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.


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!

Moving is exhausting

I haven’t posted much in the past 2 weeks because we’ve been so busy getting our house ready to be packed and loaded on the sea can. Because of our international move, we actually have two sets of pack and load days – one pack day and one load day for our sea canister that is heading to England, then one pack day and one load day for our long-term storage – things staying here in Canada for 3 years (like our electronics and such that we can’t use there).

Leading up to our pack day, we had to first pack our suitcases – decide what we will need to bring with us on our persons to England. We are given 5 checked suitcases and 3 carry-on suitcases (but could pay for more, I guess). In this luggage, we need to bring 6 months’ worth of medication and medication supplies like Dexcom and Omnipod supplies. This greatly reduces how much clothes we can bring!!

These are our suitcases- the 3 on the right are all medical supplies!!
6-9 months’ worth of insulin and my multiple sclerosis medication – all of which need to remain refrigerated/with ice packs while in luggage.

Then aside from having to pack our suitcases (so plan our lives for the next 6+ weeks), we have also had to rearrange our house to separate the things going to England and the things going into storage. This also meant a lot of cleaning and purging, too.
People have said to me that because we have military moves and ‘they pack for us’ that it must be easy, but I promise you it is not. To make any move successful there is so much preparing and work involved at origin and then again weeks and weeks of work at destination (sure, they ‘unpack’ for us, but that just means taking things out of boxes at break-neck speed and putting it on any flat surface – they don’t put anything away or organise or clean!). Luckily, this is our fifth military move and I’ve learned things each time and am more and more ready each time!


Then came the packers! An overseas move requires our furniture to all be bubble-wrapped (rather than in quilted moving blankets) so it took the packers a while but soon enough, our house looked like a Tetris game:

Our Tetris house

Once they moved everything out to the driveway to load on to the truck
Sophie was so bored during the 2 days of packing and loading


Now we’re living in an AirBNB in downtown Victoria for the next 2 weeks. Our house sale doesn’t close for 4 more days so we’ll be there every day cleaning up and getting the long-term storage packed then trucked out. We’ll also try to enjoy what there is to enjoy of Victoria down here – restaurants, Market Square is just below our rooftop patio, and FanTan Alley (the most narrow street in Canada) is right across the street:

So, we’re exhausted, but we’re a few steps closer to getting to England….

Is it September yet?

Success!

We have found a home! Our offer to let has been accepted! It is a lovely home in north Bristol, on a very family-friendly road.

One of the things we find so neat about our new home is that it has no street number. It is next door to #1 but our house is left with no number – only a name! We will live at Churston House. This is so quintessentially British and actually exciting to us! (But a total bitch to put into nav systems!)

The house has 3 bedrooms plus a 4th is converted to a dressing room/walk-in wardrobe. There is a large reception room, large hallways, and a conservatory! It is also equipped with most of our Canadian standard-of-living amenities like large kitchen with dishwasher (though a standard small English oven), a chest freezer, and a utility room with sink, washer, and dryer. We can’t wait to live here!

Our house is lovely. It has 2 off-street parking spots, which is rare and a huge plus for this area!
The gardens are so nice! And there’s a garden house (shed-type house we can use as a room – it was an office for the owners)

We’ve sent photos to Sophie to show her the house and her room, and she is so excited to garden and tend to these pretty flowers. Good- I’ll need help! Also, she has a great idea for a colour scheme for her bedroom of white, pink, gold, and black- and there’s a bedroom that has all black lacquered trim (baseboard and window-wells) that will perfectly match her style.
Every time we have a move, she gets to redesign her bedroom with new colours, new blankets, and even some new furniture (in this case, she’s in need of a new dresser). Yes, this is pretty shameless bribery, but it really helps her look forward to a big move and see the bright side of leaving what she knows and loves in order to go on a new adventure!

Speaking of Sophie back at home, they’ve all been doing a wonderful job on her glucose levels. She’s been running a bit higher than normal, but we’re completely fine with that in order to avoid dangerous lows. We’re so thankful for Dexcom and the ability to check in and see how things are going. It also makes caring for Sophie much easier on my parents. What an amazing thing technology can be!!

Now, we’re touring schools in the area and putting in applications. They’re all currently full but we’re hoping some students leave this year and open a spot for Sophie. We’ve also visited the local GP clinic and will be able to register with them just before moving so that we can have an immediate doctor visit upon getting here. We need to make sure Sophie can get a referral to the Paediatric Diabetic Clinic ASAP.

We leave tomorrow to go back to Canada and are so happy we’ve had a successful house hunting trip – got what we needed here in Bristol and Sophie is okay and healthy back home!