For the first week, I was raw with the grief of leaving friends and our life in London and numbed by the shock of so much that was new. I was surprised at how different, and in so how difficult, it was to achieve the essential components of a day at home: grocery shopping, laundry, and going to the playground. Out of rows and rows of products at the grocery store; I only recognised two brands - tea and shampoo - that I knew. Here cheese is orange; most yoghurts are shiny and solid and we've yet to find fresh penne pasta or Bourneville dark chocolate. Anna was frightened by how loudly the toilets flushed and Nate, when he woke in the night, was confused by the hotel bed and would take a long, long, time to settle back down and sleep again.
We spent two months at the Cartier Place Suite Hotel. The children and I found a rhythm to our days. I lost my fear of driving a large car on the right hand side of the road, and learnt how to find my way around Ottawa while fielding Anna's questions and passing more juice boxes back to Nate. We joined the local library, found a good playgroup, swam in the hotel pool, interviewed elementary schools and explored many neighbourhood parks. Some evenings, our wonderful estate agent, David Farquhar, would drive me to house after house in different areas of Ottawa. He would talk about the neighbourhood, comment on the condition of the furnace and age of the kitchen and guide us through the next steps in the buying process. I believe the house we bought was the 29th I viewed.
I can apologise now for the infrequent e-mails and melancholy letters. We are both very happy we made to move to Ottawa and have always felt this was the right thing to do. But we certainly underestimated the culture shock and of how English we had become. It took me until November, almost 6 months after leaving, to be able to download the photos of London I took in those final weeks and to look into the faces of the friends we left behind.