Tag Archives: Leeds

Has it only been 2 weeks!?

Really I feel like we’ve been here a month already! Where do I begin? Well as as the song goes…let’s start at the very beginning…of the journey.

As our final days in Atlanta drew to a close, we had a yard sale and gave everything away that we didn’t sell. It’s ridiculous what you can collect over 18 years…and of course nothing electrical could come with us, it’s just not worth all the adaptors! We also finalized the sale of the house which was ridiculously stressful. In the US the buyer pays for a full inspection, and can negotiate fixes etc. even the most irrelevant things like ensuring the sprinklers ‘work properly’. Well that’s all open to interpretation of course, so we had lots language to edit in our contract. Yup pretty stressful! The good news on the house is it all closed last week, so we are now ready to begin our search for our new home, with intensity, here in Leeds.

The flight itself was easy – we were even upgraded! Thanks to my husband’s meticulous planning the dogs were boarded and collected as planned, and we jumped in a rental car to Leeds! It was pretty weird to say the least, driving across the M62 to a city we’d never lived in before! Our rental house is fine. Small, but big enough for temporary accommodation, and best of all just moments away from Roundhay Park, allowing us regular runs and walks around the lake.

Hugh has already started school – in fact he started 3 days after we arrived! It’s a lovely small local school which he adores, especially as he can walk himself to and from school, thus gaining the independence we had promised him. Poor Poppy has had to do tests for streaming, as we didn’t have SAT scores for her. She starts on Wednesday this week and has already taught herself to tie her tie with YouTube videos. She’s made friends there too – a lovely Australian girl showed her around, so it’s great that they can both be the ‘foreigners’ together! Most importantly for Poppy she has a cheer team. She’s tried out for the various levels and made her presence known.

I’ve not stopped eating since we arrived and joked the other evening that I felt a little bit ‘This Country’ in my sweats, eating fish and chips watching the World Cup. Kerry would be proud.

As we’re settling in I’ll be posting more regularly again. For now thanks for tuning in. We love our new life so far, and are happy to report no regrets.


A week today.

I cannot believe we are here – June 4th, meaning a week today we will be flying to our new home in Leeds. I’m tired – emotionally and physically. Not surprisingly I’m not sleeping well. We’re all happy and excited but every day there is a milestone. Last week we had the inspection for our house sale here, yesterday we had our yard sale, today the appraisal, tomorrow there are other things we need to check off the list. It’s kind of eerie – I’m sitting in an almost empty house – with just mattresses for us to sleep on this week. It’s like being a student again but with more stress!

My Mum and Dad are kindly heading to Leeds tomorrow to receive our IKEA delivery for our rental, and let the cable guy in so we’re ready for the World Cup! I’m so thankful to have people there who can help while we manage the loose ends on this side of the Atlantic.

The dogs’ crates for flying have arrived, though that process is still incredibly stressful as we have to make sure paperwork is in order so that they are accepted as freight on Monday, and then allowed through customs on arrival in Manchester on Tuesday. Our dogs are both 60-80lbs, so the crates are enormous and that means we need to rent a truck from Manchester to Leeds that will hold the 4 of us and luggage, plus the dogs in their crates! The logistics are crazy!

The good news is we may have school places for the children. Leeds has an over subscription problem right now – too many children for too few places. In order to secure places for Poppy and Hugh we might have to send them to school for the rest of the UK school year, which they aren’t going to be happy about as their school year here ended last week! I’m not going to win any Mum of the Year awards for that am I – especially as I told them they will have a lovely long summer? On the positive side it means they can acclimatize quickly and meet new friends before the UK summer holidays start. I’ve got a hard sell on my hands.

So as I say I’m tired, and it’s not surprising, but at least last week we got to have a lovely last hurrah in NYC with my Father in Law and Brother in Law’s family. It was wonderful to see them over here, and great for Poppy and Hugh to hang out with their cousins. It was reassuring how well they all got on as I hope we’ll be seeing a lot more of them over the summer down in London!


The beginning of the end!

That is how it is starting to feel anyway! The beginning of the end of our time in Atlanta. It feels quite daunting to be a quarter of the way through April, knowing we only have 6 weeks left of the school year, and therefore 6 weeks left of needing to be here in Atlanta. Once the end of May arrives we could be on a flight.

We have stuck a pin in the calendar and are working back from an ETA in Leeds of the week of June 11th. We needed to at least plan on a departure date, as the dogs have to go through a time sensitive process of vaccinations and paperwork. We also needed to find a house to rent that would allow pets. That search, although stressful, was thankfully brief. Although Leeds has an abundance of rental properties, given it’s three universities, there is a dearth of landlords who welcome pets. We were lucky, thanks to the help of friends in Leeds, to find a home that will welcome our dogs, and give us a 6 month lease while we search for a home to buy.

So while it’s exciting that we now have a place to land, we’ve recently had numerous poignant ‘lasts’ – our last Spring break, our last Masters tournament in the same time zone, our last Easter in the US. I’ve tried to conceal their significance to me from my children – I don’t want to keep saying ‘this is our last…’. Interestingly though, instead of a fear of leaving, I have more concerns about adapting to our new home. Will I still love the UK as much as ever? Will I constantly compare things with here? Will we be accepted? Will the children make friends?

Poppy and Hugh continued to be buoyed by the thought of an extra month of summer holiday, their biggest concerns right now appear to be being penalized at school for US spelling, and ‘English money’, and how to convert from dollars to pounds and vice versa…Dave and I, while not challenged by currency conversions, are suddenly confronted with dealing with Celsius, grammes and kilograms! This move once again reminding me how two countries, sharing the same language, can be poles apart on so many other things!

