Friday, February 17, 2017


Looking at flights to the USA. Getting a little bit queasy/nervous. Not about moving though. About the flight. I hate flying!

Well, let me re-phrase that. I don't hate flying. I hate preparing to fly, checking in to fly, and dealing with customs and rechecking baggage. Ugh!

First of all, there is the stress of getting to the airport on time (a huge deal when you are married to a man named Martin John Gilbert). Then there is the pressure of getting everybody checked in for the flight, making sure all the documents and passports are in order, etc. Then there is the massive ball-ache of queueing for security. Then it's finding the gate. And after all the rushing around, it is the absolute boredom of waiting to board.

Take-off is fun. I love that moment when you feel the airplane lift off the ground. Exciting, and a little bit terrifying. Kind of like that first drop on a roller coaster, but in reverse. Unfortunately, the flight lasts a little bit longer than your average roller coaster ride. at least 5 hours (for my travelling purposes) of being confined to one spot, eating when told to, peeing at a massive inconvenience to anyone seated in your row, and breathing in other people's germs and flatulence. Man, I feel sick just writing about it.

And when you land, it doesn't get easier. For us, it is a trip to collect our bags, go through customs (and immigration, this time around. Eek!), re-check our bags, and find our next gate. After that stress, it is once again the boredom of waiting for the next flight. It is cranky kids who just want to get some dinner and go to bed. It is restless legs, and having to sit on the floor because your gate area seats are all taken. It's a huge building full of grumpy people who also hate travelling. And they hate you even more when they see that you are flying with children. Nobody likes to sit next to a family on a flight--not even me, and I HAVE children. With me!

But it is exciting to think that in just a month's time we will be winging our way across the Atlantic towards home. It's been too long. And once we get there, I am sure I'll be excited to be home. As Martin keeps reminding me, "Think about how much you hate coming back to England when we have been to see your family." He is right, of course. He quite often is. Right now it feels like too much of a wrench to be exciting though. I still have all these doubts about whether we are doing the right thing or not.

We are going through all of our possessions right now, and deciding what to keep, throw away, give away, or sell. It's super stressful and bloomin' hard work! But we are getting it done. Because we don't want another move like the one that brought us here. Remember that, mom and dad? All that stuff? All those panic attacks? That was a bad scene. I need to keep it together for the kids' sake, if nothing else.

Moving. A pain no matter what. A pain on steroids when crossing oceans and continents!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Our (hopefully) last trip to the US Embassy, London

First of all, let me say that even though I LOVE London I am always glad to get back to sleepy little North Lincolnshire. Cities are great, but I prefer a much slower pace now!

The trip down was pretty uneventful, which is what you want for a long journey. We left at 5:40am. Not nice! I drove 'til Peterborough. I refuse to drive south of there, and since Martin pretty much insists on taking the A1 instead of the M1, he gets to drive the last hour. Everyone else had a nap. Nice, quiet drive for me. We got to Cockfosters in good time, and onto the Picadilly with time to spare. We arrived at the embassy early, carrying all of our bags for the trip. Booked a flat through Air B&B and couldn't check in until after 2pm. We found out then that the kids and I couldn't go in with Martin, so we kissed him goodbye and I took the kids out on my own. We got some breakfast at a little café nearby...

This kid loves selfies almost as much as I do. If I ever want to cheer her up, I just whip out my phone and ask, "Do you wanna take a selfie?" Instant smiles!

After our meal, we decided to walk over to Buckingham Palace. We got most of the way there, too. But we stopped to look at bus routes and discovered that we were AT the bus stop for the Natural History Museum. Just then, the bus pulled up. Since it was raining, we decided to give Buckingham Palace a miss. So off to the museum we went!

At this point, I'd just like to point out that I successfully navigated us around London using the bus system. Super proud of myself, since I usually leave that bit up to Martin!

We ended up getting off at the Victoria and Albert museum and having a little wander through there first. I love the V&A. It's just so weird and quirky! The kids were a little bit less enthusiastic, but had a good time with the audio presentations in a few of the rooms. When they couldn't handle it any more, we moved on to the Natural History museum. They were better there, though it was absolutely heaving with school children.

While we were there, I got a call from Martin. He was done at the embassy. All is in order, but he was missing a few vital pieces of paperwork. They can all be e-mailed over, so we are good to book flights, etc. even though the greencard hasn't been officially approved yet. Hooray! He met us at the museum, then we headed to our rental.

The flat was ok. Nothing too special, but the price was good and it was on Edgware Road, near the embassy. Vital, as our appointment the next day for Dylan's passport renewal was at 9:30am! We chilled for a bit, then went for a wander to find a place to eat. Settled on a Lebanese restaurant called Fattoush. The food was incredible! I will definitely miss interesting and exotic food when we move back to rural Utah...

The next morning was an early one. We got a bus back to the embassy and sorted out Dylan's U.S. passport. It actually arrived at our house yesterday. The process was quick and painless, and the family are nearly ready to travel.

After the embassy, we gambled a little bit and took the kids to the Tate Modern. I say gamble, because past excursions to art galleries have been a bit hit and miss. Mostly, the kids end up getting bored. We thought the Tate Modern might be different, because modern art is so weird and wonderful. Turns out, we were right. We had a delightful 1.5 hour trip around the museum, saw some Monets, a few Picassos, and a couple of Dalis. Some interactive stuff as well, which was fun. These were my favourites:

It's some guy named Gerhard Richter. Weirdly, about a week after we saw his work, I heard him mentioned somewhere else. Love the style and the scale and the colours, and, well, everything about them. They feel so free and easy!

Just thought this stairway was super cool. The museum is in the old Battersea power station in the bank of the Thames, and the building seems like as much of a work of art as the stuff inside it. Such an amazing space!

Then it was a walk across the Thames to the Tube station, and a long train ride back to the car. And an even longer drive home. But it was a lovely trip all the same, and we are that much closer to our next big adventure!