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Happy Birthday Hexe & Merddin!

When Tim and I went away to Manchester for an overnight last October, we had no idea that the night we got home would be our last night with our cat, Prudence.

Prudence was Tim’s cat. She had wandered into his garden about 12 years prior and just made herself at home. Tim determined that she must be the cat from Prudential, so Prudence became her name. A few years after I moved, when Pru finally decided I was going to stick aound, she accepted me and she became my cat just as much as she had been Tim’s.

In 2014, she had an operation to remove a tumor from the base of her tail. It was cancerous, and the vet told us if it came back there wasn’t going to be any possible treatment other than to make her comfortable. He couldn’t tell us if we would have 2 weeks, months, or years with her. We decided that we would make the hard choice when she was ready, as we were sure she would let us know when she knew it was her time.

While we were away in Manchester, she started gnawing at her leg. I can still remember (and still have a slight stain from it) the puddle she was sat in when we got home. Her cancer had come back, and it was brutal. We spent the last night together all on the sofa bed in the living room and in the morning said goodbye to her. Instead of cremation, we opted to bury her in the garden.

I was distraught. Being home 90% of the time, she and I were companions. She would usually be in the room with me and we would have our little rituals together. I couldn’t even get to sleep the first few days because there was no fuzzy lump purring on me. I slept cuddling a Bagpuss toy and with a white noise app on my tablet set to a cat purr.

It was during this time we started to plan our trip for our anniversary. We were going to go to Yorkshire to see a lecture by Tim Peake. Unfortunately, Tim had to cancel. But we still had a hotel booked for 2 days in Bradford, so that was when my friend stepped in and invited us to come over and visit her and her 6 cats and to pay a visit to the Yorkshire Cat Rescue. We were going just to visit the cats……Tim, Nicola, and I all had the idea in the back of our head that we would get another cat that weekend, but none of us said this thought out loud to each other.

Once we were at YCR, we started off in the adult cat room. There were nice cats, but none that really spoke to us…..until we got to the kitten room.
In the kitten room, we watched a trio of kittens. A rambunctious boy and 2 girls snuggling together on a bed. One of the girls got plucked out to go to her fur-ever home, leaving the other girl trembling and upset. Since we were allowed to open the pens to play with the cats, I opened up the pen and picked the little girl up. She curled up against my chest and started purring! Not wanting to be outdone, her brother poked his head out and climbed straight onto Tim’s back! We had found our kittens.

Since the kittens were in Keighley and we were in Lincolnshire, we made arrangements for my friend Nicola to pick them up for us and foster them for a day or two, when I would come up on the train to retrieve them.
Tim and I were riding on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway that afternoon trying to name them. With our girl being a tortoiseshell , we decided she needed a suitably witchy name. With her brother being ginger, I first naturally considered names out of the Harry Potter Universe…..but somehow Hermione didn’t sound like a good fit for her, and Minerva would only suit a grey tabby….so then we started thinking about our favourite places, and we finally settled on Hexe (German for witch). But what would we name the boy? He needed a suitable name to go along with a witch, and we joked about naming him Aslan…..but then Tim was worried I would come home with a third cat, a white kitten we would name Pax (points if you get the references!!). Somwhere along the line we started thinking about engines – and so Merddin got his name after both the Welsh legend (Merlin) and the double fairlie at one of our favourite Welsh narrow gauge railways. Officially, Hexe is Countess Hexe von Fluffington, and Merddin is Merddin Emrys. (though really, I think he should be Sir Merddin Emrys!). Well, I say officially, but you know….they’re cats.

And here we are…..our kittens are turning one today!! I can’t imagine my life without them in it…..but we do still miss our Proodle Doodle (among her other silly nicknames!)

It’s been a learning curve for us, too. Tim hadn’t had a kitten in many years, and I never had had TWO kittens at once! Merddin finally grew into his ears and feet (and boy has he grown!) and Hexe continues to be our little dainty girl who loves her snuggles, but on her own terms!

Happy Birthday Kittens!!!

(I’ve made both a short and an extended edition of their first year. Watch them both below!)

PS: Did I mention our cats came from Yorkshire Cat Rescue? They are an AMAZING home grown charity and they place cats all over the country! So if you’re looking to adopt, consider YCR…plus you cn ride the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway the same day!
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I Passed My Driver Theory Test!

driver I applied for my Learner’s Permit back in October 2014 because I wanted a photo ID before my trip to the US the following January (Jan 2015) that wasn’t my passport. I might be 36, but I surprisingly get carded in the US. And, of course, I planned on learning how to drive.

In the UK, learning how to drive and getting your license is a three-part process. Well, more than three when you add in everything you need to do.

Step 1: Apply for your provisional. This is really easy and you just go to the Post Office for a form, and send off the application with the fee, a photo of yourself, and your ID (passport if you are foreign). You can send them a self-addressed postage paid envelope to return your documents (I used one with tracking). It only takes about two weeks.

Step 2: Get car insurance. If you have someone else in your house who own a car, ask them to add you as a named driver. All Tim had to do was ring up his insurance (Directline) and it was around an additional £100 to add me for the year and the only difference is I have a higher deductible than Tim. If you have US driving experience and it hasn’t been forever since you had a valid license in the US, some UK insurance companies will accept your no claims bonus, but I haven’t had insurance in the US since 2008 so I didn’t bother. It probably also helped that I’m older than 25.

Step 3: Book lessons. As an experienced driver, I contacted a few local driving schools to ask them what options they had since I know the basics of driving and needed to learn 1) manual transmission and 2) how to drive on UK roads/how to pass the test. I found a school that was willing to offer me the same introductory rates as a new driver, but start me right away behind the wheel (instead of explaining “this is the brake/this is the gas/etc”).

Step 4: Book your Theory test. Apparently, the DVLA has been seriously backed up and in some places it’s taking up to three months just to schedule the theory test. When I went online to schedule mine, I had to schedule it for five weeks away from the date I was booking it because it was the first date available. I would have liked to have taken it sooner, but it gave me plenty of time to study.

