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Pleasant Thoughts on a Morning Commute

Read them now, because it is very likely I won't be liking the commute so much when I am doing it every morning

sunny 17 °C
View Exploring A New Home on GregW's travel map.

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I woke on this morning at 6:15 AM feeling the sun on my face, just like most of the past eleven mornings. The sun coming up in the sky every morning is not that unusual an event, as it has been doing something similar for some billions of years, and probably will for a few billion more. What is unusual is that I have been able to feel the sun rays hitting my face, rather than the early morning rays getting blocked by grey, thick clouds. This is unusual because the BBC has told me every night when going to bed that I should expect to wake up tomorrow to a grey, raining day.

Every day it is the same thing from the cute little blonde girl giving the weather report. “Well, today is shaping up to be a sunny but cool day in London, but tomorrow the rain will move in and we’ll have a day of clouds and showers,” she will say. The next morning, I will wake up, turn on the BBC and hear the same report. Somehow those showers that are going to move in keep deciding to move somewhere else. Judging by the weather map, it looks like the rain is having a fine time up in Scotland, and has decided to spend the summer there.

Perhaps the rain likes hiking, I here it is good up there, and judging by the Scottish people I know, they’d welcome the rain on their hikes. Anything to make their hikes more miserable seems to make Scottish people happier. “Ay, the weather was bad. The temperature was just above freezing, and the rain was coming at me vertically. The path was not more than a craggy ditch which was soon flowing like a broad river, but I made my way to the top of Gilchesterbladderfrangtoppertoopcrop, the tallest of all the crags in county Carooooooooon. Five hundred and three feet.”

For whatever reason the rain is deciding to stay in Scotland, I’m not complaining. It makes for nice days, at least for the part of them that I am awake.

This morning, like all the previous mornings the sun’s early rays have woken me, I smiled, rolled over to face the dark side of my flat, pulled the covers over my head and went back to sleep.

The past eleven mornings have gone a little something like this. I wake up with the first rays of sunshine, roll over so the sun isn’t shining on my face and promptly go back to sleep. Every hour or hour and a half, I roll over and am soon awakened by the light and heat on my face. I then roll over and go back to sleep. This cycle repeats until it is about 11 o’clock, when I drag myself out of bed and decide to finally face the day.

I’m not surprised by the sleeping in, after all there is a five hour difference between Toronto and London. Last time I was here in London, I found myself sleeping late as well, not getting up until noon, which is 8 AM in Toronto.

What is strange about this move, though, is that unlike my last visit, I am not staying up until four in the morning. I am going to bed at eleven at night, and not getting up until the big hand has made a full circle on the clock.

At first I told myself I was just catching up on all the sleep that didn’t seem to come my last month in Toronto, when the impending move out of my apartment and my impending move to London kept me awake at night mentally running through checklists of things that I really needed to do, though of course not things I could do anything about at the time so it was a little unfair of all those tasks to keep me up. Tasks not yet done, however, seem to have little in the way of respect for time.

However, now that my twelve hour sleeps have lasted for almost two weeks, I am starting to think that perhaps I am just being lazy.

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Now, these two seemingly unrelated things, my recent tendency to sleep away the day and the BBC’s inability to actual forecast the weather with any sort of accuracy combined this weekend to prod me to change.

On Saturday, I spelt like most mornings until eleven. I woke up, showered, and as I was getting dressed clicked on the BBC as I got ready to go out and hit the town. On BBC 1 they were showing a large parade with a bunch of soldiers outside of Buckingham Palace. Turns on that second Saturday in June is when the Queen’s birthday is celebrated, and there is a large parade of the armed forces dressed in all their finery for the Queen to inspect, as well as a fly over by some of the RAF’s best and loudest.

