Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Things we have done pre house

Our container arrives tomorrow! For the last 4 weeks we have been living in Chichester, almost on a kinda stressful vacation.  Hoping by the weekend to be in our house.  More on that in my next post.

In the mean time, here is what we have been up to. (Once I get my computer up and running, I will put links to all these places, so you can look for info if you want to visit)

The first full weekend we were back we went to Arundel Castle.  We didn't know there was a medieval thing going on at the time.  


We think the castle is pretty good value for money.  We took the second from top ticket, and got to see most of the inside of the castle.  It was very cool.  The medieval event had a village set up.  We watched a display of falconry, which was awesome.  A great weekend activity.  Arundel Castle runs these kind of events quite regularly (there is one this weekend), so it is always worth checking their website.


We went for a late lunch at the Black Rabbit, a pub just down from the castle.  It is worth a visit.

The next day we headed to Hayling, to the east side of the island.  There is a park there with exercise equipment.  The kids love it, and I can certainly see myself back there on my own! 


The next day we headed to the Aldingbourne Centre.  This a centre run by, and for, adults with learning difficulties.  It is open to the public, with a farm and petting zoo (various animals), mini golf, woodland walk, and garden centre / cafe.  It was ok, but I am not sure we will be back 


We have been fortunate enough to catch up with some mums from one of the baby and toddler groups we used to go to.  They have a end of year picnic at Mewsbrook Park in Rustington.  This is an awesome park we used to frequent before we left.  They have recently upgraded their play equipment and it is great.  They also have a miniature train.  The train lost funding a couple of years ago, so has not been running.  Until this year.  Somehow (not sure exactly, enthusiasts maybe? ) they got the train back running, and the mother and baby group were fortunate enough to take part in a test run.  The boys loved it, but it was a little chilly and wet.....


Fast forward a week, and it was the hottest day of the year (so far).  We had landed to go to the beach with some friends,  but they had to cancel. We headed anyway to West Wittering.  This is a stunning sandy beach, just south of Chichester.  The traffic was awful. The day before the school broke up and it took us 50 minutes to do a 20 minute journey.  Temporary traffic lights were to blame, but it was well worth it.  We stayed at the beach for about 4 hours.  It was great.


We went to Chichester Cathedral one afternoon.  What a stunning building.  Unfortunately my kids were not as well behaved as I would was not a pleasurable experience for me...... Maybe once they are in school I will come back with a friend or Paul and see it properly. 


I arranged for the boys to have an intro session at Lavant House Stables.  I though horse riding might be good for Isaac.  Then the other 2 wanted to do it.  The stables were accommodating enough to take all 3 at once.  They loved it.  And I loved the set up.  It is an awesome stables, from what I saw, and I would recommend them.  I think it will be a little far from Hayling for us to travel, which is a shame.  If anyone has any recommendations for good riding schools in and around Hayling /Havant please let me know!


The slow worm had been making an appearance in the downstairs courtyard.  Isaac is not afrai of it at all.  The boy loves it, and will handle it where ever possible.  If he doesn't work with animals in the future I will be amazed.


We have a house on Hayling, and we have been going back and forth getting it ready, and moving stuff over.  Friday evening we went for a light dinner at the Ferryboat Inn.  This is on the east side of the island.  There is a passenger ferry starting back up next month to take you from Hayling to Southsea.  Dinner was delightful, and the kids played on the beach while we drank Sam Adams on tap! This is somewhere I feel we will be a lot.


We went to a Frimley Park Lodge with my dad.  It had a great playground for the kids. It also has a portion of the Basingstoke Canal.  And a miniature train line, which do rides in the summer.  My dad loved it! The kids quite enjoyed it too! 


We have also caught up with some friends, which has been great! Shame Hayling is so far from Littlehampton. No doubt I will work something! Today we saw my friend Faye, and her tribe! The kids had a great time.  They really enjoyed themselves.  They sat together and had lunch, all 7 of them. I think lunch took over half an hour.  They were just having a great time talking to each other. It was great.


So there you have it.  Our mini vacation in Chichester is about to come to an end.  Real life is about to kick in HARD.  But that's ok.  I am more than ready for it.  

I will write my next post once we are on the house.  The kids have schools, so will explain that too.  Fingers crossed for a safe, no breakages, move! 

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

A hard start

We arrived in Chichester to find Heather, the owner of the apartment waiting for us.   She had very kindly got us supplies enough to do the day, and sorted out a litter tray for the cat.  I stayed in the apartment with the kids while Paul and Heather unloaded the van.  In the 20 or so minutes yes the van was unloaded, it's wing mirror was hit!  

