Saturday, 29 May 2010

Boxed In

Our UK stuff arrived yesterday morning and it is good to have familiar things around. I have unpacked most of them, but the contents are all over the place waiting for a new home.

Our floors are now all laid and they look lovely. We can now get the dinning room and the spare bedroom set up. The stuff is in the garage at the moment. It will be good to get some art on the walls and curtains up, then it will look like a home and feel all cosy.

Andy is sending in the cleaners to give it a good old scrub. Some of the tiled flooring has got paint on where the decorators have been a bit slap dash, they will clean all this off - I hope it is up to my standard!

I gave a geography lesson yesterday. I was never very good at this at school but Andy really was struggling to differentiate the UK and Great Britain and where this fitted into Europe. I drew him a map of Europe in Edwina style but it did the job. He said he learned more from me than he did at school.

We think we may abandon housey things today and take the dogs up to Pinnacle Mountain It is apparently beautiful up there and Ciara will be able to have a swim, she has missed her swims. As you can see she likes her new bed.

Chris is enjoying his job, that's a relief. He was a bit nervous about his simulator exercise last night as it was something new. He had to drop a load onto a spot on the ground within a 30 second period. He managed to get it spot on and within 3 seconds. I'm glad that he likes it. I like his squadron badge, don't you think it looks like Felix

Our neighbour likes Margaritas! He has been round last night and the previous night, he wants to cook us a meal and I guess we will sample his margaritas!

The community pool opens today, I guess it will be full of kids. Luckily we are right next to it so are able to monitor when the quiet times are - that will be our cue for a dip.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

There's no place like home

Hurrah, we are official residents of Little Rock. The move went without incident and the removal men were great fun, they had a sense of humour even though it was over 90 degrees and were lugging big heavy pieces of furniture about.

This is our new home. The garden needs a little sprucing up which our landlord is going to do. Right now I have 4 men in the dining room. Chris is at work and I am home alone with them! Two are sanding and painting and the other two are laying our new flooring.

I have just introduced them to good old British tea - two types actually. Bog standard Tetley and Twinings Lady Gray. They both preferred the latter. This is their first tasting of hot British tea and they like it so I will make some more later.

We are still waiting for our UK consignment which has all the kitchen utensils. I had to pilfer two knives and forks from our hotel until we get our own cutlery. Cutting a red pepper with a table knife is interesting, it produces some odd shapes.

A trip to the supermarket is an interesting expedition as is filling the car with fuel. I did both today. First up I went to get fuel, I thought I would be smart and do the self service pay at the pump number. Things are very different here, so many options it's scary. The guy who drove up behind me decided it was quicker to back up and go to another pump as I was taking so long. Finally after working out all the options I picked up the pump then realised the petrol cap is on the other side of the car!!!!! I had to reverse the car and go to the other side as the pump aas the hose wouldn't reach, I'll know what to do next time though.

Supermarket next. Having not been deterred from my previous experience I decided I would do self service again as I was more savvy now. I understood all the options but the sticking point was naming some of the fruit and vegetables. You can chose to look up the fruit & veg by name or by picture, I chose name. Of course they have different names for some of the stuff so I had to revert back to pictures. I had some loose lettuce leaves in my basket, it is a pre-mix that you buy by weight. Could I find what it was called - no. So I stole them, this was much easier and less embarrassing as there was a queue forming behind me. I think I got away with it as I couldn't hear any police sirens tearing after me.

Ther thunderstorms here are amazing. I got caught in one yesterday. It was actually quite scary as I was driving. The rain was pouring down the roads like a stream and there were huge bolts of fork lighting. The rain drops were big fat splodges that really soaked you. When I got back to the house the dogs were petrified so I gave them lots of cuddles to calm them.

I'm going to put some pizza in the oven for my men, they are working hard and are going to be here for a few hours yet so this is the end of my blogging for today. Hope you are all enjoying my little tales. If it gets boring tell me - please!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Feeling a wee bit shabby

The old body doesn't stand up too well to late nights and alcohol any more. It was Al & Lana's leaving bash last night and Chris and I are not in the best shape today.

We did have a great time though and met lots of new friends, one of whom is a knitter so that's handy. We ended up in a night club - not any old night club, this one has a drag queen act, lol. I really enjoyed it but Chris wasn't in to it at all. Him and Al were hammered much to mine and Lana's amusement.

