Anna and Elsa,  Life abroad,  Our Adventures,  Sandy,  Travelling

Our (My) US adventure begins…

The busy weekend…

The bustle of our move to the States began the weekend before my flights.  The weekend started with the sale of the desk from our spare bedroom.  The lovely woman who purchased it arrived right on time at 10:30 on Saturday morning.  We’d taken the desk apart to get it moved down to the kitchen the day before, so it was nice to get it out of the way.  The spare room is looking very empty now.  Just the sofa bed and its accompanying mattress, plus some miscellaneous items for the charity shop when they come to collect the furniture, a stool, bedside drawers, the printer and a large suitcase that Phil will fill when it’s his turn to fly to the States.

Just after 11 on Saturday, Phil’s parents called to say they were at the train station, ready for us to pick them up.  They were early because the previous week they were late due to train delays, and didn’t want that happening again.  So, I drove to pick them up and on the way back to the house, I stopped for fuel… we’d gone the day before, but the station was unexpectedly closed, so I needed it.  Doug lent me £20 for the fuel because in my haste, I’d left my handbag at home.  No worries; all sorted.  We got back home, had a quick cup of coffee, then left the dogs for a few hours and went to the Pallots for a leaving party.

The leaving party

A lovely dessert table in a beautiful setting
One of the beautiful cakes at our party

I know that Phil and I are loved by family and friends on both sides of the pond.  But the demonstration of love that our friends gave us at our leaving party was really overwhelmingly beautiful.  We had drinks and visited while everyone gathered; my in-laws have only met our friends from church a couple of times over the 20 years we’ve been there.  So it was fun for everyone to get to know each other.  I was saying that it was one of the only times that the venn diagram of my friends and family had ever converged and it was so much fun.  I was glad that everyone got on together really well.

John and Nola are some of the best hosts that I’ve ever met.  There are a few couples that I’ve experienced in my lifetime whose ministries and gifts are hosting people and giving hospitality; and they certainly embody that ministry.  We had a lovely lunch of potato salad, broccoli salad, chicken salad, ham, bread, fresh veggies and dip and quiche.  It was a spectacular feast!

After lunch, we had teas and coffees and sat in the living room to sing a few hymns.  I got to pick and it was such fun!  The choir had also prepared an anthem and sang that for us.  It was all I could do not to cry.  It was beautiful, and so unique to hear the choir as part of the audience, rather than as a singer myself.  I’m going to miss our little, perfectly formed choir.

After the hymns, we went back into the kitchen/family room and had dessert and opened the cards that had been signed by everyone.  Caroline, one of our members made the card.  It was so personal and really a wonderful memento of our time with the congregation.  She’s a real artist!  She also made a banner which decorated the room that said, “God’s blessings on your adventure.”  “Not good-bye,” she hastened to add. 

Another member, Susanne, is studying to be a seamstress/tailor.  She made a lovely string of blue bunting.  I’ve brought these items here to the States and when we’re decorating our new bedroom, I intend to use both the bunting and the banner.  They are works of art.

The banner that Caroline made for us
And the bunting that Susanne sewed

Besides John and Nola, Phil’s parents, Susanne, and Caroline; Val and Ben and their daughter, Livia, as well as Becky & Joe and their son, Theo, came from church.  My long-time friend, Traza, also made it and two of John and Nola’s children, Emily and Matthew were both there with their partners, too.  Harry, Emily’s husband, and Rachel, Matt’s fiancé.  It was wonderful; at the party, Matt and Rachel announced to the group that they’d gotten engaged the weekend before.  Such wonderful news!  They’ve been together for a couple years now and make a wonderful couple.  I’m so glad that God has put them together and I hope they will have many happy years together.

Church Sunday

On Sunday, we had our monthly London worship service.  It was, as always, a lovely service and a nice send off.  Worship, Bible Study and a Fellowship meal.  When we were all finished cleaning up and were headed back home, a woman in the parking lot had a problem with her battery.  So John, another of our members, Steve, and Phil worked together to jump start her car from mine.  We were all very pleased when it started okay, and even more pleased when it re-started without a second jump after the lady proceeded to stall it as she was trying to reverse at the same time as talking on her mobile (tsk, tsk).

That weekend, we took a car full of stuff from our house and garden to Doug and Julie’s on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Manic Monday

We got moving fairly early because we expected we were going to have at least one, maybe two trips back and forth with stuff to Doug and Julie’s, but happily, we got everything, and our two dogs in just one trip.  This included our TV, all my luggage for my flight to the States, our important document files, and overnight bags since we’d be spending the night at Doug and Julie’s place that night.

