Friday, February 23, 2007

Living in England

So I thougt maybe I'd post a blog that was less complaining and more informative. If you've been playing along at home (and this may just be addressed to my mom for all I know!), then you already know the difficulties we've encountered getting settled in. But you don't know much about where we live (unless, again, mom is the only reader. In which case, she has a pretty good idea since she lived here herself about 25 years ago. Hi, mom!)

RAF Mildenhall is in a rural area of England in East Anglia. We're about two hours north of London. Cambridge is about 30-45 minutes away. We haven't really explored there yet. We went once with one of Tom's coworkers, and frankly, I'm terrified to drive there. Maybe we'll catch the train, if we can figure out where the station is in our town.

We live in a town called Thetford, about a half hour from the base. That is to say, its' a half hour if you don't get stuck behind a slow lorrie (semi-truck.) The road to the bast is a single carraigeway (one lane on each side) with almost no lights. It's windy and narrow, as are most roads here. The national speed limit on most roads is 60 mph, which is entirely too fast for some of these curvy roads, if you asked me.

The water heater in our house is only on at certain times, and we haven't figured out how to change that yet. So we have to make sure to shower first thing in the morning or remember to turn out the hot water heater about a half hour before we plan to shower.

We have a garage behind our house. (It's not attached.) The garages here are too small for cars, really. I mean, you could squeeze your car in one, but then you can't open your doors to get in or out. So most people (including us!) use them for storage. Which is handy, because there are no closets and very little storage at all in the houses.

Almost every British national we have met has been so friendly. And of course, I'm enamoured with how they end every converesation with, "Cheers!" or "Brilliant!" So far the only exception to the friendliness has been in dealing with customer service over the phone, which is on par with phone customer service in the US!

The dogs are adjusting well. We haven't seen too many dogs in our neighborhood yet, except for a few big ones. Our landlord decided to lay gravel in our backyard instead of sod because he didn't want the dogs digging up the grass or tracking in a lot of mud. However, the Z's are a little scared of the gravel and seem to think that they will sink into it like quicksand! So far Zoey has taken to going to the bathroom on the sidewalk. Just as well, I guess. Easier to spot and pick up.

Okay, Tommy is ready to go home. Hoping to get internet at home in a couple of weeks! If you have any questions about what it's like here, let me know!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

BT is the devil.

The next obsticle is getting a phone line. BT (British Telephone) has a literal monopoly on the phone lines here. You can use another phone service, but you're still stuck paying BT 11 pounds a month (about 22 dollars) just to rent the line.

Additionally, because we're the first occupants of our house, we have to pay to have BT come out an make the line active. And, because we're Americans with no prior British address, they can't run a UK credit check on us so we have to pay a deposit. Only, because we don't have a UK credit card, they won't accept our deposit by phone, so I have to mail it in. We can't schedule a technician to come out until they receive the deposit.

Here's where it's really cute. Because we can't get our BT line set up, we can't get television or internet set up! Ridiculous! So for at least the next two or three weeks, we have no TV, no internet, and no land line. I feel like I'm living in the dark ages!

Other than that, things are well. I had my first job interview yesterday. Seems like a good position. Hopefully we'll hear something soon!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

moved in.

we moved into our house yesterday, and it's been just miserable. one of the shipping crates had a hole it in, and a lot of our dishes and one of our couch cushions are now moldy. yuck.

the house isn't small, really, but the stairway is SO narrow. naturally, our box spring won't fit up the stairs. our choices were: a.) sleep with the mattress on the floor, b.) buy a new box spring (the brits make box springs in two peices just for their narrow stairways), or c.) buy a new bed frame that does not require a box spring. after carefully reviewing our options, we bought a new bed frame. luckily they were able to deliver the next day (today). it's a very nice frame (real wood! not like that american pressed board stuff we're used to) and we got a great deal on it. also, it was easy to assemble. thank goodness.

no internet yet. we tried setting something up with BT (british telephone), but it was looking like it would take a month and a small fortune to get a technician out to the house. we're looking into other options. in the mean time, checking my email requires a drive to base. please be patient in waiting for responses! :)

the dogs are loving the new house. lots of stairs to run up and down, and lots of sunny spots (when the sun actually comes out!) there's still no grass in the backyard, so i'm still walking them like in the apartments. hopefully some grass will grow in soon. they've really returned to their normal selves in no time. you'd never guess they were gone.

well, there's a lot of unpacking left to do, so we better head back to the house. woo.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


First of all, Happy belated Valentines Day! I hope you all had a peep-filled day of lovey-doveyness.

Second of all, Zeus and Zoey arrived safe and sound this morning. They sailed smoothly through customs without any problems. I wish the same could be said of our trip to Gatwick! I printed some faulty directions and got us sufficiently lost. Thankfully, Steve and Kim gave us an awesome map of South England for Christmas that saved my butt. We arrived late, but I don't think Zeus and Zoey noticed! Zeus almost beat himself out of his kennel with his tail, it was wagging so hard!