Step 5: The actual test for getting your license in the UK has two parts – a written part (Theory) and a behind the wheel part (Practical). Both parts have several sections to them. You MUST pass the theory test before you can even schedule the practical, so step 5 is STUDY. Even if you think you know…study. Tim bought me the study books in a three pack for Christmas, but they are available at WH Smith and online from TSO for about £20 for the three books. I also paid for the official apps for my Android tablet (the guide, the theory test, and the hazard perception test), which I think cost around a tenner for all three, and in addition to all of that, we also bought the Hazard Perception DVD (I had to use Tim’s desktop since my laptop doesn’t have a DVD drive!) Overkill? Actually…..no. I read (most of) the book (I also had a free download on my Kindle I read), and then started in on the practice tests on my tablet. A lot. I failed some, I passed some. It was FRUSTRATING! I even practised the tests while I was soaking in the bathtub! And the night before my test, I took 10 tests (failed one, but all the other ones were passed with plenty of room to spare)

The Hazard Perception test is a separate section to the Theory, and a separate score. You need to pass BOTH sections in order to have passed the theory test, and if you fail one, you retake both. The Hazard Perception is a series of scenarios and you have to click when you see a developing hazard. Sort of similar to that simulation from Driver’s Ed in the 90s with the brake pedal and the ball rolling into the street. In the Hazard Perception test, you can score up to 5 points on each scenario, but one is worth 10 (it’s a double hazard). The later you click, the less points you get…but if you click in a pattern or the computer thinks you are clicking on everything, you don’t get *any* points! There is an app for this, but since you will be taking the test at a computer with a mouse, I felt it would be better to practice on a computer. The DVD cost £15 at WH Smith, so all in all we spent around £45 just on study aids. But this test is tough, and it only has a 50% pass rate for most testing centres! And since you have to pay £23 for the test each time you need to take it…well, you want to study as much as you can and use as many resources as you can. They even have the practice tests online for free, so if you didn’t want to pay for as many applications or books, you could take the tests online (but they don’t have the Hazard Perception test online).

Step 6: Take (and pass) the Theory test. You get given a set of instructions to follow the day of your test, and these include not bringing anyone with you to the test (Sorry Tim!), turning your phone off, and locking your phone, watch, tablet, handbag, jacket, and basically anything else you have with you in a provided locker. The only thing you are permitted to take into the testing room is your provisional license and the key to the locker.

The test starts out with a short 15-minute maximum practice session just to get you used to the way the test is conducted. Then, the computer gives you a timed 1-minute break (But you can skip ahead) before starting the theory test. The test is 50 questions long, and you have 57 minutes. You can flag questions you are unsure of and then at the end you can either review your entire test or just review your flagged questions. At the end, the test will also tell you if you failed to answer a question, so make sure you check! You need to get at least 43 questions correct, so I flagged the questions I wasn’t 100% on and at the end I had only flagged 5. If I had all 5 of those wrong, I still would have passed the test. But I went back and in the end I only had 2 questions I was unsure on. After you click the final submit button, it gives you a three-minute break (you can skip this or take less than three, but after three minutes it will move on to the Hazard test).

Just like the Theory test, the Hazard perception test will give you an example/practice test, then a one-minute break before starting the test. The Hazard part is 14 clips and each clip is probably around a minute long. You just click when you see the hazard developing.

When you’re done, you get up and leave the room and your print out with your score will be waiting for you with the receptionist.

2016-03-09 15.06.27

And check out my score! *one* question wrong on the Theory, and 65/75 on the Hazard perception! They break down the score for you, so I know I scored 9 points on the double hazard, and then mostly 5s and 4s, with only 2 points on two of the hazards.

Passed my theory test with flying colours!!!!! #drivingtheorytest #drivingontheoppositeside #dvla

A photo posted by Rebecca L (@beccajanestclair) on

Step 7 is of course, scheduling, taking, and passing the Practical. Watch this space!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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My Visa Journey Part 3: Citizenship

invitation I became eligible for my UK citizenship in January 2013 after three years of residency, but we did not submit my application until September 2014. At the time I submitted my application, I was quoted as it taking 3-6 months to process, but closer to six….so imagine my surprise on Saturday when I got my acceptance letter! Total time from application being submitted to letter arriving on my doorstep was 6 weeks and 6 days!

The application itself is pretty straight forward. You download it off the gov.uk website. Don’t forget to download the guide and booklet to filling out the application as well as the payment form*! The current fee is £906, but this usually increases every 6-12 months, so it’s a good idea for you to double check with the website. I think the most frustrating part for me was finding the application online as UKBA used to have it’s own separate website and sometime between getting my ILR in 2012 and now, they moved all their files over to gov.uk. Google to the rescue!

You can either send your application in on your own (and send all your original documents) or you can pay £50 to your local council for a Nationality Checking Service. At this appointment, they will photocopy all of your documents and send those so you will not need to send in your originals.

Before you start to fill out the application, you need to get your photograph taken. I went to Snappy Snaps and had 4 photos done for £10. I’ve since used one for my provisional driver’s license and will use the remaining two when I apply for my British passport. You also could use one of those £5 machines in Tesco, Asda, etc. but every time we tried to get mine done the machine seemed to be down. I also preferred having mine done by a person and not a machine, because this ensured my photograph met the exact standards. Photos in hand, I was ready for the second important part of my application: your references.

You need to have two references. Both references need to have known you for at least three years. One needs to fit some very specific criteria** such as being a business owner, and the other reference needs to hold a valid British passport. Your first reference does not necessarily need to be British, by the way and neither referee can be related to you, even by marriage. Fortunately for me, I have been friends with the owner of MediVisas (BTW, an excellent source of advice!) for well over three years and I used one of our local 16mm members who I have known since I was first a visitor in 2008.

application

Before you sit down to fill out your application, you should first make sure you fit the residency criteria. As the spouse of a British citizen, I was eligible after three years of residency. Even though I waited longer, they are only interested in the past three years. You must have been in the country (not travelling) on the date exactly three years before the date of your application, and in the past three years you must not have been out of the UK for more than a total of 270 days and no more than 90 in the past 12 months. You also will need to know the exact dates you were out of the country (if you didn’t keep track, just go back through your passport stamps). Days spent partially in the UK (date you left and date you returned) do not count. You will need to enter the dates (for the past three years only if applying as a spouse) on page 7. If you run out of space, you can add additional details on page 13.

In addition to needing to know when you were out of the country, you need to list all of your UK addresses for the past 5 (three as a spouse) years. This can prove difficult for people who have moved multiple times. If you are reading this now with an eye to gaining citizenship, start keeping track of your addresses!

