09.07.2007 - 09.07.2007 19 °C
This morning began with a wonderful surprise - SUNSHINE! The forecast was for rain so it was great to wake up and see the sun shining when we opened the curtains in our room. A little bit of Arizona we brought to the UK!
We were up early - 7am (11pm in Arizona) so that we could get ready for our first day of orientation. Stephannie and I had a great breakfast at the hotel restaurant - buffet style with eggs, sausage, toast, etc - tomorrow we may venture to the omelet and waffle station. After we ate we took a brief walk around the grounds while we waited for our counsellor for the day - Susan. While I was taking pictures out from of the hotel, Susan found us and we headed off on our adventure for the day. Susan drives a hybrid car - the Toyota Prius - which is one of the cars Stephannie is interested - so that worked out great. Our objective for the day was to visit one of the schools and then look at several towns and properties around that school. We will repeat this process for the next 3 days.
Front of School
Our first appointment was with ACS - International School at Hillingdon. The school was about a 45 minute drive from our hotel but we got to see some of the towns and areas without going on the highway (they call it a motorway here). The entrance to the school has a welcome house with a guard and then we drove onto the grounds - an absolutely amazing place! The building the school is in was built in the 1800's as the Manor House for Lord Hillingdon. There have been several expansions as the school has grown. The grounds include acres and acres of grass, beautiful gardens, playing fields, and tennis courts. There is a separate music building which has it's own music lab and recording studio.
We met with the Assistant Dean of Admissions here and got a great tour of the entire school.
From here, we met back up with our guide, Susan, to continue on the house researching expedition. We were scheduled to see 7 homes today but many of the ones scheduled had been rented out since Friday when the schedule was made. Apparently the rental market moves very quickly and most good homes are gone within a week. The purpose of this trip is just to get a feel for what homes are like and know what areas and schools to focus our efforts on when we return with Hannah and Madisen in August.
The first home we saw was called "Oakdean." Many of the homes we visited didn't have addresses - just names - we found that very cool! This was a very large home, nicely decorated - in what we would call a "country" location. In looking at the map, we thought this area would be too far away from the school for daily commuting.
We grabbed a quick lunch with Susan at a brasserie; we all had burgers (no buns, though!) Our next stop was our favorite house of the day, even though the location probably wouldn't have worked for us anyway. It was a house called Bigfrith End; built roughly 100 years ago, it was LOADED with character. 7 bedrooms - and the gardens were amazing - 2 acres of beautiful English gardens, complete with pond and sundial.
We looked at a couple more homes closer to the school and we could certainly appreciate that the quality / size of the homes get less as you move closer to London. In the end I'm sure it will be a trade off but we both feel confident that we can find something that will be wonderful for us to live in while we are here.
After our day with Susan, we returned to the hotel for a quick "freshen up" and then headed out to the Cytyc UK office in Crawley. Stephannie and I met up with the UK team for a quick tour of the new facilities and then had dinner at the Blue India. It was a long day but I'm glad we had a chance to meet up with everyone. Our taxi picked us up at the restaurant around 10:30 and we made it back to the hotel. Tomorrow begins with another school tour and several homes to view - promises to be another full day!