moving day

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When the movers arrived at 10am, my room was all ready and so was Papa’s room, most of the living and dining rooms, store room, bridge, helper’s room, bathroom and most of the kitchen. Actually what wasn’t ready was anything to do with mum’s stuff. She was still packing as the movers were packing. I didn’t pack the kitchen except for storing anything we’re not taking in boxes so I asked the movers to pack that. Lots of boxes.

They didn’t have room in the van to take our stuff away so we’ll have to ask the contractors. There was room in the van for both mum and I to ride along.

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What did surprise me was how little we actually took with us to rob, because it took them no time at all to unload, for me to unpack essentials, and for the flat to look neat and tidy. The sofa, tv table and coffee table returned to their original positions, we have 2 fridges, and I managed to squeeze about half the kitchen stuff into the kitchen. The rest are in boxes in my room ready to be taken back to ede.

I’m taking the small room which as aforesaid spare kitchen stuff, my plastic boxes, a box of stuff from my desk, my clothes rail and tools. I packed the most important items–passports, documents, money, chequebooks–into one backpack. I’m still sleeping on the sofa until I get the ikea sofabed.

Everything was done by 3pm. Sis came over and she had nothing to do! We all went to the globe for dinner, which was extremely nice.

don’t judge

Today is the semi-annual charity collection. One of the collection points is diagonally opposite us, so it’s really convenient. We had been storing up stuff to give to them, there’s a big pile of clothes, books, kitchen and home stuff. Sis came over to help too, and we carted some bags to the collection point. The building janitor expressed interest in some of the stuff, so we gave some to him. I usually give him old electronics that he can use as parts or sell.

The part-time helper came too so we had 4 pairs of hands packing today. Made some progress. I should be pleased that so much got done, but I’m not. We’re running out of time and there’s still so much stuff not sorted. Why is it so difficult? Takes mum 5 minutes to go through one item of clothing. How can one person have so much clothes?

In terms of distraction and entertainment, how about this 9-year old captioning New Yorker cartoons. It started when her aunt posted her work, which then got noticed by the magazine itself.

dontjudge

I have several favourites. This one is most apt to my current circumstances. I’m trying very hard not to judge, honest.

packing

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Have to start packing in earnest, the movers are coming next Tuesday. They will pack everything that is being moved, but our complication is we’re not moving a substantial amount of stuff, which needs to be boxed and labelled ourselves. Plus so much rubbish to throw away.

Took me more than a day to pack the huge glass cabinets in the living room. An entire set of Hornsea dinner set plus an entire cottage tea set. Wedgewood, decoration, wine glasses. Now I need to sort my room, then I can tackle the rest of the flat. But I soon realised: a) I have a lot of stuff crammed into one room; b) I don’t have any space to manoeuvre. The only solution is to dismantle the bed to clear space. It’s amazing how much footprint a bed takes up.

Winter clothes will be packed away and stored in the wardrobe during renovation. The clothes I’ll need for the next 3 months will go in my suitcases. I’m taking the entire contents of my filing cabinet but not the cabinet itself–4 document boxes. I can leave the files behind but I don’t want confidential and personal stuff around while the builders are in. I put 2 shelves of books to the pile for charity collection, there are some books I never read and will likely never read so may as well give them away. Others, I’ll get the ebooks.

It’s becoming clear that most of our possessions are not needed and we keep them due to some hoarding instinct. Why do I need 100 pens? Three large boxes of shoes when I wear one pair at a time? What’s the point of collecting a whole drawerful of small toiletries?

Anyway, I’ll be sleeping on the sofa for the foreseeable future. We’re taking my bedframe and Mum’s mattress and she will sleep in the larger bedroom. I’ll stay on the sofa until we buy a single bed, which will eventually go into the helper’s room.

trying to sell more stuff

Continuing to sell stuff. Posted a bunch of stuff: small gift items, kit camera lenses, the camcorder that I never use, sellable clothes, small furniture and my tv. Most people were interested in the small items, not a lot of bite for furniture.

Someone whatsapped me about the tv and the convo that followed was bizarre, in full glory below. I don’t know if it’s fat fingers or someone dictating to Siri or using a translation input or simply poor English. I’m still scratching my head. The bad news is, I didn’t sell the tv although someone else came to pick up the free tv stand later.

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moving day

The movers showed up at 10am, and started packing the things I hadn’t. Plus wrapping the furniture in a mixure of large cloth and plastic wrap. Seems like for local moves there is no need to wrap furniture in cardboard.

