Saturday, February 27, 2010

Huzzuh! We've found a home!

It took two weeks and multiple estate agents but we found a flat in Hampstead! It's tiny compared to our old place in Brooklyn but was one of the largest we saw. I'm thrilled. It has a large lounge and a huge back yard - and I mean HUGE. I'll have to post photos of the yard.

It's ours on the 8th but our furniture doesn't arrive until April 2! Good thing we packed an aerobed, sheets, towels, etc. just in case. We'll stay at corporate housing until the 13th and do some painting, have the telephone, TV and broadband set up before we get in. We have a bunch of things to buy as well - like a new fridge and a washer/dryer.

Now I have to start a hunt for daycare for Cate and things for her to do - like playgroups,  play spaces, Gymboree - if anyone knows any great places for 3 year olds in Hampstead please let me know.

Fen is thrilled because he can walk to work - or just take the tube or a bus which will only take 10 minutes if that. So things are starting to look up!

Of course if everything was going perfectly I'd be suspicious. Both Fen and I have nasty colds today - sore throats, congested, headaches and chills. Ah well. Hope we're better by tomorrow because we've hired a babysitter (a woman from Cate's current daycare) to sit tomorrow so we can go out for lunch. alone. I can't wait! And now that we don't have to search for a flat in our free time - we can actually get out and see London. Hooray!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It's official - I'm old

Today as I walked over to the daycare Cate attends, my umbrella rolled off the top of my double Phil & Ted stroller. I stopped to pick it up but a VERY attractive man handed it back to me with the most charming smile. He's the best looking man I've seen in a long time (live, that is) - like a young Rupert Everett with better lips and jet black, newscaster hair (American newscaster hair!).I said, "Thank you so much." to which he replied in the most delightfully posh accent: "Not at all, Madam."


Lawdy. It was all I could do not to say, "You run along now, sonny."

Ah, 'tis a sad day when you realize you are definitely out of the running with hot young men! Thank heavens I think my husband is still gorgeous (cause he is). Otherwise I might be stuffing chocolate hobnobs in my denture free mouth right now. Actually, I think I will anyway.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On the hunt

Now that the food poisoning has finally gone we're on a serious hunt for a home. I went by myself yesterday (well, with X) to look at a few places. The estate agent was a 20ish boy who had absolutely no clue what a family with small children need - but he tried. One place was nice and would have been perfect but had no bath tub - impossible. Another was so dim and dreary with the ugliest brown patterned wall-to-wall carpeting - I'm quite certain that it was once a crack den. Awful.

I'm meeting with two other agents to have a look around Islington which is where we're currently staying and I really like. Hopefully we'll find something and move quickly.

Poor Cate is still hating day care and cries for her Brooklyn friends hysterically when I drop her off. It is killing me to see her scream and try to pullthe rain cover back over her on the pram instead of leaping out to have fun like she used to. At least she's happier here at our temporary home. And X is still the jolliest little smiling baby. He's such a good little man.

I'm just stunned by how small everything is - not just the apartments/flats - everything is smaller; portion sizes, toilet paper rolls, paper towels, you name it. My husband said it's like we're still in rations during the last big war. I bought the tiniest garlic bulb the other day - it looked like the baby of a US bulb and that's when it dawned on me - Britain isn't smaller - the US is oversized - everything is HUGE. Even food is larger and I start to wonder about all the US food that's not organic - God only knows what they're putting in the soil to make everything so big and colorful. I shudder to think.

The fashions here are a bit outrageous - not on everyone but a lot of people have their own crazy way of dressing - hair coloring (I mean blue, purple, bright pink, etc) is very big - even on older women - and not just the entire hair - sometimes just the bangs, or a piece of hair. I'm not judging - sometimes it's quite fetching - Ijust find it different. HOwever, one young woman wore a heavy wool coat cinched at the waist with a wide elastic belt sporting a gold-toned double shell clasp - the likes I haven't seen since I snogged Roger Eldon at a matinee showing of Lady Hawk! Bizzaro.

I find it all fascinating and fun. I"m sure some of my sweater sets are making the British snore with boredom.

Thanks for the support - and help with the ampersand - it is shift 2 in case anyone was interested!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

London is trying to kill me

So, week one and I'm deathly ill with the worst case of food poisoning ever! Not sure what did it but I think it may be the paella I had for dinner the other night. Two days later and I'm still ill - haven't eaten in days. I don't really blame London but it hasn't been an easy road thus far.

