Shopping at Stratford

I finally got some good rest and was able to sleep in! This is the first time I’ve been able to sleep in basically all week. I guess I slept in a bit on Friday night, but now I was unpacked in my dorm and didn’t have to move again, which was really calming. I stayed in bed until 10am, then had some breakfast. I had gotten groceries the day before from Sainsbury. Though I didn’t know what cooking supplies I would have yet, I knew that cereal and milk was a pretty safe bet, so I stuck with that this morning. Everything is more expensive here, including cereals, but I did find one I really like that may not be available in the states. It’s Nestle’s “Almond, Oats, and More”, and is very similar to Honey Bunches of Oats, but the flakes in it are more hearty and whole grain, so it’s a bran-ier cereal.

James was planning on going to the mall during the day and invited me to come with him. Of course I said yes. No matter how many trips to the store I take, there’s always more on my list of essentials. I’m still looking for rubbing alcohol. Whatever. The mall near us is the Westfield at Stratford, which is only one tube stop away on the Central line. The tube stop literally lets out in the mall, just like the Powell Street BART stop lets out in the giant Westfield mall in San Francisco. The mall is the largest in London, and was opened in 2011 or so as part of the Olympic Park development for the 2012 London Olympics. As such the architecture is gorgeous, and it’s three stories of stores in addition to an avenue bridge above the street with more shops and a bridge connecting it to another shopping center with even more shops.

As we were about to leave, Keisha walked into the flat, so we waited for her to get her stuff so she could join us. Then Nicola (her nickname is Nick) walked in. It ended up being a full flat (well, besides Jamie, who hadn’t fully moved in yet) excursion! The four of us went to Primark first since both James and Keisha needed to get some more bedding. I ended up finding the most ridiculously soft, furry, beautifuly blanket ever. The night before I was way too hot with my duvet (I probably could have gone with 10.5 tog and been fine), but it was too cold for me to just use my flat sheet. So I knew I had to get a blanket. I was going to be cheap and go for a £5 blanket, but then I found this blanket. It wasn’t packaged like the other ones, and though there were a few, none of them had price tags. So it was a gamble. But I kept hugging and petting it as it was in my arms…so I had to get it. Primark was as crazy as ever, and the line was as long as ever, but at least they’re pretty efficient with around 8 cashiers open at once. It turns out the blanket was £12. A bit of a splurge. BUT IT’S SO FUZZYYYYYY.

Afterwards we walked across the street to go to the pound store (Poundland). It’s like a dollar store, but because of the terrible currency conversion, it’s more like the “$1.65 Store”. However, I was able to get some essentials. Like a mixing bowl, blue tape, etc. I was very happy. It turns out I walked by the q-tips and didn’t see them. So yet again, I was unable to get both my q-tips and rubbing alcohol. At this point we were very loaded down with bags, and a bit hungry to boot (it was nearing 2pm). So we headed back to the main mall and went to the food court. We took over a four person booth and ventured to get food in pairs of two so the rest of us could watch over our bags. Nicola and I went to Square Pie, which is a savory pie food place. Imagine a shephard’s pie, but it’s square, and there are different fillings. I chose one with braised beef and roasted butternut squash.

My beautifully flaky and savory braised beef and butternut squash square pie.
My beautifully flaky and savory braised beef and butternut squash square pie.

It took forever for the cashier to ring me up. She was new, and it took her forever to realize that the reason my transaction was not going through was due to them not taking American Express. However, most vendors use chip readers (as opposed to sliding cards) as their default, so though I tried to slide my Visa card through their reader, it didn’t go through. I tried to get her to do it on her end, but she was confused about the whole ordeal. It was a little annoying. But after 7 minutes she finally got it.

My flatmates and I had wonderful discussions as we sat down eating lunch. I really really love my flatmates, and we’re all getting pretty close. I don’t remember how much I gossiped about them already, so sorry if this is a repeat. We’re thinking of cooking in rotations. So each of us would choose one night of the week and cook dinner for the other three of us.

Eating in the Stratford food court.
Eating in the Stratford food court.

That way we’d get home cooked meals four nights out of the week, but only have to put in effort for one of them. It would also save a lot of money. We gossiped a lot about our personal lives and I’m so grateful that we’re all so comfortable with each other about all these types of topics. I think I could go to them with just about any issue that occurs, which is amazing. We were also so curious who the other two flatmates were. We’ve been so jumpy the past two days because every time the door opens, we think it’s the new flatmate and so we run over super excited. When they do move in they’re going to be greeted by overly enthusiastic individuals…

I walked to the local Sainsbury’s (it’s a smaller more convenience sized store version of the superstore I’d gone to before) and got a few vegetables, and of course some Kinder Chocolate. I’d resisted thus far, but I need my Kinder. I was pretty pooped otherwise, and so I rested for the remainder of the night. We were all going to go to Brick Lane, which is the Thai center of London, to get amazing curry from this Pakistani place (I think), but in the late afternoon I was just so exhausted that I wanted to lounge around. My flatmates ended up heading out pretty late, like 9:30, for dinner, so I’m glad I ended up staying in because otherwise I may have fallen asleep at the restaurant table. I’m definitely the early sleeper of the group, crashing way before the others.

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