I am determined to do whatever we can to make baseball more popular in the UK than it is currently. The MLB has a presence here and is doing its bit, it’s taught in some schools, I was surprised to learn and it’s sort of on TV here, but only twice a week in the middle of the night. Still that’s what digital video recorders are for and more to the point, that’s what MLB’s At-Bat application on the iPhone is for (£2.99 very well spent).
Anyway on Saturday me & the kids sought out one of the last remaining weekends of games in British baseball with the kids. Bar the first week we were here, which was very hot, it has been steadily downhill since then, weather-wise and this weekend was weather only the ducks could love. That said some very hardy souls braved the driving rain in lovely Croydon for the final four of the UK national championships.
As you can see on this pitch in a game that I think was between the London Mets & Menwith Hill Patriots, it was players, family & friends only.
The Mets must’ve won as they went on the following day to win the whole shooting match, beating our local team, the Richmond Flames 11-4 in a one-game 9-inning final; it was too wet to play the best-of-three final they had hoped for.
Oh well it was an interesting, if underwhelming introduction to the game here for our family’s slugger, but I’m sure he can make an impact next season.
And of course let’s hope the real Mets do the business back in the truly big leagues – right now it’s looking good, but after last season’s astonhshing collapse, nothing will be taken from granted until game 162 is completed.
As part of this culinary journey, we took a trip to the only Whole Foods store in London the other day, thinking it might serve some American stuff that we wanted to try and get (although there’s very little you can’t get in London supermarkets and I’m not looking to bulk up on Velveeta any time soon). However it became apparent quickly that in order to differentiate itself from the other British supermarkets, Whole Foods London was thoroughly hardcore organic (with prices to match their Kensington location), and as all the supermarkets here are at least softcore organic and some approaching hardcore, that’s a touch way to differentiate.
We’ve been in London now just over a month, and what a month.
I won’t claim it’s been easy. Having to set up your life – all those bills, accounts things to sign etc all the while trying to maintain normal working lives is far from easy. And just when we thought we’d gotten on top of things, the bulk of our worldly possessions arrived at the end of last week. Almost 200 boxes & packages of various shapes & sizes that now have to be put somewhere. Sally excels at handling things like this and I don’t. I had to leave her to it and go play with the kids for a bit, which was my way of coping, of not a particularly helpful one! Some people like the challenge of organizing vast quantities of unorganized mess and some people don’t. Hundred-year old British houses weren’t built with the closet space you came to expect in post-war NYC apartments. And boy do you accumulate a lot of stuff in those closets!
There are more than a few upsides of living here though. The parks we knew about and love, but also the quality of the food in the supermarkets. That’s just as well as we are not spoiled for choice on the takeaway front though, as we were in NYC. That probably sounds like a ‘duh, you’re not kidding’ kind of remark. But we had gotten used to having cuisines from around the world within a few blocks of our apartment and now it’s Indian or Pizza, mainly. Extremely good Indian and reasonable pizza (though not up to NYC standards). But that’s about it thus far. So we have to get back to cooking, and now everything we cooked with has turned up, we can.
As part of this culinary journey, we took a trip to the only Whole Foods store in London the other day, thinking it might serve some American stuff that we wanted to try and get (although there’s very little you can’t get in London supermarkets and I’m not looking to bulk up on Velveeta any time soon). However it became apparent quickly that in order to differentiate itself from the other British supermarkets, Whole Foods London was thoroughly hardcore organic (with prices to match their Kensington location), and as all the supermarkets here are at least softcore organic and some approaching hardcore, that’s a touch way to differentiate. We left with not very much and me muttering about how they can survive in a down economy with the competition they face and the dollar/pound ratio now moving slowly in the wrong direction for them. Oh well. No Mac ‘n’ Cheese in a box, is basically the extent of our food shortages; hardly something to worry about.
We haven’t had a vacation this summer at all. Last week was a ‘staycation‘ for me if you like. But it wasn’t a break from anything much, unless you count a trip on your own with two young kids to the Natural History Museum and a few rounds on the local pitch ‘n’ putt a vacation! That will come in October.
So we landed, got met by a suitably reactionary car driver who immediately handed me a copy of the Mail on Sunday (‘welcome to Britain, did you know our Post Offices are being closed by knife wielding maniacs protesting the cost of petrol?” or something like that), spent a few nights at Nanny and Grandads’ before moving in minus most of our furniture, which is languishing in the port in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Our most used expression (apart from “don’t think of the amount in dollars, just think in pounds”) has been “on the boat,”, as in:
- “Where are all of our plates, cups and glasses? On the boat.”
