The Eaton Diary of London    2001  

The Arrival

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Wednesday March 7.   Arriving with Great Expectations.


Arrived 9.00 a.m. at Heathrow Airport, full of expectation – 12 months in London, what an opportunity! Everyone back home encouraged us on this great adventure. We didn’t know what to expect, but everything about the London experience seemed exciting. However, one by one our romantic notions of what it might be like to live in one of the world’s greatest cities, are being challenged. Being met at the airport didn’t quite go as per the script, but we eventually found our driver, and headed for our accommodation where we longed for some rest and refreshment.


First impressions are what count, they say. We were warned that the lifestyle wouldn’t be what we are used to, but we weren’t prepared for what greeted us. We struggled into a grubby foyer with our four suitcases and hand luggage, and waited for some time by the lift to go to our 2nd and 3rd floor rooms. Eventually a friendly girl came to our rescue. Amy spoke our language and understood the shocked look on our faces. She went through the same thing herself 12 months ago when she arrived from Glenalta, Adelaide, to nurse in London. (It’s a small world.) Her cheery greeting was, “You’re wasting your time waiting for the lift. It hasn’t worked in centuries,” and she proceeded to help us lug the bags upstairs. Our rooms had none of the basics, not even a cup for a drink, and besides the sink taps warned us the water is not for drinking. The idea of separate rooms on separate floors was a disappointment, but even worse were the shared showers and toilets down the hallway - I won’t attempt to describe the state of the toilet nearest my room.


The rooms however are clean and warm, so I’m sure we’d get things in order and comfortable soon enough, and then we’ll get on with job of finding permanent accommodation. The Nursing Agency ladies met us and did their best to encourage us and disguise their own embarrassment at the state of the place. Since we were desperate for a drink, they said they’d shout us lunch. Of course we didn’t realize that meant we’d have to walk. A walk is something we’d do at our leisure for the good of our health, not something we do for essentials like food and water. But that’s the way it is in Central London. I expect our attitudes and habits will be in need of some serious adjustments. It will be good for us. (- an oft repeated phrase!)

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