A Couple Days in Munich

After Salzburg we boarded a train to the final destination of this trip, Munich.  C and I had been on our first trip to Europe which coincided with Oktoberfest.  This trip was bound to be very different.  We had a bit of snafu getting into our Airbnb which resulted in us standing outside the apartment building for over an hour attempting to get the correct lockbox code.  After multiple phone calls and texts to our host (and a conversation in German…well us in English, with a nice but confused older woman on the street) we settled in.  We arrived on a Sunday and quickly learned that most shops are closed on Sundays in Germany, food markets included.  Eventually we made our way back to the train station to buy food stuffs to stock the kitchen.


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We only had 2 day in Munich so wanted to make the most of our time there.  After getting groceries we headed through the main tourist drag along the Marienplatz.  Hannah was wiped out from the day and slept through the ringing of the Glockenspiel.  We wandered a bit more until she woke up then made our way back to the apartment as it was getting near dinner time.  It was not much of a exploring day, but after a week on the road we were okay with low key.


The next day was our only full day in Munich.  We tossed around various ideas of things to do but ultimately settled on heading back to the Marienplatz for Hannah to experience the Glockenspiel and do some shopping at the Viktualienmarkt.  Sadly, Monday was a national holiday, so it was closed.  I had been so excited to wander through this particular market so was rather disappointed in our luck or poor planning.  Nonetheless we were determined to make the most of the day and headed off for the English Gardens.  After a bit of searching we found a playground near the Pagoda.  Hannah enjoyed playing on the various playscapes and getting rocks in every crevice.  We eventually pried her away from the playground with promise of lunch and perhaps another playground.  We walked deeper into the gardens to the Kleinhesselehor See (a lake) with a biergarden.  We snagged some traditional german food for lunch and enjoyed it sitting on the picnic tables near the lake edge.  And to our surprise there was another small playground.  Hannah was befriended by an older boy who picked up on her speaking English and happily explained his mother was American so he knew English and German.  It was pretty cute to watch him play with her.  Since she’d done such a great job eating her healthy lunch of a pretzel, we decided to reward her with ice cream.  It is vacation after all.  On the walk back through the gardens we stopped off and made friends with some geese and ducks.  Thankfully all toddler fingers and toes were accounted for after.

Munich market

Englischer gardens

Englischer gardens

englischer gardens

Englischer gardens

Englischer gardens

Englischer gardens


We did not do much sightseeing or activities in our short time in Munich.  After 3 previous cities in one week, we were a bit tired.  It was nice to just relax, spend some time walking through the city and allowing for lots of playtime.


Lodging: Airbnb

Food: Seehaus biergarten, Zum Augustiner, pretzels

Sites/Activities: English gardens, Glockenspiel, Marienplatz, Viktualienmarkt

Transport: DB train, Munich public transport – tram, U-bahn, bus, walking


Reliving the Sound of Music in Salzburg

After our 3 days in Vienna, we boarded a train to Salzburg.  Well, first we had to make it to the correct train station.  The train tickets listed Wien Hbf as the departing station.  When I looked it up on Google Maps there were a couple different stations.  I assumed it was the same station we’d arrived at from the airport.  You know what they say about assumptions… Thankfully we arrived very early and were able to catch a different train to the correct train station and still have time to grab a snack before boarding.  We had paid extra for First Class seats on the OBB train.  It was a relatively spacious setup and not packed full of people.  While we were hoping for a nap en route, Hannah had other plans.  She managed to stay awake for all 2.5 hours watching shows and playing games on the iPad, eating snacks upon snacks and wandering the train car.

Hopping a train

We mostly stay in AirBnbs when traveling with Hannah but those remaining in Salzburg by the time we booked were either out of our price range or lacking reviews.  I was lucky to find a vacation apartment on a different site with great reviews.  And we could not have asked for a better place.  It was just off the historic square with views of the castle out the back window and the cathedral out the front window.

Backyard views

View from the front

By pure happenstance, the weekend we were visiting there was a neighborhood street party right down the road.  There were food vendors grilling outside, ice cream vendors, bars, live bands and dancing.  The street felt alive.  We enjoyed simply wandering around taking in the sights, sounds and smells of it all.

