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From boxes to bidet

Never having to move out of a house, we never had to deal with so much stuff coming into a house…

The last few days have been spent on unpacking and trying to find places for our numerous personal effects. There are about 20 boxes that we still need to go through, primarily clothes. Time and again, we keep asking ourselves, Did we really need that much stuff? Especially with the girls, who are now wearing uniforms to school – why did we bring so many outfits for them? Oh, well… Maybe, we’ll expand our eBay sales…

Kitchen, office and dining room (we keep calling it that, even though it currently has a distinct feel of the formal american-style living room, with couches, fireplace and no TV) are in good shape. Living room (which should be called “family room” if going by american definitions) is ok, but since it is the most occupied room, it ends up a mess by the end of the day, mostly because the toys, games, crayons and other playthings – carefully arranged by Natasha on shelves in the corner – get carelessly thrown all over by you-know-who.

Kimmy has the run of the house. She plays in the living room, paints pictures and reads books in the dining room, sometimes draws on the kitchen table (and plays house underneath), and comes up with various ideas for her own bedroom (which is temporarily curtailed due to a bunch of unpacked boxes). I guess it is not much different from what she used to do in New Jersey, but at least we could always collect her toys and dump it in the basement playroom, which is no longer an option here…

In case we have not emphasized it before – we’ve got a really nice garden! Natasha finds an unexpected tranquillity in doing the dishes while looking out onto the garden. Room with a view, indeed. Every time we think that this house has shortcomings – and these moments happen not infrequently – we think about the garden and feel better.

By the way, our neighbors showed up to welcome us. We must have been really loud, so they noticed that somebody lives next door!

We brought quite a number of electric appliances with us. Computer equipment largely can work with different voltage (we still need to buy plug adapters, of course). Some items we are simply too attached to – i.e, wine cooler, all-formats DVD player, – and we are willing to buy voltage converters for them. Then, there are things like nightstand lamps or an electric pencil sharpener. We still packed them into the shipment – after all, it’s not like we were lugging them ourselves. In most cases, we presumptuously did not even check their electrical ratings – which is kind of besides the point, since non-computer equipment almost never works with anything higher then 110V. Before plugging them in here, I finally checked their ratings, and, obviously, I found that most of them would need a converter to work. My choices were: Buy a converter for each (it is cheaper to buy a similar local item instead) or pack them away until some time that we return to the States. Bo-o-oring! It is much more fun to actually try them out to see if by some miracle they would work. So I tried. With predictable results. Knocked out fuses for electric outlets on both floors and found the third option – trash bin.

The unfortunate side effect is that the shower pump that produced a pretty good water pressure – unusual for British homes – is now not working as before; the water is barely trickling through. There must be some reset switch somewhere that I am yet to find.

The weekend was not spent in such mundane activities, though. Making sure that we did not stray too far from our master plan of exploration, we did go out on both days. Nothing as dramatic as last weekend, but still reasonable escape from the routine.

On Saturday, we drove into Blackheath Village, strolled around, visited several local shops and had a nice lunch in an Italian restaurant. We then went into Greenwich Park, to take in a view of Greenwich and London. Reminds us of the Brooklyn Heights view to Manhattan, only the noisy BQE is replaced by the peaceful expanse of the park below. Becky satisfied her need for standing astride the Prime Meridian.

Today, we ventured to the Eltham Palace, which is an English Heritage site about the same walking distance from us as Kimmy’s school. The original castle here was built in 11th-13th centuries, but the current structure has been largely rebuilt after the first World War. The palace, therefore, has such modern amenities as telephones and waterclosets. Some of the latter also have bidet. Kids have never been exposed to this implement before, and it was truly a highlight for them.

The palace park is quite nice too, with enough trees that the kids can climb onto, which is what we spent some time doing.

Next weekend plans included a quick trip to Paris in celebration of Natasha’s birthday, but we decided to keep within our modest means for the time being and invited Popivkers to our house instead…