Category: London

Getting lost in the house purchasing maze

The purchase is still ongoing… We have filled in a lot of forms. We have spoken to solicitors, estate agents, surveyors, an architect and countless friends and family about the purchase. The latest hold up is our mortgage provider not telling us they needed additional documentation and then wondering why we hadn’t provided it when I called to ask how everything was going?! Grrrr.

We agreed with our vendor to do a delayed completion. I had no idea this was even an option before we heard about it. Basically we’ll exchange contracts sometime soon and then next year we’ll actually complete on a set date. This gives us time to plan which is most important as there is a lot of planning to do.

In the meantime we’re going to move from our current place to another one, closer to our new house and *shock horror* outside of London! We’re going to be proper commuters, in the main because to afford anywhere vaguely like what we were after we have had to make the decision to make the leap. I’m sad and excited. This is the next step in our life, the next place after the next one will be one we own and that is just immense, overwhelming. On the flip side we moved back to England to be in London and then are moving away from it. That bit I’m sad about. We’ll still be in the city, coming in for work and seeing friends up here, so all is not yet lost.

The whole affording to live in London is a conversation we’ve had many times over, both between ourselves and with friends. Some of the house prices I see astonish me, it is eye-watering to see how much it costs to get so little. Concerning too, I do wonder how long this can all last. But that is a longer discussion and probably one best over a bottle of wine with some heated debate.


Moving and sorting (forever sorting)

We’re getting there. Slowly but surely things are getting sorted and it feels like finally this is home, this is where we live. Although of course the sorting, jeepers, there is so much to go through to sort, to do. The whole process makes me think that we need less. Always less.

There has been a lot on the internet recently about less, from ths excellent New York Times article Living with Less to Sui writing about clearning out her wardrobe and an old post by Peonies about living with only 33 items in your wardrobe (including accessories!) Each time I have read something along these lines I have thought about the concept and liked it, yet never actually done anything about it. Until this move.

Somehow this move came at the right time in my life. We sorted, we started sorting about a month before the actual move and have kept on going until now. So far we have taken 11 bags of clothes to the clothes recycling bin, 3 boxes of stuff to a charity shop, sold a lot of furniture in DC and not replaced it all here. Thrown away an awful lot of stuff. Sorted, resorted and shredded a lot of paperwork and just generally begun to get stuff in order. It is quite astonishing how much two people can acquire and what you really actually need.

To be honest it has been  a delight having our kitchen stuff back and I am so enjoying my cookbooks, pans and other kitchen gadgets. Cooking is one of life’s pleasures. But it has also been so good to have finally got to a point where my wardrobe doesn’t overwhelm and sadden me. I can see what I have (or don’t have). I am wearing the stuff I do have, each piece of it, no matter how ‘special’ that piece may be and I am looking forward to buying less but better when a piece of it finally dies.

Moving away from this relentless consumerism has felt refreshing, we have everything we need and I no longer need to buy. Instead we can save, we can spend on holidays, meals, experiences.

I am hoping that this whole long experience of moving and sorting and sorting and sorting will be  turning point. That somehow I will manage to keep on this track, to avoid the relentless acquistion culture shoved in our faces all the time. To keep our house freer of clutter. To get that kick out of getting rid as I have found myself getting. We’ll see but for now I am enjoying the small amounts of serenity this is bringing.

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We made it. After returning from San Francisco we went head first into sorting things out, throwing stuff away, giving stuff away, selling stuff. Anything to try and process everything we had in our flat in Washington. It was both incredibly cathartic doing all that sorting and getting rid and at times hard. There were moments when I had to stop because I couldn’t bear just throwing away things which were still good but we couldn’t fit in our luggage or take with us.

So six suitcases later we arrive at Heathrow, tired, excited and feeling slight trepidation about what happens next. J chose a lovely flat, lots of natural light and space, plus thankfully warm, especially these last few days. The first few days were tough, not so much a cultural adjustment, it all felt very familiar, more a life adjustment. The odd feeling that this was it, we weren’t just visiting like we had been for the last couple of years.

We’re getting there, day by day. Seeing friends, trying to write the long list of people we want to catch up with and balancing it with needing to live a leaner life and within a tighter budget. London thankfully is still the wonderful city I remembered it to be and we are enjoying discovering a new part of it (we’re NW now not SW as we were before).

Now to wait the few weeks (months?!) until our stuff arrives across the ocean and then we’ll all be set!

Change, change, change

With the move is coming a lot of change. We’ve done this before, admittedly only once, but this time although the same some things are slightly different. As much as change is exciting it is also unsettling. I’m mixed, one day excited the next mildly panicked. Work, housing, friendships, finances all of these things are whirling around and around. I know it will work out in the end somehow and things are falling into place slowly. Things will work out. I’m learning again that I need to bite piece by piece and work on things a little bit at a time. I’m also learning again how important it is to talk about everything. Poor J is having his ear chewed far too much. I process by talking, it helps me work out what I do or don’t want, even if it means I go round and round in circles far too often. Lots to write about once I organise my thoughts.

Return journey

The time has come for us to return to London. We move back in January. Two months. In total we will have lived in the US for 27 months, during which we have experienced some of our toughest times and some absolutely wonderful times, we’ve met many amazing people who I hope will be lasting friends. It was absolutely the right decision to move here and experience this and now it feels like the right time to do the return journey.

