Sunday, March 31, 2013

The House on Petersham

We are in our new place. After a bit of a mix up yesterday we got the keys. We were only supposed to move in next Tuesday, and had arranged with the real estate agent to meet on Saturday between 10-12 to unload some of our stuff.  So we packed the car to the gills and set off from Egham to Richmond. We arrived at the house at 10:30 and there was no sign of a living being. We waited around for a 1/2 hour in the cold (it actually started snowing), when finally bwo needed the bathroom so we set off for Richmond town. I then received an email from the agent, who had completed his check out of the house in 15 mins and had set off back home to Swindon (more than an hour away). No one told him we were expecting to come to the house.

I was pissed off.  He luckily understood just how unhappy I was and decided to come back and meet us. So instead of having to wait until Tuesday, he felt so bad he gave us the keys and let us move in on the spot.  Today (Easter Sunday) it took two more full car loads to bring all we had in Egham (mostly bwo's clothes) to the house.

There is much to say about this place.  It is as unique as my wife and has so many unusual aspects I will be blogging about it for the next year at least.  As bwo collapsed for a nap this afternoon, I took a walk down to the Thames. I got completely lost on the way back home and my hour walk turned out to be nearly twice as long. It's a wonderful area, with wild forests, green fields, quaint cottages, huge estates and the river walk (I started at Teddington Lock and ended up somewhere near Ham's polo grounds) is spectacular. I think I am going to like this area - if only the bed was not so lumpy.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Egham United Services Club Beer Festival

In order to further my integration into English society I joined some of the UK squints at the Egham United Services Club Easter Beer Festival last night. The way it works is you visit the United Services Hall (one block from where we are staying here in Egham) pay 5 GBP (2 for a deposit on the festival glass, see above, and 3 for the entrance fee), you then pay 1.50 GBP per half pint. They have over forty of the "newest and most promising" ales on tap. It was quite an experience, I got to enjoy three unknown, but excellent ales (actually two ales and a porter). The place is sort of of ex-servicemen's club, in fact, the smell and look reminded me exactly of the folk's bowls club (Wedgewood) in the old country. There were all sorts of people, all pretty serious beer drinkers, who gazed lovingly into their pints and could discuss the pros and cons of hoppiness vs. alcohol content and such like (excellence in any form, I always say). As the evening wore on and the squints got more loquacious I found out all sorts of things about beer and serious drinking. The serious amongst you should be able to tell that the beer in the 2 pound festival glass above is not one of the on-tap beer festival delicacies, rather a regular Marston's Pedigree (Classic English Pale Ale) I bought at Tesco. The brother and I once visited their brewery in Barton-on-Trent.  It's quite good enough for me for the time being, I believe.

Keeping Pesach has not been a priority (or even possible) this year, what with the only thing to eat at work being sandwiches. So I did not feel too guilty about visiting the beer festival. Wait until I tell you about the Easter Parade, complete with a Salvation Army Band, hymns and Hot Cross Buns, we bumped into while shopping for sheets (what a punishment) in Staines today.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Today is bwo's birthday.  Last night we visited the Royal Albert Hall to see Johnny Clegg's A South African Story performance. Wow! What a venue. I think we have used up all our good concert Karma for the rest of our lives. Thanks to Suzanne (of NY) for the excellent suggestion.

I opted to drive into the city and bought some parking in the neighbouring Imperial College. The drive in was stressful as the traffic was heavy and the streets small. Bwo was the embodiment of patience and kept me calm, all the while insisting I should have used Waze instead of Fiona the Tom Tom. What can one say about the Royal Albert Hall except that it is spectacular (we unfortunately did not find out how many holes it takes to fill). We were led to our "Loggia Box number 18" and turns out that these are possibly the best seats in the house. On top of it all, we had the whole of the 8 seater box to ourselves. We moved the chairs aside and danced most of the concert away (There is even a "hostess" who will take your drink order and deliver).

The concert was great. The place has an almost intimate atmosphere, and Johnny Clegg spoke a lot about the past and his amazing musical journey.  The most touching moment for me was Asimbonanga which featured a video of Nelson Mandela (of course, there is already a not great quality YouTube video of the performance). Bwo particularly liked Scatterlings of Africa, and noted that most of the audience were indeed scatterlings out of Africa. In fact, I have not seen so many South Africans in one place since the Boer War.

All in all an excellent evening, wonderful venue, entertaining show and perfect company.  Happy Birthday Love.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


For years I have sworn by my black Palladium (Scout) Commando boots. Everyone thinks I'm a little extreme in that I buy 6 to 8 pairs at a time. You see, they are often hard to find and so my shoe man on Ahuza knows to keep me informed when they are available. They meet all my needs, they are relatively inexpensive, not leather, comfortable and, of course, black. Only one problem - they lack insulation. They are definitely made for desert wear, not for the freezing wastelands of Egham, Surrey.

I have taken to walking into work in the morning and back in the evening. This leaves the car for bwo and her shopping (I secretly hope she will complete all her buying before the weekend, so I can be left in peace). It's been below freezing each morning around 6 am when I set out on the 23 minute walk. Now I have the clothing worked out, it's all about layers. But, by the time I get to work my feet are solid blocks of ice. On top of this the heating here at squint central UK is rather rubbish, and so I spend the day with cold feet. Not even two pairs of socks help.