If you didn’t need to take the Life in the UK test for your ILR, you will need to take this test before you can apply for citizenship. If you are not from an English speaking country, you also will need to take an English language tests. Details for both of these can be found on the website. Hopefully, you kept hold of your LitUK test result paper, because you will need to send it with your application. If you don’t have it, you will need to take the test again, as they do not re-issue pass certificates.

You also will need to know your parents full names (including maiden for mother), birth date, nationality, and birth place, as well as all of this information for your spouse.

If you book a Nationality Checking Service appointment, you will need to bring:

-Your current passport and your passport with your current visa (if it’s in an expired passport)
-Your expired passport if it shows dates you were out of the country in the past 3 years***
-Your birth certificate
-Spouse’s current passport
-Spouse’s birth certificate
-Marriage certificate (the certified one, not the pretty one)
-Life in the UK Test pass certificate
-English language test results (if applicable)
-Proof of current address+
-Any other documents showing a change in identity (examples: adoption certificates for you or your spouse, divorce papers if either of you were previously married)
-Any other travel documents as issued by the Home Office. If you have a biometric card, bring it (I don’t have one).
-£50 to pay for the Nationality Checking Service (My council only accepted cash)
-Completed Application
-Payment slip for citizenship plus payment (No cash accepted. Card or Cheque only)

Please note that if any of your documents are in a language other than English, you will need to get them translated.

My Nationality Checking Service appointment was on a Wednesday morning. I did not need to bring my spouse along with me, but I did need to bring his documents. My appointment took about 15 minutes because I had organized everything ahead of time in a document folio in the exact order it would be needed. The woman who did my review praised my organisation….I couldn’t imagine doing these things without keeping my paperwork organised! As we went through my application, she had a checklist of documents and after we made the stack, she left the room to photocopy everything and returned all of my original documents to me. If you do not use the checking service, you cannot send copies and would need to send your originals.

fee

At the appointment, I was told I would hear from them in about 2 weeks letting me know the payment had been taken, and then I wouldn’t hear again for 6 months as that was how long it was taking to process applications. Well, I must be lucky as my letter arrived this weekend — what a perfect fifth anniversary present for us!

First thing Monday morning (today!) is ringing up the county council office to schedule my citizenship ceremony! Unfortunately, I can’t apply for my British passport right away as I am travelling to the US in January and I do not think I would have my passport back in time, but at least I will have my new passport before my trip to the US in May! (and yes, I will keep my blue US one too! I get to be a dual citizen!)

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*When I went to my appointment, they had copies of the payment form, but to be on the safe side I would print one out.
**The guide claims there is a “list on our website”, but I could never find it. However, the full list if acceptable referees can be found here.
***If you have travelled to a country that is part of the CTA (such as Ireland) it’s a good idea if you have copies of your boarding cards if you flew or took a ferry to show the dates you entered and left. I’m not sure if this was a requirement, but I submitted the information as I listed Ireland on my dates out of the UK.
+This is not listed as a requirement, however I was asked for this at my appointment. Fortunately, I had with me the letter I recieved with my ILR that listed my current address, although she did tell me it would have been okay if I didn’t.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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My Visa Journey Part 2: ILR (aka Permanent Residency)

Yesterday was probably the most nerve-wracking and important day in our lives. As if getting married and applying for a Spousal Visa wasn’t bad enough, it only lasts for 2 years (technically, 28 months to give extra time in case you arrived more than a month after your visa was issued). To stay in the UK longer, you currently need to apply for ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain AKA Permanent Residency). You can apply by post or in-person. The in-person appointment has a heftier fee, but it’s an immediate decision and saves weeks of finger nail biting. We decided on an in-person appointment for peace of mind, and also just in case we decide to go abroad on a long weekend (we’ve toyed with a weekend in Paris, but might put it off so we can save more for a trip to Austria in June).

My appointment was for 11:15 at the Sheffield PEO office and the appointment information states you should arrive 30 minutes before your slot. We decided to take public transportation the whole way starting with a bus at 7:40AM out of the village. Our train was running early and we actually arrived at the PEO office with an hour to spare.

Getting through security was an ordeal. There was a couple behind us complaining that their appointment was in 10 minutes and I couldn’t help but wonder why they hadn’t read the information on the website! To get through security, we had to take the batteries out of our mobile phones to show the inside. We were allowed to put the phones back together, but we had to leave them off the whole time we were in the PEO. Tim made the best blunder of the day by forgetting his dress shoes were work issued and had steel toes! Fortunately, security just waved him through after I said “it’s the shoes”.

We checked in early and were quite surprised to get called up to the desk within 5 minutes. Our case worker, Joe, looked at my application and asked me when I filled it out. I told him I had printed it off the website a few days prior and he said “everyone’s been telling me that, but this is the old form”. He then handed me the new form and asked me to fill it out. There are NO differences between the old form and the new form, save for the fact that the bottom of the new form says “10/2011” and the old form “04/2011”. Apparently, the website hadn’t been updated with the new form and everyone coming in this week has had to re-do their form on arrival. I told the man at reception I had finished the new application, and before we even found seats in the crowded lobby, we were called to the desk again.

This time, Joe went through our entire packet. He asked me where in New York I was from, and I puzzled him by answering “I’m not”. I then explained how I was born in Brooklyn, but my parents moved when I was a baby. Surprisingly, he knew where Princeton was after he didn’t know where Hightstown was. He checked to make sure we had the required documents, transferred it into a plastic document folder, and told us to proceed to the payment counter. We had to wait for about 10 minutes while someone came to the counter, but the money was soon out of our account and the woman at the payment counter said she would “pop (y)our documents over to the case worker” and that he would be with us “shortly”.

Shortly turned into two hours. Two nervous hours. I tried reading, but I couldn’t even tell you what I was reading. I couldn’t even speak to Tim because I knew if I opened my mouth I might start crying from all the stress. I kept worrying that we had missed something, or something was wrong. I kept wondering if I should go back up to Joe to ask him if they needed more documents, because I had two years of bank statements, payslips, etc. with me just in case. Finally, we were called to another window where we faced a stony-faced man named John.

From the look on his face, I was expecting bad news, but he surprised me by telling us we had been approved! He then chatted with Tim about his job for a little, and asked us how we met (in some ways, I wonder if he was checking the information on file from my first application, but I’ll pretend he really was interested). He then told us we could leave and return in a half hour to 45 minutes for the visa to be processed. I really wish they had given us the option of leaving and returning during the two hour wait instead!

