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Sunday, August 16, 2015

At "Home" in London

It's a good feeling to fully unpack after a long journey. It reminds you that you are not on a trip or a vacation but rather making a move with the intention to stay put for a bit. Having stayed in our residence before with the family who preceded us at the church, I was familiar with the property. Still, walking in, noting that our friends stuff was no longer present to make the house a home, was a strange feeling. It certainly gave us empathy for our colleague in Stockholm who had the same experience. They had stayed with us when the home was ours. When they walked in to begin their interim ministry, it was merely an apartment with some furniture. It was also a bit strange knowing that we had just decorated our home in Palm Springs with all of the things that we love while we hadn't really brought over much to cozy up the home. Even so, as we moved the furniture around, and familiarized ourselves with what was here, unpacked our bags, and introduced Tanner to his very own garden, complete with grass, we could see that soon, it would feel like ours.
This is the first time I have lived in a two story house so going up and the down the stairs is a new experience. Two bedrooms, a room with a shower and sink, another room with a bathtub and toilet and the laundry room are downstairs. Upstairs is the living room, dining room, kitchen and extra bedroom and bathroom. The back kitchen door opens to the garden.
We did take advantage of having a car and dashed to Sainsburys for a substantial grocery shop since in the future this will be done on foot. It was quite fun to wander through this big beautiful store, marveling at all of the different things on offer. We decided that we'd have bangers and mash for dinner so purchased some yummy Cumberland sausages and some "extra tasty" potatoes. Had to laugh a bit at the packaging. Stocking up my kitchen definitely makes me feel at home!
The other things that the first day included were rides on the tube, (the underground), getting our mobile phones hooked up, successfully ordering my first flat white coffee, and watching some hilarious British TV. They poke fun at the news ala Jon Stewart style with great flair and it's a joy to experience this.
What are my first impressions? The weather will take some getting used to. I've already been rained on a couple of times because I can't seem to remember that I'm not in the desert anymore! London is a big, diverse, wonderful city with so much to experience. Tons of good and nutritious options for take away food. And some not so nutritious, but yummy! It's such a thrill to have the chance to live here and soak it in over time instead of cramming loads in over 3 days. I love not being in the car all the time and returning to a lifestyle where walking and taking public transport are the preferred modes of transport. Friday I logged over 12,000 steps and Saturday 14,000 and that was just getting about. My neck is on a constant swivel ensuring that I've looked the right way, twice, in order to cross the street! I love being in a foreign country where English is spoken!
What do I miss? Mainly familiarity and knowing where to go for everything. No Target around the corner! And I have to read products to figure out what they are for! Some of the stuff is similar to what we had in Sweden and of course the labels being written in English helps. I miss the American style appliances: A big and fast washing machine. Big wide refrigerator. Here, everything is smaller but it all works and the smaller fridge in particular just lends itself to shopping differently which I don't really mind when I can walk to a store. I have to sit down and look at the money. The coins are different and some are worth $1.50 and $3.00 so we need to sort that. But I must say, I love being back in Europe and in a new country yet one with which we have great familiarity and of course, one that we do truly adore.
The day broke into beautiful warm sunshine on Saturday so we decided to venture over to Primrose Hill, apparently the highest point in London. It's a gorgeous park with spectacular views of the city, only about 10 minutes from our place. Many folks were out enjoying the weather and we anticipate that we might have a picnic or two there ourselves as time goes on! Tanner, of course, loved rolling in the grass.
All in all, we're feeling quite at home here and look forward to continuing to get to know how to get around. Most of all, we are looking forward to becoming a part of the American Church in London community. We don't start on Sundays until August 30 so today we're off to All Souls Church to see what's happening in John Stott's old community!