(Internet update: We still have no broadband at the house. The rental house has no doorbell. I was sick on Thursday when the install appointment was scheduled. When the "engineer" came at eight in the morning, I didn't hear him knock on the door. And so we had to reschedule...for Thursday the 13th. Someday I will get my self together....someday.)
Adam had lined up a rental flat in Harrogate. Unfortunately, the largest flat the company had available was a two bedroom flat. And happily, GranEde and GranDude were going to be with us for another week. The flat was nice, with a sitting room and kitchen. But there was only one bathroom for the eight of us. The other large-ish problem was that we were the middle floor flat, meaning that there was a flat above us (so we could hear the very loud and more-than-slightly-rude people above us) and there was a flat below us, meaning that the poor people below us thought that we were the loud and more-than-slightly-rude-people above them! The adults had no problem at all keeping their footsteps light and not spontaneously breaking out in fits of jumping, running, skipping, stomping and throwing themselves around the flat. The children, on the other hand, had a very.difficult.time. not doing those things.
I know it is the nature of children to jump around and be exuberant and all that. And I'm glad we have active, healthy, non-couch-potato kiddos. But being in the flat was really.hard. I must have said "please don't stomp" "please stop running" "please do not jump down the stairs" approximately 15,000 times a day.
Thankfully, Harrogate is a beautiful city with a marvelously cool feature: The Stray. Currently it is a huge green space, covered in grass with some sidewalks thrown in for good measure. It's a giant open space, right in the middle of town. It was created by the government for the sole purpose of the health of British Citizens. And it is very nice! Nearly everyday, some subset of adults took the kids out to The Stray to run around.
GranEde and GranDude generously offered that they would watch the kids during the day so that Adam and I could go look at rental houses. It was so incredibly helpful to have them there. They found the library and got books, a huge local park, walked the Stray and even took the kids on a bus ride adventure to Knaresbourough Castle. It was fantastic to be able to focus on the details of getting us a place to live, visit the kids' school and not have to worry at all about the munchkins' well being. Of course, looking at houses is not *that* much fun, especially when you see house after house that just isn't going to work out. And there were many times that I whined to poor Dadam about wishing that I was with my parents and the kids instead of looking at houses.
As it turned out, we didn't manage to find any houses that would work for us. And time ran out. Saturday morning Dadam drove GranEde and GranDude down to London, so they could get on their plane and go home. :-( It was a sad day. We had so much fun on the cruise with them and they were so helpful before we left Virginia. And then they were more help once we got to England. When they left I knew that I would know NO ONE, other than Dadam. And that was a pretty lonely feeling. But they reassured me that we would be okay, that they would/could come at a moments notice and they were there for us no matter what. I and knew that they meant every word.
On the way back from London, Dadam had a whole bunch of house showings. He saw, I think, five that day! And he found a house that he thought would be one that we would be happy to live in. Prior to this house, we had seen a couple that had potential, but mostly the houses we saw were flat out, not an option.
Here in the UK most houses are tiny; many of the four bedroom houses had less square footage than our house in Virginia (which only had three bedrooms). The other huge problem was a total lack of yard or "garden", as they are called here. Of course, I wanted a house with a nice sized kitchen because I really enjoy cooking. But again, with space at a premium, many houses have really small kitchens. After two days of looking, I began to despair that we would ever find someplace that would meet all our needs. I knew that we were going to have to compromise, but I couldn't decide where I was willing to make cuts.
But Adam had found a house with a huge garden, in a good location, four bedrooms, two living rooms, five bathrooms, a huge kitchen/dining area, huge utility room....basically a perfect place! It had just been renovated and no one else had lived in it since that was completed. In fact, Adam was the first person to look at it after it was listed for let! We immediately called the letting agent and begged him not to let anyone else take the house while we were waiting to jump through all the bureaucratic hoops.
Here overseas, the base requires that they approve all of our housing arrangements. In fact, they have to approve our lease, approve the amount of housing allowance we get and they were generally a pain to deal with. They were less than helpful about our wanting to live near Leeds. They were downright discouraging about traffic and commutes and crime (?!?). It wasn't helpful or pleasant, but we had to play their game because they have the final say in what we can sign and where we can live. What a mess!
That next week Adam started wrestling with the paperwork and bureaucracy and he managed to force it all through. What a relief! During this time our quick-ship stuff had arrived and so we knew that whenever we got a house, we could get the stuff we sent in that shipment. It was really amazing how quickly things were coming together.
By the time Friday rolled around, we were moving out of the rental flat and into our house. Two days later we had been in country two weeks and we were already moved into a house! Not too shabby and a heck of a lot less stress than leaving Virginia had been. I know that we were happy to be out of the rental flat and the people who were staying below us were happy we were gone too.