Meat grilling

The next day was our only full day in Salzburg and my favorite activity of our entire trip.  I had convinced C that it would be a good idea to take a bike tour showing the filming locations from the Sound of Music.  It was a fantastic idea, if I do say so myself.  I hadn’t ridden a bike in two years so I wasn’t terribly confident but figured it wouldn’t be too hard.  C was volun-told to ride the bike with an attached trailer for Hannah.  We joined a group of approximately 10 other tourists and took off through the town then out to the countryside being told stories of filming and listening to songs from the movie.  It was a gorgeous day for a ride and we had an amazing time.  Hannah loved her little trailer where she could have snacks, play games or just watch the world go by.  She would get out at each stop and happily climb back in to continue on the way.  We ended up biking close to 8 miles over the course of the tour.  I cannot recommend this tour enough.  If you ever find yourself in Salzburg, please book!  It is super family/couple/solo traveler friendly.

Pre-tour smiles

The castle from the river

My bike

Tour group

Overlooking the city



riverside homes

That night we had dinner at a local bar/restaurant a few yards from our apartment.  It was a bit intimidating as it was crowded and the menus was entirely in German.  But Google translate came to the rescue and we ended getting some delicious food and drink.  Unfortunately our toddler decided to be a toddler and refused to sit still so we took turns chasing after her and eating our food.

Sadly, our time in Salzburg was over far too quickly.  Although we were only there for 2 nights, I fell in love with the city.  It was family friendly, extremely walkable and beautiful.  One thing to note – we found most traders did not accept credit cards, even the bigger cafes and shops so be sure to stock up on cash each day.


Lodging: Salzburg Place to Stay

Food: Street food, Pauli Stubm

Sites/Activities: Fraulein Maria’s Bicycle Tour, Salzburg castle, Old town square, street party

Transport: OBB, taxi, bike and lots of walking

Waltzing through Wien

The morning following our whirlwind day in London we rode the Tube out to Heathrow for the next leg of our holiday: Vienna, Austria.  C and I had been on our very first trip to Europe in 2010.  It was one of our favorite cities and were more than happy to make it a repeat destination.  Vienna is extremely family friendly, beautiful, and full of good food and very friendly people.  We stayed in a completely different area of town this time which was good and bad.  Our Airbnb was spacious and really well decorated and stocked.  The big problem, however, was the construction site immediately outside our windows.  Unfortunately it meant early mornings as they often were hammering away at 7am.



The highlight of our time there was visiting the Schönbrunn Tiergarten (zoo).  It is a very large zoo with a bunch of animals, a couple playgrounds and gorgeous surrounding gardens.  They even had a biergarten where we stopped for lunch.  It is right next to Schönbrunn Palace.  We had toured the apartments in the palace our first time there and decided it would probably be less than interesting for a 2 year old.  That night we ventured into the city center with the goal of getting a quick easy dinner and ice cream.  A street hot dog followed by gelato hit the spot.  We wandered a bit through the streets listening to the crowds, music and letting some energy out.



Tiergarten playground

Penguin pool

Elephant lunch











The next day we rode the metro into the heart of the tourist area including Stephansplatz, Karlsplatz, and the Graben.  We started off with a park, of course.  We actually stumbled across it after exiting the metro station at Karlsplatz . It was a large playground under a leafy canopy of trees filled with a group of school kids.  Our little monster enjoyed playing with and around some of the local children.  It was eventually time for mom and dad to get some sights in so we strapped her into the stroller and walked on.  We passed the Opera house, tons of shops and tons of people.  There was a long queue to enter St. Stephen’s Cathedral so we grabbed a few photos outside before moving onto St. Peter’s church.  It is an extremely ornate house of worship with fascinating objects on display.  *Toddler tip: we tell Hannah there are babies sleeping in churches so she will be a little quieter than usual.  Most of the time it actually works!









