22 March 2007

Six Months!

Today is Andrew’s and my six-month anniversary, and it has been a wonderful day! We found out last night for sure that we have a signed contract on the new flat, so we’re officially moving! I’ve already started packing boxes this morning.
Also, I GOT A JOB TODAY! After so many grueling months of interviewing, searching, and interviewing and searching some more, today I was finally offered a position. It’s a contract position for six months, but they would like to eventually make it a permanent position, which means there’s hope of staying on after. The salary is great, and I’ll be making twice as much as I would be making in the States because I’ll be paid in pounds. I’ll be working for The Law Society, where I interviewed yesterday. It was so strange because I thought that I’d have to be asked back for a second interview, but no, my agent called this morning and just offered me the position! How exciting! I start on Tuesday morning at 9:30, and I can’t wait!

So this morning, I was able to call Andrew and tell him. I’ll relay the conversation to you because it was kind of funny. When I called, I hadn’t thought of how I would tell him, so I kind of panicked when the phone began to ring, thinking that I should have thought of some creative, funny way to tell him. When he answered, I said, very calmly, “I have some good news.”

“Okay, what?” he asked, nervously.

“I just accepted a position with The Law Society,” I replied, apparently sounding like I was crying, I found out later.

“Oh, my gosh,” said Andrew, “Oh, my gosh. I mean… Oh, my gosh,” he continued in disbelief. “Wow!”

“Does this mean I don’t have to cook tonight?” I asked.

Later that morning, I called all my job agents to let them know that I found a position, and then I called our estate agents to let them know that we found a home! It was so great and relieving to make those phone calls after all this time and worry!

Andrew arrived tonight to find me sitting on the couch all dressed and ready to go out for dinner. We opened a bottle of champagne that we had been saving and had a toast to my new job, and we gave Savannah and Hadley some rawhide bones that I had brought from the States and had been saving for the occasion. We all enjoyed our treats; Andrew changed clothes, and we went for our celebratory dinner at The Big Easy, a New Orleans-themed restaurant on the King’s Road. We had margaritas, fried calamari, and king crab’s legs, and it was so good!

The past six months have really flown by for us. It’s still kind of hard for me to believe that we’re married and living in London. It’s been a fabulous ride, and as this week has proven, it’s only going to get better from here!

Happy six-month anniversary, Andrew! I love you!

20 March 2007

What a Day! (The Great Bag Hunt, the Dry-run, and the Detour)

This morning I woke up early to go meet Beth and her friend (now my friend, too!) Geo for the Great Bag Hunt. What, you ask, is the Great Bag Hunt? Well, it’s only the “It Bag of the Season,” which went on sale for £5 this morning in select stores! Anya Hindmarch, a famous designer who started her career here in London, paired with We Are What We Do, the global social change society, to create a limited edition canvas bag with the slogan “I’m NOT a plastic bag!” stitched on the front to influence people to make a difference by not using plastic bags when shopping. According to them, every person in the UK uses an average of 167 plastic bags per year—10 billion bags altogether—and each bag takes several years to decay. If that’s how many are used here in the UK, there’s no telling how many are used in the US! Anyway, Beth discovered the bag and the sale and invited all “Us Girls” to join her in waiting in the cold to purchase one this morning. Seeing as how I’ve yet to find a job and have nothing better to do, I went! It was rainy this morning, but luckily it quit, and the sun came out to greet us for our wait. We met at nine and made it to the line, which was already at the corner, sometime around half past. The store wasn’t to open until 10:00, and I honestly thought we were going to freeze right there on the sidewalk.
Was the bag worth it? Probably not, but hanging out with a good friend and meeting a new one was! Plus, on the way home I found a cute toboggan for £1!