Sis brought me lunch and watched as the last boxes were brought downstairs. The medium sized lorry was just not enough to take all items so they ordered a small van. There was enough space for me to go with the lorry, and I was also able to navigate.

Not a lot of space in parents’ flat. The intended space clearance was not successful. I was able to fit bedroom and study furniture in my room so at least that’s a plus. They piled boxes in any space available. A bit depressing, thinking about trying to fit everything in. Sigh.

running around day 2

I need to get a medical certificate for the marathon, so I booked an appointment for a health checkup. It’s high time I had a checkup anyway. I very rarely go to the doctor’s so I was a bit lost about what to do. Basically the routine is go from one location seeing one nurse or doctor or specialist after another: take BP, take history, physical examination, blood test, EKG, chest x-ray, cashier. Went from LG1 to LG2 to 5th floor to ground floor of a 5 wing hospital. Argh.

Some of the nurses and specialists were nice. The one nurse ‘in charge’ of me was especially great. The doctor who did the physical exam I didn’t like. Not only was he completely without expression, it seemed like he was going through the motions. Plus he wanted to charge me local $500 ($65) for signing a simple medical cert. The checkup nurse pulled me aside and advised me to take the report and go to a family doctor. Well, she actually said my family doctor but she wasn’t to know I almost never go to the doctor. I have been to one near mm a lot of years ago, or I can use my sis’ doctor. Let’s see.

By the end of the tests I was hungry and thirsty–no food or drink (except a little water) allowed for 8hrs prior. So I quickly made my way to the nearest housing estate to have breakfast. Then it was neither here nor there. It was 11am, I was at the other side of town, I had an appointment at 2.30pm. What to do with the time. At the end, I went home. But better to spend 1hr getting home and having a cup of tea and relaxing than wandering around aimlessly for more than 3hrs.

The appointment at 2.30pm was with my FA, to sign some forms and talk about strategy in light of recent market downturns and the pound’s devaluation. I wanted to buy some more GBP since it’s so cheap. So we decided to take some profit in one of the USD funds and keep the GBP either as cash or in money market bonds. Then when GBP goes back up again, sell and repurchase other funds. We met a a coffee shop and since I hadn’t had anything since breakfast, the berry tart was my lunch.

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Went over to sis’, she invited me for dinner. We had another vegetarian meal, this time of rice noodles and baked kale. I could have finished the entire try of kale myself. I brought over a bottle of wine from my collection–time to start drinking up my stash, in the new spirit of downsizing I going to work at reducing the size of my alcohol stash. This was a Barbaresco 1996 I bought in Verona when I was living in Zurich. It means that it’s been shipped 1.5 times around the world. The cork was a bit soaked and soft but I carefully took it out to prevent the wine from being corked. Immediately I could smell the fruit. Peppery, rich, fruity. Good wine.

Finally, the end result of another running around day. No real running, must go tomorrow. My right arm has a big bruise where they took a blood sample. It’s a sign of whether the technican is any good, I’ve had blood taken out with just a pin prick and no bruise. This time, it was quite painful when she was drawing blood (even though I’m not afraid of needles or having blood taken) and now there’s a 10p coin sized bruise. On my left side, I banged my little finger against something on the bus and it’s now swollen, feels bruised and I can’t bend it. Argh.

running around day

A busy running around sort of day. Had to wait in the morning for a buyer for one of the microwaves to come by. The first interested party dropped off the radar ignoring me so I contacted the second person interested. She quickly sent her helper and we got the microwave in the taxi pronto.

Then took the useless printer, the old MSI netbook and a bunch of firewire external hard disks to the recycling centre. Those were the ginormous ext HDs that were 500MB, a big thing in their day. I’m too frugal to take a taxi so the netbook and ext HDs were in my backpack and I was carrying the printer on the bus.

Met mm for a quick lunch at a Japanese place. She had grilled mackerel and I had chirashi set. We caught up and it was good to just spend a little time together.

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Hurried back home, collected the dehumidifier, sled and lawn chair. Called a UberVan to take me and the really heavy stuff to sis’ place. I’m teenager sitting tonight while Sis and Rob go to a school parents’ event. In theory my niece is old enough to stay at home on her own, but I guess it gives Sis and Rob peace of mind when I’m there. I really only read, watch tv and cook dinner. Dinner tonight was vegetarian tray bake: potato, sweet potato, cauliflower, red onion, whole garlic, halloumi and olive. It was very nice, if I say so myself. And I got compliments from everyone, Rob even got second helpings when they came back from the meeting. Nice way to end the evening.

packing, getting ready for move

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I’m home to sell stuff, and to prep for the move. Throwing away as much as I can, I downsized a bit when I moved to London from Chicago (half the size for double the rent) and now it’s time to downsize even more. There is no reason one person should have so much stuff.

