22 July 2009

Midas arrives

Midas flew in this morning and we made the journey to Heathrow to collect him from the Animal Reception Centre. Now all we need are the goods that are on the boat and we will have completed the move.

Midas is in good health and has explored Amanda and Phillip's house. He seems to be settling in and even at this point getting along with their cat, Eden. The flight must have made him hungry and thirsty as he has eaten and drunk more than he ever did at home.

Both Marilyn and Errol have been applying for positions. Fewer academic positions are now being advertised so Errol is applying for industry positions. There are lots available but the problem is matching the keyword searches of the recruiters. As well, Errol has been doing some work on research papers and programming some of his own interests.

Exploring the public walkways around Thatcham is also proving an interesting pastime. It isn't difficult to walk across Thatcham nor to get out into the country public walkways. Errol has explored a public walkway across farmland and another past fishing ponds and the canal. Living in small towns makes it easy to get out into the country and also to observe the contrasts that exist here in the UK.

The area where we are is a small housing estate, that probably isn't the correct description but all the houses are very similar two storey, three bedroom terraced houses. Not far away are single level detached homes on a reasonable amount of land. There are even some rather large houses fairly close by. We are reviewing the prices and some are definitely in our price range. We are reluctant to purchase while still job hunting and are unsure where our jobs might take us.

18 July 2009

Thatcham Week Two

We have now spent a second week in Thatcham. Monday saw Errol have an interview in Southampton and Thursday, we went through the registration process for National Insurance numbers. Errol knew when he left the interview that he hadn't done particularly well and this was confirmed by an email late yesterday. No other academic jobs that Errol has applied for have shown interest so he is now applying for industry positions. He is at least being rung by the recruiting agents who seem to have sent his CV to clients. An industry position isn't Errol's preferred employment but if it gives us income then that is what he will do. It seems strange having completed the PhD in Education / Computer Science and now finding that the positions available don't seem to want those skills. Errol doesn't see the situation here as being better or worse than New Zealand.

Marilyn has also been looking at possible jobs and has applied for one in Reading. Those applications closed on Friday so she hasn't heard anything yet.

We have also looked at prices of houses in the area and we think that once we have an income, we should be able to locate something within our price range. It won't be a mansion or even to the standard of our New Zealand house but should be quite adequate by UK standards.

The weather this week has been considerably cooler with quite a good thunderstorm late yesterday afternoon. A loud crack of lightning when Amanda was out getting Matthew from school had us checking that there was no local damage. Quite a dramatic change in the weather compared with our first week when temperatures were in the low 30s.

11 July 2009

Paris

We have now returned from the Paris visit. For Errol this was a chance to catch up with colleagues and meet new folk at a computing education conference, while Marilyn spent much of her time walking around various areas of Paris.

There is plenty to see in Paris, so Marilyn selected a different area each day and explored it for several hours. This usually included a museum or church visit and also some Metro travel. She saved going to Montmartre till the end of the conference and then went with Errol. The hotel we were in was near the university for Errol's conference, but was also quite close to some of the major attractions which was helpful.

The best museums were the d'Orsay and the Cluny, and the Saint Chapelle and Sacre Couer churches were the most spectacular. With the huge number of visitors to Notre Dame, I was left wondering how the regular worshippers managed to find quietness and any sense of reverence.
I also managed to end up in a number of small street markets which seemed to be more aimed at locals than the tourists. These markets ranged from fruit & vegetables and clothing to ceramics (very nice but beyond my price range – up to 3500Euros for the pieces I liked!).

We spent most evenings with other conference attendees, including a great meal in the open air restaurant at the top of the Pompidou centre on an evening with a brilliant sunset – magic!, and relaxing in the opulent surroundings of the Big Ben bar at the Gare de Lyon. We also discovered that the Metro stops running at 1am, so had a long walk after the conference dinner cruise on the Seine.

02 July 2009

A week in Thatcham

We have now spent a week in Thatcham with Phillip, Amanda, Matthew, and Kathryn. There has been some adjustment in the body clock for the change in timezones but it has been the heat that has really kept us quiet. It has been good spending this time catching up with the family and enjoying the attention of the grandchildren.

A canal boat trip on Sunday afternoon proved a good way to relax but we decided it couldn't be our home base. We could see the advantage if you have lots of time and want to explore the countryside.

A business trip into London on Monday proved demanding because of the heat but did see us another step closer to being established as UK residents. Starting job hunting for Marilyn and preparing for an interview for Errol has also taken some time.

The trip to Paris for the ITiCSE conference begins today. Having this arranged has meant delaying some job searching but the networking of the conference may provide more opportunities for Errol.