Today was my first day of work at Amazon's Slough office, which went fairly well as such things go: got all my paperwork filed, met the team members, etc. On the flip-side, still didn't have a phone or computer by the days' end, after planning this arrival for what -- 5 months? Some things never change :-)
This was also my first experience with my projected "morning commute" -- a walk to the rail station in my town, followed by a short rail ride into Slough, followed by a second walk to Amazon's offices. Of course, the first walk will change when we find permanent housing, but this morning was a decent dress-rehearsal.
One thing I noted right off: it's COLD in the pre-dawn morning, and that light drizzle doesn't help matters any! The best I can say is that it's a brisk speed-walk that wakes you up and makes you want to get to work, where it's warm!
By way of contrast, the evening walk-in-reverse is a much calmer and quieter saunter. For one thing, you're not jostling with hundreds of other rush-hour commuters trying to jam into the same train; while everyone tends to start between 7am-9am, people wander home at a much wider range of times, lessening the crush. Also, it's considerably warmer, since there's only been a few hours of darkness rather than the 16hrs+ leading up to morning.
In both respects, I was surprised to find the morning commute not greatly dissimilar than that to which I was accustomed in Orlando: both took about 40min all told, both cost a chunk of my first hour's pay (tolls and gas in Florida, RailCard in England), both found me rushing in the morning and relaxed in the evening. The main difference was that it was more comfortable in the car, but I get more exercise this way; also, I like the fact that I can text and play with my iTouch on the train, which was a rather dicey proposition when driving. And I suppose there's some abstract moral superiority about managing my carbon footprint, if I went for that sort of thing :-P
Another observation from all the walking we've done these last few days: you really end up appreciating dinner when it finally comes! A hot plate of chicken or lamb tastes ever-so-sweet when you really had to work to get it :-) As it is, the kids have to trek across town to the grocery store, pack a few day's food into a handful of cloth bags, then CARRY them back home. That whole chicken and bottled water gets heavy, yo! Once you've done that in the cold and the rain, and you finally settle down to a hot sizzling platter of meat and veg -- OH! -- that's not something you can take for granted.
This stands out in my mind because I remember too many sumptious meals back in the US where, as I progressed through the various courses laid out before me, I really had to stop and try to remember exactly what work I'd done that day to justify such a scrumptious feast. After all, I'd drive to work; take the lift up to the 5th floor; probably break for a nice lunch around noon; drive back home; and do little more than twiddle my fingers atop a plastic tray in the meanwhile. Not that such worries ever actually stopped me from enjoying my life of leisure, but it did prompt me to wonder if I and my family weren't missing something in our sheltered existence of ease.
Now I'm sure some of my friends and family are thinking that there were easier ways to explore my urge for authentic, genuine living without actually moving to another country; but, well, when was I ever content to do things the usual way? And after all, wasn't avoiding "ease" part of the problem after all?
Not that our move was in any way especially arduous when you consider what your own ancestors had to undertake in order to replant your family tree across continents. Where they had to step onto a creaky, leaky wooden vessel and brave a storm-ridden voyage before risky winds and uncertain currents, we were able to simply fall asleep over one continent and awaken 5,000 miles away -- how much work is THAT?
All of which leads me to my point, which is [maximum post length exceeded]
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