I asked the movers to deliver boxes ahead of time so I can pack; they’re doing that on Thursday. In the meantime I found some existing boxes and managed to start with packing. These boxes represent the contents of my 4 small cabinets and my desk.

In addition I threw away 4 rubbish bag full of useless stuff.

selling stuff

I’m going to move to my parents’ permanently. It’s not worth keeping my flat empty more than 50% of the time when it can be rented out.

Though in theory everything from my flat will fit into parents’ flat, it will be cramped. So I’m selling stuff. There’s not a huge second-hand market here, but Sis suggested posting on the local expat forum’s classified section.

2drawer 3drawer

First to be posted are two sets of small cabinets that were bought almost 20 years ago. After 2 complete trips around the world, they are still in good condition. I posted the 2-drawer set and got responses within a few hours. Sold to the first person who contacted me. To the second person I said I have a 3-drawer set, will she be interested? Yes, so I didn’t even need to post it. The first buyer sent his maid over today and we got the units into a taxi for her to take home (they’re only 5 mins’ walk away). The second buyer will pick the units up next week.

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Thus encouraged, I will post more stuff this weekend. Microwaves (one from Switzerland, one from UK), candles, prints, chairs, two Ikea side tables, wireless router that has never been used. Not expecting a lot of money; every little will go towards the cost of the movers.

I remember an ex-colleague said she’s addicted to selling stuff on ebay. Now I can see why. I’m mentally going through the content of my flat and figuring out what else I can sell.

standing tired

standingtired

My shipment got delivered today. I had to battle rush hour commuters at 8.30am to get home before the shippers arrived. In the morning they unloaded all 113 items. In the afternoon, they did the unpacking. Almost all boxes were unpacked, they took everything out and placed on any available surface. I asked that they leave about 5-6 for me to unpack — small items like stationery, glassware and ornaments. The best thing is they took all the empty boxes and wrapping paper away with them.

Tiring day, although basically all I did was tell them which item goes where. I did unpack all the clothes myself. My bed is now full of clothes, towels and bed linen. That said, I’ve been standing up all day, from 9.30am to 4.30pm, only sitting for may be 15mins while I had lunch. Other times I was hanging around, moving out of the workers’ way.

Now the real work begin for me. Have to be systematic again, work room by room.

competence shipment

competence

I’ve been keeping an eye on the status of my shipment. Gone are the days when the packers take away the stuff and there’s an information blackhole until they call to arrange delivery. I can now go online and track, either through the shipment company or, since I know that my stuff will go on a container ship called MOL Competence, I can track the ship on its journey. The ship arrived at Southampton from Hamburg, and after my container (plus others of course) is loaded, it is scheduled to leave port this weekend.

london2012 withdrawal day 1

I missed the parade of heroes because the movers were here packing and I barricaded myself in a corner in the kitchen. They were done by mid-afternoon. The flat is now full of boxes ready to be loaded to the truck tomorrow. I’ve gone for groupage shipment so it won’t be the container that arrives in the morning. They will load my stuff into the next available container and I may have to share with other people.

The movers left the TV and bed. I looked at the schedule and there is nothing worth watching. No Clare Balding, no Lexi guide, no overly eager 5-min segments explaning the difference between the two types of rugby wheelchairs, no one running incredible races or swimming their hearts out or playing blindfolded ball games. And sob no Last Leg sob. #isitok to have gotten addicted to the most un-PC coverage of disabled sports?

another move

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I should be reflecting on the Paralympics closing ceremony and the end of a glorious summer of sports. Too many thoughts still, which need to be organised and mulled over.

The other thing on my mind is this is my last weekend in London. The shipment people are coming tomorrow, the parking space has already been blocked on the street outside. I’ve been trying to get rid of stuff, but ended up buying more. More food. More wine. I have the charity stuff in a corner, my luggage in another, and cleaning / stuff not going in yet another place. Deep breath. That’s it. Another move.

