Settling in

Old Oct 7th 2014, 8:47 am
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Default Settling in

We returned to the UK, in my case after 38 years but oft visited, in early August and have come with only a total of ten suitcases and carry-ons. We used a storage facility in Kent to lodge those bags that we couldn't carry initially and have just picked-up the last of them this week.

Our one-way plane tickets were all bought with discounted frequent flyer miles so we only had to buy extra bag allowances on BA for two of us (one extra each as anything more becomes very expensive).

Our son was not registered for college prior to our arrival (he had only applied) and in fact got his exam results while we were in Devon in a vacation rental near Exmouth but we plumped for Weymouth College which is outstanding in Sports and are very encouraged at how switched-on they are.

We were not sure exactly where we ultimately wanted to settle in terms of direct access to Weymouth College, so a winter rental suited us well as we have everything included except sheets and towels - we have bought boot stands and storage boxes/baskets to stash things. Weymouth as a location helps in this regard as there is a very plentiful supply of properties that switch over from vacation to regular rental between September and November for a period of six months. We had to pay for the six months up-front and still pay some of the credit check fees, plus admin, which was rather cheeky, but what can you do?

We have been moved in just over three weeks and love our place and its location just fifty yards from the bay and with easy walking access to downtown Weymouth for shops, decent eateries, chippies, pubs.....

We do not intend to buy a car but rather intend to wing it and rent in Dorchester when we need to explore cross country. We have rented there to briefly head to North Cornwall which is just 2 1/2 hours away in heavy traffic and will do that again as we can - leave allowing. Otherwise we have trained it everywhere and bought online advance where there are savings to be had - in any event we have used Groupsave when going as a family.

Railwise, I have found that playing with routings and breaking journeys in two can offer savings, particularly when heading to places beyond / around London or Bristol but train delays can be a problem and missed connections could be expensive, so it is best to seek out rail company staff to endorse tickets when this happens.

By rail we will miss out on exploring much of beautiful Dorset that sits right behind Weymouth - Lulworth Cove, the Jurassic Coast and Chesil Beach are right on our doorstep and provide a beautiful back-drop. Thomas Hardy Country and villages such as Cerne Abbas and the area around Sherborne will need a car.

Overall, I'm pleasantly surprised by how Weymouth is. Though it is clearly not affluent, has a large proportion of workers on part-time / zero hours contracts, clearly a lot of disability and deprivation (health and economic), nothing much for people to do, tourism keeps the place chugging over.

If one boards a train to Waterloo, there are very few getting on in Weymouth. In fact the typical stopper service loads at Dorchester South then all stops between here and Poole, suggesting THIS is NOT commuter country.

However, for me, access to the sea, a magnificent if under-exploited Georgian facade, a (very) busy sea-fishing port, an attractive re-generated brewery quarter and pretty good access to decently strenuous walks, floats my boat.

We are advised that it never snows here and we selected Weymouth over Devon also? because there is less rainfall than in the Exeter area, though we have been told and witnessed micro-climates on the River Exe that mean Exmouth and Lympstone can be much dryer than a few miles upstream.

Telecomms (BT), Doctors*, Drivers Licence (from paper to photocard), online voter registration - all no problem. The mails - Oh GLORY! Internet and cell-phones can be tough for connections here as it is a black-spot in terms of signal quality and we could not buy BT Infinity here. The council has yet to bill me for council tax so I have yet to apply for a bus pass. Garbage and recycling - a work in progress.

* my walking helped me locate a convenient doctor's surgery, which was my first choice

Weymouth does not have an A&E - the nearest is in Dorchester, but has a community hospital.

After six months here we have decided that it is best to search for a similar rental to that which we have now, meaning easy access to all facilities. We have tested out other outlying towns such as Bridport and Wareham and have pondered over moving to Dorchester** and I have looked into the sense in us buying beyond walking distance of Weymouth proper but at this point being just on the edge of urban with everything at our doorstep seems to tick all boxes - I have seen other posters reach this conclusion on multiple threads. Our kid having to get to college from somewhere sensible in Dorchester would also be stressful for us.

**Dorchester is very different - much more prosperous, underpinned by being the county town, Poundbury, more successful regeneration of industrial, a thriving market and pedestrian shopping area (Waitrose et al), somewhat easier access to points further afield and generally more sophisticated (has some culture, which Weymouth does not).

