Okay, well, I'm not actually stranded. Now. But that is due in large part to a lovely couple named John and Laura Hardy. But lets go back to the beginning, shall we?
I arrived in Reykjavik-lovely airport, lots of bare wood. We flew over the Atlantic, and when we got close enough to see the water I thought to myself gee, that's a lot of boats. But they weren't boats, they were giant floating blocks of ice. Which I guess is appropriate considering that it is Iceland and all. Right, I wasn't really awake for this portion of my trip- but I did take pictures of a particularly snazzy ad campaign ('cause I'm a dork like that). Onward to London!
I arrived in London, and guys? Customs is a little bit awkward when you're trying to explain that you're going to go stay in this guy's flat-and he's friends with your grandparents. Kinda. And no, he isn't here- he is in Singapore. And how are you getting in? The nanny has a key. Right, he's married and has kids, much less sketchy that way-sorry for not saying that at the outset. And are you here for Easter break? For a month? Sure. Why not. I guess so. It's a miracle she let me into the country considering how vague I was being.
But enough about that- congratulations are now in order for Grammy and Grandpa: winners of the most helpful package ever! The tube trip instructions were perfect, and I never would have been able to find the flat without those copies of the A-Z. You guys rock, thank so much! Second place goes to Nancy for suggesting that I pack in a rolly suitcase. That came very very much in handy for this next part of my story.
So. My cell phone didn't really work. Or, at least, at that point I hadn't figured out how to use it. So I couldn't get a hold of Andrea, the nanny in order to pick up the keys in order to get into the Alexanders' flat. So I went searching for 50 Belsize Sq. But instead I found 50 Belsize Park. A subtle, but important difference. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to notice that the address wasn't quite making sense before I walked through the open door in to some random person's flat. So I asked the closest passer by if Belsize Square and Park are different. They are, of course. There are about 5 different "Belsize" whatevers in the general vicinity. So she helped me find the Sq. one. But the street only went up to 17. Because it is a square, so I had to turn the corner. I think, all told, I ended up walking about two miles. Just going around and around various blocks. See? Rolly suitcases are a godsend.
Eventually I found the correct spot, and proceeded to alternate between ringing the bell and continuing to try and call *anyone* on that cell phone. It started to rain. Then an elderly gentleman came down the street with some mail that had been mis-directed (the Royal Mail Service screws up all these Belsize businesses, it isn't just me!). And I thought here is a good person to ask if they've got a mobile. And he was, a very good person to ask. This is our new friend John Hardy. We're all big fans of John Hardy. He didn't have a phone on him, so instead he walked me back to his flat and let me use his phone there. The mobile number I had for Andrea turned out to be a wrong number, and no one ever answered either the house phone or the mother's mobile. So after about an hour of sitting there in his front foyer, trying to be unobtrusive, it becomes rather clear that we're going to have to try another track. They even offered to let me call America, but since I had printed out all of the information that I had- that wasn't really going to help. So I ended up calling the building manager who told me that I could get a key if I came down to their office next to the Turnham Green tube stop and gave them a twenty pound deposit. So that was going to be a pain in the butt, getting down there, but I was totally prepared to do so when Laura told John that he should drive me. So he drove me down there and gave me running commentary about what we were driving through and about his son who currently lives in Cleveland, OH and embarrassed me with how much more he knows about American geography than I do even though he has never been there and we just generally had a good time for the hour and half that the trip took.
At which point I was very hungry. And tired. And relieved to finally have a key. So I said thank you again so very much to John and Laura (whose house, by the way, is decorated with intensely patterned wall paper, tons of seashells, and Laura's paintings.) finally got in to #16 Buckland Crescent and have now purchased a sandwich and some internet time. Life is good.
But I still haven't been able to get a hold of the nanny.