Destination England

Our journey from debt to England…and everything in between!

Posts Tagged ‘England

Hiatus…over?

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I disappeared after our trip to England in June.  Life took over, and between the struggles of Sarah finding a job, and finding adequate child care, as well as a whole host of other things, I just lost site and lost inspiration.  I can say that it isn’t that I didn’t want to write, but more that I didn’t know what to write about.   Now, I still have doubts as to what to write, but I shall endeavor to at least but some thoughts to paper.  So I apologize to those who have read this blog, and hope that you will continue to read.  My (our) destination is still England, and like all roads this one is not without its bumps and potholes.

The last few months have seen routine become the prominent factor in our lives.  Sarah started doing some temp work with a company in Dublin and is just across the road from where I work.  Unfortunately, we do not have any days off together, so this has brought on its own challenges.  Connor has transitioned into his child minder’s care very well.  Life is…well, normal.  Some good news is I recently applied for a promotion at work, and interviewed yesterday for.  I feel it went well. Fingers crossed!

Again, sorry for the hiatus, and dropping off the face of the earth.  Though next week, I should have wonderful photos from a pumpkin patch we’re taking Connor to!

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Written by Jas

October 6, 2010 at 9:48 am

Posted in England, Family, Random

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Our Trip to England – Flights and Travel part 1

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Our trip across the pond started out innocently enough.  To be fair, getting there was no big hardship.  Sunday evening (May 30th), I came home from work and we set to packing and going over our lists to make sure we had everything.  Looking back, I think we could have left a good amount of what we took home, such as the pack n play.  Connor ended up sleeping between us the whole trip at night, and the Pack n Play became a storage unit.  In the end we had one checked bag, a pack n play that was checked, and then two carry on bags, laptop bag, diaper bag, and umbrella stroller.  With our arsenal of bags packed and ready and loaded them in the car for the night, and proceeded to get a very tired and moany baby fed, watered, and put down for the night.  We watched an episode or two of NCIS, and finally tried to get some sleep.

At 3:30am the alarm went off.  After much protesting, we pulled ourselves out of bed, dressed and set to finishing up the last little bits – brushing teeth, packing the last few bits, and getting Connor ready.  We left a bit early, eager to be on our way after months and months of waiting.  Connor was a bit moany at first, but quickly fell back asleep in the car.  We only live about 20 minutes from Columbus International, so we were there in record time.  We decided to stop for McDonald’s at the airport, but it wasn’t open yet so we just waited for the drive thru to open.  at 5am, we received our breakfast and drove to the long term parking lot.  We were fortunate to find a spot right next to the entrance (it made getting to the car when we got back easy. More on that at a later time!).  After finishing our breakfast, we unloaded the car just as a shuttle pulled up.  We were one of about 3 families on the shuttle, so we made it to check quickly.  Check-in and security took hardly any time.  CMH is a small airport, and it was very early.

Arriving at our gate we proceeded to amuse the little one, and grab some water and much needed soda for the flight.  On a side note, I would like to voice my opinion that the prices in an airport are absolutely ridiculous for water and soda.  That being said we boarded our flight to Chicago, where Connor proceeded to sleep through take off and most of the flight.  He did wake up about 15 minutes before landing and was his normal giggly self.  Once in Chicago, we had to make the trek to our connecting gate, which all things considered wasn’t that bad, but it was still a haul.  Especially when you have two carryons, a laptop bag, and a diaper bag to carry.  Connor, loving his umbrella stroller, was wide eyed with interest at all the people, sounds, and surroundings.  Arriving at our gate we gave my mother a call to let her know we’d made it, we then called Sarah’s family (hoorah for vonage!) to let them know where we were.  While doing that, I went and changed Connor.  We returned a clean and happy bubba, and just in time for boarding to begin.  We were one of the last groups called, meaning by the time we made it on the flight, all the bins were full.  It took some maneuvering and creative thinking, but we made all our bags fit.  The flight from Chicago to London was uneventful, filled with dozing, eating, amusing Connor, and reading when we had a spare chance.