Grocery shopping at Tesco Metro has been a dream and we are well into the groove of shopping the specials, exactly as we always did in Bermuda, and now using the Clubcard. Sainsbury's may come into play when I have my bus pass, but there is an Asda superstore at hand which is closer but is still not really in favour in terms of convenience.

There is an excellent and very reasonable fishmonger but surprisingly no proper butcher or greengrocer/fruiterer (we would choose to use) within walking distance.

Weymouth has to be a fish & chip capital (mackerel also gets put into a bap), there are so many of them, and with two Wetherspoons***, a Yates and plenty of two meals for ten quid (or less) places, one can see where all the obesity etc. comes from

It's also a mobility scooter capital, partly as a result.

***I'm not going to knock Wetherspoons as we have been into several and found plenty of decent food on the menu at the right price, to match their excellent range of decent beer, also at the right price, along with good service. The ones in this area have not, so far, been seen as being havens of drunkenness though there are some pretty foul mouths around.

God help the NHS!

I have to admit that I continue to be disappointed by the TV channels in the basic package. The obsession with Come Dancing, the X Factor and oft repeated property/design and auctions/antiques and general repeats leaves me flummoxed. Then there is announcer-speak with step down emphasis on the last syllable!

Was buying my newspaper but now read it online, as per usual, and in the pub. Politics? No different just because I live here, but the locals can be very vociferous about those foreigners in "OUR COUNTRY".

I have to say that I very much doubt that there is an overall net contribution TO the Treasury in a spot such as Weymouth in spite of it not being an obvious seaside resort in decline.

Traveling to the West Country by rail one is really struck but what a green and pleasant land this is and the Brits we have encountered have been a tribute to that 'brand'. Overcrowded? Not in these here parts! But those roads can be awfully congested.

Making real friends - just not sure at this point and that was part of the reason I wanted to spend time away / move on from St Lucia as it was isolated. We've made friends, but they are busy doing other things or not where we are now.

Last edited by Pistolpete2; Oct 7th 2014 at 9:01 am. Reason: Making real friends - just not sure
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Old Oct 7th 2014, 9:32 am
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Default Re: Settling in

Originally Posted by Pistolpete2 View Post
We returned to the UK, in my case after 38 years but oft visited, in early August and have come with only a total of ten suitcases and carry-ons. We used a storage facility in Kent to lodge those bags that we couldn't carry initially and have just picked-up the last of them this week.

..........

Making real friends - just not sure at this point and that was part of the reason I wanted to spend time away / move on from St Lucia as it was isolated. We've made friends, but they are busy doing other things or not where we are now.
What an interesting read, lots of useful things for returnees to think about even if they are not planning to stay in Weymouth. I sat down with my cup of coffee and by the time I got to the end, I had finished it!

I bolded one part because I am curious how returnees deal with this, or what experiences other people have had. Of all my moves, the current one has been the most difficult in terms of developing a social circle. I can't put my finger on it - whether it is age (mine), the location (relatively small village, with most inhabitants knowing each other since they were kids; also, being English does seem to make a difference with some of the locals, who are decidedly frosty), or work (way too many hours either at work, commuting to work, or working at home).

However, when I look around at my old friends and family, who live elsewhere, many of them don't have much of a social circle either. Their lives revolve around spouse and kids/grandkids.

I plan to retire and move (again!) in 4 years, back to England and hope that in retirement I'll have more time and opportunity to get involved with local groups and make friends that way. Travelling around the rest of the country and the rest of the world to visit old friends gets expensive!

Last edited by dunroving; Oct 7th 2014 at 9:35 am. Reason: Deleted body of original post
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Old Oct 7th 2014, 10:26 am
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Default Re: Settling in

Have a look online to see if there are any local butchers who deliver in your area. We had our first delivery today from our local butcher/farmer. They sell all local meat, from their farm or others in the area; all their chickens are free range and they make their own sausages and cure their own bacon. Nevertheless their prices are lower than the supermarket.
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Old Oct 7th 2014, 11:10 am
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Default Re: Settling in

Originally Posted by Editha View Post
Have a look online to see if there are any local butchers who deliver in your area. We had our first delivery today from our local butcher/farmer. They sell all local meat, from their farm or others in the area; all their chickens are free range and they make their own sausages and cure their own bacon. Nevertheless their prices are lower than the supermarket.
Good tip! I like that lower price bit . Clearly something I should work on.