We left and walked down the river to a Tesco Extra for a snack and by the time we got back and went through security again, my visa was ready! Happy day! What a relief!

We celebrated by having a late lunch at Meadowhall at our favourite restaurant, Frankie and Benny’s.

As of January 2012*, These are the minimum required documents for ILR (if settling as a spouse**):
-Completed ILR application. The bottom of the application should read “10/2011”.
-Life in the UK pass certificate
-Your passport
-Your spouse’s passport
-Two passport photos of yourself
-One passport photo of your spouse
-Three most recent payslips for your spouse and yourself (if applicable***)
-Three most recent bank statements (jointly held or singly held)
-Six pieces of post spread out over the previous two years illustrating that you and your spouse share an address. Alternately, you may use six addressed to each of you for a total of 12. They should be from at least three different sources****.

Anything else is just extra fodder and they honestly don’t need it unless you need further documents to prove residency, employment, or funds. If you are in doubt, contact an immigration lawyer^.

All hurdles are complete for settlement in the UK. Once you have ILR, as long as you do not leave the country for an extended period of time (I believe it currently is two years), you are permitted to live here.

My plans? Citizenship, once I become eligible. As a spouse and under current rules, I will become eligible on January 22, 2013, after three years of residency.

*Please check the UKBA website for up to date information as requirements can change at any time and use my information as a rough guide.
**ILR applicants that fall under other categories have additional requirements. See website and application for details.
***Include payslips from whoever is employed. If you both have jobs, include payslips for each.
****My documents were council tax bills for both 2010 and 2011, e.on bills from random months in 2010 and 2011, a barclay’s bank statement, and a Santander/Soverign Bank statement. If you have changed address, you might require more documents.
^ I did not contact a lawyer to review my application as I felt fairly confident I knew what I was doing based on my own research. However, I brought along additional information in case we were asked for it including our birth certificates, marriage certificate, expired passports, Tim’s payslips for the previous two years, bank statements for the past 6 months, mortgage statements for both 2010 and 2011, and pieces of mail for each month from January 2010 to December 2011 addressed to either myself, Tim, or both of us. If I was sending my application by post, I might have included some of the other documents.

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog.]

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LJ Idol Week 5 Re-post – Chasing the Dream

I’m still hanging on with LJ Idol. I took a “bye” week for week 4, so here is my week 5 submission. I’m actually pretty happy that I wound up staying in the competition because it looked like I was in the bottom of my “tribe”, but somehow I wound up 5th from the bottom. Last week’s LJ Idol topic was “Inconceivable”. Here’s what I came up with to post. This also could be titled my journey to the UK. While I class this as “non-fiction”, some of it isn’t quite true to the memories…but for the most part it is.

I flitted in and out of the long line of students waiting to get into Westminster Abbey, taking photos with my new 35mm camera loaded with black and white film. I felt black and white was going to make better photographs of the old buildings, and the man at the camera shop showed me how I could easily swap between colour and black and white film without ruining my photos. My best friend, Erin, was standing in line next to our friend Rob and both of them were laughing at me as I attempted to capture everything I could see with my camera. We were only in London for two days as part of our high school’s music department trip to Europe and I was a huge Anglophile*, so I was soaking it all in.

We finally entered the cathedral** and I was speechless. I joined arms with Rob and Erin and tugged them around armed with the paper guide to the Abbey. We lit a candle for my father, saw where King Henry VIII was buried, looked at King Edward’s Chair, and spotted the Battle of Britain memorial window. The beauty of the glass took my breath away. Standing in Poet’s Corner, looking at the memorials for Chaucer, Shakespeare, Lords Byron and Tennyson, The Brontë sisters, and Jane Austen sent shivers up my spine. I squeezed Erin’s hand and told her that someday I was going to live in England.

I was waiting to see my new academic advisor at Penn State midway through my first year of studies when I spotted the brochure for the study abroad program at Leeds. Dreams of attending the program filled my head as I spoke with my advisor. Unfortunately, attending the Leeds program would do nothing towards my major, but if I was willing to spend an extra semester at university there was no reason I couldn’t apply for the program when I reached my junior year. I swapped my major into International Business, thinking that might give me a leg up on getting to live in the UK. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my boyfriend, about my plans for living in England as it was my secret alone. Unfortunately, my GPA was not high enough to apply for the study abroad program. I was crushed, but still determined to figure out a way to England.

I met my friend John in 1999 while attending a service project for Circle K. He and I hit it off and we became close friends despite attending schools 8 hours apart. John was planning on going to Japan for a semester abroad the following year, and I told him about my dreams of living in England. I was afraid he would think I was silly, but instead, he encouraged me not to forget my dream.

I forgot about my dream. I worked at a local pre-school and after I was laid off, I took a job working as a bank teller. My England dream came back, and I started talking to John about it again. John suggested creating a special bank account for my England fund and to set myself a goal of when I intended to move. It was 2002, so I told John I would give myself 10 years. I made plans to work my way up in the banking world. I thought if I got high enough at my local bank, I could then apply to work for an international bank in New York and then eventually transfer to a branch in England or even find a job with an English bank. I started pushing a small amount of money into my England fund with each paycheque. Only $50 plus loose change, but I did the math and if I continued to save $50/month for 10 years, I would have plenty of money to fund a move. I started telling the people I worked with about my England dream. Most of them scoffed and told me it wasn’t going to happen, it was impossible and inconceivable, and I should just give up. Even boys I dated laughed at me. I was still determined.

Unfortunately, I was laid off two years into my banker’s job and I spent the next few years holding down part-time jobs. I moved back in with my mom, and I needed to empty my England fund to help pay bills. I was lower than low. I started making jewellery and selling it online through a website and on Etsy and at local craft fairs. 15% of what I made was being put straight back into my UK fund. The money was trickling in in small amounts, but I wasn’t giving up. I made high quality Swarovski bracelets and necklaces, so from each sale I was getting between $1-$5 going into my UK fund. My 10-year clock was ticking and I started researching other ways of moving, thinking perhaps attending graduate school in the UK might be an option, or even becoming an Au Pair. I also became desperate to visit the UK, as I hadn’t been since 1997. But I knew that once I got a glimpse of Old Blighty again, I wouldn’t want to leave.

