Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Last Post Here.

This is my last post from England. I have created a new blog for our lives in Virginia. I have toyed with making it private because it may give away more about our lives, for the benefit of the kids' family here in England. It is still a work in progress, but despite the fact that I've been working on it for months, I just ran out of time. You can see it here: Across The Pond And Back Again (tentative title).

We've had a busy week here.

Nid had a going away do at La Tosca on Wednesday a week ago with his best mates: Martin, Petros, Pravin and Matthew.

 Then on Saturday he went to The Coronation pub with all his football mates. They came and went, but these ate dinner together: Utpal, Mitul, Hiren, Lou, Lee, Dharmesh and Pravin.

Sunday he went to visit our friends Utpal and Sejal, who live in London but had come up so Utpal could go to Nid's dinner. He got this cute picture with Utpal and baby Perissa:

Tuesday we went to town for the last time, and we went to the Market. We talked to a record guy who use to work in Richmond, near where I use to live. He started a brewery there and loved the area and wished us the best. It was a pretty weird coincidence. We finished getting Nid's football kit for when he finds a team in the US, as prices here seem to be so much better. We also got him this cool hat:

Tuesday night Nid and I went out with our friends Matthew and Jacqui in town. We met at The Globe, which is the only pub Nid and I had ever been to, and the first place the four of us ever went when I first moved here. We sat in the "snug" because the music was too loud in the rest of the place. We'd only been there a very short time when hippy drummers started piling in, giving us looks, saying they met there every Tuesday night, and telling us how loud it was going to get. At first it was one, two, three.... and then it was 10 or 15 of them and they were all looking at us like we were putting them out. I got up and said "thanks for ruining my last night out in England" and walked out. I was really upset, but managed to not cry until we had found another place to go. I'm sure part of it was stress, part of it really was that that was "our" place too, and why did they not reserve it? If it was not reserved with signs, I feel it should have been first come first serve. But what do I know? I also was not feeling well. I am pretty sure I have acid reflux disease, which can be caused by diet, stress, and various other things that all apply to me. I've had some very unpleasant symptoms, and eating before going out really made me feel horrible. I had about two sips of one of Nid's beers, but couldn't bear to think about drinking anything. It was a real bummer. Nid took some pictures with his phone. Boy, do I look rough:

Wednesday night I went with Nid to his last football game with The Cobblers. I took a bunch of photos, but because it was late, daylight went quickly and the artificial light played havoc on my camera. I did get this great team photo right before the game:

Thursday was a marathon packing session. It's those last minute things that really hang me up when it comes to packing. We were up until 3am Friday morning, and then up again at 8 Friday to finish up. The shipping company was due between 10 and 12 and they were here about 10:30. Our stuff was pulling out by 11:40. I hope we see it again some day... please don't sink ship!

See ya in 4-6 weeks baby!

 Just kidding :)

We ended up going back to town to get something for my niece that I did not get on Tuesday. Then we came back home and crashed. It had been a long couple of days. Saturday we were going to go out to Gorse Hill City Farm, but Nid also had to go and visit some friends and neighbors to say goodbye. Between the heat, having to go to the grocery store, and visiting people, we were too tired to go to the farm as well. I was a little sad because they have these baby lambs there that looked so darn cute on their website, but it was two buses and a walk and I just couldn't manage it.

Now it is Sunday and we just got a call that John and Ann will be here in about an hour with the children. They spent the week with them in Wales. Today is either going to go too quickly or drag by because we don't really have anything to do. We'll go visit the couple at the corner shop later to say our last goodbye. Nid was down there the other day and got this picture with Subhash. He and his wife, Kirti, own the shop and have been very good to Nid over the years.

The landlord and his family are coming round at 10pm tonight to say their goodbyes. They lived in this house when Nid moved in across the street in 1996. When they moved out in 2006, Nid moved in, so they have a long history with the family.

I have lots more to do today before we lose internet. We won't have anything at our new house for a while, so I need to take advantage of what I have now. Thank you all for being interested and following along on my blog this last year or so.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Random Tuesday Is For The Birds.


I've got a new little bird visiting my back yard this week, a Blackbird. My visitor is a female. How do I know? Well, because Nid told me, not because they are black. Female Blackbirds are not black. They are brown.

Female Cardinals (Virginia State Bird) are brown as well, while the males are a vibrant red. It's not fair to the girls, but at least they aren't called Redbirds that aren't red.

