Tag Archives: moving

8 new things before breakfast

20 Sep

Well, I made it! Oxford is now home for th next year. There’s more things to blog about than you can imagine, but here’s just a taste from the first 24 hours. It’s my 8 new things before breakfast:

  1. Luggage trolleys with brakes! This was a fabulous discovery at Heathrow as I headed down a steep ramp to the underground walkway to catch the bus to Oxford. Turns out brakes are far more effective than purposely crashing into the railings every few steps as a way to slow down.
  2. Tipping isn’t always OK. I tried to tip th bus driver for helping me with all my bags, but he gently informed me, “It’s your money, love. I get paid alright!”. I didn’t get his name but he was great at helping me get to the taxi stand, er, I mean “taxi rank”.
  3. Pear trees can be tall! There’s one I can see outside my window, of which I’ll post a picure next time.
  4. I walk slower than everyone else here. A woman pushing a stroller with a toddler overtook me on the sidewalk!
  5. In a city where building a new building probably requires a royal decree, reuse is taken to a whole new level. There’s a restaurant down the street housed in what used to be an old church! More pics on that to come as well.
  6. The Oxford University Press has the greenest grass I’ve seen so far anywhere.
  7. The zig-zag markings on the pavement aren’t weird street art by tipsy line markers. According to the highway code, it has something to do with no overtaking.
  8. Taking a shower involves pulling on a string to turn on a switch that turns on the showerhead and water heater. The string is by the door – on the opposite side of the room from the shower. I was already IN the shower when I learned this lesson!
  9. I love English breakfasts! I got to discover this at about 3 p.m. on my first day here, which by my calculations was about 6 a.m. Vancouver time, and therefore appropriate!

Well that’s it for my first post.  I am now internet-ready, so will be able to provide more updates in coming days.  Look out for a complete post on unlocking and activating a cell phone, uhm, I mean a mobile (gotta get with the lingo!).

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It’s so hard to say goodbye

7 Sep

So heads up – if you thought this was a soppy sentimental post, you can just move on right now. I’m not sentimental today, I’m mad!

Why, you ask? I’m discovering how difficult it is to exit my life. Not the leave-taking of friends and family, familiar places and the like, although I’m sure that will warrant its own post at some point. Right now, it’s the extraction of myself from services that is proving excruciating.

My cell phone provider sold me a plan – a bundled voice and data plan – at a single fixed rate. Imagine my shock and horror when I called to cancel my service and was told I’d be subject to not one, but TWO cancellation fees, one for voice and one for data!  Yup, $400 plus taxes, to NOT have something.  What made this even worse is that when I gave the guy on the other end a piece of my mind, he passed me on to a smooth-voiced calm Englishman (the irony was not lost on me) who was able to placate me with a completely different offer – a stripped-down minimum-charge plan for the remaining 10 months of my contract for $225 including taxes. What a difference a dude makes!

Now it’s not that I don’t expect to pay some sort of penalty to leave a contract early. I read the fine print, and I’m not unreasonable. What made me really annoyed was the completely different treatment and information I received, simply because I challenged the first offer.  What happens if you don’t, I wonder? If you are not savvy enough to push back and say, oh I don’t think so! I guess you get stuck with the hefty price tag, and the poor service.

It makes you wonder too, what else we are putting up with, simply through a failure or lack of inclination to speak out.  What else would we ask for, of whom?  What would get better if we demanded it?

There was some good news today – I can readily extract myself from health care coverage with a single phone call, and I can choose when coverage starts and stops.  Thank goodness some things are simpler than others.

Time to come clean

1 Sep

OK. Confession time.  I have a lot of stuff.  Not as much as I did, say a month ago, but still, more than the average airline seems to think is appropriate as a luggage allowance for trans-atlantic flights.  So, unless my daily attempts to see if I can upgrade to business class (they get more bags) prove successful, I clearly have to make some tough decisions about what stays in storage, what gets gifted and what makes the trip.

But first, a look back at what I used to own … all my furniture and plenty of household items were given away to friends and family, or donated to community groups! Yup, even the table I bought at a yard sale, the $5 lamp from a thrift store.  Now, considering that just about everything I owned was given to me or bought second-, third- or whatever-hand, I think I’ve done my bit to spread “stuff karma” out in the universe.  And it was uncanny – a friend needed some extra furniture to add to a spare room, another had students coming to stay for a year, and someone else knew of folks who were out of work, short on cash and expecting a new addition to the family.  People were generous to me, and so I got to pass that on, right when someone needed a hand.  Just as importantly, it all went on one day AND they did the lifting! Hard to argue with that kind of efficiency.

So what’s left? Clothes, bags, hats, scarves and shoes – I had about 30 pairs! Some framed prints, photos from when they used to print them out, and all the myriad things that you stick in the junk drawer, the back of the closet, or the handy Ikea storage container, just as long as they are out of sight … and of course, out of mind.  In short, all the stuff that is super-annoying to sort through, but seems to take up an alarming amount of space!

What’s interesting is that the less stuff I actually own, the more protective I think I feel about it all.  Things I haven’t thought about in years are all of a sudden my long-lost friends, things I can’t imagine living without.  That sheer purple blouse I’ve worn exactly twice since I bought it – love it! The dress that I wish I could find the receipt for, cuz the tags are still on – best friend!  Don’t get me started on all the things I’ve convinced myself I *might* need.  Weird how that works – there’s a metaphor here somewhere.

But I think I have a strategy, or at least the beginnings of one.  My very wise friend Sarah said to me today – what you need is a few things for each of the various niches; think shallow and wide, not narrow and deep.  She’s profound, that girl.

What I need to figure out next – how shallow is shallow? Hard to know when you’re drowning in stuff, and everything feels deep! Anyone need a tote bag?