Day trip to London

We had to go to Ruislip (just north of London) where the Canadian military detachment is for Eric’s in-clearance (yes, they said he had to bring the whole family!) so we decided to make a trip of it and go to London for the day!

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a record-breaking hot day (33.5°C) and we were just melting!

Taken at 7am waiting for the train to London while we were still fresh-faced!

What to do with only 1 day in London? Well Sophie’s never been, Eric has lived here for a few months, and I’ve visited for days here and there. We know we’re going to be back a lot in the next 3 years and have a lot of opportunity to see everything we want and it didn’t need to be done all at once. So we decided to give Sophie a tour so she could get her bearings and see and decide just what it was that she wanted to be doing in those future visits, help her build her bucket list.

Sophie enjoyed the view

We took one of the Hop-on, hop-off bus tours. I always find these a good value in a big, new, city where I’m looking to hit all the tourist hot spots in a day or two (you can usually buy 1- or 2-day passes for these tours). We look for a tour that has a lot of buses (that run frequently), that have more buses with live commentary rather than just recordings (it’s always more fun to hear anecdotes from someone who’s been living there their whole life), and tours that have more than one line (the one we chose had 4 lines that criss-crossed the city plus a river boat we could use that we just never had the chance to). We also picked our company based on who went close to our hotel. Then we pre-paid for our tickets online. This saved us money, but also a lot of time when we wanted to join the tour.

We spent the first little bit touring around. We had a great guide who was informative, funny, and personable. I’m not one of those people to take many photos from a moving bus, but here:

Big Ben (and its tower) are encased in scaffolding for the next few years…. It sort of ruins the skyline of London, but it’s what you gotta deal with in order to preserve these things….
Going across Tower Bridge

We took the bus to the Tower of London and hopped off. We also pre-purchased tickets to the Tower so that we could save a few pounds but also avoid the lines.

Just when we got to the Tower. A lady asked Eric to take their family’s photo and he obliged. Then she insisted she take ours because “this lighting is terrific!”. She was right.

It was starting to get hot by now. The sun was baking. We had dropped our suitcases off at the hotel and they put our main insulin supply in the fridge for us, but Sophie’s small diabetic backpack had a spare vial of insulin in it as well. We don’t have a Frio case at all or any sort of cooler, as we haven’t got around to getting one yet. If you’re soon about to use the insulin, it can stay at room temperature up to 30 days. But insulin can never be frozen and never go over 30°C or it will be denatured. Well, in the direct sunlight, it was well over 30°…. We tried a while to always hold the bag in the shade, looking a little ridiculous as we moved about, but in the end we had to admit that there’s no way we can test if that insulin is still good, apart from a few bolus injections and Sophie won’t allow that. We can’t risk filling a 3-day pump with bad insulin and then having to discard the whole pump once we realise it’s not working.

So anyway, we got to the Tower and it was hot. And then we saw the poor Yeoman Warder…

He deserved a medal for this…

He said in the beginning that he didn’t want to hear us complain about the heat, and he was right. When the weather is bad (rain, etc) they shorten the tours from 1hr to 1/2-hr and he did for us too. They just couldn’t have everyone standing around in the heat that long, guests included.

But it was a lovely tour and we learned a lot about the Tower of London. Sophie and Eric went in and up the Tower itself. We saw the jewels, we walked the ramparts, and we had lunch! As we were leaving, another family came to say hi, just because they’d seen Sophie’s Dexcom and were a fellow T1 family. They had a little boy on the Dexcom and Omnipod and they said they just had to say hi to another T1 family on holiday! I think it’s so nice when someone does that and I do it myself, but Sophie’s still shy about it. Yet, she is upset if we don’t, though. (Tweens, amiright?)

Tower bridge from the ramparts

After our time at the Tower, we hopped back on to a bus and decided to head towards King’s Cross station. This was a surprise for Sophie. Her 11th birthday is in a week and a half and well, we really didn’t know what to get her. So since she is a massive Harry Potter fan, we said we’d take her to platform 9-3/4. I, personally, am not a fan, so it was all Greek to me, but seeing her so excited made me very happy too. She got her photo taken and then we took her to the store there and we said, pick out what you want, we’ll get it for your birthday! Her face was priceless.

The professional photo we bought

Sophie bought that Ravenclaw scarf (100% Scottish lambswool made by the same company who made the original scarves worn in the movies) and a Ravenclaw hairbow. She’s a happy girl.

By then we were getting tired so we hopped on the bus yet again and just let it tour us back to our hotel. We got to see more of London and then crash in our air-conditioned room. (And I mean crash).

Me, in front of a London city-scape, looking hot, tired, and deshevelled.

We went back out again in a bit for an Italian dinner then back to our room. Sophie was due for a pump change – here is where I’m so glad for our ‘bring 3x what we need’ rule. We tried to start up the pump and it didn’t activate properly!!! So we opened a second pump and tried it and held our breath and thankfully all was well. We would have had just enough insulin and one more pod to do it a third time, but barely (with the vial of insulin we now have to throw out due to heat!).

