I never expected it to be as different as it is.

Why is living in England so much different now than it was 6 years ago, when i have lived here my whole life you may ask? let me tell you. Since moving back to England I have noticed a few things that really get under my skin. In America, the houses are so much bigger, like twice the size of a regular British house and not only that but they have wall sockets everywhere. I use to think, why? why would you need so many wall sockets in one room? well, now I know. it makes life so much easier, you don’t have to stress that your T.V can only go in one of two places, your floor lamp can be plugged into any corner of the room without having to buy an extension cable to do so. I remember the days where i would want to move my bedroom around but I was restricted to where I could put things due to the fact there weren’t enough wall sockets!

Storage is another one. I noticed that when I was searching for a house here in England that not many houses had much storage. Most houses here don’t come with garages or sheds already built in the garden. The kitchens have just about enough space to put your food, pots and pans plates etc. And even then its a squeeze to fit everything in. Or maybe I just suck at organizing. American houses pretty much automatically come with a basement. In our 4 bed house in south Dakota we had a split level house which meant, as you walked in the front door you have stairs that lead upstairs and stairs that lead downstairs. Upstairs had the living room, bathroom kitchen and 2 bedrooms. Downstairs had another living room the same size as the upstairs living room, 2 more bedrooms a bathroom and a laundry room. When we moved back to England we moved into a 4 bedroom house but we had furniture from a house that had two living rooms. So of course, we had 2 sets of couches to fit in one living room, obviously that didn’t happen and we ended up having to sell quite a lot of furniture.

Having a second basement gave us the choice to put things in that space that we didn’t want in our main living space, but also didn’t want to get rid of. We didn’t use it as a storage room but it did help to allow my husband to have a space he could call his own, without his style clashing with mine. Now were finding ourselves trying to fit everything into one living room and trying to make it fair on each other without the other ones style taking over the other.

Fridges, freezers, fridge/freezers are also a lot bigger. We are a family of 5 so we tend to buy a lot of food. After living in America and wondering why our fridge never seemed full I now know why. They’re much, much bigger. now I can’t find enough space and find myself having to limit the amount of food I buy because there is no way we would fit it all in. I also became accustomed to having ice in my drink and the bag of ice we buy takes up a whole drawer in the freezer by itself. Now, I could just buy a bigger one right? but those buggers are so expensive! I don’t really want to have to spend that kind of money if we end up moving back again in few years.

One thing I do love about being back home compared to being in America is the fact that a town is within walking distance and buses can take you anywhere you want to go. America seems to have designed their houses to be on one side of the town and the shops on the other. You literally HAVE to drive everywhere. Want to nip to the shop to get some milk? better grab your car keys. Want to nip into town on a nice warm sunny day? Don’t forget to grab the car keys. Public transport is pretty much non existent in America. Apart from the big cities of course, like New York etc. But in little ole South Dakota, jumping on the bus was never an option. The reason being that there are too many agencies at all levels of government, especially at the local level, and not enough coordination between them. The newer cities are sprawled out which makes good transit hard, and the older cities are too paralyzed by political dysfunction to expand the systems they have. So I found it highly frustrating that getting a bus wasn’t an option or easy. My kids had actually never been on a bus until we came home for my mums wedding in 2019. They still haven’t been on a train either.

Being able to walk into town was something I really started to miss. Sounds stupid right? but when that is all you have known and have always done, not being able to do it became quite a big culture shock for me. I love driving so that was never an issue but the fact that I had to drive everywhere became tiring at times. Like seriously, I just want some milk for goodness sake, I shouldn’t have to put petrol in my car so I can go get milk!!

Anyway, I find it funny that these things bother me because when I first met my husband, and when we were dating he use to always complain about the exact things I now find frustrating. But because I had never experienced anything different, it was normal to me so I never truly understood how something so small like the wall sockets, could be a big pain in the butt to someone who had 10 in one room vs the 3 in one room we get in England.

Last but not least, I really struggled with adapting to the food in America. My husband can go anywhere on earth and have a commissary on the base that carries all the food any normal American grocery store would have. But for me, I was never able to have the home comforts of food unless I paid out the butt to have them shipped to me. Of course, I adapted quite quickly and actually ended up preferring most food over British food. But of course, nothing can ever compare to a hot sausage roll or sausage, bean and cheese melt from Greggs!

I never knew moving away would have impacted me so much. I’m not sure what I was expecting from moving back home, of course things were going to be different, things were going to feel different. I wasn’t expecting moving back home to be almost as much of a cultural shock as moving to America was in the first place.

Getting a puppy.

