Wow! It’s been a crazy week. Scotty and I are fully moved out of our old flat and slowly settling into our new one. One-by-one our possessions are finding places in our new home and it’s starting to feel more like ours. Moving has brought up two major inconveniences in living overseas. These are not life-or-death sorts of troubles – they’re just those things you run into that don’t work quite as well here as they do in the States. First: no internet or phone lines. I have been completely disconnected from the outside world and miss hearing the voices of my family members – even if it’s just a quick chat with Hilary and Ashton. I miss playing gChat tag with Solomon and I miss updating this blog. Back in the good Ole US of A one usually doesn’t have to live without internet and phone for more than a day. Here not so much. I called our service provider (TalkTalk) two weeks ago to let them know we would be moving and would need our line transferred to our new address. Well, this is a complicated process over here. My phone call involved me turning on my alternate, and not so attractive, little-miss-stubborn personality. I was promised that they’d take care of everything. Well, I haven’t received the promised confirmation letter and there is no activity in any of our 4 phone jacks. When we first signed up with TalkTalk it was six weeks before we had service and I’m not wanting a repeat performance. But seriously people! Six weeks to turn on internet. It’s not like there isn’t a phone line (or 4!) in our flat already. They just need to flip a switch. Grrr.
My next moving gripe involves the definition of “sparkle”. Our letting agency told us that before we moved in there would be a
“sparkle clean”. I took that to mean that the mildew in the bathroom would be taken care of, the filthy air filter above the stove would be removed, the greasy stains on the couch would be cleaned, and the place would have a nice PineSol fresh smell when we finally moved in. I mean they said “sparkle!” No such luck. And from talking with other friends this is pretty much the rule around here. For the past ten days it feels like Scotty and I have done nothing but move stuff, clean, eat, clean, sleep, clean, talk, clean, scrub, clean. My poor hands are peeling and I still have a lot to do. We finished cleaning our old flat yesterday and I have to say that place sparkled. Top to bottom. It’s the cleanest its been in a decade or two.
Now, after a week of cleaning our new flat it’s starting to feel a bit more sanitary. I’m not sure if it’s just a difference in standards or a cultural thing but as I was standing at the kitchen sink and pulling unmentionable things out of the dryer filter I missed America. I wanted internet to be easy and air filters to be changed more than once every few years. I wanted a Home Depot to be down the street so I could grab some super cleaning and organizing supplies without having to catch a bus out of town. Don’t worry – I’ve recovered and I love our new flat. I think the upheaval of our lives had me longing for a place where these processes are easier and more efficient but as I look at this new home that Scotty and I will share for the next year I am excited. I am feeling the need to really settle in here and make this our home. This place has character galore. The ceilings are 15 feet tall and the crown moulding is gorgeous. The mantel around the fireplace is beautifully hand-carved and has little shelves where Scotty has stowed some of our favorite books. My little Parisian dog sculpture has found its home as has my china and as each thing gets settled I feel myself settling. Our new street is busy by day and quiet by night with lots of interesting passersby. This morning we could hear the bells from St. Mary’s Cathedral and I was given yet another thing to love about this place.
As we’ve been hauling boxes around the weather has been making a change. Crocuses, snowdrops, and daffodils are poking through the ground. There’s been a bit more sunshine and I’ve pulled out some of my lighter jackets! I’m seeing more people spending time working on their gardens and the birds seem to be chirping more and more. On one of the numerous trips between flats I was heading to our new one with arms completely loaded when I came across a different sort of garden. As English gardens are known for their neatness and clean lines I found this one very surprising. It’s decidedly un-English. Yet I found it completely charming. I first spotted it from this angle:
I was so curious that I put everything down and pulled out my camera (because, of course, I had it with me while I was moving). Was this a big pile of junk or something more?
Some how this big pile of old pots has turned into a stoop garden. Look at all that new life bursting forth from something that would otherwise be really ugly.