A Bunch of Goodbyes

Blogging Life

My life is full of goodbyes at the moment. My last fitness class happens today, so it’s goodbye to my life as a fitness instructor in the USA. I’ve had Brits in the USA goodbye parties, goodbye dinners with friends, and goodbye to our shipping which left this week and makes its hot and merry way to the UK shores.

One of my saddest goodbyes was to my blogging buddies last night. Blogging has been a huge part of my life and the community in Howard County is a smart, supportive and sassy bunch.

There’s something special about a group of people who share a love of writing, talking about issues and putting observations and opinions out there. And each one of them makes a difference to the community in their own way. I haven’t been able to find anything similar in my home town in the UK, so the thought lingers that perhaps I should take up the blogging community mantle when I return….

Anyway, #hocomd is lucky to have its #hocoblogs community, and I shall miss is greatly.




Viva Las Vegas

When thinking of our last vacation in the States we wanted to do something totally different from anything that we will experience in the UK. Vegas it is. Where I will live in the Cotswolds is a world apart from all that I hear Vegas can offer, so I expect to be overwhelmed by the Las Vegas strip and the Grand Canyon before my eyes take in the small villages and quaint shops of my UK home again. A rather crazy last slice of Americana awaits me!

Spot the difference

Spot the difference

Bring it on!

Bring it on!

Three weeks till we go home, and I say to everyone that I am like a duck on water trying to get upstream at the moment. I’m totally cool on the outside and paddling like mad underneath. And so, so tired.

Realising what Britishness means

The return

Well, August is nearly upon me and that means off we trot over the Atlantic, back to reality. The return is bittersweet. I will miss so much about living in the USA, but the thought of making a new and challenging life in the UK is dawning on me with quickening realisation, albeit in the same town (it’s hard to see things with new, fresh, adventurous eyes when you return to the same place, that’s just something for me I’ll have to deal with).

I am plagued by lists and boxes and packing tape, but right now it’s a cure for taking my mind off the reality of repatriation and the sadness and the wonder of change that keep me awake at night.


Very British problems indeed

I was struck today by how different our British mentality really is from the American one, via this series of exchanges with my very British sister-in-law back in the UK.

This is how it ran:

‘Claire, I need some advice….I was going for the ombre hair look but instead of blonde the hairdresser dyed me ginger from the ears down! Its bleached, will it work if I put a ‘home dye’ light brown on?’

I replied thus:

‘No, don’t touch it. You need to go back to the hairdresser and get her to correct it. Honestly, do that as its her mistake. Putting home stuff on will kill it!’

She then responded:

‘I cant go back, it would be too awkward. It was a mobile hair dresser and obviously I had to say I loved it at the time – it’s the British way, lol!  Maybe I’ll ring another hairdresser and see what they say, lol.’

To which I replied:

‘That is totally British! You paid money and it went wrong! I’ll have to blog about that! Let me know how it goes!’

So blog about it I have. In the USA the mentality would generally be to go back and get it sorted. In the UK we Brits generally bury our [ginger] heads in the sand. ‘Oh, I couldn’t possibly….’!

It’s this all the way:


God bless us Brits, we just can’t do it! To be fair, I would be a little anxious about going back and asking for it to be rectified, but after spending time in the States, I now realise it’s not obnoxious and it’s worth the slight amount of awkwardness between you to get it sorted. By Gawd, it’s yer hair! Do it gal!

I’ll keep you posted on what happens to my Very British Sister-in-Law’s hair!

52 days to until we go back!

It’s The Final Countdown (doodoodoodoo!)

I haven’t written on this blog for a while cos much has been happening still in the USA (like roadtrips and cool stuff), and, quite frankly, I’ve been slightly resenting having to spend my precious fun time packing and sorting and sorting and packing. But needs, must, cos we head back in just over 3 1/2 months.

We've been having USA fun roadtripping!

We’ve been having USA fun roadtripping!

I’ve got yard sales to do, volunteering to build houses to complete, holibobs to have, parties to organise, summer camps to attend, festival to get drunk at, and all sorts of fun stuff to be getting on with over the next three months, as well as the dreaded mundane sorting and packing. Bleurgh.

But also, we’re looking ahead to the UK (at least I am) since I need something called AN INCOME. I love working, so that’s a bonus, and I want to use my new found travel bug and writing skills, and, By Jove, I only went and bloody well blagged myself a job doing travel PR for a coolio company in the town wot I live in. So, double thumbs up for me! I can cross ‘Get a job‘ off the To Do List. But that only reduces the list by a teeny-tiny percent.

Back in the PR game!

Back in the PR game!

There’s shed loads to do UK side: book camps to keep our son occupied whilst we’re at work over the last weeks of the summer in the UK, sort our tenants and our house and all that needs doing in the garden which is ramshackle, find a ruddy school because the English school system is (how do I put this politely – oh, I can’t) slightly f*cked and there are no places for 7 year olds in Cheltenham cos everyone got jiggy with it in 2007/8 and now there are too many kids and not enough school places.  Etc etc.


I shan’t bore you with the rest of my list, because you don’t need to know things like: ‘Do a massive grocery order for delivery the day after we arrive’, but now you do know that, and, fyi, it will be with Tesco because I wish to resume my ClubCard points and I’m not a supermarket snob really and truly (tho I did feel slightly smug that my new offices are near to Whole Foods 😉 ).

Anyhoo, in addition, our cats are booked on the flights back to the UK now, so we need to practically remortgage the house so they can come back with us cos of all the injections and wotnot that are needed too. My husband was kind of hoping they’d pop their clogs out here, since they are 13, but no such luck for him. Back to Blighty you go, wee mittens whom I love!

