I have been living in England for 5 whole days now. I thought I would update everyone on the trip and our new country.
The Fight: As most of you know, I have never flown. If I had it to do over again, I may have opted for a shorter flight to kind of cushion the blow. It was a very long flight. About 8 hrs and some change. It was during the night but Logan (3) barely slept at all. The tv in front of the seat could have been a blessing but turned out to be something to play with and was too intriguing to sleep and miss for this 3 year old. The food was absolutely terrible and I do not know that my stomach lining has yet healed from the damage it caused. LOL I managed about an hour or so of sleep in an awkward position but somehow it all worked out.
London Heathrow Airport: So we landed on Wednesday morning. We were told there was a shuttle that would take us to the base about 2 hours away. As we arrived in baggage claim it soon became apparent that we were not going to be able to push 4 carts of suitcases and hold on the the two kids. We opted to hire a porter to haul our luggage and then realized we had no idea where he was to take this luggage. So off we set looking for info. The porter then informs us that he only takes pounds (British currency). We begin searching for currency exchange and the place to catch the shuttle. After a lot of hussle and bussle, we found an information booth which steered us in an approximate location to catch our shuttle. I found an ATM machine and got some pounds. We paid the porter and he unloaded our 8 large suitcases and 4 carryons onto 4 push carts. We sat down and I decided after all that I NEEDED a Dr Pepper. So I go to the nearest drink machine and even that was difficult. The drink machine took only British change. So at this point, I am talking aloud to myself. “I just figured out how to get pounds and now I need loose change in British money.” I walked around the airport until I found one of those little convenience stores and purchased drinks in dollars. Crisis overted.
God intervenes: At this point we are exhausted, not to mention confused and nervous about what is going on. We bump into another couple who are apparently hauling a similar amount of luggage and must be military. We speak with them and find out they are indeed another family moving to our base. We had a nice conversation until John was paged over the airport intercom. Apparently, our sponsor(helps incoming families get settled) had decided to pick us up. Wow, God know how to remind me of his presence in my life. Then as he is introducing himself another couple arrive, whom it already knows, and offer to take our luggage on the shuttle back to base and then we can ride in our sponsors minivan which would be more comfortable for the kids. This couple seemed incredibly nice and almost too good to be true until the gentleman turned around and we saw his jacket which read… Dallas Theological Seminary. Again God rises to the occassion. We begin our 70 mile journey to base in the mini van. We were very comfortable after such a long flight. We arrived here on base and were given our room.
The Lodging Room: Our room is larger than our first apartment. It is 2 bedrooms with a full kitchen and dining room table for 6. It is relatively new.
The first tour: The next day, our sponsor took us on a little mini tour of the base and the nearby base. It was difficult to really see anything. It all seemed really fast paced and especially the driving on the other side of the road thing.
On Thursday we went to see a couple of houses: If there were a word that made something smaller than tiny but not quite microscopic that would be an adequate description of houses in England. A typical 4 bedroom house is about 1000 sq ft. Hopefully that gives you an idea. The first house we saw was awful. The second not so bad. And they have gotten better each day.
Driving alone: On Saturday we decided to rent a car. By the time John found the rental car place and picked up the car it was like 4:45 pm. We wanted to drive to the nearby base as it has the bigger stores. We left as the sun was setting and quickly realized that was not such a great idea. John was driving in a strange road structure on the opposite side of the road on the opposite side of the car and we had no idea where we were going. Lets just say it was our first great adventure.
House hunting: This afternoon we felt sure enough in Johns driving ability to check out some more houses. We set out, GPS in hand, and had a lovely day of afternoon driving. Amazing old churches (saw one built in 1868), and amazing old homes. I could easily have been like a blogging friend of mine (SM) and stopped for lots of pictures. But I thought it best not to ask my nervous husband to pull over just yet. We have found some really nice areas and really enjoyed the scenary.
What we have learned already: driving is by time not miles because of the tractors. This is a very rural area, very similar to my own hometown in South Louisiana. Tractors pull out in front of you often and there is no way to pass them. This slows driving to a crawl. Next, people do not call one another in England, rather they “ring” one another. And no one says goodbye but the salutation of the day is “Cheers.”
We have lots to learn and lots to do in the coming weeks. I hope to keep everyone posted as often as possible. Until I have another chance to write… Cheers from England.