Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heat Wave

Yesterday was an unusually hot day here in London -- it got up to 32 degrees!  Yeah, I still can't relate to  temperatures in Celsius, either.  It was freakin' 90 degrees here!  Now, you'd think after living in Fresno, CA, where it routinely gets over 100 in the summer for weeks on end, and Washington, DC, where the heat and humidity combine to make for some miserable summer days, that I'd have a pretty high tolerance for hot weather.  And I do.  Much more so than cold weather.  But air conditioning is rare here, so it's hard to find relief from the heat like we are used to.  We don't have it in our house, and most modes of public transport and shops and restaurants lack A/C as well.  In fact, unless they advertise it out front, you can assume most places of business don't have it. 

Since we were going to be dining at a fancy Michelin-starred restaurant last night, I decided to take the bus, rather than the tube or the train, as it involved less walking and I didn't want to arrive a sweaty mess.  Of course, it was sweltering on the bus, and even the fancy restaurant didn't seem to have air conditioning.  Bleah.

I met Josh and the recruiters, Richard and Annabel, at Chez Bruce in Balham.  It's a very cute, unassuming little place.  They offer a 3-course dinner menu for £45 ($72) per person.
Chez Bruce
The food was very tasty, the service was good, and the portion sizes were just right.  It didn't change my life, but I'd definitely go back for a special occasion.  Richard and Annabel were interested to hear how we were settling in and, of course, how Josh was liking his new job. Clearly, they have a vested interest in making sure that Josh was a good fit, but it was nice that they chose to have this conversation over dinner rather than just making a phone call.  Richard treated us to dinner, despite Josh's best efforts to grab the check or at least add his card to it.  We took the bus home -- not our accustomed mode of travel for fine dining.

We were glad we had bought a fan over the weekend, because our converted attic bedroom was like a sauna.  It doesn't have any proper windows, just two skylights and a set of small balcony doors, so we had to put the fan in front of the open doors to cool it down enough to sleep.  When it started raining at 4 am, we had to get up and shut the doors.  Now I understand why our landlords slept in the guest room downstairs when it was hot.

This morning I took the tube to Green Park to attend an American Women's Club meeting at the Lansdowne Club.  Since the club has a strict dress code, we were instructed not to wear denim or trainers (sneakers).
The Lansdowne Club
As a result, many of the ladies looked like they were dressed for a cocktail party, even though it was 10 am and we were going to be watching a cooking demonstration.  They asked the newbies to introduce themselves, where they were from, where they lived in London, and how long they had been there.  Since I was the most recent arrival, I won a door prize:
Yanks in Blighty, by Donna Marsh
I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it looks like it has some useful information in it.  It may have saved me some aggravation if I had read it before we moved here, but I'm sure I still have PLENTY more to learn.

A couple of the women I had met at the new member coffee last week were there, including Ingrid, who also lives in Wimbledon.  She lives right across from the tennis club, in the more posh part of town.  Since there are no decent hotels in Wimbledon, most of the tennis players -- and many of the attendees -- rent out private homes during the tournament. Ingrid said Rafael Nadal is renting the house next door to hers, and apparently last night he had a physiotherapy session in the front room, in full view of the neighborhood.  In.  The.  Nude.  Clearly, we moved to the wrong part of town.

Anyway, the bulk of the meeting was a cooking/All-Clad pan demonstration by Neil Armstrong.  No, it wasn't THAT Neil Armstrong, it was this one.  He made several different dishes, while his assistant passed out pre-made samples of each one.  Yum!   One of the club members sold raffle tickets for an All-Clad pan, with the proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House, one of several charities they support.  I didn't win that, but at least I got a book.

Afterwards, several of us went to lunch at a nearby hotel restaurant.  This is a standing lunch after their monthly meeting, so they had a special fixed menu for us.  Nice.
Lunch menu
It was nice to get a chance to talk informally with some of the other club members.  They were all pretty friendly and helpful, and we had some interesting discussions about foods we miss and new foods we've discovered here.  During lunch, a big thunderstorm passed through, so we lingered a while until the rain let up and then made a beeline for the tube station.  It was still pretty warm and humid, but the temperature finally dropped later in the afternoon, and forecast is sunny and in the 60's for the rest of the week.  Fingers crossed that it really happens!



  1. The women's club reminds me so much of sorority rush in college in the mid-60s. Very Mad Men but fun. You are really getting to know London, your neighborhood, and making friends.

  2. I actually learned Celsius before I learned Farenheit, so when I read that it was 32 over there, I almost started sweating!! I hope it cools off soon!


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