3 months ago today we landed at Heathrow airport. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we were incredibly excited and eager to start our new life in London (which very nearly didn’t happen!).
So much has happened in that time, but one thing that hasn’t is my blogging! I’ve only written 2 posts in the last 3 months (my aim is 1 a week), so I do apologise for slacking off. I have been a little preoccupied!
I have so many things to write about I don’t know where to start! So on advice from my mum, I am just going to WRITE (otherwise it will be 2018 before I post again)!!
I like to keep Stomalicious specifically IBD and ostomy related, but these past 3 months have been all about moving from Australia to the UK, and settling in London. About living the London life! It’s still life with IBD and an ostomy, and one of the biggest things I want to share through Stomalicious is that life can and does go on as normal for ostomates.
I still pinch myself walking around the city sometimes. Every morning I get off the tube at Westminster and look up at Big Ben and still can’t believe we’re here! Even Michael’s told me he’ll be walking along on his way to work and all of a sudden an overwhelming sense of happy incredulity hits him and he can’t wipe the smile off his face!
After 5 fantastic weeks travelling through South Africa & Namibia, arriving in London as Winter was about to hit was a shock to the system. Not only did we go from 40 degrees to 4 degrees, it was time to get back to reality. We needed jobs and we needed somewhere to live!
We’d booked an Airbnb for 7 weeks to make sure we weren’t stranded over the festive season, and bit by bit things started falling into place. In fact, in less than 2 weeks, Michael had already landed himself a job, and before Christmas, I’d secured a temp role starting in January plus we’d even found our own place (lease signed and keys picked up on NYE). Happy new year to us!!!
As well as finding jobs, finding a house, furnishing said house, navigating London transport, crowds and the cold (it even snowed!), we’ve also walked miles exploring the city (probably seen more of London than some Londoners have!). We’ve been to live music and plays, visited museums, discovered some great pubs and restaurants, cooked our own traditional roast on Christmas day, and brought in the new year watching the fireworks on Parliament Hill.
Not to mention IBD & Ostomy related activities! We’ve had 2 weekends away at the Purple Wing’s Charity Xmas dinner in the Costwold’s and Kat’s Bag of Crap in Brighton, where we were honoured to meet some awesome people. We saw Gutted last weekend, I did some one-off modelling for White Rose collection, I’ve started volunteering for the CCUK East London support group, and I’ve registered for WALK IT London! (I will be blogging about all of these soon)! I love that there is so much going on in London and around the UK and such a big, open, caring ostomy and IBD community here.
All this in 3 months! It hasn’t always been easy. It’s been challenging, but it’s been fun (albeit a little stressful at times)! You take many things for granted after living in the same country all your life. A new city is daunting. There are so many unknowns. Which area do we want to live in? How much can we negotiate on rent? What do you mean we have to pay someone to do an inventory report before we move in? How do we set up water, gas, electricity? We have to pay a television licence? Even just for Netflix?! Why are the tenants the ones who have to pay council tax? That’s not how it works in Australia! Where’s the best place to buy home furnishings? Where to go if you want to do some DIY (a Bunnings did just open in St Albans!)? How do I open a bank account when I don’t have an address yet? How do taxes, pensions, and national insurance work? What’s the best travel card option? Even trying to budget in one of the most expensive cities in the world!!!
And a big one for me – how do I register with a GP and get referred to a specialist??? The registering part was surprisingly easy, but with my limited supply of Imuran and ostomy supplies dwindling fast, I am STILL waiting for an appointment to see a consultant. And, Imuran is a controlled medication here so I can’t just get a script from the GP. And, it took over 4 weeks for me to get my blood test results, and that was after calling to chase them every other day. I’m not complaining, but it’s confusing and frustrating trying to work out how a new system works, especially after the comfort of the 8-year relationship I have with my gastroenterologist back in Sydney!
At home, we do all these things without thinking. In a new county, it’s like starting all over again and learning from scratch. You can ask people for advice, but everyone has a different opinion. You can look on the internet, but there is an overwhelming amount of information. We’ve done a bit of both, plus a fair bit of winging it! We’ve fumbled along the way but overall, I think we’ve managed pretty well (and we’re very much still learning)!
I could write numerous “how to” blogs with tips for moving to and setting up in London (I’ll definitely write one on my NHS / GP / consultant referral experience), but for now I want to take a breath, take it all in, and just focus on the fact that we’re here! We’re actually doing this! We’re living the London life!!