It’s a dreary, rainy, chilly day in London. Which is comforting. I was beginning to wonder if all that talk about the weather in England being dreadful was just propaganda, because it’s been beautiful every day!
It’s been a quiet week. The entries in my daily journal, which I’ve been keeping since we left Canada, have been very terse since we got to London, because life has been a whole lot less busy. It’s been nice to just hang out at home, explore the neighbourhood, and make the space ours. Dr. Thingo’s been back to work since Wednesday. I want to explore London, but I needed a break. I think we’re going to start with the Greenwich observatory this weekend. Yes, we live in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, home of Greenwich Mean Time! Though we’re currently on British Summer Time. Anyway.
I’ve been asked to post pictures of the house. Ask and ye shall receive!
I love this house! We’ve been so lucky with accommodations since we left Canada. But we especially lucked out here. So, the owners didn’t really declutter before they left. But the house is large, and bright, and airy (the ceilings are super-tall).
The kitchen is extra-amazing – there’s a deep, tall counter, and the stove has two ovens and 5 burners. After a fairly intense bout of reorganizing and storing stuff I won’t use, and marveling at the amount of tea (seriously, I thought we had a lot of tea. They have tea all over the place. Tea with labels entirely in Chinese that I can’t identify. So much tea!), I’m in cooking heaven! Though I’ve had to get a few extra things (cheese grater, large mixing bowl, wooden spoons, more bowls for eating, glasses, French press). There are no dry measuring cups, but there’s a kitchen scale, so I’ve been baking. And there’s a rice cooker, which I’ve already used. And an ice cream maker, which I have not yet. And there was a drip coffeemaker, but I put it away after I got the French press. And a mocha pot. I’m going to need a cookie sheet. And a decent knife. And more tea towels (there are 2). And more bath towels (there are 4. I’m not organised enough not to need spares). And a coat rack. And maybe some kind of hand mixer (I miss my stand mixer already). And the owner left her cookbooks, which I’ve already been using. I’m going to like it here.
We’ve explored the neighbourhood a little bit. It’s walkable (the places we’ve been have all been within about 3 km from here), but the buses are very frequent, and I bought an Oyster card, so it’ll be easy and fairly affordable to get around. There’s no tube stop nearby, but we’re serviced by two overland train lines close by. The transportation system here is a crazy combination of train lines, subways and buses, and I haven’t got it all figured out yet. I did have to make a trip over to Canning Town to send my visa back to New York to get fixed, and managed to make it there and back without any fuss.
Oh, and we have two kitties, Seren and Zeki:
Seren is a teeny cat (she’s maybe 2-3 kilos). She has a huge meow, however, and is very chatty and demands a lot of attention. She’s the perfect size for taking a nap on your belly while you take a nap. Zeki is also a sweetie, and is generally social and follows the kids around the house. He’s fluffy, and has a confused look on his face all the time (it must be part of the breed), so he looks adorable. They’ve taken well to us taking over their space.
I just got a mobile phone yesterday. Phone plans here are ridiculously cheap compared to Canada. I got a ‘Pay and Go’ phone (this means no contract, so I had to pay for the phone, but I got an older model BlackBerry, so it was cheap). My plan is £11 per month for a year, but the first three months are free. This gives me all the data and talk time I need. Crazy. Are you listening, BellRogersTelus??!? Incidentally, if you’re on BBM, my pin is 2B2FFB65 – chat with me! Sadly, though, international texts are still extra.
We had a delicious lunch at a Nepalese/Tibetan place in Woolwich where I want to go again! And there’s a Vietnamese place next door that was also delicious. Thus negating the stories I’d heard about the dismal London food scene (who spreads these rumours around??). I haven’t had good luck in the supermarket/food shopping department, however. I’ve tried 4 different supermarkets in 5 days. The Marks & Spencer is nice, I guess, if you want prepared foods, but not so great if you want to cook by yourself. The Sainsbury’s is ok, but a pretty hefty walk. Mind you, that’d be good for me, I think… The Asda was fine, but Superstore-like, which I find offputting (I don’t need to buy shoes with my cabbage). Also, Asda, I found out later after some research prompted by the fact that they sell George brand clothing, is a subsidiary of Walmart, so that was the end of that. Then there was Tesco’s, which is even bigger and more Superstore-like, so I probably won’t go. What I was really hoping for was an old-school setup where there was a butcher and a greengrocer and a baker nearby, but that isn’t proving to be the case. But I got some recommendations from my landlady for a butcher and cheese shop and fishmonger about 4 km away, so when I finally scrounge up the courage to get on her bike, which she left me in the basement, I’ll go check them out. Or take the bus. Or walk.
Speaking of cycling courage, it’s taking me longer to adapt to left-hand driving than I expected. Jaywalking (or even just crossing the street) is nervewracking – I have to look both ways about 5 times before I decide it’s safe enough to go (so, don’t jaywalk, I hear you saying…) I can’t even imagine cycling on the left yet. I’m glad I won’t be driving!
There’s a public library a 5 minute walk from here, and a park, with a cafe right next to it, so that’s promising. I already got a library card, and the kids and I have taken out some books. The library is a branch of the Greenwich library system. It’s fairly small, but we can also go to the central branch a little farther off if we decide we’ve exhausted the selection here.
We’re still waiting to hear from the school board about where the kids will be attending school, though they did send a confirmation of the receipt of our application. School starts in two weeks – I hope they send word soon!