The apartment is on a narrow road.  It has parking on one side of it (permit parking), so cars have to take it in turns to go down the one open lane for traffic.  And they don't go slow.  It is a narrow road, with narrow foot paths.  

The kids were all in bed by 7.... Paul and I managed to hang out till about 10.  And no one was up before 10 the next day.  Paul headed to the airport to drop back the hire car and meet his dad and brother and collect our car, the big blue bus.  About 2 months ago we purchased a Chrysler Grand Voyager 7 seater thing, in the hope that keeping the kids separate will make car journeys easier. We had already decided that we were going to go to Hayling Island on Sunday.  While in the states we had decided that this was the place we wanted to live, despite paul never being there, and me only going once as a kid.

Hayling Island is about 25 minutes from Chichester, along the most boring stretch of the A27 known to man.  It is one road in, over a bridge.  Then divides into two after a long twisty section.  We drove around the west side of the island, as that is where a new build we are interested In is taking place.  Very nice. Very quiet, houses set back from the road.

We then headed to the beach front.  It has a mini amusement park, with a train and some roller coasters.  The beach is shingle, and the tide very calm this day.  It was also incredibly beautiful


We were set, this is where we wanted to live.  Now to wait for houses to come available to rent.  In the mean time, Paul went to work on the Monday.  The boys and I tried to find a routine of school work, followed by some form of exercise (stretches, physical training, running around the garden, anything to keep them active), then computer time (kindles)


The kids managed to find a slow worm I the garden.  This is a type of leg less lizard you get here.  This one is about 30 centimetres long, a good size! 


I have been struggling with a lot of things.  I think you might call it cultural acclimatisation......  Biggest thing for me has been the car.  I have been used to brand new BMW cars.  The Chrysler is about 12 year old, and quite clunky.  Although we have a drive way, and the Chrysler does fit, I have struggles to get it in.  It has to be reversed due to the parking circumstances.  This has made me anxious about driving and parking.  Even parking in the supermarket is tricky.

We did make it out on Tuesday.  Thanks to one off my friends, I found out about a local farm that makes camomile essential oils.  They open their fields for 2 weeks a year.  Me and the boys went along.


It really was a quintessential English scene.  So peaceful and beautiful even with my boys.  We then drove to Selsey sea front, which was ok, but not as nice as Hayling! Driving I back into Chichester to collect Paul from work was trying.  I went the wrong way, road works, just a little scary in places.

Tuesday evening I got very anxious, worried and nervous.  Just really upset.  I knew this was going to be hard, but I don't think I realised how hard.  Paul and I spoke about it at length, but no matter how many times he told me it would be alright and things would work out, I was still pretty upset.  I cried myself to sleep that night.

But Wednesday was a new day..... Thanks to friends on Facebook, I found out about the Picturedome in Bognor Regis.  This is the towns cinema.  Tickets are advised to be booked in advance, as they get busy, some of the screens are small, and the price is very reasonable.  I booked the 4 of us to go and see the Secret Life of Pets that afternoon.  It cost £11 (about 14 dollars) for the tickets.  The snacks we purchased there were only a pound more too.  The cinema was tiny, with only 30 seats! And pretty much sold out!  The kids loved it (apart from Seb who could not handle the volume, or mild peril in the film)


Wednesday night I met up with a lady to discuss taking over a Zumba class on a Monday evening.  She was lovely, we chatted for over an hour.  I went to the class this Monday, and was introduced as the new instructor.  I cannot wait to get started next week! 

The rest of the week got better.  We went to Arundel Castle on Saturday (more in a separate post).  I have been to Zumba, which always help! I have been to a couple of different supermarkets, looking for different ingredients for various recipes, and am slowly getting used to how day to day living works here.

Every one seems so grumpy.  I know that things here are far from perfect.  I might just be used to the American cheerfulness.  The consideration for others here seems very low.  The weather is pants, but we are still all wearing shorts to make a point! 

Although the apartment is nice, it is still small.  Paul and I are sleeping on a sofa bed, which is comfortable, but a pain in the butt to get out and put away every day.  Luckily the kitchen diner here is a really good size, and even has a sofa in it.  Very comfortable for day time naps......

We went to have a look at the new build development on Sunday just gone.  The houses are just too small, boxy with no character what so ever.  I think when it comes to buying we will be going for an older house on this land eventually. It did give us another chance to have a look at the island and make sure it is where we want to be.  We parked at another area along the seafront, nearer the east of the island.  They had some entertainment on, a country band, and that line dancing.  Line dancing I am so pleased, and have already found out where the lessons take place! 