Eventually we arrived in London, around 11:10pm GMT (London time).  It took a bit of time getting off the plane as passengers were unwilling to budge for a baby! Now, if you’ve ever flown into Heathrow, you’ll understand and appreciate my next bit of sentiment.  Getting to Arrivals is a process.  You land FAR FAR FAR out from the main airport, and must walk a considerable distance to get to immigration.  We arrived at immigration and went our separate ways.  Sarah was through in a jiff, and I had to wait a bit to go through the non UK side.  At the stand, the officer was lovely, and informed me next time we can just go through the UK side since we’re traveling as a family.  Afterward we made our way to baggage claim and loaded up the trolley.   I still maintain we packed too much!!!  Pushing a towering and teetering trolley, we pushed through and there awaiting up at the end of the walkway was none other than Mum, Dad, Michael, Bob, and Carmen!  Smiles made way of tears, which led to laughs, and cuddles and kisses.  Also, after being without a cigarette for nigh 13 hours, we herded the caravan of people and baggage outside into the crisp (yes that was a welcome change! it was 72 degrees F at 4am when we left Ohio) air.  Afterward, we made our way to the cars and loaded up and made our venture home.

Hammersmith is not far from Heathrow, only about a 20 minute drive or tube ride.  Even at 12:30 in the morning, a sense of homecoming fell over me.  I felt a peace that I can’t begin to explain, but felt the entire time.  Seeing the familiar building and streets.  Seeing the church, now uncovered by scaffold.  It was good to be home.  We arrived home at Sarah’s parent’s flat, and brought the bags in and had more hugs and cuddles.  We proceeded to then pass out, all of us, those who traveled and those who waited on the traveling party.  We had made it home.  After such a long, seemingly endless wait, we made it home.  If only for 3.5 weeks, it was still home.

Written by Jas

June 29, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Posted in England, Family, Travel, Vacation

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Back from Hiatus

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Well we’re back from our trip home to England.  I apologize for being out of touch the last few weeks, and not posting.  All of our time was absorbed in activities, and spending time with family and friends.  I rarely used the internet for more than checking my email every few days, and checking on things like prices at a restaurant, or directions to somewhere.  To be honest, I had a bit of writer’s block as well and had no idea what I wanted to say, or where I could begin to say it.  Three weeks have given me so much material, that I’m sure I’ll have some bits for a while!

The trip was more than I could have ever asked for, and I miss everyone and everything in England.  Being back in the states still feels a bit…odd.  I have been born and raised here, but I still feel a bit foreign.  Phrases like “You alright?” and “cheers” get odd looks, or completely different responses.  I find it odd now not having beans for breakfast (a problem my wife and I have rectified as of yesterday’s shopping).  I am amazed at the fact of how dependent on our cars here.  After three weeks of walking virtually everywhere, I feel a bit guilty popping in the car to drive down to a shop (read in American “store”) ¼ of a mile down the road.  It is the little things like those I miss.  And the Irn Bru.

I am happy to be able to get back into the swing of life, though.  I wouldn’t say I’m happy about being “home”, but I am happy for us to get the ball rolling on getting ourselves in a position to move back to England as quickly as possible.  Toward the end, I felt a bit in limbo as friends and family planned their lives for after we left, and life went on as normal, but I still felt out of sorts.  We return with renewed vigor and excitement to save our pennies, and get out of debt as quickly as possible!

I plan to write a bunch of blog posts about our time there, as well as a few about some things and people from there.  We’re still settling back in, so bare with me!

Written by Jas

June 26, 2010 at 7:00 pm

This time next week…

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I will be flying somewhere in the sky en route to London!  We’re finally in our last week before our vacation/trip back home!  In some ways it seems like it would never get here, yet in other ways I can’t believe it is almost here.

This is usually the time my nerves start getting the best of me, and I get that flipping and flopping in my stomach.  I’m anxious and excited all the same time.  No matter how much I try to just look at the days leading up to the 31st as normal days, I can’t. It’s hard not to be excited.  I haven’t been “home” for over a year and a half.  My wife hasn’t been back in over a year.  Connor has never been!  This is going to be a great experience and some much needed R&R for all of us.