T minus 3 weeks

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T minus 3 weeks and the start of errands. Today:

  • filed 2011-12 taxes (deadline Jan 2013, so scads ahead of time)
  • typed up address change letters for batch printing
  • sent off shipment forms (got email from shipment company that deposit was received)
  • wine xls for customs — brand name, type, year, % alcohol, volume, price
  • bagged up and labeled cable collection — ziploc bags are the best
  • bought laundry basket
  • bought 2 dinner plates + 2 dessert plates
  • bought more dried goods — couscous, quavers, chocolate turkish delight for AK
  • bought more rosé to try
  • continue working through each room to sort out stuff to keep, for charity, or to chuck away
  • checked at bank on money transfer process and cost

In other news, my amazon order arrived: Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake, Bones season 6 and a set of 3 baking trays with rack at a fantastic price. A prospective new tenant came to see the apartment. Did more cleaning. Getting there.

next room

I made a start on clearing the second bedroom. This one is the toughest because it has a mountain of boxes from both the office and the spare bedroom in Chicago. Plus the desk, the sofa bed, the bookshelf and the filing cabinet. All told, there isn’t a lot of room to move around, let alone unpack each box. Books I’m keeping go back into a box and these are stacked in the corridor. I’m in bite the bullet mode, I’m giving up most of my books.

a day of chores

library

I had a card from the post office of an undelivered package from a couple of weeks ago. Today was the last day they would still hold onto it so i had to go get it. The delivery office is a good 30mins walk one way according to google maps, so I decided to bike it. Didn’t enjoy cycling on Harrow Road, cars were careful, but I’m really not that good a cyclist. The package turned out to be the Sky router, which I have to return. Heh, I should have left it so it gets returned to sender.

In search of a decent internet connection, I ended up at the small local library. They have free wifi, which was okay for about 10mins, then it slowed to a crawl. It was fine when I used my “useless” dongle, it turns out that when it can get a fast 3G signal (blue light) it’s pretty good. Problem is at home i mainly get the treacle 2G (green light). I forgot to bring the power supply so I was limited to how long I could stay there. The battery life of a 4 year old mbp isn’t very good.

The best news of the day is that I finally cleared out enough space in the bedroom so I could put the bed up. It was difficult with just one person, had to prop up the beams with whatever I could find. There are small parts missing, probably fallen off during one of the many moves over the last 12 years. The screws are pretty worn too so they are tough to tighten. Sigh, next time I move, I should sell the bed and get a new one. Right now I don’t care. All I care is that I can sleep in my own bed tonight.

UK driver’s licence

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To change my address, I had to get one of those new photocard driver’s licences. It was easy enough to apply online, they grabbed my photo and signature electronically from my passport and it arrived within a few days. For some odd reason it still has a counterpart in paper, which to me, defeats the purpose of switching to a convenient plastic card. Strange.

I don’t have a car yet, but I still have my 4 driver’s licences, it’s kinda hilarious.

alone 2

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I got may be 4 hrs’ sleep, woke up at 6am to an empty bed. This is hard. Returned the rental car and got the bus back home. Started working on clearing the kitchen. And then the Sky man showed up. He had to come back later when my landlady was home, but the prognosis isn’t good — he can’t go out to the roof to install the dish and it’s just too much hassle. I don’t know what to do.

The only positives are: I cleared out more than 10 boxes in the kitchen and bathroom. Talked briefly with mm. Went running while the sun was still out for 5k.

Last night at the temp apartment. Finished up the chicken wings and coke zero in the fridge. Chicken wings simply have no taste without mm.

What’s that got to do with the pic? It’s the mezze lunch we had yesterday at haz, that mm took me to.

4000 miles in a container

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The first pic was my container in Chicago, taken with my iphone. The second pic was my container in London this morning, taken with my blackberry. Same container. 4000 miles.

So much stuff. The crew unwrapped the furniture and took the old broken bookshelves away but everything else is stacked 3 or 4 deep in each room. I unpacked 3 boxes in the kitchen then gave up and came back to the temp apartment. I think the only way of handling this is to unpack one room at a time, then sell / give away furniture. Slowly does it, otherwise I get too depressed at the volume of stuff. Time to de-clutter my life. Though I’d never be able to live with only 100 personal items, I should aim at reducing to half of what I have now.

moving, westfield

Moved to a new serviced apartment today. Big difference, this one is modernised and not grotty. People much nicer too. Though only a one bedroom, it’s larger than the 2 bed at the other place.

I had to pop back to the office for a bit, and we had lunch at the café next doors. The rest of the afternoon we went to Westfield. Oh wow. HUGE. We only managed to walk through one floor before heading to Marks for some food shopping. More food shopping at Tesco’s, spent ¢100 altogether. Bought salt beef bagel for a quick dinner and returned the car. All in all a very busy day.

househunting day 2

In a complete opposite to yesterday I ended up with too many choices. We started in St John’s Wood and got to see a few Maida Vale places. This felt more like “home” although the quality was also better.

