Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sticker shock

The waitress at the Hampstead Pizza Express knows me already.

Paul and I took Julia to the Hampstead location of the British pizza chain for lunch on Monday while in the midst of school interviews and I returned there today after showing my mother and children around the area. When I entered the restaurant, the waitress immediately recognized me, smiled and welcomed me back. It felt like a tiny first step at community, a move toward establishing myself in a new place. Someone actually knew me here in London! We sat at "our" table, and for a few moments I almost let my guard down and was able to imagine us returning there to lunch with friends in the coming months.

Then I actually did a little math and realized that the delightful pizza lunch we had happily shared in our new community had just cost me slightly under $45 U.S.

I trust the Hampstead Pizza Express waitress will forget us soon enough.


With four days in London now under our belt (though not literally under our belt, as Paul seems to have left all of his belts behind in New Jersey), we're making progress. Our school tours are now over and we've got several very viable options for Julia and Evan, all of which we're genuinely excited about. Our home tours begin tomorrow and we hope that in the next several days, we'll find a place that will enable us to live within easy reach of one of those schools. With those decision behind us, hopefully we'll be able to begin to set up a household and establish ourselves here.

This all sounds very efficient and upbeat, but our days have not been without their share of challenges. We've already had to locate a local chemist for the British equivalent of Pedialyte after Evan spent a whole morning vomiting (my poor mother, who was home watching him at the time, is now intimately familiar with our tiny, ineffective washing machine). We've been cursed out by locals frustrated by our lack of knowledge about our surroundings and the customs here. We've been sweaty and irritable after we schlepped around to far too many schools in far too much clothing during an unseasonable heat wave. We've escorted cranky, whiny children out of Marks & Spencer after other patrons have looked disapprovingly at them. We've become intimately familiar with the A to Z maps and are still quite lost. But we're getting there. We're on our way to making a home for ourselves in London.

So far, we're passing the test. But just barely.


Blogger Jennifer said...

Just barely is all it takes, baby. You're DOING it! Yay you! (Though I agree - a $45 pizza lunch??) Good luck with the schools and the houses -- I'll be looking forward to details. :)

8:57 PM  
Blogger Denzylle said...

Yup! London is expensive, and Hampstead is one of the most expensive corners.

I was thinking that when you said you'd gotten wine delivered with pizza. I know that is essential in an emergency, like if it was on your first night, but once you're settled, do stock up on wine in M+S or Waitrose.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

(though not literally under our belt, as Paul seems to have left all of his belts behind in New Jersey)

Paul just wanted an excuse to hit Saville Row, didn't he? ;)

It'll become routine soon - but you know that. People will stop cussing you out, the kids will adjust, you'll find a school - you know that, too. I look forward to living your adventure through your words.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

Glad to hear that you are slowly making your way. I hope that Evan is feeling all better, and that the school and house hunting are both done soon!

2:56 AM  
Blogger Rosemary said...

I want to hear what the locals are cursing about!

I remember the prices in London all looking right -- EXCEPT for the fact that is was a bout $1.50 to the English pound.

12:42 AM  

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