In November of last year, Becky and I started looking for something new to do with our lives. We had been looking for some time, but we became quite focused in November when I left my law job. In December, after a month of looking, I woke up one morning with a sense that God was saying to us to keep looking, but the end result would be “more different than you think”. That quote stuck in our mind. Let me attest to how different this England gig is.
For me the work is totally different. For Becky it is quite similar to what she has done in the past as a homemaker. However, for me, I haven’t threatened to sue anyone, read a contract, written a whole sentence (other than right now), negotiated any kind of deal or done anything that would have been part of my life as a lawyer for the last 26 years. I actually miss it. I have washed dishes, cut lawns, picked up apples, fixed a drain, changed a security light, washed windows, made toast, vacuumed, served coffee and tea, cleaned some toilets, and led a few devotional times. All of these things I have done before, but never on a full time basis. It’s been interesting, and certainly not what I was anticipating as my life’s mission. God was right, it is different than I thought.
Yesterday, I took a half hour break and went to the river that backs on to our garden. How different is that? I grabbed a fishing rod and threw in a hook, hoping to catch a carp. I didn’t (that is not so different, as I rarely catch anything), but instead this huge white swan came gliding down the river. It was amazing.
I was cutting the lawn today on a riding lawnmower and as I was going along, I had to duck under the branches of a tree. Not to avoid the branch, but to avoid all the pears that were hanging down. Swans, carp, fishing, pears, all very different than I thought. We never longed to come to England, but we are here. We live in a cottage, not a bungalow, two storey, split level, or a storey and a half (all homes we have lived in), but rather a 19th century cottage.
People here were very kind to furnish our cottage. It is sparse, but comfortable. There’s even a television, although there are only four channels. Wow, does that seem strange after having 200 plus channels with a PVR. We also have a bed. Back in Edmonton we had grown out of our Queen size bed and had become accustomed to a King size bed. Here, we are enjoying sleeping in a 4 foot bed, which is smaller than a double, but fortunately bigger than a twin. Luckily, we are so tired we fall into bed and fall asleep immediately.
I have spoken English all my life, but I have never heard it spoken like this. First, I have been a person who has given instructions, but now I take instruction continually. (Hopefully, that will stop once we are trained). Secondly, and more to the point, people here talk about verges, sat-navs, fly tipping, strimmers, bangers (a car not a sausage), settees, varifocals, meres, hobs, flouncing and fizzy drinks. We are trying to put together a long list of all the different words they use. They gently and sympathetically correct our pronunciation of words and phrases, considering it cute that we at least try to speak English. It is somewhat amusing, but more than that, it is different from anything I could have guessed would be happening to us.
We have been trying to purchase a car. Of course we are going to buy a car with the steering wheel on the right, different once again. The car that I am seriously considering buying is a 1999 Mercedes. Who would have thought I would own a Mercedes when I don’t really own anything else? But it is cheap (1,900 pounds)and it is an automatic. We have to buy an automatic, because here we are not allowed to drive a manual after a year unless we are especially tested on a manual. Every time we step out on the street, we are reminded that people drive differently here. They drive fast and assertively. But more important they drive on the opposite side, which of course is the direction I am not looking when I step out into the street.
I am not sure what I was really expecting. I haven’t quite figured out if it is better or worse than I expected. More than anything, it is different. For years when I led things at the church or other places, I loved to use the phrase “today we are going to do things just a little bit different”. I should be very happy, because every day here in Bungay, I get to do things a little bit (or a lot) different.