Monday, 30 August 2010

Our House (is a very very very fine house)

Waiting for the plane in Stuttgart.
We arrived in London on Monday, August 16 at Heathrow Airport from Stuttgart Airport. We had taken the trains from Erika's parents house in Oberkochen to get to Stuttgart, and we promptly found the subway (which will henceforth [I believe I'm unconsciously going native] be referred to as either the 'tube' or the 'underground'). We arrived in the evening with loads of heavy luggage. And that's despite leaving some of the winter clothes in Oberkochen to keep the luggage light. The idea is that we'll return to Oberkochen ini October for Erika's mom's birthday and take the summer clothes from here for storage there, and return to London with winter clothes. Unfortunately, summer is already over in England. The scene below is our arrival at the Boston Manor station on the Piccadilly Line, which we learned later was not the closest station to our new home. If we had only known.

Arrival at the Boston Manor tube station. Where's the tube?

We were fortunate that the owner of the home, Anne Ku, was home making the final preparations for our arrival. She was very kind and offered us some tea, which we drank on the patio, and she explained some of the quirks of the home and how the appliances work. Anne is of Chinese descent and lives mostly in Amsterdam to be near her Dutch musical partner, Robert Bekkers, whom we also met. She accompanies Robert's guitar on the piano. They play classical pieces composed for guitar and piano as well as arrange, or commission others to arrange, classical works written for other instruments. They give concerts, and soon they will be performing in America. They are extremely talented musicians, as you can tell if you click on some of the links on their repertoire page. Anne left behind their CD, which we have played several times, and it is excellent.

This link takes you to the ad for this house with some good photos, and this one has a good video tour of the home by Robert, giving you a good idea of the interior layout. The ad for the house says that it's 75 square meters, which works out to only 807 square feet. The footage does not include the semi-finished attic which is good for doing yoga and freezing in the winter. Good thing we're only living here for four months and going back to Texas before it really gets cold here.

Our front door. The house is very narrow.
It didn't take long to settle into our new home, though I must admit that at first I thought it was a bit small, especially after what we're used to in Texas. One should always be suspicious of a house that is described as 'charming' or 'quaint' or 'cute'. Those are often code words for 'small', 'needs paint', 'have to wash dishes and clothes by hand', 'floors and doors creak', and 'no hot water'. Fortunately not all these apply in our case.

 Still, the fact is that we're fortunate to find a decent place in a decent area of London for a decent price. London is a very expensive city for housing, so finding something affordable that fit our needs was not easy. Where we live, Ealing, is an outer borough of London, so it takes a bit of time to get to the parts of London where Erika teaches and where most of the museums and other sites are located.

Our first breakfast at our charming dining table.

If you saw the video you noticed that there are lots of mirrors in the house and that the stairs are very steep. The steps on the stairs are narrow, obviously not designed for the large clunky feet of the contemporary male. The mirrors at the top of the stairs give an illusion of a much larger space, but they can also induce feelings of vertigo.

The neighborhood is quiet; no one seems to disturb anyone else. There is a fair bit of pedestrian traffic as people walk to and from the Northfields tube station or the bus stop on Northfields Avenue. I've never seen most our neighbors aside from the mother of one of the neighbors who is moving out and a very friendly cat who lives nearby. Most of the homes seem to be well kept and by the looks of the cars (lots of BMWs, Audis, and other newer model cars), the residents at least on our block (there must be at least 50 houses on this block, all of them more or less the size of ours) and the surrounding streets seem to be fairly prosperous. The Northfields Underground Station is only about 5 minutes away and through which the Piccadilly Line runs. The Piccadilly Line connects us to both Heathrow Airport and central London where most of the action is.

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