We couldn’t visit Vienna and not our favorite restaurant from the last trip, Ilona Stüberl.  We went in for lunch, sat by the doors and had a great meal.  The waitress even brought over a coloring book and pencils to entertain our toddler.   The other notable restaurant was dinner our first night at Herzog’s Wirsthaus.  The menu was all in German but our waitress kindly translated it all for us.  And they had a stack of books, toys, cars, etc to entertain the little ones.  It never ceases to amaze me how many places make accommodations for families with young kids in Europe and the UK.  We had a great three days in Vienna and barely scratched the surface of all the amazing activities, sites, restaurants and neighborhoods to explore.



Lodging: Airbnb

Food: Ilona Stüberl (homely Hungarian food in a tiny restaurant just off the Graben), Herzog’s Wirsthaus, Ferrari Gelato,

Sites/Activities: Tiergarten Schönbrunn, St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom), Karlsplatz playground, St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche), Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens, Graben

Transport: U-Bahn, British Airways

Horned Frogs in London

As the end of May rolled around, we were busy preparing for a long trip away starting with an overnight in London to meet up with some of our TCU friends.  They were overseas visiting family and planned a few days in London.  We were able to plan our travels to meet up and spend a day together.  After checking in early at our serviced apartment in Kensington we hopped the tube to Notting Hill.  We had planned to meet up at Granger and Co for brunch but happened to run into each other on the street en route.  It was a bank holiday Monday so there was already a crowd outside the restaurant and a wait for a table.  Instead of standing around with two kiddos, the moms and tots headed off for a walk while the guys stuck around waiting.  We found a park where Hannah managed to get dirty in the short 10 minutes we were there.  Brunch was a bit hectic but so so tasty!  If you ever make it there, try the banana ricotta pancakes.



After brunch the ladies left the husbands and kids to start our afternoon tea bus tour adventure with B’s Bakery.  A coworker had told me about the tea bus and I thought it was a great idea.  They did not allow children under the age of 5 so it was the perfect getaway for these mamas!  We sat on the upper deck of a renovated bus devouring sweet and savory treats in addition to the tea or coffee of our choice.  We also packed a bottle of bubbly to enjoy en route.  The staff was great, the food was good and it was a fun way to see the sights.  As we ate brunch shortly before the bus tour we had several bits of food left over.  The staff was kind enough to provide us a box to take the rest away.  Sadly, I dropped said box on the ground spilling the entire contents outside the grimy bus terminal.




We left to relieve the men of the children so they could have some down time.  As they headed off for drinks and dinner we entertained the kids at our friends AirBnb.  Everyone was getting a little restless so we took a walk around Notting Hill.  On our way back to find the kids some dinner we happened across two rather familiar looking men sitting in a restaurant.  Sure enough, we had managed to find our husbands purely on accident.  We popped in to say hi and ended up sitting down together for dinner.

Notting hill

Notting Hill homes

Secret Garden


Hi fives


Sadly, all too soon night time came and the toddlers were threatening to turn into pumpkins.  So we took a group photo then went our separate ways with “see you laters” rather than “goodbyes.”  It was a busy full fun day with great friends.  We only wish we’d had more time.

Horned frog friends


Lodging: Harrington Collection Kensington

Food: Granger and Co., Electric Diner

Activities: B’s Bakery Bus Tour

Transport: Train, tube and lots of walking

Where in the World

A not so funny thing happened last month.  One night, I opened up my computer but it was being extremely sluggish.  I decided to try restarting it.  Bad idea…it refused to reboot.  As in, my hard drive decided to just quit and take everything saved there with it.  To say I was upset would be an understatement.  It had been almost two months since I’d backed up all my photos so those were “lost.”  Thankfully, I still had the photos either on my phone or camera SD card.  Anyhow, all this to say I only have more recent photos on my computer.  So I’m going to work on recapping our adventures from the beginning of summer and beyond.  Then maybe I’ll slowly make my way further back, if I can remember that far.

So where have we been since I last posted? A little bit of everywhere including Dover, London (many times), Canterbury, Northern Ireland, Oslo, Munich, Vienna, Salzburg, the Norfolk coast, Nice, Stratford-upon-Avon, Edinburgh and Wales.  Not to mention a plethora of local adventures as well.  And visitors!  We have been blessed to have family and friends who are family come to see us.  Lots and lots to catch up on so I better get started.


