Sunday, July 24, 2005

Arriving and some observations

I have received the comment that all my posts thus far have been about leaving, and none about arriving. I've also received some queries about our safety and well-being.

We are fine, all of us. I don't know anyone who has been directly affected by the recent terrorist actions. But as I said to a friend, we cannot let these things change the way we live. Whether there are religious fanaticists blowing up subways or health clinics, random violence from people with guns who shouldn't have them, or from men abusing women in societies that tolerate such actions, we must live in the way we believe is right. I believe in tolerance and peace.

As for the more mundane aspects of arriving, our container should arrive tomorrow. We will have to store everything somewhere, as we don't yet have a house nor jobs. We are actively searching for a car.

But since arriving, there are things I've come to appreciate in a very short time. I thought that living in California spoiled me for fresh fruits and vegetables, and that the farmer's market was something I would really miss. Little did I remember from my many visits here in the past, and I have since learned more. You see, England being so small, things are closer together. That includes the farms to the towns. You can drive 10 minutes and get to little farms, many of which sell their goods right on site. As you drive around, there are small signs up advertising fresh eggs and various vegetables. And on Thursdays, there's a man who comes around here with a truck full of fresh vegetables, fruit, and eggs. The milkman delivers 3 times a week, and in addition to milk, has juice and eggs, too. (Eggs are a recurring theme). Withing a 10 minute walk there are 2 greengrocers, as well as 2 bakeries, 2 butchers, 1 fish shop, and a specialty cooked meat shop. There are supermarkets within walking distance, too, but the products at the specialty shops are superb. Dairy products are much tastier, and the eggs are phenomenal. You can get a greater variety of both (dairy and eggs); for example, there's single cream, double cream, whipping cream, and clotted cream as well as the usual skimmed, semi-skimmed, and regular milks; you can buy duck eggs, or eggs from certain breeds of chicken. Amazing. And the prices of produce is significantly cheaper than in the Bay Area. So some things here can spoil a body, and that body at the moment is me!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

We made it!

(I hate Internet Explorer, which kindly deleted my entire post when I tried to enable pop-ups temporarily so I could run a spell-check. Next time I'm bringing up Firefox...)

We are finally here. It seemed like we'd never get out. Even though we supposedly had lots of extra time to get everything cleaned up, packed away, stored, and donated, we were working until the very end. I sold my car the day we left! That is, I half sold it, and dear Izzy finished the job. I hope the agency we left our stuff out on the curb for actually came by and picked it up. I assume our tenants would have said something (although at this writing they still haven't moved in).

It's amazing how tasks seem to fill the time allotted.

Some advice should you ever decide to move a long distance but retain your house (apart from "don't!") - it is a huge task. Unless you are a minimalist and extremely organized, it is exhausting, both mentally and physically. Enlist all the help you can get, accept all the help that is offered. Plan to get rid of loads of things you thought you would keep. Don't have any grand ideas of cooking the food in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Try and secure cleaners well in advance. Plan to spend more money than you budgeted. Order a large garbage pickup on the latest date possible. And get babysitters for the kids, for their sanity as well as yours.

The mental exhaustion comes from making literally hundreds of tiny decisions: do I keep this thing, give it to a certain person, store it in the attic for when we return (maybe 10 years hence), donate it, recycle it, or throw it in the garbage? This goes for nearly every single object you put into a box (if you're not hiring packers). Because, after all, what's the point of putting it into a box if you never want to see it again? This is your opportunity to get rid of the clutter. Towards the end I nearly called a charity agency to just come and clear the rest of the house out, if only to save my mind and my back. This all made it easier to leave. So far so good. The real test comes a couple of months hence, when the novelty wears off and I start missing people, places, and decent Mexican food.