Sunday, May 19, 2013

Settling into West Hampstead

So we’re finally settled into the new flat in West Hampstead in Northwest London... with internet! We figured if we have to move, we should try a new neighborhood for a totally new London experience. For us location and transport links are important so we were looking primarily along the Jubilee Line for easy access to the West End, London Bridge, and Canary Wharf; or the Northern Line north of the river. We settled for West Hampstead, well technically South Hampstead which is one of the more affordable neighborhoods of the NW postcode. 
We haven’t spent much time exploring the new neighborhood but my first impressions is that it’s a much older – many older professionals and families and there are loads of Americans (thanks to the American school in St. John’s Woods) and Japanese. We are a bit spoiled in terms of transportation – the tube, train, and overground connection is great! I have a slightly longer commute on the Metropolitan Line only because the train moves as slow as a turtle but Keenan’s direct no-transfer commute to Canary Wharf is pretty good according to him.
The weeks leading up to the move were a nightmare. How did we accumulate so much stuff in 4.5 years of marriage? We donated at least 6 bags of clothes and books, and sorted through old bills, keeping essential ones so we can put together our permanent residency application. Of course unlike the big move in 2008, we didn’t have the luxury of having a professional moving company come in and pack all of belongings. I think we were still boxing things up until the movers arrived… with a moving van that was too small. So yes, a long day of moving in the rain, and in the midst of unpacking our clothes, we realized we were short on wardrobe space. So yes, a trip to IKEA was in order, and we have not been to IKEA since 2009.
We will no doubt miss the Clapham Common flat. It was our first flat as a married couple and we hosted probably about 60 people over the years -- lots of wonderful memories. Such a shame that our landlord wants to sell otherwise we’d happily stay put until we can buy a place.  Here are some photos of our painful week of moving….
 Clapham flat in utter chaos:

Greencroft Flat:
We had to move furniture out from the bedroom to put in the 7ft+ wardrobes
Looking more presentable

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Walking Weymouth

After a chaotic week of moving flats and some unfortunate news from California, we escaped to the Dorset coast for the long bank holiday weekend with a couple friend and their adorable one-year old son. Timing wasn’t ideal to go away as there was some serious unpacking and administrative tasks to take care of such as transferring bills, cancelling gym memberships, amongst other annoying things. Phew. But the escape to Weymouth was much needed if only to clear our heads, enjoy the gentle sea breeze, and the lovely scenery of Dorset.
Days were spent walking along the promenade to Weymouth, the main seaside town on Dorset and host of the sailing events during the London 2012 Olympics. It town itself is cute with a nice old harbour lined with old-fashioned pubs and restaurants. We got a lucky with plentiful sunshine – people were enjoying fish-n-chip al fresco. As a big history buff, Keenan reminded us that the English coast was a major launching point for the Normandy invasion during World War II. Today statutes line the main drag to commemorate those who died in battle. 
Keenan and I also took a lovely coastal walk along the Jurassic Coast (known for the white chalk cliffs).  It’ll be the first of our ‘training’ hike in preparation for our trip to Annapurnas, Nepal in October. Living in England for almost half a decade now, we’ve grown to love country walks over the years. Yes, we’ve become quite British in that regard. My favourite part – stumbling across old historic pubs along the way like the Smuggler’s Inn, a 13th century pub where we stopped for lunch in the garden. Overall enjoyable and easy getaway from London. Now back to reality and unpacking…