Saturday, May 14, 2011

Catching Up

In between my busy schedule and Blogger going down for 24 hours, I've fallen a bit behind on the blog.  Even worse, Blogger deleted half of my post about last weekend!  If I can still remember what we did, I'll try to find time to go back and rewrite it, but first, let me try to sum up the rest of this past week...

Josh left for New Delhi straight from work on Monday, so I was on my own for most of the week.  Tuesday morning I unpacked a few boxes and then hopped in the shower so I'd be presentable for the Virgin Media technician who was scheduled to hook up our internet access sometime between 1-6 pm.  Gotta love those service windows.  Just as I got out of the shower, I heard a knock at the door.  It was too early for Virgin, so I threw some clothes on and peeked out the window.  It was one of my landlords -- Lay Peng.  She had mentioned that she would be in town for a doctor's appointment (she's pregnant) and would stop by to pick up their mail.  We ended up chatting for quite some time -- she had some helpful shopping suggestions -- so by the time she left, it was already 1:00.  The Virgin guys showed up at 1:30, and half an hour later, I was back online.  You gain a new appreciation for the Internet after having to live without it for 4 days.  Of course, I somehow managed to live without it for the first 25 years of my life, but that's different.  I spent the rest of the day doing online research on stuff we needed to buy for the house: microwave, toaster, electric kettle, vacuum, etc.  I got a call from Sky in the evening to let me know that someone would be there between 9-12 the next morning to hook up our satellite TV.

Wednesday morning I came downstairs at 8:30 and saw a guy in a truck sitting out in front of the house.  He must have seen me, because there was a knock on the door a couple minutes later.  Although he was only here for about half an hour, I learned some interesting things from the young hipster who installed our Sky HD box: even some Brits think the British way of doing things is overly complicated and inefficient; our telephone installation, which they couldn't fit in to their schedule until May 20, involves someone pushing a button in their control center -- they don't even have to come to the house; and Virgin has better broadband than Sky.  If I can ever get my cell phone plan sorted out so that I can make phone calls with it, I will call Sky and cancel the phone/internet service I originally ordered from them.

There were several more knocks at the door, which is a little unsettling when you've moved to a country where you don't actually know anyone.  Lay Peng stopped by again briefly with a recommendation from a friend for a place to get my hair cut.  A guy asked if I wanted to buy any fish (yes, a door-to-door fishmonger!).  And then Anna invited me over for a cup of tea after lunch.  Apparently Lay Peng had told her that I needed to do some significant shopping, so she gave me the lowdown on where to shop for small kitchen appliances and then offered to take me shopping the next morning.  Since she has a car and lives right next door, I gratefully took her up on the offer, and spent the rest of the afternoon making a list of specific items to look for.

Wednesday evening I walked down to the South Wimbledon tube station and rode the Northern line up to North Clapham to meet Bethie, Jason, and Charlotte at their favorite neighborhood pizza joint, Alba Pizzeria.  Our waiter was totally entranced by baby Charlotte, which was very cute, although we almost had trouble getting his attention to order our dinner.  We split two pizzas and two desserts, and Jason told me about a blog post about grocery shopping that he was working on.  Very funny!  I am often tempted to take pictures of things in the grocery store, but only do it when no one else is around so people don't think I'm a lunatic.  I did snap this one a couple weeks ago, while trying not to gag.
Would you drink this?
Thursday morning I presented myself next door at 9:30 and Anna drove me to the Tesco Extra in New Malden, about 20 minutes away.  Tesco is one of the big supermarket chains here, and like Sainsbury's, it has many different types of stores.  The "Express" is a tiny convenience store, often found at a gas station.  The "Local" is slightly bigger, but has mostly grab-and-go food items rather than fresh produce, meat, and dairy.  The "Metro" is generally right by a tube station, so it's not as big as a full-fledged market, but has all the essentials you need to pick up on your way home from work.  And then there's the "Extra," which is like Wal-Mart.  It's HUGE, and sells just about everything, including clothing, books, kitchen appliances, TVs, and, of course, groceries.  They didn't have any of the specific models of appliances I was hoping to find, but I did score a small rice cooker for £20, and bought a broom, a mop, and some other cleaning supplies.  I also bought a ream of A4 printer paper -- yes even the paper here is slightly different -- but decided to order the printer online since had it for £40 less.

