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Random happenings

Over the last weekend, I triumphantly assembled the new wardrobe that Natasha had bought in IKEA… Well, ok, ok, it was a really pathetic performance, comprised of 36 steps according to instruction manual, that took over 2 hours to complete. But I did raise my arms in triumph when it was finished…

The important thing is that we now have a bit more space for our clothes. There are only a few boxes that remain unpacked and it looks like we can fit most of our stuff into existing wardrobes. We don’t know whether we are going to find anything afterwards, but that is a different matter…

As we celebrated a full month of living together in the UK, we continue to find ourselves deeper and deeper in the throes of routine. My routine, of course, routinely includes after-work trips to a pub with coworkers – I just got back from one, please excuse my diminished command of language – but the kids are getting settled in their respective schools, and Natasha gradually infiltrates the environs.

The bottom line is that instead of a well-structured narrative of recent events, I offer you a collection of random happenings.

First, kids. They each have made a few friends among their classmates, by now. We are even organizing playdates, which is a fantastic development, given that there is no possible way that they can play outside as they used to in our New Jersey cul-de-sac. Kimmy already went to a friend’s house and had that friend over to our house. The girl’s mother was in complete awe of the house that we live in, which provided a welcome salve to our wounded self-esteem. Becky has a friend over tomorrow – that one will probably be condescending in regard to our abode, given the cost of education…

Despite the fact that Thanksgiving is not a holiday in England, Christmas starts here in earnest pretty much on the weekend after Thanksgiving in America. Just like home. Houses get decorated, retailers announce holiday sales… There are requisite lightings of the trees everywhere. Natasha and Kimmy managed to visit our local one. The High Street in Eltham was closed to traffic since midday, and it was full of performances and street hawkers. At 6pm, otherwise dark street was lighted by numerous festoons. That was followed by a parade, with floats presented by local clubs and schools, with lanterns, music, etc. After that, a 15-minute fireworks display concluded the celebration.

As Becky noted, fireworks seem to be a year-round occurrence here. We daily hear and sometimes see productions of local enthusiasts.

Eltham High Road, by the way, is within walking distance from us, but still about a mile away. It is kind of amazing what Kimmy would agree to do – ride a scooter for such a long distance and back – on the promise of entertainment and fireworks…

We now own a couple of cards that allow us collect points for rewards by buying stuff in supermarkets and such. We must be truly assimilating.

Consider this: A new bakery/pastry shop opened the other day on the nearest corner. Natasha immediately checked it out, enjoying simply the idea of having one at hand. The shop does not have a sign yet. So she offered to paint it for them if they come up with a name. A new career may be born…

Natasha also stumbled upon a caramel dessert that has a whole history associated with it. She first encountered it a couple of years ago, when our old friend Nika (who lives in Geneva) sent a few samples to another old friend Vera (who lives in NJ), using us as messengers after we had visited her and her family in Geneva during one of our European sojourns. Still with me? Long story short, Vera was pregnant with twins and could not accept the sweets, so Natasha consumed it on her own… Yeah, yeah, she shared with kids; they had, maybe, a quarter of it… Since then, Natasha was dreaming of this dessert, and had poor Nika specifically bring some of it, when she was coming to the States on short trips. It turns out that this stuff is now freely available in many supermarkets in Europe. Heaven!

Random observation: There are no fluctuations in the gasoline price here. Almost every gas stations around our area list 84.9p per litre of regular unleaded gasoline. That price has not changed since I first noticed it – almost two months ago. For those inclined to mathematical calculations, this works out to about £3.23 per gallon, which is is certainly quite shocking, however stable.

On a related note, my Vauxhall gives me a bit over 23 miles per gallon. I expected considerably better…

Natasha, having mostly finished with unpacking of our stuff, started venturing into creative cooking again. The other day, she and the girls baked a cake that they all afterwards consumed with proclamations of utmost pleasure. I have to go by their word in this particular case, as it was not the one and only type of cake that I ever eat.

I was not left completely behind, though. Tonight, upon my return from office at 9:40pm (wink, wink đŸ™‚ ), I was met with an offer of a hot bowl of борщ, which was perfectly indescribable!!!

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