Center Parcs With My Family

So the time to my departure from these British Isles is growing ever closer. My mum said that she would come and visit me in Great Yarmouth before I left which as I told her would have been a good idea only I have barely any furniture left and its rapidly diminishing as I try to sell all my things. So then we decided we’d go to a spa hotel… then my mum suggested the spa at Center Parcs… then we decided to take my brother and sister but ditch the spa idea because it was pricey. And thus we ended up at Center Parcs in Woburn as it was pretty much half way between Norfolk and Wiltshire where my family lives.

It’s only 3 years old so everything looked quite modern, here was our villa.

This was the gaming table where I cheated at monopoly and Charles cheated at trivial pursuit because he remembered all the answers.

My sister Bronte and I shared the twin room, I fought her and won the bed nearest the window. They were comfy but I kept sleeping with my mouth open, which I don’t usually do, and waking up with a sore throat.

We had a little patio area and BBQ.

And a little kitchen which Bronte was mainly in charge of.

My mum got the double bed and Charles gallantly volunteered to sleep on the sofa.

We mainly used the outside areas for feeding sessions with our villa babies, this is Pete.

And these are our squirrels who expected breakfast every morning, luckily I brought along two big bags of bird feed.

Getting Ready For The Big Move

I have been busy busy busy preparing to emigrate. Although the visa is now all in order there’s a lot of tying up loose ends. I sent 5 boxes off to Connecticut and all the rest of my things have to be given away or sold (which is endlessly time consuming!). I ordered and received my international driving permit which is all a bit bizarre. I just had to pay £8.50, no learning, no test or instructions of how to drive abroad of any kind and I got this old fashioned pre-war looking thing in khaki cardboard.

We finally got our house sorted so Kimberly and her parents have been setting everything up, assembling new furniture and unpacking the old from her old apartment. She’s had the joy of setting up the internet and Sears customer service and meanwhile I’ve been trying to catch up with all of my friends and family. Including a dinner where my friend Emily and I were sat next to this odd wall hanging in an Italian restaurant.

I sent my little fur babies off on a plane and they’re getting collected by Kimmy today from Boston, they were extremely disgruntled at being stuffed into crates and I can’t imagine they’re enjoying the flight very much but we just couldn’t possibly leave them behind. Bunny (the cat) was wise to me and immediately scrambled to escape as I packed her up but poor Barclay was so shocked he allowed himself to be put in with just an upset meow.

In the mean time I live my life in countdowns – only 6 days until my family vacation to Centerparcs and 25 days until I move.

 

Angles Way Bank Holiday

Hey readers, so I had two days off from work together at the bank holiday (shocker) and decided I’d embrace the daylight and venture out for a walk just down the road from my house in Cobholm.

Early morning along Angle’s Way… it was gorgeous.

It was pretty early morning so hardly anyone was out, no dog walkers but lots and lots of wildlife. Kim’s nemesis: swans. And also a couple herons.

It was my favourite weather of all time – grey. Yes this is actually my favourite weather. Grey is perfect, it’s not too hot or cold or wet or windy… just grey. The perfect weather for any activity one might want to partake in. Sadly on the way home my lovely grey was usurped by bright sunshine leaving me with a slightly red neck (good preparation for going to live with the Americans?).

There were zillions of butterflies out, these are just the slow ones I could take photos of.

Also I saw a golden snail… I like to think he won some sort of race.

I’m really going to miss living right next door to the broads but Kimmy just completed on our first house (finally!) so I’ll be swapping the broads and the sea for a lake in just 36 days.

 

No New News

So Kim and I haven’t been up to much, just working working working… and getting taxed taxed taxed. I picked up my visa from the courier finally and I booked my flight so I leave the UK on the 9th July.

It’s pretty flimsy looking, it’s just a sticker on one page of my passport, there isn’t much to it. I’ve been selling some of my stuff in preparation for the big move, the kitties have assisted. They’re booked on a flight mid June however the new house that Kim has been buying keeps getting the closing date pushed back because of the crappy sellers. We are now meant to be closing tomorrow which is the fourth date we have been given but there are still outstanding things which the seller hasn’t done AND in the mean time the house may have gone into foreclosure because they haven’t been paying their mortgage (ugh!) so who knows when we will actually get the keys – what a disaster.

Other than that I have mainly been living as a vampire on night shift (being nocturnal not sucking blood), last night I met up with my lovely Russian buddy Anastasia for a catch up and we were on the watch for the army in Norwich (after the latest terrorist attack) but we didn’t see any soldiers. A couple of weeks ago I saw my friends from uni too which is a feat in itself as we all work shift jobs. We went for a nice meal and afterwards got coffees at Franks Bar where we discovered a drawer in one of the tables that people had filled with notes. We read through them all until Sarah discovered a Polaroid of someone’s butt… then we decided to stop because she felt “unclean”.

