Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.
Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

Friday, 9 March 2012


So, life in York is radically different from our life in Monterrey. Every day is scheduled and we have alarms to remind us of everything. An alarm to wake up, an alarm for breakfast so we're not late and I make sure my boy's lunch box is ready. An alarm to leave for school, we usually walk so have to make absolutely sure we leave on time. An alarm to pick up Iñaki, to have dinner, to take a shower, for bed time stories and the final one to go to bed. Sometimes dad takes our oldest by bike, that's fun for both of them and gives me a more relaxing start. I cannot take my kids on my bike, we haven't found a child seat that suits my bike, one of the disadvantages of being really short in a country of rather tall people. Mondays, Iker's playgroup. Wednesdays Iker's toddlers group. Thursday coffee afternoon with our neighbours (organized by the Graduate Students Association). Fridays song box (a group of under-5s and parents where we sing and go fa la la la laaaa) and when dad can be home with the kids I head for conversation group in the evenings (my chance to talk about grown-ups things!!). So that leaves only Tuesdays free, and that's the day when we do whatever we want or just nothing special. I cook every day all the time, no take outs or dinning out, our budget is limited and I have to use all my economist skills to make sure we use our resources to the maximum. Grocery shopping is hard to believe... 100 GBP per week, most of the times we do it online and cannot get all the discounts we could if we went to the stores, but with no car is hard to bring home bulky or heavy things like potatos, onions, tins, juice and milk or even worse: eggs. Once I went to the supermarket on my bike and enjoyed it a lot, but it's now hard since my front basket is loose, need to fix it soon. Our total expenses are about 1,100 GBP per month with no other income but the scholarship and our savings. I have become a coupons collector and sales hunter... bought a second hand washing machine from some neighbours who were moving out and a brand new food processor on sale at Argos... there's nothing like doing the laundry at home and being able to explore new recipes and bring variety to our menu. I'm even starting to grow our own veggies and herbs (will post it separately, I'm documenting it all). Well, you can guess the pressure we feel. Having fun and going out has boosted our imagination. We go to free places and events, we bring sandwiches everywhere to save and we drink plain water (except for one time when we bought a soda) Only once we have been to a buffet and we went on the discounted rate hour. We don't buy books anymore, we use the library and the toy bus comes every two weeks with new toys to try for a couple of weeks. Last month we went to London and as much as we tried not to spend, public transportation is so expensive that we ended up paying more for moving around London than for getting there. Sometimes I have cravings but I end up cooking something close to what I want, every now and then I give me a treat, buy an éclair or a nice good ice cream tub, sometimes I take the bus to go to the city centre instead of walking... little things that might sound absurd to you. I do all that so that I can afford to do things like tomorrow. The University is organizing a trip to Liverpool to go to a premier league match: Everton vs. Spurs. My first premier league match ever. The bus and ticket to the match in special rate make it accessible for us. This is my third time living in this country and the very first one I go to a real match, I'm feeling really excited and  can't wait! Sunday will be another busy day. The University also organized a trip to an agricultural college just outside York, and the kids will have the opportunity to "meet" the new born lambs and they'll take us around the milking farm... lots of free activities for the kids, sounds exciting and entertaining. We're having a picnic there and at least other 10 families from our neighbourhood are coming, so I'm pretty sure we'll have a great time, starting from the trip in a shared bus. Life is good over here, we don't have to worry about crime, traffic, insecurity in general. There have been some cases of bikes being stolen in our area, we make sure ours are always locked. A minor problem with our neighbours next door (they're not a family, just two East Asian girls who are never home and have a mess in their patio and don't seem to care). All staff in my boys' school are kind and helpful, we have managed to make good friends with families from Japan, Turkey, South Korea, Jordan and Iran. Cannot complain at all, just the uncomfortable feeling of having a budget in pesos and expenses in sterling pounds. There's another thing hard for me... I've worked since I was 15. I've been active and have held roles that make me a decision maker, the one in charge, and now being a housewife has taken me to points of depression. I have set simple task that make me feel active and useful, but a job is actually what I long for. I see my boys and all the things that I can now do with them that I couldn't when I had a full time job... I sure like that, but something is missing. Of course there's also the money thing, you see I've always had money in my pockets not only for the basics, but also for a few vagaries... now thinking of that seems like pure vanity. Our little one has no place in pre-school yet, only the groups I take him to for a couple of hours per session and I have to stay with him, so it's hard to take on a job in such situation. Dad's job as a PhD students is demanding and full time, so there is no much chance to tell him to cover me for 4 hours a day to take a part time. I'm right now in the middle of a translation job for a client in Mexico, that is great because at least it's going to keep me busy for a few weeks, too bad I didn't bring my laptop with me and Ru has to share his whenever possible. Anyway, things will shape up, these are just our first months. I'm still doing my best.