We got home around 3.30am so feeling tired and hungover. Haven't done very much today but need to take some of our suitcases over to the house, it will be less to move tomorrow.

Soooooooooooooo excited about moving in to the house tomorrow. Will need to go over to Lana's first to get some stuff from them then over to the house to receive the furniture. Chris will be at work so I am going to oversee it on my own. Hopefully it should go smoothly.

Once we are in I will upload some pics of our time in the USA thus far. Better move my sorry a** and get those suitcases over to the house.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Thunderbolts & fireflies

We had an enormous thunder storm last night, it is very satisfying and comforting lying in bed listening to the elements fight with each other. It is still going on this morning and is pouring from the heavens so I am a bit hotel bound today.

I am waiting for the gas man to call me, then I will drive over to the house and meet him. He is doing a safety check and switching the supply on. Speaking of the house, we went over for a nosey last night. It is coming along nicely and I have started taking some of my purchases there as the hotel room is becoming a little cramped.

There is a garage sale on Saturday. Well actually a pool side sale as it isn't actually in a garage, in my street so very handy. I am going along as there may be stuff like garden chairs and plants. I will have to be there around 6am, they start early here. I might meet more of the neighbours too.

Fireflies are amazing little insects, they are a type of flying beetle and their tail end lights up at night. They are in abundance here, probably because there are a lot of trees. It looks like miniature torches hovering in the air.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Cars and fire alarms

I'll start with the fire alarm.....1.30am on Friday morning we were rudely awakened by what can only be described as a demented dog with a whining voice over. Being in the depths of slumber, both of us had no idea what was happening then it dawned that it was the fire alarm. Then it dawned that we were on the 8th floor - bugger! I had been very vigilant and sussed out the escape route when we arrived but the lights were on and there were a troop of bed wear clad bods dutifully heading for the exit stairs so in good old British fashion we followed. It was all very controlled and jovial and leisurely.

Needless to say it was a false alarm and we were back in our room within 20 minutes. I did get dressed before leaving my room otherwise I may have been arrested for indecent exposure! I thought it might be cold so put a little jacket of Chris' on - nah, it is still hot degrees even at 1.30am.

Now onto cars. Have I mentioned Andy, our new landlord? Well, he is the sweetest person and just wants to help us with whatever he can. We have been very lucky to meet such a nice man. He is one of those people who has a finger in lots of pies and therefore has lots of contacts. He deals in second hand cars amongst many other things and has access to trade only car auctions. He invited Chris to go along with him and see if there were any cars that would suit his needs and there was. He bid on a VW Jetta, leather interior with two exhausts. I don't know engine size or any other detail that guys would want to know. I only know this info because they are there to see. It is a nice car and I guess it has a bit of poke about it.

Banking - now this has proved to be a bugbear. We have been waiting for our money to go in for over a week now and are surviving on credit cards. So this means we had no money to pay for said car - Andy to our rescue again. He arranged for the car to stay at the auction until our cash came through. Then when we had the money he went with us and sorted out the deal.

Yesterday was all about cars. It took us a half day to sort out the VX then we had to go and sort mine out which took up the other half. Now mine is a brand new Mazda CX7 SUV, white, automatic (this is what they mainly drive out here), it has satellite radio so I can get Radio1 and 4 - but I want Radio 2! Mustn't grumble too much.

I managed to stall it driving home, I'm not used to an automatic and was doing a hill start and panicked a wee bit. Must practice hill starts - I thought that it wouldn't roll back but it does so getting your foot from the brake onto the accelerator without any clutch control got me. I think I was worried that I would roll into the person behind me so gave it some welly and it stalled.

More practice needed.............

Sunday, 9 May 2010

House hunting and other necessary stuff

We have viewed some really awful houses. I mean really awful, I wouldn't let the dog live in them. They were huge, actually way too huge for our needs. We shifted our preferences to condominiums which are compact but clean and bright.

We are going to see a condo tomorrow but there is also a 3 bed house that has come up. The house sounds good, it is currently being refurbished and we may even be able to chose the colour scheme. It is quite a common trend for communities to share a pool. This house is just two away from the pool. We had a sneak preview this afternoon of the outside of the house and it looks in good nick. This brings me hope as my philosophy is that if they take care of the outside then the inside should be good too. We have talked to the guy and he seems nice so keep your fingers crossed that it works out for us.

