Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Swinging Back to Hopeful

It's amazing the difference a day can make.

The landlord for the house we wanted agreed to allow pets AND to complete the fence. Thetford, here we come!

We've found not one, but two vehicles we really love. As of tomorrow they will be ours. Still hoping to sell the Mustang and Xterra back in SC really soon, though!

I should be taking the driving test tomorrow (or later this week, if that doesn't work out.) Most of the theories behind their laws are almost identical, so it should be too hard. And a lot of thier signs are very similar. Of course, theories and signs are one thing...getting out on the road is another!

Feeling a Bit Deflated

I'm realizing in these early days that it's easy to go from overwhelmed to hopeful to discouraged and back through the cycle at least twice in a week. Things happend a little slower and what my American mind considers a little backwards here.

We went back to the house yesterday. We were originally told the back yard fencing would be completed and the landlord would take pets. After we complete the application and paid the administrative fee, the real estate agent then called the landlord to ask if he'd consider pets and to check if the fence would be completed. I was a little surprised. I thought we had made it clear up front that those two were our only non-negotiables. But I guess that's just kind of how things work around here. We should find out today if the landlord will accomodate us or if we have to start looking again.

It's hard for me not to get riled up, like I might have in the states. So many things are so different! We bought sandwhiches at a little bakery/deli, and said we'd take them to go, but then changed our mind and looked for a table. When we sat down, we were informed that there is a charge for sitting down! I felt pretty foolish. We took our sandwhiches outside and found a bench. I have a feeling that won't be the last time I make some silly mistake!

We also had our first driving experience yesterday. SCARY. We test drove a BMW that a used car dealership near base is selling. It's a beautiful car, but may be more than we can afford right now. But it was so WEIRD to be driving on the other side! I kept repeating to myself, "Drive on the left. Drive on the left. Drive on the left." We only drove about three or four blocks in a low-traffic area, and we both did well. But really...it was no test of our driving skills. There were no round abouts, no real traffic. We'll see how it goes when we really hit the road!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Settling In

I'm sitting on a wicker couch at the end of the hallway in our TLF (hotel) uploading pictures from the last two weeks. The fact of the matter is that I take WAY too many pictures. And the sad thing is that I've deleted a TON that were blurry, or had people with closed eyes, or just turned out boring. And still it's taking me hours to upload these. I wouldn't mind so much if I could do it from the comfort of our room and watch a little TV, too, but what can you do?

Our first week in England has been very educational. We're so fortunate that Tom met some guys from our base during his deployment in Iraq. One of the guys and his wife have been so helpful. They've driven us around to look at cars and houses, and even drove us to Cambridge last night for dinner. We ate at a Portuguese restaurant called Nando's, which was very good! Plus the bathrooms were clean and spacious, which is not always the case in Europe!

We've found a house that we're in love with, but we haven't signed the papers yet. Tomorrow morning, we have to put some money in our Pounds Sterling account so we can write the check for the admin fee and deposit. It's a gorgeous, brand new house that was just built in the town of Thetford. Thetford is about a 20-30 minute drive from base (depending on traffic), and it's so adorably British I could squeal. It has a little river that runs through the town square with geese floating along. Very story book!

If all goes well tomorrow, we could move in within a week or two, depending on how everything goes with the housing office. We've heard some housing office horror stories, so we'll just have to see how that goes!

We've picked up cell phones. It's nice to have some means of communication, even if it's not reasonable to call back to the states on them. We've also looked at some used cars and will be test driving at least one of them tomorrow.

I miss my family, and I miss my dogs. They should be joining us a few days after we move into the house, which is perfect. The house does have an enclosed rear garden (Brit-speak for fenced-in back yard), so they'll love that! Hopefully their trip will go smoothly.

We had a chance to go to Bury St Edmunds, a market town about 20 minutes from the base. Tom and I had our first real British fish and chips. I also bought a pair of gloves at the market. It's been chilly since we got here, and we've even had a few very light dustings of snow.

I guess that's it for now. Hopefully by the end of this week we'll know our moving date for sure, and may even have a car! Of course, I need to pass the driving test first. YIKES! I'll keep you guys updated. :)

We're Here!

(Originally posted on my MySpace blog on 23 Jan 07.)

Here we are. Almost a year after we received word of our orders, we're finally in England. It's chilly and cold and gray, just like I expected. I spent the two hour bus ride from Gatwick thrilled with the adorable houses along the country side.

Our arrival at Mildenhall was a little disappointing. The TLFs (military hotel) that we're staying in are a total downgrade from…well, any other TLFs I've stayed in. Instead of a kitchenette and dining room that I'm accustomed to, we have a microwave and mini-fridge. It's bizarre that they think we can cook ourselves meals in a microwave for up to 30 days while house hunting.

Even more disappointing is how difficult it is to access the internet – and how spotty the connection can be. If I'm online far less and don't respond to messages, that's why. (Let's be honest, it's probably a good thing. I'm such an internet junky.)

Tom spent this morning in-processing with his unit. This afternoon we attended a safety seminar on driving in England. It makes me nervous to think about it. I have to admit there were a few times on the bus from the airport when I'd look out and see a car coming from what I remember to be the wrong side, and my heart would start pounding…until I realized what side we were on. It'll take some getting used to, that's for sure!

What's most surprising to me, though, is how homesick I've been. I really didn't anticipate being emotional about leaving my family and friends back home since I haven't lived there in more than two years anyway. The problem, I think, is that for right now, we're very isolated. We don't have a home yet, therefore, no phone. I've already mentioned the disappointing internet connection. I keep thinking of things I'd love to tell my family and friends, but I can't.

It's also kind of weird to have no car. I don't mind walking around base, but it'd be nice to shoot off base and see some of the area. Not that I can yet. I haven't passed the permit test. But it makes me feel young and slightly helpless to have no transportation and no steady means of communication.

It also makes me realized how spoiled I am. I'm reminded of how difficult it was to stay in touch even 20 years ago. I've become dependent on my cell phone and email. This is probably a good challenge for me, but it's new and uncomfortable, and quite frankly, it makes me sad. I just MISS everyone. Especially my family.

But these are all temporary woes. We meet with housing tomorrow and will start that hunt this week. We're looking for a little beater car to get us around town. And if I can ever get a decent internet connection, I'll start looking for a decent job. In a month or two, I hope everything's kind of fallen into place. It'll be easier to enjoy all the incredible surroundings if I have a place to lay my head and a way to stay in touch with everyone.