Tuesday, 26 February 2013

London- Day Two

After the early finish at the Embassy we had the whole day left to explore more of London. 

We decided to start our day at Buckingham Palace. The flag was flying which meant the Queen was at home, I was hoping she may come to the window and give us a little wave, but no such luck. 
Looking at the massive building I found myself thinking about how hard it would be to clean and how many staff work there. I find it hard enough to keep on top of my house and my house would probably fit in her bathroom. 

Next we took a walk through St James Park on our way to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. That's when the most amazing thing happened. Walking past a few seagulls, the biggest one there suddenly opened it beak and meowed at us, yes, meowed. I instantly though I need to take this home to Calleigh, but instead decided on a video. Unfortunately the seagull was a bit shy and as soon as I got my camera out it turned away. 

We walked a bit further and finally Big Ben came into view. Around the same square was Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. All the buildings were so beautiful. We wanted to go inside the Abbey but decided against it as time was short and we still had so much to see. 

I managed to convince Paul that it was important to go and see the Twinings Tea Shop. So we headed off to  the Strand. On the way there we walked through Trafalgar Square. It all felt very much like I was in a game of Monopoly, apart from I wasn't cheating (Paul wont play Monopoly with me anymore because I cheated, in my defence I don't  like losing).

After buying lots of Tea we headed back to the hotel via the tube. Our little feet were too tired for the 45 minute walk back. We packed up our stuff, checked out and headed for the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Our last stop before going home.

We then picked up some gifts from the gift shop for family and stopped for a cup of tea before heading back to the car.

Our journey home was not the greatest. After taking a wrong turn the Sat Nav redirected us through the centre of London so it took us an hour before we even got onto the M1.
When we finally did we saw warnings of slow traffic a couple of Junctions up but decided if we have a stop for something to eat it should have cleared up by the time we reach it.
Oh how we were so wrong.

4 hours later we finally made it home. 

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Attending the US Embassy

On the morning of our interview at the US Embassy we both got up at 6:30. Our appointment wasn't until 8:30 so this left plenty of time for us to get a good breakfast inside us. We didn't know how long we would be in there so filling our stomachs was important. 

US Embassy, London

We arrived outside the Embassy at around  8:15 to an already fairly large queue. As we took our place at the back of the line we saw people leaving to go and store their phones in a nearby newsagents. Luckily we were informed that no mobile phones or other electronic equipment would be allowed inside and stored all our valuables back in the safe at the hotel. 

US Embassy, London

The wait outside wasn't too long, they seemed to want to get people in quickly which was good as it was raining a bit. We went through security and followed the Visa signs up to yet another waiting room. Here we were given a ticket number and told to wait until our number is called. 
Surprisingly we didn't have to wait long and within 10 minutes of sitting down the electronic system called out our number and we hurried over to our window. 

At this first window it was really just checking all the documents and passports, making sure that everything was there and also taking our fingerprints (Paul had told me to be extra careful as they will send you away if you have a cut on your finger). 
We were given a form to fill out and told to wait again until our number was called. This time it would be for the interview and we were told that even though the interview may only last 15 minutes we could be waiting for over and hour. 
That being the case I went and got myself a cup of tea, as you do. 

About 15 minutes later our number was called again and that's when the nerves kicked in. What if they say no? What if we were missing something? 
I didn't have time to worry too much though as before we knew it we were stood in front of a man who was asking us questions. 
How old is your daughter?
When were you married?
What is your job?
Where will you be going? 
Paul did brilliantly and answered every question confidently even though I could see how nervous he was. And that's when the man behind the window said "I'm going to go ahead and approve this for you". 

With that short sentence our interview was over and the rest of our lives were beginning. 

I can't believe how quick it all was. After being told that it could take hours we were so surprised when we were out by 9:30. That meant we had the rest of the day to see more of London. 

US Embassy, London

Thursday, 21 February 2013

London- Day One

We arrived at our hotel, Doubletree by Hilton Marble Arch, at around 3:30pm. At check in we received a free cookie each and then quickly got to our room to dump our bags. 
First thing we needed to do was a test walk up to the Embassy (so we didn't get lost on the day). Surprisingly it was very easy and only took about 5 minutes, which means we have more time for breakfast before we have to leave tomorrow morning. 

Hotel Room

Next I wanted to go to Harrods so I got my phone out and used my handy City Guide app I downloaded to point us in the right direction. It didn't do us much good as we most definitely went the long way. It wasn't so bad though as I got to stand next to an Aston Martin Vanquish in a showroom and walk through Hyde Park (obviously avoiding the swarms of crazy people on bikes determined to run me over!). 
We finally made it to Harrods and then proceeded to get lost between the rooms of expensive handbags and even more expensive bling before finding ourselves in the sanctuary that was the room with chocolate and tea. I brought some overpriced chocolate and then headed to the toy department to find something for Calleigh. After looking for far too long at a pair of glittery Cinderella shoes (that also came in my size) and being told by Paul that we would both look silly in them, I decided on a Harrods bear dressed as the Queen. 


Our next stop was the Hard Rock Cafe shop to pick up a T-Shirt from the London store. 
I now own St Louis, Copenhagen and London Hard Rock T-Shirts. 

As it was getting later and was already dark we quickly moved on to the Ice Bar, which I have wanted to do for ages. There was one in Copenhagen when we went but we couldn't go in as it would have been far too cold for little Calleigh. 
It was a bit expensive (£14 per person) and Paul had a little grumble but we did get a free cocktail once inside and it was super cool. We were dressed in silly snow coats with gloves attached. The gloves were a must as the glass was made of ice and would of been impossible to hold otherwise. It was really good, I though it would of had a bit more seating but I suppose you can only have so many ice chairs. 

Ice Bar

Starving and knackered we headed back to the hotel for some hot food, a nice shower and a warm bed.

Out for a meal

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The story so far...

This is the story of our move from our little mid-terraced home in the heart of a little village called Breaston in the UK over the great Atlantic to St Louis, Missouri. 

My husband, Paul, works for a company whose headquarters are based in the USA. After several trips out there (one where baby and I got to go along too) the decision was made both by the company and ourselves to petition for a work visa so that we could relocate to the USA and Paul could carry on his work there in the headquarters. 

We have just had our Visa approved. 

What does this mean you say? 

Well, following a long wait while our petition went through check after check after check it was finally sent off to be processed in California. A week later we received notice that it had been approved and informed of the next steps we had to take to solidify the decision. 

This includes a trip to the US Embassy in London that we will embark on next Wednesday. 
Luckily Calleigh does not have to be present at the Embassy due to her young age so we have arranged for her to stay with family. 
We have booked a hotel overnight as to avoid a very (very!) early morning drive to London as our appointment is at half past 8. 

I am very much looking forward to our trip and will make sure to update you once we get back. 

Hopefully the decision will be a good one!