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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Hillcrest, Public Transport & Thanksgiving

I have been a busy bee indeed. Hence the need to split the last week up into a few entries! Madness!
So, I last left off that I was about to try out the bus service and head to Hillcrest.

Well, I packed my bag with a book and my Ipod so that I could block out any weirdos should there be the case that there were some on the bus and walked to the bus stop via the garage as I needed a drink. Whilst walking past Carl's Jr a car pulls up, the guy rolls down the window and is asking me something. I cannot hear him, I have my headphones in.

I finally (after taking out said headphones) discover that he is looking for Chipotle, I gave the directions (I realised soon after that there was a quicker route) and explain that it is not yet open. He seemed aware it was not yet open. I am guessing he was a contractor. At the end of the conversation he asks if I am from England. I confirm this to be the case. This may not seem a major thing, but obviously I look confident to know where I am and to be able to give directions. I see this as a good sign. I must be looking like I live here.

Arrived at the bus stop with half hour to spare. This is my usual style. Never late (unless with M), never on time, always early. It was fine though. The sun was shining and the sun was hot. I had music to listen to and could just enjoy the sunshine.

This was taken from the bus stop- hard to believe it is November here.

So the bus arrives, I ask for a ticket with transfers. The bus driver has no clue what I have said. In my whole feeling chuffed that someone has trusted me to give directions I have forgotten to speak slow. I speak fast, very fast. I can understand why he didnt actually understand me. I slowed it down and he explained that I needed an all day pass!

Most of the seats had one person in already, there goes my chance of sitting next to a window. A guy gives me a freaky looking smile. I decide that perhaps it would be best NOT to sit next to him. I feel he may have been someone who would have wanted to talk. Instead I sat next to a guy who didnt even look in my direction. I like to travel in silences whilst travelling on public transport.

The journey to the Fashion Valley Mall (where I need to get off and join another bus) takes an hour. Many people get on, many people get off. We travel through many different neighbourhoods. Whilst I listen to my Ipod the whole journey I dont actually take my book out of my bag. I am too interested in looking at all the sights out of the window and on seeing the different characters getting on and off the bus.

We arrive at the Fashion Valley mall. The bus I need to take from there to Hillcrest goes from the bus stop right next to the one I have arrived at. It arrives on time and takes less than 10 minutes to arrive at my destination.

Despite people saying that the public transport was filled with crazies my experience was fine. I knew it would be. I have travelled on a train on my own from Milwaukee to Chicago and another from there to New York which took 26 hours (the majority of which I spent in the cart where there was food and drink being served), travelled by plane to and from the USA on my own, have travelled on the London underground alone, trains all around the UK alone and buses too. I am comfortable with travel. I love travelling alone, it is about the only time when I can truly relax in my own thoughts (whilst keeping my wits about me).

I walk down to meet my friend, we are stood outside Empire House talking for a few moments, we decide to go and have lunch. We decide to sit in the garden area. After a burger and fries/chips for her and a Cuban Sandwich with fries/chips for me washed down with two Margaritas each we decide to explore some. Of course she had seen many of the stores before but I had not so for me it was a real exploration. As well as travelling (and eating and drinking) exploring and sightseeing are things that I love.

We look in thrift stores, book stores and quirky little stores. My favourite kind of stores. Nothing better than finding places with unique items. I headed back to her place for a short while so I can meet her dog. Her dog seemed to take a shine to me right away. I was indeed shocked by just how high she could jump. It seems also that after I had gone she was whining for me.

Some pictures around Hillcrest:

I took the bus around quarter to 5 back to the Fashion Valley Mall. Again no scary characters. The bus driver was talking of someone threatening suicide on a bridge on 30th street or somewhere. I have no clue where he was referring to. Whilst I seem to be getting to grips with the general geography I am in no way an expert.

So I arrive at the mall, I have agreed to meet hubby there, this was due to some bus issues. If I wanted to travel at THAT time of day back home I had to get a bus into downtown and then travel from there upwards. It seemed like a real hassle which I was not quite ready to do on my first trial!

He was late, the traffic was quite heavy. It was fine, I sat outside the Apple store catching up with text messages. When he arrived we bought some smellies for the apartment from Bath and BodyWorks and had dinner in Sbarro. We first discovered Sbarro when we were in Las Vegas, at the time we couldnt stop getting it. We were hooked! We even had it on our trips which followed so I was really looking forward to it. Of course in reality it was a big disappointment!

