London – First Impressions

We’ve arrived in London. So far, it is better than we expected it would be. Back in November, I visited 11 rental properties and chose the oldest and crummiest one, but in the best location. I started talking it down to Dave, to ensure he wouldn’t be disappointed when we got here. Thankfully, it now seems delightful!

While we were in Pennsylvania (visiting Dave’s family for a few days before coming to London) a relocation service hired by Skype was kind enough to come to our flat, meet a rental furniture delivery company, and route our furniture to the right rooms. When we arrived, the beds were made, the kitchen dishes were unpacked, the TV was set up, and we took a bath and a nap.

We live on the bottom floor of a 3-story house (split into 3 flats). We have 3 bedrooms, a small (and very outdated) kitchen, a fantastic reception (another word for “great room”), and 2.5 quirky* bathrooms. Our own private garden is a huge hit. Muddy, weedy, and uneven terrain with mossy rocks makes for a perfect setting for two young boys. There are about 52 radiators in the house, each with its’ own control (knobs that Ryan has quickly gravitated toward turning).

Kevin’s bedroom is one of the best. Big beautiful windows that look out onto the street. Ryan’s bedroom has 3 small steps leading up to the door. Those will be good practice for him. Our master bedroom is big, with many windows that face the street, lots of armoires (there are no closets in London, turns out), and a master bath with a bidet. (Who wouldn’t want a bidet? Kevin has washed his hands in it numerous times already. He thinks it’s great.)

Our flat is located in Hampstead, which is 4 miles northwest of London, a 10 minute walk from the underground (providing a 25 minute commute for me to Skype). The Tesco Express (the nearest grocery store) is a 7 minute walk. Frozen yogurt, Gap Kids, Starbucks, McDonalds, and plenty of local fare are just 10 minutes away, including the fish monger, butcher, and fruit and vegetable stand. We live just minutes away from Hampstead Heath – the largest park in central London – which has several children’s playgrounds and miles and miles of running trails. Dave went for an hour-long run today and came home gleaming about the new trails and hills to explore just outside our neighborhood.

Our first dinner was McDonalds chicken sandwiches, chicken McNuggets, and potato wedges. Funny I guess, but we were all happy. Our second dinner was salmon, pasta, salad, and oranges. Much better. Although, the oven door came off when we took the salmon out of the oven. (This provided several safety challenges with Ryan.) The kids are a bit out of whack with time zones – they were up many times in the night then slept till 8:45am (sleeping past 7am has never happened in all my life as a parent).

My Mom joined us just a few hours after we arrived on Saturday. She will spend the next 3 weeks with us, helping us get settled and helping Dave get situated in his new role as Mr. Mom. We are glad to have her here and the boys are delighted to spend time with Grandma.

I head to Tallinn Estonia tomorrow through Thursday. Dave already has plans with Grandma and the boys to go to the library and several other places. Our first shipment of belongings from Saratoga (the air shipment) should arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday, so that will be like Christmas. (Our sea shipment should arrive in the UK the end of January, then take 2-4 weeks to get through customs. At which point, we’ll have to give our rental furniture back!)

Stay tuned for more….

*What is a quirky bathroom, you ask? It is one where the hot and cold water faucets are separate, so you have to hold your hands out and get equally burned and frozen to achieve a warm face wash. We have one bathroom split into two separate rooms around the corner from each other – shower in one room, toilet and sink in another. The lights have pull-ropes with blaringly loud fans that you can’t turn off (they go off automatically after ~15 minutes). The light switches are too high for our 3-year old to reach (thus, requiring much assistance during nighttime to go to the bathroom). Lastly, there are no outlets in bathrooms in the London (code, I guess)? Which means, no nightlights (again, requiring more attention for our 3-year old). Oh, and that also means you have to use a hairdryer on the kitchen floor (using the oven door as the only reflective mirrored surface in the house).

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