It’s 7pm on Sunday afternoon, the sun is warm in the bright blue sky outside, the fish tank on the shelf is bubbling, Fat Cat is lazing on the wooden floor boards meowing for a pat and Fluffy Cat can be seen spreading out in the patch of sunlight shimmering on the small balcony. Raf and Paulina are at work and Dan has just made a lovely dinner. If I listen carefully I can hear the DLR train (Docklands Light Rail) or London Overground train rattle away at the Shadwell station only 100m down the street. Our bedroom is small, but cosy, and fully decked out by furniture from IKEA and bedding from Argos.
The fridge is stocked with 60quid of groceries, delivered by Tescos, which should last a little more than a week. I am thinking about heading down to one of the 2 ‘off-licence’ corner stores or grocery stores across the road for a bottle of wine. It’s a little quieter on the streets tonight. Ramadan, a Muslim fasting period between 20th of July and 19th of August, ended last Sunday with Eid and the loud gatherings of excited, fasting Muslim men on the corner, and in fast cars, have ceased.
This is life at the moment for the Moroney’s in Shadwell, East London. It’s very different to our relaxed life in Lyon of baguettes, quiet cobblestone streets and fast French speaking locals.
We arrived in London last Friday night and have truly hit the ground running. Paulina and Raf, a Polish couple who have been living in London for more than 5 years, cooked us a vegetarian meal of spaghetti bolognaise (replacing the meat with a veggie option). We spent our first Saturday ordering bed linen and towels online from Argos and walked from our apartment in Shadwell to Whitechapel (20 mins) to collect them that afternoon. On Sunday I had a (much needed) mini make over, with my new beautician in Whitechapel, before returning home in the afternoon to fill out a million UK Boarder Agency forms so that we could start the process of replacing our working visas. After Dan spoke with the Agency on Monday morning it turns out that we were filling out the incorrect forms! So we are waiting for a few more forms so we can start that process again.
On Monday afternoon we donned our long forgotten ‘business attire’ and caught the DLR one stop to Tower Gateway where we met with a couple of reps from a local recruitment agency. They seem very keen to get us on board and we were assured that we would have no trouble finding temp work in London. Apparently my CV has already been sent off to a client and I am hopeful that something will come of it soon.
That afternoon we had a wonderful stroll along the canals of Shadwell to where St Katherine’s Docks meets the Thames River at Tower Bridge. We weaved our way around the many tourists and enjoyed an ice-cream overlooking the Thames River and Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, which is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. We are very lucky to be living in such a diverse area of London, only a short walk or ride from the city.
On Tuesday, we trekked to one the largest shopping centres in Europe, Westfield Stratford City, right near the Olympic Village. Not surprisingly, we had to visit 3 banks before Barclays finally agreed that we were identifiable enough to open a new account with them. Our new banker, Faysal Ahmed, helped us with ‘all of our banking needs’ and, as an ex-resident of Shadwell, he even provided us with many tips on the best places to get a decent steak, lovely Indian meal and take away pizza in our area. As an ex-bank worker, I was very impressed with the customer service. We even got a complimentary Krispy Kreme and drink!
Most of the rest of our week we have been completing paperwork for National Insurance numbers and applying for various jobs around London. The amount of work being advertised is more than we thought it would be, but we have noticed that positions are being advertised for as little as a few days before hundreds (if not thousands) of applicants are applying.
Since it appears that we will be ‘on holidays’ for a little while yet, we headed out on Wednesday night to meet up with Ryan, Mark and
Marshall, friends from Brisbane, in Fulham. This proved to be a little harder than we first thought, since Fulham is on the other side of the city from Shadwell, and the Tube and DLR finish at 12.30am. The night buses have been a saviour when trying to find our way home in a new city! Marshall and I had a wonderful few hours exploring the British Museum on Thursday afternoon before Dan and I headed to Ryan’s place at Clapham and then for a dance at Elk in Fulham with Mark and Marshall.
The sun has been shinning every day since we arrived so our new housemates were keen to show us around Thorpe Park on Saturday. Thorpe Park is an adventure park full of roller coasters and a manmade beach, much like South Bank in Brisbane. Raf was lucky enough to borrow a car from work for the weekend so he drove us (on his own 27th birthday) to Thorpe Park, about an hour north west of London. After a number of rides and rollercoasters the darkening skies closed in on us and we were drenched to the skin while waiting for a water themed raft ride. We were sure the worst had passed when an even larger afternoon storm rolled through only an hour later and most of the park was closed down and people started evacuating by the hundreds. We made it back home safely and drenched. Of course, it has not rained a drop since!
So far we have been having a ball, but it has been a little hard to ‘start all over again’ in a new city where we know almost no one. We are already planning a month travelling over Christmas and NYE and I have researched 100 things that I still want to see and do in London, so I feel that there are some exciting times ahead!
(#1 of things to do this week = go to the Australia Shop in Covent Garden for Vegemite and BBQ Shapes!)
Published on: Aug 26, 2012 @ 20:07 #12monthhoneymoon