I had no idea, because I had been not exactly avoiding but not really paying much attention to the media, and as I had slept in and it was already noon, the festivities were coming to their conclusion. By the time I would have made my way down to Buckingham Palace, I would have missed everything. Instead I wound up in the Docklands, lunching on a piece of fat and bone disguised cleverly on the menu as a £10.50 pork chop and seeing an exhibit on the Jack and Ripper which managed to make one of the world’s first serial killers seem boring and made me feel guilty for having any interest in the story.

I did manage to spend the rest of Saturday walking a large, rambling path from Canary Wharf to the Tower of London, checking out a number of potential neighbourhoods to live in along the way, including the funnily named but potentially reasonably priced Wapping.

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Sunday I slept in and spent the day reading, and so had no idea until I went out to find a store to make an international call to my Dad for Father’s Day that George W. Bush was in town, and that the entire centre of town was crippled with traffic due to both the police presence and the roving protests that follow President Bush around like a dog follows around a child holding a hamburger that is about to fall out from between its loosely held buns.

All this sleeping in and missing things was making me feel a bit guilty that perhaps I was taking for granted my opportunity to move over here to London and LIVE in another city, so I decided to do something about it.

Firstly, I decided to figure out what events were coming up in London and the area so I wouldn’t miss them, at least I wouldn’t miss them because I didn’t know about them. I have now marked up my calendar with the Royal Ascot (happening this week from Tuesday until Saturday), Wimbledon (happening in a few weeks), a Polo match late in June that a Canadian expats club is attending, and the British Grand Prix in early July.

Now, I may not make any of these events. The Royal Ascot, which is the first up, has tickets available, but I don’t quite have a morning suit available to wear and with a couple of interviews tentatively scheduled but changing on the whims of potential employers this week, I think the ride up to Ascot will have to wait for next year. The rest of the events I have vowed to research this week, which means I will most likely do nothing until the day of the event, and then curse myself for my inability to follow through on any of my planning and get tickets for things.

But at least I was able to manage to change one of my behaviours this morning. When the sun woke me up again at 8 in the morning, I didn’t roll back over and go to sleep, even though I wanted to. Instead, I got up, showered and dressed in a nice shirt, a clean pair of jeans and a pair of nice, black dress shoes. I headed out and got on the tube station, heading towards the city so I could finally open my bank account.

I had decided to open my bank account at a branch down in the city rather than up in Willesden because I don’t see myself living Willesden for long, and would prefer not to have to drag myself out to the north-west end of the city every time I need to visit my branch. I figure I will most likely end up working somewhere “in the city” (the area that I would have called “downtown” in any North American city), so at least my branch would be relatively close to my workplace.

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Getting onto the tube, I grabbed the free Metro paper and read through the news, sports, entertainment and business headlines, skipping over the weather as the Jubilee line lurched towards Westminster station, where I transferred to the Circle line to Mansion House station.

The tube was filled with a bunch of other people dressed smartly and heading off to work. I felt like I fit in, though, as I was wearing jeans, most were dressed smarter than I, but at least I wasn’t wearing my shorts-t-shirt-hiking boot-camera get up that identifies me immediately as a tourist.

I was dressed up, I was up at a decent hour, I was off to conduct some business. I had my laptop bag slung over my shoulder and I was flipping through the pages of the Metro. I was one of the crowd, one of the many heading off to work. I felt like I was part of the great structure that runs this city (even though all I was doing was opening a bank account).

I will admit that most my life I haven’t much liked being a faceless cog in a great machine, but something about being an anonymous face on the train today, heading into the heart of the great post-industrial beast that is the City of London, I felt great. For a length of that tube ride, I was part of London.

I may be complaining in this very blog in 3 months about how I feel so lost and small in the masses of those that run the industries that run the world, but for today, it felt like I belonged here.

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Today I wasn't just a tourist. I wasn't just floating on the surface of London, or even just dipping in my toe. Today, at least for a few hours, I finally felt like I belong in London.

Posted by GregW 07:31 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged living_abroad migration_experiences

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Comments

Well done, Greg. The bits about scottish hikers and George Bush made me laugh out loud. I'm glad that are starting to feel more at home!

by brendak

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