Friday, June 23, 2017

Euro check-in

So much has happened.  Still, I'm posting here more for the sake of historical record than because I'm inspired to write.  You take what you can get I guess.

  • We've found a house (in Milton) and moved in, and are mostly settled.  We have a car (Volkswagen Golf) and have taken a few excursions in it.
  • We've already had two getaways by plane -- to Toulouse in France, and to Tenerife.  Both were lovely.
  • We've been going to international meetups -- and just out to the pubs with the dog -- and have made some tentative friends already, much quicker than we did in Australia.
  • All three of us seem to really like it here.  Hamish likes all the animals (horses, cows, sheep, rabbits, cats...  Even a hedgehog and a stoat).  Plus he can go in taxis, on buses, and into pubs.  He's even been in Oliver Cromwell's house in Ely (they said it was okay) and inside the nearby historical site Denny Abbey (rather against the rules).  We don't have to leave him at home for much at all.  However, our summer plan for long country walks with him is out, because...
  • Mark went to play soccer (football) for the first time ever in the UK -- just a five-a-side pickup game -- and blew out his knee twenty minutes in.  Ruptured patella tendon, which required surgery.  Recovery will be long and slow.  And it might be a soccer career-ender.  Which I'm sad about, but I'm fifty, and had a pretty good run.
  • Marjorie has a job lined up but is waiting for final approval.
  • The weather has been unseasonably warm but we've been really enjoying the changing of seasons.  New kinds of blooming flowers seem to pop up every other week.
See you again in... six months?  Who knows.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Settling in

So much to report.

  • We've arrived -- all of us, including Hamish.  As we hoped, and maybe expected, but were apprehensive about, Hamish got off the flight with an attitude like "That was weird.  Oh, hey guys!"  He seems to like it here; he's a bit hyper-vigilant on walks, I assume because the sights and smells are all new, but he's started giving us "zingers" (smiling looks at us, like "isn't this great?") during walks again.  And he's seen his first squirrel!  It was exciting for him, definitely, but I was a little worried that he'd become obsessed.  Luckily he was interested, but it was not much more of a reaction than he'd have for an Australian possum.
  • Job is going well so far, despite a bit of drifting since my boss being sick the last couple of days.  A lot less rigorous as far as process, which means we'll be getting a lot more done than my last job I think.  My second day there started with a new-starters breakfast with the CEO (some of the other "new-starters" have been waiting a year for this, so good timing for me).  He's an impressive guy -- Rhodes Scholar at Oxford with a PhD in physics, Canadian, but speaks fluent French and conversational Czech.
  • We're getting on fine in our furnished apartment; Marjorie's been taking care of all the financials and logistics, which is pretty much a full time job.  She deserves a break but feels the pressure of things that need to be done: primarily, now, finding us a place to live.  We need a car too.
  • Cambridge is really nice.  We're still trying to figure out neighborhoods neighbourhoods, but the one we're in (Chesterton) is very nice with a couple of nice pubs.  There doesn't seem to be a concentration of anything, anywhere though -- just random stores and restaurants stuck randomly in the middle of rows of homes.  It's like, houses, houses, houses, dry cleaner; houses, houses, houses, Bangladeshi restaurant.  You have to walk most places, which is okay (even in the cold) because it's charming and pretty.  We are gradually figuring out the buses and such though.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Last day

Our last day in Melbourne and we are strangely subdued.  Last night we went out to our favorite dumpling place (Hu Tong) and tooled around the city a bit.  Today we went to our favorite lunch place and all around favorite restaurant, Moroccan Deli-cacy.  Both were good, but we're not feeling as anxious, upset, or sentimental as I was expecting.  I guess it must be time to leave.

The whole thing has been such a slow burn that maybe it still hasn't sunk in.  We got everything done rather efficiently, on time, and mostly without incident.  Even now, we're sitting around with not much to do, and we're (surreally) two days into a work week that will have us in England by the end of it.  Is this all real?

