Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Where we live

So I've taken some pictures of our flat:

This is our front door.

Here is the view looking south down Fleming place. Here is the view looking north from Fleming place. This bridge leads to a pathway (called a close) that leads to the downtown area.
Here is our garden and our shed. We hope to eventually do some planting and gardening...
Here is our bedroom, which by Scottish standards is quite large.
The other side of the bedroom.

Here is our living room.

This area leads into our kitchen...Its a bit of a hallway, but it works.

Here's the bathroom.

And here is the close that leads to town. (pronounced "close" as in "don't stand so close", not as in "close the door").

So that's where we live!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Our moving day...

The day we left was a bit surreal, with a palpable “is-this-really-happening?” feeling.

We put the last few things into our bags, weighed them (because each was filled right up to the 50lbs max!), and loaded everything into the van. The first stop was to drop the dog off at the pet carrier company…

Leaving him with the transport company was traumatic- probably more so for us than for the dog. He was actually relatively calm and quiet. We had to drop him off by 2:00, so we ran some errands, got some food, then headed to the airport.

The benefit of using duffle bags for the checked luggage is that they are very light, leaving more weight for our possessions. The down side is that unlike most luggage bags nowadays, they do not have wheels. This made moving them somewhat comical…

I had called our airline multiple times to ask about bringing my guitar as an additional piece of luggage. Every time I called I was told that it would cost about $30 (to be paid at check-in) and that the instrument would be brought to and from the plane by hand. At check-in at the airport I was told that “the phone support people in India had no idea what they were talking about” (their words, not mine) and it would cost $128 to check my guitar. Outsourcing is a wonderful idea, really. I asked what the fee was for an overweight bag- $50. So I tried to cram the guitar (case and all) into one of my gigantic duffle bags. The manager, who had been summoned over to help with my situation, saw me struggling and took pity on me, offering to check the guitar as a carried-by-hand item for free! The only condition was that the airline would have no liability if the guitar was damaged, which to me was quite reasonable. The guitar arrived undamaged and it cost me nothing!

The flight was smooth and uneventful, although not as conducive to sleep as one might have hoped. I’ve never really been able to get comfortable enough to sleep in airline chairs. However they did have a free onboard entertainment system that was quite nice- loaded with TV shows, movies, and even video games!

Once we got to Manchester, customs took a while but was problem free. We gathered our bags and clumsily made our way to the car rental station. After getting our car we nervously drove the short distance to the carrier company- this is when we would find out if we successfully avoided quarantine for the dog.

After finally finding the right place we went in and found no one there. So we rang the bell- no one came for several minutes. After a while of nervous waiting we noticed Piper’s paperwork sitting on the counter, all prepared. Too anxious to wait we couldn’t help but look- and “FAIL” was marked! Our stomachs sank as panic set in… but after a few seconds of further inspection we realized that in the UK they cross off what they don’t mean and leave unmarked what they do mean! So went a form says “PASS / FAIL”, instead of circling or marking “PASS”, they put a line through “FAIL”! What a country! Shortly after this rollercoaster ride someone came to help us and soon Piper was extremely happy to be reunited with us, none the worse for wear.

Driving on the left side of the road was a bit odd, and I found that it required some concentration not to drift too far to the left side of the lane. Here are some shots from our drive...

When arriving in St Andrews we first went to the house of our friends, the Egans. It was wonderful to see them again! They offered to make dinner for us, so we all went over to our flat to drop off our things and eat.

Here we are, the first night in our new home!

Thank you all for your labors in prayer- our trip here could not have gone any better.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

We made it!

We made it Scotland with amazing ease! The Lord certainly watched over us during the whole process. We are still getting settled, but I hope to make a more extensive blog post within the next day or two, detailing our whole trip. More to come soon...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We leave tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the big day! Here's our itinerary: we drop the dog off at the carrier company around 1:30pm, and our flight leaves at 6:30pm. We will be arriving at 8:05am UK time (2:05am Chicago time), getting our rental car, picking up the dog from customs, and then driving 5 hours on the wrong side of the road- all this while fighting jet lag. But by then we should be running on adrenaline, so we'll be just fine.

We are limited to 4 checked bags weighing 50lbs each, 2 carry on bags (which are not weighed, so I'm filling them with books!), and 2 laptop bags. We are also bringing a guitar (for a small fee). Packing went well enough- here are some pictures:

We took over the living room of Sara's parents for the night....

I was cramming this bag full of stuff, which took some effort and got a bit frustrating.

Here it is- all that we are bringing for the next 3 years of our life! Thankfully, like most apartments in Scotland, ours is fully furnished, so we only need to bring clothes, books, and personal items.

Of course, we won't be forgetting our dog Piper!

Please pray tomorrow if you have opportunity, specifically for safety as we travel, as we drive while fighting jet lag, that our bags would make the journey intact, and that there would be no problems or holdups with the dog getting through customs. If he had to go into quarantine- even for a few days- it would be a tremendous hassle.

Thanks for all your support!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Two weeks to go!

In two weeks from tomorrow Sara and I board the plane for Scotland. It is a bit surreal, I must say! There is much to be done between now and then but many of our remaining days in the states will be spent visiting friends and family.

Interestingly, of all the arrangements and things we needed to do to get ourselves to Scotland the most complicated, difficult, and labor-intensive has been getting our dog over there. It is much harder to get a dog over there (and avoid a 6 month quarrantine) than a person! (If you'd like to get a glimpse of just what all is involved, see my "guide to bringing a pet into the UK" at http://talk.uk-yankee.com/index.php?topic=46708.0 )

Piper is a great dog- not only is he the most obedient dog you could ever want, he is also certified to do therapy work at places like nursing homes and hospitals. See this amazing video of his work!


We are thankful that we learned well in advance about the rules and requirements to move a pet to the UK- we started the whole process 8 months ago!

On a different note, one of the things we will miss the most is the city of Chicago itself. I am convinced that Chicago is one of the best big cities in the world and we have been doing our best to enjoy the downtown area as much as possible before we leave.

Goodbye, sweet home Chicago!