I met Tim online in 2004 and shared my dreams with him. He was very encouraging and told me that once I had enough money together to finance a trip I could come and stay with him in his spare room for as long as I needed while I job hunted. If I landed a job near him, he was willing to let me room with him until I could afford my own place. I was floored as no one had offered me this kind of encouragement before other than my friends Erin and John. We met in person in 2005 in Seattle and I didn’t get to spend as much time with him as I would have liked, but it was enough to know that I would feel safe staying with him if I came to the UK. That Christmas, he sent me a copy of Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small Island” with the inscription “to tide you over until you are here”. At the time, I was dating someone who didn’t understand my dream, and who enjoyed quoting “inconceivable” from The Princess Bride at me whenever I brought it up.

Tim and I continued our friendship and I developed another idea for moving. I was going to try to get a job again at IKEA and then work my way to transferring to a UK store. I used my connections from my 1998 job at the Philadelphia store to get a job assisting with opening the Canton, MI store. Unfortunately I broke my foot that summer and wound up needing to leave my job and moved back in with my mother in PA. My England account stood at around $200, not even enough for half of a plane ticket. I was depressed. If I wanted to meet my goal, I was running out of time. I began to think that a move to the UK just wasn’t in the cards for me.

In 2008 I finally decided I was just going to come to the UK. I would sell my car and use the proceeds for a plane ticket, and stay in Tim’s spare room for as long as I could. I hoped that I might be able to do some job hunting while I was visiting. In mid-2008, Tim and I confessed our feelings for each other and began dating. We decided that I would use my upcoming trip to determine if I really wanted to live in the UK. I would stay for a few months and in addition to seeing the sights I would experience doing things that people who live there do – things like grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, etc.

I fell in love.

We extended my visit to the alloted 6 months on my visitor visa, and I returned to the US, determined to make the permanent move. The obvious solution would be marriage, but I didn’t want Tim to marry me just so I could move to the UK and I really wanted to get to the UK on my own merits. In the end, I did marry Tim, but we waited until we were both ready for it and both wanted it.

I entered the UK on my two-year spousal visa in January 2010. This December, I become eligible for permanent residency. And then, I have a date with Westminster Abbey.

Nothing is inconceivable, you just have to persevere.

*An Anglophile is someone who is fond of all things British. At the age of 17, this meant I watched Monty Python, Mr Bean, AbFab, and Are You Being Served on PBS.
**Technically speaking, Westminster is not a Cathedral, but I thought it was when I was 17.

This coming week’s topic is “food memory”…I have no idea if I even have any food memories….

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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2010 in Review

Sitting down to do a 2010 review seems so weird….didn’t the year only just start? But then, when I look back on things…wow, January 2010 was so long ago!

We’ll start the year out on December 31, 2009. Tim and I were waiting on my spousal visa to be approved, and I received one of the most important phone calls of my life shortly before midnight GMT. We had been approved and my visa was on it’s way to me! My boxes had already been shipped, so the next three weeks were filled with me trying to pack my remaining suitcases, visit places “one last time”, and see as much of my family as I could. I left the US on January 21, 2010 and entered the UK on January 22. The immigration officer asked me nothing beyond “Where is your husband?” when I went through immigration. He stamped my passport and said “Welcome home, Mrs. Lockley”.

Tim picked me up, and we headed to the hotel he had booked for the previous night. Since my plane was getting in at 6 in the morning, Tim went down the night before, and we had decided he would pick me up and we would go back to the hotel to get more sleep, stay the night again, and begin our trip back home on the 23rd. I remember bits and pieces of the hotel stay. I remember watching an episode of Doctor Who on BBC3 while we sipped champagne and celebrated finally being together.

Tim went back to work and I busied myself unpacking my suitcases and getting things ready for our late Christmas celebration. On the 28th, we had Tim’s parents and sister over to celebrate Christmas…complete with putting up the tree!

My boxes finally arrived in February and it took me a while to get them all emptied….I finally emptied the last book box on our anniversary in November! Tim’s aunt found a local chorus for me to get involved in, and I started volunteering once a week at the Cancer Research UK shop on the high street. I was starting to get myself established!

March was fairly uneventful. Tim had a week of leave and we decided to stay at home and began working on our garden – we were going to try our hand at growing our own vegetables this year. We also began work on extending the garden railway…a project that had a deadline of August 31! I adopted the area under the lilac tree as “mine” and began clearing it of weeds. I soon discovered that there is something wrong with the soil under the tree, as nothing appears to want to grow on the sunny side. 🙁 Oh well, Rock garden for next year!

In April, we held our reception for Tim’s family and our friends in the UK. My mom flew over for it, and he trip was only supposed to be a short one….but due to volcanic ash, we wound up with an extra week!

May brought my first choral competition with Lincoln Sounds…and we came home with a Bronze medal and the highest score the chorus had ever gotten! What a fantastic introduction to the competition.

June and July were both quiet months. Mostly filled with more gardening and garden railway building.

in August, I went with my friend Helen and her son, Mark, to Wales for a week. We spent the week visiting castles and railways, and I had a great time. I loved Wales, and loved being near mountains. The end of August brought my birthday and Tim’s birthday. Tim was hitting a milestone this year, so we decided to have a party and officially open the upper circuit of the garden railway.

September was our big holiday. Honeymoon part 2. Tim had wanted to take me to Germany and Austria for our honeymoon, but it wasn’t going to work out right after we got married, so we decided to take the trip when Tim had his two weeks off. We spent our time camping in Zell am Ziller and Nußdorf, making day trips to castles and railways and Tim took me to see “my castle” – Neuschwanstein. We had a great trip. Blog posts about it are coming, I promise!

in October, I took the train down to Southampton to visit a friend I hadn’t seen since college. We re-connected through Facebook and I found out she had also married a British man and was living in the UK, and she invited me to come for a visit. We had a great time. It was really nice to be around someone who I have known for so long and to catch up with her. We have plans to get together sometime soon.

November marked our one year wedding anniversary and we celebrated it by attending the fireworks at the showgrounds. We also celebrated Thanksgiving and I cooked a full Thanksgiving meal for Tim and my in-laws.

