Right after we finished our phone rang, and we were surprised to hear Michelle Keale on the other end. For those who don't know Michelle, she is an old friend from Birmingham, and she was in London with a group of her high school students and teachers for spring break. Now, Kelly and I have a running joke about Michelle because anytime we go somewhere strange or random, Michelle is always there. In all honesty, Michelle tends to be everywhere we are. So why wouldn't she be in London, too?
We met up with Michelle at the South Kensington tube station, which was near her hotel, and took her to one of our favorite watering holes; Sopranos. Sopranos is an underground piano bar. This night was a little different, though. We arrived to see a new act singing, and he was amazing. He played a bunch of Michael Jackson and various other American songs we knew. We enjoyed several nice pints and sang with the best of them. Kelly and Michelle even tried to sing “Sweet Home Alabama.” I was somewhat shocked to know my wife did not know the words. She swears she does, but she was not performing that night; whatever. Anyway, after the performance and shortly before our departure, the piano player and the singer came over and sat with us. Now, understand that the piano player is not the cool guy standing out front singing and leading the crowd. This man is from Kansas; he is bald and in his late 40's, and he likes Michelle. The next 15 or so minutes of their break are spent watching him make hapless passes at her. Needless to say, I was more than amused and not about to spoil my entertainment. Michelle was not impressed and spent the same amount of time bobbing and weaving his overtures. Shortly thereafter we departed, and Michelle was on her way home the next morning. Michelle, it was wonderful to see you, and Kelly and I were so glad you called. Seeing friends from home reminds us how much miss home and what we left behind.
Saturday kicked off day one of the move. For those who don't know, we moved a total of 2.7 miles. You would think this would be simple, but then you've never tried to get around London quickly. After taking a few trips back and forth with suitcases; taking them there, dumping them and returning home, our rented van arrived. Now, when I made the reservation, I was under the impression that they were sending a minivan that would make moving all of the suitcases and whatever else we could fit much easier. I was shocked when I walked out and to find a giant moving van. I asked the man how much I could put in it, to which he shrugged and replied as much as we could. Over the next few hours, we loaded nearly 80 percent of our old flat into this truck and were on our way to the new place. This man started moving boxes for us. Needless to say, he was generously tipped. People in London don't tend to be nearly as helpful as this man, and we were so grateful for his help.
That night, we met up with Jeremy and Katy Triefenbach and Jeremy’s aunt, who was in town visiting for a few days. We had a really good Italian dinner at a place called Strada on the Queen's walk, and our table looked directly out to Tower Bridge and the River Thames. The Living Room. This place is a restaurant/pub/dance club all in one. Needless to say, we had a good time. Any time we get together with the Triefenbach's and the Nori's it's always a good time. Here are some goofy pictures we took that night:
Sunday was spent moving again. This time we had the aid of Katy's little Nissan. Because of the traffic on Sunday, it took longer to drive to and from the flats than it did to load and unload them. Remember, 2.7 miles. After several hours, we were finally all moved in. Katy, thank you so much for your help. We could not have done it without you.
We spent our first night at the new flat on Sunday March 25. It was definitely different. Kelly and I were awakened late during the night to a fox screaming bloody murder. I can't tell you how much it scared me. We also found out that our shower is broken. Apparently the knob that adjusts the temperature is broken, and the landlord will have to remove all of the tiles surrounding the handles for it to be repaired. What we have done is cap the temperature on the boiler and so the water cannot burn us any longer. Poor Kelly had a week of really difficult showers. Sorry, dear.
Kelly had her first full week of work and it went really well. She is beginning to settle in and meet the women she is working with. One thing that shocked Kelly is the lack of workspace. In Birmingham Kelly and I each had a cubicle to work in. In London, space is a quite expensive, and it's at a tremendous premium. As a result, work space is squeezed down to a large desk with several people working at it. It is the same at my company. I don't have a desk, but I'm never here, so it doesn't matter. We are just really happy that Kelly is working. She showed me her magazine she will be working on. It discusses all types of law and events that are relevant to the attorneys. Who knows, Kelly might like it so much she will want to become an attorney. Jerry, we will be calling you for the tuition.
