Posted on April 24, 2013 by Dara and Ken
Ken and I weighed the pros and cons of repatriation for many years before settling on April 5, 2013. We kept finding excuses to stay in London indefinitely. Why? We were really happy in our surroundings, our careers were both on an upward trajectory, and we didn’t feel the need to be back home to start our family, amongst other surface-level arguments around travel, food and access to great cultural institutions. Many of the downsides that started to surface included the cost of living, the perpetually gray and cold weather, distance from family, and our inability to commit to indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Most expats who stay past five years in the UK gain this coveted status, although most of them have to come off their expat packages and localize to achieve it. We liked having the insurance of a living stipend and return ticket home whenever we were ready to use it. Many people thought our son would automatically receive a British passport for being born there. Not so! Our Tier II sponsored visa status meant we were going to come home at some point in the not-so-distant future. I guess deep down, we preferred to pretend we were locals for a few years rather than actually become locals.
Now that we’re back to reality in our home country and settling into a new phase of life, how do we feel about our decision? It’s probably too soon to tell, as our hearts are still somewhere in limbo over the Atlantic. However, we’ve managed to keep in line with some of our adopted ideals from our stint abroad by finding a small space to rent in a central location within walking distance of shops, restaurants and parks. It’s impossible to manage without a car in Houston, but I’m proud to say that we were able to do it for a whole week! It hasn’t been difficult finding ways to fill our social schedule again either, as friends and family are anxious to start integrating us in their plans again. Additionally, I’ve reconnected with many of my friends, who are also new moms, so my baby boy and I will have ample playdates and activities to fill our downtime.
Other expats warned us about the initial period of fear, self-doubt and reverse culture shock, but reassured us that all of it would soon pass. As hard as it is to go through a huge upheaval again, I’m excited about a new beginning and the possibilities that repatriation brings. The first of many experiences as a new family will be to buy our first home.
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Posted on March 11, 2013 by Dara and Ken
The time has come for us to bid adieu to London. I’ve done my best to chronicle our experiences in this blog, but due to time constraints as a new mum, I lost steam towards the end. If I had to do it all over again, I would not change a thing except to document more of our day-to-day observations. For instance, there would have been a lot of funny and sarcastic blogs about having a “baby on board” and the fabulous English weather. But for now, we’re hanging up our umbrellas and moving on to greener pastures, bluer skies and warmer weather. Our families are pleased to soon have us back in Texas so we can start working on our Southern accents again and remember the way we used to speak before we started integrating British English words into our vocabulary.
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Posted on May 19, 2012 by Dara and Ken
Over the May bank holiday, we took my parents on a D Day tour of Normandy in northwestern France. The trip provided something for everyone’s tastes – the relaxing feel of the countryside, an educational tour of the landing beaches of WWII and the heavenly tastes of French food and wine.
We stayed in the quaint town of Bayeaux, which is home of the Bayeux Tapestry, a medieval cathedral and high street shopping and restaurants. Through recommendations from our Normandy tour guide, Danielle Duboscq, my mom found accommodations in a lovely French château built in the 18th century called Hotel Tardif. It was the perfect retreat and location from which to launch our excursions.
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Posted on February 26, 2012 by Dara and Ken
Despite one week of below freezing temps that led to a few inches of snow, Britain has remained in a comfortable weather pattern with above average temperatures this winter. Forecasters even say that the country is going through a mild drought (at least what they consider to be one). The weather is such a focal point of conversation here, hence my dedication to it in this week’s blog. On days like today when it’s sunny and highs are in the mid-50′s, it almost feels like a holiday in Majorca (shorts and t-shirts are not uncommon). I think it’s safe to say that the worst of the gloomy winter months are finally behind us (goodbye seasonal depression!). To kick off the countdown to spring, Ken and I ran in the Brighton Half-Marathon last weekend along the English Channel. The quirky and colorful seaside town put the pep back in our stride and turned our grey demeanors into shades of the rainbow (literally). Hopefully the nice weather trend will continue this spring or I may actually be ready for a holiday in Majorca before long.
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Posted on January 29, 2012 by Dara and Ken
It’s no secret that London is ramping up for one of its biggest parties in history this summer. If you thought the Royal Wedding was a huge event, then just wait until we take on the Diamond Jubilee, Notting Hill Carnival, Wimbledon and the 2012 Olympic games, all in one summer. What does this mean for residents of London? It means traveling nightmares, security mayhem, work disruptions, and even more people crammed into the city than usual. The upside of all this for us is a chance to take in a basketball game at the Olympic Village, work from home for the length of the games, and potentially book an extended holiday during that time. The Olympic Flame is scheduled to pass through Camden (our borough) on Thursday, July 26, and then make its way down the Thames to the Olympic village on the 27th for the official start of the games. This should prove to be one of the greatest all-time summers in London.
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Posted on January 21, 2012 by Dara and Ken
I’ve just recovered from a severe case of writers’ block. My writing was getting stale, and I needed to take stock of my reasons for continuing this blog. I mean, it’s been a nice outlet for sharing all of our new discoveries about living in the UK, but after a while, our surroundings became normal and I stopped seeing them through fresh eyes (in other words, I ran out of material). Read more »
Filed under: Cultural Musings | Tagged: chocolate covered almonds, crazy tales, dominic cooper, happy belated new year, humour british, javier bardem | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 25, 2011 by Dara and Ken
When the pressures of London and the daily grind get to be too much, a weekend escape to the Lake District in northern England is a great way to recharge your batteries and rejuvenate the mind and spirit. We’ve managed to see quite a bit of the UK after living here for two years, but nothing prepared me for the beauty and serene atmosphere of the Lake District. I felt transported to a place well beyond the city limits of London. Read more »
Filed under: Travel | Tagged: Keswick, Lake District, Penrith | Leave a Comment »