We also went to a B&Q, which is exactly the same as Home Depot, a couple nearby furniture stores, and a giant Sainsbury's supermarket, where we had lunch (there was a restaurant in the store!).  I ended up with a hand mixer, some gardening gloves, a few groceries, and some leads on places to shop for a dining table.  All in all, a very productive day, even if I didn't end up buying any of the more pressing items (like a microwave).  By the time I got home it was mid-afternoon, so I collapsed on the sofa for a while, and then (ironically) walked to the supermarket to pick up some food for dinner.  I didn't want to buy anything perishable while I was shopping with Anna, since I wasn't sure how long we'd be out, and I didn't want to waste her time, since our primary mission was small kitchen appliances.  Josh called while I was walking back from the store to let me know he was on his way home from the airport.  It was nice to have him back, and I'm sure he was happy to be back, especially now that we have TV and internet access again!  He was only in New Delhi for 2 days, and spent most of that time in meetings, so he didn't get to see or do much of anything, but I'll see if he wants to write a blog post about it.

Friday Josh had a mild case of Delhi Belly, so he worked from home and I did some online shopping for all the items I wasn't able to find on my excursion with Anna.  Hopefully by the end of the week, a toaster, kettle, microwave, vacuum cleaner, printer, and garment rack will all be delivered to our house.  Online shopping is a godsend when you don't have a car!

This morning we unpacked a few more boxes and tried to get a little bit more organized.  I posted an ad on Gumtree (the local version of Craigslist) offering up all our moving boxes and packing materials for free to whoever could haul them away.  Since I ordered all the kitchen appliances we need, I moved on to researching furniture.  We still need a dining table, a small coffee table, and a desk.  Since we don't want to spend a lot of money, but we don't want to buy crappy furniture, either, I tried to find out if there were any furniture outlets in the area.  I was surprised to discover that there was a half-price furniture warehouse just a mile from our house.  So we set off on foot late in the afternoon to check it out.  We ended up walking through some slightly sketchy areas where we were glad it was broad daylight, and Josh was a bit skeptical when we finally found the warehouse, which looked pretty run-down from the outside.  But once we went inside, we knew it had been worth the trip.  It was crammed floor-to-ceiling with what appeared to be decent, well-made furniture.  Some if it had a few scratches and dents, but most of it was in very good condition, and was marked down to half the retail price.  We almost bought a dining table and 6 chairs for £499, but decided we'd rather look around some more.  We saw a couple coffee tables we liked, but they were too big for the space we have.  If we don't find anything else by next weekend, we'll definitely try to go back -- they told us they get new items during the week.

We walked back along the Wandle Trail, which runs alongside the Wandle River.  It's a bit overgrown and creepy in the industrial area where we joined it, but as we traveled south, it gradually became more pleasant.  We spotted a family of foxes in an old water pumping station.
 And passed through a nice park in Collier's Wood
 Josh was particularly impressed by the size of this tree:
That's a big tree!
We were both hungry, so we decided to go to Merton Abbey Mills and have dinner at one of the many restaurants we saw last time we went there.  Along the way, we passed a marker noting the original site of the William Morris printworks.  Since Josh and I are both fans of the arts & crafts movement, we think it's pretty cool that we live within walking distance of where one of its most well-known proponents once worked.
The Wandle trail is a bit more scenic along this stretch, although the giant Sainsbury's I went to on Thursday looms in the opposite direction.
When we arrived at Abbey Mills, we found that most of the restaurants had already closed for the day, even though it was only 6 pm.  Most of them are only open for lunch, apparently, but the William Morris pub was still open, so we found a table overlooking the river and ate dinner there.

When we got home, I already had 3 emails from people interested in our moving boxes, so I called the first person who responded and arranged for him to come by later in the evening to pick them up.  Half of our dining room has been filled up with collapsed moving boxes, packing paper, and bubble wrap, so we'll be glad to get rid of all that stuff -- especially if it ends up with someone who can reuse it.

OK, that should catch you up to the present!  Now it's time for bed.  Good night!


  1. Naina! You bought fish?!? What is the world coming to? Josh is out of town! Who will eat it?!?!

  2. Oh, wait, nevermind. I read the "yes" as "yes" you wanted to buy fish, but maybe it was a "yes" that there really was a fish-monger at your door. Phew. I feel like the world is less topsy-turvy now!

  3. No, I did not buy any fish! I told the fishmonger that I didn't like seafood, and he asked what was wrong with me. I told him my husband would like to know that, too.

  4. I am behind on your blog but this post makes me happy - real progress, plans, helpful new's ALL just so wonderful. So glad to hear you are getting some of your creature comforts together and turning your house into a cozy home. :)


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