Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our first week in the UK

Hello all! Sorry to have gone so long without updating everyone. This past week has been very busy. We've spent lots of time in the car, looking at houses, going to church, running errands, and trying to find our way around the town. We've spent several hours at the bank (with all four kids, of course!) getting financial matters in order. My time at home with the kids is equally as busy, as it's quite a challenge to keep them occupied in an apartment. They have grown so weary of playing with the few toys we packed when we moved out of our house over a month ago. We try to go for walks and spend time at the park as much as we can. I knew I had to get a post out when people started e-mailing wondering if we were alive! I'm going to answer some of the questions we've recieved. Soooooo, without further ado, here we go .....

How was the flight?

My parents dropped us off at the airport and we breezed through check in and security with only the loss of our bungee cord. We use it to attach the little guys' car seats to luggage carriers which turns them into strollers :) It's a great way to move the kids through the airport. Bard rigged something up using their car seat straps and we were off.

Our flight left at 10 pm, so by the time we got to our seats the kids were pretty hyper. They were so excited to finally be on the plane and on our way to England that it took us nearly two hours to settle them down and get them to sleep. It didn't help that just as they were settling down at about 11:30, they served dinner! They kids slept all night, which was a big blessing. Bard and I dozed off and on, I'm sure we got some sleep, but it didn't feel like it. Our biggest blessing by far came when we went through customs. The line didn't seem incredibly long, about four rows, but when we were ushered to the front of the line we saw a sign at the end of the first row (the one closest to the front of the line) that said the wait from that point was approximately 45 minutes long. Wow! We could have been in that line for hours! Pays to have kids!!

How are you adjusting to the time difference?

Our flight was seven hours long, so when we arrived in London at 10 am local time, it was 5 am EST. We'd had enough sleep that we didn't feel too tired at that point. I think it helped that it was daylight, so our bodies were tricked. We were picked up and had a two hour drive to the town where we'll be living. We all slept most of the way which held us over for the rest of the day. We managed to stay up until 7:30 local time before we all crashed! The two older kids woke up once or twice in the night (about 8pm EST) but because it was dark and I told them it was the middle of the night, they didn't ask questions :) We laid in bed awake for an hour or so and then fell asleep again and slept until 10:30 am! We woke the kids up at 11:00. I'm not sure how long they would have slept! That day (Saturday) was a much easier day, since we weren't exhausted from travel and we went to bed at our regular time. Since then, it's been a breeze. I was so excited! I had planned for a week or so to get us all adjusted, so that short time was a blessing!

Have you found a house?

Not quite! We've been staying in an apartment since we arrived. It's very close to the town centre and we've enjoyed being able to walk to shops and restaurants. It's a beautiful, old apartment with huge windows that let in lots of light. The woodwork (trim and around the ceiling) is amazing.

Today we're moving to a larger place where we'll stay for the next month or so until we move into our house. We looked at houses yesterday and have a few more tomorrow and then we'll decide.

Update: (it's Friday now and was Wednesday when I started this post :)
We've moved to our new apartment, which is much roomier, allowing more room for the kids to be kids.

** all of these pictures came straight from the apartment website, not from my camera :)

It's nice being able to walk to and from restaurants, especially since it's uphill on the way back. Helps compensate for all those meals out! It's been neat to live right in the middle of a busy town for a couple of weeks. Something we won't do permanently, but fun for a short time.

We've looked at more houses and have finally chosen one. I'll post pictures soon (meaning probably not until next week at the rate I'm going :) Here's one from the road that leads to the house ...

How is the weather?

Well, as you can see in the picture, Kate has her jacket tied around her waist. Ahhh, what a refreshing break from summer in Maryland. The day we arrived the lady that showed us our apartment was aghast at how hot and humid it was. We, on the other hand were digging through our bags for extra clothes. The temps are around 65-70 each day. Most days have been sunny, and when it does rain, it doesn't last long. They say the weather changes every 20 minutes and we've found that to be true. We've learned to wear short sleeves and always take our jackets with us.

How is it driving on the other side of the road?

The first day was crazy! When we got home I felt like I was getting the flu because my muscles hurt so much from being so tense. I had to keep telling myself to relax and breathe. It was very unnerving to see cars coming in directions they are not supposed to be coming from, while at the same time trying to drive on the other side of the road and not get killed. We've learned to think of everything as backwards. So, in the US, a right hand turn is pretty easy, and a left turn is more complicated. Here it's the opposite. The other thing we've had to learn is to navigate the circles. They are much bigger than the ones at home (though not nearly as big as I've heard they are in the big cities!). The most confusing part is that the roads don't necessarily come together perpendicularly and intersect. It seems the circle became a necessity because the roads veer off from any point in the circle which makes directions much harder. The roads are referred to as exits off of the circle. The roads are also not as clearly labeled which makes navigating extra challenging. We get lost EVERY time we go out. The nice thing is that the town is small enough, that if we keep driving we come to something we recognize. Bard has been the main driver (since we have a rental and he's the only driver) and I'm the navigator. My job is a bit more than just right and left turns. I also guide Bard as to where on the road we should be driving. He's done an amazing job, especially since at the same time he is also relearning how to drive a standard, with the left hand, instead of the right.

Getting in on the other side of the car is also strange. Even more strange is seeing cars go by and thinking that no one is driving them because the left seat is empty. I saw one mom in the left seat turning around to help her children, and then start to climb into the back seat. I started to panic! It took me a minute to remember that she wasn't the one driving.

Our first night walking around town was pretty crazy, too. The roads in some places come from all different directions and we weren't used to the cars coming from different directions. It seemed almost like a cartoon where cars just drive anywhere they want to, but miraculously, no one gets hurt. It was a bit stressful. It's amazing how quickly we've adjusted in just one week. It feels very normal and quite comfortable to walk and drive around town. I was watching an American show on tv and saw a lady driving in the left hand seat. It looked so strange to me that in my head I thought ... hmm, this show must be set in the UK!! In just a short time, driving on the other side of the road has become normal. Scary, isn't it!!

We're so happy to be here and are looking forward to what's ahead! Thank you to everyone for your concern and especially your prayers!


  1. The apartment is beautiful. I can't wait to see pictures of the house! I also can't wait to come visit... :)

    Love Tessa

  2. Thank you for this lovely post!!!! I laughed out loud with all the driving antics. Love to you all!!!! Love the Hackbusch's

  3. Hey girls ... sorry I missed your comments! Tessa, we can't wait either!! Thanks, Maria, we got another car so I'm up for driving tomorrow :)