As I write, a thick fog has comfortably settled amongst our little village. I sit in bed, with my milky coffee hugged by the new bathrobe my husband bought me for our anniversary just this past week. 14 years. It’s hard to believe. We’ve come a long way.
The standard question, still, is, are you settling in? I have never been quite sure how to answer this as there are so many facets of life to settle into and while some have come quickly, others have not.
The kids are now all in school. Praise the Lord! Jakob made the biggest leap and went from Grade five in Canada to Year 7 here in Britain. This means secondary school. Fortunately, the school is not far from our house and he can walk to and from very comfortably on his own. The school is, however, 1800 students drawn from across the surrounding county – far bigger than anything we are used to. He has a varied timetable with classes all over campus filled with the regular range of subjects including Geography, Maths (as they call it here), Spanish, Religious Education (even though it is not a religious school), art, music, English, History…you get the idea. At first, he was very uncomfortable and overwhelmed, but it would seem to us that each day gets a little bit easier as the unfamiliar becomes familiar. Last week, Jakob was Tutee of the week (student of the week for his tutor group or class). We are very proud and felt that this boosted his morale quite a bit. He has also informed us that he has created a little “squad” with three other boys.
Ella went from finishing up Grade Three in Canada to entering into Year Five. My little social butterfly loves school and is eager to leave me at the school gate to go find her friends. I don’t think a mother could ask for more. Of course, we have to go through the regular new teacher/aid growing pains and each day is an ongoing conversation of how her teachers can help her succeed but overall, I am really pleased with the way things are going. The administration was eager to have her and this makes all the difference.
And Audrey has started at nursery/preschool/daycare. She seems to enjoy it and it is good for her to make some friends as she is my most reluctant, socially. She goes three days a week.
On the days Audrey is in Nursery, I go to work, Yes! I took a position at the London School of Theology in the Vocational Services Department and started this past week. I am really excited about this for a number of reasons but ultimately, it is a chance for me to get out of the house, put the other side of my brain to work and have a little adult conversation.
Ben is well into month three of his position at the Parish Churches. September brings many new initiatives that aim to reach out to our community through music. Some of these include a Children’s choir and choral evensong. No job is without its challenges but I am continually amazed by Ben’s determination and stamina when launching new initiatives. The nature of the job is really quite entrepreneurial, it always has been, and, as any entrepreneur knows, this can be very taxing.
In terms of setting up house, I am thrilled to say that our shipped items arrived on Thursday!! (I did not expect them to arrive much before November).We did end up shipping a few select pieces of furniture including our dining room table, sofa and bedroom suite as well as our books, a few toys, LEGO (of course), artwork, Christmas decorations and keepsakes. This makes a huge difference in making this house a home. Up until now, the house has seemed more like an ill-furnished VRBO (pics to follow). Of course, it will be an ongoing process as we find just the right place for everything.
Many people think the greatest adjustment comes with acclimatising to British life. I wouldn’t say this is entirely true but rather, the bigger challenge is adjusting to life in a small English village. We have lived in Britain before so we knew the basics of British life. That being said, we lived in a University town filled with people from all over the world that participated in the unique bubble culture of academia – high table, robes and all things Harry Potter.
Chalfont St. Peter is entirely different. Stores are closed on Sunday, you have to own a vehicle and everyone knows everyone. In a small village English rhetoric is much more pronounced and the company one keeps can be more generationally diverse as opposed to culturally diverse. I have had a chance to not only make friends with a number of other mom-types with children of similar ages but also with a few older ladies from the church.
It is hard to pack all the nuances of this adventure into one post. There are so many interesting aspects to life that we want to share from public footpaths through the fields to visiting National Trust sites, to trips into London or the fact that I don’t think I will ever get accustom to the way laundry is done in this country and is a never-ending endeavor (the regular wash cycle is 3 hrs and then hung to dry).
It would be deceptive not to mention that we do miss many aspects of life in Canada – family and friends, our big house with oversized washer and dryer, Ice Hockey (it turns out here that while there is a hockey team it is WAY too expensive for Jakob to play) and our Subaru but I also do not take for granted the grace and fluidity with which this update has rolled off the fingers. Seriously.
Are we settled? Yes. Yes, we are – in our hearts, in our minds, and in our home. There is a contentedness of spirit that has not been there for seven years. I told someone once that life was like a bunch of puzzle pieces. We kept trying to put them together. Sometimes, we would add a piece and sometimes, we would discover a piece that didn’t belong and have to put it aside. It was a constant struggle of trial and error, trying to make a complete and sustainable picture when we had no guide to go off of. The fact that everything has fallen into place here is nothing short of a miracle and I am so incredibly grateful.
Thank you to everyone who has kept up with our journey and prayed with us and for us. Now that we have arrived please continue to pray for the ministry ahead – our work is not done, we are simply at a place where we can concentrate more fully on it.
A note about the photos:
The feature photo is taken of our little village from the clock tower at the top down Market Place.
The rest of the photos were taken at Cliveden, a local National Trust site.