in my Flickr account here. I’ll be adding sets as time goes on. The first few days are covered in this one.
This post is a little short, considering how much has happened, but I thought I’d let you all know that we’re alive and well, and the year is looking good. I haven’t really taken any pictures of the house, as we won’t officially take possession of it until August 11th. But I will, and I’ll offer more details about it and the neighbourhood we’re in when we’re settled for good.
It seems surreal that, less than a week ago, we finally packed everything up and cleaned the house and left. The shuttle picked us up early (they’re always early. I should have known…), so I didn’t have time to take a shot of the family in front of the house as planned. I did, however, manage to take pictures of all the clean rooms before it was time to go, which I’m glad I did, because unless there’s photographic evidence, nobody’s who knows anything about my housekeeping habits is going to believe we pulled it off. You can see the Clean House photo album here.
The flights, both legs, were uneventful. The giant bags (there were 7!) were checked in without any problems. Security was a breeze. The flight left a little late but landed in Keplavik, Iceland on time. Nothing much to report. We got into Heathrow at something like noon, and made it through immigration easily as well, though there’s an error on my visa that I need to have corrected. Despite the fact that the valid dates on it are July 23 2013 to July 23 2014, mine (and only mine) has a note on it that says Valid for a duration of 180 days. I was hoping we could correct it at the crossing, but I need to contact the issuing office, which I have done. I’m sure I’ll get it fixed.
We made it to our house after what seemed like an endless cab ride from the airport where I tried to prevent people from falling asleep (my cure for jetlag heading east is to sleep during the flight, if possible, and stay awake until a reasonable bedtime at your destination. It works for me. But it means that except for maybe a couple hours’ worth of short naps, I’d been up for 30 hours by the time I went to bed.) In the afternoon, I force marched everybody out of the house for the afternoon, mostly to keep them awake, but also because we needed to start on some administrative tasks and get groceries. We were all in bed by 9:00, local time, and slept until at least 8:00. That was a very good sleep!
This was our only full day in London before leaving for vacation, so we decided to venture off. There was still administrative stuff to do – this time, get the final version of the rental agreement so we could proceed to the next step of opening a UK bank account (which we couldn’t do without an appointment on Wednesdays, of course, but Thursday is apparently walk-in day, so we’d have to come back tomorrow). And then get a sim card for Dr. Thingo’s phone. We did all this in Woolwich, which is the next neighbourhood east of ours. We hung out in the public square, walked around a little, grabbed lunch at the cafe and headed for the city.
A 20-minute train ride took us to London Bridge. We walked from there along the south shore of the Thames to the Tower Bridge, and then around the Tower of London, back up the north shore to the Millenium Bridge and back across the Thames. We saw the Globe Theatre, and the Tate, and the Shard, and the Gherkin (ok, the Swiss Re building), and the Eye from a distance. We didn’t have time to stop in anywhere. We were just trying to get a look around. It was amazing! At first glance, London is a crazy mix of the very old (like the Tower of London, whose first building was built in 1280) to the very new. The new architecture is great – not a lot of boring glass and concrete cubes.
The next day (yesterday), we finished some more bureaucratic stuff (bank account, council tax, and registration with the school board), and took the ferry to the Netherlands.
We’re on vacation for just over two weeks, and then back in London. I’ll try to be diligent about keeping up. But I have to say, even though I’ve only been here for 16 hours, I’m really liking the Netherlands a lot! Busy day tomorrow, so I should go to bed. But stay tuned, there will be lots more!