So nothing exciting really, less than a month until my little family getaway with my mum and brother and sister, my dear chum Crissy is back visiting from Australia soon and has kindly offered to take me to the airport (fool that she is). I still haven’t organised to ship my boxes to the states yet :/ and I also need to book a road trip in to see my great aunt before I leave. I offered to see my dad before I went but as always he seems supremely uninterested and said he was working abroad a lot. They should put that on his tombstone instead of “loving father” he could just have “worked a lot”. Anyway time for a nap as later tonight I’ll be working a lot.

 

Embassy Interview 

I traveled up to London on Thursday as it was finally time for my immigrant visa interview at the USA embassy. Luckily my Great Aunt lives in London so I went to stop over with her for the night which was nice. My Mum decided she’d like to go too and that night we met up with her cousin Elaine and went for a nice meal and afterwards we looked at a lot of old photos. I just adore old photos, I have quite a collection from my Granddad that I scanned but none from my Mum’s side so I took a lot of copies. It’s important to keep tabs on the photos as my Great Aunt got caught throwing a load out into a green wheelie bin once because her eye sight isn’t good and she said couldn’t see them anymore! Luckily cousin Elaine rescued them. Also as a nice surprise we facetimed my cousin in Australia and her new baby… well she isn’t that new anymore technically but to us in England she’s still brand new.

The next day Mum and I caught the tube from my Great Aunt’s house to the Embassy, it was between quite a few stops so we arrived early and got breakfast and browsed the shops a bit.

Oddly enough, we stopped in John Lewis’ for breakfast and on the shop display window we found Donald Trump. I don’t think it was meant to be Donald Trump but it looks remarkably like him doesn’t it? When I pointed it out in the street to Mum, other passers by laughed so it can’t just be me that noticed.

Anyway so we got to the embassy, we had to check Mum was on the list to bring in because you’re not really meant to take people with you. I had to call them and email them a zillion times for them to even take her name down. Then we were a little early so the lady told us to go and get a drink that we could take in for the wait so we did which was fine until we went back, got scanned and then I got my glass bottle of drink confiscated… but luckily the nice guards said they’d keep my Snapple behind the counter for me to pick up on the way out so that was good.

It was surprisingly not that busy inside, we waited in this room (no photography allowed!) for them to call a number we were given and then I went to the first counter and handed all my documents over which the man took for a folder and then I got my finger prints scanned in and had to sit down again. Then we played I spy for a bit and there was a small protest outside the embassy for something to do with murder in Turkey… which made all of no difference to anyone’s day. I never really get what people hope to achieve with things like that, there can’t have been more than ten people there with a microphone and after about half an hour when they’d all had their photo taken they just gave up and left. What on earth did they think was going to happen?

Eventually my number got called again and Mum and I went to a second window around the corner where I had to take an oath that I’d told the truth on my visa application. I got my finger prints scanned a second time and then the lady asked me the interview questions which was how I had met Kim, why we had got married in Canada and had we ever lived together before. And that was really it. Mum was a bit disappointed because she was expecting it to be some sort of interrogation like in a movie she likes about a sham marriage called “Green Card”. So all in all pretty painless, it took about two hours of mainly waiting and  everyone was really very friendly and kind. Also I got a CD with my medical stuff on to give to the border control people in America. I had a quick look and found my chest X-ray, very… bony. I’m not very good at interpreting X-rays but everything seems to be in the right place so I think it’s a win. Looks a bit like a hoop skirt.

I haven’t been up to much else, I went to the opticians and found out I have mild astigmatism which explains why I couldn’t see a thing when I thought I should be wearing reading glasses after the last time I had my eyes tested and bought some cheap +1.0 glasses. Because technically I’d be -1.0 so the optician said I was actually making my vision two times worse… oops. But I don’t need glasses unless I want them so that’s good. Still working a lot of shifts and getting taxed to high heaven. Goldie had an MOT and just needs the windscreen wipers replaced and headlights polished so that isn’t too bad. I paid £1,400 to move the cats to America in June. Oh and I discovered a small hole under my handbrake when I dropped my hair clip down there in my car accidentally. It is full of rubbish that is impossible to get out. So that’s… gross. Until next time!

 

 

TB? Or Not TB?