As I fight the urge to start packing tonight, I’m doing my best to make a rational packing list of items I need, and want to take.  We don’t want to pack too much as we plan to return home with more than we’re taking (Sarah wants to get some clothes from England, plus there will be gifts for Connor and other odds and ends we’ve picked up).  What do I really need to take?

Now if only I can stop humming “Leavin’ on a jet plane, I don’t know when I’ll be back again…”

Written by Jas

May 24, 2010 at 8:00 am

Posted in England, London, Travel, Vacation

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The Gallery: The World We Live In – Glastonbury, Somerset UK

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I stumbled upon Sticky Fingers blog a few days ago, and saw The Gallery postings, and thought it a great idea.  For this topic, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to show my local area, or somewhere special to me.  In the end, I decided that I’d rather introduce you to a place that will always be a special place to myself and my family.  My wife and I held our handfasting there, and it is where we’ll be holding our son’s Saining.

Glastonbury

Glastonbury has held a special place for my wife, and she had wanted to share it with me when I came to see her.  I am more of a city dweller, and while I do enjoy getting out of the city from time to time, I always feel the need to go back.  So it was no surprise that Glastonbury was a bit of an adjustment for me.  The pace there is much slower, as I’m sure it is in most small village communities.  It took a day to really slow down to their pace.  Once I did, it was very relaxing.  It is an area rich with history and lore, such as the legend that King Arthur was originally buried in the Glastonbury Abbey.  Joseph of Arimathea is said to have brought the Holy Grail, and where, when he struck his staff in the ground it bloomed into the Glastonbury Thorn.  It is also stated that Glastonbury is at the center of several ley lines.

This horse is the Westbury White Horse.  While not in Glastonbury, it was seen on our train ride from London to Bristol.  I thought it was amazing!  Sadly, it is fairly modern though, crushing my hopes of seeing some ancient British formation.

This is a photo I took standing behind one of the chapels.   It is hard to tell, but the third sign back is allegedly the original resting place of King Arthur.  There has been debate to this, as some believe it was a ploy to attract patrons to the Abbey.

One of the fountains at Chalice Wells.  The well itself is further back, which is where Sarah and I held our private handfasting two years ago.  We’ll be going back there next month to hold Connor’s Saining with her family.  This place holds a very special place in our hearts, and kudos to the Trust as they keep this place looking beautiful!

The Mighty Tor just outside of Glastonbury.  Sarah has climbed to the top, but when I was there, my leg was bothering me and I didn’t attempt to make the climb.  We will definitely be climbing up this trip!

Overall, I definitely feel a connection with Glastonbury.  The history amazes me, and to walk through ruins that are a thousand years old I cannot begin to explain the sense of awe and amazement I felt.  Having said that, it was hard to adjust to the slow tempo.  Shops there close up around 5pm, and everyone seems to head for the pub!  As an American used to shops being open until 8pm or later, this took some getting used to.  Still, the surrounding countryside was gorgeous, and I felt recharged when we left.  I am looking forward to going back there!

Written by Jas

May 5, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Posted in England, Random, Travel, Vacation

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5 Inexpensive Things to do in London

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These are just a few things you can do in London that are either free or have a nominal cost.  Whether you live in London, or are visiting, there are countless options that won’t hurt the pocketbook. These are some of my favorites!

  1. Go to a Museum or Art Gallery – there are quite a few museums in London who don’t charge admission (though donations are welcome!).  The British Museum, The Natural History Museum, the National Gallery, the Tate Modern and Victoria and Albert Museum are just a few free museums around town.
  2. The Royal Parks The Royal Parks are some of the most beautiful parks I have seen.  They are filled with beautiful gardens, walking paths, and trees that you’ll forget you’re in the middle of London at times.  Check out their website to see what events the parks have going on!
  3. Street Markets – Places like Camden Market, Portobello Market, Greenwich Market and others offer a great place to get out and get away from traditional malls and stores.  I’ve been to the Camden Market, and it was definitely an experience!
  4. Street Performers/Artists – Spending any small amount of time in Covent Garden, you will see a host of performers and artists.  Sarah and I had a drink and watched a school choir from the US perform various popular songs, as well as an opera singer!
  5. Go to the Pub – When all else fails, go to the pub. There are literally thousands of pubs throughout London varying in size, price, and atmosphere. Go for a drink, go for a meal, or go just to relax in by the fire with your favorite book, pubs are a great way to truly enjoy London like the locals!

Written by Jas

May 2, 2010 at 6:00 pm

“A Powerful Agent…”

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The past month or so, I have been researching the idea of freelance writing.  I enjoy writing, and having fallen out of it the last few years, have decided it’s time to dive back in as a side hobby and maybe a source for additional income.  The more I’ve thought about it and researched it, the more I’ve been attracted to the idea of making it a full time career.  Lots of others out in the world have done it, why can’t I?

What led me to this point?  Well, there are more reasons than I could post on this article, but here are a few of the big ticket items.

  • Cube Life Isn’t For Me – I currently work for a Company, that in the way of Corporate America, this is one of the best in my opinion.  But, I’m finding more and more that the 95 isn’t for me.  Too many times I wake up, the sun is shining, the air is crisp and fresh, and I am faced with the reality I won’t get to enjoy it.  I don’t like Cube life!
  • Family Matters – This is a huge one. After my son was born, I realized I want to be there for all the small things as well as the big things. I want to spend as much free time as I can with him and my wife.  Freelance writing allows for that flexibility. As I tell my wife “Have laptop, will travel!”
  • Passion – I felt I had lost my passion.  My wife has been finding her way spiritually and it’s reignited her passion.  I looked around and there was nothing I was truly passionate about.  Since starting this blog and researching freelancing, I have felt more energized. 
  • It’s Not About The Benjamins – While I would love to be able to live off freelancing, it isn’t the primary factor in doing it.  I’m finding I would rather be known for what I have given to society (or those around me), than how many pennies are in my bank account.

Mark Twain stated “A powerful agent is the right word. Whenever we come upon one of those intensely right words… the resulting effect is physical as well as spiritual, and electrically prompt.” It amazes me how one can read a piece of fiction, and see the author use their words to paint the landscape, the emotions, and the imagery of the story.  How one can read a book or article on a topic they know nothing about and come out retaining even a small portion of that knowledge.  Words can pull at our heart’s strings in ways we can’t imagine.

What To Write About?

This is an area I am struggling with currently.  What direction do I want to go in? What topics should I write about? Originally I started this blog as a place to discuss my family and I’s journey from the US to moving to England.  Now, I wonder what else could be discussed that others would want to read about.  Also, having found renewed vigor in writing, I want to use it as a practice ground for my writing.  I want to write about England, but do so in a way that isn’t recycling the same facts that can be found in a history book or tourist guide.

As far as writing professionally, I honestly don’t know where I would like to go with that yet.  Right now, I’m in the planning and researching stage.  I’ve been reading blogs on freelance and ordered a few books that have some positive reviews about explaining on how to get started, and how to succeed in freelance writing.  I’m sure as the months progress, this blog will transform, and begin to take a proper shape.  This is uncharted territory for me, and its both exciting and scary at the same time!  I’m looking forward to finding my voice, and finding my niche in the world of writing.

What Now?

RESEARCH. MORE RESEARCH. AND STILL MORE RESEARCH!    Knowledge is power, and there is a profusion of information out there.  Also, I am hoping to reach out to others in the blogosphere with similar interests with moving to England, or English related blogs.

In the upcoming weeks I plan to post some articles outlining our experience with the US Visa process, as well as some posts relating to our time in England this June.  We’ve got a jammed packed three and a half weeks, and I’m sure there will be many stories to tell, and experiences to share!  If you have any ideas or thoughts on what you’d like to read about please leave a comment or send an email.  Feedback is always welcome!

Written by Jas

April 28, 2010 at 6:00 pm