Photos from the Mall:

I dont have anything to say about Wednesday. There was little of interest to report on.

Thursday was Thanksgiving. I woke up at half 6, of course I left hubby sleeping and went into the lounge. He got up around 9. I had just finished watching the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago and was about to watch the Macy's Thanskgiving Parade. I watched that and the National Dog show then we headed out for brunch.

Yes, we had a huge meal to attend in the evening but we knew we couldn't possibly go without eating for another 7 hours. We went to Denny's which had always been a favourite place to eat Breakfast. Firstly breakfast is available 24 hours, secondly it's inexpensive and thirdly the portions are huge. Got to admit it was average at best. Meh.

The afternoon was spent doing a lot of nothing. We headed off at 7 to go for dinner with our friends. There was 6 of us there for dinner, conversation was flowing as were the drinks though some would deny any knowledge of alcohol being involved. The menu was as follows:

Aged gouda, bleu cheese, fontina, aged cheddar, fruit, baguette (I didn't have any of this as I was saving myself for the Turkey dinner)
Brined roast turkey
Herb cornbread stuffing
... Mashed potatoes and gravy
Chilled asparagus with vinaigrette, asparagus coulis, and eggs mimosa
Sauteed thyme carrots
Whipped sweet potatoes with bananas and pecan crumble
Bourbon and chocolate pecan pie
Lemon cheesecake with berries and whipped cream

We played Monopoly, the game seemed to be neverending. We played as three teams. Hubby put all our eggs in one basket and we were surviving for some time with just Park Lane and Mayfair (yes, there we were playing the UK version!) however we got wiped out. The other two teams decided at that time to just declare it a draw. It was 1.30am by this time!

It was such a fantastic evening, amazing meal, awesome host, lovely people and such a fun time!

I shall continue the weekend next entry...

Saturday, 26 November 2011


So another differences entry.

I had planned to do one entry which was all about food and shopping, however, that would be an enormous entry. In fact I think when it comes to food that is going to have to be split in two as well!

So one of the marked differences between the UK and the USA when it comes to shopping is how the shops are laid out. Generally in the UK there are streets which are pedestrianised (no cars allowed, just buses) with some malls within the city or town centre. Even in each separate neighbourhood there is this kind of layout.

In the USA whilst in the downtown of a city there is this kind of format and in the inner city non suburban area you also find them there are mainly strip malls with parking right outside each store in other areas. There are also malls with their own parking completely separate. Yes, there are some of this format in the UK examples being The Trafford Centre in Manchester and also Lakeside and Bluewater but they are not everywhere like in the USA.

Generally any mall whether in the town/city centre or not are under cover. The only mall I can think of which is not undercover is Gunwharf Quays.

In the USA, especially around California there is a mixture of outdoor and undercover. For example Mission Valley, Horton Plaza, Carlsbad Premium Outlets and Las Americas Premium Outlets are outdoor malls whilst Plaza Bonita, North County and Plaza Camino Real are indoor malls.

With the strip malls in the USA you generally have the shops around in one line with the big restaurants or ones with drive-ins separately on the other side of the car parking. A lot of people tend to drive from one store to another than walking around this kind of mall. These strip malls contain small stores, supermarkets, services (dentists, nail places, coffee shops, smaller restaurants and coffee shops) some department stores and other big stores.

Examples of the big stores which you find in these strip malls are Home Depot, Marshalls, Sears, Target, Walmart, ToysRus, Best Buy, Fry's ElectronicsIKEA and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

In the strip malls and malls in the USA parking is FREE unless it is in the downtown area. In the areas where there are town centre layouts where the shops are all in a line you often have parking metres but if you go a few streets back you can often get free parking.

In the UK whilst the retail parks are free car parking you find most town/city centres and malls charge (a lot of) money to park. Again parking a few streets away you can find some free parking but it is usually limited to a couple of hours.

In the UK the department stores are mostly in the malls with the exception of a few which would instead be found in a retail park which is in a different part of a town. Some of the stores you would find in a typical retail park in the UK include Argos, Homebase, B&Q, Brantano, Halfords, Dreams, Dixons, Comet, PC World and of course IKEA and ToysRus.

The supermarkets in the UK are usually in the street with the other shops when it is a town/city centre though some are in the malls or completely separate and set on their own (not in a retail park). Here the majority of the Supermarkets are in the strip malls unless they are in the downtown or neighbourhoods within the city.

