Cheers from London!
The good flight was made better when the flight attendant encouraged my seatmate to move up to a vacant pair of seats prior to departure. He was an older stout Englishman who'd been enviously eyeing my meatloaf sandwich (Thanks Mom!). When I thanked her for making the suggestion, she admitted to being a bit claustraphobic. She saw the surprise on my face and laughed, acknowledging the irony. She likes to spread people out so everyone feels more comfortable. Who doesn't like more room?
I worked my Southern charm and cleared customs with only a few questions about my 6 month stay. The real test is whether I bypassed the Heathrow Injection - the 15 lbs long term visitors gain during their stay.
The Southern charm worked again when I made a friend on the Heathrow Express who was happy to help get my 98lbs of luggage on the train. For the record, he befriended me. Listened to his tails of London in the '70s and being in the marine reserves. Chatty 50+ guy with a thick New Jersey accent and a bad rug.
Took a taxi from Paddington to the flat where Maria was waiting for me. Her descriptions were accurate - bright with plenty of natural light, high ceilings and large (by UK standards) open kitchen and living room. Also accurate - the smallness of my bedrom! She was quick the measuring tape to demonstrate where the single bed will go alongside the large window overlooking the gardens (ours and the neighbors backyards). Good luck welcomed me when I noticed two ladybugs on the window sill.
After freshing up we popped out to run some errands. Maria's kept me awake with shopping and coffee. She received a surprise booking for 9 person class of Norweigens on Thursday morning. We bought the ingredients for their intro to baking class. I'll play her assistant.
Long and exciting day all around. Tomorrow Ikea trip, mobile phone purchase and rec center registration!