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30 August 2013

Home Sweet Home ● by Jess

Yesterday we *finally* got approved for our flat and we rode the tube up to Wembley to sign our contract! It was so exciting!

The next morning we got up and went to check out our new place again. Oh how I love it! It is just a little studio, but it has a separate kitchen and our own bathroom (sounds strange, but for our price range, it is a luxury). It is in a neighborhood Jon has affectionately termed "little Dubai." When we first got into London, we drove through the area and (as we oggled at how beautiful everything was) our driver said, "All the Arabs live here. Do you know why?" "No... why?" "Because they are all rich." Sort of a transition to wrap our heads around. Middle easterners in NYC are not necessarily the wealthiest group (a lot of them were hanging out with us in Queens ;) ).

We're still a bit to get used to all the hookah and having practically every female neighbor wearing a  burka, but I sincerely couldn't be happier. Our room faces a quiet courtyard, its well-lighted, and plenty large enough for a bed, a desk (which is really all we need), and a wardrobe. I'm insanely excited about it!

That being said, the small size of it will require some creative feng shui-ing. Enter Ikea. We spent the whole afternoon there, trying to decide on the best ways to maximize our space. I think we've more or less figured it out, and, although we'll be waiting for about a month to get our relocation allowance so we can actually buy furniture, it feels exciting to be putting down roots. 

Also, my computer *finally* made it through customs. I can start working again tomorrow!!

29 August 2013

Oh Happy Day ● by Jess

Today has been marvellous :)

London Lifestyle Blog
Jon went to lunch with a colleague, while I ran some errands and we met up on the steps of St. Paul's cathedral afterwards. I'm fairly certain this is where the bird lady from Mary Poppins was. It is a pretty epic building and part of me wishes we could live in this area. I absolutely love it! Jon and I had fun taking photos of our reflections in the modern silver statues around St. Paul's.

London Lifestyle BLog
London LIfestyle BLog

Tonight, Jon took me to a play at The Scoop near Tower Bridge. Prince of Plebes (a family friendly version) was playing there tonight and afterwards to got icecream and walked around checking out the Tower of London and all the sites between us and home. Beautiful!

London LIfestyle Blog
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28 August 2013

The Beginning of Birthday Week ● by Jess

When I was in college, my roommate, Aimee, introduced a very important concept to me. This was the concept of "birthday week." Basically you get to use your birthday as an excuse to celebrate the 4 or 5 days before AND after your birthday. It is fabulous. As my birthday is coming up here on Sunday, and its a big one (25!), Jon has been making all sorts of special plans for celebrating.

 Yesterday, he found this amazing fish and chips place that had a deal for a full plate for only £6/each! Clever boy! It was cheap and tasty, just the way we like it.

 Today, he got me my first ever smart phone. I feel like I've finally entered the modern age. I've only had it for less than a day and I'm not sure how I lived without it previously. Best gift EVER!!!

26 August 2013

First English Wedding ● by Jess

After realizing out flat is going to cost us more than we had originally anticipated, Jon has been very proactive about his opinions on me getting a second "transitional" job while I work on networking and getting a client base here in the UK. I am not a very big fan of this idea, as I still have a half dozen shoots to edit from my last month in the states (and my computer is still stuck in customs-- it has been for 5 days!). So, in my earnest search for a second shooter/assistant photographer job, I stumbled upon a couple that were in need of wedding photography. The job paid peanuts, but it gave me an excuse see the English countryside a bit more and hopefully open the door to cultivating a word-of-mouth reputation for myself here.

 The couple had actually had their religious ceremony a year ago, but have waited until their first anniversary to do the official civil ceremony. It was a lovely, intimate Indian wedding with close friends and family only in Kent. It was right near where Jon and I had originally intended to live, before we realized transportation for Jon alone would cost $500 at the very least per month (and that doesn't even include me!). The couple was wonderful and Jon and I really enjoyed ourselves.

 Unfortunately, it didn't quite end up the way I had hoped. I don't think the bride and groom even bothered to look at my site. They were just thrilled to have someone come and shoot and such a last minute, low expense. I had expected to give the a philanthropic "I'm just paying forward" wink and charm and tell them that the best way they could thank me is to recommend my photography to their friends. Unfortunately, the day ended with a payment in cash and a cheery farewell from the groom, "I'm glad we could give you this opportunity; I hope it helps you build your portfolio!"

 WHAT?! I mean, his heart was in the right place, but golly gee! I swear I actually did get a degree in photography and I really did have a thriving business in NYC. *sigh* Ah well, hopefully when they get the photos it will change his mind.

23 August 2013

Finding a Flat ● by Jess

So, we've been on flat hunting mission! After dozens of all calls, we finally found a few that were within our price range and that hadn't been snapped up yet. We went to see them and we fell IN LOVE with this very large, beautiful flat with a balcony, a huge kitchen, bedroom, and reception room. It was in a beautiful neighborhood... It was just marvelous!

 Shortly after leaving though I started getting a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach which sat there like a nervous churning stew for the rest of the evening. I kept trying to push it away, but I couldn't. Finally, I looked up the particulars of the area and found out it is one of the most dangerous parts of London. Bums. Back to the drawing board.

 Jon and I stayed up until 3:30am looking for flats. We made a list of nine. The next morning we woke up first thing and called. All were gone already except two. The first was a dingy little room with a kitchenette above a fried chicken fast food place. Gross. The second was in a pishy posh neighborhood above Hyde Park. After seeing the first, our hopes low. However, it was perfect! Still a studio and more than we wanted to pay, but by far the best thing we've seen yet. Fingers crossed our bank transfers get it together so we can transfer our money!

In the mean time, we've been staying near St. Paul's Cathedral in a place called King's Wardrobe. It has been really lovely. We are really lucky Jon's company is paying for these first two weeks-- we'd be toast without them :)

21 August 2013

Welcome to Londontown! ● by Jess

After a very loooong journey, we finally made it to London! Whoo-hoo! Starting in Salt Lake City --> Denver --> Rekyvik, Iceland --> then finally to Hethrow airport. It was strange because our night was only a few hours long with the time change. We didn't sleep at all, so we felt a bit like zombies when we finally got off the plane.

 Jon's work had a car come pick us up. The driver was fabulous. He took us on a little tour around the city, which was covered in rare, bright and beautiful sunshine all day long! We are staying at this amazing two bedroom full-service hotel/apartment, which is owned by Deloitte. We got in, showered and took a nice long nap (well, I did). Jon, on the other had, went right to work opening up a bank account (note: if you have a Bank of America account, opening a Barclays account over here is super easy). By the time I woke up, he had it all ready to roll and was working to get our money wired over (which has become a nightmare all in itself).

 After getting some groceries, we took a walk down the Thames toward Big Ben. It was absolutely marvelous! We passed a street carnival, and tons of people just loving life. I'm a Boston loving girl, and Jon is a NYC loving boy. When you mix the two together and move to Europe, London seems like the perfect city for us. It's now official, I love this city.