Thursday, December 20, 2007

December 20th 2007

So I obviously survived the snow and the drive home ( my first ever in real snow) we had 8" over night and it was a fun morning trying to dig the car out so I could get back to work. They obviously clear the roads very quickly here so they were fine on the Friday.

Saturday morning was a bright clear day although the temperature had dropped to 20 degree Fahrenheit which is minus 7 in real money !! Had an early breakfast at one of the local diners it was just me and all the guys off night shift from snow plough duty so I caused a little bit of a stir. I heard one guy had a British accent and as he was paying his bill the same time as me I asked how long he had been over here. He said he came over in 1968!! so please don't expect me to lose my accent anytime soon. His observations on the people and the area were the same as mine. they really are a very open hearted generous bunch and like nothing more than to either feed you or try and do something for you . Later drove around looking for a mall to at least start my Christmas shopping and eventually settled for one in Newburgh. Stuck it out till at least four and then took a drive to a very pretty town called Cold Spring -- It is full of little antique shops, restaurants and gifts shops and is really nice to walk around. The only downside was the cold -- when there is no wind you really do not realise just how cold it is until you are out in it for about 15 mins and then you suddenly realise you; are to the bone cold!

I decided to pick up a take away pizza from a really nice Italian place they have there and headed home with no plans to do anything on the Sunday as the forecast was for more snow and freezing ice. Sundays forecast was accurate so spent the day reading and sorting the place out for my last week before coming back to the UK. Monday morning I had to be in the office for 6.15 as we had some big announcements to make. But first I had to chip away the 4" of ice on my car windows. Made it into work on time and what a day it was - wall to wall meetings - we had to tell all the staff that I was taking over as GM from the 1st January and at the same time announce that we had put in to buy another company that will grow our retail team from 350 to 900 employees. I know my future is safe but do not yet know what my role will be when the acquisition completes ( although I have a very good idea :-) )

The rest of the week has been as normal as you can expect - no major news, just looking forward to flying back on Friday and seeing everyone. I have to say it is really pretty when you drive around out here, although the picture below is a little extreme most of them are very tastefully decorated and the towns look really lovely. See you all soon XXX

Thursday, December 13, 2007

13th December 2007

It has been a few days since my last blog and such a lot has happened. Monday was really great, spent the day at Sarah's flat on granny duty as you can see it was all go, go, go!

We took a walk to the surgery to get Alana registered, I carried Alana in the baby pouch which I am sure I enjoyed far more than she did. We seemed to cause issues at the surgery because Alana did not wait to be born at the hospital it seemed to confuse everyone and they were not sure how to get a NHS number. Problem was eventually resolved and home we went for some more quality cuddling time.

Tuesday we collected Toni and drove up to London ready to see Crowded House in concert. Got there early and went into Kensington for a very nice Thai meal. Great seats at the concert and Crowded House were really excellent. The only black spot on the entire evening was that they decided to close the M4 so our journey home took nearly 2 hours and we got to bed at 12.45. Only just in time for us to get up again at 5 so that Rob could run me to the airport.

Caught the 9am flight back to Newark and then picked up my super cool new car! It is an Acura MDX technical, basically a 4 X 4 with lots of really great gadgets, drove back to the office and then off home for a well deserved sleep.

Thursday - well I guess I get to see how my new car copes with the Snow, it started snowing at 9.30 and we are forecast to get 12" today. This is my new car in the car park at work and it is only 11am. More news to follow soon

Saturday, December 8, 2007

8th December 2007

So the long a awaited event is finally here !!! after a long trip back to New York from Seattle , snowing, minus 2 degrees and windy I got back to the apartment at 8pm. Awoke on Thursday morning to a text from Sarah," I think I might be having contractions mum !!!" ran round the kitchen like a headless chicken, burst into tears racked with guilt that I was not there holding her hand then had a cup of tea calmed down and rang for a more detailed update.

