Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Off to Manchester

Last Thursday night, with my buddy C from Australia in town, we joined some co-workers at the local pub for the pub quiz. We mentioned that we were both going to be heading up to Manchester for work this week and several of my co-workers had a sarcastic comment to make about Manchester. In fact every time any town is mentioned there’s a sarcastic comment so I called them on it. I asked the group where I could say I was from in the UK and get a nice comment back. They sat their silent for a good bit until a few places got mentioned, all in the south besides Edinburgh. There’s some truth to the North/South divide.

I’m keeping an open mind about Manchester. I want to hear that Mancunian accent in its natural habitat.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Everyone is asking about our vacation (holiday) plans and there’s nothing to say. The only thing we are orchestrating at the moment is our move next month. A few months ago I was reading the Sunday newspaper’s travel section and in the Q&A a reader was asking the travel expert for advice on planning a trip. The reader said that both she and her husband had been laid off and they had about £15,000 (around $25,000 these days) to spend on a once in a lifetime trip and wanted advice on where to go. They also had a 5 year old child. I had to read this out loud to H because I couldn’t believe that two people who had just lost their jobs would plan such an expensive vacation, unless maybe they didn’t need to work in the first place. I was also amused that the travel writer recommended that they rent a Winnebago and travel across America.
I was recently listening to a Rick Steves travel podcast where he commented that Americans aren’t as rich as they think they are compared to Europeans. So is that why my hairdresser is able to take the month of August off to travel to at least three destinations? I have been wondering if priorities are just different. Do Americans spend more money on the day to day and not vacation as often where here it seems to be everyone’s God-given right to vacation. Something is different. Getting back to my hairdresser, the first time she cut my hair it was half the price as the bill she gave me this second time, so maybe that’s the answer to my question.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Graduation Day

A got to take the day off of school on Monday which was probably the best thing to her. We went into London for H’s final graduation ceremony. The lunch was at the same location the others have been but it felt more festive since this was it. Many of H’s classmates brought their parents from far off places. I was visiting with one of his friends’ mother who had travelled from Greece for the ceremony. It was the first time she had been to England. As we talked she apologized because she said this was the only time she had ever used her English. I was amazed at how well she spoke. I always think if pushed to speak French, the only language I have studied for any length of time I could say things like “Where is the airport?” and “I love your hat” (who can forget chapeau once they learn that word). I don’t think I would be able to tell a stranger in French that my son was learning how to make all of our traditional family dishes as this woman told me. Like me, she was also amazed at how international the group is at the school.
It’s hard to believe how quickly he completed the courses. We are so proud of him.

The Fields in the Distance

I’ve been driving past these fields so I asked the walking encyclopedia at work what they were. He told me that it is what we would make canola oil from. It has a different name in the UK. We couldn’t get very close when we were out walking on Sunday without trespassing so here’s the best we could do. The walking encyclopedia did not think the color of the fields was that impressive, but last week when there was a visitor from America in the office, they commented as well.

Father's Day

A decided to make her dad a homemade version of the great American classic. Nothing but the finest for chef! It's the Egg McMuffin!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

House Hunting

We have to be out of our house the first week of August. The letting agent has been really committed to keeping us as a client so after just looking at a few places, we settled on renting a house in the neighboring village where A’s school is located. When we went to look at the house that we are now planning to rent, we met the family who owns it. As we talked about where their kids and our kid went to school they said that they specifically moved into this county in order to get their children into the grammar schools. The father looked at us and said, “Mission accomplished” with a smile. It was just another subtle hint about how important the school selection is.

I am trying to be positive about the move but dread moving for the third time in three years. The kitchen has one unit that’s a washing machine and a dryer combined. I’m sure I’ll be posting about how (un)effective that is!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Natural History Museum

After going through all the girlie girl exhibits at the V&A (fashion, jewellery, and costumes), we headed over to the Natural History Museum and all I could think of was how much my nephews M and S would have loved it.