Which brings us to the most recent month past, December. I spent most of the beginning of the month preparing and cleaning because my mom arrived on the 16th! Our plans for Christmas involved going over to Tim’s parents house, so I cooked my Christmas dinner on the 23rd. Unfortunately, my MIL wasn’t feeling well and on the 24th decided to cancel dinner at hers and rescheduled it for the 26th. Tim and I had to brave Tesco on Christmas Eve to get all the fixings for our dinner. I didn’t cook a turkey, but we made do with a nice roast chicken. Mom left on the 30th, and Tim and I watched DVDs last night and flipped to BBC1 about one minute before 12….and went to bed shortly after the fireworks.

Bring on 2011!

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Building a Railway

We have a garden railway. Or, I should say, my husband has a garden railway. For many years he had a short lower circuit that went around the perimeter of the garden below the driveway, but he had always wanted to expand, and he set a goal of getting it done by his 40th…and he did! He, along with Ben (his brother), Mark, and a few other people managed to build the upper circuit in what boils down to about 7 days – just all spread out over the course of several months. I helped too, though my main “job” was supplying cups of tea and making lunch. Still, it helped!

We celebrated Tim’s 40th and my 31st by having a party on the 29th of August, and we also used this date as the official opening date of our completed railway, though we still have a few platforms to put in this coming Summer.

I don’t have much else to say about it, so I’ll just post a whole slew of photos:

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Happy Anniversary!

Remember, remember, the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason, and….

A wedding?

Hard to believe, but today Tim and I have been married for one year! We’ll be celebrating tonight over at the Lincolnshire Show Grounds for their annual Bonfire Night festivities, which include fireworks in addition to the giant bonfire.

When we were picking our wedding date, Tim and I joked that we would get married on the fifth of November, so we would never forget our anniversary and we would always have fireworks on it. As luck would have it, it just happened to work out that we really DID get married on the fifth of November in 2009.

We’re still just as in love as we were when we got married, and I hope it stays like this forever. I love you Tim! Happy Anniversary!

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One Year in the UK

I know, you’re scratching your head. I can hear you thinking What? She hasn’t been there a year yet!

And you’re right. I haven’t been here a year yet, BUT as of today, I have officially spent 12 full months in the UK during my assorted visits.

So here’s the break-down of my “first visits”:
October 17 – October 31: 2008
November: 2008
December: 2008
January: 2009
February: 2009
March 1-24: 2009
March 25-31: 1997
April 1-4: 1997
April 4-6: 2009
April 7-30: 2010
May: 2010
June: 2010
July: 2010
August: 2010
September 1-15: 2010
September 16-30: 2009
October 1-16: 2010

And I swear, I haven’t forgotten about everything I need to blog. I just seem to have developed a social life and since we got back from Austria, I feel like I’ve been constantly on the go! Updates soon!!

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250 Posts

Today’s post marks 250 posts for my blog! I started this blog a little over two years ago (I missed the blog anniversary), and I’ve averaged 2-3 posts/week. Not bad!

This milestone comes at a good place, too. My birthday is in two days. I’ll be 31. Somehow, it’s not so bad. I panicked when I turned 30, but in the past year I’ve gotten married, moved across an ocean, joined a ladies barbershop chorus, and done so many things I had never done before.

Bring on 250 more posts!

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A Trip ‘Round the Garden

We had a steam-up a few weeks back, and a friend had a video camera mount on one of his wagons and he was nice enough to film a trip around our garden for us – as if you were a passenger on the 16mm railway! This is especially special as this was the first steam-up where people could go the entire way around the garden!

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK6XpZGet2o

Our next steam-up is on the 29th to celebrate our birthdays! Hope to see you there!

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One Month!

I’ve officially lived in the UK for one month, as of….well, right now, since my plane landed at 530 in the morning on the 21st of January. I’m settling into married life and life in the UK, and things are starting to get sorted –

*I’ve been added to Tim’s bank accounts and have received my debit card
*I have my NHS number and card and have been in to see the GP several times
*I have an EHIC card, so I’m covered if Tim and I jaunt into the rest of the EU and I need a doctor
*I have my NI number, so I can open savings accounts and get a job (if we decide I should)
*I have a library card, which has proven to be quite useful
*We joined the co-op and started earning a small bit for dividends
*I’ve been contacted by a local choir and have been invited to attend rehearsal this week

….the only thing left is for me to sort out the Provisional License, I think. As that requires sending off my passport for a month, I wanted to make sure I got everything else taken care of first.

It’s been a wild and crazy month, but I do love it here. I love being with Tim and we’re slowly getting the house sorted (and re-decorated) and everything is falling into place. We’ve even got most of the reception here planned already!

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Just a quickie…

I’ve landed. A longer post is on it’s way, and I had plans of writing it today. Sadly, our washing machine decided that last night was the perfect time for it to die, so this afternoon we’ll be shopping for a new one.

Just wanted to let anyone know who didn’t know that I arrived and am now safely at home!

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My Visa Journey

I’ve recently applied for and recieved my UK spousal visa. Here is a detailed account of what I did. I hope this can help someone in the future!

1229091138 On 5 November 2009, Tim and I got married in a small and private ceremony in PA, followed by a reception for friends/family in th US. I filled out the paperwork to get the certified copy of our marriage license before the wedding and had the envelope and cheque all ready to be sent post-wedding. Tim and I departed on our honeymoon on the morning of the 7th, and my mom mailed off the request for the certified copy on Monday. We returned from our honeymoon on the 15th, Tim went back to the UK on the 16th, and the marriage certificate arrived on the 17th.

Before sending off the marriage certificate, I went ahead and changed my name with my bank (though I did that immediately after the wedding and added Tim to the account) and with PennDOT. Then, it was off to the post office to send in a renewal/name change on my passport. This is an optional step, however I really wanted everything to be in my married name. I did NOT expedite my passport, but I had it back after only 4 weeks. During this time, Tim was able to collect the required documents we needed on his end, and he FedExed me his paperwork on 23 December. Due to the holiday, I did not receive the package until the 28th.

Tim and I had gone through the paper version of the application together to make sure I knew the answers to some of the questions (like Tim’s NI number) in case he wasn’t around when I filled out the online form. Fortunately, Tim was around and we filled out the application together. It took about an hour, but that partially had to do with my slow computer. It got to the schedule biometrics page and I was given a date at the beginning of January.