The supermarket chains in the UK are Waitrose, Morrisons, Co-op, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda and Iceland. Though Marks and Spencer also sell their own branded food.

Here in the USA there are so many supermarket chains. Ones that I can think of offhand are Ralph's, Albertsons, Vons, Stater Bros, Sprouts, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Fresh and Easy. Fresh and Easy is owned by Tesco (who are in the UK) but they rebranded for the US market. It actually does feel a little like being in a Tesco when you go in there though the colour scheme is green rather than blue. The receipt is in the same format as in the UK! Whilst Target and Walmart do sell food they are not primarily supermarkets. For those who are not aware, Asda in the United Kingdom is owned by Walmart and the Asda stores mainly sell food with some other items.

In the supermarkets in the UK there are often membership cards, Sainsbury's has a nectar card while Tesco has a clubcard. Here in the USA most of the supermarkets have their own card. Here they are not just for collecting points, often there are items where you require the card in order to make a saving on the purchases.

In the UK supermarkets you often get deals such as Buy one Get one Free or two of a specific item for say £6 (yes I have found out a way to get a £ sign on this laptop- ALT156!) Here, although I have seen many buy two or more for a specific amount I havent really seen any buy one get one frees. Another offer I have seen which is mainly in Vons is 10 items for 10$ and is across a large amount of items.

Here in the USA you get a lot of coupons in the mail each week delivered directly to your mailbox. It's not often you get them in the UK, if ever and never through the mail unless you have signed up on a website to get them.

In the UK if you want to buy a car you generally buy privately, through Auto Trader or go to a dealership. The dealerships are dotted all over the place.

Here in the USA there are generally Autopark areas where there are all of the different garages all in the same place so you may find Ford, Mercedes and Mini all lined up. People do also buy privately or through Autotrader. Another option which is really popular in the USA (but I think very rarely used if ever in the UK) is Leasing.

The pharmacies in the UK sell medications, cosmetics, toiletries and often have an opticians and photo processing department. Some also sell some electrical items and lunch options. In the USA together with all of these items you can also find a selection of toys, books, magazines, ice cream, chocolate, cigarettes, alcohol and all manner of other items. The first time you walk into the pharmacy and see the alcohol and cigarettes it does take you by surprise.

There are mainly chains of Pharmacies here (CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid) there is also some none chains in the downtown and inner city non suburban areas. Also there are often pharmacy counters within the supermarkets.

In the UK there are chain pharmacies (Boots and Superdrug) plus little pharmacies all over the place and in the supermarkets. I think there is a limit to how many you can have within a certain area though.

In the UK there are many butchers, Fishmongers and bakeries. There also used to be a lot of greengrocers (where you can buy fruit and vegetables) but they seem to be on the decline. Here I have so far only seen one butchers, no greengrocers or fishmongers. I think there is a fish market in the Seaport Village (am I correct?). I have seen a few bakeries though!

Something I have seen here (which I wish they had in the UK) is drive in cash machines/ATM machines. Seriously useful!

In the UK the price you see on the shelf is the price you pay for the item at the checkout/cashier, the sales tax of 20% is already added. Here in the USA the tax is added when you ring the items up. The sales tax varies from state to state. The sales tax for California is 7.25%.

Lastly (as this is SO long already) one thing which is different here in the USA is that there is often someone at the end of the checkout/cash desk packing your bags. They also seem to only put a couple of items in each bag. In the UK you pack your own bags and you have to ask for carrier bags as they want you to take your own bags in as often as possible.

I am sure I got some stuff wrong, this is just how I have perceived things. If there is anything I have got wrong feel free to correct me. Also if anyone has any questions over something I have not covered please ask.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Social Butterfly

So time for another update. No photos this time.

It was last Tuesday I updated last on what we have been up to I mean.

Wednesday we went and had a meal at a place call Elephant bar ( You see I was really wanting to go check out some non chain restaurants. Eating in chain restaurants is all well and good when you are a tourist but once you live somewhere you have to start eating in local restaurants and discovering what there is to offer.

Of course. This restaurant was not a local, it was a chain. Often it is difficult to tell. Prior to moving out here I could probably name about 20-30 restaurant/takeaway chains (Taco Bell, KFC, McDonalds, Rubios, Burger King, Denny's, Wendy's, TGI Friday's, Claim Jumper, Applebees, Chilis, Dairy Queen, Cold Stone Creamery, Cheesecake Factory, Panda Express, Subway, Dominoes, Carls JR, In N Out and Outback were the ones which immediately came into my mind when I think of chains). However, I was wrong, there are hundreds of chain restaurants.

