Tagged: 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.

Moved

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…

Bar Boulud – London

One of my most recent dining experiences was courtesy of Bar Boulud, London. Based in the Hyde Park Mandarin Oriental, Bar Boulud is part of Daniel Boulud’s empire.

I had been recommended it by a good friend who had said the burger was excellent. So I thought that as my time in London was nearing an end I’d allow myself a little treat and go and check it out.

Being by myself I thought I might be seated at the bar but the Maitre D’ was incredibly welcoming and took me to a table where I could watch the kitchen and other diners. Not only did he make me feel so welcome they also had copies of newspapers ready for you to pick up as your companion to lunch.

I ordered the Yankee Burger, in preparation of my return to the US I thought it was appropriate. It was excellent, good bread, fabulous patty, pickles, tomato, lettuce and onion. I then followed the burger with a pear and nut tarte which was rather indulgent but excellent. Oh and a rather wonderful New Zealand Pinot Noir, so full of blackberry flavour, it was a fabulous accompaniment to the burger. I managed to resist the temptation to a pudding wine too.

I was delighted by the service, my waiter was very friendly, helpful and sweet. The restaurant in itself if beautiful, it feels formal, yet relaxed and I loved the fact that you can see the kitchen at work from your table. All in all I would highly recommend it as a place to visit when in London.

Now to go look at his website and see where else he has restaurants, I think a trip to NYC might be in order…

Memories

London is full of them. I realised the other day a huge part of the reason I love this city so much is all the memories it holds for me.

It was the first place I lived after moving away from home. It was where I met J, where we fell in love, where we married. It holds the key to so many happy times, dancing times, singing times.

Of course it also holds the people with whom I made these memories but walking round these last few days I have glimpsed places, buildings, open spaces and my brain has gone back making me smile in secret knowledge of the things I have done and the memories I have made here.

Crossing the pond

I’m back in London again. Crossing the pond on a red eye last night I landed to the most beautiful sunset as we were travelling into London. As much as I was happy to be here I had only been back in the US for two weeks after our last trip over. However, for boring administrative reasons which I won’t go into I’m back in the UK for a few weeks.

Since moving I’ve been back three times, this is my fourth. It has been so important to me to continue to return and see everyone. There have been times when I have felt a deep ache for London and all it holds. Now, I’m seeing this city again, seeing new areas, living but not living in it and seeing it through the eyes of a visitor.

So for those of you who do live here, what’s coming up in the next few weeks which you would recommend? Theatre, museum exhibitions, shopping opportunities and the like all gratefully received.

London – My heart is with you

I was going to tell you about my birthday weekend in NYC (which was amazing and I will write about it soon). But right now I’m processing all that has been happening in my beloved city of London and beyond in England. As I’m sure many many people are.

I don’t know what to make of what has happened over the last few days. All I know is that there clearly is a reason this happened, which we won’t be able to understand immediately. I just hope we try to understand rather than lay blame without reason.

I’ll be back in a while. I’m off to think and go and look at Zooborns and find some things to laugh about for a little while. In the meantime my heart is with everyone affected and I hope that the glimmers of light such as the huge clean up operation and the communities bought together to protect themselves can shine brighter and we can move forward positively from this somehow.

Home…

We went back home a short while ago. It was the first time for six months and I was ready. Ready to see my family, my friends and my city. The wonderful London. I miss it, I miss them, I miss lots of things.

The visit was jam packed and brief. We didn’t get to see everyone we wanted but we did our best. J fitted in two weddings, we managed families and friends and plenty of catching up. I guess the one thing it really wasn’t was restful but then again that wasn’t why we were going 😉

I used to walk past Horse Guards Parade every day on the way to work, I still love seeing it, even when the weather isn’t quite so good.

The Algerian Coffee Stores is one of my favourite shops in London. They have the most amazing selection of tea, coffee and sweets. Plus it looks so cute.

Then we walked through St James park and I couldn’t resist photographing these gorgeous flowers.

I also used to walk past this sign every day and it always made me smile, kind of out of place but also very fitting.

Not that I want to wish time away but I’m looking forward to going back again already.