I was lucky enough to live in England from February, 1996, through October, 2000. At the time, I was working for a startup company called Evolutionary Technologies International (ETI) that sold an enterprise-class data migration (ETL) tool. We had offices in Bracknell, Berkshire, which is just west of London, on the train line to Reading.
When I moved to England, there were only three of us; myself and one other American consultant, and then a senior salesperson who was hired by our vice president in Paris. The office grew over time, of course, as we hired more local folks and brought some people over from the USA on temporary assignments. Relocating overseas is quite the experience; part exhilarating, part terrifying, and never dull.
Before we made the permanent move, my wife and I went over on a “house-hunting trip.” This involved 3-4 days of frantic searching with a relocation agent before we settled on a lovely little house in Ascot, part of a group of houses called “Broadpool Cottages.” Ascot, if you’re unfamiliar, is the home of the Royal Ascot Racecourse, a horse-racing facility just a few miles down the road from Windsor.
Broadpool Cottages is a group of eight houses on a small spur of land that used to be part of Windsor Great Park. The Great Park is, in essence, the royal front yard of Windsor Castle. In fact, Broadpool Cottages is actually owned by the royal family; it’s part of the private property owned by the Windsors, and not part of the (much larger) set of properties that are held in trust for the nation by the Queen. So, in fact, HRH Queen Elizabeth II was our landlady (though, sadly, all the affairs were handled by a property management company).
After moving out of our 1600 square foot home in Austin, Texas, the house at #7 Broadpool Cottages seemed tiny (it was only 1100'). Downstairs, there was a kitchen, a dining room, a living room, and a spare room (sort of an extra bedroom, but we used it as a guest room and then as an office). There was also a half bath downstairs, a laundry room, and a storage area under the stairs. Upstairs, there was a master bedroom/bathroom suite, and two extra bedrooms and a bath. One of the bedrooms was what the British call a “box room” (meaning that it’s so tiny, you can really only use it to store your boxes).
There was a cute little yard that backed up to the spur of the Great Park; essentially, a lovely pine forest with walking trails that was covered in enormous ferns at ground level. Our son attended the Licensed Victualler’s School down the road towards Bracknell. The school was a mile or so away from Martins Heron, a housing development that was used as the setting for the Dursley’s house in the Harry Potter series of movies (though those were not filmed until after we had moved back to the USA).
My primary domain name is broadpool.com, inspired by this little house.