Theatre and Performance Exhibit at the V&A

The dressing room pic is for K and M. It's a replica of Kylie Mynogue's dressing room on one of her last tours. I don't understand the fascination with Kylie or her sister Dannii. When I mentioned this to K, her response was, "Lay of the Minogues woman!" Hahaha

V&A Museum

The V&A has an incredible jewellery exhibit. I took this before I was busted for photography!

Museum Stroll

Recently I have been listening to some travel podcasts about London, I guess to see if anything that is recommended to the vacationer is something I haven’t seen yet. It was a gorgeous day and A decided to join me as we wandered through some museums. She was okay until I made her go through the iron works exhibit at the V&A Museum.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A's Turn to Cook

Well, sometimes punishment can bring about good things. A decided she was going to cook dinner Saturday since she was grounded. All I did on Saturday was wash some dishes and clothes and they did the rest. I was very impressed at her ravioli making skills. H helped her make a chicken mousse for the filling and he made some zucchini sliced like spaghetti that complemented the pasta perfectly. She also made some chocolate crème brulee.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

War Memorial

This beautiful war memorial was in a gated and locked green in Shepherd's Bush.

A Contradiction

I spent the day in Shepherd’s Bush on Saturday. Not what I expected to do but A. thought that she and her buddy were going to go off to West London alone without supervision to a mall that none of us have been to to meet a friend from camp. After reaching our destination, I walked around and found that the people that live in Shepherd’s Bush probably don’t shop in the new mall which has all of the top designers and a champagne bar in the middle. Here are some pics that show both sides of the area. The economy looks alive and well in Westfield Centre.

A funny, my nephews love the clothing store Hollister. I’ve only been in the store in the U.S. once after my sister-in-law told me I must experience it. The music is loud and it’s dark with random spotlights, like a nightclub. We are obviously not the target audience. Having that image in my mind, I thought it was funny to see the Hollister store (yes, they’ve gone global) with a velvet rope and a lengthy line outside as kids queued up to get in.

You Always Hurt the One You Love

It’s officially been a year since H and A got to England. And when backed into a corner, A throws out the “I hate England” among other things as she did this week in an act of defiance. It always upsets me. When talking to one of her teachers I mentioned this and she very calmly said, “Well of course she says that to you, that’s an easy one, isn’t it?” I think I needed to hear that today. It took the sting right out of it.

I feel like I’ve been living this episode of Roseanne these days. It seemed a heck of a lot funnier when it was just a tv show! I guess I can find solace in the fact that enough people could relate to it to make it good tv.

It’s funny, when kids are small the line between you and them isn’t clear. There are days now that I feel like there’s a chasm between us, and it’s new and uncomfortable.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Lots going on that’s making me nervous. H is graduating in a few weeks so job hunting is starting. Work is changing in some unexpected ways making look for signs of what was there when I got here and Monday I got a call from our letting agent telling me that while we are wonderful tenants, the homeowner, because of change in family situation, needs the house back in two months. Since our year lease ends this week, she has every right to do this but it is totally unexpected as we were digging up a garden plot in the backyard and settling in. H keeps saying we need to think about the positive in this but all I can think about is the expense and the pain of moving. I’ve decided that the only change I truly enjoy is change that I personally initiate and sometimes that’s not even my cup of tea, LOL.

The positive – the weather has been stunning and I’ve been doing a lot of walking. With the sun so bright, the fields I walk through look unreal, a fluorescent green I’ve only ever seen in the crayon box.

Skype and People

My friend Mel and I had a quick internet chat yesterday thanks to Skype. She had just mailed me some U.S. mail and included a few of the latest copies of People magazine, my favorite guilty pleasure. The conversation went something like this:

Mel – Hey did the Peoples arrive yet?

Me – I love you! They arrived today!

Mel – I don’t want you to embarrass yourself during watercooler conversation by saying something like, “Hey, did you hear Kirstie Alley lost 65 pounds?” only for someone to look pitifully at you and say, “Yeah and she gained it all back. Where have you been?”


While I flipped through an issue last night it made me realize how out of touch I am with things back home. Not that this is always a bad thing. I haven't had to care yet about who Jon and Kate are, but they're on the cover of People!