Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Adventures in England, Part 02

Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Jacqui Saves Us Again and We Take Possession of Our Flat

The shopping bag from the telephone store never made it back to our hotel room. It contained the recharger plugs for our phones, the usage instructions because we do finally intend to learn how to text, and the USB modem for the laptop.

Back at the phone store, the nice man told us we could buy recharger plugs down the block a ways, and he pointed to the store. As for the instructions, he didn’t have an extra copy for us, but we could print them out from the Internet; just Google it. Fine. OH, except that the USB modem was also in that bag, so we have no Internet.

Demetrios was all apologies. I told him the really cool thing about it was, it almost made up for the time I left my purse on the train, with my passport in it.

We checked at the bank, we checked at the solicitors’; nobody had seen a red plastic shopping bag. We asked Jacqui, at the hotel’s front desk, and she said, “Let me go in the back and see…” and brought it out to us. Jacqui saves us again! (She is the one, you may recall, who saved us on our first trip here, at the end of June; see here for that story.)

We checked with the solicitor and he said yes, every legal matter had been completed and the keys were at the estate agent’s office in Ormskirk, waiting for us.

So we boarded a bus with half our luggage (the rest to be brought tomorrow) and off we went to Ormskirk, getting off the bus only a block from Kath’s office, the estate agent. She handed us the envelope containing the keys.  She also let us use the phone in the back to call the electricity company and the water company and arrange for these utilities to be turned on.

So, because Demetrios says my ears seem more attuned to the local accent than his (How strange is that?), I left him in the front office, to hear from Kath all about her holiday in Greece, while I did the telephoning.

What I heard was so surprising that I forgot to ask half the questions I was supposed to, and now we shall have to call them again sometime. I wandered back into the front, my eyes glazed over, and reported what I’d found out: “Mrs. Williams did all this for us yesterday.” Yes, the seller of the property had phoned the companies and switched the accounts to our names, and both the electricity and the water were already on.

We exclaimed repeatedly what a very nice lady she was, and told Kath we hoped we had not seen the last of her, and we hoped to meet her husband, too, a clinical pathologist, I think.

Kath just smiled, a huge smile, her eyes sparkling, and said, “Mrs. Williams has left you – well, a ‘package’ that I think will please you very much.”

That must be typical British understatement. I literally burst into tears when I saw how thoughtful the previous owner had been; see the previous post entitled, “Kindness, kindness, kindness!”
We lugged our two suitcases from Kath’s office up the street about a mile (but that wasn’t so very bad, as the bags were on wheels) and tried all the keys we’d been given until we found the right ones to open the outside and inside doors. And then we stepped into our new English home!

We saw the candles, the silk flowers, and the glass dolphins statuette immediately. The rest we kept discovering gradually, as we opened drawers and closets and cupboards to put things away. It was like an Easter-egg hunt and Christmas combined. There are even sheets and pillowcases for the beds, and thick, luxurious bath towels, and bubble bath and facial scrub and all sorts of such items, appreciated for themselves and for the implicit recommendations as to brands, but most of all, for the kindness of heart that overwhelms us yet again. I just cried.

Cell phones, shmell phones. Turns out we can’t use them to call Greece or the U.S. and they also do not work with toll-free numbers. All the calls we need to make fall into one of those categories! Even worse, the cell phones do not work at all from inside our flat. We’ll have to step outside, rain or shine, to use them. (Shine?)

Oh, well, we mustn’t let anything spoil this wonderful day, when Demetrios’ long-cherished dream of returning to Ormskirk is realized.

Back to Southport for one last night at the hotel. We ate at the restaurant there. Their Sticky Toffee Pudding is one of the best desserts I ever ate.

"Pudding,"in England, is not what it is in America. In America, it’s something sweet and creamy. In England, it can be just about anything. This is from Demetrios’ Oxford Dictionary of Current English:

1 a any of various sweet cooked dishes (rice pudding) b savoury dish containing flour, suet, etc. (steak and kidney pudding) c sweet course of a meal d any of various sausages stuffed with oatmeal, spices, blood, etc. (black pudding)
This Sticky Toffee Pudding was a chocolate cupcake heavily drizzled with toffee sauce and served with vanilla ice cream.

Demetrios went to bed and was asleep within 2 minutes. I went downstairs to write in my day planner and organize for tomorrow and chat with Jacqui. We’ve tentatively agreed on Tuesday afternoon for her to come to tea, and we hope she will be able to bring her husband, Ray. As I said to her, “That will double our acquaintance here!”

Back upstairs, I found the TV still on. An average British family was reliving the 1970’s. The program producers had redecorated their home the way it would have looked in England in 1970, and the house only had the technology available to the average British family then. Meaning, no cell phones, no home computer, no microwave oven, no color television, a tiny refrigerator with no freezer, a phonograph player with vinyl records, and no central heating.

The kids were bored; the mother declared she didn’t know how anybody ever cooked back then. The father had to drive a car with no power steering or power brakes. The family learned to play board games together.

I said to Demetrios, later, when he woke up, “You and I are SO ‘Seventies!!” What a shock to realize. Yes, we really must learn how to send text messages and do all the other things a cell phone can do other than just place and receive calls – such as picking up messages, storing phone numbers in its address book, etc. Texting didn’t look hard when the man in the store showed us. Just, we can’t remember what he did. Read the instructions.


elizabeth said...

:) Well, you blog so you are not fully in the 1970's! I do not use my cell to text, but do store numbers in them... Love hearing these stories!

GretchenJoanna said...

I am enthralled (I know the word seems too strong, but it isn't!) by your accounts of moving in, and into a new country-- and also amazed at the privilege of this virtual sharing of the experience. Your storytelling is like the best sort of letter-writing home. Thank you so much for letting me in on it.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Ah, but the vinyl records, Elizabeth! We have a hundred or so of those.

Enthralled! Gretchen, thank you so much for that! I can't even imagine my stuff being enthralling for anyone, but am glad to know it is for you. That's so encouraging.