Friday, September 27, 2013

A Practical Post (and Other Things)

A foggy day in London-town.....

Actually, did you know that London rarely has fog? Times like this in early morning are somewhat common, but almost never during the day. Drizzly, yes. Smoggy, yes. But neither of those make for such a pretty song, now do they?

And They Said it Wouldn't Last...
As of yesterday, we have officially been on English soil for 2 months now! Its kind of crazy to think about how much has happened, how much we've learned, seen, changed. But in other ways, nothing has changed. It's like any other move: settling back into your normal life and routines. The places and details may change, but the general life stays the same: relationships, conflicts, growth, tiredness, good days, bad days, movie nights, dinners out, leftovers in the fridge... you know, life.

I thought I'd write out a few things about practical life in London. When I was planning to move, I tried to be as over-prepared as possible (blame my mom for that gene!), and I Googled "life in London" over and over looking for info. So now that I'm actually living here, I thought I'd write about some of the practical daily differences, before I adjust and consider them normal. Maybe someone else can benefit from my learning.

The Tube, etc.
So, first thing: everything takes longer. Yes, it's London, and in some ways, life moves fast. If you sit and watch, people rush past, busses whizz by, planes fly overhead, and tubes move silently beneath the surface. But in actuality, getting anywhere takes forever. I live in Islington, which is a central borough convenient for getting about. I also have an app (CityMapper) that is brilliant for finding my way. I type in an address, and it gives me options for busses, tubes, walking, cycling, taxi, catapult, or jetpack, (yep, its cool), along with the travel time, charges involved, and calories burned (equivalent to .6 packs of pork scratchings, or something similar). :-) I love this app. But still, it takes a while. Example: Greenwich is only 11 miles away, but it takes at least an hour to get there by public transport. Tubes are fast, yes; but they stop a lot. Imagine if you drove across town and stopped at every gas station you passed. Yep. Slow. So I keep underestimating my errands. It'll get me in trouble someday.

Also, shops here are different. In America, we have Walmart and Target, where you walk in, buy everything you need, and leave. Not in London. In the city, everything is specialized. You have the hardware store (DIY shop, as its called), the clothing shop, the pharmacy, the grocer, the shoe shop, the electrics shop.
So your short shopping list: band-aids (plasters), socks, a lightbulb, and milk... is four separate stops. :-P It takes some walking.

Oh, and you get keys made at the cobbler. Don't ask me why.

Second-hand Living
You can get second-hand items, which I like, as most of my home has always been furnished by Goodwill and Craigslist. They have charity shops (thrift stores), such as Marie Curie and Oxfam,  but they're pricier than most Goodwills.
Online, Gumtree is like the English Craigslist (Craigslist is available, but filled with a lot more junk and inappropriate content). We keep the search field local, but still, pick-up is hard without a big car. People give you funny looks when you carry a dining table down the sidewalk, or wheel a sofa on a trolley (dolly) for half a mile.
And getting a taxi that could fit this armchair (which was admittedly, out of our region) may or may not have doubled its original selling price. :-p Good thing it started out cheap!

My poor husband is a trooper with all my online shopping shenanigans, but I figure we'll eventually run out of room..... right? 

I'm learning and adjusting, and I think someday I'll get the hang of it. After all, its only been 2 months.

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