My new "norm"
My New Norm
Some have inquired what my day to day is like. I will say it’s a far cry from my day to day in the burbs of Cincinnati.
Let me first start with the 35 hour work week. 9-5 with a lunch. A TRUE 9-5 where people arrive at 9 and mass exodus at 5 on the dot. This is standard in the UK. With that said, don’t you dare schedule a meeting at 9am or 12-2 and rarely have I seen one at 4. And somehow the work all gets done!
I work in Central London. Meaning downtown London, 2 minutes to Tower of London/Tower Bridge, 2 minutes to London Monument and 1 min to the Thames. If you know the London Skyline at all, my office is next to the Walkie Talkie and close to the Gherkin. That’s very different from the sprawling campus of my company in in the burbs set next to woods and a subdivision.
We live in Central London so that my commute stays relatively minimal which was important to me so that I’d have my time in the evening with the kids.
My day goes like this:
Wake and pray the kids stay asleep until I’m ready or until I’ve gone. Andy works remotely from home so he walks the kids to school for drop off at 9am.
Before I leave the house, I make sure I have a new podcast downloaded and ready to go for my commute. This has been a breath of fresh air in my life. I have learned SO much and have had so many wonderful conversations with Andy about podcasts. We share quite a few together. It’s lead to some amazing conversations and self-reflection.
Walk to the closest tube station. This takes me roughly 5 minutes from the door to the station. Now here’s the kicker, I have to make sure I get there NO later than 8:35ish or I’m screwed. For example, yesterday I got there around 8:40am. FIVE trains came and went before I could even consider cramming on and trust me, I’ve grown a pair and shoved on many of trains but it was physically impossible yesterday. So it’s imperative that I arrive early to the platform. More on tube etiquette later.
5 stops later on the tube and I’m at the closest station to the office. From the station the office is 8 minutes. Now in that 8 minutes I have to be very careful not to get trampled, run over or blown away. I don’t need to explain the first 2 but the blown away part comes from the Walkie Talkie building. You see when they designed it, they didn’t realize 2 things- the angle of the windows would cause the sun to reflect back to the street and burn up the roof of a Ferrari and second, the skinnier base around the bottom of building creates a wind tunnel for those on the ground. If it’s raining, don’t you dare walk by the Walkie Talkie with an open umbrella. You have NO chance of surviving without taking out everyone else on the street or flying through the sky like Mary Poppins.
I won’t bore you with work but I do want to brag about the coffee machine. It’s FANCY. It’s a touchscreen with oh, 20 options- macchiato, cappucino, cafe latte, Americano, Americano with milk, hot chocolate, mocha, flat white, etc. You put any size cup on the tray, it self adjusts to your cup so it knows exactly what proportions of espresso and milk to make your selection and to fill your cup to the brim. Talk about a luxury! But what’s more odd to me, is that people still go downstairs to Café Nero (like a starbucks) to get their coffees. I assume because they want the flavoured stuff. Either way, it’s my dream coffee machine.
Because the work day starts at 9 most take lunch between 1 and 2. I take mine at 12 to avoid the crowds because I use my lunch hour to go for a run. My run consists of 3 miles along the Thames, crossing London bridge and back across the Tower of London bridge. Aside from the obvious tourists attractions I get to run past, this run is incredible for several reasons- first, the people watching. I don’t need earbuds for entertainment. Tourists are all over the bridges and lined up by the Tower. Second, there’s always live entertainment- someone dressed up like Yoda standing on thin air, or someone playing the bagpipes. It certainly makes the 3 miles fly by. I grab lunch on the way back from my run or at our café and eat it at my desk. Here is a pic from my run.
TEA. Yes, the brits and their tea. It’s not a scheduled tea time but it’s standard that everyone has tea late in the afternoon if not sipping on it all day. The break room has 5-8 flavors of free tea and two machines for hot water. I do find myself drinking quite a bit more tea here. Most brits drink theirs with a spot of milk.
I leave the office no later than 4:45 to pick up the kids from school by 5:30. Andy could do this but I LOVE fetching them. Best part of my day. They cannot contain their excitement when I arrive. I can barely get their coats on and them back in the buggy (stroller) for the 8 minute walk home.
Now comes the atypical part of my day. A block from school is an old apartment building. It has two “tunnels” to enter and exit. It’s dark at this time of day in the winter. The first few times of our walk, Abel said the tunnel was dark and scary. So I rushed past it. Then a few weeks later he says “go in the tunnel?” When I say dark.. I mean you couldn’t see what was in the tunnel or even if I was allowed in. If Abel overcame is fear of the tunnel, mummy better BUCK UP! So in the dark tunnel I went… FLASH! A bright light comes on and I freeze in a panic! I thought it was a security spotlight alerting the authorities of trespassing. I quickly realize, I’m in a car park (parking lot) probably for the residents and it was just a motion light. Nothing to see in the tunnel and we rush out the other side through the exit. Nothing thrilling to me, but now we have to go down into the tunnel and back out the other side EVERY night. I’ve tried to pass it a few times hoping Abel won’t notice but sure enough just when I think I’ve gotten away with it, Abel insists. It really only takes maybe 60 seconds to do and the joy in that 60 seconds is like no other. Abel said last night that we slayed the green tunnel dragon! I’ve also wondered if anyone notices us doing this because it must look rather silly. I know I’d find it rather comical as a bystander.
The rest of the evening is typical to that of my evening in the states. The only difference is Abel and Norah share a room so there is a slight challenge to getting them to bed together so as to not wake each other.
All in all, vastly different than my typical day in the states but I LOVE my new routine. The commute allows a lot of time for learning, people watching, exercise and slaying of dragons.