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Our new house

First commute took 55 minutes on the way in – but I came to the station good 10 minutes earlier than the next scheduled train. Once I start properly timing it, it should be closer to 45. All the way standing, though, – not a single vacant seat on either commuter train or subway. Let’s see what going home at a fairly late hour means, and tomorrow I’ll try a different route.

Once in office, I had to deal with several set up issues, but by the end of the day felt fairly immersed into my new position. There is tons of stuff to do. There is also a notable absence of adventures during a routine working day…

So, instead, let’s spend some time on describing living accommodations.

We are renting a house in the village of Mottingham, in Southeast London. I might call myself Robin Good from now on… (it is a fairly obscure attempt at elaborate alliterative joke on my part: Many of you will recall that in Russian, the surname of this medieval hero is pronounced with a hard “G”, which is the letter preceding correct English “H”; our town’s name differs from Nottingham – the town of Robin’s renown – only by the starting letter, which is again preceding… anyone got that?)

As we were on the border of two counties in New Jersey (Monmouth and Middlesex, belonging to the less desirable of the two), so we are on the border of two boroughs, Greenwich and Bromley, both part of the greater London, and again belonging to the less desirable of the two (Greenwich). As Greenwich is also famously the place of the Zero Meridian, which splits geographical east and west, metaphors abound.

Location of the house is conducive to short excursions, given that 15-minute ride in various directions can see us in picturesque Blackheath village or almost equally pretty Chislehurst or in recently built-up and sophisticated Bromley. There are small shops and conveniences at the nearest intersections in each direction, and within a 15-minute walk, there is a village of Eltham, not as pleasant but quite convenient, with Eltham High Road (High Road in Britain = Main Street in US) having quite a number of restaurants, pubs, supermarkets, fashion shops, post office and even a Blockbuster.

The house has 4 good-sized bedrooms (none of the walk-in closets advertized as “single bedrooms” – happened to us a couple of times during house-hunting); a full bathroom and another half one (the latter is what colloquially is known as the loo; bright living room with floor-to-ceiling glass windows opening onto the garden; empty dining room that could easily become a family room should we decide against putting a dining set in it; nice kitchen with all of the common amenities (the dishwasher was installed explicitly under our demands, by the way); laundry/utility room – true luxury in suburban UK, as in most houses washer and dryer are normally found in the kitchen; one-car garage, which we will use for storage, I guess; circular driveway that can accommodate at least 4 cars; huge wooden deck; and a beautiful garden (which the owner apparently spent over £50K to build).

There is new furniture everywhere, and a variety of household items, such as linens, utensils, tableware, a small TV in the kitchen (only has two channels, but better than nothing), even some decorations. Given our complicated moving schedule, it is of great help that I could move in right away and only needed to buy myself some sustenance.

The biggest negative about the house is its place on a noisy road. Just one lane in each direction, but very busy during the day. One can point to the years we spent living on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn as something we got used to very quickly, but this has got to be different – when a truck or a bus is idling in front of the house while in a queue to the traffic light, you can feel the vibrations in your every bone. It could be not as bad in the garden, but I have not really had a chance to test it. On the other hand, the master bedroom faces the street, and I did not have much problem sleeping…

Only having 1.5 bathroom may prove to be a challenge, but I think it is primarily our future guests who”d be challenged ;).

One other problem is that I can not find a thermostat in the house, but I still hope it is simply hidden somewhere I have not thought to look into yet. The central heating is functioning anyway…

The train station is a 4-minute walk from the house. The trains go into Charing Cross station in London, which is smack in the middle of the city. The train ride takes 25 minutes. So, if timed properly, one could conceivably find oneself in Trafalgar Square in a bit over half an hour after stepping out of the house… My commute takes me either to London Bridge station (18 minutes), where I have to change to the subway (8 more minutes riding – 3 stops – £2); or, alternatively, I can go to Lewisham (8 minutes, but the trains are less frequent) and change to Docklands Light Rail train (15 minutes of pretty slow going). It’s connections that kill the commute, but I think I’ll manage to stay under 45 minutes door-to-door.

Stay tuned.