Hi friends and family, I’ve been slacking off on blog-writing this week.. Usually I write a little bit each day and then put everything together, but this time not so much. I just realized that it’s been a week since I posted my last blog and I still have yet to write anything down! I guess it’s been somewhat of a crazy week, so to sit down and write about my day would mean I’d be staying up even later than the 2 and 3am nights I’ve been having lately. Not too sure who reads these anyway? So maybe I’ll only have to worry about a select few readers.
Anyway, life with a smartphone has made my life a million times easier. I guess the world was right.. I still refuse to get Instagram and Twitter though. After I got my phone, I was able to make a bunch of calls and set up a bunch of viewings to pick out flats. So Saturday and Sunday was just a blur of flat viewings. Some big, some tiny, all of them requiring sharing with other house members, one requiring no eating beef… I wanted to make a decision by Sunday night so that we could start the moving process by the time Jess got to London on Wednesday. However, on Sunday night, I got another email from an agent who wanted to set up a flat viewing on Monday night. I figured I might as well give it a try, and decided to go. Upon walking to the flat, I noticed how nice the area was and I knew straight away that I would like living in the neighbourhood. Then, an ice cream truck playing a cute little tune happened to drive by and I knew this was the place. Viewings at this flat were from 6-7:30 and I arrived at 5:55. Basically, the house has two flats: a 3-bedroom flat on the bottom level, and a 2-bedroom flat on the top level, and both were available. I was first shown the 3-bedroom flat, and then went up to the 2-bedroom flat. A little bit quirky, but it was a 2 bedroom! So Jess and I would have the entire place to ourselves! Within ten minutes of being there, about 6 people had shown up to view the flats. The agent left me in the 2-bedroom flat so that he could show everyone else the 3-bedroom and I headed downstairs just when he was finished touring the 3-bedroom. I remember him saying, “So that’s the 3-bedroom flat. And then I can show you the 2-bedroom upstairs now. Unless….?” And looks at me questioningly. “I want the flat.” “Okay, then I don’t have a 2-bedroom flat to show everyone.. just the 3-bedroom is available.” Within a half an hour, 4 of the 5 bedrooms were gone. I guess that’s what they mean about houses going on and off the market within the same day! I had to pay an administration fee to the agent, and then he said we’d get emailed a contract the following day. I was ecstatic! Smiling from ear to ear while going back to my hostel, almost skipping down the sidewalk. We finally found a place! And it was all ours!
The next day (Tuesday), I received the promised contract, but it included some fees (a finders fee and a void protection fee) that I had never heard of before. The contract also seemed to word things in a way that Jess and I might be found liable for anything that happened to the flat. I sent an email to my teaching agent to ask about the fees, waited for a response, and didn’t hear anything. I was just so keen on getting everything done, I signed the contract and sent it in. About a half an hour later, my agent called and was like, “Don’t do anything! This all sounds really suspicious; I’ve never heard of these fees before. I’m going to do some research on the company and I’ll let you know if you should go through with it or not.” Well, that wait seemed like the longest wait of my life. I was definitely sweating bullets, wondering if I did the wrong thing. About two hours went by and the anticipation was driving me insane, so I called him up. He said that he usually deals with larger companies and this one was a lot smaller, so they seemed to do everything independently. Because of that, there were a lot of fees that we had never heard of before. He also talked to the estate agent about specific parts of the contract, and he said he thought it should be okay to go through with it. Thank goodness! So we sent over our money and hoped for the best. Tuesday night was my last night at the hostel, since our teaching agency offered to pay for two free nights of accommodation, which we assumed was at a hotel. I was SO excited to get away from sleeping in dorm rooms, and having a bathroom and my own space. We figured we might as well take advantage of the accommodation, even if we ended up getting the keys to our flat.
