Mike and I arrived in London after a mercifully brief direct flight from Seattle, courtesy of British Airways. We owe many thanks to John and Ritzy for the ride to the aiport and the use of their very handy luggage scale, which allowed us to redistribute the contents of our 5 overflowing suitcases at home (without danger of spilling underpants in front of strangers) and avoid overweight charges … though we were pushing it, with all 3 of our checked bags hitting the 23 kilo (51lb) maximum.
The weight of the bags is an important detail, because our first task after clearing immigration in the UK was to wrestle those three 51-lb bags, plus two more rolling carryons, two stuffed messenger bags and two winter coats, across 6 zones on the Tube to get to our hotel. Mike gave a truly heroic performance, and I didn’t do so bad myself. We also got a hand up and down the stairs from several friendly Brits. After about an hour of travel, we emerged pretty sweaty and exhausted at the Bethnel Green station, then caught a cab the final 10 blocks or so to our hotel, the RE London Shoreditch.
After a quick shower, it was time to take care of my one pressing assignment: grab a photo of Container City. The innovative re-use project by Urban Space Management involves artfully arranged shipping containers, designed for use as affordable workspaces. (The photo will appear in Cool Structure: Policy and Practices to Cool Our Planet, a book on sustainable built environments written by the brilliant father-daughter team of A-P and Al Hurd, which I enjoyed contributing to as a researcher/editorial assistant last spring. It’s due out next year from UW Press.)
Though a little tricky to find, the structure was exciting to see. It had an energetic and creative feel, and looked cleanly designed and modern despite its recycled industrial origins. The trip also introduced me and Mike to a really interesting arts neighborhood, Trinity Buoy Wharf, which I’m sure we’ll be back to visit once we’re more settled.
One really cool idea that we saw were the “Music Boxes,” soundproofed music practice rooms and recording studios available for rent.
We headed back to town and met up with Neill, an old friend from high school who’s been living in the UK for the past decade. He gave us loads of helpful advice over pizza in Covent Garden, where we sat outside and enjoyed a lot of summertime people-watching.
We finished the night off over pints with Josh, a good friend from Seattle and colleague of Mike’s, who has been living here for the past year. Overall, a productive first afternoon! More to come soon on our whirlwind apartment search …