This is the first time in my life that I’m in the situation of not being able to afford something. I know it sounds very contrived and I’ll not get any sympathy from anyone. But I saw this place near Warwick Avenue that is perfect. Perfect. Brand new decoration. Beautiful kitchen. Large rooms. New bathroom. Owner-occupied (ie not investment rental). Did I say perfect? But I can’t afford it. So that’s it.

The short list is a nice cozy flat in Maida Vale and a larger, lower ground one in St John’s Wood. Let’s see how it goes.

househunting day 1

Met the relo agent at Belsize Park tube station at 9.45am to begin an intense day of househunting. She has a red mini and we zoomed up and down Belsize Park and Hampstead all day. Not terribly good choices, considering the price (£450-600). Most were mediocre with one downright horribly stuck in 1970s decor. There wasn’t much time to linger, just enough for me to draw rough floorplans, so no time to take pictures.

One is interesting though, it’s in a block 3mins from Hampstead Heath tube, top floor with a great view across London. The ceilings slant down, which take away a lot of wall space so it’s not idea.

Ended the day in Maida Vale. Saw one not very good one at Wymering Mansions. I asked the agent to drop me off near home and I walked up the block wishing we still had the flat. Sigh.

upsidedown sideways

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Not exactly jetlagged, I slept fine last night and I didn’t fade during the day. It was only a 7.5hr flight after all. It’s just I need to get myself used to what time it is around the world. I talked to mm my morning and it was her dinnertime, we’re both not used to that.

It snowed overnight. Not too bad in London, worse in the Southeast. Everyone is in a titter about it cos they’re not used to dealing with snow. No one owns a shovel, and the council doesn’t have the equipment or planning to salt the roads so it’s slippery everywhere. Plus they don’t salt, they grit and it’s different. I’m 1 tube stop away and can walk in the worst case, so I’m finding the panic a little hilarious, and has been smugly declaring “I’m from Chicago, I’m used to this” all day. Of course I also got blamed for bringing the weather.

I’m finding I need to adjust my accent and word usage. I’m sure it’ll get Britified soon. I need to look at both sides when I’m crossing the road, it’s not automatic yet. And to think I turned off LSD to Foster and into the left hand lane (empty) when I first moved to Chicago. Now I have to un-Americanise myself. It’s a good thing I never quite got round to using American spelling.

day of arrival

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Flight was full but comfortable. We sat on the runway at ORD for a while before taking off, and there was of course the obligatory Heathrow Holding Pattern drill made us 1 hour late. Can’t complain, I got fed, watched Salt, Entourage, Glee and was the second person off the plane. A little queue at passport control and my luggage was already out when I arrived at the carousel. Just made the Heathrow Express too — sprinted with my 2 suitcases and caught the train just before doors closed. Taxi to the serviced apartment.

The place is called st john’s house, near aldgate. PT it’s not — it’s smaller, less modern, less clean. Utilitarian is how I’d describe it. There are 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, but I don’t see any use for the extra 2 rooms. When I unpacked and got settled it’s already 4pm.

The check-in guy told me there’s a Tesco’s nearby, but I walked 10mins in all 4 directions and can’t find it. It’s not on google maps either. I ended up going to a pub and getting a pint and their dinner special of pork loin at £7.95. Spent the evening watching tv and playing on the computer. Wifi is included, that’s the only advantage this place has over PT.

day of the flight

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The movers came to pick up the mattress, bedding, towel and last minute stuff this morning. And then I was left with 2 suitcases, a backpack and various and sundry toiletries and food in the fridge I would use today. My kind neighbours took me to RCN to drop off the cable boxes, taking me by car and saving me a good 1.5-2hrs. They also fed me lunch and took me to the airport. They did so much for me today, thanks B&D.

Before leaving I took them to Taste of Heaven. This was where it all started, and I wanted my last meal to be here. Way back last May, I met Car and Nell here for brunch, and on the way walking from the ‘L’ to the café I saw this for rent sign. And the rest was history. So in a way it’s come full circle.