Malta & Sicily

As I was still getting used to work, C and Hannah were settling into life in our new home.  We still had no furniture (with the exception of a second-hand mattress and early 2000’s TV) and only very basic kitchen essentials.  It was cold and dreary in England with the sun rising at 9am and setting by 4pm.  We were feeling unsettled and itching for some sun.  So C suggested we head south to the Mediterranean, specifically Malta and Sicily.  In all honesty, I hadn’t ever really considered either destination but we went for it.

We boarded an Air Malta flight from London arriving in Valletta.  It was a pretty basic flight but they did serve food and drinks for no additional charge which is becoming more and more rare these days, particularly on inexpensive European carriers.  We had decided to stay in Valletta and not venture out of the city.  Malta has some beautiful islands, beaches, snorkeling & diving spots, but it was February and we were only there a short period of time.  Valletta is quite compact and although beautiful, we found 2 days to be plenty of time to see the sights.

Our Airbnb was a traditional Maltese house made of stone with tile floors and an enclosed balcony overlooking the street.  Interestingly enough the toilets were in the back spiral stairway not truly “inside” the house.  Our hostess was great, even arranging for airport transportation for us.  The only con was there was a small shop across the street that received early morning deliveries which woke us earlier than we’d have liked.





Valletta is a port city with a lot of very interesting history, particularly as a strategic base for British soldiers during WWII.  You can see glimpses of it’s colonial past in its red phone booths and English speaking population.  Our first afternoon and evening we explored the area near our Airbnb, picked up a takeaway dinner and just took in the sights.  Hannah was particularly fond of the phone booths and insisted on going into any and all she found.  We also walked down to the Fort St Elmo and found some cats to play with chase.  A stop off for gelato on the way home was the perfect night cap.

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Our only full day was spent exploring St. John’s Co-Cathedral.  Pictures and words cannot do justice to the beauty and intricate detail of this church.  Unfortunately, the two year old decided to be a two year old but C chased her while I gawked at gold painted ceilings and marble detailing.  We then walked to see the underground tunnels but they were closed for an unknown reason…probably had something to do with the Turkish diplomats visiting.  (Or I assume that because there were a bunch of fancy black cars flying the Turkish flag, lots of police and cordoned off areas.)  Instead we wandered down from the waterfront to the Lower Barrakka Gardens and found a playground with gorgeous views of the water and port.











After nap we wandered through the main shopping drag to the famous, and somewhat controversial, city gate.  Then we made our way to the Upper Barrakka Gardens, which were closed off earlier in the day.   We had decided on pizza and pasta for dinner and found a well rated restaurant close to the Airbnb, Sotto Pizzeria.  We walked in to an empty restaurant as they had just opened for dinner, but were quickly told they had no tables as they were full with reservations for the evening.  They did offer takeaway though, so we opted for that.  C had read good reviews on their tiramisu so asked for an order of it to go with our dinner.  Unfortunately you cannot get it for takeaway as they bake it into ceramic cups.  He really wanted to try it so we ate desert while waiting for our dinner to be ready.  It was delicious!  And dinner was good too.









Our last morning we ate a delicious breakfast at a cute cafe, 67 Kapitali, then caught a ride back to the airport.  We boarded a Ryan Air flight to Catania Sicily.  It was our first experience with Ryan Air and it actually wasn’t bad.  My only complaint was the flight attendant made us put Hannah’s blanket up in the overhead bin for takeoff and landing since we were in the bulkhead row.  I mean, the thing is a baby blanket so weighs a few ounces and is only a couple feet long but I wasn’t going to pick a fight.












We weren’t able to find an Airbnb we liked in Catania but I did find a serviced apartment rental that looked good.  And it was great!  We had a rooftop deck, great views of the city and a rather comfy bed.  However, the lodging was the best part of Catania, we found.  We wandered the city visiting a park which had seen better days.  It had an okay playground but it was a bit crowded.  The one upside was there was some sort of celebration where all the kids were dressed up in costume and throwing confetti everywhere.  It was a sight to see Hannah covered in confetti and chasing after the local kids.  The city overall was a bit tired, dirty and just not terribly interesting for us.  Honestly, I wouldn’t return to Catania, but maybe a different city in Sicily.