So, as well as moving around the world and having a few children we also love our animals. But sadly, leaving Alaska, we had to leave our most beloved dogs behind, Darlah and Louie. Our reasons behind this are because their health wouldn’t have allowed them to fly comfortably, and I wasn’t 100% sure that Darlah wasn’t going to have died during that flight. Darlah was a 10-year-old pure bred king Charles cavalier spaniel, she had gotten to the point in her life where her eyesight was going, she was going deaf, she couldn’t jump up onto furniture anymore so we decided it would be best for her to go to a loving home and live out the last year or 2 of her life in Alaska.

 Louie was an 11-year-old miniature Australian shepherd, he was the best, full of life and energy but he also developed some health issues while we were in Alaska. His hips had started to play up and there would be times where they would lock up and he would cry out in pain and it would take some time to get him calm and relaxed so his leg could go into normal position again. Now, that flight from Alaska to London wouldn’t have done him any good being locked up in a cage for that long. My husband had found a work friend who was willing to take him in and have a companion for his other dog. Up until this point we have flown and driven our dogs to wherever it was in the world we went to. It was hard to make those decisions, but it was what was best for them and their health.

Moving to England and not having any dog around felt weird. Too weird for my liking. My husband arrived in November and we quickly started our search for a dog. Most rescue places stated that the dogs they had couldn’t go to homes with small children so adopting wasn’t an option for us. After weeks of searching, we found our new puppy Luna. She is a border collie and full of energy. I remember small parts of having a puppy, but it had been 11 years since I had one, so my memory was a bit hazy. Well, that quickly changed when Luna came home. Puppies are like little land sharks; they like to bite anything and everything and those little shark teeth are sharp. Like, sharp. Every time I would play with her, she would go for my hand instead of the toy. I have so many scars on my hands from her. I would say potty training was hard because it normally is but with Luna being a border collie, she is very smart. She picked up potty training right away and barley had any accidents. I was shocked. I kept wondering when we were going to go backwards in our potty training and when it was going to get bad, but it never really did.

By 10 weeks of age, she knew 8 tricks and was fully potty trained. They don’t joke when they say the border collie is the smarted breed of dog out there. Along with being smart she is full of energy. Of course, she’s a herding dog she is bred to herd so of course she’s going to be full of energy. She was never really a cuddly puppy, and that surprised me. She seemed to have favoured sleeping by the back door where there was breeze coming through rather than sleeping on my lap or the sofa. I have noticed that she does tend to get hot quick, so she likes to sleep in placed where its cool and my lap is not one of those places. Now she’s a bit older, 6 months to be exact she loves to cuddle up, still a little land shark and just as hyper and crazy as ever.

I have always said, having a puppy is much harder than having a new-born baby. Every evening around the same time Luna will constantly ask to be let out and let back in a million times. I have never known anything like it. Honestly, if we weren’t in lock down and I wasn’t eating my weight in food I would probably have lost a few pounds the amount of getting up and down I did. With a puppy you can never take chances, I wanted to be stricter and not let her out every time she but then I was worried she was going to have an accident and I didn’t want all our hard work to go out the window. Once a puppy pees or poops in the house its game over. They’ll carry on doing it. She would ask to go outside, sit and smell the air and maybe bark at nothing a couple of times and then ask to come in. 90 percent of the time she didn’t need to go potty so of course the next time shed ask to go out Id think well, what if she needs to go this time. A vicious cycle I know. Thankfully, she has outgrown that a little bit now and my evenings consist of still eating my weight in food but with less movement. I know, not good. Think I need to hit the gym.

Having a puppy really is hard work, it’s a big commitment and an expensive one. She keeps us on our toes, she has us laughing more times than not, she is crazy and will chase her own tail for a long time, I wonder if dogs get dizzy? Anyway, she is incredibly smart and full of a LOT of energy. I have almost run out of tricks to teach her because she knew the basics and then some from 4 months old. I may start getting her into some agility training and see how that goes. She constantly wants to please and is at her best when she is doing something like, doing tricks.

She has become best friends with our cat who we had before we had gotten Luna who is also still a kitten but coming up to a year old already. I’m fairly certain our cat thinks he’s a dog. When those two really go for it and play fight and chase each other around the house it’s a like a hurricane crashing through. If its in their path it’s getting knocked down. Our car Mo really came out of his shell when we got Luna. It took him a while to get use to Luna being here but in no time at all they became the best of friends. Instead of getting another dog to keep Luna company I think we will just stick with Mo for now.

South dakota

This photo I took at Badlands National Park.

