Sunday, May 17, 2009

Two new bears in Paddington

End of Jan 2009

Our Neighbourhood

Sha: We chose the place for its good vibe and proximity to bus, train, and tube services. With uncertainty about where we may end up working, we figured it had good access to most places. Furthermore, it was only a 3 minute walk to beautiful Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

For the first month or two we were still using the tube to be sure of getting to places, then with time we started walking more and more. Slowly, it began to dawn on us how close we were to everything that is quintessential London, though it should have been a clue when after walking to work through the park for two weeks I eventually noticed the drab brick building in the Gardens was actually Kensington Palace!

We can pretty much walk to anything located on two thirds of a monopoly board, but more about that later.

Sha with Paddington Bear

Foo: With Sha working, I spent a lot of time setting up the flat and on the phone to various utility companies. They tend to enjoy hanging up on you (accidentally or deliberately?) and for a country with cheaper power, gas, phone and internet than New Zealand, it does seem to take longer to get things done. A bigger population has both benefits and downsides I guess.

A couple of other differences – phone bills are billed every three months, although you can track your preliminary bill through their web site. One super call plan that British Telecom (BT) offer is unlimited calls to a host of overseas countries for only £5 a month. This means we can call landlines in New Zealand and Australia and talk as long as we want for next to nothing. If anyone wants a call - just let us know!

We signed up with power company nPower and still haven’t received a bill. I wonder if we are lost in the system? Wouldn’t surprise me…in fact, I bet we don’t receive a bill until just before we move out and are asked to pay our overdue account immediately. Hmmm, maybe I should chase them up on this.

Other exciting things…in the UK you have to pay a water bill each month as well as council tax. Council tax is similar to rates in NZ, however the person living in the house has to pay it, not the landlord. Paying for water and council tax are little things that you don't really consider when moving to the UK, but they do add to the cost of living a little.

We also had some hassles with getting our phone connected (BT messed up and we were connected to the wrong exchange). We then had the same problem with getting the internet set up leading to further delays (O2 messed up too and connected us to the same wrong exchange). To their credit, our broadband and cellphone provider O2 have been excellent with great customer service and their prices are very reasonable. Just don’t ask me how good their wireless router is :-(

Well, I think that is all for now on the 'set up house' front and after a visit or two to Ikea, we seem to be sorted furniture and homeware wise. Luckily the place was fully furnished, so we didn't have to spend too much £££.

My turn with the bear


Jamas Enright said...

As I'm sure you know, the Tube map bears no resemblence to the physical locations. As such, yes I can entirely believe you are better off walking.

So, played real life Morning Crescent yet? ;)

Stacie said...

Aww, what a cute bear!

Vanessa and David said...


Foo said...

Jamas - there is a handy tube map that is more accurate with regards to the physical location. I keep it on my phone and it's quite handy when wandering around London.

Stacie & Vanessa - yes, that is a cute bear that really seems to enjoy posing ;-)