It was a fun trip but we were ready to get home because our things were being delivered from the states shortly after our return.


Lisbon, Portugal


It did not take long for us to start planning travel in and around the UK and Europe once we had all arrived.  We were going to be waiting a few more weeks for our furniture and boxes to arrive so decided to hop off to Portugal for several days.  It was a location we had on our list last time we lived abroad but never got the time to visit.

We had a fairly uneventful flight with minimal toddler tantrums and were able to quickly grab a taxi after getting our luggage.  Our Airbnb was located on a hill overlooking the city so it was great to have the taxi rather than public transport + walking as we often do.  The cab driver was also great, giving us recommendations on places to see and eat as well as talking with Hannah.  When we arrived at our Airbnb, I was instantly impressed.  It was billed as child friendly and was it ever.  It had a toy room, y’all.  It was stocked with baby/toddler toys, a bath, high chair, books, child friendly dishes & utensils.  Not to mention spacious and great views over the city to the water.

Living room

Guest bedroom View from the living room

Some light reading ;-)

The master bedroom

The playroom

Cute little patio (that is totally not kid safe!)

Unfortunately we realized we had made a rookie mistake and completely forgot to pack electric adaptors for European plugs.  Oops!  We messaged our host for recommendations of a place to purchase some.  It was Sunday so we assumed many stores would be closed or closing early.  We didn’t hear back for a while so decided to head off on our own to try and located something.  Yeah….that didn’t go so well.  After traipsing up and down streets for 30 minutes with no luck, we finally found a tourist information spot so popped in and asked the lady at the desk for advice.  She directed us to a music/electronics store in a shopping center about 10 minutes walk away.  We stopped off at a beautiful square before heading that direction.  We found 2 adaptors and quickly left to make our way back to the apartment.  Only to find the apartment was less than 10 minutes from the store.  It was late so we fixed Hannah a simple dinner from groceries we’d purchased earlier in the day and put her to bed.  C and I were so tired we ate cereal for dinner and called it a night.

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The next day we ventured across the city to find a place to play for Hannah.  It was bit of a hike but we found the beautiful park, Jardim de Estrela, which had a pretty good playground.  She had lots of fun playing with the sand/rocks and generally making a mess, ha.  We were near Mercado de Campo de Orique, so stopped off there for lunch. It was nice because you could grab meat, produce, bread, and prepared foods then grab a seat in the center and eat.  We were there fairly early on a weekday so it was not very busy (which honestly was nice with a toddler to look after).  That afternoon we lazed around the apartment planning out the next couple days.








Our third day called for rain so we went to the Lisbon Oceanarium.  It is a bit outside of the city center so we took the metro then walked the remainder.  It started raining, no pouring, on us about 5 minutes into the 15 minute walk.  We arrived pretty soaked.  It was a really neat aquarium with a large center tank that you kept coming back to on different levels.  There were also penguins and otters in addition to the usual aquarium fish assortment.  We all enjoyed it and learned our lesson about walking in the rain so opted for a cab back to the apartment :-)








Our final full day we went to the Castelo de S. Jorge perched atop the hill where our Airbnb was located.  The grounds were beautiful and offered amazing views over the city and beyond.  We walked some of the ramparts, through the gardens and came across several peacocks.  Hannah loved seeing the peacocks but only from a safe distance.  Instead of walking directly back to the apartment, we turned the other direction to wander the narrow cobblestoned streets of the Alfama neighborhood.  It was filled with cute colorful homes.  We stopped in at Pois Cafe for lunch and it was great.  They offered Hannah a stuffed dragon to keep her company and paper and crayons to color.  They also had board games, various books and sofas to lounge on.  Naptime for Hannah meant downtime for me to read and enjoy a glass of wine.  Since it was our last night we splurged on a nicer dinner at Le Petite Cafe.  We actually had plans for another restaurant but it was closed.  We got there early so we were the only people in the restaurant apart from the waitstaff but it was perfect.  I had a delicious duck dish and C enjoyed a Brazilian style steak.  Hannah enjoyed eating off both our plates.












