Emsworth is a picturesque coastal village on the northern reaches of the Chichester Harbour Conservancy. Possible one of the most pleasant places to live in either Hampshire or West Sussex.  Either, because the County border lies slightly West of the village centre. With the result, some of us fall under Havant and the others in Chichester. So you might end up  in one or the other depending on where you end up.

Wine shops in West Sussex and Hampshire

It used to be a fishing village that was well known for local oysters and boat building in the early 1900’s and it has grown into a well- adjusted waterside village that has retained it’s charm. With a local harbour and marina that are protected by Hayling Island on one side and Thorney Island to the other it is still popular mooring with recreational sailors and local fisherman.

Emsworth Yacht Harbour, Hampshire the English South Coast

There is a quaint selection of small independent shops. Bakers, barbers, a hardware shop and two of the inevitable antique shops. As well as the local fish & chip takeaway, the village supports a variety of pubs, restaurants including 36 On the Quay, a recognised foodie destination.

There is a regular train service running from Portsmouth and Southampton through to Chichester with links to both London Waterloo, London Victoria and Brighton. The 700 bus also operates between Chichester and Portsmouth.

Getting a UK driving licence

You do not need an international driving permit to drive in the United Kingdom. Foreign driving licences are valid for up to a year after first arriving in the UK after which it is necessary to either exchange it or pass the DVSA’s UK driving test.

But if your original licence does not come with an English translation it will be useful in proving that the licence is valid.

As I understand it, to exchange your licence, if you qualify, you have five years to do this but can only continue to drive for the first twelve months.  Strictly speaking  you need to have been living in Great Britain for at least 185 days before being considered eligible as permanently resident. After which you can apply to exchange your old licence and replace it with a UK licence.

But in practice I have heard of many instances where people have managed to get their new licences earlier. An anomaly I wouldn’t take a chance on. In the UK you learn to queue patiently without question. You are expected to follow the rules and regulations which you deviate from at your own risk.

if your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man or a ‘designated country’ you are eligible to exchange your licence without having to sit the DVSA’s UK driving test. Designated countries are considered to have similar standards and have an agreement with the UK. These include Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.

If you have an EU or EEA licence you can drive in the UK until agged  70 or your licence expires. If you’re aged 68 or over when you officially become a resident in Great Britain, you’ll be allowed to drive for 3 years. Once this time has passed, you will need to exchange your licence.

Prior to that however you are entitled to exchange your EU or EEA licence for a UK one at any time if you might wish.

If you have an EU licence that was exchanged for a licence from a non-EU country that is not on the list of designated countries it won’t be eligible to exchange and you will need to sit the DVSA’s test.

To start the process go to  https://www.gov.uk/exchange-foreign-driving-licence.

You order form D1 from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). This will be posted to you

Complete the form and send it back with the prescribed fee, your old driving licence and the required documents.  A passport number for a valid UK passport is sufficient for identification purposes. Otherwise if you do not have a UK passport you must enclose an original identity document such as  a current and valid foreign passport,  a biometric residence permit (BRP) issued in the UK, a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) national identity card, a travel document

If you do not have an EU or EEA passport, you’ll need to send in a visa that proves you have permission to live in the UK.

Photocopies or laminated certificates won’t be accepted.

You should get your new licence within 3 weeks.

Rental Properties

Try looking for a commercial rental which comes with accommodation. It gets frustrating. You end up either looking for a business that comes with a lease or worse still trying to figure out how to buy the property.

What makes it frustrating is getting access to information and advise.

Getting answers to questions everyone has. The agents will refer you to their web site where you wade through what content you can find. But they are not there to give advice, to  answer difficult questions. They do the paper work. The difficult stuff.

It’s never simple and straight forward.  Particularly if you are new to the country.  Generally landlords will ask for six months rent in advance at the very least. Then there is a question of employment and references and credit checks and kids and pets are always a problem.





Bank holidays

It was not possible to miss the fact that there was something to celebrate this morning.

VE Day celebrations in the UK

The flags were out celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces on Tuesday, 8 May 1945, marking the end of World War II in Europe.

Public holidays in the UK

Shop fronts draped with bunting sporting the Union Jack.

Bank holidays in the UK

Drab and neglected pubs, closed for the last couple of months due to the pandemic, transformed overnight. “Lest we forget”. But I do question the sentiments. Are we reflecting on the folly of war or glorifying the sacrifice made by so many?