Oh! I forgot to mention that while sitting at Starbucks waiting for everyone to arrive, I received a call from one my agents, and we set up an interview with ITVfor tomorrow morning at 9:30. When I arrived back home, another one of my agents called to set up an interview with The Law Society (the British equivalent of the American Bar Association) for tomorrow at 12:30. It’s only about 20 minutes away from the first, so I’ll have no trouble making it to both, even if the first runs long. I always like to do a pre-interview dry run, if I have time, to figure out how long it should take me to get to an interview and so that I’ll know where I’m going and won’t panic the day of the interview. So, I run it through the London Transport Journey Planner, which is supposed to give the quickest routes to where you need to go anywhere in London. I’m so glad I did the dry run, because the stupid Journey Planner was WRONG! It not only had me getting off at the wrong tube stop, but also said the office was right where one would THINK the office would be, according to the street numbers. (One thing that is so annoying about getting around in London is that street numbers don’t run odds on one side and evens on the other; sometimes the numbers don’t even run consecutively!) Following the Journey Planner directions, on one side of the street were numbers 206-1 (odd numbers only, except for 206), and then on the next block was number 199. My Journey Planner map told me the building should be across the street from those buildings. Across the street, however, were 176, a park, a vacant lot, and then 256. I wandered around asking strangers where it was to no avail. Finally I called my agent to make sure I had the address correct and she confirmed it. About 20 minutes later, I finally found the place and discovered that I could have gotten off at a different tube stop, rode a bus for five minutes, and been there! I wandered around for another hour or so, scoping out the location of my second interview and timing how long it would take to get from one to the other and from each to the tube station.

By the time I hopped on the bus to head home, my feet were aching from so much walking in high-heeled boots; my cheeks were sore from the incessant wind, and my fingers and toes were frozen. Suddenly, however, my bus turned off its normal route! I jumped up and ran to the front, insanely thinking I must have somehow gotten on the wrong bus, but no, Chelsea Bridge was blocked off, and the bus driver had to let us off down the street, as he could no longer continue his scheduled route due to the road block. I got off and walked up to the police officer who was blocking the bridge. He informed me that the bridge was closed because the wind was knocking parts of the roof off our apartment complex—AGAIN. For those of you who do not know, last time we had major wind storms here in London, the girls and I ended up stuck in the park. I had gone to take them out, not realizing that the main gates were closed (we have a private entrance to the park from our complex). That time, they told me I had to walk to Albert Bridge and come back over Chelsea Bridge from the opposite side (the side from which I was coming today). This time, they were telling us (several people had gathered by now) that we couldn’t cross Chelsea Bridge from this direction; we would have to walk over to and cross Albert Bridge to continue to our complex through the park, which made no sense whatsoever because the park was of course closed again! My poor little feet just couldn’t handle that walk. If I’d had on flats; I’d have been fine, but (ouch!) those heels were killing me! So I sat down on a bench at the intersection and decided to wait it out until they would let me cross. Bad idea. After half an hour, the sky began to drop a combination of drizzle, snow, and hail, and it was dropping it hard. At that point, I jumped up and began the nearly two-mile trek over to the other bridge, across, and home through the park, which, luckily, was open when I made there. By the time I arrived home, my pants were soaked up to the knee and my shoes, socks, and tights were soaked through both entire feet. Beth and Geo: if we hadn’t stopped in that little boutique for me to buy that toboggan, I think my ears would have fallen off before I made it home! I did get some nice pictures on the trek, though, which I will share now…

13 March 2007


I’m sorry for the lack of updates lately, but we’ve had a really busy, difficult week and a half. I’m going to sandwich the bad news in between the good so that we can start and finish with good!

First of all, we had our much-anticipated trip to Amsterdam weekend before last. We had planned this trip with the Triefenbach's months ago, just before or after Christmas. The girls (dogs) stayed with a nice family in Brixton, and I flew solo to Amsterdam Friday afternoon, as the Trief's had left early that morning. Andrew met me at the hotel; we were staying at the Marriott, where Andrew stays most weeks he’s there. The Trief's, along with our ultra-cool single-guy friend Kevin and some of his high school buddies who were visiting, stayed at another hotel about a five-minute walk away. The Marriott is very nice, and I was happy to see that Andrew has a comfortable “home away from home” while he’s in Amsterdam.

Friday night we met up with the Trief’s and Kevin and company for dinner. We ended up wandering around, looking for something upon which all eight of us could agree. We finally fell into a Mexican restaurant called Agabi Santa Maria, where we all enjoyed nachos and tacos...
...after which we wandered into a pub for a drink before heading off to see the red light district. You probably think I’m kidding, but I’m not! Seeing the red light district is just something you have to do while in Amsterdam.

In case you don’t know, according to Wikipedia, “[The red light district] is a network of alleys containing several hundred tiny one-room apartments rented by female prostitutes (and some ‘ladyboys’) who offer their services from behind a window. [The red light district] is located in the heart of the oldest part of Amsterdam, covering several blocks south of the church Oude Kerk and crossed by several canals. The red light district has existed since the 14th century and formerly contained many distilleries, mainly catering to sailors.