The food was ok. It had a different choice to that of many other American chain restaurants. Thing is I when we have friends or family visiting I want to be able to recommend or take people to places which are one of a kind and not just some chain which you can get anywhere.

I had hoped afterwards to try out the little cupcake place which is near to the Target we go to. Except it was shut. So we ended up in Starbuck's. A day where trying to escape the chains failed completely.

Hubby and I went for another meal on Thursday with his work colleague which was over from the UK doing training. This time we checked out Urge. Urge is not a chain! woo!( ). The food there was slightly different to the norm in that they had twists to the items on the menu. Pretty good food and plenty of beer too! Could well become a regular spot for drinks if not for food. Shame that someone will always have to drive!

Friday we had a meet up with the Temecula Brits Meet-up. No, we dont live in Temecula but it is only 40 minutes drive away from where we live. Downtown San Diego is between 20-30 minutes depending where we want to go. Yes, we live right in the suburbs.

The meet-up was in the house of two of the people who attended, it was actually in Murrieta and not Temecula but close enough. The house was enormous. Three car garage, 4-5 bedrooms. You couldnt help but feel amazed about the size! Of course when I got home I had to google the cost of renting. Unbelievably we could rent a house similar size for what we are paying for our two bedroom apartment in the suburbs of San Diego. However, the drive would be equivalent to what hubby was doing in the UK to work and we had always planned NOT to have the commute.

The meet-up was fantastic. The person who organises the events works for a company called Fresh &Easy ( She had come over here as a contractor for Tesco (yes, that Tesco) to set up a supermarket for the USA which is based on the Tesco model but rebranded for the US Market. We chatted to so many people. There was a lot more people there than at the San Diego Brit meetup and all had come out here for different reasons! Some have been out here 25 years, some married and moved here. It was so interesting to hear about their experiences! Some were quite shocked that we were already out and socialising given that we had only been here 10 weeks (11 tomorrow).

Saturday after a lazy morning we headed into Hillcrest to meet a couple that we had met through Yelp. Actually let me rephrase that. I started talking to her, I arranged it all with her and then the men just attended! We hadnt been to Hillcrest before but I really liked it! I am actually about to head back there to meet the same lady again (now that I know she is not some serial killer) for a proper exploration of the neighbourhood and possibly to explore another neighbourhood if we feel inclined.

We met them for Brunch. The place we went was The Local Habit (, we had a good chat, had some drinks and also had food. Unfortunately it would seem the chef was either off or having a bad day as the food was not spectacular! I have been informed that usually it is good so perhaps a return is required.

Saturday evening was in Hillcrest too. Something tells me we moved to the wrong area of San Diego. Saying that if we lived in that area the trip would be a 20-30 minute commute for hubby. So many things to think about. At least we have another 11 months to decide where to live if we are still wanting to live out here. Decisions, decisions...

The evening was a housewarming party, it was for two of the people we had met on the two San Diego Brit meets we had been on at the beginning of November. We had a great time and got to speak to people from all over the place, some Brits, some from California and others from other places in the USA!

I enjoyed being extremely social. Anyone who knows me well knows that being a social butterfly is what I enjoy best. Getting out there and speaking to people. Needless to say it would seem that we are indeed finding our feet pretty well.

Sunday was a wet day, there seems to be one each weekend lately. Hopefully this wont be the trend forever! Not really anything to note other than we visited a Fresh and Easy Supermarket and discovered they sold Custard Powder! YUM!

Yesterday I passed my written driving test! This means I now have a learner's permit which means I can indeed start learning to drive. I shall start in the next few weeks. I dont think I will be saying much about that when I do!!

So the week ahead? I am off out today then hubby has a 4 day weekend and we will be experiencing our very first thanksgiving! woo!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Differences -Money, roads & public transport

Some people perceive the UK and USA to be alike with very few differences. In fact prior to living here I didnt realise the amount of differences. Each day is a learning curve. I am embracing the differences.

As I have readers in the USA and in the UK I am going to put information where I can about things from both sides. I am not an expert, this is just how I have perceived something either here or in the UK so correct me if I am wrong. I am open to learning.

