Thursday, December 17, 2015

And we have moved to . . .

Our expat journey continues!

We hadn't planned on moving. At least, not yet.

{Ed.'s note: That implies you actually have a plan.}

Okay, true enough, we don't have a plan. But when we first moved overseas, back in June 2013, we assumed we'd be in Scotland for at least three years. Kate's contract with the University of Glasgow was for three years, and at the end of those three years i.e., next June our toddler would have turned five and been ready to begin school. We figured June 2016 would be an excellent time to take stock of our lives and see how this expat adventure was working out.

Then Kate developed a crush.

Actually, she's had the crush for a long time. Years. Since before we ever moved overseas, she had developed a crush on a small veterinary diagnostic company. (I've been assured the crush is only for the company, and not for its owner.) She loves their fantastic work and clientele. She loves that although they are a small business, they nonetheless have (inter)national leaders in the field of anatomic pathology who produce good scholarship and give talks at major conventions. She loves that they're so well respected in the field that the Royal Veterinary College in London sends its pathology residents to spend as much as a year getting training at the company. She loves that the job advertisement indicated baking skills were not required, but definitely a bonus.

She really loves that they all stop work every day and have tea, and every Friday is "cake Friday." And that she'll get her own mug with her name on it, although not until she's been there long enough to earn it.

It's the little things.

Our new home in Bristol, England
Our new home, a nineteenth century Victorian row house. (Photo by leasing agency.)
{Ed.'s note: Okay, get on with it. Where is this new job?}

I thought you'd never ask. We have moved to    .  .  .
                                                                                                            Bristol, England!

Bristol on map of Britain
Bristol on map of Britain (link)
We left bonnie Scotland for the auld enemy, England. Some of you might think we've simply moved south within the same country (the United Kingdom). In the view of many Scots, though, we left one country and moved to another. I'm glum about leaving Glasgow and the lovely nation of Scotland. We truly loved our time there.

But a new city beckoned.

And what a city it is. According to frequent rankings and polls, Bristol grades as the U.K.'s best city to live in. It's funky. Artsy. Home of renowned street artist Banksy. Home of multiple Oscar-winning studio Aardman Animations, which created characters like Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep. Home of the illustrious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, founded by Sir Laurence Olivier and whose alumni include Jeremy Irons, Gene Wilder, Olivia Colman, Patrick Stewart, Stephen Dillane, and the incomparable Daniel Day Lewis. Home of iconic engineering marvels, like the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Home of numerous festivals, including, because the area is so gorgeous, an international hot air balloon extravaganza.

Bristolians get roughly half the yearly rainfall as Glaswegians. And Bristol enjoys approximately 360 more hours of sunshine per year than Glasgow, which equates to a full month more of sunny days. When you're coming from damp Scotland, these aren't insignificant bonuses.

Bristol's best draw, to my mind, is its ideal placement to explore so much of England and Wales. We're on the threshold of: the Cotswolds; the wilds of southern Wales; the rolling countryside of Somerset, with its cider and Cheddar (as in, the actual birthplace town of Cheddar cheese); the moors of Devon; the beaches of Cornwall; and UNESCO world heritage sites like Bath and Avebury and Stonehenge.

With our 19th century Victorian row house, we've seriously upped our Britishness. The house comes complete with ten-foot ceilings, original stained glass, wide-plank floors, and, well, not one goddamn closet. Moreover, we now live within a stone's throw of three sporting complexes lawn bowling, grass court tennis, and a cricket pitch. It's as though we've moved into a British cliché.

Our kitchen, as lived in by our predecessors. (Photo by leasing agency.)
Our move to Bristol has forced a painful but necessary scantiness in blog posts here. For the past few months, we've been preoccupied with the move — finding a place to live, figuring out schooling for Jackson (kids in England start at age 4, unlike in Scotland where they start at age 5), packing boxes and arranging movers, and on and on. Plus, ever since we saw our move on the horizon, we spent every available day in Scotland traveling and sightseeing and absorbing as much as we could. I wanted to devote time to experiencing Scotland instead of writing about it.

{Ed.'s note: Now that you've left, will you no longer blog about Scotland?}

Heck, no! I have oodles and tons and reams and gobs of fascinating stuff in Scotland still to write about. Truly, years worth. Especially at my current snail's pace. Indeed, Scotland will still feature very prominently here. I loved it and have much more to share. England and Wales, however, will now become major players here, as well.

pregnant with the lil' scribbler
Kate at 5.5 months pregnant with the new lil' scribbler.
Our carpe negotium (i.e., seize the job) move to England has once again stretched our boundaries and expanded our expat lives. While our first move, to Glasgow, always had a possible deadline of three years, this second move, to Bristol, feels like a long-term stay. We're only three to four years from getting our U.K. citizenship, which is a huge goal we're eyeing. That'll give us a multitude of options and advantages for our futures, particularly for Jackson and the new baby on the way. A passport from the U.K. provides European Union citizenship (assuming the U.K. doesn't boneheadedly vote to leave in an upcoming referendum), as well as the many perks of being members of the Commonwealth.

After two and a half years, expat life is still relatively new to us. Living outside the U.S. for a few years seemed adventurous; we were ready to color outside the lines. Now that we're earnestly contemplating getting foreign citizenship? Well, we've gone from scribbling on the page to drafting an entirely new picture.

UPDATE: I've gotten a few inquiries about whether we'd give up our U.S. citizenship. Getting U.K. citizenship doesn't require giving up U.S. citizenship. We have no intention of relinquishing our U.S. passports.


  1. Congrats on the move but I'm sad that it sounds like you won't be moving back to the states. I miss you guys and visiting you in NC is a lot easier than visiting oversees. :o(

    1. Not moving back in the near future, that's for sure. Looks like it's time for a jaunt across the pond.