Sunday, December 06, 2015

One week recap...

To say this week has been a blur would be an understatement.

First, I arrived at Gatwick Airport on Saturday 28 November, 2015. Customs was absolutely  fine to get through. In fact, the customs officer was positively pleasant and very happy for me. Then after a very very long wait going of a year and a half, I finally got to see my Richard.

Happiness wouldn't describe the feelings we were experiencing. 

Richard and I decided to go and tour his old home and school neighborhoods and then we went shopping at Lidl... which in case you didn't know, is like an upper scale Aldi market.

We then headed towards Arundel, which is where we would stay for the evening. We did eat at a Little Chef restaurant, which isn't that bad really and the rest of the evening is censored.

The next day was one that Richard and I were very nervous about... and that involved meeting his parents for the first time. They are positively delightful.

Monday started my exploring of the area... a bit. It was extremely windy to say the least. I was almost blown over a couple of times, but the walking around did wonders for me. I made it to the post office and I hung around for a short time. I didn't want to get in the way because they seemed very very busy. The one thing I still couldn't get used to were the cars driving on the left hand side of the road. It's still strange for me.
Tuesday started my official work at the post office, but not as a postal clerk. I was helping Richard's father run the front retail sales. Didn't take too much to get used to that. The register is a very basic one and the pricing is easy enough to get used to... but the ONE thing that was more difficult to get used to that anything was the amount of coinage that the Brits use. 2 pound, 1 pound, 50 pence, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p and 1p coins. Once I got used to that, everything was sooo easy! Richard and I are getting along very well (we better) and we seem to have a great synergy working together. The people and customers at the post office and in general are very friendly on the south coast... a LOT like the people of the southern US states.

The next few weeks are going to be very busy at the post office. You know... there's this time of year called Christmas that makes a big deal out of sending things like greeting cards and packages a big deal...

Saturday was a busy morning a the post office, but then it was time to go and visit my friend Ron who was in London for a few days. Richard and I embarked on a (my first) train ride into London where we arrived at Victoria Station and then took the tube to Westminster Station. We came out onto the surface and well... the sight was simply unforgettable. What many people think of as Big Ben... actually Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben is the big bell inside it). The wind was incredible! WOW!

Richard and I spent about 30 minutes there and then we were off to Harrods. I've never seen such garish and expensive things in my life. It was a super crowded maze of people!

After getting turned around a few times, Richard and I finally made it to Ron's hotel (we were pretty late) and then ate dinner at the Rose and Crown pub just around the corner. I had my first official fish and chips there (with mushy peas) and it was fantastic! Even Richard thought it was very very good!

We then managed to make it back home to Goring-by-sea as two very tired ginger bears.

So that's basically it! Life has officially begun for this Britton in Britain!

Oh yes... Happy Christmas to you!

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Journey Has Begun

After saying some goodbyes, I celebrated my Thanksgiving Day by saying thank you to the many many people who have loved and supported me throughout this entire ordeal with my visa.

I then boarded the aeroplane in Birmingham, AL and started the trip! 

Now, I'm in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and about to do some planespotting for Richard before the flight leaves across the pond tonight.

I can't believe this is actually happening!

Monday, November 16, 2015

The date is set for the big move... (and more things)

Well, the date has been set for Thanksgiving Day as the move (26 November).

I'm going to be flying off to Ft Lauderdale to do some planespotting for a day (for my Richard) and then I will be flying across the pond the next day. Hey, can I help it if prices are cheaper doing it this way?

I guess the day is quite symbolic. Thanksgiving Day. I'm very thankful for many things. Skipping the obvious, I really am thankful for the USA. I've had quite a few people ask me if I'm getting tired of living here, and well, it's a mixed bag. Yes, I'm tired of a lot of the BS and politicking that's going on as well as the ever-present polarization of the nation... but there's also quite a lot to be thankful for. I'm never tired of the freedoms that we enjoy (and I think we enjoy some of them a it *too* much). I will never tire of what the USA stands for. Sure, the USA and more precisely, its people, is viewed as being a stuck up spoiled brat child of a nation who always wants to get their way, but be honest, don't all nations always want to get their way? The USA just has more bully power. OK... I'm not going to get off on that tangent... you'd be reading War and Peace by the time I'd be done with that. Back to Thanksgiving... I'm also thankful for the country that has seen fit to allow me in to be a productive member of their society. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland finally has seen fit to let me in, and I will not let them down. Third, the friends I have been able to make that live in the UK (thanks Facebook!) have made me feel so much better about moving to Terra Incognita. It's scary, but I will have Richard and friends to help me.

I will say this again, because I have gotten asked a few more times over this past week about it, but yes, I do plan on becoming a British subject. I will not however, renounce my US citizenship. Yes, I am allowed dual citizenry. 

Lots and lots of exciting things are in my future. I will for the first time in my life, be able to spend holidays with a loved one (excluding family of course). I do plan on expanding my photography work. I will still continue to take landscapes and improve on them by doing new and different things, but I also have a lot more portrait work and artistic work planned. I do want to do nudes, and yes, I have some volunteers already (get your mind out of the gutter... this is NOT pornography). I will be diving into themed art pieces... one in particular is very very exciting and will be hugely symbolic. I'm hoping to get this into a gallery somewhere if I can pull it off. I'll be doing light painting as well, which is just hugely cool!