That is the question! The times are moving ever closer to my USA interview date at the embassy but before I attend my interview I had to drop into London to get a medical completed. I decided I’d just have a day trip to London and not stay over but I didn’t fancy driving or parking so I decided to take the coach for the princely sum of £26.50 return.  It left pretty early so I thought I’d walk into town half an hour before so I could have a nice breakfast at McDonalds and wake up a bit… and it was closed. It opened at the exact same time the bus was due. Annoying.

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But I had a nice semi snooze on the coach which dropped me off at Victoria in London, then it was onto the underground. I read once that the underground has its own species of mosquito which is crazy because the pollution is so bad down there it’s amazing anything could survive.

I was a bit early to my medical so I stopped off for some lunch at Wagamamas and got a tasty katsu curry to help me get over the lamentable loss of breakfast.

And then off I trotted to my medical. Now there is only one private medical company that does the medical checks for the American Embassy at £330 a pop so it must be a pretty good earner. I had to give them all sorts of samples of bodily fluids, have a chest xray, have another tetanus jab (which they forgot to charge me for, score!), get inspected all over for drug injection marks and have my heart and lungs listened to. All in all it took about an hour and I got a gown to wear that made me look like a Jedi Knight.

So that was that and assuming everything is fine it gets sent off to the embassy ready for my interview at the end of the month. I assume I don’t have TB. It was still quite early in the day so I decided to have a shufti around the Victoria and Albert Museum because I hadn’t been before.

The museum had a lot of home furnishings and was split into geographical sections.

There was lots of sculptures, massive Persian carpets, pottery and wall ornaments, thrones and beds.

But my favourite was all the odd old fashioned clothes, it’s amazing how short people were back then from malnourishment and disease. There was something very human about seeing real people’s clothes that you just can’t get from furniture or portraits. They had Margaret Thatcher’s clothes, beautiful kimonos with their matching obis, clothes from the 60s… and this lovely number which I think looks rather mad. I mean you could hardly nip to the shops in it could you? The only useful thing I can think of is if you wanted to make a career out of smuggling because you could fit a lot under her fake hips. Or you could wear it through Heathrow security to infuriate the guards and fellow passengers?

Mid afternoon it was time to let them eat cake.

But I fancied a nice scone instead in the courtyard garden.

And then it was time to head back home. The coach went right through the center of London past Parliament and Westminster Bridge where the terror attacks were, the place was absolutely crawling with armed police everywhere but there were still so many tourists so nothing seems to be deterring them for business as usual, which is how it should be I think.



 






March Update

Emigration is slowly inching a bit closer, I now have my medical scheduled and my interview at the American Embassy in April so I’ve been getting things ready for that. Assuming everything goes according to plan at the interview it’s go time and I have 6 months to emigrate.

With that in mind I’ve started to get rid of a lot of my things and pack what I want to take. Bunny, Kim’s cat, has been excited about this because now the bookcase is empty it’s provided her with extra climbing opportunities.

I sold a ton of stuff one morning at a car boot sale, I’d never done a car boot sale but it was pretty good, my things were mostly too low value or time consuming to list each individually on eBay or Gumtree and it feels so wasteful to throw good things away. Everything I didn’t sell at the car boot sale I took to Barnardos and I now have a lot less, win win.

I’ve been working a lot of nights still, trying to get shifts in before moving and then not being able to work for a while until I get a social security number etc. I took a Makaton course with work the other day which is a form of sign language and that was really fun. However the course was after a night shift which was really not fun and I drank about a gallon of coffee because after the course, as I was in the city, Kim and I went on a cinema date to see Beauty and the Beast (we go watch the same movie at the same time in different countries!). Looking forward to when that’s done with.

Other updates are that Kim is looking to buy a house for us to live in once I move, although her parents have very kindly offered to have us stay with them as long as need be it’ll be the first time we’ve been legally allowed to live together properly and I’m looking forward to spending time with each other as a couple. Kim’s been pre-approved for a mortgage which, with her student loan, took some doing! In the UK when you look to buy a house you can just contact the estate agent to view and if you like it you put an offer in, in the USA to view a house you really need your own real estate agent and they contact the sellers real estate agent so that’s an added complication but we’ve found a realtor now called Melinda and we feel like she’s a good fit. We’ve got our eye on a house we like in our budget that’s in a nice area and Kim’s viewing that today but if not we will keep looking and hope to be moved in soon so I can send the cats over ahead of myself.

In the mean time my Mum, my brother Charles and my sister Bronte have booked to go on a little trip to the new Center Parcs in Woburn in June. We used to go as kids to the one in Longleat and although us kids have wives and girlfriends and boyfriends we thought it’d be nice to have one last trip where it’s just the four of us so we are all really excited for a bit of nostalgia before I move away. And that’s pretty much it for March!