Sunday, 27 April 2008

spring lunch with the ladies


it was the first truly lovely spring day of the year yesterday, perfect for lunch with good friends. i met j & m in 1994 (fourteen years ago!) when we were all teaching english in japan. they are part of the reason i wanted to move to london. we don't see each other as often as we used to since none of us live in central london, but we made a pact to have lunch every four months or so. by the time we meet next, m will be mum to both baby v (who is not really a baby anymore) and his little sister/brother!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

brighton up your day

s and i spent the weekend in brighton for our anniversary.

saturday was cold, rainy, windy and grey... just what you would expect for a weekend at the english seaside.





while the weather was not entirely unexpected, we hadn't counted on s catching a bad cold right before we left, or me coming down with a wicked sore throat on saturday :( as the saying goes, in sickness and in health... so we walked around the pier and the royal pavilion, taking a leisurely stroll through the brighton museum (free and indoors; my kind of rainy day museum!) we walked up and down the north laine. we thought we would catch a movie in the evening, but google maps on s's iphone led us in the wrong direction - or that is, led us in the right direction, just not far enough. what google maps promised would be a cineworld was in fact a council housing estate, and the closest building devoted to entertainment was a bingo hall. the friendly security guard at the bingo hall suggested we take the number 7 bus to brighton marina, at which point we decided we would a) miss the movie and b) be better off getting some spicy thai food to sooth our colds. so that's what we did.

but the sun came out on sunday and the same sights were decidedly prettier.








happy anniversary, s! hope your cold gets better soon xo

Friday, 4 April 2008

status: settled


s greeted me this morning with the words to a pet shop boys song:

This is my application
Give me hope
Keep me sane
Give me indefinite leave to remain

i must have exhibited the proper mix of hopefulness and sanity (combined with a smile and no shortage of documents) because i left the croydon public enquiry office this afternoon with the coveted ILR stamp in my passport!

this entire visa process has been interesting, to say the least. for example, a large part of obtaining ILR is being able to prove that you do not need access to public funds. so i brought around 80 documents - bank statements, pay slips, mortgage, council tax bills, HM revenue & customs letters, ISA statements, etc. - showing that s and i are fully employed, own the flat, and have been living together for the past two years. but as soon as my ILR was granted, i became eligible for public funds if needed. my rights are now effectively the same as a british citizen, minus a UK passport and the ability to vote here. not bad.

i did feel weird about reducing two years of marriage to a folder full of bank statements, though. at least for my spouse visa, s and my sister wrote letters of support, and we included photos, blogs, emails, xmas and birthday cards... you know, the stuff that makes it personal. fortunately, my life with s is not usually about the legal contract or the evidence of funds and accommodation, but is based on shared laughs, seats next to each other on planes to exotic destinations, text messages asking who will pick up some milk on the way home. thankfully, most of this bureaucracy (and the accompanying fees! cha-ching!) is now behind me.

and i am feeling distinctly settled. calm in the knowledge that even if i don't become a dual citizen, i can live here happily with s for as long as we want. reassured that our marriage is now a true marriage, not a visa marriage. relieved that the UK makes it relatively quick and painless to gain settlement - truly, two years is not that long. sad for some of the people in croydon who did not have it as easy as i did, but grateful for advice from friends and other people who have been through the process.

in case you have not noticed, i have become more interested in immigration issues, and have started bookmarking articles on my (see sidebar.) just because i have reached this point does not mean that i will stop now. i fully intend to apply for british citizenship, and to continue to help people where i can. in another life, i would love to study immigration law but for now i will content myself with online forums and news articles.

so that's my news. how are we planning to celebrate? well, we need to go buy a new fridge. ours died earlier this week. but i think i will ask s to play that song again for me, first...