In October 2019 I moved to southeast England, my second time moving countries — not quite as daunting as my first country move from South Africa to the US. As an EU citizen, it was fairly easy to do this, as I have the right to live and work in the UK.
It wasn’t a complete move, though, as I moved with a return plane ticket, and with only two suitcases and my cat — I had just given away my plants, turned the heat down (it had to stay on to prevent pipes bursting in the winter), locked up my apartment and left.
Sadly, I had to say goodbye to Chef Software as there were no open roles available at the time in the Professional Services team in the UK. However, I had been toying with the idea of short-term contracting in the UK for many years (since well before starting to work at Chef in Seattle), and decided to take the opportunity to do just that.
I took a Chef contract that was initially for 3 months, was extended to 6 months, and then reduced to 5 months. It ended up that I was only in the UK for 4.5 of those months, travelling to London most days; the last two weeks were done remotely from the Seattle area. This was in mid-March 2020, and we all know what was happening around that time. I urgently needed to be back in Seattle for several reasons, so when the EU travel ban was announced, I cut my UK stay short by a couple of weeks and high-tailed it back Stateside. I was concerned that returning might become impossible, even for a US citizen, because planes might stop flying or borders might completely close.
I ended up living in the Seattle area for 8 months, before moving back to the UK. A few months after I returned to Washington state, I decided to put my apartment on the market; not what I had planned on doing when I flew back, but things lined up to make it happen. For various reasons I had wanted to sell the apartment regardless of whether I stayed in the Seattle area or not, but planned on doing it later. The complex was still in the middle of extensive renovations, so selling then was not ideal, but the pandemic afforded me the time to get it done so I took the opportunity.
I stayed in the Seattle area for a few more months after my condo sale. I shipped the household goods I wanted to keep to England, and this time bought a one-way ticket. I had enjoyed being back in Washington state, but at the same time really felt done with the US — for now, at least! England was calling me home. (My father’s ancestors are actually from the area where I live in the UK).
One of the reasons I wanted to get back to the UK was that my sister had decided to move from South Africa to the UK, and did so in December 2020. We are very close despite having lived on opposite sides of the world, and I was super excited at the prospect of living in the same country as her, for the first time in decades!
After a couple of months of self-isolation and lockdown in England, catching up with my sister, and doing more things to establish myself in the UK, I started to look for contract work. The contract market has unfortunately gotten rather tough due to impending legislation changes that affect the contracting sector, so I started looking at employment opportunities too.
And .. guess what .. I discovered that the role at Chef that I had wished was available when I first flew to the UK a little over a year before, now was available! Except, it is no longer Chef, as Chef was acquired by Progress — still, many great former Chef employees still work at Progress. So, I applied, and got the job :).
I’ll be starting at Progress as a Principal Consultant in the UK in their Chef business unit, on 22 March. Woo-hoo!
Life has had so many interesting twists and turns over the last year or so! As is usual for me, I’ve gone with the flow, grabbing opportunities when they present themselves, and following my heart. As inconvenient as the restrictions can be, I’m grateful to the pandemic for giving me almost a year to get a lot of things done that I had wanted and needed to do. But now, it is time to get back to work.