Climbing roses in England

Despite which it was brilliant weather. Good to be alive.

Early morning walk Emsworth Hampshire

To reflect briefly,  to give thanks and hope our kids have enough sense to avoid the next one.

Victory in Europe day 8th May

The solemnity of the occasion marked by two minutes of silence at 11am. With the RAF and the Red Arrows staging fly pasts across the country and a ceremony being held at the Cenotaph.


Finding work

Finding work in the UK is not difficult as long as you are prepared to take whatever is available.  It’s a lot more difficult trying to decide where to settle and then finding suitable accommodation. It also depends on what sort of work you are looking for.

Most recruiting is done online using electronic scanners to sort through CV’s. So a local format is a good idea.

But I started temping with an Agency and got placed in a temp to permanent role which is pretty standard. There is a lot of staff churn particularly at the minimum wage making it relatively easy to get settled.

Thereafter its simply a question of looking around for something more suitable.



We arrived in the UK at the end of January and finding a school for the kids is not easy. Our youngest is fouteen and despite the fact he is going to have to catch up all the time he has spent gaming, he should cope. Wheras the eldest is seventeen and should be looking at college and A levels.

This is going to be a problem as he has not done his GCSE’s which he needs.

The 30 day vignette

This is a crazy process. One never quite knows where you are or what the next step should be. We need to extend my wife’s vignette and all I have are questions.

For the benefit of others who have to do this, here is what I did:

  1. Needed a new ‘Entry Clearance’ vignette in wife’s passport due to a change in travel plans which meant travelling after the 30 day period stated on the vignette.
  2. You need to do an online application via the VFS website, but choose ‘visa type’ as ‘Other’ and select ‘Vignette Transfer’. Complete the online visa form, which is an abridged version of the Spouse Visa form. The requested ‘valid from’ date must be within three months of the date of ONLINE application.
  3. Pay online (188USD in my case).
  4. Choose VFS Trendy appointment date and time, and print out form.
  5. Wife has to go to VFS, Trendy, with passport, photo and signed print-out of form.
  6. Biometrics taken again.
  7. A week later the passport came back with ‘CANCELLED’ stamped across the original vignette and a new vignette in place, with the new date.

Edited February 6, 2016 by HauptmannUK

Thai Visa


Beware the 28 day rule

I have submitted our application for a spouse visa and am now nipping straws.

I have made two fundamental errors which will most likely result in us having to submit another application at a cost of an additional six thousand pounds for my wife and two boys.

The first mistake was the date on my employers letter which was more than twenty eight days prior to submitting the application.

I also assumed incorrectly, that the submission date would be after the appointment for the biometrics.  At the time they upload the checklist and submit everything for processing.

But I was wrong.

The submission date is the date you complete the application form and submit it to gov.uk. Just after paying for the visa and the Immigration Health Surcharge and before you are taken through to the agency to upload your documents and make an appointment for doing the biometrics .

Consequently I ended up only submitting  payslips and bank details for ten months prior to the application date and two more after the application date.

Don’t ask – Working on the VFS web site and uploading supporting documents is a nightmare.

[EDIT 27/12/19] Despite my worst fears my wife’s visa has been approved. I think it was seventeen days on priority, late November into the holiday period, when they are less busy. However we are still waiting for them to request payment for the boys IHS and their visas.

So we are not in the clear just yet and the chances are that we are going to have to request an extension of my wife’s 30 day vignette.



Travelling by tram

I took the train up to East Croydon as I had an appointment to view a takeaway which is for sale in Biggin Hill.

Fresh fruit and vegetables - Street market Croydon

From the station caught a tram to New Addington which was a first time experience.  No tickets, no cash transactions. Instead there are card readers at the tram stops which accept contactless cards.

I still had an Oyster card from when I arrived two years ago and waved it uncertainly at the reader.

Travelling by tram in the UK - Tickets

I am still not certain how it works and whether it did deduct what it should have done. The reader asks one to tap in to validate. If you get confused, as I did, and tap it again, it suggests you seek help.

Who from I am not sure.

I just climbed on the next tram to see what happens next. Apparently journeys are one pound fifty on a designated route irrespective of where you get on or off.

Tram lines East Croydon

But as I understand it you are supposed to tap in and out and I suspect I am missing something.  But as long as you are clutching a card that works I am sure someone will eventually appear to check who is paying and who is not and they will explain.