“The Oude Kerk ("Old Church") is Amsterdam’s oldest parish church, consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht. Rembrandt was a frequent visitor to the church and his children were all christened here.

“The church covers an area of some 3,300 square meters. The foundations were set on an artificial mound, thought to be the most solid ground of the settlement in this marshy province.

“The roof of the Oude Kerk is the largest medieval wooden vault in Europe. The Estonian planks date back to 1390 and boast some of the best acoustics in Europe. Many concerts are performed here, including the BBC Singers and the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields.

“The floor consists entirely of gravestones. The reason for this is that the church was built on a cemetery. Local citizens continued to be buried on the site within the confines of the church until 1865. There are 2500 graves in the Oude Kerk, under which are buried 10,000 Amsterdam citizens, including Dutch figureheads, the naval hero Jacob van Heemskerck and Dutch West India Company board member Kiliaen van Rensselaer, one of the founders of New Amsterdam on Manhattan, known today as New York.”

It was so strange to see all this smut surrounding this gorgeous old church, but the red light district was not really as scary and dangerous as it’s made out to be on TV. You really couldn’t walk five feet without seeing a cop keeping everyone in order. Although I have to admit, the crazies come out at night in Amsterdam! We didn’t stay in the red light district very long, just long enough to take a look and get out of there. Some of the women were quite attractive, while others were not so much. (Of course, no one is allowed to take photos anywhere in the red light district, so don’t look for them here.) A lot of the girls would knock on the windows to get the attention of the potential clients and “gawkers” (including us) walking past. It was kind of like watching fish in an aquarium. However, when looking at an aquarium, it’s usually the people who knock on the glass, so were the prostitutes on exhibit, or were we?

The next morning we got up and met the Trief’s for lunch. We went to a cafeteria-style place so that everyone could get whatever they wanted. It was a great idea, but all the descriptions of the food were in Dutch! We had no idea what was what. Andrew ended up with pizza, and I had a tomato and mozzarella sandwich (the only think I could translate). The food was very good, once you figured out what it was!

Afterward, we went to the Anne Frank House. Although we had to stand in line for quite some time, it was worth it. The tour takes you through the actual building where Anne Frank, her family, and four other Jews hid during the Nazi invasions. It was really amazing to see the photos and magazine cutting that Anne actually pasted to the wall in the tiny bedroom she shared with an older gentleman for nearly two years.

When we left the Anne Frank House, we all went back to our hotels to change and nap before dinner, and Andrew and I met Jodi (another Birmingham PwC employee who works in Brussels) for pre-dinner drinks at six. Later, the Trief’s met up with us, and it was obvious that Katy, who had been sick with bronchitis a couple of weeks ago, was beginning to relapse. We went and had dinner at an Indian restaurant recommended to Andrew by Imran, his “driver” while he stays in Amsterdam. Called Radèn Mas, the restaurant was very sophisticated and frou-frou, and also very good. On top of that (pun intended), the restaurant is on the lower level of the Tommy Hilfiger building, where Andrew spends his work days during the week!

When we finished dinner, Katy and Jeremy went back to their hotel so that Katy could get some rest, and Jodi, Andrew, and I tried to get into the most popular club in Amsterdam, where all the celebrities go, Jimmy Woo. While in line, we met some of Jodi’s friends, and eventually realized that we were never getting in to the club. You had to have a “membership,” which you couldn’t buy (we asked), or be on the list (by making reservations in advance or knowing someone), so we went to a cute little place across the street and had a great time. Funny enough, after we’d been there only about 30 minutes, we saw about 10 girls who had been admitted into Jimmy Woo’s come into and stay at the “Reject Bar,” as we were calling it. I guess Jimmy Woo’s wasn’t as great as its reputation claimed!

The next morning Andrew and I had lunch in the park and then visited the Van Gogh Museum. The Van Gogh Museum was an excellent art museum, despite the fact that it didn’t have several of my favorite Van Gogh paintings. I liked the fact that it told stories about Van Gogh in addition to showing the paintings. Unlike most art museums, where you just see the painting themselves, we actually learned about Van Gogh’s background, history, family, friends, and peers.

After the Van Gogh Museum, Andrew and I wandered around the city, enjoying the sites. Amsterdam is a really beautiful city, with meandering canals and centuries-old buildings that tilt from the strain put on them over the years. There stores selling wooden clogs everywhere, and Katy bought some that were fluffy house slippers! (I'm so jealous!)

