Upon arrival…

We have been in London for about five days. Our temporary accommodation at The Holiday Inn Bloomsbury is convenient, clean and safe and we have discovered a really chic little precinct in London. Wouldn’t mind living in Bloomsbury some day. We were lucky to score a ‘family and friends’ rate at The Holiday Inn, and to be honest the price was comparable to dodgy hostels (we’re a bit ‘old’ for that lifestyle now), yet we can house hunt and job seek with the knowledge that our luggage (all our treasured possessions) are safe and sound.

 

Our first port of call on Friday (first day here) was Smart Teachers, the very efficient and organised recruitment company who secured Cooper a wonderful job here in London. They arranged bank accounts, phone sim and much more for us. It’s a good idea to have a company like this back you before arrival in London.

 

Yesterday (Monday) was house-hunt day. Today I can hardly walk.

 

We searched from one end of London to the other, initially starting close to where Cooper is working. Unfortunately we discovered these weren’t the kind of suburbs we are keen to live in here, so the hunt continued. Hour after hour, one tube station following another. We dragged ourselves into Kings Cross Burger King around 2pm to re-fuel before viewing yet another expensive and disappointing box in the ‘burbs.

 

Following an exhausting day we do have some good leads to start on today… excluding the dodgy ‘too good to be true’ option we found on gumtree.com that seems to be more and more like a scam – ’email us your details and deposit the rent and we’ll post you the keys’ – sight unseen. Um…. no! We have called and emailed many agents for help but no one was very forthcoming with information or assistance. Our advice would be to befriend one or two agents in an area you are keen on, but the only way to research this is to do the legwork, literally. We spoke to a lot of people before heading over here though, and ‘nice’ suburbs mentioned include Maida Vale, Edgware, Shepherds Bush, Kensington, Swiss Cottage, Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Notting HIll.

 

Helpful resources for those of you moving here in the future – TNT Magazine and their website, accommodationlondon.net or just plain old Google.

 

Off to our next appointment now… somewhere near Elephant and Castle tube station. And yes, there is a statue of an elephant with a crown on as you walk outside towards the shopping centre here 🙂

 

Glad that’s over!

 

As I sit watching Glee on flight CX100 to Hong Kong it strikes me that I am now only ok to talk about what I have just been through.It seems the decision to leave everything you know behind to live overseas is actually the easy bit. No one ever warned me that it is horrible saying goodbye to your family. As much as we may clash at times, the thought of not seeing them for a year or two, or three is gut wrenching. I tried not to dwell on it, and indeed put it out of my mind until the very last, but still it was really really sad to say goodbye.I didn’t realise how responsible I felt for them until leaving and now I feel like I have let them down a little. How can I leave when they have so many challenges ahead of them? Aren’t I meant to be helping them in their journey?

Then there was the hand-over of Harry (our beloved Blue Cattle Dog/person). He has been a part of our little family since 2001 and giving him away, ‘temporarily’ though it may be, literally broke my heart. Am even tearing up as I write this.

I was stressed and nervous getting on the plane in Cairns. My luggage weight didn’t help this cause either. Apparently ‘moving overseas’ doesn’t qualify as an excuse for extra baggage. Frustratingly I had, in the presence of witnesses, weighed my suitcase but the damn scales were obviously out… by 6kg! Unless of course it is an airline scam rather than my scales being in error… Too late now.

Then the lady at check-in commented how hard jobs are to come by in the UK at the moment. Great, not only am I stressed about interrogation from British immigration being that I don’t have a job lined up, but I have to worry about not getting a job… But wait up, if I didn’t believe something would eventuate I wouldn’t have left in the first place… But it just added to the tension. All I wanted to do was give my dog a hug at that point, but Harry was far away, in the excellent care of my Auntie and Uncle.

Flash forward to 5:45pm Wed afternoon. We are flying (in turbulence, hope it is not the fact my BlackBerry is on recording these thoughts) over the middle of Australia somewhere and I have Glee playing on the in-flight system – that show amuses me no end! Sue Sylvestor was just commenting that everyone needs to step out of their comfort zone to be great and lead a fulfilling life. What a timely message for me.

There are many people I didn’t get to talk to, Facebook or call back before our emotional departure to a new life. Will contact them one by one over the coming weeks… After all, I am currently unemployed lol. It’s funny, I couldn’t quite categorise how I was feeling, but then a mate from Scotland sent us a Facebook note saying “you must be feeling quite emotional at the moment,” and there it was – summed up on my profile Wall. And she’s yet another person I’m yet to reply to…

I did however, find time to drop into Sydney Airport’s Pandora store so as to add to my ‘travel’ collection of souvenir charms. Fortunately a cute new Aussie kangaroo charm was made available as recently as May. It now sits with my treasured collection of Pandora beads as a reminder of my beautiful home, friends and family – all of whom I take too much for granted. See you following this international adventure. x

PS Aug 5 Hong Kong stopover tip – Ajisen Ramen is open 24/7 in the Terminal 1 Departures lounge – it’s cheap and delicious!! Also the Regal Airport Hotel within walking distance from the airport is excellent and super convenient when you arrive late at night.

Time passing quickly…

Not so long ago I wondered how would we ever make it to this point? Only a couple of weeks to go, and now the panic has set in. So many things to do, family to see…I finished my ‘Aussie job’ yesterday and am presently visiting my mum before the impending departure. It’s so lovely to see her (as always), but I fear she’s going to be pretty teary tomorrow when I head off to pack and prepare to leave the country shortly. Fortunately my brother is coming home from Japan for a visit soon, so that should help a little 🙂

We’re not doing too badly in the preparations though. Am stoked to say Cooper scored the job he wanted in a gorgeous little part of London. We’re tired of trolling the internet for flats to rent, so have decided to get there first, then look. We secured some temporary accommodation and hope to have a flat, phone, internet and bank account within about a week of getting to London.

Some very helpful hints have come from a great book I found – ‘Guide to Living & Working in the UK and Ireland’ by Andrea Woodman (New Holland Publishers) too. There’s A LOT of information on the internet – possibly too much as it’s difficult to know where to start and end. A tip in Woodman’s book is to seek employment or placement through a recruitment company before you go, and they’ll often help with nasties like bank account, phone sim etc… this has been the case thanks to the people looking after Cooper’s placement as a teacher.

A lovely new employee at my ‘Aussie’ workplace mentioned his daughter, Kathryn, has just moved to London too. Will be sure to send her an email! She was kind enough to recommend some sites that helped her find a dream flat in Notting Hill – www.accommodationlondon.net and spare-room.co.uk

Kathryn also suggested that an Oyster Card is a good idea for cruising around on the trains, but another mate back here who has lived in London also said to look into the buses – if they’re convenient to home or work, they can often be cheaper and you actually get to see the city (as opposed to being on the ‘underground’ all the time).

Today’s job is updating my resume, so I better stop procrastinating. Until next time… Sarah