Thursday, April 28, 2011

London beginnings

I arrived in London Wednesday morning (2 a.m. our time) after a very rough 9 hour flight--I'd estimate 50% in some pretty severe turbulence. Slept little.  Had an interminable line to go through immigration and the driver my son Jonathan had arranged for me nearly left before I got there.

But, fortunately, we connected and he brought me to their house safely where I promptly feel asleep for 3 1/2 hours. 

I spent the rest of the day getting to know my grandchildren.  Youngest, who has always been very standoffish toward me, is now my best friend.  Oldest quickly resumed a comfortable relationship with me.  Am quite fascinated with listening to them speak English which they do without a thought when talking to me, but then switching back to Spanish for each other or with their parents. Anyway, their English has a decided British accent, and very much British in terminology, as in putting petrol in their pretend cars and the horrors of eating porridge.

Now, it is Thursday, and after another 11 hours of sleep, I feel very much on London time and ready to tackle the world.  Kind of.

Jonathan and Adriana moved about seven weeks ago to a different house in their south London neighborhood.  This place is huge, especially by suburban London standards, and not an attached house, as was their former place. Four bedrooms and two full baths upstairs, and two great living spaces, a dining room, a fabulous kitchen, a study and another full bath downstairs, and a great backyard.

Apparently, the place is owned by some people from Pakistan who are living now in the Middle East and who bought this house for an investment.  Jonathan figures the amount they pay for rent (which is atrociously high) barely covers the cost of the interest on the mortgage loan that the owners have, and the owners don't seem to be terribly bothered by it.

They have had to deal with numerous plumbing problems since they got in.  Like most houses in this area, it is probably around 80 years old, but with many updates.  It was empty for a long time before Jonathan's family moved in, and the long disuse of the plumbing facilities exacerbated problems already here.  I also understand it is very challenging to get a plumber in London, but the fact that they have small children has helped, so bit by bit, all is getting fixed.

Tomorrow, if rain is not forecast, we really do plan to go into London proper with all the hundreds of thousands of others, and be a part of the crowd cheering on William and Kate as they exchange their nuptials.  It's a national holiday, all businesses and school closed (and all pubs open, I understand) and should be a pretty wild day.

The boys are both in a private school not far from here as the crow flies, but a tortuous drive which Adriana has to make three times a day (Sammy just goes half days, Joshua full days).  There is almost no parking near the school, but nevertheless, each parent must park someplace and then personally pick up and drop off the children at their classrooms.  No drive-through pick up lines here. 

Next year, Joshua, not yet five, will go into the first grade, and Sammy, just three, is not in pre-school, but in actual kindergarten.  Lots of pressure on them already here, but that is probably the private school talking as I understand the education system as a whole is not particularly good in England these days.

More updates later, but now Sammy is home for the afternoon and the time will revolve around him in this very child-centered household. 

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