It's been an incredibly hectic couple of months as we have made a big transition in our lives and have left Davis, California to return back to the UK to take up new jobs in London. For almost 11 years we have enjoyed our jobs at UC Davis and the reason we ended up staying so long was partly due to all of the great friends that we made there (the sunshine and opportunities for travel also helped).
Selling our home, our cars, and most of our worldly possessions was not exactly what I would call a relaxing way to end our time in America. Especially when this came on top of saying so many goodbyes to our Davis friends, finishing up our work-related projects, and making plans for everything else that needed to be done.
We just managed to finish everything before we headed to SFO for our flight home (many thanks to my friend, and former boss Ian Korf for driving us to the airport). Our last week in Davis was spent in a hotel living out of our suitcases and we will be living in somewhat of a spartan manner until the possessions that we didn't sell arrive via a container ship.
Arriving in London has also been a busy and frantic time. Arriving on Christmas Eve, our 2.5 year old took most of a week until he adjusted to his new time zone (on Christmas Day he woke up at 2:00 am and was very much awake for the next 7 hours). I'm glad that I've kept one active bank account in the UK…this has helped things somewhat. However, it turns out that it is hard to sort many things out unless you have a printed utility bill that confirms that you live at a specific address. In any case we have sorted out the essentials: internet, mobile phones, and a doctor (I think I have those in the right order).
We've visited the UK for most of the years we lived in Davis, but it is very different to be back here again as residents. We admittedly have become somewhat Americanised. Not just in our tendencies to use American words, phrases, and spellings…but also in our perception of various things. Just as everything in America seemed so much BIGGER when we first moved there, now everything in the UK seems so much smaller. Washing machines — to pick one example — seem impossibly tiny and toy-like.
A few other thoughts on life in the UK after 11 years away:
- Byron Burger restaurants seem to be everywhere (at least in London)
- Supermarkets here have a pitiful selection of peanut butter…
- …but they have sausage rolls, biscuits, and crisps, not to mention many more items that we have missed
- British beer and pubs are wonderful
- Tea consumption has been greatly increased, coffee consumption has been greatly reduced
- Supermarkets don't open for 24 hours a day, 364.5 days of the year (USA grocery stores sometimes take half a day off for Thanksgiving)
- Sunday trading hours seem particularly strange
- Davis is a lot smaller than London…I am walking a lot more!
- Lots of high street shops here now offer WiFi for their customers…this seems odd
- There is a lot more choice in certain sectors compared to California/USA, e.g. energy and mobile phone providers
- Brown sauce! Only in the UK would we name a condiment based on its colour.
- I have missed buildings made out of stone!
- I have missed really old buildings!
- No refill on sodas…this just seems so wrong now.
- I like the ease of using Oyster cards to get around everywhere in London
- London Underground stations are not very buggy/pram friendly
- Property prices in London seem crazy (rents listed by the week rather than month)
- The EU law about websites notifying you about cookies gets tedious really quickly
- Prices in shops reflect the actual price you will pay…no city + state sales taxes to be added on
- Chip and PIN everywhere seems so unusual when you are used to signing for things (with no-one ever checking your signature)
- It seems so wrong that I have to wait until the evening to listen to the Archers!
I start my new job tomorrow…more on that in another post!