Money. Here in USA the money is dollars and cents. There are 100 cents to each dollar. There are 1 cent coins, 5 cent coins (known as a a nickel), 10 cent coin (know as a dime) and a 25 cent coin (known as a quarter). Next there are notes, these are one dollar, 5 dollar, 10 dollar, 20 dollar, 50 dollar and a 100 dollar. They are known as bills and are all very similar in colour so you have to be extra careful when paying in a store.

In the UK its pounds and pence. I am typing on a USA keyboard and there is not a pound sign so I cant put one, the coins in the UK are 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, 1 pound and 2 pound. Then notes there are 5 pound, 10 pound, 20 pound and 50 pound though it is rate to find 50 pound notes! There is 100 pence to a pound so in that respect it is easy to work things out. Each of the notes are a different colour and differ in size slightly.

There is approximately 1 dollar and 60 cents to the pound. Yes, I still in my mind am converting back into pounds despite the fact the money is being paid in dollars. Force of habit I am guessing from all the years of shopping whilst on holiday out here and doing a conversion before paying.

In fact there is another difference right there. In the UK if you go away we call it a holiday, here it is a vacation. They go on a two week vacation whilst we take a fortnight holiday. Holiday is mainly used here to refer to a specific date they celebrate such as Thanksgiving or Christmas (I am really excited to experience my first Thanksgiving next week)!

Driving is a completely different experience, whilst I have yet to drive (though its looking to start happening soon) I can see the differences already. The biggest difference which is obvious straight away is that the UK drive on a different side to the USA, other than Australia and New Zealand I cannot think offhand of any other countries which drive on the same side of the road as the UK. In the UK the driving controls and steering are on the right, here its the left.

In the UK there are mainly single lane roads in the towns and cities with some major roads being dual carriageways (two lanes each side) and then there are motorways. There are different classes of road firstly there are some roads which just have names (and are not numbered), D roads and C roads which are local roads which are generally still known as just the name except for by local authorities, B roads are local routes to and fromone place to another place. Generally single carriage and often down country lanes, an example of how this would be numbered is B285.

Most roads to travel between one place and another in the UK are A roads such as A24. Some are single carriageways, some are dual carriageways. Others have been improved to the standard of a motorway and therefore may have 4 or more carriageways. These roads are number in the following format A1(M). The A signifies that the road is a major road, the M signifies that it has been improved to motorway standards but is not a motorway. The number is the road number.

Motorways generally take you from one town or city to another (eg London to Manchester) with limited access to the towns. IE maybe 3 exits to a town rather than travelling directly through the town or city. I have not quite worked out how they worked out the numbering generally with roads. However, any motorways with just a single number after the M leads from London. EG M3 leads from London to Portsmouth.

As I havent actually experienced driving here in the USA I can only comment on my observations together with some research I have carried out! First off most of the roads within the cities and suburbs are at least two or three lanes wide each side though some of the residential roads only have one lane each way.

There are different types of highways, Interstate highways which have the highest speeds, US numbered highways and state highways. Many of the state highways on which we have travelled on are a single lane in each direction so I am assuming this is the equivalent of the B roads and some A roads in the UK. The US highways are still much bigger than the UK A roads but the A roads would be the closest equivalent. The closest comparable to the Interstate in the UK is a motorway. Even numbered roads go from East to West/West to East whilst odd numbered roads go from North to South/ South to North.

In the UK there are roundabouts (sometimes known in the USA on the satellite navigation/TomTom/GPS as a Rotarty) everywhere. Some are enormous and have numerous exits. Here in the USA there are very few (I have seen a couple in the BirdRock/La Jolla area and one in Borrego Springs) instead there are stop junctions. Say there are four roads leading to one junction all directions have to stop. Whoever arrived first goes first, second goes second etc. 

At traffic lights/signals in the USA you can turn right on a red signal after yielding/giving way to any pedestrians or other traffic which is in the junction. In the UK you cant turn left on red or in any other direction.

In the UK there is no set structure to how roads are laid out, there are windy roads all over the place and as such it is easy to get lost. In the USA in most areas the roads are laid out in a grid section.
Speed limits are different also. I the UK its 20 around the school zones, its 25 here. Then the normal speed limit is 35 around business districts and residential areas (unless otherwise posted) in the USA whilst in the UK its 30. Some freeways there are speedlimits of 55 though on interstates it is 70. In the UK on a road with a single lane each side you have a 60 limit and then 70 on dual carriageways and motorways.

