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My Anglophile Adventure Begins

My Anglophile Adventure Begins

Welcome to the first entry in my Great London Adventure blog, which will chronicle my three-month Anglophile adventure in London.  My flight landed at Heathrow on schedule.  We disembarked at Queen’s Terminal, which seemed like an auspicious start to an Anglophile adventure.  After a long trek from the terminal, I arrived at Customs and Immigration to find hundreds of people in line.  I tried to let my family know that I’d arrived safely while I was waiting (im)patiently for my turn, but none of my texts or e-mails would go through.  I didn’t realize I was so dependent on my cell phone until I couldn’t use it!

Once I was cleared to enter the UK, my next task was to track down my suitcases.  The airline “helpfully” removed them from the baggage carousel while I was standing in line, and it took a while to figure out where they had ended up.  Eventually I was reunited with all 88 pounds of my worldly possessions and I set off to find my Hosts International driver.

After a somewhat hair-raising drive across London, we arrived at my new home away from home.  Teak Close is in a quiet, residential neighborhood in southeast London.  It’s only a few blocks from the Thames, directly across the river from Canary Wharf, which is the most well-known part of the London Docklands.  The whole area was occupied by the Surrey Commercial Docks until the early 1970s.

The house itself is one of 50 or so owned by Hosts International, which provides homestays and house shares for international students, visiting academics, and business people.  It has seven bedrooms and a shared kitchen, sitting room, and small backyard.  The yard is referred to as a garden here, even though there’s not a flower in sight.  The other residents are all students or interns.  They’re very quiet and so far I’ve hardly seen them.  If it weren’t for the overflowing garbage cans and dirty dishes in the sink, I would  barely know they were here.

Teak Close

My bedroom window overlooks the Close.  It’s a charming view only slightly spoiled by the large garbage and recycling bins lined up outside every front door.  The Close is quite lively in the afternoons, when the neighborhood kids race around the courtyard on bikes and scooters.  Over the rooftops I can see the financial institutions that dominate Canary Wharf, including the European headquarters for Citigroup.

The #381 bus stops at the end of the road.  It will whisk me to Canada Water Tube station and Surrey Quays Shopping Centre in a matter of minutes.  After exploring my new home, I headed for the Vodaphone store at Surrey Quays to buy a UK SIM card for my phone.  The mall also has two “dollar stores” (Poundland and the 99p Store), and a Tesco supermarket where I stopped to pick up some groceries.  Every aisle is full of foods that I’ve never heard of before, even as a lifelong Anglophile.  Even buying laundry detergent proved to be an adventure.  I had to choose between “bio” and “non-bio,” and I had no idea what that meant.  For better or for worse, I’ll be washing my clothes with non-bio laundry tablets while I’m here.  More updates soon as my Anglophile adventure continues!

A selection from Poundland - what a bargain!

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