There’s a lot to think about of course. Moving country is not easy, as we have learnt, even if you’ve lived there before. We’re going through another period of pretty big change and trying to work it all out again. We’re going back to something which is so familiar and yet viewed through a new perspective and I imagine possibly also so changed from what we left. I’m excited though, the new opportunities this brings, the friendships we can re-kindle, the city I love I get to live in again. London here we come…

Polpetto – Review

J and I went to Polpetto on Saturday night, I had managed to book a table for the preview evening and was super excited to go having been to Polpo a few times and absolutely loving it there.

And so we arrived, to this little room about the French House on Dean Street which had sweet simple tables, lovely big mirrors and the same light bulbs as Polpo. Luckily enough we got a table next to the window so enjoyed the breeze coming through as we ate.

Deciding what to eat wasn’t easy, it all sounded yummy and there’s a fair choice (although not quite as many dishes as Polpo). In the end we went for a mix of Cicheti, breads, meat and fish dishes and some vegetables.
As we had a few dishes I’ll list them and highlight the ones I really really loved:

Melanzane Parmigiana (small bite)
Smoked Swordfish, lemon and dill ricotta (small bite)
Fig and Salami bruschetta
Zucchinni friti
Pea, Fennel and Ricotta salad
Sliced flank steak with white truffle cream
Pigeon Saltimbocca
Soft shell crab in parmesan batter
Pannacotta and blackberries
Tiramisu Pot

Those in bold were the ones which really got me excited, especially the steak, that truffle cream made me a very very happy girl. (On the right in the photo above, it was amazing!)

The food overall was all great, I love being able to eat a selection of smaller dishes and so having a different meal everytime which is flexible to what I feel like that evening. I could keep going back just to try all the dishes.

Plus I would keep going back because the atmosphere is lovely. It’s relaxed, attentive and fun. We were able to enjoy ourselves, catch up, relax and then just make mmmmmm noises with each mouthful without feeling self-conscious or stupid.

In brief I would recommend it, it’s a lovely place for dining in. Either at Polpetto or Polpo, both have that great atmosphere and fabulous food which keeps you going back for more.

The fear of bra shopping…

I finally plucked up the courage to go bra shopping today, something I’ve needed to do for a while… And it got me to thinking, why am I so scared of asking for help with fitting my bra?

I tried my normal tactic, picking up some styles I like in the approximate size I think I am. Five bras later and none of them fitted. So I stood in the changing rooms and wondered if I should go home and try again another day. And then a deep breath I walked out and asked for help.

For some reason the very idea is one which I get slightly unsettled by. Even though I know I need to get some advice and buy the right size I still shy away from it and have a drawer full of semi-fitting bras.

It also made me think about all those statistics of 90% of women wearing the wrong sized bra, how did this come to be? Or is that just marketing puff. When did we not get taught how to shop for the right size. Who is to blame?!

Should there be compulsary fitting with every new purchase to try and avoid this. Should we be taught at school the importance of buying the right size. And then almost as importantly, how is it right that even once you have been sized different brands fit in different ways. I know this brand size difference is the same for clothes as well as underwear but it just doesn’t seem right that it’s like this.

Thankfully Selfridges have lots of very helpful and lovely staff and a lady arrived to help me with my fitting. She was very sweet and I’ve managed to find two bras which actually fit! Now to relax until the next time…

Manon at the Royal Opera House

Last night papa and I went to the opera. We were off to see Manon at the Royal Opera House. This is not an opera I’ve been to see before, in fact I’ve not seen any Massenet operas before and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I was therefore delighted by the first few strains coming from the orchastra sweeping through the house and transporting me away from dreary life. The opera was stunning, Massenet’s composition is just fabulous and I was so pleased to be seeing an opera I hadn’t seen before and really enjoying it. Plus the new production by Laurent Pelly was pretty good, the set a little dreary but the costumes amazing!

We were incredibly lucky with the cast, Anna Netrebko as Manon and Vittorio Grigolo as Des Grieux. Plus a host of other very talented singers. I was especially impressed with Vittorio, as a tenor his voice flows over the orchestra and has a power and richness to it which I often feel is lacking in other tenors. My favourite singers are generally deep male singers, bases and britones.

If you have the time and are quick there might be tickets left, I would highly recommend it. And of course if you do go let me know!

A walk in London…

Last weekend J and I were at a loose end on Saturday and hungry. Struggling to decide where to go for lunch we ended up heading off to the Hawksmoor on Commercial Street for lunch. This was to continue J’s quest to find the best burger in London. In my opinion great meat but far too heavy and the cheese which came with the burger was too overpowering. Not sure I would entirely recommend it but the Hawksmoor I would recommend, especially the cocktails 🙂

So both of us feeling rather heavy after the thumping burger we decided to walk home from Commerical Road to Pimlico. Which meant a walk along the river. I hadn’t been along a lot of these sections of the river for a long time and really enjoyed strolling along reminding myself of how lovely London can be.

The roof of old Billingsgate market with the fish detail which caught my eye.

The Monarch’s entrance of the House of Lords. And then we were home ready to relax on a Saturday evening instead of going out and about for a change. (Although we did have to watch the England game).
Oh what joy weekends are…