Third, we are moving into our new house tomorrow. Very exciting! It's been a busy week, and we don't have everything in order yet. (As in, we don't have internet set up.) So if you don't hear from us for a while, we are okay, just not connected yet.

That's all! Hope to be back soon!

Monday, February 12, 2007

International Pet Relocation

It's a nice feeling now that things are coming together. We'll be moving into our new house on Friday, and we pick up the dogs from Gatwick on Thursday. Very exciting!

Of course, things have been so overwhelming and busy at first that I've been able to take my mind off of Zeus and Zoey for a while. Now that it's "crunch time," my mind is fraught with the possible terrors of international pet relocation. I've spoken to a number of pet-owners here, and almost all of them have different horror stories. One airline even lost a one of my husband's coworkers cats...FOR A WHOLE WEEK!

(Sidenote: WHY do people tell you these stories before your pets arrive safely? As if I don't have enough horrible scenarios playing through my head without the thought of my furry babies being lost for an entire week. It's enough to make me ill!)

Lazy Monday Afternoon

So now that the time of doggy reuniting is at hand, I'm riddled with anxiety dreams. (This is not helped by the fact that we've been watching season one and two of Alias. I recently launched myself out of bed in the middle of the night to avoid an explosion happening in my dream!)

Last night I dreamt that I left Zeus and Zoey out in a cardboard box in an unidentified front yard. When I went back out the next day to get them, Zoey had run away, and Zeus was inexplicably smashed under the box. Zeus was alive, but lethargic and unresponsive. I know that this is my mind's way of dealing with the fear that my dogs will be somehow altered from the experience of being separated from us so long and the long flight. I woke up feeling like a bad dog mom and made Thomas reassure me that I'm a loving pet owner.

(Incidentally, I've had two dreams two nights in a row in which I was in sweltering, summer-like heat. In the first one of Tommy's family members accused me of stinking! And I knew he was right! In the second I just remember feeling that gross, hot feeling. I don't know why I'm dreaming of summer when it's cold and dreary and wet outside!)

Anyway, I know this whole dog-seperation/relocation thing is probably harder on me than the dogs, but I just worry about them. I worry that regardless of months of planning that something will go wrong last minute. Or everything will go smoothly and I won't be able to find my way to London-Gatwick. (The thought of dirving on British motorways so soon is enough to give me more anxiety dreams!) But by Friday, hopefully all of this will be just a memory and I'll have my furry little monsters at home again. Yay!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Today I took a voluntary driving course from a British guy called AcciDON'T. It was very helpful and informative. After the class, he took the other student and me around to various driving challenges in the local area so we could esperience them with the benefit of guided instruction. I did pretty well, and he told me I was a good driver. I asked him to please send home a report card so I could prove that to my husband!

Then tonight, I had my first "find parking in town" experience, in which I did not know that there is a convenience parking lot next to the Dragon House, and instead tried to find parking along the street. In the process I got so flustered that I took most of Tom's car over a curb, and then proceeded to drive down the right (as in American) side of the road...straight into oncoming traffic.

It was bound to happen, I suppose. And it may not be the last time. Fortunately, I didn't hit anything (other than the afore mentioned curb.) But I was pretty frazzled to the point of near-shouting, "I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE!" repeatedly for a minute or so. Fortunately the delicious crispy Cantonese duck and sweet and sour chicken at the Dragon House helped me overcome my fear of driving back to base.

The Base Housing office inspected our house today, and it passed "with flying colors." Tomorrow we sign the lease, and hopefully figure out a move-in date!

The dogs are scheduled to arrive next Thursday, and I'm SO excited! I miss those boogers and can't wait to have them "home."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

To the Left, To the Left...

We have cars! Tom and I were both able to close on two cars (which from the outside are almost identical. A little matchy-matchy, I know, but it's kind of just how it worked out! We weren't trying, I promise!) Tom has 2000 BMW 323i, and I have a 99 BMW 318i. They are both blue. And they are both beautiful cars!

Two Beamers

Now whether or not they will fit in our tiny UK garage is another story! (We've been told that yes, many cars will fit into UK garages! But don't plan on being able to actually open the doors and get out of the car once you are in the garage!)

Of course owning cars means more driving! I passed the driving test this morning. (I got an 84% - just over the required 80%. A little low for my academic pleasing, but enough to get me on the road!) We've both successfully navigated our way through numerous round abouts today, and neither of us have tried to drive in the right lane...yet!

I'll say this...when there's traffic on the road, or if you're heading straight, staying on the left is not difficult. It's turning onto a new road with no traffic immediately visibile that makes me stop and think. (It's so super dorky, but I find myself singing Beyonce, "To the left, to the left" to remind myself where I'm going. Ha!)

And, yes. I have tried to get in the passenger's side door more than once today. And I reach for my seatbelt on the wrong side. And I reach to shift on the right before I realize it's on the left.

It will certainly take some getting used to! But hopefully if we are cautious and alert we'll be able to avoid any craziness!

On the house front, it looks like we'll be moving into the house on or around February 9th. Our household goods have arrived, so we're just waiting on a housing inspection and for the landlord to finalize some details on the house itself. Very exciting!