Jess and her sister arrived in London on Wednesday morning and I met up with them at the hotel. However, apparently the room hadn’t been paid for (even though payment was supposed to be taken two days ahead of time), and they were demanding that we pay 109 pounds cash. Yeah right; that wasn’t going to happen.. And because of the time change, it was first thing in the morning in Canada and we couldn’t contact our agent who booked the hotel. We ended up sitting there for two hours, trying to contact everyone that we could and then eventually, the hostel worker must have felt bad and allowed us to put all of our stuff into the room. Well let me tell you, I was looking forward to an upgrade from the hostel, but this was definitely a downgrade. It was still pretty much a hostel but with private rooms and shared bathrooms, and it wasn’t very clean at all. When I had opened up my white towel, there were mysterious black streaks inside. The showers didn’t work.. one didn’t have anything to hold the faucet and the other had a temperature situation. Written in the front entrance, there was a sign that said the hostel didn’t have any hot water. I decided to suffer a cold shower later that night, but I was very much surprised. And not pleasantly. It wasn’t that the hotel had NO hot water; it was that it ONLY had hot water. Like scorching hot, second-and-third-degree-burn type hot. I ended up being able to only shampoo my hair, and in order to rinse off the shampoo I had to turn on the faucet for four seconds and rinse off as much as I could, turn it off and wait 20-30 seconds, and repeat about 15-20 times. I definitely felt homesick for my hostel that night! Anyway, back to when we first arrived…By the time we had gotten settled (around 3-4), all of us were starving as none of us had eaten that day, so we went for lunch and then did a whole bunch of walking around. Apparently the payment thing was finally sorted out around 6 so thank goodness we didn’t have to sit there and wait another four hours… We walked to Buckingham Palace and then down Piccadilly. We happened to walk into a ticket office because Jess wanted to see what musicals we’d be able to go to and the guy was like, “Oh, I have these tickets to the Lion King. 75 pounds originally, but I’ll give them to you for 20 pounds each. The show just started 5 minutes ago (which was a lie, it was 15) but it’s just down the street.” So we made the impulse decision to buy the tickets and ran down the street but couldn’t find the theatre. I decided to look it up and we found out it was a 15 minute walk into another neighbourhood (definitely NOT down the street!). So we ran and ran and ran to the theatre and finally got there when they were singing ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’. I was seated separately from Jess and Jasmin, on the very top balcony but it was still the perfect view, and I absolutely loved it! I may or may not have gotten emotional during the whole father/son scenes with Mufasa and Simba though.. Apparently Jess and her sister both fell asleep during part of the show; I guess it probably wasn’t the BEST thing to do during their first day in London. After the show was done, we were starving once again so we walked to Chinatown and got some food, then we all headed back to the hotel, absolutely exhausted.
On Thursday, Jess and I had our induction day which is basically so the teaching agency could meet us and explain how to get a bank account, phone, etc. Fortunately and unfortunately, the estate agent wanted to hand over our keys that day as well. They couldn’t meet up before our orientation started so I ended up having to leave the orientation quite early in order to get the keys. The rest of the day was filled with a whole lot of travelling.. first to the flat to get the keys and “check-in,” then back to the hotel to get my stuff (because you couldn’t pay me to spend the second night there), then back to the flat to drop my stuff off, then I went to Helena’s to get my two suitcases that I haven’t touched in two weeks. By that time, it was about 8-9pm and I was so grateful when she offered to drive me back to the flat, which saved me from lugging around two 50-pound suitcases. After that, I headed to the store so I could buy some pillows and sheets for my room. Jess and her sister arrived at about 12:30am and then we finally had dinner haha obviously our eating schedules have been all out of whack this week. Unfortunately, after actually spending some time in the flat (instead of constantly running in and out), we realized that it wasn’t in the best and cleanest condition, and Jess ended up emailing the agency.
On Friday, the estate agent showed up at our flat at 9am because of the complaints they received. We talked about what was wrong and what needed to be fixed, and someone ended up spending the entire day cleaning our flat. We decided to make the trip to IKEA that afternoon, not really realizing that it would take an hour and a half to get there (guess it’s better than 5-6!). By the time we got there, (once again) we hadn’t eaten all day so I definitely took advantage of the IKEA hotdogs! We spent quite awhile there, filled an entire cart with items and then we had to haul it back to the flat by taking a tram, two trains, and a bus. We arrived at about ten and were once again hungry and exhausted, so we walked down the street to our local Indian restaurant (which we’ll likely be going to quite regularly now). So delicious!
This morning, Jess and her sister left to go to Switzerland and they’re going to be gone for nearly two weeks so I guess I have the flat to myself! I tried to get as much unpacking done as possible, while balancing laundry, cleaning, and shopping for groceries, but I still have so much more to do! Hopefully I can get it all done by the time I start teaching (which is in two days, ahhh!!). I can’t believe my three weeks of freedom are almost over 😦 I feel like I hardly got to enjoy them because of everything I had to do! Oh well, at least I’ll have some holidays coming up shortly! Hope everyone’s doing well over there, miss everyone tons! Love always
He Lives in You – Lebo M
(This is the Lion King song that made me cry)