London Life

Well, it has been one month since we’ve moved to London. What follows are the observations I’ve found to be most interesting.
Probably the most notable, if you’ve never been here, is that compared to the U.S., driving takes place on the other side of the road, and the vehicle steering column is on the other side of the vehicle. So I haven’t tried to drive here yet, but its on my list of things to learn. Probably more daunting though is the total lack of any road going straight, or legible street signs. See embedded map: this is how it is. Eric and I drove in a circle the other night without even knowing it until we arrived back in our neighborhood 30 minutes later.IMG00715Everyone here walks everywhere. And why wouldn’t you? Why try to navigate those roads when you can jump on a bus or train and it can take you exactly where you want to go? The public transportation is excellent, and except for a bit of U.S. “driving withdrawals” we’ve been just fine on the busses and trains.

We live in the city of London, borough of Wandsworth, and the area is called Balham. I think Wandsworth is a wonderful borough to live in. Among the great things I’ve found are listed next. There are free playgroups, called “One O’clock Centres,” every week day from 1-4pm, for ages 0-5. There is usually both indoor and outdoor space, craft areas, playgrounds, complete with snacks and tea/coffee time for the adults. Wandsworth has the lowest council tax in the area. (Basically if you live here you have to pay a council tax, like property tax in the U.S. but it’s paid by the resident, whether that be a lessee or owner.) Each child by the age of three is guaranteed free preschool for three hours per day, five days a week, and there are about five preschools I can walk to from our house. I’ve visited about three of them and they all seem nice.

The grocery stores are stocked with healthy, fresh food. Don’t get me wrong, you can find your share of junk food, but there are healthy dinners, prepackaged in the refrigerated food section that you just cook or heat up. Compare this to the U.S.’ frozen food section, but because its fresh, its not full of preservatives. Local fruits and vegetables are the norm also. Nothing is boxed. Forget Kraft macaroni and cheese, the mac and cheese here is in the refrigerated section and was just made a few days prior. In fact, the boxed or frozen food sections are practically non-existent.

Our favorite take-out or “take away” as they call it here has become Indian food. We live close to an ethnic neighborhood and can get great Indian food for a pretty good value. My two year-old even likes it, and calls it the “chicky, rice and sauce.” If it’s ever too spicy she says “just mix it with more rice Mama.” Another favorite, the many Italian restaurants. And pizza delivery is also very popular. You can get typical Italian-American pizzas with traditional toppings, but why do that when you can get a Greek pizza with feta and garlic, or an Indian style pizza with tandoori, tikka or curry? The veggie pizza we ordered the other night was even a little different as it had corn on it. Yum! All brought to us by our local Domino’s Pizza. I’d love to say it is an exception rather than a rule but we probably get either Indian food or pizza delivery once a week.


About expatmama

Karla Oselka Walsworth is a freelance writer/blogger, born and raised in the great state of Michigan. She has lived abroad twice, most recently in London, and keeps a blog on Expat living and traveling with children, Living in the last five years in four different cities, her writings tend to focus on challenges of moving/living with children while exposing them to all this planet has to offer. Karla, who has her MBA from the University of Illinois, and is also a certified 200 hour yoga instructor, has settled (for this moment) in the Midwest. As a recovering accountant and budding writer, she is actively raising two children with her husband Eric, hoping to give them as global a perspective as one can, at ages 7 and 4.
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4 Responses to London Life

  1. Keri says:

    Yum. all that good found sounds awesome, Karla!

    The playgroups also sound great for you guys, and a fantastic way to meet others.

  2. Deb Martens says:

    Hi Karla,

    Just wanted to tell you I am really enjoying your blog. Great descriptions and very interesting!

    Hope you are all well. We send our love.


  3. Pam Oselka says:

    I love to read your blogs, Karla. This one makes me hungry–yummm!! Glad things are going well, and much love to the 3 of you!

  4. Kathie says:

    Keep writing, Karla. I enjoy reading what you guys are doing!

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