So now I’m in the Admiral’s lounge at ORD, waiting for my flight to leave in about an hour. I’m still numb, taking it a minute at a time. Check back in when I’m in London.

day of the move

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I had been chasing the shipment companies over the weekend for confirmation of when the crew would be arriving. With the holiday it was difficult to tracking down anyone. But they called at 8.15am today and arrived at around 9.30am. I’d gotten a couple of signs from the alderman’s office to block off the road. As expected the whole container came, this one seemed larger than the one when I moved in. The middle space was still blocked off by a car, whether the owner missed the sign or didn’t care I don’t know. I ended up calling 311 and they sent an officer very quickly. He got the licence plate and set about tracking down the owner, which I thought was really nice of him. He could have given them a ticket or towed the car away. I think he found a room-mate or neighbour, but whoever it was, they moved the car.

They had a 7-person crew for this move. The company is hassett, which is an allied affliate, and allied moved me here. I like some of the crew members more than others, but they got the job done. I particularly liked the padding brown paper they use for furniture, the lining feels like a blanket. I spent the day reading, surfing the net and watching them pack. Last time the crew chief had me doing inventory, this time I didn’t even need to do that.

The estimate person initially said it’ll take 2 days, which is why I arranged for packing today. They could have done it in one. So now I’m sitting in an empty apartment with just a step ladder (to sit on) and my mattress. They even dissembled and packed the bed frame. Tomorrow morning they will come and pick up the last few items. I have a lot of stuff, the 20-foot container is almost full. Altogether about 170 pieces, I’ll know the exact number tomorrow.

moving prep

After the long weekend away, there’s now only 1 full day for me to prep for the move. I went though every room to throw things away, take batteries out, stack similar items together. I know I don’t have to lift a finger when the movers come in, but I need to know everything is organised.

Packed my suitcases too. I’m not having an air shipment — office stuff went via fedex already — so I need to take enough for 1 month. Work clothes, shoes, jumpers. Trying to be economical, so I’m only taking 2 coats. The weather report says it’s cold and may snow in London, so I have to take my boots. I’ll probably end up wearing them cos they are the heaviest. Not ideal for the plane, but can’t be helped. The heaviest items are all the electronics and wires. When I moved to Chicago, I had the luxury of a couple of extra trips back and forth, so on one of those trips I took my duvet. Not possible this time, so I’ll have to hope the serviced apartment comes with good bedding.

Food situation is pretty good, just some bread and peanut butter left. May end up having to eat out tomorrow. I’ll stay home tomorrow night, so there’s the last minute opportunity to do laundry and take a shower before going to the airport.

Had some time in the afternoon. Went to the store to get some stuff, stopped by my landlady’s shop, thought about running but decided against it. I’m supposed to be following Higdon’s intermediate half marathon training which starts tomorrow. The chances of me going running tomorrow is zero.

i’m moving (back) to London

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I grew up in London. People who know me IRL know this. I wasn’t born there, but it’s where I went to school, college and spent a large chunk of my life. 15 years ago, I moved away. Arguably it was to follow someone, but…well, the reasons don’t matter now. The past 15 years has seen me move around multiple times — to HK, New York, Zurich, Chicago, as well as a career that involved a lot of travel and progressively more responsibility and influence.

Things are coming full circle. I’m transferring to our London office. It was decided only a couple of weeks ago, and the schedule is tight:

  • wed 24th — last day in office
  • thur/fri 25/26th — thanksgiving
  • mon 29th — packing day 1
  • tue 30th — packing day 2, must finish by noon
  • tue 30th — fly out
  • wed 1st — arrive
  • thur 2nd — in office

I’ve been making lists. Packing, change of address, what to give away / sell in US, what to buy in US, what to buy in UK, housing criteria. Even though I get assistance from the company, I still have to organise myself and tell the relo people what I need.

I was pretty young when I left. There was no internet then, cellphones were brick-like in size, and there were only 4 channels on TV. John Major was Prime Minister and the Princess of Wales was still alive. So many changes. The challenge for me is not to get stuck in 1995 and think I know everything. I should pretend I’m moving there for the first time. And in a way it would be. When we first moved there, my parents did all the work, we just followed. But now it’s all up to me.

I have many thoughts about the past 2 years in Chicago, and my second American experience. It’s hard to articulate them right now, too many emotions racing through my mind. All I know is I will miss it here. Very much.

more unpacking

I’m sitting at my desk and my comfy Aeron chair as I type this.

According to TDP, unpacking uses 270 calories an hour. So I think I did like 4 hours today, so I spent like 1080 calories. I definitely didn’t manage to eat all of that back.