For more random, visit Keely at The Un Mom

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Eager? Anxious!

Our suitcases are packed. Because we have to make sure everything fits - not because I'm that eager.
People here keep saying to me "oh, I bet you can't wait to get back to the States" and it is driving me nuts. To me, that implies that I am the reason that we are moving. Because I don't like it here or miss my family. It's so wrong. A huge part of me doesn't want to move. We're only doing it because of the housing opportunity that came our way. I want to see Ireland and Scotland. I want to go back to Paris (with Nid not on crutches). I want to see where he grew up and there were all these places he wanted to show me from different times in his life. We'll never get to do those things, and it makes me sad. I want to move the least of all the members of my family, but people keep saying things that make me out to be the one that wants to go the most.

I do miss my family, but I lived two hours from them for seven years and some years only saw them three to four times in the whole year. I've only talked to my mom on the phone a handful of times since I moved here, and I go weeks and months without talking to my friends and other family members. Only since the new year have my sister and I gotten on an every week schedule, but that doesn't always work out either.

It might sound wrong, but I miss my animals the most.  Before moving I'd only ever been away from them for a few days at a time in 10 years. They were my day to day companions. Smudge will move in with us once we get settled, but Bearette won't be. It makes me sadder to think of seeing her regularly at my parents house and leaving her over and over again than to think of never seeing her again. I miss her so much I cry every time I think of her. I'm crying now. But is it going to be worse when I see her every week, maybe more than once a week and can't bring her home with me? I think it's going to suck royally! So, when people say "you must be so happy to be moving back" I just want to scream at them.

I am happy about a lot of things. We've got a great deal with our little cottage. The kids will have grandparents three miles away. They'll have the great outdoors at their doorstep. The move is a good idea. It will be good for us. All of us. But I just feel, over and over, that I need to defend the fact that I am not the reason we are moving. It is not because I don't like it here. It is not because I have not "settled" or anything of the sort. It is because it is a good idea for our family, and the timing is right.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The English Countryside.

Monday our friend Martin picked us up and took us to Bradgate Park just outside Leicester. It was my first time going, and I am really glad that I got to see it. And especially glad that we got to see it with Martin, who was an encyclopedia of information about the land, plants and animals in the park.

The walk starts up a gently sloping hill, which was actually a volcano. We saw several small ponds with loads of tadpoles in them. I learned about newts, bracken, and oak trees, and monkey-puzzle trees.

At the top of the hill is Old John, which was built in 1784. There is a medallion next to Old John which points out directions and mileages to various locations.

We saw red deer, fallow deer, and many birds: cuckoo, carrion crows, wagtails. The cuckoos were cooing, the wagtails' little tails were wagging, and one of the crows was lifting stones in the creek looking for insects hiding underneath them. I was fascinated by how smart he was!

After our walk, we lunched at The Bradgate, once known as The Bradgate Arms in Newtown Linford, a short walk from Bradgate Park itself. Nid got STEAK! and I had posh fish and chips:

I loved looking at the old houses, with thatched or slate roofs and exposed wooden beams. We also saw wild garlic growing on the side of the road:

Old fashioned police box. Nobody was home.

My full album of photos is available here:
Video will be added at some point, but it takes ages to load.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Our Weekend.

Friday afternoon our friend Luan (from York) came for a visit. We had a great time catching up - the last time we'd seen her was when we visited her in November of last year. She and I had a fun time playing with her iPhone when Nid went to football that night. I would never get ANYTHING done if I had one of those. The games were completely silly... but addicting!

Saturday morning I fixed an all-American breakfast for us. We had bacon, scrambled eggs, buttermilk biscuits (made from scratch), and pancakes (made from scratch). There was going to be sausage gravy (made from scratch), but the other stuff took so long to fix that I didn't fix that in the end. As it was we had plenty of food left over.

In the late afternoon Nid and I walked to the grocery store. We had just left the house when we saw a young man running up the street towards us. He was running in the road, which was strange to me. He looked over his shoulder and I thought "what did he do?" but didn't say it out loud. Then another 50 feet down the sidewalk we saw a guy handcuffing someone on the other side of the street. My first thought was that something hinky was going on, but then Nid made the more logical conclusion that he was an undercover cop. So I was right, that guy did do something, and he was running from the cops! Oh, the drama. Then we saw a lady running up the sidewalk to the other two. I looked back as we got the corner and she must have been the other cop as she was standing there with them. There was a family standing down at the corner near the entrance to the park looking up the sidewalk, so we think something happened there. Crazy.