It's truly fantastic to have people that support me fully in all of this. The first person who really believed that I had talent in photography was my friend Ron. He told me time after time that I had talent, but I guess I would always not think that highly of myself and I just lacked confidence in myself. The people at Grace Episcopal Church in Cullman, Alabama also helped a lot to build my confidence enough to help me take the big step into the pro world. Richard has been the key for me though. He's my future in everything, and I'm soooo thankful that I have a wonderful partner and husband to help me in my endeavours in photography (and more importantly everything else!).

Finally, I have been asked how the events in Paris and Lebanon have affected my plans. Well, they haven't at all. That's not to say that Richard and I haven't talked about moving back to the US in a few years if things do get worse, but I think we will be just fine in England for a while to come.

I'm gonna miss a lot of you guys... friends, family... you know who you are.


Monday, November 09, 2015

Whilst riding the wave of emotions...

So I know a lot of you are going to be curious about where I will be going from here...

Well, first, Richard and I have to decide on a date that I will be flying over. It's hovering around 21 November.

Second, I will have to tie up all loose ends and affairs here in the USA. This means selling off a bunch of things that I will not need in the UK.

Third... well that's the easy part. I'm going to Britain (OK, the United Kingdom, Great Britain or as I now know it... HOME).

I will do my best to document and share a lot of my life and travels and experiences while there and abroad.

This is just the beginning of a fantastic journey, and I cannot wait for it to begin!

Thank you all for your support.


Well... I have FINALLY heard the news...

Watch the video to hear the news...

Saturday, November 07, 2015

The Beginning of my new life is nigh?

So a few days ago I got this email:

Regarding Visa Application: GWF033345954
For: (ME)
A decision has been made on your UK Visa application. Your application will be dispatched shortly from the Decision Making Centre in Sheffield, UK. If anyone contacts you advising that your application is still under consideration or that they can influence the outcome of your application in any way, they cannot - please report any such approach to
Applications submitted at a Visa Application Centre will be returned there for you to collect.
Applications submitted in Yaounde, Dakar, Banjul, and Lagos Visa Application Centres will be available for collection 3 - 5 days after receipt of this email. Please do not attend these VACs until this time has passed, or until you are notified that your documents are ready for collection.
Applications submitted at the mobile VAC in Abidjan will be returned by courier directly to the address you have provided.
You should not expect to receive any further notification from this office unless you have made your application in North America and submitted a pre-paid courier envelope for your documents to be returned directly to you. If so you will also receive a further email with the courier tracking reference. Please note that if you applied at the Toronto Visa Application Centre on or after 28 April 2015, and have paid for your documents to be returned directly to you, you will shortly receive your tracking number from the Visa Application Centre rather than from this office.
Kind regards,
Sheffield Visa Section

Well, the documents are in Louisville now... and I have to wait until Monday morning before I find out if I got the visa or not. I really wish they's just come out and tell you! From what I do understand, this email they send is a generic one that everyone gets, regardless of acceptance or denial.

So if I get it, I can finally join my most awesome and cuddly cute husband in the UK!

I'm so excited and I'm not sure I can actually wait until Monday!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

So it's time for a long overdue update...

Hello everyone that's reading, I thought I'd give a short status update.

Many people have asked me what's taking so long with my visa application. Well here's the story so far:

The application was sent in on August 31 and the documentation (my passport, photos, bank statements, appendix paperwork, etc etc) was posted afterwards. I never had any confirmation that either my application or documentation were received, so when the 12 week mark came (the maximum length of time that the application is supposed to take), I contacted the UKVI asking what the status was. Of course, they said that it was in process and that I should wait to hear from them. 24 weeks came around, still nothing, so I contacted again. Same story. I contacted again a month later and again a month later, same story. They did finally send me a message that they received my application but I needed to send in my supporting documentation. I went ballistic! It had already been sent by Richard via special Post Office delivery MONTHS back!

So I the frustration has mounted and Richard and I have considered actually having him move here or we could go to another country...

So then I asked Richard to try calling the UKVI about this and he did this morning. I also got an email that said the following:

Dear (my full name) ,
Regarding Visa Application: (My application number)For: Thomas Blake Britton
Thank you for applying for a UK visa. Your visa application has been received and is under consideration.  We aim to process non settlement applications within 15 working days (unless you have opted for the Priority Visa service), and settlement applications within 60 working days.
Unfortunately, the processing of your application has not been straightforward and we will be unable to decide your application within our customer service targets. We are continuing to work on your application and aim to make a decision as soon as possible.
We will write to you again if there is any change to this. Please do not attend the Visa Application Centre until you have been advised that your application has been decided and that your passport is ready for collection.
Kind Regards,
Sheffield Visa Section 

So what's this mean? I hope to bloody hell it's good news! It's killing both Richard and myself being apart!