Everyone in the city of Amsterdam rides bicycles. It's insane! I think there are more bicycle lanes than actual streets, and if you accidentally step into one, get ready to be run over! They might ring their little bells at you, but they're not going slow down or swerve to miss you!

When you're not being almost hit by a bicycle, you've got to beware of the trams in Amsterdam, too! They cruise the city at high speeds, and I actually had to jerk Andrew out of the path of one; it nearly hit him!

The emblem of Amsterdam is a post with three vertical crosses, which comes from Amsterdam's coat of arms.

The three vertical crosses symbolize heroism, resoluteness, and mercy. The posts are all around the city.

We wanted to go on a canal tour, but it was really cold, and we just didn’t have enough time before I had to meet the Trief’s to head to the airport. We decided instead that I would come back to Amsterdam another weekend while Andrew is still working over there so that we can take a canal tour, see the tulip fields (which hadn’t opened, yet, the weekend we were there), and visit the Rembrandt House and the Rijksmuseum (another art museum), and the Heineken Brewery. Following are some photos that we took around the city...

Oh, and here's a funny photo of Katy goofing off in the airport on the way home.

Now for the bad news… On Monday, I waited until the end of the day and called my agent about the Nestlé job. He told me that the woman who had interviewed me had called in sick that day, so he had no news as to whether or not they chose me. Tuesday rolls around and I call again. She was back at the office, and, unfortunately, they chose the other candidate. My agent said that my feedback was all very positive, and that the only reason they gave for choosing someone else was that my writing style was “too commercialized,” whatever that means. I was, as you can imagine, very disappointed. Back to the drawing board again. I got online and applied for about 10 more jobs late that night, and the next day set up an interview with another agency who had contacted me in response to one of my applications. Ironically, it’s the very first agency I visited months ago, and they had turned me down back then. I didn’t tell the agent that, though!

Also on Wednesday, Andrew called me about a new flat he wanted me to see. It had just come on the market, and there weren’t even any photos of it, yet. I called the agent and set up a viewing for 1:00, but I wasn’t very hopeful about it. When the estate agent and I arrived at the property, it turned out she didn’t even have a key, yet, as the property was so newly on the market. We met the landlady there, and she showed us around. I about died; it’s the perfect flat for us. Here is a link to the estate agent's Web site showing the flat. Hopefully the link won't be active too much longer because it's already been let by us!

When you walk in, you’re in a hallway and when you walk straight through you get to a nicely-sized den. It has a working gas fireplace with a mantle and bookshelves built into the wall on either side. There are large glass doors opening into the backyard, which makes the room nice and bright. When you walk out the doors, you’re on a platform, and there are stair leading down to the all-gravel backyard. Andrew and I plan to move around some of the gravel and plant grass back there for the girls.

When you leave the den and go back into the hall way from which you came, there are stairs leading to the lower level. Down there is a large closet and a bathroom with a tub and separate stand-up shower (and lots of cabinet storage space). Then there’s another large walk-in closet, also known as the second bedroom. It really is tiny and barely fits the single bed that’s in there. Then you move on to the master bedroom, which is nice and big. Like the den, there are large glass doors leading out to a patio in the backyard, which has stairs that lead up to the gravel yard.

Back upstairs, at the end of the hall, is my favorite part—the kitchen. It is absolutely gorgeous, adorable, and perfect. It’s pale blue and has three large, bright windows that open up to the front of the house where the street it. In front of the windows is the kitchen table and chairs; there are two stoves, a large “American-sized” refrigerator, and a gas-operated stove. It’s all so beautiful!

Also, there’s a security system already installed, with panic buttons in the master bedroom and den! The only down side to the flat is that it is currently decorated like an old woman lives there, with very old Chinese prints handing on the walls in all the upstairs rooms. The decorations downstairs are fine, at least.

Before we even left the flat, I told the estate agent that we wanted to immediately place an offer. Those of you who know me know that I do not make decisions very well. I made this one without even consulting Andrew, so that tells you how perfect this flat is. I talked to Andrew on the way to the estate agent’s office to discuss what our offer would be, etc., and filled out the necessary paperwork. After some negotiations by Andrew, we the landlady accepted our offer.

