I am very pleased to report that Richard and I have moved into our new flat. Our experiences so far have left me reluctant to believe that things are sorted until they really happen and even then I feel a need to double check that I’m not dreaming. This way of thinking proved to be justified when we were advised that instead of being able to collect the keys on Saturday morning, we would have to wait until 3pm because the agent did not have the time to meet us at the original time. We were slightly anxious about the time this would leave us to purchase the basic household goods we needed for at least the first night but luckily the stores opened late enough. We dropped off our things, met the landlord and made two trips; first to Argos and the second to IKEA. Feeling pretty exhausted we decided to try KFC which is very close to our flat. I know some of you are fans of KFC and I can report that the chicken tastes the same. BUT, they don’t have potato and gravy here! Instead, they have just gravy in a pot. We opted to try the gravy which turned out to be completely different to the gravy inside potato and gravy in NZ. It was super thick and intensely savoury. I think it prefer the gravy here but it would be even better over mashed potato! It was only after our dinner and returning to our flat that I could finally appreciate that we were in. We will be here for at least 12 months and that is permanent enough for me! The flat comes with basic furniture (couch, dining table and chairs, bed, wardrobe), so currently looks quite bare. The purchases we have made so far are for smaller household items with other furniture on the way. Here are some initial pictures: It may not surprise many people out there that I’m excited with the kitchen space. Since we are on the top floor we have serious angled ceiling action but the skylights are fantastic. They open up and allow great air flow. All the natural light that is around at this time of year makes it an awesome place to be. It wasn’t until the Monday after we moved in that I cooked properly at home. We had bacon and eggs for breakfast and since we don’t drink coffee, we had green tea which Richard’s mum gifted to us. You’ll also see our great new Chinese tea cups! I’ve found that being new to everything makes me more cautious than usual. Our appliances are all new and I spent about 20 minutes reading the user guide and manual for our washing machine. I know this washing machine better than I know some people now. It’s probably the first time I have known what all the little symbols and lights on any whiteware appliance mean! Our location in Acton has been great so far. We are directly opposite a large supermarket and surrounded by small fruit and vege stores. For people like us who are used to shopping at just one or two places, it is an interesting change to be buying a few bits here and there from a handful of local shops. For instance, one day I went to the supermarket for some basics then proceeded to visit four different small stores to get our fruit and vegetables. I feel like a more discerning shopper although whether I am or not remains unanswered. After being in London for a month now, I have realised how different the air is. In other parts of the world you are smacked in the face with pollution or humidity and immediately feel your body reacting to that. Since we arrived in summer, we didn’t feel the air was particularly different but after a bit of time your body begins to crave fresh air. I think for us it’s specifically ocean air. Something both Richard and I miss about Auckland is that no matter where you are, you’re never far from a beach. London does have the Thames but… have you seen it? It’s very brown and even though it does connect to the ocean, it is not the ocean. On 31st July I was able to visit Colchester. A colleague from Auckland was visiting home and invited me to see her hometown. We were able to drive to the seaside and it felt great! The ocean was seriously brown but the air was better than in London. It was a busy day there with a lot of families utilising the mid-summer sunshine. What was great was the lines of little beach shelters all down the beach. They seem like such a great idea and I would like to try one some time! Some of you may or may not know that Colchester is actually the oldest recorded town in England. It is a small country town with narrow cobbled streets which make everything very quaint and charming. I found the vibe was friendly and relaxed which is a marked change from London. Even though I had travelled less than an hour by train from London, it felt very far away indeed. As with many places in this part of the world, Colchester has a local castle which is now a museum. There are also remnants of The Balkerne Gate which was the largest Roman gateway in Britian. Being so close to ancient monuments is still awe-inspiring to me. The gate was built in AD49 and I got to touch it! Returning to reality, I was fortunate to find a temp job rather quickly after contacting an agency and started work on Monday 3rd August. The work is dull but I’m glad to have something to do and look forward to some money floating in. Finding a job in a new country can be disheartening because you are acutely aware of your inexperience with general life in the area which can seem like a disadvantage. In joining any industry, I don’t have experience with the systems and normal practices in the UK and it is easy to feel that you would be anyone’s last choice. And here we have some of the emotional turmoil of setting up a new life on the other side of the world! I don’t want to complain though. Overall, things are great and we’re doing fine so we’re not itching to come home yet! I’m still receiving news on my phone from NZ and have heard about the wild winter weather. As with most winters I’ve also read about the high numbers of people in hospital with the flu. We both hope that all of you are keeping warm and staying healthy!