A Light in the London Fog

Tomorrow marks my first month of living in London.

Hooray! Let’s drink eat cake!

Our first week here was great in spite of being completely exhausted and not having Internet or a phone. We were so happy to be together again, excited about Mike’s new job, and fascinated by everything around us.

The museums! The parks! The palaces! We couldn’t wait to explore every bit of it.

After a few days, my excitement made way for the demands of daily life, which include dealing with businesses that close for the entire month of August, buses that may or may not stop for you, and the UK time table for getting things accomplished…

When calling to get our names put on the electric bill, the average wait time due to high caller volumes was an hour!

Well, of course it was. The power company our landlords set up only takes calls from 10-4, with an hour lunch break in between. That’s what it’s like to get pretty much anything done in Britain…

I tried to keep a good attitude about it, but one day I just hit a wall.

The emails from friends and family back home had eventually dwindled, and I still didn’t know a single person here. I was so frustrated and lonely that I told Mike I was ready to just take Avery and go HOME.

It was about this time that I found Heidi… or should I say that Heidi found me and through my blog, of all places.

She’s the fellow American mom and blogger that I mentioned in a previous post. (She’s the one who turned me onto online grocery shopping.) We swapped emails. The first was about my search for cooking spray.

(Apparently my days of cooking spray are so over. The Brits have no concept of it, but that’s an entirely other post in itself…)

Then, she asked how I was adjusting to my new life. I told her that I still didn’t know a soul here, but was otherwise doing fine. I just didn’t have any one to answer my stupid questions.

“Oh my goodness, yes. I’m here for you, girl. I was you nine months ago. I was lucky enough to meet the Embassy girls…otherwise I’d know nothing!” she wrote back.

The “Embassy girls”… That just sounded so posh and knowledgeable.

She immediately invited Avery and I over to her house for a play date. I was so excited to accept I didn’t care that I had no idea where she lived (or how to get there). Fortunately, she sent me directions and I figured it out.

Since then, Heidi has put together a resource for other American moms in London, put me in contact with some of the” wiser ones”, and even introduced me to a few of the Embassy girls (wives of foreign service workers)… and just like that, my prayers were answered.

Day to day life is still a major hassle, but at least now, I have some friends who understand completely and commiserate entirely.



Filed under Daily Life, Friendships

11 responses to “A Light in the London Fog

  1. It is so nice you found some friends so quickly! That was the hardest part for me at first here in London – it is nice to have friends who understand!

  2. Paul Hayes

    Just discovered your blog this morning (in the oddest way possible – I was rather nationalistically looking for any Australian reaction to us going back ahead of them in the Olympic medal table, and did a Google blog search for “the Brits”!) and spent an enjoyable time reading your posts.

    I have enormous sympathy for you – I am British and even I wouldn’t want to live in London. My brother lives there, and I once spent a fortnight looking after his flat while he was on holiday – that was more than enough for me! I find London a dirty, overcrowded, oppressive and in many ways dehumanising sort of a place. Bleak and depressing and miserable, like some sort of sci-fi dystopia. Plus people always seem to be being either shot or stabbed to death there.

    There *are* nice places in Britain – some very nice places – but I don’t think that London is one of them. So I admire your bravery in moving there!

    In general terms, I find your outsider’s prospective on Britain fascinating – there are some things I recognise, and others that took me by surprise.

    I look forward to following your updates!

  3. Yay! You found friends!

    The really funny thing about reading about your experiences in London….is that I have experienced the exact same problems since moving to Utah. We joke that Utah is like a foreign country and it is so true!

    Where is my Heidi?

  4. Here is a recipe for something called Better than Pam Spray….

    1/2 cup corn, vegetable or canola oil (you should be able to find ONE of these in London)
    1/2 vegetable shortening (like Crisco…do they sell that?)
    1/2 cup all purpose flour

    Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix with a hand mixer (do you have one?) until it has multiplied in volume and resembles marshmallow cream.

    Place in a storage container (tupperware, glass jar). In hot weather it can be refrigerated but should be room temperature so that it spreads well.

    Mix gently before using, then either brush onto pan with a pastry brush or clean paper towel.

  5. Tony

    It is always the small things you miss most -you can get cooking spray here it just isn’t at all popular. I can remember my mum using it when I was a child, now everyone seems to use olive oil for everything rather than corn/vegetable oil.

    I think one of the spray brands is called frylite or something like that.

  6. Oh yes – you simply MUST get in with the folks from the Embassy!

    As a former person who used to fit in that category I assure you that you won’t be disappointed.

    On the homefront though – you’re not missing out on anything. It rained all day, I had to park on the roof of the garage and my pants got all wet as I waddled into the building.


  7. Oh, I feel like I’m the Manchester-based YOU of 3ish weeks ago (with an early case of the the “I wanna go home’s” brought about by a stomach bug that’s run rampant through my family). I’m looking about everywhere for my Heidi! 🙂 Glad you’re doing well.

    I’ve seen olive oil atomizers in the US– maybe you could probably order one from Amazon (or something… I’m still figuring out where to do shopping in the UK) and fill it with your choice of vegetable/corn oil?

  8. Aw…you are so sweet. You make me feel like a pro here – and I’m SO not! 🙂

    But you should know that I’m selfishly just as glad you guys are here! I’ve been hemming and hawing about whether or not I can make it through three years. Most of my friends have already left and my “Heidi” (Jenn) leaves next October, so life was looking grim for that third year. Having you and Avery and Cheryl and her kids here makes staying worth it! We just decided last night that we’re staying. 🙂

    Oh, and I also have the atomizer thingy that I use for olive oil. It works great. Just ordered another one for canola.

  9. Anna

    omg….you are my heidi! i am sitting here ready to pack myself and my 2 kids (fyi–my 3 yo’s name is avery) back up and go back home to the US when i stubbled upon your blog. the 1st picture was my house a few weeks ago..and the chair that said avery made me smile. then i go on to read about the phone and internet…same situation here! and then the cooking spray..omg we are living parallel lives. i was at every supermarket looking for PAM! i could not believe that they didn’t have it here. we live about 30 minutes outside of london in beaconsfield. i have a 5 yo son Jaden and a 3 yo daughter Avery. Where in London are you?
    Hope to chat soon….

  10. Oh…I feel your pain girl,

    When I lived in Chicago for 6 years….my ONLY Heidi really was named Heidi:)

    Now, we’re moving to Portsmouth ,England.
    It seems impossible to find any info about the place on the internet.
    My husband is there already. I can not join him until the “6 month wait” is up for our 3 cats.

    I am totally going insane!

    I hear London is only about an hour and a half away:)
    I’ll be happy to be one of your Heidi’s.

  11. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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