08 April 2007

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope that everyone has had as wonderful an Easter as we have here in London. In England, Easter weekend is a pretty big deal; both Friday and Monday are bank holidays, so we had a four-day weekend! Yay! All our friends (who knew that they were off—having just started at the Law Society, I had no idea) had made plans to travel this weekend, as had most of London and the rest of Europe, judging by the number of suitcases and carry-alls riding the tube with me Thursday morning, as well as the tourists who annoyed Andrew on his way home Thursday night. Andrew and I decided to stick around close to London, maybe take a day trip or something, and it was my job to find us something to do. You who know me know I love to shop, so I decided that on Friday we would go to IKEA. If you don’t know what IKEA is, definitely check out the link. It’s very cute, but cheap (and not necessarily high-quality) furniture and home accessories. You walk through a showroom with a pencil, tape measure, and “IKEA guide,” and everything in the showroom is tagged with a product number and location. After you’ve found everything you want, you go into the warehouse, grab a trolley, and find your pre-(flat)-boxed furniture, load it onto your trolley, and head to the checkout counter. Those of you who know me also know that, like my father, I love sales and bargains! We went nuts. We needed a new couch for our den; the flat came with a couch (more like a love seat) and an easy chair (Steve and Dennis, it’s now called the Captain’s Chair in honor of you guys), but both are very old and worn. We actually had to place a throw pillow underneath the cushions because they’re so flattened (they’re down) from overuse. We (alright I) wanted to look at IKEA’s wall prints so that I could cease that stupid freaky-looking girl from staring at me while I cook (the wretched dark, creepy Japanese painting that was ruining my ultra-cute sky blue kitchen—see the photo, and you’ll know what I mean). We also needed a coffee table, which started the whole IKEA idea; I’ll get back to that in a moment. Last, but most importantly, we desperately needed something to fix our storage space issue. As of last week, I had my undergarments in a drawer in the guest bedroom; my socks were in the desk drawer in our bedroom; my PJs, sweaters, and trousers were in the hall closet (Mom, you would have been appalled at how stuffed-in my sweaters were on one little shelf), and my tank tops were under the sink in the bathroom. Andrew’s clothes were confined to the chest-of-drawers in the bedroom, the half-closet in the bedroom, and the guest bedroom closet (I got the very large closet in our bedroom). Needless to say, it was pretty miserable, though typical of London, to have all our stuff so spread out. So, last week, we girls had our book club meeting at Katy Trief’s, and I complimented her on her coffee table, which she, in turn told me that they purchased at IKEA. Andrew and I purchased the same coffee table on Friday (I had already asked Katy’s permission to copy). We also purchased a very large armoire for the bedroom, where Andrew can now store enough of his things that he can give up the half closet and chest-of-drawers in our bedroom, and a couch cover. Apparently, they were out of the couch, so we were going to go back on Monday, when they were getting more in stock, to purchase the couch. In addition, we bought three very large canvass prints for the walls. All our new stuff was to be delivered the next day, and I was so excited!

So Friday night, when we got back from Croydon (the home of IKEA and the sorry Nestlé company that didn’t hire me), we had made reservations to go have dinner at this adorable restaurant we pass by every day on our way… well, anywhere. Called La Viña, the restaurant has cute wooden tables outside, and it looks like the perfect place to sit and have dinner and drinks on a warm spring afternoon. We had made reservations for 8:00 on the patio. Unfortunately, by eight, the patio was freezing! We had expected it cool off, but they had outdoor heaters. The outdoor heaters didn’t do much good, and we ate with me wrapped up in Andrew’s coat during the whole meal. On a plus, though, the food was delicious, even though it was quite cold and very oddly timed. It’s a tapas place, so Andrew and I had ordered a garlic bread appetizer, four tapas and paella to share. We were quite surprised when our tiger prawn tapas dish came out before the garlic bread. After the garlic bread, two more of the tapas were delivered, spaced quite a while apart, and then our paella, and about 20 minutes later we finally got the last tapas dish, which, by the time it made it to our table, was really, really cold. The food, we agreed would have been great had it been hot, and we even (kind of) enjoyed the delayed way in which it was served (if only they had served in the order it was intended—appetizer first, paella last, and tapas in between). Afterward, we wanted to rent a movie, but found that Blockbuster was closed. It was only 10 after 10! Whoever heard of a Blockbuster that closes at 10?! We went home and watched our favorite movie, Love Actually.