In some cities (San Diego included) unless you live in one of the downtown areas(which we dont) you need a car. The public transport is very different to the UK. Whilst in the UK the public transport is often extremely busy and seems expensive you can travel almost anywhere by bus or train. In fact from our old apartment to my parents home which was 60 miles away I could get there in an hour and a half. On Tuesday I am taking public transportation to meet a friend in an area of downtown, a distance of 18 miles it will take me the same time and I will also need to change buses. Some cities have more public transportation that others.

There are many more differences and entries will follow. However, they will be alternated with what has been going on this end otherwise I will find myself getting extremely behind.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Live animals. Dead fish.

San Diego is full of animals. Despite it being a city.
The weekend before last we were walking back to the hire car from the British food shop where we had been to a meet. Low and behold on a porch there was a skunk. We were not in the middle of nowhere. In fact we were in the area of University Heights a place where there is homes and shops. I was going to take a picture as I was shocked to see one but it started to turn around. I certainly didnt want to be sprayed.

Then in the past week I have had sightings of Coyotes twice from the balcony on my apartment. I know I don't live smack bang in the downtown area, in fact I am in a very suburban area. I still hadn't expected to see Coyotes and at first thought they were foxes! I live literally two minutes from a freeway! I kind of shocked someone when I got my words mixed up and said I had seen a cougar. Hey, I can't help having blonde moments. The blondeness goes beyond the roots.

So they are the wild animals I have seen. Oh and some rabbits but there are rabbits everywhere so no need to talk about them.

Also in San Diego there is a zoo and a Wild Animal Park. I have yet to visit the Wild Animal Park but will as we now have annual membership cards. I went to the zoo with M back in 2009, the zoo is enormous. We had thought we had seen the whole of the zoo as we had taken the bus around it and taken the cable car from one end to the other and we had walked a lot. How wrong I was.

Last week I went to the zoo with a friend. We saw a lot of animals that I had not seen previously and in three and half hours we still didnt get round the whole of the zoo. Thankfully we can go back anytime!

I am not going to flood this blog entry with a million zoo pictures. I will just put a few of my favourites.

It rained all day on Saturday. Sunday however M and I headed out for the day. We set off for Salton City to see the Salton sea.

Salton City and in fact Salton sea are right in the middle of the desert. There was an accident which caused a lake to be made in 1906, this lake was known as Salton Sea. For many years the area became a tourist area and fish were introduced. It was seen to be a miracle. People were buying homes. The water going into the water was mainly agricultural run off. Botulism poisoning killed off the fish and some birds.

Most people fled the town, their homes left empty. There are many areas near to the Salton Sea. We visited Salton Sea Beach. This was an error, we should have visited Bombay Beach, maybe another time when en route to another destination.

The beach is not made of sand, it is made of fish bone. It was still surreal at this place. Here are some photos we took whilst there:

The sign for Salton Sea Beach- the sign used to be for the marina.

The beach
The beach with some derelict buildings
Fishbone sand
dead fish
Restrooms- no running water.
Another derelict building

If you are interested to see more about Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea, search for "The Accidental Sea" on Youtube. The place is meant to look post apocalyptic. We will get there eventually.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Moving along.

I need to step it up with the posts, things are starting to happen quickly this end now! Woo hoo!

A friend of mine who lives in the UK commented on how proactive I have been when it came to the move and how I didnt expect people to come knocking on the door. In some ways I would be inclined to agree. In others ways I could have been more proactive.

For example I could have taken part in some meets on Meetup quicker, I could have looked into Yelp quicker. In fact I could have got my learners permit, signed up for courses and the gym quicker.

However, anyone who knows me knows that I have to do things in a specific order. This order was as follows:

-Get out here.
-Find my way around the area.
-Find my feet.
-Find an apartment.
-Get the apartment paperwork sorted.
-Move in and get unpacked.
-Help M find a car.
-Submit work permit paperwork.
-Work towards meeting some people.
-DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to get learner permit.
-Join Gym.
-Join some adult education classes.
-Learn to drive.
-Once work permit obtained (if accepted) get a job.

As it stands I am in the process of working towards meeting some people, have made an appointment for Tuesday for obtaining the learner permit, will be joining the gym and signing up for adult education classes over this weekend. I am getting somewhere.

