Drink Tea and Carry On!
June 15, 2014
Over the last few weeks I've come to very much appreciate the British “ Drink Tea and Carry On" approach to life and found that it has served me very well during our rather rocky landing into our new life here in London. Don't get me wrong, I love it here and am absolutely soaking it in for all it's worth - but it definitely has not been an easy start.
The British we have learned have very definite ways of doing things and are not "keen" on making exceptions. In other words, they have lots of rules about things and stick to them because, well, thems the rules.
The first obstacle we had to overcome with our move to London was actually getting here. It turns out that they have a rule about dogs not being allowed to fly in cabin into the UK pretty much without exception. Not only that, they aren't even allowed to fly on the same plane but must go on a separate cargo flight in special box for dogs with a few ventilation holes in it. It didn't even require any discussion really as we both new this wasn't even an option that either one of us would even consider for our girl.
Next we looked into a train ride which actually sounded like a lot of fun, but that quickly became an option that really didn't work either. To travel from Dusseldorf to London required something like 5 train changes and with the embarrassing amount of luggage we had to travel with as well as a dog, it made my head spin around backwards just thinking about it Okay then, we'll rent a car and drive! Sounds like fun too and I'm always up for a good road trip. Turns out you can't rent a car in Germany and drop it off in the UK at the end of your trip. Okay, how 'bout if we drop it off in France before we make the crossing and hire a taxi to take us into London on the other side. Well, you guessed it. You can’t do that either because the rental car agency that was once in Calais recently closed so it's no longer possible to drop a car there. In addition, they flat out won't allow you to cross in the Euro Tunnel as foot passengers with a dog in tow.
Needless to say with less than 2 weeks left until we were scheduled to travel I was beginning to feel rather anxious about the whole thing. Richard kept reminding me to "trust the process" which at the time I found to be completely irritating. But the truth is, he was right (did I just say that?) and although I hadn't yet heard the phrase "drink tea and carry on", it was when I adopted this attitude and let go of worrying about the outcome that the answer came to me – at 2 am to be exact. Early that next morning I emailed my friend Karen in Holland and as it turns out her husband Dries loves road trips and was available that day. He graciously agreed to drive to Germany from Holland, load us up with Lulu and all of our baggage, and then drive us all the way from Germany to Calais France.
The man is now nearly a saint in my book.
From there we were able to hire a car service to take us through the Euro Tunnel and on into Central London, dropping us right at the doorstep of our new flat.
The actual drive was easy peasy taking us through 5 countries in one day with unusually good weather and making good time the entire way. It was easy that is until we actually arrived at our new flat.
Our driver dropped us along with our mountain of luggage on the sidewalk and went on his merry way only to find out that the wire transfer for our deposit had not yet arrived, so our letting agent was unable to give us the keys to our new place. We spent the next 5 hours sitting on the sidewalk in the intermittent sprinkles of rain, waiting. At one point I made a sweep of all the hotels in the immediate neighborhood as a backup plan only to find that they either had no availability or if they did, they wouldn't accept a dog.
It did eventually work itself out, just as Richard (wise man that he is) said it would. At 5 pm we were able to call the states as it was the start of a new business day there and have the documentation that we needed sent to the letting agent.
Voila ... Just like that we were finally off the streets and in our new place! Richard made a quick trip to the TK Maxx store nearby to pick up some sheets and blankets and the like and soon enough we were settling in and enjoying a gluten free pizza from the Dominoes around the corner.
Over the next weeks we had numerous issues arise with our new apartment the needed to be dealt with, the details of which I will refrain from boring you with. Needless to say our first weeks were as challenging as our arrival but there was also much to be grateful for, appreciate and enjoy ... Whole Foods, green kale, an amazing farmers market, chai from Costas coffee, daily yoga and awesome Indian food all right outside our door just to name a few. I also found myself being extremely grateful for the English language and being able to communicate fairly effortlessly once again for the most part. I must admit though that there were times the English I heard was barely recognizable and more than once I was told that I didn't speak "proper" English and was hard to understand!
Here are a few images from the street we live on.
Drink tea and carry on ... and so we did ... and it quickly became my new mantra in those first few days and weeks.
It was nearly a month before I was to pick up my camera again or start thinking about my first blog post from London. In part because I was feeling more than a little overwhelmed, but it was equally due to the fact that I was busy living and enjoying our new life. Richard and I have always wanted to experience living an Urban lifestyle that would allow us to literally walk out our door and go just about anywhere we wanted to go, and do anything we wanted to do, but somehow have always chosen something different when it came down to it.
Here in London we are living that lifestyle and thoroughly enjoying it.
Originally, I had envisioned living in a neighborhood like Chelsea or Kensington with crisp tree lined streets and neighborhood parks every few blocks or so for Lulu. In the end we decided that for the short time we'll be here we'd rather be right in the heart of things and not spend all of our time riding the tube to get somewhere. And in the heart of it we are ...
We are in Covent Garden, or on the very edge of it as Richard reminds me but it is Covent Garden none the less. Just about everything most tourists come to London for is within walking distance from our flat. The River Thames, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and even London's China Town.
But what I enjoy the most is that we are smack dab in the middle of the theater district. I love that as I walk the streets of my neighborhood I pass the theaters where London's major shows are playing as part of my daily life, everything from The Lion King to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The War Horse theater is just around the corner and 2 blocks away is the Royal Opera House.
When I was growing up I was a dancer. I studied ballet from a very young age and it was a huge part of my life. Drury Lane, one of the major streets running through our neighborhood is lined with dancers supply stores and it brings back such wonderful memories of the dreams of a young girl as I walk by them.
I particularly love this image of the point shoes and the War Horse Theater in the refection behind them.
And this one of The Palace Theater where The Commitments is playing.
One of my other favorite discoveries in my new neighborhood is a marketplace called the Borough Market. I've been to and photographed many farmers markets over the years but I've never seen or enjoyed one quite like I do this one. I look forward to going each week and to shop, eat, and immerse myself in this experience. Vendors come from all over the English countryside bringing true grass fed meats, free range eggs and a plethora of organic fruits and vegetables like I've never seen before. One vendor sells an assortment of uncommon meats such as zebra, crocodile and kangaroo burgers. I had no idea! We haven't been brave enough to try much more than the Bison, which was excellent, but it was fun photographing it and who knows, may be one of these days I will be take the plunge!
Click here for the link to the Borough Markets web page:
One thing I find really strange about life here in Central London that I just can't resist sharing with you is the handling of the enormous amount of garbage that is generated on a daily basis. We asked on our first day here which day was our "trash day" and where we should take it. We were told that we could take it down to the street any day and that there was no designated spot for it. Apparently they come by daily at random times and pick up whatever is on the street at the time. Consequently, as you walk the streets of Central London trash bags are a common thing and literally line just about every street to some degree. I have yet to walk my own street and not see it lined with trash bags along the way.
This shot is one of my favorites and a perfect example of classic London ... a fashionably dressed young woman with her cell phone in one hand and a cigarette in the other, standing on the sidewalk in front of a pub next to a huge pile of garbage. Yep. Pretty much captured it all.
My neighborhood is a really fun place and interesting place and you never know who or what you’re going to run into. One day I even ran into Henry “The Fonz” Winkler while walking down my street with Lulu. He was the nicest man ever, very taken with Lulu, and didn’t say a word while she pooped right there on the sidewalk and I continued to talk to him with a bag of dog poop in my hand!
And finally, here are a few random shots for you to enjoy as usual.
Until next time ...
XOXO, from me and lu