Plan of action was room by room, and I got a lot done:

  • finish unpacking all the suitcases
  • 3 loads of laundry
  • loaded up the dishwasher
  • moved sideboards
  • glassware in hutch
  • kitchen is done
  • most books on shelves
  • filing cabinet done

I even partially unpacked the Keller box that came with me from Zurich — a couple of beautiful Le Creuset oven dishes, more kitchen stuff. Only stationery that goes in the desk and shelves in the study left from this side of the apartment.

Of course, there’s the front side — living and dining rooms still to be done. It’ll have to wait till I’m back from London.

move completed

Car came over at noon to help me move my stuff from PT. I was lucky that I got a luggage cart, they ran out after I got mine. So I loaded 5 document boxes, 1 duffel and 2 suitcases into her car. Off we go!

Lucked out, got a parking space opposite the house. Unloading didn’t take long. OMG I have SO MUCH STUFF. There’s things everywhere, it’s amazing. Didn’t know where to start — living room? Dining room? Kitchen? Bedrooms? Study? But first, lunch. Walked over to Hamburger Mary’s and we each got a big burger. Nice.

Then I got to work on the rest of the clothes and Car helped put the bookshelves together, then sorted fiction from non-fiction.

We worked steadily till 5-ish, then headed out to Target. I spent $360 on a whole bunch of stuff — a vacuum cleaner, mop, broom, a Magic Bullet, electrical cords, laundry detergent, shampoo &conditioner, drinks, and a Queen sized airbed with electrical pump.

Too tired to do much after getting some dessert and shower. Still a long way to go, sigh.

shipment delivery

balmoral101truck

So the shipment got delivered today. The crew arrived at 9am, driving the container right up the street. Luckily there was enough space for it to park. They put protective covering on the staircase and the hallway, then started unloading. I was responsible for checking off the items as they arrived upstairs and directing the crew which room to put it in. 160 items took till lunchtime to unload.

balmoral102boxes balmoral106boxes

The crew ate their lunch in the truck, and I ate mine sitting on one of the boxes. The one with the footrest, I think. I brought chicken salad with me from PT. After lunch was the big unpacking. Everything got taken out of its box and onto whatever flat surface was available — the floor in the living room, kitchen counter, books all over the study and clothes on the bed. At least it’s all out, and they took away the packaging.

balmoral116bed2 balmoral118study

It took me 2 hours to clear half the kitchen. I was pretty exhausted, and I’m lucky that I can still stay at PT. It’ll take many many hours of work, it’s okay, I’m so glad I have my stuff.

have home

Finally, i have a place to hang my hat. I officially took over the apartment today, picking up the keys after work. The shipment will be delivered on Tuesday, good timing.

I brought a Puma bag of stuff like toilet paper, towel, crocs and some snacks. Then after i put everything away i went to the supermarket nearby to get liquid soap, cleaning stuff, more snacks, milk and cereal.

It’s a nice place.

Oh, and I’ve been meaning to post this trib story about the area. A local architect describes it aptly:

the street isn’t that wide, the buildings are rarely over three stories. You almost could describe it as cozy.

Me? I like all the trees on the street.

new home

balmoral001street

I signed my lease today. Start 1 June. Then I managed to borrow keys to look around and measure spaces for my furniture. I think I’ve decided mostly where i want to put them.

balmoral014living balmoral012living

So here’s the living room, with what I’m calling the “outside” and the “inside”. The outside has the beautiful round bay window and the restored original fireplace. The inside is where i’ll have the sofa, cabinets and tv.

balmoral022dining balmoral051kit

Moving on is the dining room with its built-in hutch, and the kitchen. All the expected appliances are in the kitchen, which has a ton of light because of the skylight.

balmoral041bath balmoral044bath
The bathroom is really decent. Lots of attention to detail, original-looking fittings, and heated floor.

balmoral073deck

Beyond the kitchen is the sunroom, which I’ll use as study. Then outside is the balcony, very large and full of potential for window boxes and outside furniture.

Anyway, here’s the full set at flickr

househunting 3 — big day

chicagoflathunt

Today was an intense flat-hunting day. I diligently wrote comments, drew floorplans and twittered my progress all day. Unfortunately the tweets never came through, so I summarised in a spreadsheet. The first 2 are the ones I saw earlier, today’s selection starts at #3.

I had set up 2 sets of appointments with 2 different agents, and then the flat I saw yesterday that I called up the landlord myself.

Olga from apartmentpeople took me to 8 apartments. She did her homework, and most were good. The funniest one was the one that was really big at $2500 and was supposed to be empty. But it was full of stuff! Then she called in and found out it’d been rented. And the landlord never told the agency and never went to get the keys back. I saw one vast duplex that was frankly too large for me — I’d never go up to the attic floor and it’d be both a waste and scary.