Some weeks are more proactive than others. This week for example has had days of nothing and days of full on activity. As well as moving forward with my life I have been trying to keep up with everyone I am currently in contact with.

So. This week, what have I done?

No, I havent just sat on my bottom despite feeling a real urge to at times.

I have been Yelping, have joined Reddit too. Have been on both of those sites networking to meet other people. It is getting somewhere. I did think on Thursday I was getting nowhere. But its all looking up now.

I have been doing letters and writing Christmas cards to go with them. Sending from now onwards will mean that I wont have to spend a fortune in one hit.

Monday M got his car. I didnt actually get to see it, he didnt get home until gone 8 and then it was put in the car. I didnt get to see it on Tuesday either.

On Tuesday I posted off work permit forms in the morning, in the afternoon it was the library with a friend. In the evening I was stood on our balcony. It wasnt warm but I felt like taking in some fresh air. You can imagine how surprised I was when two Coyotes walked past. About as surprised as I had been in fact at seeing a Skunk on a porch in University Heights on Saturday! Wow at the wildlife in San Diego.

A friend and I went to the zoo on Wednesday afternoon. M and I have a year membership to the zoo which allows us into the zoo and the wildlife park as many times as we want. The zoo is enormous so when I went with the friend we only got to see about half of the animals. It is great that we can go back again.

M and I went for a meal at TGI Friday's with a work colleague. Today was off for a drink with a friend. We said we would go for coffee but as neither of us drink coffee it was juice for us both.

I feel I am slowly getting somewhere. All the hours on the internet is paying off. The scary thing is that if I get my learner permit next week then learning to drive will be the next point! EEK.

Our social life is coming together. We have a meetup we may go to tomorrow evening, another next Friday, a housewarming next Saturday then we are going for our first ever thanksgiving meal at the house of another new friend! WOW.

I need to get photos on here of the zoo. Well, the animals we have seen so far together with pictures of the Mustang. But that will have to wait.

There are up days and down days. BUT I am getting there slowly. Rome was not built in a day. A new life cant be built in a day. In fact, given that we have been here only two months we arent doing too badly at all!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Time goes by...

We have been here two months, how has time gone by so quickly.

So what has been occurring since 30th October?

We had a Halloween party/housewarming party. Though considering there was only 6 of us I would be inclined to call it a gathering. Halloween was a slight disappointment. Many of the kids are taken out to the strip malls as they get free sweets (candy) from all of the stores there. Also to get into the community in which we have our apartment you have to have a key. I am guessing the children which live in this complex went to the strip malls instead!

Friday it rained and rained and rained. Quite a change in temperature too. It seems that November to March there is more rain but there are still warm days in between. Went out with the ladies during the day on Friday. We went to a mall which is not far from here, about 7 miles in fact and is all indoors. We all decided that actually we are not a fan of that mall.

We had heard there had been an accident on the I15 so we took another route to get back. This route was long, avoided all freeways and took us around the mountains past Ramona. It was certainly scenic.

We ran into Home Goods and also ran into Walmart and Home Depot. It was one of those days though where nothing quite went to plan!

Friday evening M and I went to a meet up at the Shakespeare Bar which is downtown in the Mission Hills area of San Diego. This was via the website and was for British people living in San Diego. We of course want to meet up with people who have always lived in San Diego or at least in USA but this was the first meet up we had both been interested in attending.

There was about 12 people at this meet up, some had been here a year, some as long as 10 years. It was good to hear about everyone elses experiences and get some tips. We will certainly be attending future meet ups with the group.

On arriving back at the apartment we found a wet spot in front of the fridge. At first I was panicking that the fridge/freezer had broken which would be a bad thing given that we had been shopping and had salmon, beef mince, chicken, pork, Pizza and ice cream in there! However, on closer inspection it seemed the water was coming from the ceiling.

M and I went car shopping on Saturday, the day was bright, warm and sunny, retrospectively thinking we should have done something more exciting and made the most of the weather!

 M had decided he wanted a Mustang so we headed to the Auto Parkway up in Escondido. First stop was a Honda Garage. There was one in there that he test drove while I sat in the customer lounge drinking free Starbucks hot chocolate. Yum. The car was silver grey, was convertible and only a year old. However, it had 30,000 miles on the clock and was an ex hire vehicle from Hawaii. A big no. Hawaii is very wet (it rains a little at each day) so there was some rust and god knows how well it had been treated and serviced given its history as a hire car!

