Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Day Out in Cambridge

one of the things i was most excited about when i found out i would be moving to England was the shopping opportunities i would have while here. i was mostly excited about going to thrift & antique shops, but one shop in particular that i was looking forward to was the Cath Kidston store! i looked up where the nearest one would be & it turns out it's only about 30 miles away in the city of Cambridge!!

so what did we do on our first Saturday in England? we drove ourselves to the outskirts of Cambridge where we parked our rental car & rode the bus into the city center. the little one was very excited to ride a big red bus, especially when we sat on the top deck & enjoyed the views out the large windows.

we weren't 100% sure where the CK store was located, but Jer said he had a pretty good idea. haha, i spent a good 30 minutes chasing after him & Layla because he was walking so fast while i was trying to take pictures. (tip for the wise: don't walk so fast if you don't know where the hell you're going.)
i finally made him slow down & stopped for a quick sec to look around & low and behold i found the store in the distance! it was completely in the opposite direction he'd been circling.

after i spent time browsing the store (& disappointed with the low limit Jer gave me to spend) i finally decided on which items to purchase & checked out. afterwards we went & walked around some more, a little more slowly this time so that i could take some pretty photographs to share with my family & friends. the entire city is just beautiful. it's mostly old buildings, but ever the newer ones have a sort of old spirit to them & they all mesh so well together. 

even if they didn't have the CK store to go to, i am sure we'd still be going to Cambridge often because there is so much shopping, eating, & sightseeing opportunities for us. it looked like there were a few walking tours with guides who have more information on the beautiful buildings & the history of the city. there were quite a few pubs & restaurants to eat at, but we ended up getting some sausages from a cart, they smelled way too good to pass up!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Favourites

i love tea.
i started out drinking green tea with honey in high school, and over the years gradually started branching out to different kinds of teas.
my absolute favourite is Earl Grey.
i love it with lemon, when i need a pick me up (or pretty much anytime it's warm out!)
i love it with milk & sugar when i need a bit of comfort or whenever it tickles me fancy.

after having a terrible day yesterday i decided that i needed a nice, hot cuppa with some biscuits. i also treated myself to this cute little two-cup tea set! it is one of my new favourite things! & it's size is perfect for me while I'm staying here in this small temporary housing.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Our move to the UK began in the spring of 2011 when we found out the air force would be sending us to RAF Mildenhall. Jer finished his course at the Defense Language Institute in California in early August, and we were set to leave soon afterwards. Well, we were forced to wait around for some paperwork to be finished & didn't move out of our house until October.

As soon as we moved out of the house Layla & I went to stay with my parents for a month while Jeremy went on to Offutt AFB in Nebraska for a TDY en-route. It was only supposed to take a few weeks or just over a month at the most, so after staying with my family for a month Layla & I joined him in Nebraska hoping to leave soon. Our original report no later than date was 30 November, but it had to be amended because his short training was taking longer than planned, due to paperwork.

While we were waiting around for some paperwork, we discovered that Layla & I didn't have the correct passports! Jer's checklist just stated that family members needed a passport, and that we could get free, government issued passports. Our first sponsor gave us the advise that we should pay for our own passports instead of getting the government issued ones because the free ones just got us into the UK, and if we wanted to travel to and other countries in Europe we'd have to get the other ones anyway. So we listened to him, and on out-processing from DLI no one said anything regarding this issue.

Luckily we found out about this prior to leaving for the UK, but we were told this process takes 8-10 weeks. We were already months passed when we were supposed to be in the UK, and now we were going to be forced to wait even longer! 

Turns out the process took no more than 3 weeks for us. We got lucky that the state department wasn't busy & issued out passports within a week. We quickly got them sent out with our applications for our visas, and the British Consulate General took only 2 weeks to approve & issue our visas. I was very impressed with how quickly the process was & how well-informed they kept us throughout! We received an email for every step our visa applications went through. Finally, we had all of our paperwork in order & everything was approved!

Then, in mid-January Jer's training was finally finished!

Things were looking like they were finally happening & after months of living out of suitcases in temporary housing we were looking forward to finally finding a home and getting settled. We went in to the travel office on base to FINALLY book our tickets, but the guy couldn't book flights for Layla & I because the address on our orders had our address in California & he couldn't fly us out of anywhere other than California or a 'port' city. Yes, it is as stupid as it sounds. Someone made this rule thinking that it would save the military money, but in fact it just makes things difficult, and could actually cost the AF money in some cases.

Our options were to either get Jer's orders amended with mine & Layla's address changed, fly out of Chicago, but make our own way there (last minute flights were horrific, and renting a car to drive that far in the midwest during winter seemed like a really stupid idea,) or fly out of St. Louis and have our car shipped out to the UK for us.

So according to the air force it's cheaper to fly 3 people & ship a car out of St. Louis than it is to fly 3 people out of Omaha with no car.....no wonder this country is in debt!

We were going to take a day & think about it, but the guy called us the next day & said that since it's cheaper to fly us out of Omaha than it would have been to fly us out of California he would be able to book the flight for us. Gee, thanks mister! Why couldn't you have told us about this option yesterday & saved us all the stress of having to figure out what we were going to do?! 

So you're welcome air force, we just saved you some money! (So sorry that we had to make you use your brains for a little bit.)

Idiot travel guy goes ahead & reserves our tickets, but we couldn't pay yet because the lodging office decided to go ahead & charge Jer's government travel card for a whole extra month ($2100!!) so we had to wait until that was refunded so we could buy them. The refund was taking forever, and Jer contacted the travel card people so the limit could be raised in case the refund didn't go through quickly enough (we only had a few days!!) The limit raising took a little while, but at 5.30 the evening before leaving it was finally raised & we were finally going to be leaving the next day!!

After months of waiting around we finally arrived in England yesterday morning! After flying into London we took a 2 hour bus ride to our base & checked into lodging. We should only be in lodging a few days, but we really have no idea how long it will take to move into a new home.

We also learned that my dream of living in a beautiful English cottage is not possible because they're forcing all E-6's to live in on-base housing. I don't normally have a problem with base housing, but I was really looking forward to the experience of living off base in an English home. & I've been living on bases around the states for the past 6 years now, and was really looking forward to something different. I really hate that I'm being forced to live somewhere that I have no choice in. I think we only have to stay in base housing the first year, and then if we want to move we will have to pack up and move everything ourselves. Not sure if it will be worth the hassle since we'll probably only be here another 2 years after that, but we will get to that issue when the time comes. 

I'm really looking forward to getting out there & exploring my new town. (I am especially looking forward to going shopping!!!!!!)

I'll try & get some pictures soon and post them asap!

x Jen

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I need to keep reminding myself...

Training is off to a slow start. I've been sick almost the whole time we've been in Nebraska, so I have not been running as much as I would like to. I'm still going at it though.