Before heading to the airport on the last day I convinced C we had to search out the famed Portuguese pastry, Pastel de nata.  There are many opinions on the “best” pastel in Lisbon, but we only had time to try one.  We went with Manteigaria based on reviews and were not disappointed.  The woman behind the counter convinced us to get a couple extras and I’m glad she did.  They were great warm with a bit of cinnamon sprinkled atop.  Yum!

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Our first trip definitely had a couple bumps in the road, but overall we had a great time and found Lisbon to be a great city.  There was a lot we wanted to do but did not get around to it all.  Perhaps we will just have to go back :-)  But then again, there are so many new places to see.  Decisions, decisions.




One early morning I rolled out of bed, packed up the car and drove off to Heathrow bound for NYC.  The day had finally come that we would all be reunited again!  Rather than making an epic (and potentially disastrous) flight from Texas to London with a 2 year old, we planned to meet up in NYC, visit with C’s family then take the “short” flight from there.  We flew into different airports so I grabbed the rental car and drove to pick up the rest of my family. It was not fun because of construction at the airport but we finally were all together again.  We loaded up in the car and headed to see C’s aunt & uncle.

We received a warm welcome and settled in for catching up conversations.  That night we had a great dinner at one of their favorite haunts but Hannah was pretty antsy the entire time.  We traded off child duties throughout to allow each other to eat.  The next day we enjoyed a lazy morning, late breakfast/brunch then decided it was time to head off to the Airbnb we’d rented near the airport.  It had started snowing so driving was less than fun…in fact, at times it was downright scary.  But we finally made it and tucked in for the night.

Enjoying a real snowfall!

Enjoying a real snowfall!

The following morning we woke up to a winter wonderland.  Thankfully the neighbor to our Airbnb cleaned off the stoop and walkway so we were able to make it to the car.  We left for the airport with excitement and apprehension.  We had purposely planned for a daytime flight vs a redeye knowing that there was little chance of Hannah sleeping on the plane.  If she missed a nap it’d be difficult but not as bad as missing an entire night of sleep.  Well, it worked…kind of.  We chose three seats of 4 seats in the middle section leaving one open amongst us, hoping no one would chose a middle middle seat. No such luck.  Several hours and lots of snacks, videos, games, books, walks later we were nearing a meltdown of epic proportions.  We tried our best to head it off, but nevertheless, the toddler took over.  Hannah started fussing, then whining, then crying.  She finally fell asleep between the two of us as we frantically tried to make her comfortable/ensure that she stayed asleep.  Despite our best efforts she slept about 30 minutes then woke up cranky as can be.    We were able to distract her with more snacks and the iPad (thank goodness for handheld technology!).  She was calm for a bit then it was time to land…aka buckle the seat belt, put everything away….cue another meltdown.  This time she was so upset the flight attendant took notice and suggested we offer her something to eat or drink to “help her ears.”  Thanks bud, but that’s not the issue here…we are doing everything we can to calm down an overtired, overstimulated, cranky 2 year old…not our first rodeo (insert eye roll).  To his defense he did bring her some “premium” snacks to munch on to help calm her.  It worked, kinda sorta, and we were finally on the ground.

Thank goodness for headphones, shows and games on the computer/iPad

Thank goodness for headphones, shows and games on the computer/iPad

Finally asleep!

Finally asleep!

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if our plan to fly during the day was the best option.  It was not pretty, but we made it and only got a few side eye glances from surrounding passengers.  After a couple long days of travel we were all together in England to truly start our new adventure.

Exhausted toddler + exhausted mama

Exhausted toddler + exhausted mama

Embarking solo – weeks 2 and 3

After the quick trip to the states for Christmas, I flew back to the UK solo again.  I had about two more weeks alone to get various things done with the most important items being secure a house and start working.  Well, in the UK many places completely shut down the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  That meant the letting agency with the house we were really interested in was closed and I would get no answer until after January 3rd.  So I set up a few last minute viewings on other potential properties with letting agencies that were actually open to see other options while waiting.

