I've been busy the last few days getting settled or "sorted" as the English say.
Although I'm closer to the homeland, Ikea is still the same. It sucks you into the maze, where you wonder for hours, loading up on cheap items, only to be surprised at check-out with the expense of it all! Instructions with cheerful stick people are the same too.
Excellent idea... live in the borough and pay dues for the local recreation center with a swimming pool, fitness classes, gym equipment, "soft play" for kids, squash courts, climbing wall, sauna, etc. Unfortunately, residency in the borough is not enough. You must also have a UK bank account along with 2 utility bills in your name proving your address. Yours truly does not possess any of those.... still I am a proud member of the Rec Center!
Since this is a different country with their own way of doing things, it wasn't so easy. Thanks to a lovely Membership Coordinator for offering to do something "dodgy". He loved looking at my American passport and was easily distracted by the loud infuriated American woman (not me) yelling at his colleague. When I conspiratorially explained that her obnoxious behavior was embarrassing me, he decided to do me a favor and set up my illegal membership. Thanks cranky American lady!
Clarification - That American woman was not me! I've been here before. I know that American-style customer service does not exist here. Brits "can't be bothered". The more someone yells and fusses, the calmer they remain. They'll never offer a refund and don't care about the scene being created. To the British, you're a crazy American who will be laughed at later.
Ah, the feeling of connection after activating my smartphone! (Actually the device is on loan from Maria.) After a confusingly simple £10 SIM card purchase, I have unlimited internet, 500 MB data limit and 300 text messages for the month courtesy of my pay-as-you-go plan! Again, no UK bank account, no monthly account option. The bizarre thing is that after almost a week of use, I still have the same £10 balance. Apparently I only get charged when I go over my data limits or make calls. Receiving calls is free. That counts towards the other person's minutes. Point for London.