Sunday, April 3, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Don't panic.  Mother's Day isn't until May 8 in the US, but here in the UK, it's today.  That had me a bit confused at first, too.  Here's photographic proof from the WH Smith bookstore down the street:
We never made it to the movies last night.  We got sucked into watching "Back to the Future" on TV while eating dinner, and by the time it ended, it was too late to head to the movie theater.  Yes, the cable package that came with our furnished apartment is pretty lame, so we're limited to weird British reality shows, reruns of American TV series (one channel seems devoted entirely to "Two and a Half Men"), old episodes of "Poirot," and outdated movies.  We realized that if they remade "Back to the Future" today, they'd probably go back in time to 1985, which is the present day in the original movie.  Everything seemed just as dated in 1985 as it did in 1955.

This morning, Josh took off on his bike around 11:30 to find a route to the Surbiton train station.  After doing the math last night, he discovered that his commute would be far less expensive if he biked southwest to Surbiton and took the train from there, rather than biking northeast to Clapham -- and then he wouldn't be backtracking, either.  Of course, he can always just take the train directly from the Wimbledon station, which is a block away, but he'd like to work a bike ride into his commute so he can get some exercise.

Meanwhile, I walked over to the Centre Court shopping mall a couple blocks away to pick up some groceries.  (The flower stand outside was MOBBED!)  In addition to the Morrison's supermarket across the street, the mall has two drugstores (Boots, Superdrug), an M&S Foods, and a Tesco Metro, which is a smaller version of the supermarket chain that tends to sprout up around Tube stations.  It's not a huge mall, but it has a Debenham's department store, H&M, and The Gap, along with the usual assortment of clothing stores, cell phone shops, hair salons, and a small food court (with a McDonald's and Pizza Hut, of course).
Centre Court Mall
Grocery shopping has been an interesting experience here.  The stores are organized very differently from what I'm used to, so I end up walking up and down every aisle to try and find what I'm looking for -- often with mixed results.  So far, I've been completely unable to find paper napkins, and we had to try several different stores before managing to find pancake mix, artichoke hearts, and lotion in a pump bottle.  Most of the produce is prepackaged, so you can buy a 6-pack of tomatoes or a bag of oranges, but you can't buy them individually.  Today I bought a little bag of green beans for 1 pound, and when I got it home, I noticed that it said the beans came from Egypt!

[On a complete tangent, I am currently watching a TV commercial in which Dame Helen Mirren is demonstrating how to use the Wii Fit Plus.  What?!]

Anyway, I did find a few things in nearly every supermarket that you'd rarely see back home, like sharp white cheddar cheese slices, chocolate croissants, an entire aisle of Cadbury chocolates, and prepared Indian food.  So, I guess it's a decent trade-off.

After Josh came back from his bike ride and we had lunch, we went back out to run a couple errands.  I was going to take some more photos, but my camera battery died right after I took these two.
Our apartment is on the top floor in the corner
Entrance to our apartment complex
Sorry, not very compelling...  While we were out, we discovered yet another, larger supermarket nearby.  This one was a Sainsbury's, so it appears that nearly every major supermarket chain is represented within a quarter-mile radius of our apartment.

We had a Skype session with Josh's brother Ben and his family this evening.  Since they are in Seattle, they had just had breakfast, while we were getting ready to make dinner.  Ben and Josh have both fully recovered from the kidney transplant three months ago, so it was nice to see them have a conversation with one another that wasn't about urine, bowel movements, or any other bodily functions.  Instead, we discussed the possibility of them coming to visit us in June.  Yay!  We were also suprised to see that some of the balloons that my sister sent after the transplant are still floating around their house.  I'm sure Sonia will be happy to hear that the owl and the ladybug are still hanging in there.

One benefit of being 5 to 8 hours ahead of everyone back home is that even if I don't get around to posting something on the blog until the end of the day, it will still appear at a decent hour for everyone else.  That's good, because it's bedtime here, and Josh has to get ready for his first day at his new office.  I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

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