D started work on the Monday (9 Feb), a week after landing. After his full on day of mind-blowing scale and scope he came home to hear about our tales from our day. The girls and I decided to hit the streets and explore a bit of the city around us on foot. It turns out there was lots to see and walk to within minutes from the apartment. We found the new library and luckily we were able to sign the girls up. Hoorah! We came home with some books that entertained them for a good few hours. Nothing quite like new reading material. While we were out we also finally found a shop that sold Birmingham postcards... it sounds random but after a week of looking and not finding any, this felt like a feat so we stocked up!
The next day we needed to find a post office. I do love how necessity creates opportunity. On this outing we found Victoria Square, the Town Hall, the Museum and Art Gallery and of course a post office. Amazing buildings which we would come back to and pass several times over the next few weeks. The rest of the days were spent reading and researching for young and old. Every night the girls would head to bed and we would pour a cuppa, grab some chocolate, pull out the iPad and get cracking. Researching houses and areas, looking for used cars and dealerships, comparing schools, mobile phones, insurances, etc.
On Wednesday we set off again... for a lack of being able to do much else really. This time we walked along a canal and ended up having a hot chocolate at a cafe for afternoon tea. The girls were completely enchanted by all the ducks and swans on the canals and would walk along and chat to the birds as they swam beside us. Terribly endearing.
Thursday kicked off as day one of two, of house-hunting with a local expert as arranged by D's work. D set off with him in the morning as we established if it would be ok to have the kids tag along with me in our rental. A bit of miss-communication later the girls and I were on our way to join the house-viewing mission. Of course as luck would have it, the GPS decided to die and D had the smartphone. A tense and frustrating hour or so later we joined up. Must have been my female sense of direction and ability to read signs ;p D had seen 2 properties by then and after another viewing and some lunch, we continued on to see 4 more. Lunch was our first pub meal here and at a family friendly place... quite different to the cafe culture we are used to. It was a very productive day and the girls were champs spending all that boring time in the car, in and out and seeing each new place. They loved being part of the process though and took a keen interest in the locations and enjoyed "assigning rooms" to all of us in each new place.
Day two of house hunting and we were headed to a different area, slightly out of the city, this time. There were 11 properties lined up for the day. At least we all left at the same time and I had also managed to get the GPS to co-operate again so the atmosphere was a lot less tense ;) We all fell in love with the second property we saw and it ticked many boxes. By the time we got the 6th one we decided to cancel the rest and head to the leasing agents office to put in our application to rent, before the weekend and hopefully before anyone else. Unfortunately no news over the weekend about it but were were hopeful. Back to the apartment for dinner, feeling pretty worn out but all of us excited about possibly finding a place to live. We then spent the evening looking up vehicles and made a plan for the weekend to hopefully find at least one suitable car.
Saturday morning commenced with another visit to the bank to finally complete the account set-up process. Armed with an account number and what remained of our cash funds we set off on our planned car-purchasing journey. I cant remember how many cars we saw or took for a test drive, but there were a few. We arrived at our final destination of the day not holding terribly much hope. But... we got lucky and at a very small car yard were able to find a family vehicle and a little run-about car for D's commute to and from work. Hoorah! We were only required to pay a deposit on both whilst the necessary paperwork got sorted at the beginning of the following week. Again the girls were great - commenting on cars and colours, comparing and drawing their own conclusions. We brought the iPad with it's selection of 3 Disney movies, on each of the last 3 days' outings and it did provide a handy distraction when the boredom got too much in the car. The evening was spent finding out about car-seat regulations, comparing places and prices for purchase, looking in to a work wardrobe for D, and also some technology.
Having done our homework previously, we headed off on Sunday to find and buy some car/booster seats for the girls. Having gotten that sorted out we went back to the apartment and headed on foot into the city to do some more shopping and browsing. We were able to show D some of the sights we had discovered earlier during the week and then also found him a few work shirts. Next was some hands-on research at technology shops. We walked back to the apartment for a repeat of our evening routine.
Week 2 and some tangible progress - tick.