There are a couple in Dorchester that deliver and we've been tipped off by a taxi driver that there's one north of the town but I've yet to drum up the energy to go and physically check it out.

We are having so much 'fun' with the (novelty of the) supermarkets that we haven't yet felt the need to be more free range in our thinking. This of course has also meant that I need to lose weight in spite of the walking.

We will need to go back to Dorchester Market too, as there are butchers there, aside from the microphoned 'bargain of the century' variety.

When in Cornwall (Wadebridge) we stumbled on a game specialist as well, which would be nice to have around here at this time of year.

Coming back from London on Sunday we looked out of the train window to see fields of seemingly wild? deer near Wareham so it should be close at hand.

The restaurant scene here, quite aside from the real cheapo stuff, is highly competitive and as we move out of season, the culinary talent - indeed there is quite a bit of it here - is likely to produce some interesting menus bundled to attract the local custom - something to look forward to. Christmas menus are already being offered for bookings - way beyond basic turkey and trimmings. For the first time in goodness knows how long, I'm actually looking forward to the Christmas Season - not just for my belly's sake though.
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Old Oct 8th 2014, 12:15 pm
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Default Re: Settling in

What a great update, very interesting read, thank you for taking the time to post and I hope you will continue to update us.

I'm so glad that you are again looking forward to the Christmas Season. I love a British Christmas too
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Old Oct 8th 2014, 7:37 pm
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Hello there Pete! You've been awfully quiet and now we know why. Thanks for the detailed and informative update. Best of luck to you back home!
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Old Oct 9th 2014, 6:34 am
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Nice to hear how things are going for you. Wish you all the best.
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Old Oct 9th 2014, 8:39 am
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Default Re: Settling in

Originally Posted by perthhomeschool View Post
Hello there Pete! You've been awfully quiet and now we know why. Thanks for the detailed and informative update. Best of luck to you back home!
Hi perth,

As per some previous, we have spent time in the Exeter area because originally we weren't sure exactly where the combined priorities of college and our personal needs would take us. To be more exact we were in Lympstone, which aside from being the Royal Marine Commando Training Centre, is an attractive village community right ON the River Exe ( it is beautiful) with good pubs/diners and the added attraction of having a station for access to Exeter and Topsham plus onwards to Barnstaple and Paignton every half-hour. What a lovely spot!

Apparently the marines were on leave when we were there so the punch-ups in the locals were kept to a minimum.

Unfortunately, property is by no means cheap and as with Topsham, there is very little supply to either rent or buy which rather rules them out.

It's interesting that you mention HOME. Though we are of course Brits and therefore blend in, I am not at this point thinking that this is a homecoming. When we had mentioned that we had come from the Caribbean we were (naturally) told we were bonkers. I want to spend time in the UK - far more than before, and over the last few weeks I've come to realise that actually it can be far less expensive than I envisaged without necessarily stinting ourselves or feeling that life is passing us by, helped by being in a lower-rent area. It's indeed nice to come 'home' to our 'cottage' in Weymouth after exploring or our weekends at events.

We've all already been overtaken by heavy colds as the wind and rain now beats on the windows and this WILL be an issue which restricts us a fair deal, and we are only in early October. So I'm keeping an open mind and the balance between necessary time in the Caribbean and then the UK and (warmer) points south in Europe might be slightly different and I'm encouraged by that fact. I feel a lot more at ease here than I did in St Lucia, but then we had far more obligations to keep up the property there which our tenants seem to be managing ok with now.

From previous, the fact that there is storage for bags within easy reach of Gatwick 'might' in due course prove to be a further godsend as we will be able to rent in the UK and then up sticks and spend time elsewhere while only paying for and worrying about one place at a time. A lot could depend upon what is decided vis-à-vis the NHS and who is eligible and in what fashion and what excess health insurance I would be able to buy when I turn 65 and receive a UK State Pension.

Last edited by Pistolpete2; Oct 9th 2014 at 8:46 am. Reason: Apparently the marines were on leave
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Old Oct 9th 2014, 8:44 am
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Default Re: Settling in

Originally Posted by fulwood View Post
Nice to hear how things are going for you. Wish you all the best.
Thanks! Was thinking of you as they announce that Blackpool airport is to close.