Anyway, pump change in a hotel again but we’re old hat at it now and it eventually went well. We have already ordered a Frio wallet to be delivered later this week for all our future travels to protect our precious insulin!!!

That’s it! That’s our day in London. We had to call it a night and hit the hay so we could be up early to leave for Ruislip at 7am. We were in offices all day long there but felt thoroughly welcomed by everyone at the Canadian detachment and know they genuinely want to help us acclimate and settle in to our home here in England.

London is a beautiful city and we can’t wait to come back on many day and weekend trips over the next few years!

Taken from inside the Tower of London

Moving in and moving around

Well we are now officially full-time residents of Churston! Our belongings all arrived in two shipments this week to make for an exhausting few days of unloading, unpacking, and now rearranging.

Our shipping container was packed so tight – they needed to send the last 8 boxes by air!

We still have oodles and oodles of work to do, exercise equipment to put together, spare room to make up into something resembling a room, outdoor furniture to put together, more gardening to do, pictures to hang, garbage to call a disposal company for. . . just endless amounts of work still. However, our beds are together and the kitchen is mostly useable (if not making sense or very tidy, still useable!)

The next step was to go to Trowbridge and pick up our new (to us) car! I’ve been driving all week as practice, knowing that I’d have to drive either the new car or the rental the 1-1/2-hour drive home (on both country roads and motorways) and I think I’m pretty adept at the left-lane driving now. The very narrow roads can still be white-knuckle harrowing but either I’ll get used to them, or I won’t…

Me in our new Peugeot car after I got it safely home 70 miles and parked in the drive.

On the way to Trowbridge to pick up the car, we stopped in a quaint little town, Bradford-on-Avon, for a picnic lunch.

We sat in a park on the river for lunch and those are just medieval buildings behind us.

The river Avon
Just a WWII pillbox we stumbled upon that had been built just after Dunkirk and the English suddenly genuinely fearful of a German invasion. Apparently these pillboxes are scattered all over England and mostly completely overgrown and forgotten.
For your plaque-viewing pleasure.


That’s all. Just a little update on our lives – we’re settling in, learning how to drive, visiting the grocers every day, exploring the neighbourhood and even a little further afield.
Heading off to London next week!

The oldest building Sophie has ever been in

We have been busy this week! We’ve been to our house every day, painting, cleaning, doing yard work, etc. We’ve been all over town running errands such as getting the cell phones active, looking for a car to buy (we found one this morning and put money down!), picking up school uniforms, banking, going to the homes and hardware stores to get things- – – It’s really felt endless!

Today has been the first bit of pure tourism we’ve done- and we visited the Bristol cathedral (our hotel is literally right next door to the cathedral… and we’ve only got there now, after 5 days!).

We were waiting for a service to finish to go in and talking to Sophie about the history and importance of cathedrals across Europe (and this earth, really) and why we’ll be visiting them in almost every city we visit. Then we realised that because this was her first European cathedral, that we could be certain this was the oldest building she has ever stepped foot in.

Bristol Cathedral

Bristol cathedral was consecrated in 1148. That’s old. We found tombs of knights in it from the 1200s.

Most of the stained glass was broken and blown out during the Bristol Blitz early in WWII and the stained glass windows were all re-done after the war. The interesting fact about this is that a series of them shows the at-home heroes of the war – the nurses, St.John Ambulance, Red Cross, Home Guard, etc.

The inscription in the window

So yes, we’ve been ridiculously busy and still jet-lagged (okay, I think I’m the only one still jet-lagged), but while trying to set up our life and home here, we’re still managing to find a few moments here and there to enjoy to beautiful city and country we’re in.

We’re officially expats!

Well we’re here! We’ve made it! We got through immigration without an issue and now we’re officially expats- Canadians living in the UK for the next 3 years!

Our flights were pretty good, the only hiccup being delays in Victoria, about 2.5 hours. Luckily, we originally planned for a long layover in Vancouver so we had time to spare. Turns out we ended up with only an hour or so in Vancouver and because it’s such a large airport, by the time we got to our gate, they were just starting boarding. Perfect!

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Looking fresh at the beginning of our long flight!

The flight from Vancouver to London is about 9 hours and is an 8-hour time difference – so no matter what, it leaves you messed up. There’s not much you can do to prepare for that and it takes time to get over that.

Wine helps.

This was the longest flight Sophie has ever taken and the furthest she’s ever travelled to date in one-go, so she had endorphins and excitement to keep her going. She’s never been on an intercontinental flight, so she’s never got to experience a real airplane meal (not including the fairly nice ones you can buy on Air Canada domestic flights).

Air plane dinner

We knew that dinner would be served right before we needed to try and sleep, and the only sugar-free drink options for her would be water or caffeinated diet Coke, so we picked up a sugar-free drink in the airport before we boarded (she had the choice of iced tea or diet Sprite). Thinking ahead is usually how to I try to avoid diabetic upset!!
But then dinner came and how to guess how many carbs in this meal? Pasta, a bun, a brownie, and a corn and edamame salad? We just completely guessed. We didn’t guess enough, and had to do a correction later on. We figured it was better to be conservative on that side than to risk lows on the airplane.

Then it came time to land!

Eric showing Sophie the landmarks of London as we fly over
Sophie couldn’t take her eyes off London below us as we descended

And as you know when you approach a new city with new time zone as you land, the pilot lets you know the local time and everyone adjusts their watch (okay, not as much anymore because everyone has cell phones…). We took this time to pull out Sophie’s insulin pump control and adjust the time settings in that.
The timings in an insulin pump are very specific to each individual for every hour in the day. As I’ve explained in the past, she gets a constant drip of insulin throughout the day, as well as doses with each thing she eats. This constant drip dose throughout the day changes up and down based on her body’s insulin needs (as we’ve determined them, with the help of nurses and glucose monitoring). Same with her meal doses- She gets a different dose of insulin with breakfast carbs than she dose at lunch or dinner. This is all because of a lot of trial and error and countless dose adjustment and changes we’ve made over the past 6-9 months. We are always watching her glucose levels and determining her insulin needs and adjusting her insulin pump settings and daily timings, if necessary.

So, we were very nervous about making a drastic 8-hour time change to her insulin pump. We did a lot of reading about how best to do this – we read about changing it an hour a day, eating meals on the origin’s time for a few days, etc. But we found most of these suggestions lent themselves best to the idea of only a 2-4-hour time-change, not a huge 8-hour time-difference.

In the end, we decided to go for the rip-off-the-bandage approach and just change the time in the pump and deal with some wonky blood glucoses for a few days as we all try to get used to the time.

Pushing through!!! Changing those time settings!

We definitely noticed wonky BGs for the first 24 hours, her body didn’t know if it was breakfast or nighttime or what…. but we’re approaching the 48-hour mark and the BGs are already starting to make more sense (as much sense as T1D can ever make in a pubescent girl!)

So now here we are in Bristol!! We pushed through our jet-lag and had a busy first full day, picking up our rental car, picking up the keys to our new house, visiting our new house, and registering at the local doctor’s office. Sophie loves our new ‘local’ (the closest pub to our house) where we went for lunch and we do too.

Sophie can’t take her eyes off the windows while driving around, there’s so much to take in!

We topped off the day by celebrating Sophie’s first diaversary! Yes, one year ago, on 13 August 2018, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. And now here we are! She got to choose dinner (fish & chips with mushy peas) and pick out English chocolate for dessert. It wasn’t a big huge celebration, but we are in a new country and getting to do an awful lot of awesome fun things!

Sophie is enjoying her diaversary chocolate

We still have so much to do- meet the doctor, get referral to the Diabetes Clinic, buy stuff for the house, go get school uniforms for Sophie, set up our mobiles…. the list seems endless.
We’ve received word that our furniture and effects have arrived in England and we’re currently trying to arrange a date for delivery and unpacking- they don’t seem to be in a super hurry to get to us!

So there’s still so much to do to officially make this our home, but we will and we are! The adventure has only begun!

Thanks for bearing with me! Here we go!

Well the past two months’ of blog posts have been what I’ve promised- practice. I needed to learn this platform, figure out how to blog, how to post, and how to ‘run’ a ‘website’ (both terms I use very loosely).

In the past two months, I’ve even struggled with what to write- our life in Canada is pretty mundane and boring, even while preparing to move across this globe, even while living in hotels for the past month.

But now we’re ready to go. We fly to England the day after tomorrow and our adventure truly begins!! Now I hope to start having blog posts worth reading! And I thank the 30-40 of you who have actually been reading up ’til now and giving me enough reason to go on.

We’ve had a few hard goodbyes in the past week or two. Especially for Sophie. But luckily she’s now at the age where she can keep in touch with her friends digitally. If we didn’t get to you for a so-long hug, I’m sorry and don’t take it personally. I truly find it easier to just not have them. We’ll all chat online and I love that I can keep up-to-date on my friends and even their kids on social media. We also live in the military— we’ll all see each other again eventually!!!

I’ll share a handful of pictures of our ‘resort life’ now as we’ve been living in a cool hotel for the past 16 days. Sophie has had a blast swimming every day (which makes her blood glucose fall like crazy— good, if it’s been running high, we just take a quick trip to the pool! If not, she needs to drink some regular Coca-Cola before swimming in order to have high enough blood glucose to swim and sometimes every 20 minutes, too).

Also, check out my Highs and Lows Abroad Instagram below for more frequent photos.

The biggest golf tournament of the year was here on our second day.
Sophie and her bestie playing in ‘ceremony circle’, taken from our balcony on the 5th floor
Taco night with a view
The beautiful pool we’ve spent many hours at

So that’s it. That’s our life in Canada for now. Yes, we’re still here for a couple more days but I’ll be busy packing and saying so-long in person to a last few folks. So this is my last Canadian blog post.

Wish us luck with the long flights and immigration process.

I’ll update when we get to England, probably in the middle of the night when I’m jet-lagged and zombie-like exhausted!

Here comes our next adventure!