We’ve got to the stage of exploring our new land in an everyday way: popping to the shops, buying bogroll, walking up to the post office and the offy – stuff like that. It’s a fascinating way to find out about the place and also makes us feel more at home. Tonight we explored a local supermarket and I was genuinely shocked. Ten years ago, a visit to Pathmark was like stepping back in time to the supermarkets in the 70s – remember “Presto” or “Caters” ? But this one, “SuperFresh”, was like an upmarket Waitrose! Seriously, their cheese counter made me weak at the knees, mainly because of the pong from some of the fantastic imported French gear that was doing its best to run away. And the seafood! Great swathes of shrimp (prawns), crab, tuna and tilapia all there waiting to be scooped up together with some seriously upmarket sauces. We drove home, in our car, like proper grown ups listening to a radio station that should really be called WSAD Thirty-Something FM as it played a load of music that only 30+ people who are desperately trying to cling onto their youth would appreciate. We’ve named our car Walter, which we both feel is an appropriate name for a respectable old gent like him. But since he was bestowed upon us and we jumped through the hoops necessary to get a licence plate, this is the first time we’ve used him.
We made a decision that we would not become car dependent and luckily the neighbourhood we live in is perfect for pedestrians…and cyclists. On Sunday Michele and I went on a beautiful cycle ride along Wissahickon Creek which was an utterly life-affirming experience and a 10 minute walk away. Michele observed that none of the families we encountered walking and cycling along were as heavy (in build) as most of the people you normally see on the streets. Funny that.
We’ve also managed to walk down to Manayunk and back again several times, a journey which involves ascending and descending what can only be described as a “fucking massive hill.” We’re going to get fit I tell you.
One reason we’ve been going there so often, apart from the high density of posh bars, pubs, and restaurants on Main Street, is that there’s a mobile phone shop there. We bought a couple of Cingular (AT&T) contracts, against the advice of many on tinternet who reckon that T-Mobile is the best thing since Worcester Sauce flavoured Wheat Crunchies. So far, apart from the guy in the shop trying a very lame scam, I’m really happy with it. I’ll spare you the boring details but AT&T really do appear to wipe the floor with the competition on all fronts as far as I can tell. Of course, my prejudice against T-Mobile based on experiences in Europe helped. As for customer service (the main gripe from the new world about AT&T) every time I’ve called them the service has been exemplary, and their automated menu systems far less offensive than T-Mobile’s or the bastard Social Security…you know I found myself putting on a ludicrous American accent just so their voice misunderstanding system will have a better chance of sussing what I was on about. In the end I gave up and just blew rasberries down the phone at it – a technique I strongly advocate by the way because I ended up getting put through to a human very quickly. But to be honest he didn’t understand me either and dropped the call. Sorry – you don’t need to know any of this.