When our daughter first heard we were considering moving from the US to England, she just couldn’t stop laughing. She thought it was a joke. Nevertheless, we are here and the things that are different are not necessarily what we anticipated…

The Teeth Have It

sent 12 November 2004

We have officially had our first contact with dentists in the UK, and I’m starting to think that the British have the healthcare thing just right… at least from the patient’s perspective. Nico popped one of the wires in his braces out of the bracket on Thursday afternoon after school. Because it was sticking into the inside of his cheek, I deemed it an orthodontic emergency. So, at my neighbor’s suggestion, I walked down to the local dental clinic (Claremont Dental Surgery) with Nico. Prepared to beg for service, I walked in and was greeted by a lovely receptionist with a British accent (go figure!). When I explained the situation, she walked back to speak to a dental technician who agreed to see Nico immediately. He popped Nico’s wire back in, did a dental examination, commented on Nico’s need to brush better, and scheduled a 3-week follow up appointment to check on whether Nico’s dental hygiene had improved. He also dictated an orthodontic referral letter for Nico and Samantha. All this with no appointment. Also, because Nico is under 18, it is all covered under the National Health Service for free. Wow!

We continue to adjust to England. It gets dark between 4:30 and 5:00 in the evening, so we try to make the most of the daylight we do get. The early darkness is convenient for all the fireworks we have had lately. Last weekend was the celebration of Guy Fawkes Day. Guy Fawkes is a man who plotted with his friends to blow up parliament during the reign of King James I. Before the plot could be enacted, one of the conspirators changed his mind and told the King’s men. The plot was foiled and Guy Fawkes was captured and hung. Apparently this is cause for great celebration, lots of fireworks, and no sleep because it seems as if many of the fireworks were ignited directly outside the windows of my 6 year old boy and 11 year old girl. We decided to cut our losses and stayed up in Samantha’s attic room with our head’s poking out of her skylight watching the fireworks going off around us in all directions. No one fell out of the window and the fireworks were beautiful.

Tonight we went to “Fireworks Night” at Daniel’s school, Orleans Infants School. Daniel says, “I liked the fireworks.” Daniel hung out with Alex and Josh, two boys from his class. Nicholas herded all three boys through massive groups of people while I followed with a glass of mulled wine in my hand. In England, they serve beer and wine at evening school events.

Sorry to write so much. I got started and more and more words seem to have sprung from my fingertips. I hope everyone in America is doing well. We miss you all!

These are emails from a recent ex-pat to St Margarets, Stephanie Grefsheim. They are presented as they were originally sent to her friends and family in Rockville, Maryland, USA (except for the occasional translation of some very American terms).