• Slideshow Widget

    How we ended up in England

    Wednesday, March 04, 2009

    As I said in a few posts back, I am working on uploading all of our old photos to Flickr and in doing so, memories come flooding back. I’m going to try to document some parts of our adventures in England and abroad during that time by linking to some of these photos.

    Mike and I were married nearly 7 years ago in May 2002. Mike was working at IBM as he is now and I was working at Mayo Clinic, also where I am now. About a month after our wedding, an opportunity came to Mike at his job that we could not refuse. Betsy Baartman, Mike’s manager at the time and still a dear friend of ours, presented Mike with the chance to work in Hursley, England for a year as part of an exchange of knowledge between the two locations. Betsy told Mike about this possible trip and asked him to go home and see what I thought of it. Mike told her right then that he didn’t need to ask me, he knew my answer (YES! YES YES!), but we still discussed it that evening. We were still living in our 2 bedroom apartment, so we didn’t have a house to sell or maintain while we were gone. We didn’t yet have any children. My job was expendable. We had NO reason to say no. The time from June until mid-August was insanity for us. IBM kept going back and forth over whether or not to send us. Ironically enough at that time another manager told Mike that “nothing was for sure until you were on that plane headed to England.” We had no idea exactly how true that was until we were at the rehearsal for our friend Tina’s wedding in the Twin Cities and Mike received a call on our cellphone from Betsy. She told him that the trip had been cancelled by some idiot executive and that we should come back to Rochester on Sunday instead of flying out to England. We had moved out of our apartment and put everything into a storage facility. I had sold my car and Mike’s was being stored. We had nowhere to live and nothing to drive. After the wedding Mike’s parents drove us back to Rochester where Betsy had reserved us a suite at a hotel and a rental car. She also stocked the room with goodies and a much needed bottle of wine. I remember being absolutely stunned by the whole situation. Here we were all ready to fly to England Sunday morning, but instead we were back in Rochester living in a hotel! It was all so surreal. On Monday Mike went into work and of course everyone was shocked to see him there. Behind the scenes Betsy and others were working to get the idiot executive’s decision reversed. By Wednesday they had succeeded, Mike and I repurchased airline tickets, turned OFF our cellphone and we flew out to London immediately!

    We arrived in London very early in the morning and had a car drive us to Winchester where we had booked a hotel room for the time being until we could find a house to rent. The Wessex Hotel was our home for about 4 weeks.

    We made friends with the staff, ordered an unbelievable amount of room service, ate out at every single restaurant in town and were awakened by the sound of the Winchester Cathedral’s bells every weekend morning. It was difficult living in a hotel where housekeeping disrupted my every morning and where we had no real place to just hang out other than our “bedroom.” Our first day in Winchester was probably an indication of how things were to go for us for the entire year to come. We were starving and totally unfamiliar with not only the town, but also with England in general. We walked down the High Street and the only recognizable name we could find was Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut – Americana – something familiar? Oh no! We walked in and sat down at an open table. Minutes later we were being reprimanded for not being seated by the hostess. Day one and we were already sticking out like sore thumbs!