I'm HERE! :)
My brother made me this Tiramisu for me as a welcome. It was delicious!
The flight over was excellent - I'm glad I paid for the upgraded seat - and we landed without incident at Gatwick at 6a.m. on the morning of October 27th. You may remember that there were big storms predicted for that day, but fortunately we missed them. It was quite windy and rainy, though, and we blew around a little on landing, but otherwise it was a beautiful flight - smooth and comfortable. I caught myself up on a few movies, as I certainly couldn't sleep. Customs took all of 1 minute - thanks early-morning flight & British passport - and because I flew Club Class, my luggage was tagged as "priority," so it was first off the plane! My brother and SIL arrived at the gate about the same time I did, so it was good timing.
I spent a week in London with them, settling in a bit, and opening a bank account, and then came to Hampshire, just outside of Southampton, in the New Forest, to stay with my cousin. It's very pretty and quiet where we are, and I'm settling in well. I have a big, bright, cosy room and am adding some personal touches to make it feel more like mine: pieces of art that are arriving in dribs and drabs; small furniture items, etc. It's coming along. I bought a memory foam mattress topper as the mattress was a bit hard, but now I sleep really well, so it was worth it.
Overall, I'm happy to be here and feel quite at home. The weather has been very mild until just recently, but I am feeling the damp. I'll acclimatise, I know, but it's a bit of an adjustment, because it goes right through you. It's similar to living in BC's Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, so I've adapted before, but I do find it difficult sometimes to get warm.
Since I've been here, I've bought my own computer, and a new bike, which is lighter and better fitting than the one I had in Whitehorse, so I'm enjoying it much more. I added mud guards, a pannier rack, and a pannier bag to it, so it's perfect for trekking around the forest. I've got two New Forest maps, and there are apparently over 100 miles of bike trails to explore, so I'm quite excited to get out there and try them. Today I went on my first trek since I got the bike two weeks ago. I cycled down to a town called Lyndhurst, which is the heart of the New Forest, and picked up a few things, including a new purse for my cousin for Christmas. She's been so good to me, letting me stay here (indefinitely at this point), cooking (I clean up!), and driving me around the area. I've spent more than I'd initially intended to, but I feel I'm set up now, so it was worth it.
I launched myself into a rather frenzied job search almost the instant I arrived and started feeling frustrated because nothing was happening (as quickly as I wanted it to...ahem). My cousin was great and kept saying not to get so worked up and panicky about things, as it's likely that the jobs I applied for hadn't closed yet, so it would be a little while before I heard anything. This is true. As is the fact that there are tens of thousands of people out of work who have been looking for far, far longer than me. It helped keep things in perspective. So I sent off flurries of resumes two or three days a week, after spending some time restructuring it and paring it down to necessary information only. I'm finding it's different looking for work here than at home - although I understand it's tightened up considerably since 2008, so that's likely the reason for it - and most jobs are applied for either online or through an agency. It feels somewhat anonymous, but I suppose they get so many applications, they have to do something to streamline the whole process.
On the weekend of November 23rd, it was my Auntie & Uncle's 50th Wedding Anniversary and 20 family and friends travelled up to the Bristol area (a bit north and west of me) for a surprise tea. The hotel where it was hosted was beautiful, and the surprise went off perfectly! They'd had no idea and when I spoke to my Auntie earlier this week, she said it had taken a few days for the shock to wear off, but they loved it. I saw family I hadn't seen in 20 - 30 years, and met new (to me) family, so it was an excellent weekend all round.
Tuesday afternoon (that would be November 26) I got a call from an agency letting me know they'd received my resume - sorry, CV - and had a job for me. A full-time, permanent admin one. With a business IN THE NEXT VILLAGE. Was I interested? Say, what?! I didn't remember sending my resume to this particular agency, but I imagine that I applied for a job they were posting and that's how they got it. Regardless, of course I said "I absolutely am!" I registered with the agency in Southampton the next morning, had an information session with the Admin Manager at the company that afternoon, and came home with a shiny, brand new job!!! That was November 27th - exactly a month since I arrived. To say I'm thrilled is an understatement, particularly because the job is a 15-minute walk from home. I come home for lunch! :)
And I say "information session" rather the the interview it was supposed to be, because the only questions I really got asked were, "So what brought you to England?," "How does that sound?," and "Do you have days you're unavailable?" It was mostly learning about what I'd be doing, when I started, what the company does, etc. Apparently my resume - and the agency - sold me and I didn't have to say anything else!
It's an Admin/reception position with an energy company, and so far, so good. The wage is on the low side, but I'm okay with that for the time being as my expenses are low, too. I'm just happy to have some work to get me out of the house, earning a paycheque, and learning something new. There seems to be some opportunity to move around within the company, but even so, I'm happy to be getting some experience here that I can use as a step up. I'm technically an employee of the agency for the first 13 weeks, which means I get paid weekly. Assuming all goes well during the probationary period, and the company and I still like each other at the end of it, I can be hired on directly by the company. This would be the ideal situation. It's quite old-school and astoundingly inefficient for the most part, but I'm enjoying it.
The past week has been a bit of a whirlwind of learning new routines, who people are, what they do, etc. It was my first full week, as I started on the 28th, so I have to say I'm enjoying this weekend.
So, that's my update for now. I do have some photos, but they haven't downloaded from my iPod for some reason, so I'll work on that and have some for my next post.
Hope you're all well and getting ready for the holidays!