26 November 2015

My First Scottish Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday: time off from work or school, good food, no stress.  There is nothing to do but eat and spend time with friends and family...except perhaps a turkey run.  Of course, Thanksgiving is only a holiday in the US but, since Pat does not start work until 7 December and I do not have a job, we are off!  So, this year, we are able to celebrate Thanksgiving in Scotland on the actual day.

We are planning a turkey dinner for two around midday.  Then, this evening we will go see the lighting of the City of Aberdeen's Christmas tree at Castlegate.  This begins the local Christmas festivities which also include an outdoor Christmas market and a reindeer parade.  Side note: there are Black Friday sales here too, hmm...

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends and family from here in Scotland! 

23 November 2015

Waiting Again

I have not read recreationally in months, but I am on my third novel since arriving in Scotland. We have no TV (until tomorrow), no internet in the house, and limited data on our phones.  I am not complaining.   We have been exploring and shopping a lot too, mainly buying things for the flat.  Also got a nice wool coat, very Sherlock-ish.

We were told in Quincy that our shipment of personal items could take up to three months to arrive. We have been tracking our ship online--Bremen Express at marinetraffic.com.  It has already been through the English Channel up to the North Sea, making several ports along the Continent. It is expected to make port in the UK later this week. Then, customs and overland transport. 

We hope to open a bank account today--we have had to wait for particular documents; long story.  Anyway, if that happens, we will be able to move forward with a few other things like home internet and changing to the UK iTunes store.  Fun stuff!

I hope to post photos soon.  I have taken a lot!

20 November 2015

Walk On...

Pat and I do not have a car in Scotland.  This is by plan and by choice.  First, cars are expensive--purchase/payment, insurance, fuel, maintenance, parking, etc.  Second, Aberdeen and Scotand as a whole are generally pedestrian-friendly and buses, taxis, and trains are easy to access.  Also, we lease a flat near to the most important commercial areas.  We live about 1.25 - 1.5 miles from a commercial park containing Asda (Wal-Mart), Sainbury's (nice, big grocer), B&Q (Home Depot), Boots (Walgreens), and Currys PC World (Best Buy).  The near end of Union Street, Aberdeen's main commercial and retail area, is about a mile from home in a different direction.  There are several other small shops closer than that too.

So...we walk a lot, several days so far as much as five to eight miles in a day.  It is a great way for us to explore and get acquainted with the city.  We see so much while on foot.  Of course, the weather is a challenge on occasion.  In fact, I got quite wet one day this week walking back from Sainsbury's--I look forward to my waterproofs arriving with our other belongings.  It is also helpful for our general health and fitness, having consumed a lot of rich food and drink and been out of our usual exercise routine even several weeks prior to leaving the US.

Thus, we are embracing our new pedestrian lifestyle and do not really miss our cars.

05 November 2015

Travel and Transition

A pictorial--we're busy!!  So far in Scotland, we have been visiting close friends and family and managing a few details:  getting our mobile phones and attempting to open a bank account--I will spare you the frustrating details.  Anyway, here are some photos documenting what we have been up to:

Inside one of our shipping crates
The outside of the previous crate and our 1/2 crate
Just about to leave our Quincy home
St Andrews Cross in the sky as we leave Quincy--a good omen
Lunch time cocktails in Chicago
My mole trio at Frontera, Chicago
Haunted Chicago Tour, site of the Eastland disaster
Haunted Chicago Tour, site of St Valentine's Day massacre
Haunted Chicago Tour, Death Alley
View from our hotel in Chicago
Getting closer...
Greek sampler at Santorini, Chicago
"Lunch" at The Cheesecake Factory, Chicago
Lunch at O'Hare Airport
...with cocktails, of course
Our plane to Dublin
Our turboprop to Edinburgh
In Scotland!!!
Costa Coffee--visited 4 times in the first day and a half!
Kirkcaldy High Street
Kirkcaldy harbor
Lunch in Kirkcaldy
EXCellent chocolates!
Our first Indian meal

Off to Aberdeen tomorrow to move into our flat and get my immigration documents.  More fun stuff to come; Pat does not start work until 7 December!

















