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.
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…
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
This is our fifth move with the military. Our fifth move in 13 years. Our third international move. Our first intercontinental move. A total of 15 259km once we finish this move.
All this to say, we’re not newbies. This ain’t our first rodeo.
And we don’t have it all that bad. Military moves may be more frequent but they’re not the hardest moves ever- they send packers and everything is (supposed to be) paid for along the way. We don’t have to make car trip after trip and pack and unpack endless boxes that we pilfered from the local liquor store. In that respect, we’ve got it pretty good.
With each move, I’ve learned a few things. I’ve learned what to keep out of the way and have in my suitcase- then to have those suitcases in the car the morning the packers arrive so we don’t have anything mistakenly misplaced. I’ve learned little tricks like having extra-large size Ziploc bags handy through the pack (for screws and assembly pieces), and to plan to keep the children busy through the day, and to keep the packers and movers fed (order pizza!).
But what I’ve mostly learned is that no matter how much you plan, how much you think you got this one, think that this time it’ll be a breeze… It never is. Ever. No matter what, at some point, some sh*t is going to hit the fan and be out of your control.
Maybe your truck full of belongings floods or gets in an accident en route. Maybe your house doesn’t sell and you’re faced with some really crappy financial and family decisions (this was us last time). Maybe you made some credit card charges thinking they were covered but aren’t and now you’re on the hook for them.
Maybe you’ve done everything right and are stuck in limbo waiting for bureaucratic files to be handled, like we were this time.
Waiting for UK residency visas was the most stressful and exhausting procedure. It took months from start to finish- applying for our special passports, waiting for the posting message, going to Vancouver to apply for the visas and then waiting almost 2 full months for the passports with visas to arrive.
Let’s just say, we’ve been a bit stressed.
But today, they arrived!!! We now all have visas and can legally enter the UK for purposes to live for the next 3 years!
We are busy now trying to book flights and hotels and car rentals, and plan out our final week in Canada!!!
No matter how much you think you got this move in the bag, you don’t. Don’t ever turn your back on it, think it’s safe and over now… It’s not. We may have our visas and passports in hand now, but this is all far from over.
Sorry to sound pessimistic, but yeah, when it comes to moving (and military moves in particular) your best bet is to assume that if it can go wrong, it will. Murphy and all his laws are against you, this time. Just go with it, accept it, and always have the email addresses handy of your moving coordinator, or anyone in charge who can help with the inevitable sh*t storms.
And when you feel all alone, like how could this possibly happen? To you, who was so prepared and ready for all of this? Know you’re not alone. That something unexpected happens to everyone, everytime.