We've been in our new place for a week now - and I'm still too knackered to write up a post with real, actual words. Instead, let me share the experience via pictures for you.
First came day after day of Oscar and I camping out of the apartment, whilst our old flat was being shown to prospective tenants. It was nice enough at first. Not so nice when it was raining. And the real estate agents didn't show up. Or bother to tell us. Yes, Oscar was just as impressed as I was.
Then came packing - a task which I actually rather enjoy, is that strange? That right there is about half of the things we packed. Remember, we both came over here with a single suitcase of clothing to our names. We are, apparently, hoarders. Note the cute packing boxes, saying 'Seasons Greetings'!? Goodbye to our old, badly ventilated and horribly curtained apartment in Canary Wharf ...
... And hello, to the West Side! This is our new place, in Notting Hill/North Kensington, depending on what you want to call it. Our building is on a street of old terrace style apartments, and on the first floor with a cute balcony. It's awesome. And also pastel green. Hee.
This is the view from our balcony, up the street. I didn't catch one of the five thousand buses that goes past every few minutes - a quick 5/10 minute ride to the station every morning. It's great! We had so much stuff, that we had to hire a removal company for the few hours to move all of our things across the city, and up the stairs into our new flat. While they were driving, Oscar and I hoofed it across the city by tube. He was not a fan of the four interchanges we had to make.
The move itself went fine, except for the fact that we forgot it was a Saturday - meaning that the Portobello Markets down the road drew loads of visitors, and hence, no parking spaces. Being the slight perfectionist that I am, I refused to relax until everything was unpacked and put away. Let's just say, I slept well that night. Oscar, on the other hand, found it hard to get used to the new place and spent the entire first weekend hiding under the bed.
And now, for some more pictures of the flat!
Oscar loves perching on the window and watching the birds & squirrels in the garden.
Just half of our GIANT wardrobe. It's seriously awesome.
Our (still messy) living room - we still have a few bits and pieces that we need the landlord to take away, so it does look a bit cluttered. The walls and ceilings are really, really tall.
Laptop Central, aka the Lounge. Love!
The orange (yes, orange) kitchen. One would think it would be completely ghastly, but with the airy and massive room and wooden floors, it's really quite funky.
The built in bookshelf & feature wall.
So there you have it, our new place. I don't think we'll be moving anytime soon!!
Tonight's our last night in the flat - we're quite literally surrounded by boxes and cleaning products. Honestly, how we managed to accumulate so much STUFF after both arriving in London with only one 20kg suitcase to our name, is ridiculous.
Oscar has his very own box of cat things - his bed (which he doesn't use), his toys (I really need to stop buying cat toys), his scratching post (he prefers our mattress) and all of his other bits and pieces.
Tomorrow morning, we make the move across to West London (google Ladbroke Grove to see our new area) and into our spiffy new apartment. I do feel a bit sad at leaving this one behind, but it's definitely time for a change.
And the final icing on the cake? On my last journey home from work, the Docklands Light Rail (DLR of Doom) was suspended, leaving me stranded and forced to take the long way home. Goodbye, crazy driverless trains. I'll miss you ... or not.
See you all from the West side!
So a few weeks ago, I mentioned we had a lot of things coming up that were going to keep us busy? I think now is as good a time as any to explain what I was actually talking about, rather than leaving things all vague-like.
To cut a long story short, we're moving. And to make a short story long... details!
Ever since I arrived here in December 2007, I've lived in the flat Jase arranged while I was still at home - a lovely little one bedroom place near Canary Wharf, in East London. It's been great: a nice big living area, a relatively new kitchen, and in a nice quiet street. We've done well living here, despite my constant moans about the Docklands Light Rail, aka the DLR of Doom, not working. It's getting to the point where we have to plan out our weekends in advance, because the trains are down all the bloody time.
<rant:> Don't even get me started about the massive 48 hour tube strike that's hopefully finished by now. Who would've thought I missed the sweaty germ-box (otherwise known as the Central Line) so much? </rant>
As is to be expected, our flat has had a few things go wrong with it, and unfortunately the real estate that manage the property are about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. The handle of one of our bedroom windows broke off. The ventilation fan in the bathroom stopped working. The cold tap in the kitchen sink fell to pieces. The wiring on the bedroom light blew. We've lived with these problems for over three months, and guess what? They're still not fixed.
Add the evil transport links, the inconsiderate neighbours and the constant vaccuuming of cat hair out of the carpet, and we were pushed over the edge. As soon as we gave our notice, our flat went on the market for an asking rent of 50 pounds less than what we currently pay. Per week. I'll just pause here to let you calculate how much we've been overpaying. Yes...?
So, we started flat hunting about two month agos. Since I work late hours, J had the fun task of setting up appointments and viewings, and saw some real doozies out there. The recession over here has resulted in a lot of places going on the market for a lower rent - but because we've decided to venture out into West London to a more traditional flat, the places were a lot smaller than what we were used to.
After a few weeks of hunting, J found a place that he loved: nearly the same size as our current flat, with wooden floors and a nice balcony close to a tube line. I went to see it a few days later and thought it was ace, so we put the deposit down and have been waiting for our contract ever since.
We got the contract today. It's been a stressful few weeks, not knowing what has been going on, or why it's taken so long - turns out they couldn't hunt the landlord down to get them to approve the tenancy. It should be sorted as of tomorrow, just in time for the weekend.
Our official move-in date is Tuesday next week. Talk about cutting it fine! The big moving day will be next Saturday, when we're both off work. Next step? Operation pack-up-flat. Stay tuned...
There's been a lot going on around here, and I've been neglecting (again!) to update things as often as I should. I had a friendly reminder emailed to me today from my bloghost, telling me that my hosting runs out over the next few weeks, and would I like to renew my blog? I'll be honest. I came close to just letting it expire.
But my pride got the better of me, and I decided I like my personal space on the web far too much to just let it go completely. What does that mean for me? Well, it means that I'll be trying to post more often. I'm far too cheap to pay money for no reason at all, so this blog will be used. No promises on how much, but there will be content if it kills me!
First things first, I'm proud to announce the winner of the Swiss Photo Challenge. The runner up was Photo 4, Jungfraujoch taken by Jason. Second place was Photo 2, Zurich City taken by Me. As for the winner, the shot deemed 'most awesome', the title goes to Photo 3, Mountains & Waterfalls, taken by... Yours truly! Thanks to everyone for inflating my ego voting. I'm not sure that all parties were in agreeance over the prize of unlimited hair brushing, but I'm sure we'll work something out!
We took hundreds of photos while we were in Switzerland, because honestly, it's one of the most beautiful places in the world. We started in Zurich, leisurely enjoying the town and the hot weather. The next day, we drove past Lucerne and past Interlaken, where we boarded several mountain railway trains and headed up to Jungfraujoch. The views on the way up the mountain were just as amazing as the views from the top! I ended up a bit woozy from the altitude up there, but that didn't take away from the day at all.
Once we were back in Zurich, the next day saw us drive north towards the Switzerland/German border, where we stopped at the Rhine Falls and enjoyed even more sunshine. It was off home after that, a mammoth journey getting back from Heathrow, thanks to the ever-efficient London transport system! (Oh, the sarcasm!)
Here are a couple more random happy snaps from the trip: