The superchorus: Tudor Roses, Spirit of the South and Wessex Harmony on stage in Bournemouth.
Back in the spring I was missing my choir back home so I jumped on the interwebs and found a singing course offered by a local choir. I enjoyed the 6 week class and ended up joining the choir after passing my audition. Wessex Harmony is an a cappella barbershop ladies chorus that is part of the Ladies Association of British Barbershop. The equivalent in the states is called Sweet Adelines. There are some chorus’ in Europe that compete in Sweet Adelines competitions, usually when they consistently place first in the European competitions are looking for the next level of competition.
Some top choirs
When I joined in the spring, the first task was for me to learn the two songs my chorus was preparing for the Convention at the end of October. Because my chorus is relatively small, we banded together with 2 other groups to join a super-chorus. Coaches were hired to improve the group’s singing and everyone met up on a few Saturdays to perfect our efforts. Each member of the chorus was required to submit a recording of themselves singing the songs, which the section leaders reviewed to ensure that the members were singing the right notes.
I’m a tenor so my section is very small: we are usually referred to as the “sprinkles on top”.
“The Barbershop Cone: Barbershop harmonies have a different balance than the cylindrical SATB- Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, i that our top voices sing with less weight and intensity than our lower voices”
Convention was great! I roomed with another member from Australia and we whooped it up! There are songs called Polecats that every chorus learns so everyone can sing the songs together at gatherings. Andrew was even able to join in Bohemian Rhapsody!
Instagram filters with roommate Kelly, The Wessex Harmony Tenor Section, Crazy Cat on my head
Our super-chorus performed on Saturday, 10/28, and placed 16 out of 28 in our category, which was better than we expected especially given that there were limited rehearsals all together. It was a wonderful experience. There was such a feeling of camaraderie and celebration and I enjoyed ever minute of it. The ladies in my chorus are absolute gems!
After everyone competed there was a party themed “A Night with the Stars”. One of the groups took this in a different direction than most of the choirs who dressed up like Divas and went literally to the stars in their Star Trek costumes!
Watch our performances here. “Love Me” and “Once Upon a Time”. The judges noted that our second song was very challenging so we were happy with our performance.
I flew home to Montana in July to throw my future sister-in-law a bridal shower. From the moment I landed, my mom and I buzzed around Billings, Montana to gather all the necessary decorations. We camped out at my aunt Denise’s house to get all the food ready. Luckily my mom and aunt are real champs and let me talk them into staying up past their bedtime to get everything done the night before the shower. It wasn’t a hard sell: my mom and aunt grew up making shenanigans so they were in their element helping me pull everything together.
We had a great shower with lots of tea and love and presents! The theme was Bride With Tea: Renee’s Instagram handle is Renee with Tea so it was a take on that. My mom made delicious chocolate chip scones and finger sandwiches and unearthed her vintage tea set for the occasion. I printed Renee and Peter’s engagement photos printed 8×8 at Costco which was a nice touch and gave Renee the photos after the shower. Given that I was in the UK prior to the shower, I used postable.com to create and send the invitations as the service addresses and posts mail for you.
Renee enjoyed herself and loved the scones! Success
Renee’s Mom, Ellen, Renee, and Amy (my mumma)
Now on to prep for the wedding… (Andrew photoshopped the sign!)
For our anniversary, or as we call it, our annual honeymoon, we flew to Croatia. Like Luxembourg, Croatia wasn’t on my radar, but Andrew suggested it so I was game. There were two main draws for Split: 1) it lies on the coast= beaches and 2) the Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO world heritage site.
The palace is the only UNESCO site that is active: approximately 3,000 people live within the palace walls upper levels while the the ground level is occupied by vendors and restaurants.
Diocletian’s Palace is an ancient palace built for the Roman EmperorDiocletian at the turn of the fourth century AD, that today forms about half the old town of Split, Croatia. While it is referred to as a “palace” because of its intended use as the retirement residence of Diocletian, the term can be misleading as the structure is massive and more resembles a large fortress: about half of it was for Diocletian’s personal use, and the rest housed the military garrison.
The Palace is one of the most famous and complete architectural and cultural features on the Croatian Adriatic coast. As the world’s most complete remains of a Roman palace, it holds an outstanding place in Mediterranean, European and world heritage.
Recently Split has experienced a boon of tourism due to the Game of Thrones (Season 4) filming that took place in the palace.
Things we dun
We ate! In fact we it feels like we did a lot of eating, as one does on vacation. We loved restaurants Perijov, Bokeria, Mazzgoon. We ate at a Pancake House called Stari Plac quite a few times- we just couldn’t get enough Nutella Crepes!
As we wandered around looking for dinner one night I noticed many people drinking what looked like fizzy orange booze . I sought out a bus boy to reveal the name of the secret drink and he happily obliged: Aperol Spritz. (Aperol is an Italian apéritif made of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, cinchona and other ingredients.) The drink is made of Aperol, Prosecco and soda. It wasn’t quite my cup of tea but I was glad to sate my curiosity.
We spent a lot of time exploring the palace and walking through town. There were many restaurants and shops inside.
There was a garden in a square near our Airbnb that was home for a half dozen or so stray cats. Ever time we walked back to our Airbnb we made a game of counting the cats. The restaurants in the square would put out food for the cats. I image they have a pretty good life dozing in the sun and being fed by the kind restauranteurs and tourist.
On the 13th while we were walking around the vendor tents just outside the Palace walls I saw a lot of women carrying lilies. My curiosity could not be contained so I finally asked a local. She revealed that June 13th is St. Anthony’s Day. St. Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of lost things. He was known for his eloquent homilies.
The reason St. Anthony’s help is invoked for finding things lost or stolen is traced to an incident that occurred in Bologna. According to the story, Anthony had a book of psalms that was of some importance to him as it contained the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching his students. A novice who had decided to leave took the psalter with him. Prior to the invention of the printing press, any book was an item of value. Upon noticing it was missing, Anthony prayed it would be found or returned. The thief was moved to restore the book to Anthony and return to the Order. The stolen book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna. (From Wikipedia)
Reading bout him made me wish I could jump in a time machine and meet him. The older I get the more history interests me so those time-machine-moments happen more and more frequently. (Although we’ve been watching Doctor Who and I’m learning about all the dangers of time travel! haha)
We climbed the bell tower
We toured the Roman cellars
We walked down the coast
We took a day trip via boat to a town north of Split and swam in the rain.
Andrew went scuba diving and got his Advanced Scuba certificate so that he can go on deeper dives. A lot of the ship wrecks he wanted to see are deeper than we were certified for so he decided to take the opportunity to get certified. Unfortunately, I caught some kind of flu that made dizzy, weak and miserably uncomfortable so I had to sit this adventure out which was super sad since we’ve been scuba diving together in June 4 out of the last 5 years. So while Andrew scuba’ed I rested, read my British chick-lit and researched my new interest in bullet journaling on YouTube.
While there I did a bit of browsing the jewelry stands and found myself drawn to Turquoise rings. Last year I worked with a woman who wore a lot of Turquoise and coral jewelry and since seeing her pieces I was on the hunt for a Turquoise jewelry.
I found a ring I was particularly drawn to one at a vendor in the Palace Cellars. After hemming and hawing for a few days and doing some research online, I decided to bite the bullet. I told Andrew about my decision and we went to make the purchase. Lo and behold the ring was gone! It had been sold. I was bummed since it hadn’t been a quick decision as I’m trying to make smart purchases that I will love for years to come. I told Andrew I knew it was silly (first world problems) but I was sad that I’d missed the opportunity after giving it so much thought. He was a little bit crap at comforting me and when I addressed this he agreed which was an odd conversation and he even remarked “Yeah, I’m not being real empathetic”. When we got home that night he beckoned me to the bathroom to ask me a question. I talked to him for a minute before turning around to face the mirror. The ring I had agonized over was sitting on the mirror’s ledge! I was shocked. How had the ring gotten there?! He had created quite the roose. I don’t know why but I was so surprised I started crying. We had a good laugh and I was feeling very loved by his well orchestrated surprise. I think my love language is all five! (words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, physical touch)
The Plitvice Lakes National Park Excursion
At the tail end of our trip we rented a car to drive 3 hours north to the National Park in Croatia. Originally we weren’t planning on visiting the lakes but during our stay in Luxembourg our friends (the Lloyds) mentioned they were a must see. So north we drove.
We got to the park at 8am to beat the crowds that bus in for day trips. The park was amazing, though that word does not do it justice. I felt like I was in a movie or a super surreal version of DisneyLand. While the pictures Andrew took are phenomenal, I just cannot describe how beatiful it was being surrounded by waterfalls,lakes, streams and running water. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon or the Red Wood Forest (Bucket List!) but I imagine the Lakes are on par.
After six hours of me walking around with big eyes commenting to Andrew how dumb-struck I was, we returned to our Airbnb near the park. (We had taken one of the paths that led us from one end of the park to the other.) We laid down for a nap but were awoken by a hail storm. Our host was very panicked and Andrew came to the rescue, helping bail out water from the pond that had formed in front of her garage door.
The 83 year old lady living next door said she had not seen a storm like that in Croatia during her lifetime. Perhaps to our host’s annoyance, Andrew and I were like giddy school kids as we had seen these kind of storms growing up in Montana/Colorado/Seattle. We were very thankful we had left the park before the storm struck. I was imagining terrified groups of tourists running down the boardwalks to get back to lakes’ shores. I was also a bit bummed I had missed the insanity that I’m sure ensued, although it probably would have been very un-fun to hike back to the car in soaking wet shoes. We saw huge groups of Asian tourist many of whom were very nicely dressed with nice cameras so I hope they all weren’t too miserable. :/
I hadn’t realized prior to this trip that Rome and Split are on the same latitude. Croatia felt very much like what I had always imagined a Mediterranean locale to be. It was hot but not stiflingly so though the bar was forever raised after visiting Hong Kong during the summer of 2014.
We both enjoyed people watching during our trip and there were ample opportunities as we did a lot of walking and sitting at restaurants and on the prom. I really enjoyed taking note of the fashion trends. I saw hardly anyone wearing jeans or jean shorts. (I brought jean shorts on the trip but ended up wearing my dresses or olive green shorts.) I did see a lot of white jeans and people dressed up somewhat during the day. Lots of adorable rompers, cold shoulder tops and lots of white. I don’t recall seeing flip flops which I’ve come to realize are a sure way to stick out as an American. I saw a lot of platform sandals and rose metallic sandals.
While we were in Split we stayed close to homebase = our Airbnb. We are still finding a balance between relaxation and activity while on vacation, we both get antsy but at different times and in different ways. It was really great to have an Airbnb that was within walking distance to the palace and the beach, grocery store, and restaurants. We ate lots of gelato and had fun wandering around the palace. On our anniversary we like to reflect on our goals and figure out how we are working together on common goals. We spent a lot of time sitting on the prom and talking about life and making goals for the future. Here’s to year 5 of marriage! (Tink!)
We jetted off to Luxembourg in May to meet up with Andrew’s cousin, Nick, and explore. Luxembourg wasn’t originally high on my list of places to go, but after strategizing with Andrew about our travel plans for the year, we decided to seek out destinations off the beaten path: locales we would be unlikely to visit again once we returned home to the USA. So after learning that cousin Nick was in Luxembourg, we booked our tickets1 for a long weekend.
After our two hour flight we found our Airbnb and met up with Nick for dinner on Friday night. Nick’s expat family friends, Debbie and Kevin, were hosting him during the Luxembourg leg of his post-college backpacking adventure. They generously invited us over for dinner. (I love being able to visit people in their homes to see what daily life is like in other countries! This has been a really fun part of staying in Airbnbs abroad) We had a great dinner and got some excellent advice on touring around Luxembourg City.
We got up late because this girl likes to sleep and walked into town. (Our Airbnb was about a 40 minute walk from the city center.)
First stop was coffee then on to Cathédrale Notre-Dame, the only cathedral in Luxembourg. Fortunately there was a church service going on, so while we weren’t able to understand the service because it was in French/Latin, we were able to hear a mezzo soprano sing a gorgeous hymn.
We had some time to kill before our walking tour that afternoon so we visited the Luxembourg City History Museum. The museum structure is made up of four restored houses from the 17th to the 19th century which still bear archaeological traces from the Middle Ages. The structure was just as impressive as the contents of the museum: the museum used glass staircases and partitions so space is open and airy and you can see all the original structures.
Here’s what I gleaned from the museum:
Luxembourg is primarily known for two things: 1) being one of three capitals of the European Union and 2) previously being a tax haven for business. I say previously because after the Great Recession laws were amended which made it a bit less desirable location to headquarter a company. Many companies (Amazon, Paypal, Skype) still have their European HQ in Luxembourg City.
Its capital, Luxembourg City, is, together with Brussels and Strasbourg, one of the three official capitals of the European Union and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest juridical authority in the EU. Its culture, people and languages are highly intertwined with its neighbours, making it essentially a mixture of French and Germanic cultures. This is emphasized by the three official languages, Luxembourgish, French, and German. The repeated invasions by its neighbor countries, especially in World War II, resulted in the country’s strong will for mediation between France and Germany and, among other things, led to the foundation of the European Union.
In fact, a few days before we arrived, Kate Middleton was in Luxembourg to celebrate 150th anniversary of Luxembourg’s independence, marked by the 1867 Treaty of London. Some in the media are calling the royal couple part of the “Brexit Charm Offensive” aka “Brexit Ambassadors” to EU countries.
We grabbed some grub before starting our walking tour which began with a short introduction to Luxembourg’s history before delving into the Bock Casemates (literally death house), a complex network of underground tunnels that — because of Luxembourg’s striated geology — also provide an ideal place to attack from. Back above ground, we saw the remnants of the Roman road from Reims to Trier2 and the residual fortifications, the majority of which were ordered demolished by the 1867 Treaty of London. For a fun tangential six minute read, Andrew suggests: Why 1866 Set the Stage for Two World Wars.
On Sunday we took the train to the town of Fond-de-Gras to ride a steam train. The first leg of our journey took us to an old mine where we took a second train into the mine and de-boarded for a short tour of the mine. The tours are run by volunteers who were very happy to answer all of Nick and Andrew’s questions. The train engineer even let them ride in the locomotive car and look in the workshop.
Although my original enthusiasm was not near the level of Nick and Andrew’s for this outing, I quickly got on board (pun intended) and thoroughly enjoyed the ride and tour.
On Monday morning we had brunch at an outdoor cafe facing an open courtyard. There was a band playing classical music in the courtyard bandstand and everything felt just right with the the world. I was even able to coax a cheeky smile out of my adventure mate.
Prior to our departure that evening, Debbie took us to the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in Hamm (Thank you, Debbie!!). The cemetery honors the fallen US soldiers of WWII including George Patton, who is buried on the grounds. The US essentially owns the plot of land as in 1951 Luxembourg granted the US free use of the land in perpetuity, without tax. This stop was on my list of must see things in Luxembourg. I knew I would kick myself if I didn’t make a visit.
The site is meticulously kept and is a beautiful tribute to the fallen. I was very moved by it. My paternal grandfather fought in WWII (Both of Andrew’s grandfathers served in WWII as well) and my grandmother served as a nurse. I imagine they may have known someone buried in Luxembourg.
From the Cemetery literature:
2nd Lt. Nancy Leo is the only women buried in the cemetery. She was a nurse with the 216th General Hospital. She joined the service in hopes of seeing her sister, Angela, also an army nurse. The sisters made arrangements to finally meet in Paris in July of 1945. As Nancy traveled to Paris, she was involved in a car accident and seriously injured. She died on her way to the hospital, never seeing her sister, Angela. Her sister was the first to learn of her death.
There are 25 US cemeteries outside the US. I am hoping to visit the Normandy Cemetery this year.
It was a good trip and I enjoyed getting to know Nick. (We bonded over our shared love of cotton candy). I think we convinced him to make a stop in the UK 🙂
Next Stop: Croatia’s beaches for our anniversary celebration. Luckily the traditional 4th year gift in the UK is fruit so I can totally nail that one.
Right after we arrived in Poole, we drove in to see our Seattle friends Kimi and Charlie who were in London for work. It was a quick day trip on a Sunday to meet up for dinner but so worth it to see our friends!
Girl’s Day Out
Later that week I (Rachel) rode the train in to explore London with Kimi.
We had a lovely brunch at The Albion; it was the best eggs benedict I’ve ever had! We explored Liberty of London’s haberdashery and children’s section shopping for Kimi’s soon-to-arrive little one, walked around Leicester Square, and got Kimi tickets for Phantom of the Opera the next night! And were women of leisure with adequate coffee and snack breaks (Hoi Polloi).
The Long Weekend
Andrew and I rode the train in for a long weekend. Our AirBnb was in Dalston, a neighborhood in the Bourgh of Hackney. It was further north than was ideal but given the price and easy transport via bus it couldn’t be beat. From the Wikipedia entry on Dalston
Dalston has attracted immigrants for over 100 years; at the turn of the century it was a popular area for newly arrived Jewish people from central Europe. In the 1950s and ’60s, as the Jewish community became more affluent and moved out, they were replaced by a large Caribbean community, which accounts for the wide choice of Caribbean food available in Ridley Road. As the Caribbean community slowly drifted out of Dalston it then became popular with the Turkish, as well as the Vietnamese. Recent arrivals include Poles, judging by the numbers of Polish delicatessens now appearing and other stores catering to Polish tastes.
We definitely felt the immigrant influence as there were no shortage of Turkish restaurants in our area.
Our AirBnb host had a very eccentric decorating style. Her living room and dining room were red (including a huge red SMEG fridge!), and our room had a huge lighting centerpiece, for lack of a better term. There was a huge buddah head in the bathroom and a beautiful crucifix in the living room. I suppose eclectic is the word.
Dalston Food Stops
Because I planned this trip and am the foodie in our family of 2 (+ Ezra), the itinerary included a few culinary gems: We had dinner at YUM YUM on the Friday night of our arrival, per a recommendation from our host. The food was amazing and the atmosphere was very posh.
We stopped at Mangal 1, a kebab house on Sunday night again based on the suggestion of our host. We literally and figuratively got some of the local Turkish flavor. Andrew ordered the mousaka and I had the tavuk sis (chicken kebabs). Delish.
On Sunday morning we tried to find a creperie but stumbled upon the Acoustic Cafe. While the food was good and the restaurant was a nice reprieve from the rain and we enjoyed a simple meal.
Holborn: My Old Dutch Pancake House
Oh man, I love this place. It’s carbs on carbs and I love it. If I had no concerns for my mass I totally would have ordered their crazy 2 foot wide pancake with ice cream and snickers bars and whipped cream…but I did get butterscotch pancakes that were prettttty great. And look at this boy I found outside waiting for his date.
Even though we weren’t able to eat at Dishoom, I did get a peak at their restaurant. Dishoom is a 1970’s Bombay style restaurant with gorgeous verandah seating that I desperately wanted to experience. It wasn’t in the cards for this trip as we decided to make haste and grab some pastries at The Albion across the street instead of pushing back our timetable. The pastries were great!(Or as they would say on The Great British Bake Off – the lamination was perfect!!!) The Albion and Dishoom at are at the top of our list for next time.
Believe it or not, we did do more than just eat in London!!
Andrew and I split up for a bit on Sunday. I attended an Evensong service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. I’ve found I enjoy visiting churches more when you can participate in the service and you usually get to hear someone sing, which is a real treat for me.
In his pursuit of all things engineering, Andrew visited the London Transport Museum. He reported that while it was interesting to see and learn how fast London’s transport system developed, it wasn’t as fun as the Science Museum. He plans to visit the Depot later this year.
We met up for dinner and had to settle for shake shack because the UK does not have Chick-Fil-A (yet). After dinner we went to the production of 42nd Street at the Theater Royal, Drury Lane West End Theater. The show was based on a depression era movie. The dance numbers were huge and phenomenal. Wow, what a production!
If you get the chance, go to Novelty Automation! It’s well worth your time. It’s a tiny “museum” full of quirky arcade style games you can play, or rather experience. Very fun and right up my alley.
Before we left on Monday we stopped at the Geffrye Museumof the Home because it was super close to our Airbnb. We only spent about a 1/2 hour there but enjoyed looking at the displays of living rooms from different periods in time.
We spent a lot of time riding the bus. Initially I was planning on taking the tube because it’s novel for me, but Andrew pointed out that there were new caps on the transportation costs so we were able to ride the bus all day for no more than 4.50 while the tube would cap out at a higher amount. It was great because were were able to see more of the city above ground. And once we figured out that we had to hail the bus (instead of simply passively waiting at the stop) we had great success. While I appreciated their text system (text a number and receive a text back with the bus schedule), I was mentally praising Seattle’s OneBusAway App that always shows the real time bus delays. Watch this short video Andrew made!
I enjoyed doing a bit of shopping. I’d never heard of Fortnum & Mason but really enjoyed my time there. It was originally a food shop opened in 1707 but later grew into a department store. My favorite areas were the vast array of teas for sale and beautiful tea pots.
I also explored the Shipping Container Pop Up Mall in Shoreditch. Lots of hipster, cute shops.
Here’s our itinerary by day if you’re interested (I really enjoyed creating it!)
Next Stop: Luxembourg….
Sidenote- I’d love to know if anyone has thoughts or info on how common it is for public transport to gentrify an area because I’m reminded of reading about the same thing in Seattle. Here is one of the articles talking about gentrification in Seattle as it relates to the Link LightRail ↩
Looking for an apartment for the next 8 months proved challenging. We had specific parameters that were at odds with the market:
Pets: Very few rentals allow pets: I’ve asked around a bit and it seems that people either keep their pets against their landlord’s wishes or they buy a home. Because there are so few apartments that allow pets you have to be the first caller to secure a viewing in order to even have a chance of getting the apartment.
Student Apartments: Quite a few of the rentals are “student lets” i.e. leases run the length of the school year. I’ve even seen a few clever promotions that offer students a pass to a nightclub when they sign the lease. The rules are different for student lets as you have to register with the local government and obtain a special license.1
Furnished: It’s common to find furnished apartments which I rarely came across when looking for apartments in the states.
Holiday Lets: Because Bournemouth and Poole are hot destinations for Brits in the summer months, some desirable apartments are short term lets to maximize profit during the warmer months.
Even with all these limitations we found an absolutely gorgeous house in Bournemouth that had everything we wanted: three bedrooms, a “garden” aka yard for the dog, and it was furnished to boot. It was recently remodeled by a contractor and interior decorator husband and wife team. It was a dreamy house with a high ceiling in the kitchen and lots of natural light. But there was one big catch: we could only negotiate for a 7 months lease and we would have had to move at the end of November on our own dime. We considered it but ultimately decided that the expense and inconvenience of moving in the winter couldn’t justify the benefit of living in such an enchanting space. I was stuck on living in this seemingly absolutely perfect house but I knew that it just didn’t make sense. And I was afraid that we wouldn’t find anything nearly as nice that allowed pets. The heart wants what it wants, but the head knows best.
So we kept searching. We toured a house that was amazing! right on the water in Bournemouth. But the house felt more like a weekend getaway than a home: it was somewhat neglected. I could tell the little things would have gotten old and wouldn’t have felt like home longterm. We contemplated a small three floor apartment that ultimately felt too small for more than one person. And we fell in love with a posh house in Christchurch that had the most amazing bathroom with LEDs lining the tub and a huge secret-garden-style yard. But none of them were just right. So we went back to the internets. Oh, the agencies we called and called! But struggle we did, for the perfect combo we could not find.
Now at this point my heart was still hurting that we had to let go of the beautiful house in Bournemouth, and we were getting discouraged and stressed about finding a place to call our own. We were tired of living in our small furnished apartment and were ready settle in for the year. So I said my prayers and asked for provision, not thinking that any place could compare to the Bournemouth house. Then after a night spent anxiously hunched over our laptops feverishly scouring listings, Andrew found a newly listed prospect and called to book a viewing.
So we waited ’til our appointed day and toured the apartment. And it was everything we were looking for! We signed the paperwork following the viewing. We were both so relieved to find a place to live. And I felt at peace.
