Monday, May 16, 2011

Not a Tourist 6 (settling in)

Over the weekend, we moved into our Putney apartment. Leaving Islington. Our apartment is the ground floor of a converted terrace block (row house). It is in the center of Quill Lane, a pedestrian-only lane that is both lovely and seemingly rare and unique. The agents from both our relocation agency and the landlord's agency were impressed (and seemed sincere) by the location. Similarly, the "Man with a Van" we hired to move our stuff from Islington was also impressed and said that you don't see areas like this very often. Nice! We love it. It is very quiet and secluded feeling. But the lane also has a great deal of foot traffic going past all throughout the day and night which I think will be helpful for security because it will be difficult for any potential thief to case the place (or any place on our block) without people walking by and seeing.
But it isn't perfect…
Two wardrobes were left behind. Both are Ikea and in various states of shabbiness. One in the bedroom was so bad that I took the (sliding) doors off and pushed them behind the wardrobe so it is just an open hanging rack and shelf. Which improved the look greatly because the clothes in it will conceal the wardrobe itself. The other was left in the dining room, and looks fairly nice from a distance, but it is also very flimsy and some of the drawers are breaking and don't open or close very well. Also, I think it might be a TV cabinet because there is a large cabinet with no shelves in it and we aren't really sure what we will put in it.

Which got me thinking about the apartment and about London in general. If you get up close and look at the details, everything is a little bit off. Nothing quite fits. Nothing is quite clean. Nothing is quite level. Nothing is quite flat. Nothing is quite straight. Nothing is quite square. Everything has some quirk or flaw. But when you step back and take it all in, it is glorious!
I wondered if London might be a nightmare for someone with OCD for all those little reasons. But in many ways, they are the same little reasons that when added up make me like it so much.
Maybe people here freak out about different things than American's do--well that goes without saying, I suppose. Or they just rent the new modern apartments that we avoided because they looked like the new modern apartments we could live in back in Seattle.

(Two Days Later)

Our stuff arrived! Wow, there is a lot of it.

(One Day Later)

We're getting things sorted. We ended up with 5 end tables; none of which fit and no coffee table.
When we looked at the place, we thought there were built-in bookshelves in the living room, but this was not the case--so we have nowhere to put the books we brought. We're going to have to buy a bookshelf so I can get the stuff up off the floor. But things are slowly coming together.

The mail (post) just dropped through the door slot which is another oddity. There is no automated mail forwarding here, it seems. The postman is required BY LAW to deliver the mail to the address regardless of the name. We have to write "not known at this address" on the envelopes individually in order to have them forwarded to the person. Seems a bit crazy. In any case, we are getting mail, letters, magazines, etc. for various previous tenants of the apartment--including the landlord herself.

We also met the upstairs neighbors…who are moving out. So we will have new upstairs neighbors sometime soon. I hope they are nice.

We get the tele hooked up today. In worldwide cable-guy fashion (though in this case it is satellite guy fashion) he will be here sometime between 11:00 and 1:00. And I did not know that time frame until 9:00 this morning. Good to know some things are the same everywhere. Hopefully the American TV will work with the British tele signal. I think it will work, because it specifies NTSC when I switch the connection to the American DVD player. Which leads me to believe that it would recognize PAL otherwise it wouldn't bother telling me what type of signal it was receiving. According to the Internet, many new TVs support both signals.

I am getting my workspace setup in the living room. I changed one of my monitors to portrait orientation, and I think it will work great although it looks strange because I am so used to landscape. I think I will be able to tile a web browser and Skype vertically on this screen and then use the other as my main workspace (PhotoShop, Dreamweaver, etc.) I hope it works! Haven't had much opportunity to try it yet due to not having home Internet yet.

NOTE FOR EXPATS: Most computer equipment and modern electronics (not all) support dual-power and can be plugged (via adapter) directly into the the outlets here. You can conserve adapters by bringing a splitter extension cord and adapting the cord and then plugging your a few things in using the American connections (a computer, monitor and printer being an obvious example). However, DO NOT BRING POWER STRIPS! These have a fuse or circuit which will render them useless. HOWEVER, if you buy a transformer to use kitchen appliances, etc, then you can convert the transformer and use a power strip on the 110v side of that. Just be sure not to overload the transformer by running several appliances at once.
Another tip is to wrap bright orange or red tape around the plugs for things that do require a transformer or voltage converter. That way you won't accidentally plug them in directly.

…It is now 1:20 and no satellite guy. Yep, some things are the same the world over.

(Posted several days after writing.)