Life in London

Settling in – jobs, church & fireworks!

I recently realised what a very long time it’s been since I last updated! We have been spending less time in pubs using internet recently and as I can’t tether my laptop to my phone’s internet (Virgin media rules… which is why we’re leaving Virgin!) I haven’t been able to use internet on my laptop much in recent weeks (and it is MUCH easier to type a blog post on the laptop!)

To catch up, we uploaded our CVs to 1st Contact’s CV service. They then checked them over to make sure they were appropriate for the UK job market (UK CV layout is quite different to Australia’s, which we’d been warned about) then distributed them to recruitment agencies they work with. (Tip for any Australians going to the UK: look up UK CV layouts online! 1st Contact had a few but there are plenty on UK employment sites). We were strongly advised to go through recruitment agencies in the UK – in one of Andre’s discussions with a recruitment agency he found out there are something like 11,000 recruitment agencies in London alone, and many of the contracts never actually get advertised – companies just go straight to the agencies they normally use and ask them to fill contracts for them.

Within days we were getting calls from recruitment agencies wanting to interview us in order to sign us on. Andre ended up with a job nearly immediately after signing onto an agency! There was a bit of to-and-fro-ing for a few days while the consultancy who was offering the contract decided if they were actually going ahead with the position – they had been happy with Andre’s solution to a programming test they’d set – then they finally decided to go ahead with it. They interviewed Andre and two others and within a day called Andre’s agent to offer him the job, saying he fit in best ‘culturally’! It’s a job with a financial consultancy company, working on a project for a bank. This is really fortunate because it is meant to be really hard to get into the banking industry in London because they always want people with ‘industry experience’ (although really the fact you can program well should be far more important than the fact you’ve worked in a banking environment!) It is a short-term contract until Christmas with potential to be extended.

I have been signed on to three recruitment agencies and had a job interview through one of them. I was meant to hear back about it by late last week but as of Friday hadn’t heard anything, so hopefully I hear something tomorrow.

Andre has also set up a limited company to do his contracting through. This provides tax benefits because he is able to pay himself (as an employee) a salary low enough to stay under particular tax thresholds, then as sole shareholder gets paid dividends which are taxed differently to a salary. We were able to sit down with an accountant through 1st Contact who talked us through the whole process and which employment tax arrangement would be most beneficial. Even paying the accountant to do all the legal and book-keeping things for us we end up way ahead with a limited company.

We have also found a church that we are settling into! After two weeks of trying to get there and failing (public transport woes) we finally got there a few weeks ago through a torrential downpour! It is a church plant (Grace Church Brockley – GCB) which is currently running out of another church’s building. Because of this (eg. no street signage etc) a lot of people ask how we found out about them. Well, once we had found somewhere to live, we let our minister back home, Jason Smart, know. He emailed some of his contacts in London to ask if they had any recommendations for churches in the area. It seems like most of them don’t live or work in our area, but some of them emailed people they knew in this area – and one of those people attends GCB! We looked up their website to sus them out and thought they looked ok so decided to pay them a visit. We were particularly encouraged by the fact their website was promoting a retreat next year which features speakers such as Don Carson and Mike Raiter.

We were thrilled. The teaching was extremely bible-focused, we knew about half the songs they played, and after church we couldn’t take two steps without someone else introducing themselves and wanting to chat. It seems like quite a small church too (which I liked) which is to be expected for a church plant under 2 years old – in our first service I estimated maybe about 60 adults. Each week after church we have gone to the local pub with some other young adults for drinks and to socialise and are getting to know people. We are hoping to start attending a fellowship group (bible study/home group) from next week – last week was half-term so fellowship groups took a week off, and this week is a congregational prayer meeting which will take place instead of fellowship group.

We still don’t have internet at home because our internet company is useless. Thumbs down for Plus Net! Andre sent them a very unhappy email last week and if we don’t hear back tomorrow will be making a very cranky phone call.

In other news, it’s getting cold now. We went to Blackheath (near Greenwich) for the bonfire night fireworks display last night and I wore tights under my jeans as well as a long sleeved shirt, jumper, and my big puffer jacket with a scarf and beanie. I was warm but wouldn’t have been if I was wearing any less!

The fireworks were great. A lot of places around London had early fireworks displays for bonfire night – my guess is that because Nov 5 is a Tuesday, a lot of places like to have their celebrations on the weekend. Most places have a bit of a fair, food stalls etc starting in the afternoon before the fireworks display at around 8. We headed out a bit after 6 and wandered through the fair and while we didn’t go on any rides enjoyed the atmosphere. There was a small range of food stalls – I was a bit disappointed with most of the variety, and very disappointed with my ‘chicken and salad burger’ which is code for chicken and lettuce with mayonnaise. The pizza Andre got looked pretty good though. I was slightly scandalised by the price of the fairy floss (‘candy floss’ here) – £3 when I can pay £1 for a bag from the shopping centre – but I guess you expect that at a carnival. Admittedly the bag was bigger than than the bags at the shopping centre. The fireworks were really, really good though. The display we went to was just a local one put on by the Lewisham Council, so I didn’t expect it to be very spectacular. I was also amazed by how keen people were to get a position near the fence of the launch zone for a fireworks display!! It’s in the sky! You don’t need to be in the front row!

We’re going to another one actually on Nov 5, and then probably the Lord Mayor’s display next Saturday (9th). The fireworks just keep going here! We heard a few going off in the neighbourhood around our place last night so I’m expecting a lot more on the 5th.

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5 thoughts on “Settling in – jobs, church & fireworks!

  1. Sounds like things are going pretty well so far. Your church sounds good. Christine moaned when she heard about what you were wearing already!
    Hope things get sorted with your job and the internet.

  2. Christine, the guy in our team who used to live in the UK thinks you’re going to die. Plus, you’ll be going straight from a tropical summer to a Scottish winter. Good luck

  3. Hi Leah and Andre,
    I just read through your blog while sitting on a very slow train crawling into Brisbane. Great work guys.
    Something i realised about the beer when we were in the uk – ( Tribute was my choice although i think it was a Scottish brew. ) Although the beers are generally served at cellar temperature, the UK beers tend to keep their flavour so if you can find one you like you can “sit” on a beer for a couple of hours. This makes having a pint more of a social occupation compared to Australia where the insentive is to drink it while is still cold because it is undrinkable at room temperature.

    Cheers
    Stu

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