We have some things in place this week, fingers cross next time I write we will have somewhere to live and the kids will have schools to go to! 

Monday, 4 July 2016

Final USA post and return to UK

So moving out of the house on the Wednesday and living on the Woodruff Road for 9 days was not how we wanted to spend our last few days in America.  I wanted to go to the beach.  We initially booked Hilton Head, but this was very expensive.  So we cancelled and got a Groupon to Myrtle Beach instead.

By the time our container was packed on the Friday, we didn't end up leaving Simpsonville till 4 pm, much later than we would normally for a weekend away.  We still hit the coast by 8pm, had a quick snack and went to bed.

Our resort was not the most upmarket.  In fact, I would say it was a dump in places.  But it was right on the beach, with 5+ pools.....


The beach was awesome.  Yes, it was busy, but not as busy as it would have been on the main area (we were south of the main strip).  We spent 2 days just lounging around the beach, the pools and the hotels.  We only left the resort to go and play mini golf.


We did get the joyous news from the vet on the Saturday morning that the cats documents to be counter signed by the state vet needed to be hand delivered.  I thought they would fax a copy to the state vet, and I could pick them upon the way back from Myrtle beach.  But no.  Our vets signature needed to be in blue ink.  Ball ache.  We decided to just leave super early on Monday, so I could pick up the documents and drive down to Columbia.

On with the vacation! More time in the pool, on the beach and more cocktails


I was able to carry out Monday's day of driving with no issue.  Documents all ready and correct for the border patrol and customs.

Tuesday paul went out with some work mates for drinks.  The boys and I went for dinner at Christys house.  The boys had not seen Edmund in about 9 months. They played beautifully for 4 hours.  They ate dinner.  Then we had to say 'see you later', but they knew it would be a long time till they saw each other again.  Both Isaac and Edmund were in tears, which really did not help Christy and I (welling up as I write this)

Thursday morning, paul and I both dropped a small fortune at Krispy Kreme donuts.  Paul for work colleagues, me for Sebastian's daycare.  Saying good bye to that school was very hard.  They have done such great things for Sebastian, and listened to me rant when something else has happened.  They are amazingly accommodating.  One of the staff from Oliver's school has started working there recently, so the older 2 got to say goodbye to her also.  Hard, hard goodbyes......

Friday morning.  We left the hotel by 4.30, and said our good byes to Greenville.  We got to the cargo area to drop the cat at about 5.45.  Good job too.  Her crate was too small by United's standards.  Luckily they had one I could purchase. Processing her paper work took nearly an hour!.

Then it was off to drop the car hire, then check in.  As we were traveling business class, we were able to check in with a person rather than a machine, and they took the luggage through.  Then on to security.  Friday before 4th July.  Airport was really busy.  Through security in under 30 minutes, even with me having a pat down.  Amazingly efficient service (as always) at Charlotte airport.

See that box in the photo?


That's the cat........ Making it on to our first airplane.  Bother our planes sat on Tarmac for a while.  At our layover in Chicago we made good use of the business lounge.  It was just easier than sitting out in the terminal with the boys.  We did make sure that they had some food at the terminal, as we thought they would not eat on the plane (we were right).

The second plane sat on Tarmac for about 45 minutes.  At least this pilot communicated to us what was happening: technical issues.  By now the boys were safely in their seats, and comfortable as anything.


Once we were on the air, it was a pretty uneventful flight, other than the staff rushing through the dinner service.  It wasn't very nice, but at least I had an unlimited, free, supply of craft beer.  We even managed to get some sleep, and it was some good sleep for once.  The lie down seats seem to have improved in business class since the last time we flew.

The pilot took us around London as he was taxiing to land.  Absolutely stunning views.  We landed 30 minutes late. Rounding up our luggage was easy, another perk of flying business class.


We got through customs very quick.  And Paul's dad was there to greet us.  It was great to see him, and a huge help.  Paul went off to get the hire car, his dad and I went for a coffee then took the boys out side to play in the huge pedestrian area at the bottom of Heathrow Terminal 2.

It wasn't even a hire car, more of a hire van.  We loaded the van, and headed to get the cat.  The animal collection area was just a short drive from the terminal.  And she was already there.  They let the animals out, offer them food, water and use of toilet.  I had to wait and out 20 minutes for her paperwork to be checked, and she was released to me.  An amazingly efficient service, with awesome staff.  Then we were on the road, down to Chichester.  

Nothing like the M25 on a Saturday morning......