The next morning, Andrew went to Picadilly because we wanted to get theatre tickets for Phantom of the Opera for later that night. I stayed home to wait for our stuff to be delivered from IKEA. It turned out that tickets for the current night’s show weren’t going on sale until 4:30, so Andrew stopped to buy tools (for assembling our IKEA furniture) on his way home to make it not-totally-wasted trip. When he got home, we (alright, he) began putting together our coffee table and armoire. It was my job to go leave to get theatre tickets at 3:30. As I was walking to the tube, I saw our IKEA couch on the sidewalk! The exact same couch, with the same slip cover that we currently had sitting in our living room, was sitting for sale on the sidewalk. So I call Andrew; we skip buying the tickets and decide to go to the cinema instead. I smell and check out the couch, go back to the flat to get Andrew, and we purchase the couch, saving ourselves £135 and a trip to Croydon! Then we have to pick it up and carry it back the hundred yards or so to our flat. Once there, we couldn’t get it inside. The stupid thing wouldn’t fit in the door! We ended up having to walk it back out to the street, around the corner, through a gate unlocked by a (not-so-helpful) neighbor, down an alley, into our backyard, up the patio stairs, and in through our patio door! Needless to say, there were many frustrations amid cries of agony; my arms are like jello today, and Andrew has a blackened thumb. We worked well into the night assembling furniture, rearranging it, cleaning up boxes, and hanging pictures, but we ended up with a flat that, though homey before, is now Our Home. The dogs were so nervous through all the commotion that they didn’t eat all day; I think they were afraid we were moving again!

Once we finally finished, we went to Blockbuster (this time we made it) and rented Night at the Museum, and then walked down to the Fulham Mitre (our pub down the street) for steak sandwiches, fries, and pints. It felt so good to be in Our Home, to look around and see Our Stuff everywhere—Our Family and Friends looking back at us from pictures all around (thank you Lauren and Susan for the nice multi-photo frames). It was nice to sit down (we played musical chairs trying out the new and newly-positioned furniture) and relax.

This morning was Easter morning. Andrew and I had gone back and forth trying to decide on a church for such an important Sunday, and we finally agreed on the one closest to us. There’s an adorable church at the end of our street (right across from where we bought the couch).
We got up the morning, put on our finest, springiest clothes, and walked down the street to the church, which, ironically, turned out to be very close to Catholic. We came to discover later that it was actually a Church of England, which was excommunicated from the Catholic cChurch. Ooops! And now I have to share an appalling story. At the end of Mass, the priest called all the little children up to the front; they had been back in the nursery during the Mass, and they had all drawn Easter pictures for Jesus. They were showing their Easter pictures to Father, and one of the little girls had drawn the Easter Bunny. The priest looks this poor little girl in the eyes and says, “There’s no such thing as the Easter bunny!” Andrew and I about died. Apparently, this priest has a real problem with Mr. Easter Bunny. Maybe he was beaten up by a kid in a rabbit suit as a child; I don’t know. I can see his point that there’s no Christian explanation for the Easter Bunny; it’s a Pagan symbol of fertility. But still, to look a five-year-old in the eye and tell her, in front of an entire congregation, that there’s no Easter Bunny, especially after she’s just drawn a picture of the Easter Bunny for Jesus, is just unreal! I have to admit, though, we laughed about it all day long…

Andrew finally got to play golf today; those of you who know him know he’s been chomping at the bit for weeks now. The course was in Richmond, and it took him an hour on two buses to get to a place that he rated, on a scale of one to 10 (one being the cruddiest course he’s ever played), a zero. While he played, I took the girls for a long walk and went to the gym. We met back at the flat this evening and ordered dinner from Kish Mish, an Indian restaurant. So much for big family home-cooked meals on Easter!

We just want everyone to know that we really missed them today; Easter with Indian food (as you can imagine) just wasn’t the same! We love you all and, although we’re having such a great time spending our holidays together and making our home Our Home, we can’t wait for the time when we can spend our holidays with our families once more! We love you and miss you all!

Here are our Easter family photos:

1 comment:

andrea said...

I am fairly certain that Ikea in Croydon stays open thanks to all the American expats who visit - I believe we made 3 or 4 trips before we had everything!