I also got my (hopefully) last call from a Melbourne recruiter.  This is the second one who heard it through the grapevine that the company I just quit has been laying people off.  I've yet to hear it first hand though.  What's going on over there?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Home stretch

When we first decided to do this UK move last 30th of January, we anticipated it would take a year.  Looks like we'll be coming in just under the wire.  We're now in the home stretch.

The car's been sold.  That's a HUGE relief -- when time is running out, it's tempting to take a lousy offer just to be done, but we stuck it out and got a decent offer just before it started getting seriously time-critical.  Nerve-wracking to be sure.

Today the movers came and packed all our things (at least, the things we have left after four carloads taken to the tip, multiple items sold on eBay, and lots of other stuff freecycled or given away to friends or passing strangers) into 112 boxes.  That still feels like too much stuff, and there's every chance our UK home will be smaller.  We did a lot of the house cleaning after the movers left, and tomorrow we go back and hopefully finish the job.

After that, there's a bunch of small tasks to take care of (it never stops), plus we'll be trying to meet up with friends to say our goodbyes.

We're now staying at a friend's place; it's our friend that we trade dog-sitting duties with, and she's out of town, so it works out well.  Getting on a plane in a week's time.  We've been so busy that I've hardly had time to fret about life and work on the other side.  Guess I can start that now!

Sunday, December 18, 2016


So, back on the 9th, I was playing hallway fetch with Hamish, as I often do.  Suddenly he just sat down and started whimpering.  We had to take him to the emergency vet, who gave him pain relief and kept him overnight, and referred us to a specialist.  Turns out it was a herniated disk in his back.  No surgery required unless it recurs or gets worse, but he is now on strict rest, which he is not happy about.  He seems mostly fine now, which makes it worse, but we know we have to be tough.  Only short walks, and no jumping up on the couch or beds.  And we now have a crate we've locked him in while we're away at work, which he hates the most of course.

We'll do what we have to do, but the expense part of it really sucks.  Seems we can't go a week without some or other unexpected multi-hundred or -thousand dollar expense.  Just found our front bumper has been mysteriously crunched and broken underneath (neither of us remember an incident that would have caused it).  So I'll be getting that, and the side ding, and (Uber driver-caused) rear bumper fixed, so we can sell it.  This comes right on the heels of the repairs we had to do after someone tried to steal our car (smashed steering column, broken door lock, and door frame dings from where they pried the window open.

Saturday, December 17, 2016


It's official, or at least closer to: we're going.  We've both put in notice at our jobs, and we have appointments at the UK consulate on Monday to get our visas.  (We won't know a date to fly over until we get the visas processed -- as the consulate is closed over Christmas, this could be variable.)  Since it's general knowledge now, I've restored all the earlier posts that I had hidden.

So now it's all about getting ready in earnest.  Today was mostly about listing things on Ebay and getting rid of junk.  I disassembled a dog house, an Ikea cabinet, a CD rack, and a wooden table.  Our trash can is full, and I'm taking a carload to the tip tomorrow.  I think we might have another load or two to follow.  It's a shame it takes moving to take care of this stuff, but being able to pare down excess stuff is a decided advantage of a big move like this.

We also took passport photos for the visa, which both look about as good as you'd expect.  Now we'll always remember how bedraggled we were on this day.

Sunday, December 04, 2016


Obviously we were disappointed by the election results.  I haven't even been able to write about it until now.

But it goes deeper than mere disappointment that my candidate lost.  I can only see it as the most grossly stupid thing that America has ever done.  I'm horrified at the result, and terrified for the future.  I find myself frequently just staring off into space, slowly shaking my head.

I can't get my head around how anyone could have voted for this blatantly dishonest, dangerously idiotic, horrifyingly sexist, substance-free huckster.  Whatever problems you might be experiencing, Donald Trump is NOT the solution.  I don't buy the "At least he's not Hillary" argument.  The Republicans had a whole host of candidates who were not Hillary.

I keep coming back to this chart, and coming away terrified that we elected a leader who thinks it's all a big hoax.

More than the national disgrace and international embarrassment.  More than the effects of his science- and reason-defying policies.  More than his already-demonstrated propensity for diplomatic blundering.  This result will echo down the centuries: America will always be remembered as the country that elected him.

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