We have a fall back plan. If the house falls through then we may move into the condo that our predecessors are currently in. This is a condo with a small yard and also has access to a pool. It is a 3 bed, 2 floor condo so quite a good size.

I also test drove a car today, a Mazda CX7 which in USA standards is Small but in the UK it is a good sized SUV.

We took the dogs a walk in one of the parks and that was really nice, the dogs enjoyed it. Millie did her usual disappearing act and ran after a squirrel but she came back so I am not too concerned about letting her off the lead in the parks.

It rained this morning and was positively cool, although it was still short sleeve weather. I did put my jeans on though, the first time since we have arrived.

Looks like we will be living in this hotel for the next 3 weeks which will be tough but doable.

Can't wait to get a place to call home.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The aliens have landed

At last we have touch down. What a day!

We should have arrived yesterday but missed our connecting flight out of Charlotte, North Caroline due to the plane leaving late from Washington. Spent a night at the Sheraton hotel which was quite nice, got a plane this morning at 9.30 and arrived here at 10.30. The flight is actually 2 hours but there is a 1 hour time difference.

Al, the guy who Chris is taking over from was at the airport to meet and greet us and we hit the road running. First up, A trip to the air base to get some ID. Apparently you don't exist if you don't have ID and can do nothing without it. 3 friggin' hours it took. My mug shot is dreadful, bearing in mind that I had no make up, hair straighteners, moisturisers, zilch, nada, nothing! As we were in transit between 2 airports we weren't allowed to reclaim our bags so all we had was some toothpaste and brushes. I looked like Shaun of the dead, hair sticking up, the remnants of yesterday's mascara. I was saving as much as I could so very carefully washed around my eyes!

After that medical registration, another hour, then Chris had to some stuff, another hour. It seemed to take forever.

Then we collected the hire car and are now in our hotel. We are both knackered. A bite to eat then off to bed as we have a long road journey to collect the dogs. It should take around 4.5 hours to get there, we will spend the night and come back on Thursday.

Friday will be the start of house hunting - I'm looking forward to that bit.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Washington DC - Saturday 05/01/10

Notice the date, I need to write this way now as this is how the American's do it. It's hot, hot, hot. We arrived around 7pm on Friday evening and it was a lovely warm night. We went out for a meal and found the most fabulous fish restaurant. The only downside was the extremely loud American woman sitting next to me, it felt like she was sitting on my lap as all I could tune into was her grating American drawl!!!!!! What have I done?!

Today, Saturday, we walked the length and breadth of the city. We took in the usual sights
  • White House
  • Washington Monument
  • Smithsonian Institute
  • Air & Space Museum
  • Library of Congress
  • US Capitol Building
  • Union Station
I joined the Library of Congress! You can take the girl out of the library but you can't take the library out of the girl! The building is simply amazing and immaculate, puts Bristol to shame really but I guess I shouldn't compare the two.

Back at the hotel now nursing aching feet and trying to rehydrate, my face looks like I am a hardened drinker it's that red - no comments please.

Our plan tomorrow is to visit Arlington Cemetery which will take most of the day, then a visit to the Embassy for our pre Little Rock briefing.

Our last days in Ol' Blighty

We have now arrived in Washington DC. What bliss to have time to update my blog. The last week at home (?) is it still home or do I now refer to the USA as home? Either way the last week in the UK was stressful, tiring, emotional and fun. We had a fantastic night with our neighbours, about 17 plus kids, and close friends on Saturday 24th. Preparation was all in hand and when we got out of our bed on Saturday morning and opened the lounge blinds, there on the lawn were 3 barrels of beer! Turned out that one of the neighbours had been to the Promise Auction in our village hall on Friday night and won the bid for the left over beer. Lovely man decided to donate to the Kelly's for the party - I'll miss my neighbours, they are a lovely bunch.

We sat round our fire pit until the wee small hours drinking barrels of beer and enjoying good banter, the weather was on our side thankfully. There were a few sore heads the next day but we certainly made a memorable exit.

I thought I was being all strong and stoic and not going to get emotional. Pah, that was a farce. First, saying goodbye to my nephews got the back of my throat but I managed not to wobble. Then the time to say goodbye to my sister-in-law, well that was the start of the tears, then Kay and Nic both made me cry. What a waste of time putting mascara on!