Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ice Ice Baby!

Thanks to that annoying TV commercial I linked to in a previous post, I have this song stuck in my head.  I have had ice on the brain anyway -- I like to put it in cold drinks, but it's not as common here.  Freezers do not come with an automatic ice maker, or even a shelf for ice cube trays.  When you order a soft drink at a restaurant, you often have to specify that you'd like it with ice, in which case you might get a glass with 2 or 3 cubes in it.  I hunted down an ice cube tray yesterday so I could make ice at home, but I was dubious that the freezer was even cold enough.  I checked on it at lunchtime, and lo and behold!  There was ice!  (And yes, our kitchen counter is hideous.)
Unfortunately, I could not get it out of the tray.  The bottom of each teeny cube cup is made of a flexible silicone material, and the instructions said you could simply "pop" the cubes out with your finger.  Uh, no.  It took a considerable amount of effort to remove those 3 cubes, one of which skidded across the counter and onto the floor.  Fail.

Speaking of fails, I am treading dangerously close to Fail Blog territory, but I just can't help pointing them out.  As I noted before, the bathroom mirrors in our apartment are too high for me to see more than the top of my forehead, and there's no way I can see through the peephole in our front door.  This is a terrible photo, but you can see what I mean:
The peephole is nearly a foot above my eye level!
Yes, I know I'm short, but I'm only 2-3 inches shorter than the average height for women, so at least half of all women would not be able to see out this peephole, which kinda defeats the purpose, no?

I tried out the handheld shower in the the tub this morning, in hopes that the water pressure might be a bit better.  Nope.  It also brought to light two more fails:
First of all the bracket for the handheld shower is installed at about knee level, just a few inches above the edge of the tub.  But the hose is plenty long enough -- why didn't they install it higher so you could use it as a fixed shower?  Why?!  Also note the upside-down and backwards sticker with the installation instructions for the half-door, which is supposed to prevent water from getting all over the bathroom.  Yes, they installed the door upside-down, so the rubber flanges that are supposed to make a water-tight seal with the edge of the tub are on the TOP, rather than the bottom.   Sure enough, there was a little puddle on the floor when I got out.  I guess I'll stick with the stall shower in the master bath from now on.

Today was a beautiful day.  It was a little drizzly yesterday, but otherwise the last week has been lovely.  I suspect London's reputation (and weather) is much like Seattle's.  It might be sodden in the winter, but the rest of the year is quite nice.  Let's hope so, anyway.  Here was the view from our balcony this afternoon:
Sunny and 66 degrees in London today!
This afternoon I walked back to the library to return the DVDs I borrowed.  It turns out that not only do they charge a fee to check them out, but you can only keep them for 2 days.  I didn't see anything else that I was willing to pay the equivalent of $4 to watch, so I headed over to Sainsbury's to pick up some groceries. 

I really shouldn't shop when I'm hungry, because I ended up with all sorts of snacks, ranging from grapes to cheese & crackers to cookies to Cadbury Creme Eggs (they're everywhere!).  I came across a small "Mexican" food section that had tortillas, taco seasoning, and a few other products that were clearly American (Old El Paso) or British, so I decided to try making tacos for dinner.  I found everything I needed, including pre-diced chicken breast, but when I went to the condiment aisle, I could not find any salsa.  There were several shelves of something called (no kidding) "Brown Sauce" and plenty of mayo, mustard, and ketchup, along with several kinds of chutney, but no salsa!  Fortunately, I discovered a tiny jar of Old El Paso salsa back in the "Mexican" section.  I was also excited to find some decent salad dressing that didn't list sugar as one of the primary ingredients.   Every grocery shopping trip is an adventure...

Josh got home late as someone was hit by a train in Surbiton today and there were delays throughout the rail system.  Unlike the Metro in DC, the Southwest Trains service updates are very detailed:

Disruption to South West Trains services for the rest of today

Following a person having been hit by a train at Surbiton earlier today which resulted in trains and train crew to be out of position and a major IT fault affecting all National Rail Information systems across the UK rail network South West Trains is running an amended service to and from London Waterloo for the rest of today (Wednesday)
The following alterations will apply:
  • Trains on all routes to and from London Waterloo are subject to delays of up to 60 minutes
  • Trains between Salisbury / Exeter St Davids and London Waterloo will only run between Salisbury / Exeter St Davids and Basingstoke. Customers should use alternative South West Trains or First Great Western services to / from Basingstoke
  • Trains between London Waterloo and Dorking are cancelled. Customers should use Southern services to / from Dorking. 
  • Trains between London Waterloo and Shepperton via Kingston will be diverted  via Twickenham
Ticket Acceptance
Customers may use the following alternative services:
  • London Buses and London Underground on reasonable routes
  • Southern services between Dorking / Epsom and Clapham Junction / London Victoria
  • First Great Western services between Basingstoke and Reading, and between Reading and London Paddington.

If something like this had happened on the Metro, their alert would probably say, "Disruption at Silver Spring.  Delays on the red line in both directions."  On the other hand, as traumatic as it must have been, I'm not sure how a person being hit by a train could cause a major IT outage affecting the entire rail system.  I hope whoever was hit survived.

I'm still finding my way on Facebook, and I'm hoping it won't suck up all my copious free time once I've got the hang of it.  But one of the pleasant surprises I've had is reconnecting with all my far-flung cousins on my dad's side of the family.  Last night I had an impromptu chat session with a cousin in India, and just now I had another with one of my cousins in Australia -- where it's already tomorrow morning.  I have not seen most of them since I was last in India in 2004, and many of them are significantly younger than I am, so it's fascinating to get to know them all over again as adults.  I hope that while I'm in London I'll have an opportunity to see some of them in real life.


  1. Looks like it's MAKE YER OWN SALSA time! You can even make it with "tinned" tomatoes, when fresh ones are unavailable or unappealing. On another note, my boss is a Brit and he said he had a lot of the same sorts of (beaurocracy) issues when he came to the US to work.

  2. Do you want me to send you some salsa? I'd be happy to! When we were in Paris in November, the tub in the bathroom had a very low showerhead on a flexible hose-type thing. There was just a curtain around the bathtub, and I always did a very bad job of aiming the showerhead, resulting in a flooded bathroom everytime I bathed! Eeeek! Glad it's so nice and sunny. Our weather is almost the same today, although a bit cooler here.

  3. And I find brown sauce rather scary. Not so much what it is (I think it's sort of Worchestershire-y) but what it's called. Couldn't someone have come up with a better name?


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