Now we are moved in and while our apartment did not at first seem as dreamy as the Bournemouth house, I know we are in the right place and my heart is at peace (and I also really love our apartment). You see, I set my heart on living in Bournemouth because it is quite hip and has lots going on, but in the end our Poole apartment ended up being a better choice than the house in Bournemouth (even if the lease length hadn’t been an issue). If we had ended up in Bournemouth, I think I would have felt very isolated: Our Poole apartment has a stunning view as we are right on the quay. We very close to the high street, grocery store, and the mall. I can walk to coffee shops, the pool, the library and the gym. We live right by a huge park where Ezra dog can play and frolick.
So yet again, God knew best and provided something that would be for my good, even better than what I had set my mind on. And I feel like He even said, ‘ see, I am watching out for you and really do have the best things in store’ because we moved from the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle to Ballard Road in Poole: I don’t believe in coincidence, but I do believe in providence. Thanks be to God. We are grateful.
“If the property has three or more storeys, five or more unrelated people living there, or there are two or more households living there, you will need to register your HMO with the council and secure a license” http://www.independent.co.uk/property/house-and-home/property/if-you-want-to-let-to-students-then-do-your-homework-9101637.html ↩
We arrived one week ago today — mostly in one piece. I’m not exactly sure how we did it, except to say it was by the grace of God and a lot of stubbornness. Here is where we are:
Here what we’ve been up to (rewinding a bit):
Saying Goodbye for Now
On Wednesday (3/8) night we met up with some friends who weren’t able to make it to our going away party at the beginning of the month. It has been really touching to have everyone rally around us, but bittersweet given that we will not see many of our dear friends for many months.
The Tuesday (3/7) before our departure I fell ill with what I thought was food poisoning: I spent Wednesday alternately packing boxes and recovering in bed. I thought the storm had passed by Wednesday afternoon and felt pretty much back to normal. (Enough so to see some friends for Tacos and Beer (see above)). Unfortunately we discovered it was not food poisoning but a stomach bug that I passed to Andrew BECAUSE he spent the plane ride across the pond (3/9) vomiting. Luckily Andrew has gotten good sleep and is all better now.
Mr. Ezra, The Dog
Ezra is in quarantine 🙁 Unfortunately we didn’t realize there was an eight day lapse in his rabies vaccination in 2015 so he has to be vaccinated1 and stay at the doggie jail for 21 days. We visited him Tuesday at the kennel, which is basically a farm that boards animals and is authorized by the UK government to house dogs who are quarantined2. He is being well taken care by of so our minds are at ease but I am disappointed that both our local Seattle veterinarian and the USDA vet inspected and signed off on our paperwork and did not catch the lapse. I also miss him and am counting the days until he can come home.
On Saturday we ran a few errands after sleeping in. We picked up my Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card which serves as my ID and work visa while I’m in the UK, thus allowing me to work (or volunteer) in the UK during our stay if I choose. We also picked up Andrew’s city bike that he got last here when he was here, so we’ll have a bike to use before our bikes arrive in our shipment from the US.
On Sunday we went to church in Fareham (1 hour away) at Our Savior Lutheran Church. This is the same church Andrew attended last year while in the UK. We received a very warm welcome from the congregation and are looking forward to getting involved in the church once we settle in. We tried to make a Costco stop at after church but unfortunately they experienced a power outage so there were no free samples for the Fergusons.
On Monday Andrew had his “first day of work3” so we took an obligatory photo.
I am very relieved to be in the UK. This transition has been a long time in the making and I’m grateful to God and to all our friends who have helped us and supported us. Now if we can just get our puppy home everything will be right as rain.
We have found a place to call home! It is a cute tri-level townhouse with a bright red door!
It’s a little further north than I was hoping for but it really is an answer to my prayers (praise God!). It’s only a block or two away from where I’m living now and it met all our criteria: laundry, garage, outside entrance, two bedroom AND it has vaulted ceilings on the top floor. It’s a short walk to Greenlake and close to our wonderful community of friends. It’s uber great!
I will be moving in on March 30th so if you are feeling lovely or strong, you can stop by in the afternoon and help me mooooooove in!
As promised, we’ll be having our “rager” aka house warming party sometime in the summer or fall, once I get it semi-decorated. Love to everyone! (79 days til the BIG DAY…)