Sunday, May 22, 2016

A funny thing happened on the way to...

I'll explain the title in a few, but first, a quickie update.

It's been nearly four months since my last update. Life in the UK is really settling into a rhythm. Life a the post office is like any job really, you have your great customers and you have your really asshole ones. I can think of one in particular, but that's for another time... maybe in a resurrection of my old "Tales from the Hotel" anecdotes and stories, but ya know... at a post office.

About a month ago, I finally received the rest of my things that I had shipped over from the USA. Now, my move is officially complete.

I can now begin my photography in earnest. In fact, I'm scheduled to have my first large event shoot next month. I'm working on my macro photography and might even be working on websites and product photography for customers (I mean my clients) ;-)

So anyway, as to the title...

One of the big items that I had shipped over was my Canon Pixma Pro 100 printer. It's a $500 professional photo printer that prints 13x19" sized paper (that's pretty big folks). I was about to load it into Richard's car (taking it to the post office for a photo and ID photo printing service I'm offering) and I tripped over a floor rug, then over a big foot stool and I landed on top of the printer in the middle of a doorway, banging my chin and fracturing two ribs. UGH. All I can say is that it's painful... and I'm not just talking about my body. The printer was NOT working.

This also gave me my first experience with the thing known as A&E (Accident and Emergency). Richard took me to the hospital and we had to wait about two hours to be seen. Not too bad really. All they did was take my basics in the triage evaluation room (blood pressure, pulse/ox, temp) and then I saw a nurse, who gave me a weak painkiller and told me to suck it up (OK, she really didn't, and she was really nice, but what can you really do about broken ribs?) Didn't cost me a ten pence.

Not too bad for something that's included with being a taxpayer. In fact, If you can gloss over the fact that the healthcare industry isn't as hands on as American healthcare, it's really great. They focus more on letting your body do as much as possible and don't readily prescribe the meds like the USA will. It's definitely different that American medicine, but not really better and not really worse. Each has it's benefits and pitfalls.

I'm on the healing end. It's been three weeks now since the accident. Still a bit sore, but I'm on the mend. Today, I did manage to crack open the casing on the printer and FIX the printer! WOOHOO! I feel very accomplished!

I'm also trying out making chocolates. I've already learned how to temper chocolate and today, I've also made my first truffles from a mould. white chocolate outside and mint infused milk chocolate ganache on the inside. It's AWESOME!

So that's really it for now. Things are moving along and I'm really enjoying life as a Britton in Britain.

And yes, the accent is still changing. I've got more of a Canadian or mid-Atlantic (somewhere between American and British) accent. I can also mostly pull off a British accent. Wheee!

While you're here, click here to check out my photography website.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Two Months in...

So I've been in the United Kingdom now for just over two months and I've got a few things to share:

  1. My accent, while still most definitely NOT British, is more akin to Canadian now than American (much less Alabama). I take it as a compliment!
  2. I'm STILL learning a lot of cockney slang. Who knew that if you said you were having a Ruby Murray that it means you're having a curry?
  3. Yes, I do experience some homesickness. I miss my friends, especially Eli and Don, Will and Ron and all my Grace friends. 
  4. I am really not getting used to all the rain we've had. It's been a LOT. Winter? WHAT WINTER? It's barely gotten to freezing temps here...just barely.
  5. I'm still not used to the whole driving on the left hand side of the road although I'm getting much much more used to it riding my bike around.
What else? Well, I'm becoming an official productive person here. I've got my national insurance number, which is a lot like a social security number in the states. I've also got my bank account set up here. 

I LOVE the food here. Granted, some things like KFC not having mashed potatoes and their coleslaw not being like the KFC in the states... that I could never get used to. Oh yes... I haven't had McDonald's food since I left Kentucky... which was almost four months ago! Do I miss it? Yeah I do. Just the fries though. The rest I can live without. Speaking of food... evidently, I'm a good cook according to Richard and his parents. I haven't made a bad dish yet! (from scratch). My Mexican bean salad seems to be the big winner.

Also, since receiving my national insurance number, I've gotten tentative approval to work behind the post office counter as an actual postal worker instead of working retail... and the only thing I had been doing thus far is what's called drop and go (where the customer leaves their parcels and a manifest and we take care of doing all the postage out of a prepaid account), but Saturday, Richard was the only one behind the counter and it was getting massively busy. I decided to try my hand at doing the real-time postal stuff. With Richard's help, we powered through a massively busy half day's worth of customers. It felt really good to be able to do as much as I did. So really for the first time since I've been here, I felt like I was really needed to do something and it felt great!

I've also gotten my photography page renovated so go visit!

And the best thing of all besides Richard since I've been here? One of the posties (post carriers) being a HUGE AUBURN FAN! Yes, he's a British citizen and he was simply amazed that I attended Auburn University. WAR EAGLE!

That's all for now. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Post Christmas Update...

I'm dreaming of a WET Christmas!

Yeah yeah yeah... I was warned. It would be WET, but DAMN not THIS wet! When I arrived, it was somewhat cold and very windy and wet. Today... same thing. We might have had a total of 96 hours of actual sunlight since I've been here. Ugh.

Good news... it's definitely getting colder an Winter seems to be arriving. Thank God I say, because we can't take much more rain, and I know that Cumbria and Scotland can't take much more either.

So for Christmas, I was a very lucky ginger, because I received a nice Trek 7200 bicycle (got a really good deal on a used bike in excellent condition) and I also received a SodaStream (which is freaking AWESOME!). It was especially nice having my first ever authentic British Christmas dinner (yes, crowns, crackers and all).

The Christmas season at the post office was very busy as expected... and we are busier than normal because of my oh so very charming southern American accent... oh wait, I meant Canadian!  Yes... the first few days I was at the post office, I had no trouble being identified as American, but now, I get asked 19/20 times if I'm Canadian! My accent has definitely shifted!

We are moving into new territory at the post office... mainly because we are going to start adding services that we've never done before to earn extra money (and compete with those around us). It's very exciting!!

Other things that I've done... yes I like the rest of the world went to see Star Wars and it was AWESOME! I've walked and biked along the beach (great paved paths going down the seafronts!!) and I've also tried new foods to me including pork pies, anything Piri Piri, many many new cheeses (and authentic cheddar cheeses) and my new favourite... PRAWN CRACKERS! Oh. My. God. For you Americans out there who have no idea what those are... imagine shrimps that have been minced up into a paste and starch added to help it stick together, then cooked into chip-like forms. There's also a really nice bakery just a few doors down from the post office and while their sweets aren't the best I've ever had, the savoury items are! They have some wonderful curry pies, Mediterranean pastry and Cornish pasties are just FAB!

Oh yeah... and Richard. God bless him. He's just the best thing EVAH. (gush!!!!!)

Can you tell I'm loving it here?

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...