I organized all the paperwork before I did anything else. I purchased Avery dividers with document pockets and color-coded each section. I had 6 sections to my documents – General Information, Identification, Finances, Employment, Housing, and Misc. I will attach at the end my table of contents for more details. Anything that was more than a page long got paperclipped together, and each section was then clipped together with a small binder clip. The entire application was 60 pages, 12 photos, and 3 passports, so I then took 3 very large binder clips and clipped it ALL together on three sides.

After hearing a few success stories of getting biometrics done early, I decided to take my chances and we drove over to York (where my local facility was). It worked out since it was only about a 20 minute drive away, and we wanted to go out to Lunch at a restaurant in York anyway. Fortunately, there was only 3 people waiting for their testing (this also is INS, the place where US immigrants go for their biometrics and green cards!). Since they weren’t busy, they agreed to take me after the three people waiting.

Biometrics was pretty painless. Instead of using ink and paper, they have a special scanner that scans in your fingerprints. Mine were hard to read, and the woman doing it told me it’s because I use my hands a lot – like to type on a computer, send text messages, even crafting. Doing those things creates lines on your fingertips and it makes it harder to read your prints. Fortunately after about 15 minutes, she finally got something that the computer was satisfied with.

When we got back to the house, I had an email from my courier instructing me to send my application via overnight FedEx that afternoon, so off we went to the FEdEx facility across town. It cost me $53, but it was worth it!

I used All Star Visa & Passport Services and I can’t recommend them enough. They were very professional, didn’t offer me any unsolicited advice like some of the others, and kept in communication with me every step of the way. The received my application at 10AM on the 30th, after their submission time to the consulate, but that gave Myra time to go through my application and make sure I had sent everything I said I was (a step I appreciated). She wasn’t going through it to review it like some places, just checked for my documents. She also told me that I was pretty organized, which pleased me. Their services are a little more than some of the other LA couriers – $150 plus an additional $24 for shipping, but in my opinion it was well worth it to have such professional service. I had heard a lot of complaints about at least 2 of the other LA Consulate couriers, but nothing but good things about All Star.

Ken submitted my application in the morning on 31 December. The consulate was closing early for the holiday, so it was iffy if it would get looked at. When I didn’t hear from the courier by 3PM PST, I assumed it was going to have to wait. Imagine my surprise when I received a phone call around 7PM EST telling me I was approved and my visa was on it’s way to me! Way to go All Star!

My visa process took exactly 8 weeks from wedding to visa issued, but you can cut some time off if you don’t need to/want to change your name on your passport (or if you expedite your passport). Tim had most of his documents all ready and we were only waiting for a copy of the land registry, but I’ve been told we could have used the internet print out instead, which also would have cut off a week.

I’ll be leaving the US on 21 January to join my husband so we can start our life together!

My table of contents is a pdf for you to look at and use as a guide. It can be found here: spousalvisatableofcontents.pdf. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list, and you might require additional documents depending on your situation.

For a guide of required documents and an example of what your sponsor’s letter should look like, please visit Transpondia.

You can find support from fellow Americans who have gone through or are going through the same process by visiting the forums at BritanniAmerica.

Meg from UK-Y has put together a sample budget, and you can download the template here. Again, please remember this is only a guide, and you might need to add or delete lines as necessary based on your own financial situation.

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The Wedding

[This is a re-post to my blog of a post appearing in my personal LJ, the wedding plans community, and on my facebook page. Apologies if you’ve already seen it!]

The fifth dawned bright and sunny. Tim and I got up around 8 and decided to go pick up bagels for breakfast before starting to get ready. Tim showered, and headed to the train station to pick up my MOH, Erin and I got in the shower and put on my something blue (Bra & panties set with suspenders/garters) and then put on pajama pants and a tank top while I did my hair and make-up. Our Best Woman and photographer, Laura, arrived, and I even managed to get down a 6-inch sub from Subway before getting zipped into my purple dress and heading out the door!

We got over to the judge’s office with plenty of time to find out it wasn’t really a courthouse at all. Almost felt like it was made up of temporary trailers, but whatever. We were mostly amused that the courtroom was set up for an actual trial and have some funny pics of us behind the tables (on Tim’s mum’s cam, so I haven’t seen them yet). The judge came in, Laura set up our video camera, and our entire ceremony took 2 and a half minutes. After the ceremony, the judge told us we could stay as long as we wanted taking pictures, so we took a few before heading over to Willow Valley – where we intended to take pictures outside before having dinner together.

It started to rain and got chilly. 🙁 Most of the outdoor pics have people still with their coats on, or look like they’re shivering, so after about a half hour, we high-tailed it inside and stayed in the lobby of the restaurant/hotel. My Mother-in-Law and Erin somehow managed to get someone to bring us a pot of coffee and some cups (we never saw it on the bill, either!) and we all just sat around and chatted and took more photos until it was time for dinner.

Dinner was lots of fun. Laura urged Tim to try crab cakes, so we ordered enough for the whole table. He liked them so much, he had them for Lunch on Saturday, too! We “snuck in” our champagne and had a small toast (the rule was we could bring it in as long as the other guests didn’t see it), and then had a small cake mom ordered from the hotel’s bakery. They sat us in a back corner near the big picture windows, so we had relative privacy until around 6PM, when the big dinner/smorgasboard crowd came in.

Tim and I said good-bye to everyone, checked into the hotel and enjoyed the whirlpool tub! 😀

Friday was such a busy day. We started it by heading into downtown Lancaster to see my friend Ramy and to drop off the marriage certificate at my bank (they changed my name on my account earlier in the week when I added Tim, provided we dropped off a copy of the certificate on Friday). Then, we headed over to my mom’s to load up the cars with our reception stuff…boy were we glad we had been upgraded to a mini suv from the rental company! We spent all day Friday at the reception site prepping the food and setting up the tables. Tim took his dad out to Lunch at the Lancaster Brewing Company since there wasn’t a whole lot of “man tasks” to do, but we later set Tim’s dad to work slicing bread! Our cake arrived around 4, and I swear it was all purple. For some reason, all photos make it look blue. We briefly returned to the hotel to change back into our wedding clothes, and that was the first time Tim and I had been alone since we woke up that morning!

