previously posted on my blog Abroad in London
as a weekly update for family and friends
As I predicted I immediately fell in love with London life. People had been warning me about how rude Londoners are before my move. Even the employees of my visa sponsor –Bunac- warned us of the rudeness that seemed to be rampant in London. Yet everywhere I was going and visiting I had found that people were friendly and polite, more so than back at home. Maybe it’s because I had spent so many years in Boston but I had found London to be cheery despite the grey clouds that never seemed to lift.
The Bunac program was big on provided social engagements for its members. One such event was a river cruise on the Thames for our Independence Day, July 4th. Over three-hundred of us crammed onto this river ferry to celebrate the American Independence day and to get to know one another.
It was our independence from England that we were celebrating, I should point out. The irony of celebrating that independence was not lost on me that night. The night was beautiful and I was appreciative to see the sights of London from the river all illuminated in the evening. We socialized, made acquaintances and were even surprised by a small, defiant display of fireworks along the south bank of the Thames.
That night marked our second night in England. By the next morning it seemed that Chris, my flatmate, was quite fed up with his sleeping arrangements. Upon arriving at our flat we had to choose our bedrooms; Chris and I had each ended up with a small room equipped with a tiny twin sized European bed. For me this posed no problem because I had spent most of my life sleeping on a small twin bed.
However, a young man of six feet and four inches sleeping on a European twin mattress just doesn’t quite work. I assure you it is as comical as you’re imagining.
Instead of keeping me in stitches and providing me with endless amount of comic material, Chris decided it was time for a new bed. And I had decided it was time to purchase a comforter. We decided that a trip to Ikea –known for it‘s well priced household items and furniture- was in order. We got the directions to the closest, close being a loose term, and set out on what would later be known as ‘Jamie and Chris’s Great Adventure’.
One would imagine that when placing an Ikea near a major urban city there might be more thought put into how accessible it was by public transportation. Three tube lines and any number of stops later we found our way out of the station and promptly circled the neighbourhood in a figure-eight style formation.
This was not by choice. We were simply following signs.
Leave it to the English to constantly turn us in circles. When we had initially looked at the location of Ikea on the map in proportion to the tube station it had initially seemed odd that it would be a two mile walk. It did end up being a two mile walk but if there had been a more direct route it could have been shortened to half a mile.
Eventually we found the store- to be fair a store of that size in the middle of suburban London would be hard to miss. It was a mega store. The biggest store I’ve seen in my life. Of course the inside had to be made confusing by a maze of rooms and departments. Chris set off to find a bed and I set off to find my comforter.
A few hours later I stumbled out of that maze looking dazed and confused but being the proud new owner of a comforter and duvet cover.
It should be noted that I am no marine and I did, indeed, leave a man behind in Ikea. Coward, though I am, I re-entered the maze and helped Chris load his new futon onto a trolley (a carriage for all you Americans). Admittedly I was craven enough to avoid taking the tube back to Russell Square and instead we hired a mini-cab to cart us and our new purchases back to our flat.