The next day, all heck broke loose on Andrew. Apparently, another estate agency had shown the flat after our offer was place and accepted, and the people who viewed it placed an offer, as well. The landlady then rejected our previously-accepted offer because the new people could move in immediately, whereas we weren’t going to be able to until April 13th, when our current lease was up. Andrew did some more negotiating and scrabbling around trying to the get all the initial deposits (which were going to have a month to arrange) immediately, and it was decided that we would slightly up our offer and move in the following week. The landlady accepted and claimed she would accept no more offers. Understand that while he was making all these negotiations and haggling and going so crazy that he actually had to leave the office and walk around the block several times, Andrew was still in Amsterdam and hadn’t even seen pictures of the flat! If I ever had any doubts that he trusted me, I wouldn’t any more!

Thursday night Andrew got home, and we arranged for the two of us to meet the estate agent at the property so that Andrew could finally see the new home he’d been stressing to obtain all week. We viewed it at lunchtime on Friday, and, thankfully, he loved it. What a relief! Both the estate agent and I had begun to get very, very nervous that he would for some reason hate it. Later Friday night, we met the Nori’s and the Trief’s for dinner at Napulé, an Italian restaurant in Fulham, just down the road from our potential new flat. It was quite good, and the company was even better!

The next day, Saint Patrick’s Day, Andrew and I went to Fulham to sign our contract at the estate agency. We asked some questions, which were answered to our liking, signed the contract, and felt slightly better about having that done. There was still a part of us that was worried sick that something would go wrong to prevent us from getting that apartment. After dealing with the agent, we went for lunch at pub just down the street from our potential new flat—The Fulham Mitre.

It’s a great old-fashioned English pub with a fabulous backyard garden for eating and visiting with friends.

The pub was full of Chelsea fans in Fulham for the upcoming football game and Ireland fans watching the rugby match. The high-energy crowd made the atmosphere for our Saint Patty’s day lunch very fun.

Later Saturday night we met the Trief’s down in their area, Wimbledon, at an Irish pub for a Guinness, and then we went to dinner at nearby restaurant. We always have such a great time with the Trief's, as you can see! We may look three sheets to the wind, but I promise we're not; we were just being silly!

On Sunday, Andrew and I enjoyed a nice lazy day because it was freezing outside, and we went down to Chinatown for dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant, Super Star.

On Wednesday, I'm supposed to meet with our new landlady to take inventory of the contents of the flat, and so that she can show me how all the appliances and security system work. Hopefully, our deposits will have been transferred by then, and she'll be able to give me the keys then, too, so that I can start moving stuff in on Thursday! How exciting!

06 March 2007

Job Update

Bad news... The other person that Nestlé was supposed to interview last Friday came down with the flu, and they've rescheduled for this Friday. That means I won't find out about the Nestlé job until next week. So frustrating, but at least it's not a no! (That's what Andrew said when I told him.) I also heard back from PwC, and it's a no-go, with no explanation; they're just "not going to proceed further" with my application. Still waiting to hear from the others, though.

Today I called a lot of our estate agents to remind them that we exist, as we were afraid they had forgotten. I ended up scheduling three appointments to look at flats, one of which turned out to be one that Andrew and I viewed last week with another company! I only found one that "would do," but I hope that we can find better...

On a positive note, I'm sure everyone noticed the site redesign. Andrew thought the beige was dull; I was ready for a change (I've been looking at that beige since the first post last November, before the site was "official."), and, besides, crimson is "so us." We also added some new elements to the right-hand column. The time in London (which I stole from the Nori's site), and some other useful "London Links" might be interesting to some of you who are browsing out of sheer boredom. I also included the ever-depressing currency converter site.

The dogs are doing well. Savannah is chasing as many squirrels in the park as she can, and Hadley's just chasing Savannah and other dogs. I thought, since this is a rather boring and not-so-uplifting post, I would provide you all with some recent photos of them, to cheer us all up!

05 March 2007

Andrew's First Post!

Well, it has been nearly two weeks since we made an update; I have never written one, so I’m going to fill you in on what’s been going on here. First of all, our friends Brad and Jill Beard concluded their tour of London after three years, and they have returned to Birmingham before moving to New York. Let me say that the Beards are as fine a couple as we have ever met. Both are soft spoken but don’t let that fool you. Brad will start ribbing you before you blink, just ask Mrs. Nori; and I don’t mean Beth. Kelly and I will miss them immensely. They always seemed to have answers for all of our questions, and when you’ve only been here six months you still have plenty of questions. No doubt we will look forward to seeing them in the near future, and we wish them all the best in the future.