I'm working on my brand new laptop that I had to buy today as Fen fried my PC and blew out all the electricity in the flat (seriously - maintenance had to come and fix the situation). I'm woefully fearful that my hard drive is dead and cannot even think about it. So I went out and bought this laptop today so I can reconnect with the world. However, I don't know how the ampersand key works - anyone know how to get it? I can't do

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Becoming British-ish

So we've arrived - haven't met the Queen yet, but it's only been four days. It has been an absolute harried wreck of a time but so far, so good. Sort of.... The corporate  housing we're in is lovely and large but it's not wheelchair/pushchair friendly so I have to haul our heavy Phil & Ted double dash up seven stairs to come in and out. Other than that things are good.

Fen starts his new position this afternoon and I'm a bit worried about being alone but I'm sure I'll be fine. Cate's toys have yet to arrive (as well as my computer) so she's a bit bored. I've got her in daycare for a few hours a day so she can go out and play because it rains.... a lot... everyday. Don't know why that's a surprise but it is.

I'm at an internet cafe so I haven't much time but I've got tales of the packing  which nearly sent me over the edge - they packed EVERYTHING. I put my coffee mug down to answer the phone and they packed it - dirty! I wonder if they even tossed the remaining coffee out first. And that's just the beginning!

But we're sorting ourselves out - meeting with estate agents tomorrow and Friday. Things are frightfully expensive so we're probably not going to be as conservative as we originally planned. I cannot live in a tent as I previously mentioned - no matter how  handy I am with a campfire and pen knife.

Must run, left Fen with the two kids who were both gearing up for a good crying jag. HOpe he's still in one piece. More soon....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Three days to go

So only three days to go. The packers come in two days. I'm taking inventory of everything we're shipping and it's A LOT of stuff. Our house is upside down with boxes everywhere and things strewn about begging to be put somewhere. Both Fen and I are neat nicks so this is driving us batty.

I'm already checking out of New York. On Sunday night - Superbowl night - I went out to dinner with several of my closest girlfriends. We went to Union Square Cafe for a farewell dinner. It was lovely. We drank sancerre and ate fantastic food and had a grand old time laughing about old times.

On the way there I decided to take the subway into Manhattan knowing it would be the last time for a long time. As I waited for the train a tall lanky fella dressed completely in black with the exception of his bright turquoise shoes (complete with matching laces) sat next to me. I like to see what people are reading so I glanced at his book. It was titled something like" How to Make Anyone Love You." He was highlighting passages and studying it with great concentration. On one page it had a place to list your best assets or 'things that worked in your favor'. He wrote: My accent. Well, I just had to hear it so I asked him for the time. He happily answered, "Half past six" in a crisp British accent. Egad!

On the way home I took a cab, knowing it would also be the last time for a long time that I'd cross the Brooklyn Bridge. While we crossed it I got nostalgic as I looked over the city skyline glowing in the night. I've spent nearly 19 years of my life in this city and I will miss it. I just hope that I can fit into another city as well as I have New York. I know I'm spoiled by New Yorks instant gratification and the fast, fast pace it thrives on. But I will adjust.

Three days to go...there's just not enough time!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Countdown is on

So the move is on. We leave in 8 days. On Monday the first round of movers came and took the dining room set to Florida - my brother is taking it. Tomorrow the air freight is being picked up. I've been packing, sorting, shredding and tossing things forever - or what feels like forever.

Everything is piling up. The kids both had shots on Tuesday (vaccines and flu shots) so both have been a little cranky. Cate is getting her back molars and is drooling and chewing on everything as well as waking up  in the middle of the night. X wants to be held day and night which is taxing. I let him scream it out from time to time but I can't stand to hear him cry. Poor little duck - his cry face is the most heart breaking thing! But all things considered - both kids are great. X is 13 1/2 pounds already - at 9 weeks! He's a little porker. Has the greatest fat cheeks for kissing. And Cate is still good with him.

We've had to jump through hoops for our UK visas - had to get fingerprinted, etc. I guess I'll never get away with a crime now! Not that I'm planning one but my fingerprints are now on file. Apparently, I do not make good prints and it took forever - so maybe I can get away with a crime with my unprintable fingers! Hmmm - food for thought. ;-)

We met with our accountant this week as well - getting our US taxes squared away and setting ourselves up for the next few years in the UK. So complicated - I really don't get taxes and how they operate - ergo the accountant. But we're good for now. Just hoping for a huge refund (doubtful but I like to think I'm wrong).

I'm just shocked at the amount of 'stuff' we have. Not the big ticket items - it's the papers, and junk that sits in drawers and hidden in nooks and crannies around the place. I'm finding things I thought long lost - like my marriage license and an old earring whose mate I long discarded. I've always prided myself as a tosser -  not a hoarder but lo - I am a hoarder. Hi - my name is Erin and I am a hoarder. heavy sigh.

So I've only got a few minutes before I have to dive back into the mound of junk lurking 'round the corner. They come to take my computer away tomorrow so I'm forced to use Fen's laptop for a week. Oh, the fights we'll have...