Friday, December 23, 2011

We're Not Dead...

...though you might have thought it was a possibility - slack bloggers that we are!

We are alive and kicking and have set up shop in London. Yes, despite all our grandiose claims that London would be the last place we ended up, here we are in that very city. It soon became clear that the bulk of employment opportunities were here in the Big Smoke, so we sighed and agreed that earning some money might not be such a bad thing, and Adam accepted an engineering position in London City.

He signed up with several recruitment agencies, and managed to get two interviews in the one week we spent in London in early November (the joys of having well-recognised skills!!!). It turns out that although there are jobs in London, the forward workload is not great at most companies, so they are only taking people on for short-term contract roles. So Adam has now set up his own company to contract through. He is working for a Engineering firm called Buro Happold and enjoying it. The contract was originally for 3 months, and has recently been extended by another 2 months.

Adam is working on the design of a new building beside Liverpool Street Underground Station - currently the largest new office building being planned for London, so it is a good job to work on. He is working in a multicultural team - 2 French, 3 English, 1 South African and 2 Kiwis (the other having been in Adam's class at uni!).

He began work in mid-November and just over a week later we were able to move into a flat in the South-East of London. We are living in a one bedroom apartment in a large complex beside the river Thames, on a site that used to be a military arsenal....

.... and now has a new train station being built in its former front-yard..... 

Our apartment is small, but perfectly adequate and very warm. We only turn the heating on once a day - if that - and because we are south-facing, we get some lovely warm sun on the occasional morning.

The complex has around 3,000 residents, and many people who live here seem to be Eastern European or Afro-Caribbean.

The site we live on is a former arsenal for the British armed forces, where the manufacture of armaments, ammunition proofing, and explosives research were all carried out.

In the 1800s, the site was a centre for mechanical engineering (the poor cousin of structural engineering) with Marc Brunel, father of the famous Isambard Kingdom, employed here. Advances in armament design and manufacture are also attributed to research facilities located in the arsenal.

The arsenal was important to British military conflicts during the 1700s and 1800s, but was particularly so during World War One, extending over 5 square kilometres and employing around 80,000 people.

The site continued to be of lesser importance throughout the last century, being sold to the council in 1967. Now, there is a heritage centre, military museum, and large residential developments which span numerous parts of the former arsenal.

Here is a historic picture of the arsenal, taken from this Wikipedia article (which is very interesting, even though there are no footnotes...). Today, this clock tower/wall marks the edge of the main centre of Woolwich - if you cross the road behind this feature then you will be in the Royal Arsenal area that we live in - about where the chimneys show in the distance just to the right of the tower in the left-hand third of the picture.

As it drew closer to Christmas, it was nice to see the Christmas lights down London's Oxford Street and in our own local town centre. It didn't feel overly Chrismassy for us though, having just arrived, not having anyone to rush around buying presents for, and being cold and all.

Whilst reading the blog of a friend, who also has a small apartment, I thought that it would be a good idea to decorate our little flat, and she had a fabulous suggestion: painter's tape. I set off to B & Q (even better than Bunnings... It has four aisles of wallpaper..... *swoon*) with a strange checklist: painter's tape, string, four hooks, assorted christmas decorations, poinsettia.

I wasn't quite as brave as Megan, who made the shape of a Christmas tree on her wall and then attached lights and decorations, but I did stick some strips of painter's tape up on the walls and attached adhesive-backed hooks to the tape, so that I could hang tinsel, baubles and cards across our walls. 

I also put the poinsettia in a prime spot, and displayed our small collection of presents underneath (thanks Mum Moffat). Suddenly it felt very festive! So much so that I then decided to go and buy Adam some presents... lucky guy!

(There wasn't much tinsel left for this wall!!)

So that is a wee summary of how this new chapter of our journey is shaping up. Sorry it has been so long coming!


  1. Love the apartment - and the Christmassyness of it. We have a little fake tree in ours, which we actually still have up because I like it, so there. ;-)

  2. Good on you! I would have left our decorations up too, but the painter's tape was only guaranteed not to mark the walls for 14 days, lol, so I thought I'd better remove it ;)

  3. 1. Your Christmas decs look lovely, & I really like the photo of the blue bauble at the top!
    2. Your flat looks really nice :-)
    3. Looks like you had a great Chrissie dinner - YUM!