Our reception went off without a hitch. Well, maybe a few minor hitches, but I didn’t notice any other than my cake looking blue in photos when it was purple in real life! Dana and Jilly made a beautiful cake, and the teenage waitstaff did a great job circulating the appetizers and doing all things waitress-ey. My small cousin was there and there was a brief problem with her and my “nieces” (my friend Ramy’s daughters call me Aunt). I had one of my nieces on one arm claiming “mine!” and my cousin on the other! Fortunately, by the end of the evening the two older girls were playing friendly and the youngest was tagging along with them! We also missed a few people…some people had either emailed or texted to explain they wouldn’t be there, but in the end, we only had about 30 out of the original 50. I wasn’t upset, but I was annoyed at all the food we had bought! Fortunately, my mom was able to take a lot of the food over to her office to feed the employees while we were away on our honeymoon.

I put three of my closest friends on the spot and asked them to do the toast. Ramy nicely reminded me she thought I was obnoxious when we met (I was 12!) and Sarah (my practically roommate from college) almost brought me to tears with her kind words. Then Tim decided to get in on the speech making and gave a thank you to everyone who helped us.

By this point, I was hungry. I had everyone urging me to make a plate – and I did, I swear I did! But I only managed a few bites in between running around and talking to people. The only bite of cake I had was the one Tim fed me! We did remedy this by putting together a plate of meat, cheese, and rolls for Tim and I to take back to the hotel that night while we were cleaning up.

I barely did any cleaning up. By 9PM, my feet were killing me. Not because my shoes weren’t comfortable, but because my shoes didn’t agree with the flooring of the venue and I kept sliding around which really hurt my ankles and spread down to my feet. A few of my guests stuck around to help with cleaning up too, which was really appreciated! We had to put all the tables and chairs away and clean the kitchen before we could leave, and of course had to load the cars back up.

We opted to put all the perishable stuff in my mom’s car and anything non-perishable in the rental so Tim and I wouldn’t have to drive back to Mom’s house that night. Fortunately, the rental had dark tinted windows so things like the stereo system were hidden.

Saturday morning we checked out of the hotel and headed back to my mom’s briefly to unload our car, pack ourselves some reception leftovers for the road, and packed up our suitcases for the honeymoon – a road trip down to Orlando to visit my relatives with several days at Walt Disney World and a visit to Miss M.

Unfortunately, the Monday after we returned from the honeymoon I had to put Tim on a plane back to the UK. Currently, I’m waiting for my new passport to arrive, and then we’ll be putting together the application for my spousal visa. We estimate we’ll be together permanently by mid-January. I’ve been spending my time trying to pack up my stuff we’re moving and donating or trashing everything else. Wow, 30 years of life = lots of stuff.

….And we get to do this all over again in the UK this Spring for our UK reception, too!

For those of you who are just in it for the pics….


My cat, Will, with my bouquet designed by Jilly


Tim and his Mum, Jen.


Happy at the Judge’s office, right after the ceremony


Me with my girls – Maid of Honour Erin and Best Woman Laura


What this picture really says: “OMG I’M FREEZING!”


The Mrs Ls – me with Tim’s Mum


After retreating inside. Our whole group from Thursday – Tim’s parents are on either side of us and on the top my mom is on the right and my aunt is between our attendants.


Cutting our (first) cake

— Reception —


Our cake & Topper


Tim and I at our own little table….see? I DO have food in front of me!


Sharing cake! Tim was put under orders NOT to smash it in my face or ruin my dress


Tim, mid-speech.


I’m too lazy to go back and rotate this. The little girl in the front is one of my “nieces” and the little one in the back is my cousin


A picture expertly tinted by Laura, who doubled as our photographer for the ceremony day.

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I’m Married!

You might be wondering why this blog has been so dead lately, even after I promised more entries. Well, as I posted before, Tim proposed to me while we were visiting him in September….and we decided to get married in November! Of this year. Yep. I got married on 5 November 2009. Also known as Guy Fawkes Day or Bonfire Day, so there will always be fireworks and Tim can never forget our anniversary 😀

This also means I’ll be making the permanent move over to the UK within the next month or so. This blog will NOT go away. It will probably become more of a “life in the UK” type blog with traveling mixed in there…and I still have a list of things I really ought to catch up on, like my mom and my trip back in September! I missed out on NaBloPoMo or whatever it was called since I was planning a wedding, getting married, and then honeymooning for half of it, but I think I’m going to challenge myself to blog daily until the end of December….or until I catch things up, whichever comes first!

Our wedding was beautiful, and everything we wanted it to be. I will copy/paste over the post I made to the Wedding Plan community shortly for everyone to read who missed it. We honeymooned in Florida, so expect some posts about that eventually, too!

rebecca-tim-640x480

For more photos, you can check out the Picasa page of our photographer (and Best Woman) at: http://picasaweb.google.com/falnfenix/RebeccaAndTim?feat=directlink#

Or, you can check out the photos taken by my mom, me, Tim, and Erin (our Maid of Honour) at: http://picasaweb.google.com/rebeccajlockley/OurWedding5November2009#

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State of the Blog

I started this blog exactly a year ago today! How exciting! My blog was originally started so that my mom (and other family/friends) could keep up with what I was doing while I was spending two months in Manitoba and whatever other trips I took. This expanded into becoming a log about 6 months traveling/visiting the UK, then into including video logs, personal stories, etc.

In 2008, I visited 5 countries (if you count England and Wales separately), and in 2009 so far I’ve visited 2 (and plan on adding France (okay, it’s just for a layover), Wales, and Ireland by the end of 2009). In the year that this blog has spanned so far I’ve spent 2/3 of the year outside of the United States! That’s pretty impressive for me.

So what’s in store for the blog for the next year? I’m not really sure. There’s a week in DC coming up while Tim is visiting, followed by 2 weeks in Ireland and the UK this fall, and then after that….we’ll see where it goes. Current plans are to spend Spring/Summer 2010 in the UK, but I hate having such a long gap between visits!

If I’m not actively traveling, I intend on updating the blog at least once/week with articles about traveling, and maybe some local or personal entries so the updates don’t die.

To all of you who have been reading this: Thank you. I hope you continue to read and please leave me comments! I love hearing what you think.

Don’t forget, you don’t need to come directly to my blog in order to read it. You can subscribe to the RSS feed in your favourite RSS reader, add the LJ RSS feed if you are on LJ, or read the entries on my Facebook. Comments are always welcome, just remember if you are reading it via the LJ RSS to head over to the blog site to leave a comment. The LJ comment feature doesn’t actually send comments to me, it only shows them to other LJers.

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