The one I really liked was 1625 W Ainslie. It was airy, bright and has a homely feel. The dining room with its weird glass doors and the tiny spare bedroom were the cons. This was the one I held onto when I went to the second appointment.

Troy from homestead took me to 4 apartments, one of which Olga also showed me. That was the best one of the bunch.

The one at 1420 W Balmoral I saw yesterday on my way to brunch. On the website, it looked very well cared for, even with a floorplan [pdf] that saved me from drawing anything. It did not disappoint. The owner is an architect, and they’d saved the building, gutted and refurbished it. Everything was clean and new. The only cons I can think of is laundry in basement, and too close to the houses next door.

I thought about it all the way back on the train. There’s nothing much wrong with the Balmoral property, so I called the owners back and indicated my interest. Now I have to go through the application process, hopefully it goes smoothly.

househunting 2

1453 W Carmen, 3 bed 1 bath, $1350

I spotted this on craigslist and contacted the management company directly. They have a lot of stock, but only this one available in June. It’s in a nice tree-lined street in Andersonville, just off Clark.

pros
location — walkable from Metra, Brown Line, just off Clark in South Andersonville
trees on street
laundry in unit
there’s an extra room / storage area next to kitchen

cons
grotty — that was the first impression of the outside, and the overall impression
small — i showed the link to mm this morning and this was her comment
dark — on raised ground floor, not enough light
only one bathroom, and it’s small
closet space, but no substantial storage like a linen closet
cramped street, off-street parking looks like it’ll be a fight
grotty — this is enough to put me off

househunting 1

Foster at Damen, 3bed 3 bath, $2000

Went to see one flat today, the first one in my househunting. Saw it yesterday online, and Car’s cousin helped me with the appointment.
The place is in Lincoln Square / Andersonville. I took the Brown Line to Damon, walked 15mins. Total door to door from PT was around 75mins, that’s pretty long. The flat is part of a converted house, they call it a condo here. It’s a duplex on the ground and lower ground floors.

pros
good sized, 1100sqft on each floor
3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
duplex
open kitchen
washer dryer in unit
big family room in basement, i can convert it to a gym
third bedroom in basement with bathroom, great for guests
newly renovated, clean
parking included

cons
two floors can be creepy
lots of work to clean
at an intersection and bus stop, busy and noisy outside though can’t hear it inside
opposite a school
long walk to station
not much nearby, small local grocery store, chinese takeaway, bar, that’s it
a little expensive
owner prefers to sell, so what happens after the lease expires in a year?

birthday

It’s been an…unusual birthday. Everything is out of routine. I feel a little weird, happy, sad, thoughtful. Breakfast with mm, then spent 2 hrs at home waiting for the gas and internet people to show up. Lunch with family, but not altogether a harmonised experience. Back home again to go over with parents. Early back to mm’s home, and it was only spending a few hours by myself that I was able to calm down and gather myself for late dinner with mm. Solitude rules.

packing

boxes

Early start, to finish off getting everything ready. The shipment crew came at 9am, 6 guys, worked very efficiently and professionally. I tried to get out of the way, spending most of the day standing in the bathroom watching the proceedings. The packing was fascinating, especially how they wrapped large items like the table and cabinets. I was tweeting most of it on my mobile, kept me occupied. Lunch was 3 McDonalds sandwiches, I think I went a little crazy — sausage & egg mcmuffin, filet-o-fish, teriyaki chicken. Plus a taro pie. Oh my.

The crew finished at 4pm, then I followed one of the vans while it brought a small consignment to my parents’. I have to give them most of my electronics and food/wine cos I can’t take any with me.

Parents treated me for dinner — lobster, steamed fish, ostrich, mushroom & mixed veg. I took the bus home, picked up my 2 suitcases and taxied to mm’s. I’ll be here for a week, it’ll be interesting cos we haven’t lived together since London and that was a long time ago.

home from home

chi460apt chi463apt

I finally loaded the pictures of presidential towers to flickr. I took these as soon as I got in, before I dumped stuff all over the place. Can still see my jacket and luggage in some of the pics. This apartment is in the same tower and has the same layout as last time, only it’s 3 floors higher. I like the rectangular table vs the round table cos it’s flush against the kitchen counter and I can use that side. The bathroom also has shower doors instead of curtains which is sooooo much better.

chi465apt

The bed onlly comes with blankets, but I use the bed cover as quilt and it’s fine.