It seems that a fair number of provincial airports are now under pressure - namely Cardiff, Dundee, Newquay, Bournemouth and Doncaster. They simply can't measure up when services from the big guns is so good to so many places AND longer-term parking is so much easier.
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Old Oct 9th 2014, 8:49 am
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Default Re: Settling in

Originally Posted by Pistolpete2 View Post
Thanks! Was thinking of you as they announce that Blackpool airport is to close.

It seems that a fair number of provincial airports are now under pressure - namely Cardiff, Dundee, Newquay, Bournemouth and Doncaster. They simply can't measure up when services from the big guns is so good to so many places AND longer-term parking is so much easier.
I flew into Cardiff a year or so ago and the airport was absolutely dead. Apparently they now have hardly any flights going in and out. When I lived in the area in 2006 it was thriving.

I suppose it isn't much different from large countries like the US - the economics of fewer large hubs spread further apart makes ore sense.
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Old Oct 9th 2014, 9:07 am
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Default Re: Settling in

Originally Posted by dunroving View Post
I flew into Cardiff a year or so ago and the airport was absolutely dead. Apparently they now have hardly any flights going in and out. When I lived in the area in 2006 it was thriving.

I suppose it isn't much different from large countries like the US - the economics of fewer large hubs spread further apart makes ore sense.
Funnily enough my one and only at Cardiff (that is since the days of Cambrian Airways) was BMibaby to Glasgow. I believe that Cardiff is still the BA 747 overhaul facility so that helps to underwrite the costs there.

Bristol is now very large, particularly with Easyjet and they have expansion plans there. PLUS Cardiff to Bristol is only 48 mins by rail and other spots such as Newport (35 mins) and Severn Tunnel Junction for the more affluent Chepstow area (23 mins) are good areas to draw from.

We were in Newport last month to watch golf and check the food festival at Abergavenny and boy is there a lot of passenger traffic on the run from there to Bristol. It was good to be back in Wales, even if only for two nights.

Newport burbs hasn't changed a bit from when I was a kid living in Cardiff - still very run-down.

Nevertheless, there is lot of technology job action in the M4 (and A48) corridor there as is there on the other side of the Severn north of Bristol at Filton/Abbey Wood.

Last edited by Pistolpete2; Oct 9th 2014 at 9:10 am.
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Old Oct 9th 2014, 5:31 pm
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Yep so nice to go to Blackpool airport. Friends partner pulled up in parking lot and voila.. Short drive to Preston. After 12-13 hour flight so nice to fly into provincial airport. Saw something in LEP about new efforts to save it. If I can going to go back next year but not for as long.
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Old Oct 9th 2014, 8:54 pm
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Now that I have "emigrated" down from Scotland to live in Cheltenham - a really lovely Georgian/Regency town in itself on the edge of some of England's most beautiful and picturesque scenery - and also full of culture - I have been enjoying as much as I can of the current Cheltenham Literary Festival..I got the rugby hero Gareth Thomas to personally sign my copy of his newly published book "Proud" - yes, he's about the toughest rugby player possible and one who is "Proud" to have at last disclosed his homosexuality - and now divorced from his former wife and set up home with his male partner.

Dorset is not that far from here.....earlier this year my partner and I went on a special train excursion (special in that it was not a scheduled service but a train trip privately organised by a a rail travel enthusiasts' company which organises and runs a fair number of such non-scheduled train excursions to destinations all over the UK).

We went on the excursion which took us from Worcester via Oxford, Reading, Basingstoke, Winchester, Southampton, Bournemouth and Poole and then down to as place called Corfe Castle...a tiny little place with this lovely ruined castle on top of a hill, in which KIng Charles I was held captive for a while by Oliver Cromwell's men.

Gorgeous countryside all along the way...Wessex as it's called. We then changed over to a privately run train service on a privately maintained railway line which led us the few miles to the seaside town of Swanage....situated on a bay below the cliffs of the Isle of Purbeck facing out onto the English Channel.

It was from Swanage, in June 1944, that the major part of the American seaborne invasion force sailed off across the Channel to launch their liberation of Nazi German occupied Normandy, France - the D-Day event of WW2.

