Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Moved but still not fully functional....

We took a short break from unpacking our belongings this past weekend and headed to Madrid for a long weekend. Scott had a business meeting there this week, so we both went early and then I returned so I could get back to work. I will post photos and recap our nice long weekend there but it may take awhile because we are now in the land of service issue purgatory with our new house. BT has not moved our phone number from our old house to our new house (already a week past when they said they would) and then SKY has cancelled our cable, tv, and Internet subscriptions because we have no current phone line from BT. Neither provider wants to take ownership as to why our services were cancelled so we are having to start a new with everything....which means we are looking at a good two to three weeks before we have any services in our house! 

I am thankfully over at a friend's house tonight to check my email although I am sure they do not want me over at their house every night to use the computer and their vonage phone to call back to the states. Hopefully we will be back up and running in the digital/Internet world soon...oh wait, I mean in due British time.....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Trials of purchasing a car

Can you tell from this photo how irritated Scott is here??? This picture captures the scene of our experience at the Volvo dealership last night when we thought we were going to pick up our newly purchased car.....we ended up leaving there WITHOUT the car because the dealership could not go to the post office before it closed to pay our road tax - SO - we could not take the car off the lot. Post office, you said? HMM? Yes, EVERYTHING happens here in the UK at the post office. It is bizarre but it is just the place things are done here....

Neither of us were too thrilled about not being able to collect our car last night, but Scott was especially not happy since I pulled him out of work at 5pm in order to drive the 30 miles to the dealership, so we could arrive before they closed. On top of the dealership not having paid our road tax on the car in time, we also were having an issue with our new car insurance company sending through our insurance verification to the dealership. We had a print out of the verification from an email but the dealership said they needed a copy straight from the insurance company.
So, Scott called the company three times during our visit to the dealership and spoke to the India based customer service team to try to get the paperwork pushed through to England. 

Happily, today, we have sorted out these issues - the insurance paperwork was collected, road tax was paid at the post office, and the dealership delivered our new car to our town. We only received 1/8th of a tank of gas in this new vehicle, but I guess to request a full tank would just be picky at this point....

Friday, February 13, 2009

Life in Boxes

Our dining room as a holding point for boxes and furniture to be moved.
We have been living out of boxes again this week as today is moving day (again) for us. Post-robbery and car vandalism, we have not felt 100% comfortable in our current house, so we have opted to break our lease and move to a different house. We are sure our current house is probably safe enough but it is more the idea that someone has been inside this house and seen our things. Since we have no long term ties or ownership rights to this house, we took a break clause and found a new, lovely house in the "suburbs" of our town. 

The movers are here today and I am sitting back drinking my coffee and hoping all goes smoothly (Scott of course has escaped yet another one of our moves!). We are excited to be in a new house and hope it doesn't take too long to settle in there and unpack our belongings. I will post photos of the new house soon but the best part of the new place is:
#1 - We have closets. At least 7 of them! In this house we do not have a single closet and it has been a bit messy for things like coats, etc. with no place to really go...
#2 - We have a full size "American" refrigerator. The bar/dorm sized fridge just isn't cutting it and although I enjoy going to the grocery store, having to go every day due to restrictions on space is getting annoying. I am thrilled to have space for platters of food and maybe 2-3 days worth of food. 

And we will have two extra guest rooms in our new house, so if you are contemplating a visit to the UK, we will have a room for you. :) 
Our "closet" room and my fabric stash packed and ready for the move.
The living room in boxes.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Working Girl

After six months of trying my hand at being an English housewife, I have decided to kick the habit and head back to work. Although the break has been nice, I am starting to drive my husband crazy (Yes, Scott, I will admit it! But I will save the comments for you....) and I have become a bit aimless due to the over abundance of time on my hands. I have realized that a schedule suits me and a mental challenge outside of my home is strongly desired at this point in my life. 

Luckily I have a work permit to be able to work in this country, so I am freely able to take a job here in the UK with an English employer. As fate would have it, I found a job through another American here and tomorrow is my official first day.

I have accepted a position as the Executive Director of a small non-profit that works with US and UK based companies to promote transatlantic business. I am thrilled with this opportunity and am looking forward to the challenge ahead. 

So, now it's off to sleep for me, so I can get back into the habit of waking up early to go to work in the mornings! 

Monday, February 2, 2009


The view out of our glass front door....snow on the street and on our car!
We woke up this morning to see snow outside. After turning on the news, we have found out that we are lucky to be in the West Midlands versus in London right now. We have maybe an inch of snow on the ground right now but this London already had between 6 inches to a foot of snow. It has caused a big mess in the south part of England today....airports are closed, all bus service in London has been suspended and 10 out of the 11 tube lines are experiencing severe delays or issues! The Times is reporting that this snowfall is the heaviest snowfall England has experienced in nearly 20 years and it appears the snow will continue to fall as the week goes on. Further north, by us, we are expected to get more snow this evening with it turning heavy into the morning hours. For a country that does not get much snow, and really does not know how to handle it, it is causing a big mess all around!  
Our back courtyard this morning with the snow dusting. 
We did have to spend a mere five minutes to clean off our car this morning but hopefully that was the worst part of our first major snow experience here in England. 
Scott dutifully dusting off our car with a broom. 
Our street covered in snow....

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Another weekend in London

We just returned from a short weekend break in London. While we can go to London just for the day, we decided to take the weekend and stay there this time. It was a nice little get away and we of course relished all of the great food options the city has to offer!  
We stayed in the Mayfair neighborhood on Park Lane at the Grosvenor House (JW Marriott). Great hotel if you are in the market for a nice hotel in London!  It is located very close to the US Embassy in London actually. 
Upon our arrival, we checked into our hotel and then shopped for a while...ultimately heading in the direction of the Marleybone neighborhood so we could have a late lunch at our favorite cheese shop - La Fromagerie. Although we smelled a bit like feet after leaving the pungent cheese shop, we both agree that it is the best lunch we've tried since we have been on this side of the pond. 
The outside of the cheese shop and cafe. Such a pretty sight from the street.
The menu for Saturday. We ordered a cheese plate of the day, a meat plate, and the recommended wines to enjoy with the plates. The gouda was my favorite cheese on the plate!
The tasting cafe inside the shop. There is a large table with communal seating which is where we ate on Saturday. 
Once we left La Fromagerie and walked back towards Oxford Street, I stumbled upon this shop and was SO excited....
VV Rouleaux is the name of the shop.
As you can see from their store front window, they specialize in ribbons. Hundreds of ribbons in satins, grosgrains, velvets, woven types, and more are inside this store. I could have spent hours touching the fabrics and looking at the colors but of course I did not want to bore Scott to tears, so I left after about 20 minutes of browsing. Next time I am in London by myself, I will go back there.
Saturday evening we attended the early performance of Avenue Q at the Noel Coward Theater. Afterwards, we met some friends who live in London for a delicious thai dinner in the South Kensington neighborhood. It was nice to have a leisurely dinner in the city and not have to worry about catching our train back north to go home! 
The Avenue Q signage in front of the Noel Coward Theater.
This morning we enjoyed a tasty breakfast and then hit Harrods, the High Street, and some other stores to do some more browsing and shopping. 
Scott on the street in front of Harrods. 
On our drive home this afternoon, we hit about a 20 minute patch of a snow storm, just north of Oxford. The snow has not stuck to the ground by our house, but the weather forecast for tonight and tomorrow is predicting snow fall, which has everyone here in a tizzy. Let's hope it doesn't come close to the snow Chicago has had this winter! (sorry, but we have enjoyed the escape from such a brutal winter there).