“Hello! Well it’s been a while since we wrote you a note to let you know that we are all alive and doing really well. In fact everything has fallen into place in the last few weeks. Getting jobs took a little longer than we had expected. I started working about 3 weeks after we arrived, and Jon 4 weeks. I think that we had been mislead by the rumors that said anyone who had anything to do with computers would get a job in a few hours. This is no longer true, although the demand for IT people is very strong, organisations still take a long time to go through the motions, especially once an employment agency gets involved. We did end up with excellent jobs though, Jon is working for Bill Gates (Microsoft) and he has every single benefit under the sun. It would simply take me too long to list them all. He is working as a server engineer, and really enjoying it. The best news of all for Jon is that he is heading to America in early January on a 2 or 3 week junket! He thinks that he will be working in the head office in Redmond, California. Ahh. There’s nothing like Bill Gates’ hospitality! I on the other hand am working for a .com internet company. We are a provider of online sports news in 11 languages across the world. We even have an office in Melbourne! I am working in business development which is excellent because that was the direction I wanted to take with my career. I’m really enjoying it and I am hoping that the company will make a profit soon so I can exercise my share options (although the company is very well financed and isn’t about to go bust). The other problem about us taking so long to get jobs is that we were living on Aussie dollars which was pretty bad because the dollar was appalling against the pound until the last week or so. We only get paid monthly, so Jon’s pay today will be our first pounds! We can’t wait. Last Wednesday we moved into our very own London flat. It of course costs a fortune, and although it is very small very nice and has a nice courtyard out the back (complete with a BBQ and an outdoor table setting!). Our landlady is lovely, she washed all our curtains and went to Ikea to get some cushions for our lounge before we moved in. She even bought us dishwashing liquid etc before we moved in. We even have a double sofa bed so that gives you no excuses to come and stay. Our kitchen is even tinier than the one in our Ultimo flat, and even somehow fits a front loading washing machine/dryer. The bedroom is only big enough for the bed, and our bathroom is just an ensuite off our bedroom. The flat is in an old mansion house which is split into 6 flats! Some people on the street have an identical house which is still all the one house, so they must cost an absolute fortune. The flat is reasonably close to the city, and is in a good area which is safe at night and there is a shopping centre and Tesco supermarket nearby. We also have our fair share of pubs around the place as well. At the moment we have a friend from the hostel staying in our lounge room until she finds her own place. Before we moved into our place we were living for 6 weeks in a hostel! It certainly takes its toll, after all, 26 people and only 3 bathrooms is always a recipe for disaster. It was good though because we met a lot of people who we are now good friends with, the hostel was not for travelers but for people like us who had just arrived to look for work. It was always full of Australians, Kiwis and South Africans. The problem was that with people looking for jobs and flats etc, there was always something to celebrate, so we became regulars in the pub across the road. In fact that seems like a recurring theme. At my work there are 200 people, and I estimate that only 1/3 of them are English, !/3 Aussie, Kiwi and SA, and the remaining 1/3 are other Europeans (Italian, Dutch, French etc). I have very little chance of picking up an accent! Many people have been asking me how the weather is. I think since we’ve been here we may have had 3 or 4 days that it hasn’t rained. It rains a lot. But apart from the rain the weather has been reasonably warm, apparently this November was the warmest one for 20 years. It was about 10-12 degrees most days. The weather is getting colder in the last few days, although they say that the odds of a white Christmas are still pretty low at 7-2. (they actually take bets on this at the TAB equivalent). I think that we are more likely to have a grey than a white Christmas. Speaking of festivities, we have a big Christmas organised at our Kiwi friends’ place. We are having a big lunch and we are cooking most of it on the BBQ just to prove to the English that that’s the way we do it. There will be about 10 of us, so should be a good day. It is of course the season for Christmas parties, and both Jon and I had ours last weekend. Mine was on Friday night and it was rather a success, even if it did take me at least 2 hours to get home because there were no taxis about. I ended up catching a bus, and arrived home at 3.30 frozen solid. Jon’s was a rather grand affair, partners were invited, and it was black tie. They had something for everyone, including a comedy club, a casino where you could bet fake money, an ABBA cover band and a buffet dinner. There were probably about 1000 people there, and the venue was Sandown racecourse in Surrey. We were taken down there on a coach. It was a fairly good night although difficult to meet people because it was so big. London really is beautiful this time of year. The Christmas decorations in the streets are beautiful, there are lights on everything and the shop window displays are lavish, especially along Oxford street. We bought ourselves a real cut Christmas tree and some lights to get into the mood for Christmas. It takes up about 1/2 our lounge room, but what the heck . . .! Anyway, I hope this letter finds you all well and I hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas. Take care and all the best and most of all keep in touch. From Jane and Jon”
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