Saw another one which was red and was a 2006 one but didnt test drive that one. That one happened to be in the garage next to the Chevrolet garage. Well, it would be rude NOT to go look at the Camaro's while there. I so want one of those. We sat in the Transformers model. Gorgeous car but over budget by a long way!

Next up was the Ford garage, well given that the car is a Ford we knew there would be some there. There was a number of new Mustangs and four certified used vehicles. M settled on a white 2008 Mustang which has the "pony package". Yes, M is calling it his little pony! Hahah!

The process of buying the car was not simple. We dont have a cheque book. Basically when the bank account was set up it was set up to our UK address, we couldnt change the address until we were in our permanent address out here (this took 7 working days) and then we ordered the cheque books. It takes up to 3 weeks for them to arrive.

The garage couldnt take the payment by debit card, it needed to be a cheque. The bank we are with has 3 branches in San Diego county, the main one in downtown is only open Monday to Friday and the two in Chula Vista are only open til 2 on a Saturday. It was half 1. It takes 45 minutes to drive to Chula Vista from Escondido. There was NO way of us getting there in time.

On top of this we needed to have the insurance in place before we could buy the vehicle. So M was on the phone to an insurance company while we were trying to work out a way to get a cheque. We couldnt put a deposit down by card, they advised the vehicle could only be held with a cheque.

The sales person took us back to our apartment in the Mustang where we had some blank cheques (nothing printed on them at all) so that we could pick them up and have a cheque to hold the vehicle. However, this was to just hold it over the weekend, the printed one was still required.

I stayed here at the apartment when M went back which was a good thing as he was there for three hours filling in paperwork and in the end they didnt even take the blank cheque, instead they got him to sign something saying he would be back Monday. Such an ODD procedure.

We had been due to be at another meet up with the British group of people at 5pm. However, we didnt end up there til half 6 due to the delays with the car! This meet was in University Heights at the British food shop called Rosie Lees. There was a lot of the same people as the night before but they were all lovely and we got to meet a few others too.

Around 9pm we all went round the corner to a bar called Cheers which was a gay bar which they would descrive as a dive bar but I really liked it in there. There is normally only one meet up with this group a month but they had this second one to celebrate Guy Fawkes. You cant have private fireworks out here so it was just an informal gathering.

Sunday started off pretty dry. We had to take the hire car back then go and pick up another hire car (it needed to be one that could be returned up in Escondido) then headed back home. It started raining again. So Sunday was just food shopping and chores!

M tried (and failed) to start a fire in our fireplace. The apartments do not have any insulation out here so whilst they are very good at staying cool when its hot they are very chilly on an overcast or wet day.

Yesterday the maintenance guys came to the apartment, fixed the water issue (the recirculation pump was not working so there was no hot water in the en suite bathroom or in the kitchen unless you ran it for ages), replaced the two light fixtures on the balcony which were not working and also sorted the leakage issue- there was a ton of leaves blocking something which was causing the rainwater to go down a vent and drip into our apartment. Well, actually it was more of a bulge into the ceiling and then some dripping through the light fixture. They are still getting the roofing guys to come take a look. JUST in case.

If this has been our apartment in the UK we would be panicking about the cost of all the repairs and replacements. Thank goodness its rented. Takes a huge pressure off us.

Monday lunchtime it was down to get a cheque. I managed to direct M around the downtown without the use of the sat nav.  This is not an easy task believe me. M then dropped me back, took the hire car back and got the Mustang! I am yet to have sat in the car (since he has owned it) but I am sure its only a matter of time. Photos to follow (once I can take them in daylight).

Today (Tuesday) was a trip to the Post Office then to the Library with one of the ladies. It was also the first day where I have felt relaxed, no surprise given how much we have been doing!

Zoo tomorrow with the other lady! Road trip at the weekend!

Other stuff we need to do... get my flu jab, apply for my gym membership, apply for a learner's permit (for me to learn to drive) and when that arrives find me a driving instructor. Not sure I will be wanting to drive the Mustang though! Also need to try and attend more Meet ups and possibly visit the bar down the road (this could be an entry in itself!).

The work permit forms have gone off today. Couldnt be sent before as we needed two months payslips.

Little by little it's coming together. So much paperwork when starting out!

Enough rambling. This is long enough. I shall return MUCH sooner with a post about fun stuff. The past three weeks fun stuff has not been happening!