25 October 2015

REAL-izations

I continue to be asked if I am excited about moving to Scotland.  Of course, in general, I am.  But, there are so many things to do, so many details to manage.  Most of the time I have been thinking what is the next step?  What task needs completing next?  I realized yesterday that many of these next steps are fun things!  What will we do in Chicago?  Where will we eat?  Then, once in Scotland, prior to Pat starting work, what will we do?  Where will we go? Who will we see?  So, if asked today if I am excited, I can say "Yes!  Yes, I am!"

Another realization yesterday occurred in the evening just before heading home from our last night out with friends in Quincy.  We have had a few farewell parties over the last several weeks with different groups of friends and family.  We have also had a lot of final events.  Many of these times we have been able to say, "we might see you again;" "we will be in town a few more weeks," etc.  Last night--none of that.  We leave Quincy tomorrow.  We will not see these folks again any time soon.  Reality check, a sad one.

Enough melancholy!  

On the other hand...As we make our final preparations and experience these final events, everyone else seems to realize also that they will not see us again for a long while if at all.  As a result, their final words at times go beyond just "see you later" or "good luck."  At times their words have been quite touching.  At times, these very touching words have come from unexpected places.  In alll cases, these touching words make our hearts smile.  As we depart for Scotland--a return home for Pat; a new adventure for me--make no mistake, we will look back fondly on our time in Quincy.

22 October 2015

The Final Mad Rush

It would seem the service my immigration attorney provided was worth the money paid as was the payment for expedited service. The turn-around time from the delivery of my documents to Sheffield to the email confirmation that a decision had been made was seven days.  !!!  We were thinking two weeks would be fast. Whatever!  It took two more days to arrive at our home which set in motion our final steps:

21 October: book our travel arrangements.
22 October: movers pick up all our stuff for the overseas shipment.
23-24 October: final garage sales/trips to the thrift store.
26-29 October: family and friends time in Chapin and Jacksonville.
30 October - 1 November: shopping, food and drink in Chicago.
2 November: fly to Scotland.
3 November: arrive in Scotland, exhausted, but excited.

Of course, there are a plethora of other details to address along the way, including all the typical tasks of moving house.  We should also have some time for a little more fun in Quincy before we go--a few more meals at our favorite restaurants and a Halloween-themed bar crawl for sure.  

Anyway, to you, my readers, this means that much more interesting content is coming very soon...

15 October 2015

this is hapPENING!!


The house is a disaster! And, we are living out of boxes...finally!  The end of all the preparations is in sight.  The day after my biometric appointment last week, we received the lease on our flat in Aberdeen to sign.  After signing and copying, we were able to include it with all the other documents and send them to Sheffield, England to be evaluated.  Of course, I tracked the package and it was delivered Monday. Yesterday, I received an email saying it was officially received and being processed.  Hopefully, I will receive a confirmation email within two weeks and my passport and documents will arrive soon after.  At that point we can book our travel arrangements.

Now, we pack our stuff and prepare it for the five to ten week shipment across the pond.  We are not eating from paper plates yet, but that is just a few days away.  Other than that, we finish work tomorrow and we are planning a lot of family and friends time over the next two weeks.  We are not planning much beyond that.


07 October 2015

Inching Closer...

Tomorrow, we go to St Louis for my biometrics appointment--fingerprints and photo.  After that and after we receive our lease to sign--coming any day--we can submit all of my documents. They will travel to Sheffield, England for review.  Wtih my solicitor's supporting documents and the priority service for which we paid, I expect this to go quickly, but it could take up to four weeks for them to return everything.

Whenever that happens, it will be a sprint to get to Aberdeen. We will book all our planes, trains, and automobiles and warn all the Scots that we are on our way, finalizing details here as quickly as possible.  However, we will surely spend a little time with my family and then two or three days in Chicago before we fly away.

As we hope for a two-week turn-around...we have one more full week of work.  As soon as the documents are sorted, we will seek answers to all our packing and shipping questions, prepare all our stuff, and sell or discard what we have left.  We may be in Quincy for a while longer than planned and Pat may have a longer holiday between jobs than expected. Regardless, we also continue to enjoy our remaining time in the Quincy area, planning several dinners out and a few more parties.


29 September 2015

13 days in the clinic and 8 personal training sessions to go, but who's counting?

"Apparently you are, my friend!"

Boring stuff first.  We await two original documents, coming by airmail: Pat's job offer and the lease on our flat (that is "apartment" in British English) to sign.  I have already sent everything we have to my immigration solicitor ("attorney" or "lawyer" in British English.)  I will replace the blank lease with a scan of the signed lease and we should be good.  Now we wait for the go-ahead from her.  Next, my online application will be submitted along with payment for the application, expediting, and NHS.  At the time of submission, I will make an appointment to be finger-printed and photographed, likely in St Louis.  After all that, I can send my documents to Sheffield, England.  We will then have to wait "a couple of weeks" for processing, according to my solicitor.  Finally, they will return all of my documents, including my passport and we can fly to Scotland!  We are getting close, but still waiting.

In the meantime, we try to enjoy ourselves, taking advantage of what Quincy and the surrounding area has to offer and doing our favorite things.  This past weekend, that consisted of lunch with my parents, several movies, coffee shops, running, biking, and hiking, and visiting several of our favorite local food and beverage establishments.

This is just a taste of what is to come in Scotland.  While Pat is working, I will take care of the boring housework, shopping, etc.  Then, when she is off, we can just go do fun stuff together!  To that end, we continue to virtually explore Aberdeen, planning our evenings, weekends, and holidays.  Google Maps, especially Street View has been helpful for that.

Aberdeen beach and esplanade

Belmont Street

Castle Fraser

Slains Castle bar

23 September 2015

Getting Closer...

New artwork!!  ^^  Courtesy of my friend Laura (thanks!).

Not much to report this week.  We paid the deposit on the flat on Cromwell Road.  Well, I have not received confirmation of receipt, but it has been sent.  We are waiting on a few final documents, mostly related to housing, before I can send everything to my immigration attorney and make my application for the visa.  We'll wait until that is sent before our final clean out and sale/s and packing everything up.  Once I have sent everything to Sheffield, England, it should only be a few weeks before our departure.

Current schedule:
16 October--last work day in US
6 November--first possible move-in day in Aberdeen
7 December--Pat's first work day in Aberdeen

As we get closer, our excitement increases as much as our patience decreases.  As I wrote previously, this is character-building...

15 September 2015

Progress

I have to admit: I am a little disappointed that we are going to Aberdeen.  That is just way to easy for all of my friends and family to pronounce.  It is the same with our address--at this point it looks like we will live on Cromwell Road.  I was secretly hoping we would end up in a place with a name like Auchtermuchty or Kilconquhar or something.  Ah, well...

We are getting all of our documents together for my visa application.  This seems to be moving along quickly.  Pat's brother viewed some flats for us this week, taking further photos and sharing his opinion on them.  As I mentioned above, we are nearly sure about a two bedroom, one and a half bath, ground floor flat in a traditional granite property on Cromwell Road in the west end, but we have not spoken to the leasing company yet. We hope to get most of this done by week's end.

We have given our resignations, planning to work our final day on 16 October.  If necessary, our boss can be flexible with that.  Pat's first day of work in Aberdeen is planned for 7 December, assuming all goes well and in a timely manner, specifically her background check and my immigration process.  So, we are hoping to depart the US during the last week of October.

We are both beyond ready for this to happen.  Pat wants to be back home and see her family and friends.  I want to start the next chapter in my life...as a trophy husband!


09 September 2015

Aberdeen, It Is!


Pat had her interview yesterday with NHS Grampian for the musculoskeletal physiotherapist job in Aberdeen.  She was up early for the 6:30 AM (12:30 PM UK) phone call, dressed professionally (except for her slippers) and surrounded by her notes and suggested reading materials.  She obviously made a good impression.  Within just two or three hours, she received a second call with an informal offer of the position.  After some gleeful screaming, she accepted.  They need to call her references and do a background check before they make a formal offer, but those are merely formalities.

Now, the final push begins.  Quickly, over the next week or two, I will compile all the documents for my visa application which will need to include Pat's formal offer and proof of permanent housing.  One of Pat's brothers will be investigating flats (apartments) for us next week, arranging viewings of our favorites found online.

I would walk 3,938 miles...
Additionally, all those things we said we would use until we move, the things that we will not be taking with us...time to sell, discard, and give away all that stuff. Of course, will also have to take care of all the typical, mundane tasks of moving: account cancellations, address changes, blah-blah-blah.

We have fun stuff to do too!  Our local farewell party will be next week, giving us a last chance to see many of our friends one last time (in the foreseeable future.)  I have a special Scottish playlist prepared!  \\m//  \\m//  We had my extended family farewell get-together on Labor Day.

Our tentative last day of work is 16 October, so our actual move will occur within one to two weeks after that.  We can now stop waiting and take action, fiiiiinally.

25 August 2015

"The Waiting Is the Hardest Part"


I said to Pat over the weekend "I need something to do!"  I was referring to preparation for the move; I am antsy.  I suppose this waiting for things to happen is character-building, developing or improving patience... The positive side is, because so much preparation is already complete and we have limited our current obligations, I have more time to watch movies, play guitar, train, etc.  Woo-hoo!  Good mental health activities.

Anyway...  We await communication regarding an interview for the job in Aberdeen.  There was an internal applicant and they get priority for interviews, so there has been a further delay for Pat.  We expect to hear something any day.

I recently had a quick look into fitness and wellness employment opportunities for me--just being curious, since I do not expect to work initially.  I found Nuffield Health in Aberdeen. As I lay in bed this morning, I remembered that they also employ physiotherapists.  I had a quick look and found a listing for a full-time PT.  Pat will have a look and consider applying for this as well.

As we wait, we continue to search the Google map of Aberdeen.  We are loving the satellite pictures and the street views.  Mainly we are looking for housing, choosing our favorites, and exploring nearby. Two of our favorites have already been rented.  This is our current favorite.  Great location: less than a half mile from Union Street (and the nearest Starbucks).  We have also been shopping for home furnishings, getting ideas of costs and styles.  If everything goes according to our current plan, we have good ideas for decorating this flat.

Anyway, we continue to wait to pull the trigger on my visa paperwork and application and the final, big clean up.  Watch this space...


13 August 2015

Quick Update

Aberdeen's Union Street: The Granite Mile

If you, like us, are dying for more information regarding our upcoming move to Scotland (probably not), this update is for you.

Pat got her HPC number (Scottish PT license) today!  It took longer than expected, but probably did not make much difference in getting a job.  Regardless, considering the time elapsed, it is unlikely the jobs in Kirkcaldy are still available.  So...also today, Pat applied for the job in Aberdeen which should be a good fit for her.  We think her odds are pretty good for this one too, but she continues to check the NHS site for other listings.

Dunnottar Castle (seen in Mel Gibson's Macbeth)
We continue to virtually explore Aberdeen, looking especially for rental homes. We will have to arrange for housing while still in the USA; it is necessary for my visa. We are looking for unfurnished, two bedroom homes near the city center (so we can actually enjoy the city.)  As we get closer, we will probably contact a property manager to help us with the search.  Here is one of our current top choices.  It is has two bathrooms!

Otherwise, we wait.  Each step we take is dependent on the previous one...

Aberdeen Harbour