No panic just very mild contractions and pretty far apart. Drove to work, arranged a flight back to the UK and rang for regular updates. At 5pm UK time spoke to Cindy (Peters Mother), Sarah was still having contractions but quite light and irregular, left the office to go home and pack and at 5.30 UK time got a text to ring Sarah urgently. Cindy answered absolutely over the moon, we have a granddaughter, born on the hall floor, paramedics only just got there in time. Mother and daughter doing very well, 7lb 4oz and called Alana.

Drove to the airport floating on air, put a deposit on a new car on the way, Acura MDX Tech, and found my new social security number had arrived -- what a day !!!

Landed at Heathrow at 6.30am, Rob drove me straight over to see Sarah and Alana, got to cuddle the baby for about 6 hours, Sarah is doing a marvellous job and makes a great mother.

Went shopping with Toni on Saturday, a really rainy windy day in Windsor. Managed to find a nice outfit for the wedding. Rob and I went to see the Golden Compass this evening, it was really good. Things are all progressing nicely for the wedding - thanks to Ruth and the rest of Rob's family.

Monday, December 3, 2007

3rd December 2007

I am officially Sleepless and in Seattle! what a week I have had. Rob travelled back to the UK on Tuesday and on Thursday I drove to Newark so that I could get home for the weekend. Managed to miss the junction on the way and had fun trying to find the airport so I was running a little late by the time I got there. Thought everything turned out OK until I realised later that I had left my apartment keys in the returned hire car!

Arrived in the UK early Friday morning and had a few hours sleep before going into town to transfer the money over for the new house. We then went to the registrar office and booked a slot for the wedding - Yes it's official we are getting married on 29Th December, more information on the party that evening to follow. Rob and I then went looking for a wedding ring and after finding the one we wanted, off to meet Toni for a coffee and a chat.

On Saturday off to take Sarah and Peter out to lunch, Sarah's bump is huge now I am sure she should have some scaffolding to help support the weight. We then drove down to Southampton and spent a few hours with Sue, Malcolm and Patrick they are all looking really well. Off to Rob's mums and a quick chat with them and also Tom and Jill who were down for the weekend and then the main event! Ruth's 40Th birthday party( sorry Ruth but not many people read this anyway !!)

Great time there with all the family and then a drive back to pick up Sarah and back to the house. Spent Sunday packing and then Toni came and picked me up so that I could fly to Seattle. Trip was very uneventful until I landed as Seattle. There was a customs guy waiting at the plane door for me eek! seems that someone had entered my passport number into the system wrongly and so it set off alerts when I checked in. It took about 30 Min's to sort it out and then everything was OK although he did warn me that I may get issues for my next few trips.

Seattle has gale force winds and torrential rain - and there is heavy snow forecast for NY state on Tuesday - so I will change my flight to the Wednesday if possible.

Anyway I think that is enough surprise, celebrations and scares for one week XX

Sunday, November 25, 2007

25th November 2007

Wow!! what a fantastic weekend. Rob got a chance to see the house on Saturday morning, luckily he loves it as much as I do. After walking around the garden for a while we drove over to New Paltz via route 7 which is very scenic with lots of farms, vineyards and orchards along the way. We had lunch down at the bottom end of the town on a nice boardwalk that has lots of craft shops and a few cafes. Drove back over to Pine Bush to shop at Hanafords ( local Supermarket) and then off to the apartment to cook tea and watch TV.
Sunday we joined a hiking group at the Mohonk Preserve. They were a really nice bunch and we chatted to many of them. There were about 26 of us and we went on a 7 mile organised hike up to Castle point and then back down via the blueberry trail - The picture above is lake Minnewaska, you can see we had beautiful blue sky's and fabulous scenery although it was very cold and we saw plenty of stalactites attached to the rocks and some ice pools on the pathways. There are over 200 members in the hiking club and they have different walks every weekend on both Saturday and Sunday. They also arrange lots of social events. We are both looking forward to walking with them again.
We drove back via Barnes and Nobel for a Starbucks and bought a few more magazines (we are looking for furniture and electrical stuff for the house) Went to Home Depot and Kohls then back home for Pasta.

