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We are back in Britain!

October 20, 2013

The roast beef lunch was great even if the new oven did cook a bit quicker than expected. We also made a start on cleaning the big display cabinet and put the glass shelves in ready for the contents.

On Monday our new Freesat box arrived exactly on time – quite impressed with the DPD delivery service and now we have full satellite TV on our 32” screen which is more than adequate for the room size. Unpacked and connected up all the stereo equipment so now we have HiFi quality sound again.  Also cleaned the dining room cabinet and put it’s shelves in and began the great unpacking.

We paid our follow-up visit to the Dr. and he suggested another round of blood tests for some specifics so it’s back to the hospital again. He has also requested referrals to specialists for us both but have no idea when that will happen. We made a shopping trip to the nearest big shopping centre for the major items, this time we tried Morrisons which is good but is difficult to navigate and doesn’t seem to carry the range that the Tesco across the street does.

June is enjoying her weekly trip to the hairdressers with friend Joan, opportunity to get out & about a bit. I had to wait in for the plumber who was to investigate the various issues we have reported to the agents. He wasn’t very impressed to say the least and condemned the new shower as useless as it had been installed with very small diameter pipes and tapped into a line that wasn’t up to providing the necessary pressure. He promised to communicate this all to the agents and arrange a return visit to fix the smaller issues. I also discussed the heating system with him as it has been making a lot of gurgling type noises and the electrical relays are sticking and arcing.

On Thursday Joan and June took the afternoon off and went sightseeing on the Gower coast, I stayed in as my insides were playing up. The weather has been really kind to us, temperatures are still in the mid teens and apart from some showers and the odd strong wind we have managed to work on rearranging the garage storage. We did manage to get a few more boxes unpacked and a little more organizing of furniture but this is going to be a long process. The amount of waste material from the packing was such that a trip to the recycling centre was needed and we combined that with a visit to the hospital for the blood tests and then went for a pub lunch of fish & chips.

Recycling here is very strange – everything has to be separated and sorted and bagged in different coloured bags, which are collected every other week. One week it’s the paper and food waste, the next week its glass, plastic and non-recyclables plus the food waste. They have never heard of single stream recycling and consequently many people don’t take that much care and just black bag most rubbish.

Our local shops are quite good, a butchers supplying all the expected items plus some home-made stuff like steak pies, pork pies and a good selection of cooked meats. Next door is a little greengrocer, good fresh vegetables and a really good selection of cheeses. We have decided to do our fresh food shopping there and just use Tesco for the bulk buying and we also decided to try out their home delivery service – it costs £3.00 and we would easily spend that in petrol making the trip to the shopping centre.

I finally got my hair cut at a real barbers shop – they did a great job is straightening up the mess the trainee assistant did in France – an interesting experience and a real throw-back in time

Our second roast dinner was roast Welsh lamb (had to be) and it was really tasty if a tad challenging to get all the meat, veggies and Yorkshire pudding into the very small oven.  We are getting used to it but I’m wondering how we’ll cope with Christmas with al lthe extra baking we do traditionally. Our back up cooking device (US 110 volt toaster oven) still works well and as long as we don’t over load the transformer it can be used for short cooking spells and keeping food and plates warm.

The unpacking continued and slowly we are organizing the china cabinet but having lost a fair amount of storage space (the wall furniture is packed away) we are having to make some compromises in what is actually out on display and what we are repacking for subsequent disposal – we do have a lot of stuff! During this process we found the only breakage (so far) – an ornamental pair of plates had been packed together with no separating material and one plate had broken the centre right out of it. Fortunately I found a replacement on the Chinasearch website and also found replacements for the kitchen plates I broke when unpacking.


unpack 001

unpack 002








unpack 004


Joan has been asking me to join their pub quiz night so I went along this week – bit of a strange night as the English football international was on the TV so the quiz didn’t get going until after the match was over. But an interesting and entertaining evening – I haven’t done that for over 22 years.

We are slowly learning how the health system works (or doesn’t), getting our prescriptions was a new experience. Apparently the doctor writes the prescription, then we have to order the medications via the surgery and then arrange to collect them from there or the local pharmacy, none of the take the prescription document to the pharmacy and get it filled as we did in France and the US. The health system has also sent us letters from the hospital telling us our doctor has made a referral request and they’ll let us know when the appointment is later – seems a huge extra administrative step for no good reason, especially as that process has taken two weeks already.

Our first Tesco home delivery was a great success – they give us a 1-hour window and it all arrives in handy carrying baskets which we empty and give back to the driver – all done and dusted in 15 minutes – now that’s my kind of shopping! No trudging around pushing a trolley, freezing to death in the cold aisles and bouncing around all over the store because the keep changing the layout. Sorted!

