Big-Chief Larry in Hitchin
Larry is now well into his fourth week in England. We have sorted most things and tomorrow is a red letter day because his new shed is arriving. Pictures of that will follow soon. Before I give you his take on Life In England, I want to share with you how it has been for me. Since these are my memoirs, I feel justified to do that.
It has been a whirlwind of a three weeks, but somehow it feels like it was all meant to be because so far at least, everything has gone very smoothly. Going back to the visa, which arrived after only a six week wait from application, this was our experience:
Larry put in for his visa, which included a large payment to the Home Office here and a shirt-box sized packet of documents for them to look through and check. The visa was a spouse settlement visa and it is valid for three years. Then it has to be renewed. To make sure that we had filled in the documents correctly, we employed a solicitor here in England to help us through the complicated procedure. This involved extra cost but was invaluable help as it turned out.
Since July 2012, the sponsor(that’s me) has to show written evidence that he/she is earning at least £18,600 per annum. I am not. Since I am now on my pension, it doesn’t come to anything near that amount. However, since L and I are a couple, both on pension, he in America and me here, our joint incomes counted, so we were ok. I suppose it is unusual for retired people to relocate so far afield and it could have caused a problem, but it didn’t.
Living here as a threesome has been wicked. It’s so much easier when two can go shopping, then when they return, there is someone waiting to open the door and help with the unpacking.’ Many hands make light work’ as the saying goes, is certainly true in this case.
Of course there is 1/3rd more washing and ironing! and more cooking, but I’m not complaining, yet!
So here then is Larry’s diary for …
‘My Third Week in England
The word “Tea” (capitalized out of profound reverence) has a number of meanings in England, some of them less than obvious. For example, “Tea” is
• A hot drink served at almost anytime of day. People get “absolutely desperate” for it while shopping. Thus, there are tables and chairs and counters that serve tea and pastries almost everywhere. Teashops are outnumbered only by mobile phone shops in England. BTW “iced tea” does not compute here. I haven’t dared to ask for it, even on warm days in August.
• A meal served somewhere between 5 pm and 7 pm, consisting of sandwiches and/or pastries and, of course, the hot drink called tea. Evening tea is not to be confused with “dinner”, which is the main meal of the day usually (but not always) served around noon. “Dinnertime” is rarely in the evening as it was when I was growing up in America. And “Tea Time” can be anytime you want it to be, not to be confused with meeting your friends at the country club for a round of golf. (Confused yet?!)
• An entire aisle in Sainsbury’s grocery store.
• Something to be thrown into Boston Harbor in protest against unfair taxation… Sorry, I got sidetracked.
The point here is that when you are asked very politely if you want “Tea”, you might wonder if you are being offered a drink or a meal or something else entirely. I’m hoping experience will eventually be my salvation in this matter.Judging by the number of mobile phone shops in England, I have estimated that everyone in England is expected to have at least four mobile phones. I have only two at the moment, one of which (my Verizon iPhone from America) does everything except make phone calls, assuming there is a WiFi available. The truth is I really don’t expect to make many phone calls, at least not for a while. But of course that’s irrelevant – it’s the principle of the thing! After several weeks of research I have concluded that “unlocking” my iPhone and replacing the SIM card with one from a British service provider is only slightly less complicated that brain surgery. An exhausting search for reasonable alternatives has convinced me that a simple “pay as you go” mobile phone is the best option. It feels a bit like regressing into the 20th Century, which come to think of it wasn’t so bad.This week’s special discovery – the word “sorted” applies to people, not just to inanimate objects as I have always been led to believe. When I was a child growing up marbles could be sorted by size or color (sorry…. colour), eating utensils were sorted into trays of knives, forks and spoons, laundry was sorted into whites and everything else, etc. But in England it is possible for people to sort themselves, not by height or weight or ethnicity, but by successfully applying effort toward a particular outcome. For example, in the grocery store after all the items on the list have been purchased you will hear the phrase, “That’s me sorted”. Apparently after one has resolved all the issues of the day, they can then relax in a comfortable chair with a good cup of tea, and the phrase “I’m all sorted now”. Whether one can ever be really be “sorted” (short of death itself) is questionable, because new problems want solving every day. But the phrase “That’s me sorted” has a satisfying tone to it which I find very appealing. In fact I’m feeling more “sorted” with every passing day. Must be the Tea……Watch this page for my fourth week in England. Cheers!’