The decision

It’s made! We’ve decided! After weighing up all the pros and cons, and countless sleepless nights we have decided it’s time to move to the UK!! We’re starting our next adventure. Now we’ve decided I’m actually incredibly excited! The children are at peace with it too – Hugh is excited, and Poppy is thrilled about some things, and fearful of others – but the promise of being able to design, decorate and furnish their rooms appears to be keeping them happy at the moment. Poppy is also compiling a list of ‘weekend break destinations in Europe’ – she has wanderlust and is obviously her father’s daughter.

I won’t lie – I still get palpitations and freak out moments where I’m asking myself ‘what the fuck are we doing?’, but they are fewer and fewer as time passes. Last night I cried with frustration, questioning if we should have done it sooner? If we should be doing it at all? How I’m disappointed that I don’t feel anything is keeping me here in Atlanta. The strangest emotion is that I actually feel a little resentful towards Atlanta for not giving me anything to keep me here after 18 years. I guess I had hoped to feel more sad about leaving, which ironically makes me feel sad that I don’t. You following me? I’ve had messages from people asking ‘are you really going? Don’t go! We’ll miss you!’ — but where were these people when I was looking for inclusion, and to feel part of a tribe here? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve tried to take friendships further with the offer of lunch, dinner or a coffee — then it was tumbleweed. Hey maybe it’s me? Too late to change now! Once again I’m reminded how lucky I am to have such a supportive husband who gets it all, even when I’m struggling to articulate it all. I’m hoping the bitterness is just a side effect of stress and that it will pass with time.

My head is spinning 1000mph and until I’m sitting on that plane I doubt it will slow down. To be honest it won’t feel real until we’re forced into action when our house is sold. With any luck that will coincide with the end of the school year here in May. Until then we’ll be continuing our conversations with the children and encouraging questions so they have all the reassurance they need. Dave and I will have consistency too – we’re so fortunate to be able to work wherever we need to and I’m so grateful for understanding business partners.

After countless searches, research and surveys on instagram we’ve identified Leeds as our top spot. Key factors for this choice include

— well connected with London

— close to Manchester airport

— we can live within walking distance of the city center while having access to parks and great schools

— it’s close to the countryside

— easy to reach friends and family

We will rent to start with which will be challenging with 2 big dogs, but smart too. If the stars align we’ll sell quickly, move, and identify our ideal pad quickly so we can nurture those roots and get them replanted quickly.

Day tripping.

Sue and I both admitted to telling our children the same thing – ‘don’t be rude, and best behavior please’ – i.e. don’t show us up.  And to be honest, when I met Sue and George in Leeds yesterday, all three children were very well behaved, considering we spent about 3 hrs in Giraffe eating, talking and drinking.  We did resort to bribery a couple of times, so the children had a not so healthy lunch of pancakes, chips and ice cream (an extra scoop each while we finished the wine).  I hope George got his Kinder egg that he was promised.

I’m so glad that we made the trip across the Pennines.  You know there are just some people in this world who are genuine, and good, and radiate warmth – Sue is one of these people. Oh and she’s witty and charming too, darn her.  She had made Poppy a gorgeous necklace, and bought sticker books for the children – so thoughtfuI, as I kicked myself for turning up empty handed.

Thanks to Rosie our fabulous waitress, who tolerated our constant requests, and didn’t bat an eyelid at the carnage and destruction that littered our table.  She’s thinking of starting a blog with her friends, what a good idea I told her.

Thanks to The Grumps too for driving Sue’s car home and sorry if you didn’t get any dinner.  I did lead her astray a bit, though in hindsight I’m not sure how much ‘leading’ was done.

Leeds, by the way, I am totally impressed.  Full of fabulous stores and clean streets, which couldn’t be said for Manchester the other day.  I get why Leeds is loved so much by so many.  Shameful really that both my siblings went to University there and yet this was my first visit.

Next time I’m staying the night so we can really let our hair down.

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Superwoman Sue.


Great shot taken by one of the children – no awards here yet.


Sorry Rosie.


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Still in her 30s

But only just!  I spent the day today celebrating my sister’s 39th birthday.  We left early, abandoning our children, and ran for it to the bright lights of Manchester.  What followed was one of the best days of sibling bonding I’ve ever had.  I wish I could spend days like this every week with my sister.

After a mooch around the shops, where I bagged a couple of great deals in the Mango sale, we headed to Harvey Nicks for a fabulously debauch lunch – minimal food, copious prosecco and abundant conversation.  I felt like I was on an episode of Long Lost Family – we spilled so much, talked so much, laughed so much and cried a little.  It’s amazing what growing up can do for a relationship.

Lovely Louise – Happy 39th!:

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My new pants – fabulously comfortable:




In between bottles of wine we dashed into Zara where I fell in love with this jacket – I will be ordering it on my return.  It’s just the most perfect lightweight jacket – it fit like a glove.


We also managed to buy half of the Marks and Spencer’s shoe department.  Lordy I might need a new suitcase again.

I first saw these on gorgeous Avril and I couldn’t resist the nude too.



Then these are the first ever strap sandal I have ever owned!  Normally I can’t get my toes to stay put beneath the strap and I end up with all sorts of nasty welts and blisters – but these are just SO comfortable.  My first ever non-thong sandals.  I promise – far nicer on – no Jesus sandal about these!  My sister confirmed they were cute and not frumpy – I trust her, you should too.



Here are Louise’s – very classy indeed and a great wearable height.  I’m so impressed with M&Ss shoe collection – thank goodness they do free shipping to the US now!



My outfit today (it was warm and sunny!):




Dress – T-shirt dress James Perse (old) // Jacket – Zara (old) // Shoes – Isabel Marant Bobby Sneakers // Scarf – J.Crew (old)

Off to bed now ready to head to Leeds!  That’ll be a fun story for you:)

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