Upon deplaning, Steve, an embassy driver, met us right outside the gate with a sign that said, “Mr. Raymond White” to walk us through customs and take us to retrieve our luggage. He drove us to the air cargo facility where we proceeded to wait FIVE hours for our three furry friends to clear customs (the things we do for our kids!) Keep in mind, we’ve just flown all night with a maximum of about three hours upright sleep. You know you’re going to be somewhere for a long time when you walk in the facility and they have four extremely comfy couches waiting to be sat upon. Needless to say, we met more well-traveled animals than ever …there was Sadie arriving from Hong Kong, Buttons coming from Australia, Bruno from France and even a cargo box of alpacas! Between greeting all of them who came through to their excited owners and dozing off on the couches in between (Steve stayed out in the van with Zachary for five hours while he slept–what a nice man!!), Briar, Qasri, and Ansel were cleared and we were on our way to our new house.
No sooner had we pulled in the driveway and entered the house in our exhausted stupor, than the Sky cable guy, Ian, showed up! He was asking questions that neither of us had answers for such as, “Do you have a phone line, wall outlet?” We told him that he probably knew more than us about the house at this juncture– which gave him a chuckle. Miraculously, we have cable tv and internet before taking a tour of the upstairs!
Our house is really quaint, and homey. It is in the middle of what appears to be a beautiful upscale neighborhood, called Hampstead Garden Suburb, mostly old money. Younger folks are just starting to make their way here. The homes date from the 1920’s and all have beautiful gardens. In fact, our entire front and back yard is surrounded by roses, fruit trees and “proper” hedges, as fences are forbidden in our village.
Ian the cable dude left and Ray took a nap, while Zach and I went to meet our new neighbors two blocks down the road. Zach was intent on not wasting any time meeting new friends, so I called this gal Kate who I had been put in touch with several months ago via email to say hi and see if our phone worked. Kate was so welcoming on the phone and immediately invited us down to their house–amazingly enough she is a two minute walk down the street and has a 5yr old boy and a 7 year old girl. What are the chances…..??? Jackpot! Zach spent the majority of the day playing with Olivia and Alex while I sat and chatted with my new Australian friend, Kate. As she knew we were arriving, she had a bouquet of flowers and a big bag of surprises for Zach. What a sweetheart. Kate’s British husband, Simon arrived home from work and since the kids were already inseparable friends, they invited us over for dinner and a lovely evening of pizza and beer.
At the end of day one in London, we have a charming British home, six suitcases, 700 pounds of air freight (which were delivered in six large boxes by some Romanian movers one hour into Ray’s nap), Cable TV, internet, and some lovely new neighborhood friends. Life is indeed good.