Three… Is A Magic Number

Just like on Sesame Street, today is brought to us by a number and that number is three. Why? Well, there are many reasons.

TODAY…

Kaila is three weeks old,

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Peter and I have been married for exactly three years,

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we are now a family of three,

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and all three of us are British citizens!

That’s right, today I became a British citizen in a private ceremony at our local registry office. The ceremony was short, sweet, and mostly consisted of me confirming allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen and vowing to be an upstanding citizen of the United Kingdom. Peter, Kaila, and my mom were all able to join me for this big event.

Now don’t worry, I haven’t turned my back on the US. Just because I’ve acquired British citizenship doesn’t mean I’ve lost my American citizenship. In fact, Kaila and I are both dual citizens of both the US and the UK. Pretty cool!

Stir up Sunday

I’m back trying my hand at “British” things again. This time I embraced the tradition of ‘Stir up Sunday’, making traditional Christmas pudding on the last Sunday before Advent. I was a little late so technically my stir up happened on Stir up Sunday + 2 weeks, but in every other way I strove for authenticity!

First, we had to go grocery shopping for all the ingredients. Having never made a Christmas pudding before or even seen anyone make it, everything seemed a bit foreign to me. Candied peel, suet – what are these things? Peter and I spent a good 5 minutes looking for vegetable suet in the grocery store before finally asking someone. In the end, she led us back to the exact same aisle we’d been before! Turns out suet comes in a box, not a jar. Who would have guessed?

All ingredients assembled, I headed for the kitchen and started stirring up this concoction with a special added element: charms.

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When I moved to the UK, my aunt gave me some silver Christmas pudding charms that she’d purchased in England years ago. They are meant to be stirred into the pudding and whoever finds the charm gets good luck.

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So we have six charms in the pudding which gives plenty of change for good luck. Also, stirring the pudding is meant to bring good luck so I made tons of wishes and stirred, stirred, stirred!

Cooking the pudding was an interesting adventure too. It needs to be steamed for 6 hours and then soaked in brandy. I’d never heard of that technique but it seemed to work. This is the finished product, all topped off with brandy and ready to be heated up again on Christmas Day.

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Fingers crossed it’s edible!

Hittin’ the Books

I know some of you are thinking “What’s going on, Holly? Why have you been so quiet lately?” Well, it turns out, the driving test isn’t the only exam I’m taking this spring.

Next week I’ll be sitting for the “Life in the UK” test as part of the process for becoming a UK permanent resident. The exam is 24 multiple choice questions and all come from this book. To pass, you need to get 75% right.

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Curious how you’d do? Take a free practice test online here.

Ok, back to studying for me! Chat more when I’ve learned all of the notable British athletes.

I Passed!!!

You are looking at the ecstatic face of someone who just passed their UK driving test! I’m now a licensed manual car driver in the UK and I couldn’t be happier!!

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The journey to get to this point has been a long one. I took my first manual driving lessons in the UK back in August 2011. Back then, I was splitting my time between the US and UK and hadn’t officially moved here as a UK resident. It was a stressful period of my life and learning to drive a new type of car on the other side of the road was just too much. The whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth and made me lose a lot of confidence in my driving.

Last Spring, I decided it was time to work on getting my license again. The first step to doing so in the UK is to pass the Theory Test. The Theory Test is a written exam with multiple choice questions and a hazard perception section that requires you to identify road hazards while watching a series of videos. I studied like crazy for a few weeks and was able to pass the test on my first try in May.

After the Theory Test, you need to pass a Practical Driving Test which is a 40 minute drive with an examiner. The test includes questions about car maintenance and at least one maneuver like parallel parking, a three point turn, reversing into a parking space, or reversing around a corner. The Practical Test is notoriously challenging and many people need to take it several times. Needless to say, it was a pretty daunting prospect and I found it easy to put off that part of the process.

Finally in February this year, I was ready to start driving lessons again. I lucked out this time around and was assigned a wonderful instructor named Jon. He was patient and really helped me feel more confident on the road. After my first lesson, he told me I should go ahead and book my test since there is usually about a month lead time. So I booked today’s test date and started the preparations!

On the weekends, Peter and I went out practicing and one evening a week I had a lesson with Jon. During that time, my driving was all over the place. Sometimes I’d be great, other times it was a really rocky ride. Even last night, I had a two hour lesson to smooth out the minor issues and just practice more.

Going into today’s test, I knew I could pass it if I kept my nerves at bay and demonstrated everything I was taught. It was a stressful experience but it all ended so well! I’m absolutely thrilled to have accomplished this huge step toward becoming even more ingrained in life here in the UK – not to mention the freedom I know have. Woohoo!!