While the decision to move over to California was quite a quick one, the months felt as if they dragged along right up until the point that we got our visas approved there and then at the US Embassy in London back in September. Since then time has literally just flown by in a bit of a haze, hence the silence on here, weeks were filled with meeting friends and family for goodbyes. There was also the massive task of sorting the house out; the move from Oxford to Guildford was stressful enough but moving overseas is a whole new level of stress!
There was nearly 17 years worth of stuff we had to sort out as we really couldn’t hold onto everything and being totally honest a lot of the stuff had just been sat in boxes for years and had never been touched so it was time to clear out! The local charity shops, neighbours, recycling, the food bank and less fortunate animals did very well out of our move! I also used Music Magpie to get some cash for old CDs, DVDs and some electronics, traded old games consoles in at Game, recycled old iPhones at O2 and sold stuff on eBay. All in we traded in or sold about £1,200 worth of stuff that we had no real need for so that money was a little bit of a bonus as moving abroad isn’t exactly cheap and even though we do have a relocation package it hasn’t covered everything.
Luckily the relocation package included a team to pack up the house and boy did they pack it up fast – literally if I had stood still I would’ve been packed up into a box and whacked in the sea container. Three men packed the house up in about five hours, that included separating the equivalent of 10 cases worth of stuff for air freight, which has already arrived here in the US but due to Thanksgiving we won’t receive our boxes until early next week. The rest of our belonginngs mainly furniture, art, electricals (which will work over here) personal bits and the rest of our clothes and shoes will arrive via the sea container early next year.
Once the house sale went through we were technically homeless! Trying to find somewhere to stay near Guildford/Heathrow that would allow Huxley was a real task, that took up a whole morning! It’s so hard travelling anywhere in the UK with a dog, but I finally found a rental cottage in the village of Ripley which turned out to be a real gem of a find.
After the house sale I had to deal with the sale of the Mini. Now I had advertised it on eBay for just £750 as the starting price, but my Mini had done 268k miles – yep you read that right! After 5 days of bidding the car was sold for £1,600 – a figure which surprised me, but I spoke to the buyer he said he had booked a coach to Guildford to collect it and I could only wait for my phone to go when he arrived, and much to my surprise he did arrive!
There was a real panic on the day the man came to collect he car, I went to open the bonnet to add screen wash and the bonnet catch wouldn’t release the bonnet!!! I discovered this at 1pm and the man was coming at 3.30pm all the way from Devon – argghhh! I made a frantic dash to the Guildford Mini garage but as usual they were useless and wouldn’t even take a quick look at the bonnet catch for me, so there was nothing I could do but tell the man when he arrived. Lucky the man was lovely and is actually taking my Mini to his mine out in Tanzania! My Mini is literally going to have its very own Mini adventure. I felt so bad about the bonnet catch and that the man was really paying way over the odds for the car I told him to just give me £1,200 for it which he did, that was still a big bonus for me as I wasnt expecting more than £500 in all honestly.
House gone, car gone, it was all feeling really very real! We made our way to the cottage for our final night together before our final day in the UK and our trip to AirPets to drop Huxley off so he was ready for the flight. At this point we were totally knackered, we just hadn’t appreciated how much stuff and sorting out we needed to do before the flight, when we dropped Huxley at AirPets the fact we were actually moving really hit, mainly as I was so worried about leaving Huxley and his flight ahead!
Mr B and I made our way to the hotel at Heathrow, dropped our bags then got the tube into central London for some last minute shopping and our last meal for a while at Busaba Eathai, after a few drinks back in then hotel bar we went to our room, did some repacking then collapsed into bed at around 11pm.
Our flight was at 10.45am on Virgin Atlantic but we got to the airport nice and early as we wanted to upgrade. Mr Bs work only pay for an Econmy flight on a relocation package, not the normal Premium Economy on a return trip or business. We had already used some air miles to upgrade to Premium Economy but we decided it’s not every day you move to another county and as the flight to San Francisco is 11 hours we splashed the cash and went Upper Class. Going Upper Class meant we didn’t have to pay any excess baggage for our 5 massive bags we needed to check in.
Huxley was on the same flight as us but he went in the special pet section of the hold and apparently he was travelling with 2 cats! While checking in, one of my brothers snuck up on me and totally surprised me! I hadn’t wanted anyone to come and see us off as the whole thing was so stressful and we were knackered, also there’s nothing to do pre-security side at airports these days but it was nice to see him and say goodbye.
Our flight was delayed for 30 minutes which made me more anxious about Huxley, but we settled into the Upper Class lounge for some breakfast and a few more goodbye phone calls and texts before boarding our flight. Paying the extra for Upper Class was defiantly worthwhile but as I was so worried about Huxley I didn’t actually get to fall asleep in my little pod bed. The air stewards reassured us that the heating was on at around 18 degrees and that Huxley should be fine, this made me feel a little better. I was so tired and restless though I couldn’t even settle down to watch at film, so I just had some music on and hung out at the bar for a bit.
Luckily we were first off, through customs in minutes and our bags arrived out quite quickly, we then headed out to the car rental area to pick up our SUV, then off to get Huxley!! Getting Huxley wasn’t exactly straightforward, we had to go to the cargo area where he was to collect paperwork, then we had to drive about 2 miles away to the customs office for them to stamp Huxley’s paperwork, once that was done we then had to drive back to cargo to pick Huxley up.
When they bought him out his tail went mental in his little travel crate, he couldn’t wait to get out and see us but for whatever reason the guys at cargo seemed to take forever to unlock the doors and let us take him out! Once he was out there was a lot of tail wagging and licks then he settled in the car for another stressful journey to our new temporary home. At this point it was 5.30pm local time, so it was dark and the traffic was in rush hour mode, what should’ve been a quick 15 minutes journey took nearly an hour!
We have now been in our temporary apartment for 5 days and even though we are settling in well and have done a lot – opened bank accounts, applied for social security numbers, got Huxley his dog license and I have even signed up for a loyalty card at Nob Hill Foods, it still feels a little bit like we’re on holiday at the moment. I guess it won’t feel like home until we get our own home and our belongings arrive, but Mr B starts back at work next week so I suspect it will feel a little more like real life then. I’m taking a few months out before I start to look for a job, so I will have plenty of time to update the blog and bring you my adventures and fashion finds from the San Francisco Bay Area!