Thursday, September 20, 2007


I’ve decided to call Tuesday, Sept 18 “Initiation Day” because, frankly, it was a shitty day. Ryan and I have since decided that England was testing us on Tuesday, and we believe we have proved to England that we are staying.

Ryan and I both woke up at 2am (thank you 8 hour time change) and spent the rest of the night watching bizarre clips of BBC children’s television, since many channels switch off from 11-6. At 7am breakfast was finally being served downstairs, so we got up and met Derek, the other owner/operator of the Holywell House. He is very nice and chatty and makes a mean pot of Earl Grey, which I have discovered is delicious with 2 large teaspoons of sugar. He warned us about finding apartments in the area behind Holywell House since it is “dodgy.”

We finished up and headed out into the streets of Loughborough…for about 5 seconds, then ran back inside for more sweaters and anything warm we could pile on since it was probably close to 40 F outside. (A lady on the plane told me I could calculate Celsius by doubling it and adding 30, but this is a gross approximation.) We walked around the downtown area “Carillon Square” which is lovely and has many shops, all of which are strictly open 9-5.

Eager to begin our housing hunt, we walked over to the University and arrived at Student Accommodation Services just before opening. We made it in and when Ryan told a Mrs. Claus-looking lady that we needed married housing, she said “Ah! I have one apartment left!” Ryan said “We’ll take it! Oh, but one thing, we’re only here for the 1st term.” The woman’s kindly round face wrinkled into a sneer. “No. Nothing. We have nothing for you and no one else will either. You won’t find anything around here—you’ll end up in a long-term hotel.” Despite the freezing weather I saw a trickle of sweat run down Ryan’s forehead. I stared at the woman in disbelief and she seemed to soften. “Well, I’ll tell you what to do. Take the bus from the roundabout to Shepshed and go to the sweet shop. Put up a post in the sweet shop window and maybe some one will call you—there are lots of large old houses and sometimes people will rent something.” We skulked out of the SAS with our tails between our legs. Ryan walked with his shoulders slumped-- like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. “What a total witch.” I said. Ryan nodded and we walked on to the gate of the university.

There was a letting agent right by the gate, and although the SAS lady assured us no landlord would touch us, I convinced Ryan to pop in with me. A fashionably dressed lady with sparkly eye shadow sat us down and heard us out, with many interjections of “Oh bless you!” as we told her of our honeymoon plans to find university housing. She didn’t look terribly optimistic, but told us that 90% of the apartments were already rented, and there might just be a landlord who was willing to settle for a 4-month lease. She said she’d make some calls and then give us a ring—only one problem, we didn’t have a UK phone number yet!

We gave her the name of our B&B and headed back towards town. That afternoon we had authentic English lunch at a little bakery in Carillon Square; I tried sausage rolls and Ryan ate a chicken Tikki sandwich. We walked back and forth between O2 and Orange, trying to compare cell service. Settling on Orange, the shop lady popped out our sim card and handed us our new 11-digit phone number. The thought occurred that we should call the letting agency again, only to remember we didn’t get her name. So we walked back to the university and left our number for Naomi at Nicholas J. Humphreys, as she and it are apparently called.

It was still early afternoon, but we were exhausted. We went back to the hotel for a break, which eventually turned into each of us trying to keep the other awake. Ultimately the scheme failed, and I was only awoken at 7pm by my stomach trying to eat itself. We groggily walked 2 blocks for Chinese take out, wherein another man couldn’t understand us and gave us double our order. (We really need to start checking these things before we bring the food back!) We managed to almost stay awake until 9pm, and then slept 11 hours straight.

Don’t worry, Mom and Dad, the story gets much happier the next day.

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