Skip to main content
California wine country tour

Eight Hours in Wine Country – San Francisco to Sonoma / Napa Wine Tour

Review – Napa Valley Wine Country Tours

As I write this I am sitting with a cool flannel on my head and my fourth coffee of the morning steaming by my side. Why? Because I spent yesterday’s holiday (it was Memorial Day here in the USA) touring Northern California’s valleys and consuming my body weight in wine.

Like me, you’ll probably have a few preconceived ideas of what a wine country tour is like: likely fairly sedate, enjoyed by a sophisticated older crowd and probably involving quite a bit of spitting perfectly good wine into a glorified metal buckets.

It turns out not all wine tours are like that.

(more…)

How big is the UK compared to California?

How Big Is the UK Compared to California? (And Nine Similarly Important Questions)

One thing that expats to the United States, especially from densely populated Europe, find difficult to comprehend is the sheer scale of the place.

At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, the United States is enormous. In fact, the USA is so big that the entire European Union (all 28 member countries) could fit inside it, twice.

My new home state, California, is (by population at least) the largest state in the union. But how does it compare to my native United Kingdom?

(more…)

Memorial day explained

Memorial Day Explained for Non-Americans – A Quick Guide

What is Memorial Day — the US Public Holiday taking place on May 25 — all about?

For expats a country’s national holidays — and how people mark them — can be a huge insight into your new home’s culture and way of life. Understanding the background to the public holidays celebrated your new country, and how you can mark them, can be an important part of your integration.

With that in mind, it is currently “Memorial Day Weekend” here in the United States – a holiday unique to the USA, and therefore an opportunity for me to try to better understand my new home. If the reaction of people on Twitter is anything to go by the holiday is predominantly about barbecues and parties:

Clearly there is much more to Memorial Day than this. So what is it all about?

(more…)

moving abroad checklist

Moving Abroad Checklist — 10 Things to Consider before Moving Overseas

Every year tens of millions of people move across the world to call a new country home. They do so for a whole variety of reasons — for work, a lower cost of living, or a better quality of life. Whatever their reasons for emigrating packing up your life in one country and moving to another is a major undertaking.

Trust me — I speak from experience! In March 2015 my wife and I packed up our life in London, England and moved over 5,000 miles to San Francisco, California. You can read a little background to our story on the About page.

The key lesson I have learned from my experience? To move abroad successfully you must plan ahead. Every year embassies and consulates report having to help out their citizens because they’ve found themselves in financial hardship or run into legal troubles.

Your exact checklist will vary depending on where you are moving to and your specific circumstances. My wife and I have been quite fortunate: we didn’t own a home in the UK, we do not have children, and our parents are still spritely young things. However, if you’ve got assets or care obligations for example, your move may be more complicated.

Most moves will, however, require thinking about similar issues. What, then, were the 10 major areas on my moving abroad checklist?

(more…)

expat life in San Francisco

Nine Things I Wish I’d Known before I Became an Expat in San Francisco

In March, my wife and I packed up our life in London, England and moved 5,315 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to San Francisco, California.

Moving to a new city, let alone a new country, is a hugely exciting experience – new people, new culture, and new things to see, do and eat. But it also comes with a whole range of details to figure out and cultural quirks to get used to.

So, after nearly eight weeks in San Francisco, what are the nine things I wish I had known in advance?

(more…)