I'd never been to Dorset before - it's really beautiful - gorgeous countryside and I want to to go again - next time to see the former home of Lawrence of Arabia - T E Lawrence - called "Clouds" - and his grave in the small village church at Moreton - and also the former home of a true literary son of Dorset - Thomas Hardy - at Higher Brockhampton, to the east of Dorchester.

The Dorset coast is spectacular......Lulworth Cove, Weymouth Bay, Portland Bill and Portland Harbour, the long stretch of Chesil Beach, home to the world's largest swannery, Golden Cap (highest cliff top point on the entire south coast England, and Lyme Regis with its famous Cob associated with the film "The French Lieutenant's Woman".

Dorset is where you find more places with double barrelled names than anywhere else in England and fascinating they are, too.....

Sturminster Newton
Sydling St Nicholas
Frome St Quintin
Winterbourne Steepleton
Milborne St Andrew
Stourton Caundle
Melbury Osmond
Cricket Malherbie
Haselbury Plucknett


...just a few of a great many more....but that's Dorset for you!
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Old Oct 10th 2014, 6:25 am
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Default Re: Settling in

Originally Posted by Lothianlad View Post

It was from Swanage, in June 1944, that the major part of the American seaborne invasion force sailed off across the Channel to launch their liberation of Nazi German occupied Normandy, France - the D-Day event of WW2.

I'd never been to Dorset before - it's really beautiful - gorgeous countryside and I want to to go again - next time to see the former home of Lawrence of Arabia - T E Lawrence - called "Clouds" - and his grave in the small village church at Moreton - and also the former home of a true literary son of Dorset - Thomas Hardy - at Higher Brockhampton, to the east of Dorchester.
I believe the (in need of resuscitation) Location Location Location thread on here talks of scheduled rail service being reinstalled between Wareham on the mainline and Swanage in Purbeck too. Indeed, this area seems to have quite a few special rail trips organised though, particularly for diners.

Saw some pictures of US forces in their landing craft here in Weymouth Harbour preparing for D-Day in the DT earlier this year. Nothing has changed much in the buildings in that area since - though the area was bombed in WW11 as Portland was a major naval base and military installation and there were misses, all presumably BEFORE D-Day.

Monuments litter the Esplanade here; to US Rangers' D-Day embarkation for the Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach, US Forces in general and to the ANZACS in WW1 and Gallipoli.

Weymouth is still a port for embarkation, though there is fast catamaran service to Guernsey today, until it too is scheduled to drop next year in favour of new and larger cats out of Poole. Weymouth was favoured as a slightly shorter run to the Channel Islands and France than Poole, due to Poole's lengthy boat speed restrictions, but Weymouth would have to spend big money on an improved dock - money it doesn't have.

In my childhood, British Railways offered overnight service to St Malo from here, served by direct trains out of Waterloo to the boat, but though the tracks are still there, re-enactments for enthusiasts can't really take place now as there is too much regular traffic encroachment on them today. When they last did one, there are (Youtube) pictures of cars' rear boot areas being bounced out of the way as the train slowly advanced.

Thanks for the info ref T.E. Lawrence - we were passing through the Moreton area by rail last week when the topic came up, funnily enough. Will have to work on exploring all of the historical links for T.E.L. and Hardy.

Cider is definitely a major plus in Dorset, aside from literary and geological places of interest/features. There are drinking establishments heavily slanted towards its consumption here, aside from the stuff produced in Somerset (Thatchers), Suffolk (Aspalls) and Herefordshire (Westons and Bulmers).

Last edited by Pistolpete2; Oct 10th 2014 at 6:34 am. Reason: Somerset (Thatchers)
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Old Oct 10th 2014, 4:03 pm
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Default Re: Settling in

Originally Posted by Pistolpete2 View Post
I believe the (in need of resuscitation) Location Location Location thread on here talks of scheduled rail service being reinstalled between Wareham on the mainline and Swanage in Purbeck too. Indeed, this area seems to have quite a few special rail trips organised though, particularly for diners.
Some info here:

Historic Lease Signed To Enable Trial Passenger Train Service Linking Swanage and Corfe Castle with Wareham | Swanage Railway

The Swanage steam railway is wonderful. I took it from Swanage to Corfe Castle a few years ago.
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