Prior to leaving the house, I had a zoom meeting with the nurse from Breathe Assured, the company I used for my Covid test.  It was a straightforward process and, fortunately, I didn’t have Covid so no issues.  I had already downloaded the Verifly app that British Airways advised to use for registering the vaccination status and Covid test details and as soon as I received the test result by email, I was able to upload the document to the app and was good to go.

As soon as the test was done, we headed off to Doug and Julie’s with our carload.  A cup of tea later, and we were travelling back to our house because I’d forgotten the car’s log-book in the kitchen when we left.  Then we headed over to the Ford dealership to sell them back our car.  That didn’t take too long and they gave us a lift back to Doug and Julie’s.  That was a fun experience.  They took us in an all-electric Ford Mustang.  I quizzed the salesman all the way there about the vehicle and even stumped him on a couple of questions about the batteries.

It was almost 5p.m. by the time we got back and I was tired after what was a pretty active day.  We booked the cab to take me to the airport the next morning, had some dinner, watched a bit of television, and I headed to bed around 10:30 that night.

Travel Tuesday

I shouldn’t have been surprised that Julie was up pretty early the next morning.  I was up even before my alarm, but she was already downstairs making tea and starting her day before 6a.m.

The cab arrived promptly at 7 and I was at the airport by 7:30, 3 hours ahead of departure as per the airline’s travel advice.  I got through check-in and security; there were queues, but it wasn’t too bad.  Wore a mask the entire time. At the check-in, the attendants were asking passengers whether they had completed the Verifly process. Those who had done so were allowed straight through, so it was worth sorting out ahead of time.

I must say, that several years ago, Phil purchased a luggage scale that you attach to your suitcase and lift to weigh.  It’s far more accurate than trying to put the luggage onto a standard bathroom scale and read the measure on the floor, under the suitcase.  As a result of weighing my bags, both were right on the allowed 23 kilos.  Knowing that with certainty when arriving at the airport is really nice.  It really saves on the hassle of trying to move items around your bags to get in under the weight there on the concourse floor.

Even though I was still an hour or so before boarding, the check-in desk provided the gate number. It was all the way over in Terminal C, so I was glad I could get over there with lots of time to spare. I got to sit and read a book without any distractions for a good half hour. Its a good book, Sons of Encouragement, by Francine Rivers, one of my favourite authors. Check it out in our store, if you’re interested.

Click through to our Amazon Afilliate link to Francine River's Sons of Encouragement book.
Click through to our Amazon Affiliate link

The flight was uneventful.  I watched two films, one of which was the latest Bond – I was disappointed.  I don’t know if it was the setting or the film, but it seemed slow and a bit dis-jointed compared to previous ones.  It didn’t help that this one was a sequel and it had been awhile since I saw its predecessor.

On arrival in the States, there were a few planes that must have arrived around the same time, so there was a bit of a wait for immigration and a bit of a wait for one of my suitcases, but all arrived eventually and I got out of the terminal, connected my phone to WiFi, and used WhatsApp to ring my Dad and sister, who were waiting to pick me up in the cell phone lot a few minutes from the terminal.

Our new home

Doggie Wednesday

Around the time I was boarding my flight on Tuesday, Anna and Elsa were picked up to take their big adventure, too.  They had door to door service and were picked up on Tuesday, taken to the vet for their fit to fly certificate, and then stayed overnight in a kennel.  On Wednesday morning, they boarded their flight to Chicago.  We received a couple of updates confirming they got on the plane okay, and then when the flight landed, the agent here in Chicago rang me to confirm he was on the case to get them through customs and on the way home.

Sure enough, they arrived at our door a few hours later.  Elsa was a bit hysterical.  She made so much noise!  But Anna was quiet that day.  Elsa was pretty desperate for a place to go potty and she calmed down pretty quickly after we let her loose in the new fenced in space Dad and Annette had put up for them a few days before.  It didn’t take too long for them to test their boundaries and they got out the next day when a squirrel came into the yard and got chased under the fence.  So we added an electric tape line to the lower perimeter and they have learned to respect it.

Here’s a video of the back yard a couple days after they arrived with the electric tape put up. Anna is back to her noisy self.

Thank you

We are so grateful for our friends and family who have been such a huge help in enabling this big move back to the States. From the lovely send-off, to helping transport the last of our stuff, to feeding and housing us as we needed, to the prayers for our safe travels. We know that we are truly loved, and we thank God that He put you into our lives.

And with that, the next chapter of life has begun; bring it on!