Friday, November 23, 2007

23rd November 2007

On Tuesday of this week we drove from Beacon to La Guardia to catch the flight to Atlanta. It was actually much easier than I thought it would be and took us about 1 hour 45 even with rush hour traffic.
Arrived in Atlanta and a car took us out to Paul and Robyn's house, It is a lovely trip out there and the house is just amazing. We had a really great time on the Tuesday. Wednesday we drove to downtown Atlanta so that I could go to the Immigration and get my US status sorted at last I am officially here. We then had a look around and there is an area call Atlanta underground that has vintage cars like the one in the picture and lots of little stalls and gift shops. We also walked around centennial park which was built to celebrate the Olympics.
We went for a walk in the woods around the property when we got back and saw a family of deer and some eagles flying overhead. Nice to see come animals that are not just lying on the side of the roads as road kill.
The children arrived back with their grandparents and the boys went down to play pool in the basement. It has been a really relaxing day.
Woke up Thanksgiving morning and the food began! we had bagels and danish and french toast strata for breakfast. Appetizers all morning and then sat down to lunch at 1pm. There were 6 children and 10 adults. The food was fantastic and I had my first ever piece of pumpkin pie. After lunch the adults played word games and the children played outside. In the evening we moved down to the basement and played pool, video arcade games and just relaxed and chatted. Paul and Rob watched the "300" movie on a 60" movie screen. Today has been a really great day, everyone has been friendly and relaxed and we have had so much fun. I really feel we are going to enjoy this move.
Today we have had a lazy morning we will be heading out for lunch later and then flying back to New York. Off to show Rob the new house tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

19th November 2007

View from my balcony, as you can see Winter has been slow to blow off the leaves this year. The colours are really lovely still. Sunday I went over to Newburgh to get Rob a book on plants and flowers that will grow in this region. Sat down to read it in the coffee shop in Barnes and Noble.
Rang my Mum, she was so pleased to speak to me - Thanks Mum!! even though she admits it's illogical after all my travels around the globe she worries about me being based in US :-)
Rob flew in to JFK landing about 1pm, caught a bus direct to Grand Central and then the train out to Beacon arriving at 4.17 very easy. We went out to a local diner for dinner. They are so reasonably priced and the quantity of food has to be seen to be believed.
Woke up this morning to be greeted with snowfall not enough to stick but enough to make everything look pretty. Talking to some of the people in the office today the sort of wildlife we can expect to see when out walking is deer, bear, possum, raccoon, eagles, hawks, owls, bats, giant turtles and coyote! can't wait. Also found out today that customs made a mistake when I entered the country and so officially I am not here which is why it is taking so long to get my social security ID. I have to go to a local customs office and register again. Off to Atlanta tomorrow to celebrate Thanksgiving with Paul and his family. Happy holidays to all if I do not blog till afterwards XXX

Saturday, November 17, 2007

17th November 2007

Wow it was cold here today, with a real bitter wind. Got up early to go over to Goshen and meet with a mortgage broker. Quite a nice town with some interesting looking buildings and lots of small cafes. It is about 25 minutes from Beacon.

Drove over to the new house, pictured left, to meet with a house inspector and the builders. It was really interesting experience. The builders are father and son from New York city. I think this is their first non city build. The inspector gave the house a very good report. There were very few snags for them to correct. They walked me round the perimeter of the property so that I could see where it extends to. They are also going to sell me their ride on mower. Rob will have lots of fun with that.