During our pub lunch on Friday the landlord asked us how we were getting on with our unpacking and the conversation turned to all the beer glasses, tankards and other pub-type ornaments we had been carrying around. He was more than happy to take them as ornaments for his pub so we may have found a small solution to one problem.

I have also unpacked the hall clock, as expected the pendulum had broken at the same place as it had before but was easily fixed. I spent a couple of hours mounting the case on the wall and leveling it and then cleaned and mounted the movement. Having had to dismantle the pendulum it was wildly inaccurate at first but is slowly settling down and, having spent the extra time in centering the pendulum properly, it’s ticking away very nicely indeed.  We finally finished the dining room and cleared the excess stuff out of the conservatory, all we need now is to empty the last few boxes of the souvenir cabinet in the living room and set up a bookcase.

A quick experiment with Skype proved the laptop isn’t good enough and even the desktop will be challenged with video as it is on a wireless connection, there’s no way to run a hard-wired connection at present.

We are persevering with the roast Sunday lunch and we have a chicken to stuff and cook today. The we can sit down and relax a bit – not that there is very much on the TV despite the 140 channels we have access to, it all seems to be repeats and channels showing the same program an hour later. More study of the schedules and setting up recordings is in order and I have also uncovered my DVD collection of old movies.

It is interesting being back in Britain, much has changed but much hasn’t and it has a comfort level to it. We miss the California weather but not the rush, politics and medical insurance. We miss the bread shops and the medical system in France but on balance we both believe we have made the right decision at least for the foreseeable future.



David & June

5 Comments leave one →
  1. David Black permalink
    October 24, 2013 07:21

    David and June

    I have empathy for your moving problems. It has been an enjoyable looking at your blog. Paul Lawrence gave me the address of the blog. You could do a book or a TV show on your experiences.

    Any problems that you are having there are very small with what we are having here with our current president. In CA the current state income tax is 13.4%.

    I am in the process of moving to Austin, TX.from Jackson MS in January. No state income tax in TX and a very low unemployment rate and a low cost of living. CA weather without “Moon Beam Brown”.

    I have several job possibilities available in Austin. I just complete a project with Accenture in Chicago. Great project for me and awesome money. I was subject expert on Acucobol, AIX, Informix, Korn shells, and a few other items. All I did was solve technical problems. Made the days go very fast. Easy for me since they had no serious techs on the project.

    You may remember the project we bid on for the state of TX, using Acucobol, many years ago, has been a total failure and they have nothing to show for $420 million dollars. Gary Gumbart, who we were dealing with at the time, became in charge of the total project. He died two years ago, the job more than likely killed him.

    In a moment of insanity, that you decide to come to the states, stop by Austin. I will have extra places for you and June to stay. Austin, Houston, and Dallas have world class medical facilities with easy access to doctors.

    Have a good day now that you are back home.

    David Black

    • October 24, 2013 10:04

      Hi David,

      Good to hear from you and thank Paul for the link. I’m still amazed that all this time after Acu was swallowed up, there are still people out there using it all.

      Good luck and who knows, may get to Texas one day!


      • David Black permalink
        October 29, 2013 04:37

        AcuCobol may be gone in name but OpenCobol is almost an exact image of Acucobol. In most places it could be a drop in. The major difference is that it compiles to C code and the the C code is compiled into a runtime module that is executed. Their biggest improvement is in the area of SQL. You can right native SQL, and if I remember correctly, there is no pre-processing needed.

        You can go to SourceForge, which manages most Open Source code, and down load manuals and code.

        I use LibreOffice instead of Micro$oft Office. LibreOffice is free software and runs on all operating systems, while at the same time supports all of the Office formats. You even get the equivalent of Windows VISIO for free. All the parts of OpenOffice are better than MS Office. The Power Point part is better than M$’s version. It is being all over the world and is getting more users than MS Office.

        There is a big push on Open Source in England these days. Look at a magazine, Linux Format, a British magazine it is the best one for Linux and open source. There is also the RaspberryPi, which was created in England, gives you a full PC. Monitor and keyboard not included. It is having the same effect on the industry as the Vic, Commodore 64 and the Sinclar did years ago.

        Cheers to you and June,

        David Black

      • October 29, 2013 10:43

        Hi David,
        I hung up my programming boots on May 14th 2007 – and I’m glad I did. Pushing the rock uphill for that many years was enough, selling solar was WAY easier 🙂


  2. November 6, 2013 15:59

    Welcome back in Blightly!! Hope you and June will be happy there, and find a lovely home to settle in. Looking forward to hearing the rest of your adventures in the Gower!

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