I decided this must change and so invested in a pair of Clark's Gore-Tex lined boots. They cost the same as five pairs of Palladiums, but I reckon warmth of feet is important. They also (dare I confess) have some leather in the uppers, it's just impossible to find anything warm that is not in some part leather. This morning's walk was very pleasant, and at the moment I am feeling pleasantly warm in my new shoes. I will not abandon my Palladiums.  I have been assured that there are at least three warm days in Summer here in the UK.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Quiet Seder

We held our own intimate Seder in Egham last night, just bwo and I. Bwo outdid herself with an excellent meal and outstanding matzo ball soup. We started off with onion bhajis which worked perfectly with the surprisingly strong Colman's horseradish sauce (brought the required tears to ones eyes, as it was when we were slaves in Egypt). Then soup, followed by tofu and cheese patties, with roast potatoes and peas and corn (we are Sefardy on Pesach). And we spoke.

We talked of Pesachs past, when we were young, and how each year the Seder tradition marked the beginning of Spring. How in our Kosher home in PE when I was little there was next to nothing to eat or drink except Matzo and Strawberry jam. We spoke of our very missed, absent children and Bwo spent some time on Skype watching the family Seder in Raanana. Funny, I proclaimed after last year's mayhem and noise that it would be the last huge Seder we would host for a while, and indeed it was. I was afraid it would be a sad affair for bwo, away from her Goldsmiths, but it was warm and homely and peaceful. We did commit to doing something more social next year in Richmond.  All in all a special evening as it's supposed to be and probably a lot better than going to McDonalds.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Nester the Nespresso

We set out in the snow on Saturday to do some buying for the new lodgings. You can just image how excited I was by all this. First stop was some sort of dreadful house goods store about 100 miles from home (at least that's what it felt like). There bwo selected all sorts of glasses, bedding and other "soft" goods - nothing interesting (that is nothing connected to a plug). We then made our way to Brent Cross Shopping Mall, which is much further in the car than on the map. We wandered around the electrical appliance section and there I fell in love with a Nespresso coffee maker.

Now the coffee here in general is not good (actually until we got an espresso machine here at Squint Central UK, it was basically swill). I miss my Lavazza machine daily. I like Nespresso coffee in general, and this little machine really called to me.  (I am ashamed to say I minged out and saved 15GBP by getting a cream coloured unit). We took Nester home and tested his coffee making abilities, which meet expectations. What is really cool is the "Aeroccino 3" that comes as part of the package. This little device heats and froths milk with a zen-like calm. You just pour in the cold milk, press the button on the side and watch as it silently whirs and heats - it then stops on it's own. Magic. It's almost enough to entice me to drink milk in my coffee. Nope - actually that will never happen.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Things don't always turn out as one planned

It was bwo and my first official weekend in the UK as a relocated couple. I was getting a little tired of the hot, little flat in Egham and so decided that we should visit Briton on Saturday morning. I read somewhere (in the numerous travel books we seemed to have collected) that Briton is a place to visit (in summer probably). Anyway, Saturday turned out to be cold and rainy, not really summer, or even spring weather. But, undeterred we set out (let's just say bwo took some considerable amount of convincing). I chose to drive only back roads as I am tired of looking at the UK from the highway. We had not been on the road all that long, only about three arguments worth, when bwo spotted a tea room just outside Cranleigh. So I dutifully turned around, and we stopped for tea and scones. They were excellent, although the scones were a little heavy and the strawberry jam a spot to smooth, the clotted cream was genuine and the tea room dry and warm. Needless to say, that was enough for the day and once were were done we headed home where I spent the afternoon watching five six nations rugby (thanks Yuval) - could have been a whole lot worse.

Yesterday was Sunday. We decided we would head into London to the Nation Portrait Gallery. Bwo promised that we would not have to go shopping. We drove into Richmond and parked at the station. We bought our Oyster cards (sort of debit cards for use on the London underground and buses) and undergrounded into the Embankment station and walked to the Gallery.  We were enjoying looking at the paintings of the royals, when bwo informed me that her heel on her (thrift shop acquired) boot had broken. She hobbled around for a while before it was decided she would need a new pair of shoes (Oh joy).  So we headed out of the gallery across Trafalgar Square to Piccadilly Circus - not a shoe shop in sight (only entertainment and food), so we hopped onto the underground and ended up on Oxford Street - shopping!!! Well bwo could not find any suitable shoes, so we broke off the other heel.  This was way easier than I would have expected which all goes to show you get what you pay for. So she just gave up and hobbled home changing trains in good humor and with a smile.

So nothing turned out as we expected, but still a good time was had by all (except for the shopping).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Relo Day

Honestly, I don't even remember the last time I blogged. I have been collecting frequent flyer miles and eating plastic airline food for way too long (only Asian Vegetarian - the only special meal worth eating). But today is special. It's our official relocation day. Bwo and I are sitting in the lounge at BG airport (well I am, Bwo is off at the duty free doing some last minute shopping) waiting for our flight to Heathrow.  It has been a busy time, twice to the West Coast in three weeks, so far 11 flights between the UK and Israel.  Then work in both Egham and in Yakum. But in truth I am having a good time. It has been a little lonely in the UK without the family, but that will change today.  We have left our lovely kids behind, so there will be a lot of skyping, vibering and whatsapping.

The little apartment in Egham has become a second home, but we are patiently waiting for the first of April when we get the house on Petersham in Richmond.  On the 18th bso comes to visit, then around April 3rd, Roxy will arrive after spending some time at Peta and Yossi's summer camp for dogs.  It's over 30 degrees C here in Israel today, and it's below zero in London.  I know which I prefer and it's not this Sharav.

I am thoroughly sick of air travel and am looking forward to the next three weeks at home (or at temporary home) with bwo before I need to be back in Israel.  I have lots of uncomfortable travelling stories to tell you, but that can wait, right now all I want is to be back in the UK and more or less settled.