Went on to Fishkill to look at cars - this is one task that is very frustrating. I can't get excited about any of the cars I have seen so far except the Acura with a load of techie things including voice activated GPS :-) it is a bit more than I was planning on paying so I need to think about it for a while. Rob is arriving here tomorrow and we are off to Atlanta for the Thanksgiving holiday on Tuesday.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

15th November 2007

This week started well, My offer was accepted on the house and now I need to work my way through the US mortgage system. Not as easy as they all think, trying to get a mortgage as a non US citizen is fraught with loopholes. Not least because I do not yet have a social security ID. Hey Ho I am sure it will work out in the end. The other fun thing to try and do is transfer money to the US. There is International banking and then there is US banking.
Tuesday I travelled to New York on the train from Beacon - shame that it was so early in the morning. It was about 6.30am and the journey takes about 85 minutes. If you try it, you should make sure you sit on the left side of the train on the journey to Beacon and the right on the way back to New York. The train follows the Hudson river all the way up and the scenery is really lovely. Arrived in New York at 7.45, Grand central station (see the picture above) and then walked up to "Coach" one of our customers to join a meeting with my CEO. Meeting went well and I went out to La Guardia, stayed in a hotel near the airport ready to fly to Pittsburgh the next morning.
Flew to Pittsburgh and went to visit a second customer "American Eagle" this also went pretty well. Flight was delayed on the way back and then there was a shortage of taxi's in La Guardia, one of the bridges into the city was shut which meant I didn't get to Grand Central till 2 mins to 9 - It is a huge place and I had no clue where to go - luckily I found information pretty fast and managed to catch the 9.02 back out to Beacon and get back to the apartment.
Today started with an email proposal from Rob, when I asked him what prompted it, he said it was to get access to health care in the US!! who says romance is dead? Anyway I guess there will be more to follow on that story - watch this space .........

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday 10th November 2007

Weather is definatly getting colder, left the house at 8.30 to go get my nails done in Walden and when I pulled away at the lights my wheels spun!! Need to buy a 4 wheel drive very soon.

Arrived in Walden which is quite a pretty little town and got my nails done before driving off to Pine Bush. Did a little shopping in Hannafords and then had lunch at the "Cup and Saucer" diner. These diners are fantastic value for money. I had a huge plate of spaghetti pomodoro with coffee and some ice cream for less than 12$ (about £6).

Went to meet the Realtor and spent 4 hours trailing around houses. Most are right location or right house very difficult to find both but ............ I think I may have. Really nice new house about 3000sq ft with1600sq ft unfinished basement and plenty of space above garage to fit out a really nice bonus room. It sits in 4 acres at least half of which is wooded. It has decks both front and back and the master bedroom is on the ground floor with french windows out onto the deck. Will put in an offer tomorrow and see what happens. Above is a quick picture of the Mohonk mountains taken from the front deck.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thursday 8th November 2007

Welcome to America - thanks to my very good freind Toni, I had company for the first 2 days while I tried to find my feet.

Who would have thought it would be so difficult to find a supermarket, after much driving around we managed to find one. Then realised it was geared totally toward the Latin American market (well it gave us something to giggle about) it made for a very interesting time just trying to find basic foods!! luckily I have since found something a little more "normal" and stocked the very large fridge with some decent food.

I spent last Sunday driving around looking at houses with my Realtor, I have shortlisted a few but will look some more next weekend. My apartment is fine and I have it booked till the end of January at the moment.

Drove into the office on Monday across the Hudson river, the journey takes about 20 minutes. The banks of the river still look very beautiful as the trees still have most of their Autumn leaves.

I have spent all day in back to back meetings for the past 3 days but at least the days go fast. It is starting to get quite cold and I will need to get some winter boots etc very soon.

Today (Thursday) was an eye opener drove to downtown Newburgh (a real US ghetto!) with Rosemary from HR and visited the Social Security office so that I could get my ID - took my number and waited one and a half hours to be seen!! Interesting people there. My number should be through in about 6 weeks which will then allow me to get a tax number and simplify my life a bit. Later drove over to open a bank account -- thank goodness that was a lot easier than anticipated.