So, yes, we are on countdown and I am going slightly crazy living between two worlds, but with today being St George’s Day it’s been nice to see a fair bit of patriotism about England which warmed me cockles, so it did. And yes, by George (pun intended), I will defo miss the USA loads and my heart will yearn for it, but I rise to the challenge of repatriation and I will slay those dragons that get in my way (I’m not a junkie, I’m just trying to carry on the St George metaphor…).


So, toodlepip and happy St George’s Day to you!

Repatriation: A Different Mindset

This repatriation thing is different from the expatriation thing, especially if you’re like me and slightly in denial/a little bit anxious about going home.

This time three years ago I was a-buzz with excitement about moving to the USA. We’d had the move confirmed, were heading out to this area of Maryland for five child-free days to look at our new surroundings and to get to know the area, to check out the schools, see our new house, find some good eating and drinking places etc etc. I had endless lists, spreadsheets, post it notes, files, forms, websites, references. I had contacted people about jobs, sent off my ‘resume’, sorted the cats’ injections so they could come with us, had a clothes sale so I could fund my visit to the States, got boxes, started clearing out etc. I was in a state of energised euphoria about the adventure. Just read how excited I was back then!

My leaving party!

My leaving party!

This time….er, not so much. I see it not so much as an adventure, but a chore, and yes, I know I have to get out of that mindset….!

Today I briefly looked at jobs back in Cheltenham and then got very despondent about it all. Then I sorted some of my son’s toys and wotnot, and got a bin liner full of stuff to throw away, and I am having a clothes sale, but that’s because a) I have no room back in the UK for my fabulous outfits and b) I’m funding a volunteering trip here in the USA. And then I took a look at the local schools in Cheltenham, knowing there was nothing I could do to get him a place in year 3 because they are all full and we’ll probably have to look elsewhere.

I have no folders, just a set of emails that say ‘UK 2015’, no files, no post it notes and no energy nor inclination.

Apparently, that’s part of the repatriation process – going back to what you know doesn’t create the same buzz, the same stimulus, the same ‘woohoo’ about it all.

‘Repatriation has its psychological phases that are unexpected and daunting. Most notably, encountering reverse culture shock when returning home is a surprising situation that’s overlooked by both expats returning and their businesses calling to come home,’ says Dean Foster, founder and president of DFA Intercultural Global Solutions.



He adds this: ‘Like culture shock, reverse culture shock has a number of stages; imagine this to be a U-shape curve. At first, you may be excited to return home – seeing friends and family members, wearing the rest of your wardrobe, and eating at your favourite restaurants.’

Okay, I can see a bit of that, but only in small chunks…..

Then he says: ‘This initial euphoria eventually wears off, and that’s when you find yourself feeling out-of-place in your own culture. This is the experience of reverse culture shock; it’s the bottom of the curve and often the roughest part.’

Yeah, I can see that bit.

However….. ‘The good news is, although it may take time, you will begin a gradual adjustment back towards feeling comfortable with where and whom you are.’

I’m looking forward to finding out when that will happen. Just as long as it’s fun, chaps!

How reverse culture shock happens

Reverse culture shock is experienced when returning to a place that one expects to be home but actually is no longer, is far more subtle, and therefore, more difficult to manage than outbound shock precisely because it is unexpected and unanticipated.

I wrote about that reverse culture shock feeling for Global Magazine, and interviewed some folks who had recently undertaken it. For them, it was cool, mostly, and pretty exciting. I’m sure I’ll get there. Some days I have the odd glimmer of hope and excitement, but that’s mostly when I remember wearing fabulous shoes in my PR job, working with those gregarious gals and playing netball.

And of course, the danger of lurking in the past in that way is that you’ll never dream about nor make a present and a future happen. And I intend to make both those things happen, once I get out of this bit of the repatriation curve…… Wish me luck!

That Crazy Little Thing Called Spring

My sources in the land that is Eng across the waters have told me they are experiencing something called ‘Spring’. That must be very lovely for them.



Mother Nature has so far decided to keep Spring from us in this part of America, and instead is ‘springing’ us little surprises in the form of freezing rain, snowstorms and wind chill factors, the likes of which I have never experienced before.

My parents back in the UK Skyped me the other day and showed me the sun shining, flowers emerging from the soil and I could hear birds tweeting about the joys of spring (that is they were singing, not sending social media messages).

Here on the East Coast, during the Winter of my Discontent, the sun shines, sure, but not long enough to melt the snow that is currently on the ground before the next dump comes along; I haven’t seen a flower in about five months; and I suspect the birds I hear are probably having a right old moan about the weather to each other too.

‘But it’s cold in England,’ cry my friends. Oh, you have NO IDEA!



Number One Thing I shan’t miss from the East Coast of the USA: Effing Winters!!!!

I can’t wait to reacquaint with that crazy little thing called Spring! Never more shall I cast you aside impatiently for the Summer!

Getting ready to repat

Repatriation is the process of returning a person to their place of origin or citizenship.

This is slightly terrifying. It truly is.

So, this is the article I wrote recently about my temporary expat life.

And this is the article I wrote recently about repatriation.

I think it’s safe to say the thought of returning to the UK is never far from my mind, even though I’m squeezing every last moment out of being here in America.

From America to England, folks.

From America to England, folks.

Eight months to go, and counting. I can’t help counting. And saying to myself ‘this is the last time I’ll do this or this or this here’ (Halloween, Christmas etc etc). I say that a lot.

This is the blog about the journey towards repatting or repatriation or becoming a repat, or whatever its called.

It’s going to be emotional! 😉