That time arrived again, it was time to move onto my husbands next duty station and this time we were heading to South Dakota. We got a flight from Honolulu to LAX. We had actually decided we wanted to do a road trip from LAX to South Dakota. On our way there we stopped in Vegas, Utah, went to see my husbands parents in Colorado springs and then onto south Dakota. It was a really nice road trip and the kids surprised me in how well they managed.

Before we left Honolulu we actually already had a house that we were in the process of closing on. We had bought our first house and we were excited. It was in the perfect location, close to town, close to the school and close to my husbands work. We moved in and started working in re decorating to freshen the place up and put our own little stamp on the place. It took a few days and we were happy with the results. Our house hold goods turned up roughly a month later and I was dreading unpacking, just like always but also super excited to have our stuff and to start making this house a home.

After unpacking we had a bunch of cardboard boxes left over and downstairs in the basement we had a wood burner. I was getting sick and tired of all these boxes being in every corner of the house and our recycling bins just weren’t able to keep up. My best friend was due to arrive from England so we were cleaning the house to get ready for her arrival. My husband had come up with a good idea on a cold morning, to break down the boxes and burn them in the wood burner to get rid of them and also warm up the house.

A quarter of the way through my husband burning these boxes I noticed there was more smoke in the house than there should’ve been. All my kids were upstairs in the living room playing, I had gone down to the basement to check on my husband and see what all the smoke was about. As soon as I got down there I had to open the window immediately, I saw that the fire inside the wood burner was getting bigger. My husband panicked and took the box, that was on fire, out of the wood burner and ran it upstairs and threw it out the front door. Before he even got to the stairs the box broke in his hand, landed on the carpet and immediately a fire broke out. We were in such a panic that we didn’t even think to throw water over it. All we knew is that we needed to get rid of the problem and the problem being the box.

I remembered that we had a fire extinguisher in the cupboard under the stairs so I grabbed it and immediately tried to put the fire out. Unfortunately this fire extinguisher, that was left by the previous owner gave 2 big bursts and then ran out. It was tiny, the fire went out for a second but reignited. It was in that moment I realized there was nothing I could do. I shouted up to my husband to get the kids out. I was on the other side of where the fire had broken out so going up and out the front door wasn’t an option for me. The fire was climbing up the stairs, thick smoke had filled the entire house by this point. Once I knew my children were out I climbed out the basement window, ran and told my neighbor to call the fire department. I sat and just sobbed into my 5 month old’s chest.

My house was going up in flames. When you see adverts of fire fighters talking about how fast a fire can spread they’re not joking. The fire fighters arrived pretty quickly but when you’re watching your house burning it feels like an eternity. Nothing in my house was able to be saved apart from a few bits and bobs. But my kids were safe, they’re not replaceable but material things are. I am so blessed and thankful that no one got hurt.

It took about 5 months for our house to be gutted and rebuilt from the inside. Thankfully the structure itself wasn’t damaged and it was only the inside that was damaged. The worst part about it was that my best friend who had spent hundereds of pounds to come and visit us is now suffering the devistation with us. Me, my husband our 3 children, 3 dogs and my best friend were in a hotel room for her entire 2 week stay. It wasn’t until after she had left that the insurance company was able to find us a house to stay in until our house was finished getting fixed.

This is the upstairs of our house. The fire didn’t reach this far and this is just what the smoke damage did.

5 months had gone by, our house is finished, the builders did a fantastic job in rebuilding the inside and laying the new carpet and putting in the new kitchen and bathrooms etc etc. We were so happy to be home and actually start enjoying our time here.

Our time in South Dakota went smoothly, my mum came to visit in the summer Just like she always did. My dad had come that September and my other friend had come the following year. We were only in South Dakota 2 years until my husband volunteered to go to Alaska for a year. By going to Alaska for a year we were able to choice our base of preference which we chose would be England. Base of preference only gets given if there is a job for you to fill and luckily for us there was.

I like South Dakota. You get the right amount of snow, the weather is never predictable. There was a time where we had all 4 seasons in one day. Snow, trees changing color, hot and sunny and rain. All in the space of 12 hours. I had never seen anything like it. The wind is crazy too. They don’t joke when they say its windy in SD.

The time we spent here I really enjoyed. We were in a better place financially, we had our own house, my eldest had started kindergarten, and life was great.

The time for my husband to go to Alaska was getting close, we had actually decided that me and the kids were going to follow him and experience Alaska too. My husband had to go to Colorado springs to do some classes for his upcoming job in Alaska. While he was there I was busy getting the house packed up and put into storage. We had actually decided to drive from SD to Alaska and boy am I glad we did.