So with all of that said, on to our activities. Last Friday night (February 23) we went to a brand new Mexican restaurant, Margarita Loca, with the Triefenbachs and the Beards. The place was decorated like a typical dirty Mexican restaurant, so we think this is normal and are all excited. The food was really good for London Mexican food, and the margaritas were much better; at least the second pitcher was. Not only were they good, but they were cheap. Typically a margarita will cost from £6-£9 per drink. Can you imagine paying $12-$18 for a margarita? We do, and it’s disgusting. Don’t think for a moment that the cost keeps us from drinking five each, though. Generally on those nights, more than our heads hurt the next morning. Regardless, these margaritas were £3.95 each or £14 for a pitcher. It was awesome!

The problem was that Katy Triefenbach and I were both quite ill. I had been fighting a fever for two days, and Katy was really rough, too. I went home just after 10 and went to bed after taking the dogs out. The Beards and Kelly went to a pub down the street called the Eagle Point for pints and darts. I hear Jill is quite the dart shark, too.

Kelly said there was a beautiful dog named Ruby in the pub, so she now wants to take Hadley and Savannah for their first pub experience. We’ll keep you informed...

Saturday night, the Brocks, Triefenbach, Tiensvolds, Beards, and Noris, though much later, all met for drinks and dinner at a Bavarian Beerhouse in North London. This place is in a basement of some random building and is filled with large picnic tables and women dressed like the St. Pauli’s girl. We drank huge beer steins of German lager and ale and enjoyed eating bratwurst and pretzels with hot mustard. Gelwix, you'd have loved it. I attempted to get my picture with a group of the girls at once, but my charm must be wearing off, as I was only able to get my picture made with two of them, and neither was very "busty." See the picture for a good laugh. Also, Tim Tiensvold can really put the steins down! They quit serving us steins because they said it would cause them to go through their beer way too quickly. Instead, they kept giving us glasses that were 1.5 pints. Tim poured his pints into his stein glass and kept going, but not before watching his huge head die down. Anyway, we really had a good time, but again, I was ill, and so was Katy. I went home early again, and Kelly went out with the Noris, Tiensvolds, and Beards.

On Sunday, Kelly attended the first meeting for her new book club. They are reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I think the book club was the brainchild of Katy Triefenbach, but Kelly hijacked it and has kind of run with it. Anyway, they met for breakfast at the Chelsea Bun to talk about the book, and I guess lay down the rules for their double secret book club. Meanwhile, I awoke with another fever and, after making breakfast and napping, dragged myself to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. After paying £60 to see a general practitioner, I was told I had an upper respiratory infection, and I was provided with a prescription for some real antibiotics. Finally! So I went home and started eating some pills, along with the homemade chicken noodle soup Kelly made on Friday. Her soup is always so good. I called my manager and informed him of my illness and that I would not be flying to Amsterdam the next day. On Monday I took my first sick day of my career. Five years without a sick day. I am sad to see that run come to an end, but oh well. After returning to the office on Tuesday, we decided it would be best for me to work from London for the week. It was really nice to be home again every night and see more of Kelly and the dogs.

Kelly had a great week on the job front. She had an interview on Tuesday with British Airports Authority (BAA), but she wasn’t really excited about it. It’s work with an airport company. Seriously, how exciting can it be? Kelly said the place was depressing, which isn’t that shocking. She had another interview on Wednesday with Direct Line insurance company. Kelly didn’t like that job very much either, but on Thursday she had her much anticipated second interview with Nestlé. Kelly felt like it went really well, and now we are just waiting to hear if she got it or not. At the end of the week she applied for a position with PwC and an alcohol company. One of her job perks with the alcohol company was £250 of alcohol per year. That sounded outstanding to us! Who needs a 401(k) when you’ve got free booze?!

London has been terribly chilly and rainy all week, and it looks like it will continue this way for another month or two. We’re all pretty tired of the cold, grey weather, and we can’t wait for spring. The trees are showing buds, and the sun is coming up earlier and going down later. I checked last week, and sunrise was at nearly 6:00. So when we actually see the sun, we see it for quite a while. Being home really makes the week go faster. So after a good week at home, we decided to take in some good ol’ barbeque at Bodean’s in Fulham on Friday night. Dinner at Bodean’s was outstanding. I had a barbeque plate, and Kelly had a barbeque sandwich. To make things even better, Bodean’s was showing the Braves vs. Pirates spring training game. Baseball and barbeque in London? Can’t beat it. Guess what? It was raining again Friday night, so we decided to get a bottle of wine and a couple of movies and call it a night. The wine was terrible, and the movie wasn’t much better.

