It's probably a good thing C was on his own last May when he returned to St Albans to find us a home. I have a tendency to judge a place by its kitchen while he's assessing it's proximity to practical destinations and getting a sense of the street life. The agents seemed surprised that he cared less about the interior finishes than the number of kids in the adjoining houses. And even though a 6 burner gas range I'd seen in other rental photos was dancing in my head, C understood the outstanding qualities of a house's location enough to sign a lease on a place whose primary refrigerator is the size of a microwave box.
I did sort of know what I was getting into. Thanks to Google satellite imaging, while I was 4700 miles away, I was able to look at our neighborhood from above and see its position along the tree-filled cul-de-sac, just a short distance from the Ver River Trail which takes you right to the fitness center (2 pools) and Roman- walled Verulamium Park across the road. The shaky video images C sent made the house look large and modern, especially compared to anything else available at the time for rent.
Like the 10 pounds a camera can add to your body, a room can expand by at least 100 square feet through the lens of an iPhone. When we finally walked into our house I felt as though the 3 levels of spacious living area I had been arranging in my mind had contracted down into a warren of tiny rooms with too many doors. As I alluded to earlier, I had a bit of a freak-out over this place's habitability. Before we had even spent our first night here I'd wanted to know how much it would cost us to break our lease and sign up again for property alerts through Right Move. But now, after dozens of strolls to the town center, gym and parks, as well as several play dates with the neighbor kids, I realize that there is absolutely no better location to live than where we ended up. Makes me wish, yet again, there was some sort of implantable monitor in my arm which could read "Warning, high hormone levels: Proceed with caution." Better yet, this information should be visible on my forehead so the rest of my family can have a heads up.
Our shipment isn't scheduled to arrive for another three weeks so this first set of images gives you an idea of how we're living now with just the things we carried on the plane and what arrived in our small air delivery. It's liberating to have so few possessions. I almost dread the arrival of 48 or so boxes and American-sized furniture. That's is, until I'm pawing through my black suitcase wondering why it was a good idea to minimize my wardrobe to a single primary color, black.
The town photos represent the most frequently trod paths from our back door. I know it may seem we're taking a few too many trips to the bars but our neighborhood is so rich in (drinking) history. Besides, Z likes the unfiltered apple juice. Ye Old Fighting Cocks, a pleasant 10 minute stroll past the Abbey, is the current Guinness Record holder for England's oldest public house, though this is disputed by a place in Manchester which claims it's older by a mere 234 years. Regardless of when these folks started drinking alcohol under a roof, perhaps the images will convince you St Albans would be a nice place to visit. We actually do have room. Just call ahead to be sure we have furniture.