Friday night, we stayed in and I cooked stuffed peppers, and we watched Holiday. I highly recommend Holiday. If you watch it, think of us when Cameron Diaz gets frustrated with living in England. Kelly and I could easily relate.
This past weekend was wonderful. London has really warmed up, and temperatures are holding around 60-65 during the day. After a long, cold, wet winter, I cannot tell you how wonderful the warmth feels. We still wear jackets everywhere, but I understand from the Beards that we always will. Even more wonderful was the fact that we shopped a little this weekend. Kelly went into H&M and bought two new dresses and I went to Brooks Brothers and bought three new ties. Steve and Dennis, you all would be proud. I'm sure you guys own at least one of the three I bought.
We were to have dinner with the Triefenbach's on Saturday, but they could not make it. Jeremy was working on Saturday, and Katy was getting ready for their book club meeting the next day. So, Kelly and I went to Kaslik. This place has immediately entered our top five London restaurants. It is a Lebanese restaurant where you sit on little stools/pillows at small tables. I still have no idea how we ordered, but the man said they do a dinner where each person picks three mezzes and then a mixed grill of lamb and chicken comes as the entree. So we had six mezzes, including hummus and falafel. We probably could have eaten all of that and been more than full, but knowing that more food was on the way we slowed up a bit. It was wonderful. As we were finishing up a belly dancer came out and performed throughout the place. She came by our table at the end and pulled Kelly up and made her dance. You all know Kelly. She was so red with embarrassment. Kelly said at one point in time she realized she was shaking her knees when she was trying to shake her hips. It was so funny.
Kelly and I could easily relate. Sunday, Kelly had her book club meeting. Now, I'm not sure what all of these women do at this "book club" meeting, but it somehow involves my wife taking a book and a bottle of wine over to Katy's house for a Sunday afternoon. My guess is they talk about the book for an hour and gossip for four. Kelly's "meeting" began at 2:00. She returned at 9:00. Seriously, how can you talk about a book for seven hours? I'm teasing.
It was nice to have a little time to wander around by myself. I went up to King's Road and began to shop for things we need around the flat. I need to redesign the interior of two closets to maximize storage space, and we really need another couch, along with an armoire. We could also use some prints to hang on the walls in the den and kitchen so the Chinese girl will quit staring at Kelly. Don't ask me, I don't understand either. I just married her. I took the dogs down to Walham Green and let them run around for more than an hour before getting some barbeque and watching the previous day's final four game. I was settled in for the evening watching Grey's Anatomy (season two) when she came in.
So, what now? Well, I am wrapping up my Tommy Hilfiger project this week in Amsterdam and will be returning to London for the next few weeks. We are getting broadband put into the flat, so everyone will have to go without pictures for a week or two; hopefully not longer. If you have ever dealt with British Telecommunications you would understand the difficulty. That company is a national embarrassment. I believe I told them so, too.
Well, today is baseball's opening day. How does an Alabamian living in London, working in Amsterdam deal with this? Simple: watch the game on the internet. Thank you, technology! So, as I have been writing this I have been watching the Red Sox’s first game of the year. Big Papi already has his first RBI of the season, and the Sox lead 1-0. The Braves already won 5-3 (that's for you, Kel). The Yankees still suck, but they won, too (that's for you, Stuart). As every good golf fan knows, this weekend is the Master's. I have already found that the BBC will be covering the tournament, and I can watch all four rounds live. To say I am excited is an understatement. I really feel sorry for Kelly. NASN, the American sports network, plays tons of ESPN programs and MLB baseball live daily. She might not get to watch television again until Christmas, which is after Alabama's season ends. Oh, and Neal, they show PTI and Around the Horn live at 11:00 and 11:30 here in London. BAM!
Lots of love!