- “What about the kids lunch boxes? On the boat”
- “And my solitary golf club? On the boat.”
You get the idea.
Still, we’re here, our phones & internet are up and running, even if our TV is somewhat scratchy – who knew the aerial was struck by lightning about two months ago? We certainly didn’t!
But being able to nip up to a wonderful park after work to play a quick game of cricket with your son, not to mention having a 9-hole pitch & putt right near by (and a super-fast DSL connection!) makes the other niggles you inevitably come across when disconnecting your life on one side of the Atlantic and re-connecting it on the other, all worthwhile.
So we’re finally leaving New York, tomorrow night to be exact. I thought I’d gather together some of my personal thoughts about the place, in particular the things I think I will miss most about it. Of course you’re not sure what they’ll be until you leave – I had no idea that chocolate would be such a big deal when I left the UK originally! So in no particular order, here they are…
My son playing baseball…cycling up the west side highway….cycling all the way around the perimeter of Manhattan…the walk to work (and subsequent walk back)…being able to walk to gigs at a lot of venues, especially to see those British bands before they got big here…in fact being able to walk to a lot of places people elsewhere only visit once in their lifetimes, if ever (but that we take for granted)….the YMCA and the chit chat among the old guys in the locker room about politics, sports (boxing a specialty)….the subway – it’s cheap, mostly efficient and just works, most of the time…the Mets and Shea Stadium (slightly less)…Cedar Tavern (though it’s been gone a while)… the seasons – living here you really know what summer and winter are all about….and the general tolerance for a higher level of craziness than most places would put up with; it makes for an interesting, if sometimes challenging life….did I mention baseball enough?
Many of these things we will be able to still do – baseball is surprisingly popular in the UK – but it won’t be New York.
But that’s OK. Life moves on, as we do, to a new chapter in our lives. And New York will always be here. It will always be one of my top two cities in the world, the place where I met my wife, got married and where both our children were born – they’re the real native New Yorkers after all, and always will be.
We’re getting very close to the big move. But let’s see what one or both of us have done since the start of the year:
- Bought an apartment
- Renovated the apartment by combining it with what we already had – including the accompanying byzantine NYC bureaucracy
- Accepted a new job and with it, made the decision to move country.
- Found a house in the UK
- Got both kids into a good school in London – just as competitive as NYC
- Become a citizen of the US
- Put the apartment on the market (holding open houses is such fun).
- Started to move stuff overseas (or give it away or sell it on eBay)
- Travel to the UK, Switzerland & various places in the US.
- Gradually disconnect from our life in NYC (banks, credit cards, utilities, schools etc)
All the time holding down our jobs, keeping the kids on the straight & narrow (only two ER visits during this time!) and generally trying to maintain some sangfroid about the whole thing. So if we haven’t been as communicative as usual, that’ll be why ;).
Ye Gods, first Captain America leaves Fulham, and now McGod is leaving, although this time of his own free will. We’re left with Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson to fly the Stars & Stripes for America’s team in the Premier League.
It’s genuinely sad to see McBride leave, he’s been the ultimate professional for the last four seasons. A player who clearly worked his socks off to get where he is. And he’s had his head more or less rebuilt in the process.
By the new edition of the Rough Guide to Britain.
Don’t worry, we won’t be living in Plymouth or Derby, that’s for certain.
…to paraphrase Lou Reed.
I know it might seem a little sad to be excited to be getting a new computer, but slightly less so, I’d argue, when it’s one of these.
And what a journey it’s had so far:
I passed my naturalization test today (on the eve of the 12th anniversary of my arrival on these fair shores). That’s the one where you answer ‘no’ to a bunch of questions – such as whether or not you have ever advocated overthrowing a government, or whether you have ever lied to a government official, or done some of the things that our erstwhile governor was so fond of doing (and some other colorful ones, but this is a family blog), and ‘yes’ to a bunch of others, such as whether or not you are willing to bear arms on behalf of the US.
This was after a 3hr 10 min wait past the appointment time. But 15 mins later it was done. Or almost – their computer system had crashed, so it’s not quite officially done yet, but will be soon.
So, I can now join the US military – where do I sign up and what happens when I do? Oh. Better take the Bush/Cheney option with that one.
By taking this course. I’m not sure if this job title-inflation is as prevalent in the UK as it is here, but when I first got here, I couldn’t believe that you could have mattress professionals, let alone sandwich artists (and from that link, I see it has made it to the UK).
I wonder what letters you would have after your name if you got that degree – B.Ed?
I’ll get my coat.