Saturday we stayed around the flat most of the day watching movies and being lazy. That night we met up with Jeremy and Katy up in Leicester (pronounced "lester") Square. To explain to you the travelling nightmare that was this weekend, you have to know first that London closed the Circle and District underground lines. These are two of the most-used routes in London, serving Central London and areas like Chelsea, Kensington, Fulham, and Westminster. Kelly and I take them almost exclusively. Now, I’m not sure which rocket scientist decided to close them both on the same weekend, but he should be shot numerous times.

The Circle Line is the yellow line in the above map, and the District Line is the green one. Click to enlarge the map. Our stop is Sloane Square, which, as you can see, is serviced only by the Circle and District lines, which meant that our entire tube site was closed.

We took the bus to Knightsbridge to catch the Piccadilly line. The Piccadilly line is usually filled with tourists heading to Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, and the Westside theatre district. Add all of those people, plus those of us without any other options, and you have a ticking time bomb. Kelly and I saw two trains go by before getting on one because the others were too crowded for us to get on. When the third came, I was really frustrated. I looked through the train windows and saw that a bunch of passengers were not filing down into the cabin of the train car. You all know me; I can’t deal with that. So I started banging on the window and telling them to file down, which they began doing. Kelly and I got a running start and shoved our way onto the train, and off we went like a can of sardines. As the stops kept coming, we would tell people to continue to file down into the car. British people are not vocal. When someone takes initiative to help others, they are generally very responsive. Saturday night was no different. After a stop or two, I had Kelly a seat and a comfy spot for me to stand. We finally met the Triefs half an hour late. We wandered around Soho looking for a place to eat. That is one of the wonderful things about London. You can just wander around and fall into the most magnificent places to eat and hang out. We do it all the time, and Saturday was no different. We fell into this little Italian restaurant called Topo Gigio.

The restaurant is named after a famous cartoon / Muppet mouse from Italy, who appeared on the Ed Sullivan show a long time ago. They are very proud of the mouse and its appearance on the show. We enjoyed the food a great deal, but the wine and the company were much better. Afterward, we took the underground to South Kensington and walked over to Cactus Blue for a couple more beers before walking to the bus station and going home.

Sunday morning was cold and rainy… Again. As a result, we did what smart Southerners do; stayed inside in our robes for most of the day. Dennis, you would have been proud. I didn’t get out of mine until around six o’clock. We cooked our normal Sunday breakfast, but we added some made-from-scratch biscuits this weekend, and it was wonderful. I have become the Sunday morning chef. I can cook Kelly’s eggs the way she likes them, sunny-side-up, better than she can. I like cooking Sunday morning breakfast for us. Kelly does so much around the house each week; it’s a nice way for me to help out. Tonight we are watching Grey’s Anatomy. They are now showing two episodes back to back at 8:00 (starting mid-Season Two), and we love it. As I write this, Kelly is laying on the couch crying while the first episode finishes up.

As a closing remark, I’ll note that Kelly cooked some fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and biscuits one night this week. It was like having dinner with all of you back home, and she did a fabulous job. We can’t wait to eat that again one warm summer day. This week we will find out about Nestlé, and Kelly will be coming to Amsterdam to spend the weekend with me and the rest of the group coming over. We are very much looking forward to travelling again and having a little bit of fun outside of London. Kelly is just dying to get over to the red light district and look at some hookers. Oh wait, that’s me! Never mind. Next week’s entry should be interesting, but don’t look for any pictures. It’s kind of like Las Vegas; you leave the cameras at home! We are hoping our friend Jodi Caughron will still be coming to join us from Belgium. For those of you who don’t know Jodi, she is with the firm on a nine-month tour in Brussels. I believe she is heading home in April, and she wishes she were staying longer. It will be good to see her.

Remember that we miss all of you a tremendous amount. We are having an amazing adventure, but we think of you all often. I hope you all stayed safe through the storms this week. I know it’s bad when the storms make the newspaper here in London. We are beginning to identify some trips home in the near future. I have my 10-year high school reunion this summer, and I will have to come home for some training in September. It just so happens that Bama will be playing Georgia at home that weekend, so you may find Kelly and me celebrating our one-year anniversary on the Quad before a huge game. Until next time, lots of love, and cheers!