I never intended for this blog to be a rant.  But, sometimes, circumstances beyond my control have me going out of my mind, and if I can’t vent it, I take out the stress on my family.  And right now, I’m in panic mode.[ad#ad-1]

I have two weeks until I start work.  I have not actually received the contract to sign (may be a result of the postal strikes), but the verbal agreement is still binding.  (Just received it by post after I wrote this.)

We have not yet moved to a new house.  Our lease expires the first week of October.  I told the agent that it was highly unlikely that we would be renewing.  At the time, I had just received my registration and started applying for jobs.  Of course, that was in an email.  No response.  This was at a time when the agent was trying to renegotiate the terms of the lease to decrease the amount we were paying for electricity.  We had complained that our electric bill was too high.  In all that mess, we finally got the landlord to admit that the meter at his house measured not only our house, but several other buildings.  And it was that meter that was read by the electric company.  We have not paid our last bill because there is a dispute about how much we are responsible.  Obviously, he owes us some money and the electric company is siding with us on this.  Given his record on promises, we are not about to turn over money, waiting forever to be reimbursed.  Besides this, the house is in disrepair and he has done nothing.  I thought, they really believed we would renew?  The agent said they would discuss issues with the landlord and come up with some solution.  After not hearing from them for a month, I emailed them to find out what was going on, only to be told that the agent we have been dealing with was leaving (fired? quit? who knows.).  She forwarded everything to two colleagues.

Next thing we hear is that we have to give 30-days written notice.  So, I responded with the above.  Seeing that my language might not have been strong enough, I said we were not renewing (not “highly unlikely”, but “no, we are not renewing”).  I asked if they wanted an actual written letter rather than an email.  Still no response.  Emailed again yesterday.  Still no response.  Are they dragging it out to force us to stay an extra month?

In the meantime, we do have to move.  Not just because the house is falling apart around us, but because I need to be closer to work.  We have been duped into paying out more than we needed to in this past year, so we have run down our savings to almost nothing.  We have not resorted to government benefits.  Yet because we have not worked in the past 6 months, some of these letting agents refused to rent to us unless we put up 6-months rent as a deposit.  What?!!  If someone was coming off unemployment and they didn’t have that amount saved up, how can they ever get a leg up?  Luckily, not all agents are like that, but you do have to be very careful.  One agent actually took the deposit off someone, ran a check, then declined them because they didn’t make enough money.  They use some formula, like you have to make three times the rent to qualify.  Why weren’t they upfront with the person to begin with?  And, of course, there is no appeal with these guys, and the money is nonrefundable.[ad#ad-1]

My situation is that I can’t sign any leases until I get my contract all sorted out.  Also, I do not want to be paying rent on two properties at the same time.  Lastly, we will need to transfer money from our US account into our UK account in order to make all this happen.  Our US bank said we could initiate the transfer from this end, but the banks on this end said that was impossible.  It seems like we keep hitting one brick wall after another.  I will be so relieved when all this is settled, if ever.

As I’ve said before, the EU is big on “green”.  Most political parties have some “green” agenda.  One of the big issues in this regard is the excess packaging on foods.  We have noticed this excessive packaging both here and in the US.  But the US does not make such a big stink about it.  Perhaps, now, with all the “global warming” and “climate change” talks, the US might follow suit.  Retailers are being fined for excessive packaging and most have reduced their packaging significantly.  However, the government is not fully satisfied.[ad#ad-1]

One way I’d like to suggest to reduce packaging is by making larger packages.  Many might think this is clearly greedy American thinking and would increase waste.  But that is not so.  For example, I remember going to Sam’s or even Wal-Mart and buying the large 10-lb. bags of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  It lasted us a while.  We weren’t constantly having to do a “big” shopping every week.  Here, the best you can do is a 2-kg bag of chicken quarters with skin and bones.  Now, I don’t mind skin and bones; I think it adds more flavour.  But, the problem is that you have less meat to work with, so you run out very quickly when you’re making dinners.  There is clearly less packaging in that one 10-lb. bag than in 2-3 2-kg. bags.  I don’t know how the Brits see this, especially because they do have smaller freezers.  But it should be an option for many of us.

Yes, I miss buying in bulk.  I’ve seen that many expatriates have discovered Costco.  But there are few of these around and without jobs, you can’t even be a member.  I miss being able to buy frozen foods for more than just one meal at a time.