Then in the grocery store there was more weird. It seemed like everybody in there had a baby or young child with them. Apparently Saturday afternoons are family day. I don't think I've ever seen that many children in one place outside of a school.

We bought some chips while we were there, but I didn't try them until this morning. I have written about the crazy chip flavors they have here in England before, but I'd never tried any of them before. Because of the World Cup this year, Walkers has started a new contest with 15 new flavors.

The flavours are:
  • English Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding
  • American Cheeseburger
  • Argentinean Flame Grilled Steak
  • Australian BBQ Kangaroo
  • Brazilian Salsa
  • Dutch Edam Cheese
  • French Garlic Bread
  • German Bratwurst Sausage
  • Irish Stew
  • Italian Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Japanese Teriyaki Chicken
  • Scottish Haggis
  • South African Sweet Chutney
  • Spanish Chicken Paella
  • Welsh Rarebit
 Interesting, right? And some are just flat out gross. So, because we are a multi-national family, we got these:
I tried them this morning. I started with the English Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding because that was Nid's bag and I just had the one chip. OMG. It really tasted like roast beef and Yorkshire pud! I couldn't believe it. My mouth started watering and I was a little bit freaked out. I could taste potatoes and carrots. I tentatively tasted the American Cheeseburger. Again, I was surprised. I could taste the mustard and pickle. Actually, it had a bit too much pickle for my tastes. At first I wasn't going to eat them. One was enough from Nid's bag and one was enough from mine. But he didn't want them and the longer they sat there the more I ate. I'll never get them again, but I am glad that I tried them.

Saturday night we also watched a movie. Kick-Ass. I was doubtful. I was not interested at all. I was wrong, as it turns out. It was more interesting than I thought it would be and I even stayed awake for the whole movie (barely), which is more than I can say about most movies and TV we watch these days. The movie was funny and entertaining, and definitely for adults. It was crude, violent, sexual, and there was a lot of very bad language in it, including from the 10 year old girl! I don't need to hear that. It does not make a movie more "realistic" to me, as I do not associate with the type of person that does that much cursing in public. Briony had gone out with friends the other weekend and they were going to see it. The theatre actually sold her and one of her friend tickets, but they would not let her other friend in so they had to trade the tickets in for another movie. Here in the UK it is rated 15. That means that 15 year olds are allowed into the movie by themselves. Briony is not 15 until next February. I do not think that she should see this movie now or in 10 months. I do not see what difference 10 months will make. In the US it is rated R, which means that no one under the age of 18 can get in without an adult present. I realize that things are more out in the open here in the UK, that there is more sex and foul language here than in the US. I am regularly surprised by what I see and hear though, and I am glad that by moving to the US we can preserve our children's childhoods a few extra years.

This reminds me of something I learned about a while back. The Page 3 Girl. The Page 3 Girl is a topless model that is featured on page three of many British tabloid newspapers. I first read about this practice in a blog that I read called Pond Parleys. The link directly to the post I mention is here.  It talked about Page 3 Girls and a How-To segment on a morning news show about how to... Well, I'll let you click and read all about it yourself. Let's just say they weren't wrong when they titled the post Never In America! My only experience with Page 3 Girls came while we were at the Embassy for our interviews. I was sitting, looking around at everyone nearby, too anxious to focus on the book I brought. To my right, and one row up was a guy reading a paper. But what I really noticed was the full page photo of a nude woman. Her breasts took up most of the page, and this is a full sized tabloid, maybe 15 inches tall by 10 inches wide (definitely bigger than the Enquirer in the US). I am pretty sure that my jaw dropped. I felt violated. I felt angry. My children were sitting right next to me and could easily have seen this same thing. I am not a prude, I do not feel that we should be ashamed of our bodies. HOWEVER, I do not feel that that means that we can display our private parts for the world to see either. You can read a brief history about the girls here, or about the short lived Page 7 Fella here.

I'll end this blog on a good note, and share with you all how our new house is coming. My dad and sister have been painting and getting it ready for us. We picked blue for our bedroom and light yellow for the bath. My dad is giving the kids fresh white for now, and he is going to let them help him paint an accent wall in a color of their choice in each of their rooms when we get there. They are very excited about that, and I am excited that I don't have to paint at all! Until I decide to do the kitchen cabinets and some of the other wooden furniture we have...