But the Brits weren’t the only ones taking time off.  Many people/offices at work were also closed or had very limited hours meaning not much was getting done on that front either.  I accomplished what I could but meant I had a lot of down time.  I took advantage of that and did a bit of sightseeing locally including an amazing cathedral, beautiful gardens and some yummy food.  I also caught up on sleep and reading.

Interior of Ely Cathedral

Interior of Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Abbey Gardens

Abbey Gardens

Abbey Gardens

Abbey Gardens

Bury St Edmonds

Bury St Edmonds


They day before my first scheduled shift I got word that I would indeed get to start seeing patients, albeit without computer access.  Most of our stuff is still on paper so it wasn’t a big inconvenience.  My first shift was New Year’s Eve followed by New Year’s Day.  Thankfully things weren’t too crazy and I was able to settle in fairly well.

After the holiday weekend I had some bad news.  The owner of the house we were pinning our hopes on decided she wasn’t comfortable with tenants who had a dog despite saying “pets considered” in the ad.  We were bummed but continued looking.  C suggested we offer higher monthly rent or deposit to help ease her fears.  I scoffed at the idea but asked the letting agency anyway.  Sure enough, they accepted our offer!

The next day I flew across the pond yet again to meet up with C & H and officially start our great big adventure together.

Embarking solo – Week 1

For various reasons I started the move off by myself with C and Hannah staying behind in Texas.  I actually did not feel much anxiety about leaving until the night before my flight was scheduled to leave.  I have taken trips away a couple times now and they’ve been fine.  But knowing that I would be gone for almost 3 weeks with only a short visit at Christmas to break it up was tough to swallow.  I shed a few tears at the airport saying goodbye.  Hannah was fine but mostly because she didn’t truly understand what was happening.

The flight across the pond was uneventful but uncomfortable.  I didn’t sleep much but did get some reading and movies in.  My first week was a bit chaotic.  I checked into my temporary lodging which had been setup for me.  It was an extremely convenient location, but very basic.  Essentially a bed, tv, bathroom, mini fridge and microwave.  Not exactly glamorous but it would do.  As it was the week before Christmas there was a lot of things that weren’t open, had limited hours or people who weren’t even in their offices.  Thankfully I was able to get my ID card the 2nd day there meaning I had access to everything I needed and the ability travel freely.  I rented a car for a couple days to get around while looking for a car to purchase.  I also attempted to set up several house showings.  However, most of the letting agencies I spoke with couldn’t let me view anything until after Christmas, or even after New Years!  Thankfully I was able to get one set up for that same week and another for the following week.

My super snazzy hotel room - home for 3 weeks

My super snazzy hotel room – home for 3 weeks

English countryside at dusk (at 3:30 pm...ugh)

English countryside at dusk (at 3:30 pm…ugh)

Life living solo in a hotel = takeaway Thai food, a glass of wine and FB surfing

Life living solo in a hotel = takeaway Thai food, a glass of wine and FB surfing

In addition to searching for a house and car, I needed to set up a bank account, get car insurance and work on everything needed to start my job.  It turns out we never closed our bank account from our previous time overseas.  We thought they might have closed it due to inactivity, but low and behold, I walked into a branch, gave them my account information and ID card and sure enough there was a teeny tiny balance still there.  Whew!

A coworker’s wife had a lead on a car that her mechanic was selling so I set up a time to go see and test drive it.  Well, the shop was in a heavy traffic area so I let him drive while I sat.  It had only been 2 or 3 days since I’d started driving on the “wrong” side of the road again so I felt much more comfortable with him driving.  The car looked good and was a good price so I agreed to purchase it.  Two days later I returned to hand over the money and get the keys.  Thankfully another coworker was kind enough to schlep me to the mechanic’s shop in order to get the car.

My new ride

My new ride

That same week I was able to view one property.  Turns out it was a perfect size, great location and had assigned parking (which can be difficult in the area we wanted to live).  I phoned up the letting agent and told them we were very interested in the property.  The landlord and agreed to “consider” pets so the agent presented our information to her for approval.  This was a Thursday afternoon.  They were closed the next day until after New Years.  Which meant we had to wait….for 10 days.

The street with the house I viewed

The street with the house I viewed

Alas, the next day was Friday which mean I was heading home!