Number 18

My new apartment is very nice and I’m happy with it. It’s technically a serviced apartment which means that I get weekly maid and linen service. What’s not to like? This was intended as a mere way point between a hotel and a normal apartment but the deal proved so attractive that my company (which is footing the bill) just decided to leave me here for the duration. The apartments are actually named "Number 18" and you can see their web site here: http://www.number-18.co.uk
 
Now if my personal goods will just show up! They were shipped Monday from Northern Virginia via FedEx and, with my customary level of preparation, all of the appropriate UK Customs forms were duly filled out and provided. So I was a bit puzzled when the FedEx van pulled up yesterday and delivered just 2 of 12 boxes.
 
After some calls and online sleuthing, it appears that the 10 other boxes are hung up in Her Majesty’s Customs at the Stanstead airport north of London. Why the two boxes that were delivered yesterday passed right on through, no one knows, but apparently it’s not unusual. I’ve left my new mobile phone number with FedEx and hope to hear something from them soon. I can just imagine the FedEx airport staff using my golf clubs right now to whack balls around their hangar!
 
It’s fun to look at the FedEx Tracking web site and see where my stuff went: McLean to Dulles to Indianapolis to Stanstead. Never would have guessed it would go via Indiana in a million years.
 
The new digs are about 5 minutes on foot from our office, a very nice commute indeed. I’ve inserted a little map of Reading so that you can see the general layout. From my place to the train station is about a 15-minute walk, so we’re not talking about a huge area. London is a 25-minute train ride away (under optimum conditions). In case the map resolution isn’t good enough for you, the yellow spot is my apartment and the green one is the office. The Oracle Mall is a large modern retail mall that straddles with Kennett River.
  
As soon as I moved in at the beginning of the week and had an official address, one of the first things I did was go to the Reading Central Library to get a library card. I thought this might be a bit dicey as I had no ID with my address on it and no utility bills (which are commonly used to establish residence in order to get a library card).
 
As I feared, without the requisite ID, I was not allowed to become a Full Member, but I could be come a Junior Member which simply means I’m limited to checking out two books and two DVDs at a time. Fine with me. Ahh, libraries; what great institutions! There is just something so universal about the culture of the book. It has been great to be able to settle down this week with a good mystery book in the evenings.
 
Some of you have asked about the earthquake here the other night. It was a 5.2 strength quake centered due north of London, about halfway to Scotland, at 1:00 am our time but there was little effect here in Reading. I did wake up but it was one of those non-events where you wake up but you don’t know why. So I went right back to sleep. Some other folks here reported much the same: a creaking in their ceiling, a rattle in the yard. No one I’ve talked to here has mentioned the salt and pepper shakers dancing off the table or anything like that. It did cause some damage elsewhere in England (collapsing chimneys and such) and I think a child was killed. It was the strongest quake here in 25-30 years.
 
Next: Mystery Appliances
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