Thursday, September 30, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Here it is - the home we'll be leasing in England.  After riding around in the back of a VW golf with the relo agent, my husband and two kids for three days looking at houses, I was ready to take up residence in ye local pigpen.  Yes, yes, anything to get me unfolded from the backseat so I can breathe again.  I wouldn't have cared if it was built atop a curry shop or on the fringe of a nuclear landfill as long as I didn't have to climb into the backseat once more.  Thankfully, we stumbled upon this home the second day and decided it would suit us just fine.

I've never lived in a "character" home before, at least not as far back as 1935.  We owned a home in San Antonio and rented a home in Arlington built in the 50s.  It was all about the pink tile bathrooms.  Both of them were due for major overhauls in their various systems and I'm glad we weren't forced to suffer that.  Nothing makes me more cranky than when the water line to the house is turned off.  

This home appears to have retained a lot of its charm.  The original hardwoods downstairs are fabulous - wide planked and in a warm tone.  Thankfully, the kitchen and baths are no longer circa The Blitz when Churchill was running the show.  I love the fact that the walls are plaster, not the cheap and easily damaged sheetrock in our current home.  And radiators... what a funny little bit of the past that's unique for us.  I'll be disappointed if quaint dooms us to drafts and cold extremities for eight months out of the year.  

Next up - figuring out how to furnish the new digs.  

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What's In a Name?

We just returned from a week in London, touring schools and house hunting.  Let's just say the system is WAY different over there and a bit of a pain in the arse since they don't have MLS.  Thank heavens someone else was in charge of arranging all of the showings with the various letting agencies.

One thing I found to be quite interesting was the fact that most houses do have a number, but also have a name.  Instead of looking for a numerical address, we found ourselves crawling down the street at a snail's pace, looking for the house name because we weren't provided with anything else.  Some of the houses we toured included Hallingwood, Greensleeves, Grassholm, Merton House and Frogmore.

Our favorite location, but not top choice, was built on the canal and connected to miles of tow paths that are now used for walker/bikers.  It was very picturesque, but the Texan in me was immediately suspicious of the still water.  Let's just call that one Mosquito Manse.  Another house had a very expansive garden, English speak for backyard.  You could tell the folks living there had a dog, and it must have been the size of a Shetland pony because he did his business multiple times across the flagstone patio.  It should be dubbed Casa Caca.  There were a few houses obviously built in the 70s that haven't had any current updating other than some paint and carpet.  I'm thinking Partridge Family Palace might be appropriate.

The good news is that we did find a lovely home within our budget that will meet our needs - not too big, not too small, but just right.  We're headed for the burbs of Surrey since central London's offerings could be  aptly named Coat Closet or Cracker Box. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hunting Trip

This week we are on a hunting trip, and I don't mean the dove season that's going on in south Texas. We are in London for the week, touring three American schools and house hunting. Today we took a break from that madness to see J's office on the Thames. The view of Tower bridge is amazing. We have been blessed with sunny weather and moderate temps, about 20 degrees cooler than in Texas right now. Today we were walking through Mayfair and had our first celebrity sighting... Anthony Bourdain.

Our overall mood is one of excitement, with this little bit of England whetting our appetite for the move in a few months.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Figuratively Speaking

Busy as a beaver.  Chasing my tail.  Running around like a chicken with its head lopped off.  Burning the candle at both ends.  My life is best described with similes and idioms these days.  Seriously, I can't wait to get to London so I can relax a bit with that whole foreign culture thing where they drive on the wrong side of the road.  

I recall a book that was published a while back about not sweating the small stuff.  Isn't life all about the details?  That's Martha Stewart's mantra, right, and she's a successful woman, albeit one with a prison record.  Heaven help me if I start speaking with a Connecticut accent and buy a few French bulldogs!

I can't just let things slide.  I have to try and stay on top of them.  I feel compelled to go above and beyond.  It's a sickness, I tell you.  Oh how I envy the slacker... the lady who lets things go to hell in a handbasket without a backwards glance.  She's the one with her head on straight, the one who can sleep like a baby at night.  She has no aspirations to be superteacher, superwife, or supermother and isn't that refreshing.  Funny how that works, her getting paid the same as me for the same job, only she's not running around tying herself in knots to make sure the proofreading marks page is on pastel paper in the writing folders (so it stands out from the plain white copy paper) separated by class periods and table groups in color coded tubs.  She's the one cutting loose while I'm cutting out reward bucks to encourage the children to make positive choices - teacher speak for do what I say so I can keep my sanity.

Thanks, nature and nurture, for my fabulous work ethic.  I wonder if there is some sort of support group or twelve step program for nitwits like me.  Hi, my name is Carrie and I'm a Type A, micromanaging control freak.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

We Have the Technology

Honestly, the miracle of technology is truly amazing.  I've really enjoyed scouting London housing on the internet.  As expected, the language differences are becoming more clear as we progress through the relocation process.  

Like every other Tom, Dick and Carrie, I've heard the obvious words/phrases that distinguish American English from the UK version.  Everyone knows the loo is the bathroom.  But did you know that a guest cloakroom is really a half bath?  And the local catchment area is referring to your school district?  A character home is some old house that has been updated. And you'll most likely find your washing machine in the kitchen.  Forget about a tumble dryer in the city.  Only rich folks can afford those.

Happy 7 September 2010!  Don't get me started on the whole date writing format that throws me for a loop.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ramping Up

Immigration paperwork isn't exactly my idea of a good time, especially after coming home from a day of wrangling 109 fifth graders.  I do believe I've memorized my passport number.  And no, I'm not some crazed terrorist attempting to sneak into your country.  My girls can be a threat to your sanity, at times, but no risk to national security.  

Excellent - I get to go take a flattering passport sort of photo to attach to my paperwork.  The good news is that they haven't asked for my weight... yet!