Paint The Silence

Monday, 8 November 2010
I know I've been a bad, bad blogger over this past month, and it would be simply impossible to go back and write about all that I've done and experienced, my only option is to give a quick synopsis of everything and start again a fresh. So here it goes...

September 29th - October 2nd:

  • Luke and I, with the help of Luke's mum and Grandad, made a mad dash to the finish certain things in the house before my mom arrived. These included: a second coat in the kitchen, the flooring in the bathroom, painting the bathroom, and more cleaning than I ever thought possible. All turned out well in the end, it all looks great!
October 2nd - October 10th:
  • My mom arrived at London-Heathrow at 7 am on October 2nd (Luke and I had to get up very, very early) - it was so amazing to see her at the airport! I think the best word to describe it would be surreal.
  • In a constant battle with my mom's jet lag I still managed to show and do a lot of amazing things with her. Showed her around Worcester and the Worcester Cathedral, participated in the pub quiz with Luke's family, took her up to Burton Dasset, went to the Cotswolds (something my mother has always wanted to do) and visited Neil and Nic.
  • While in the Cotswolds we went on a walk (what the English more commonly refer to hiking as) through fields and woods to get to a over 2,000 year old Roman Mosaic. It was amazing, just covered up with a tarp, no signs to tell you where it was or anything of that sort. Absolutely incredible!
  • October 9th was my birthday and for the occasion Luke, my mom, and myself went in to London. Spent most of the day getting lost in Harrods, walked around through the parks and past Buckingham Palace and in the night had an out of the world Italian dinner at Il Posto, right across from the theatre where we watched Wicked. The restaurant was just this little hole-in-the-wall but thinking about it now just makes my mouth water. Wicked was fantastic! Better than even I expected, I had the songs stuck in my head for weeks after.
  • My mom had to leave early on the 10th, which was sad for me and Luke, I loved having my mom here, we all had such a great time!!!

Discover the Roman Mosaic in Spoonley Wood

It's over 2,000 years old!!!

Mom and I in the Cotswolds

October 15th - October 17th:
  • The weekend of the 15th was great, Luke and I accompanied Neil and Nic in Liverpool (where Nicola is from and her parents still live). I wasn't sure what to expect of Liverpool, I still had visions of the dark and dingy dock city that it used to be. Instead I found it to be very bright, open, and clean. The city centre had a great atmos about it. I dare say I prefer it to Manchester as it wasn't as crowded and just had a more relaxed feel to it.
  • Of course being in Liverpool we had to do some Beatles' stuff! We went to The Beatles' story which is an exhibit about the history of The Beatles. Went to the rebuilt Cavern Club (where The Beatles first performed in Liverpool) which by the way was a great place to sit around and have a drink. Also visited some of the childhood homes' of the boys, Strawberry Field and Penny Lane.
  • While in Liverpool we went to a great Chinese restaurant looking over the river in which I ate so much I didn't know if I would ever be able to eat again! Absolutely incroyable!
Strawberry Fields Forever!

October 25th:
  • Lindsay came over for a girly day! We did facials and face masks, ate a lovely salad that I made, and watched a girly film - Letters to Juliet. It was nice to have a girly day with a bit of a chinwag (see glossary).
October 30th - October 31st:
  • Saturday the 30th, Luke and I had a few people over to the house. Played some drinking games, shared a couple of pizzas and then hit a few bars and a club in town. It was the night before Halloween so a few people were dressed up, not nearly as many as would be expected and the few that were I wished they would not have been, seeing fat through fishnets is not a pretty picture.
It has been a crazy few weeks, that have been made even crazier by the fact that I have been sick with a cold since my mother's visit. I have been to the doctor's twice to make sure everything is okay. What I've been told is England has different bugs than America (which of course I already knew) and what is a simple sniffle to an English person will be a constant sneezing and coughing for me for weeks. All I can do is take zinc and vitamin C and hope my body adapts to the bugs here quickly!

Erin x

One Good Turn Deserves Another?

Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Monday, Lindsay (Luke's mum) was up from Southam to help me work on the bathroom, what had previously been christened by myself as 'the cave' or 'the hole'. Seriously, it was one of the most depressingly dingy bathrooms I have seen. Between scraping the pealing paint off perfectly good white tiles we were having a good chin-wag (gossip session) which had me laughing in hysterics.

Apparently Lindsay has been using a website called Freecycle, in which you post up things that are cluttering your garage and you just want to get rid of (it all must be free). You know the whole "one man's trash is another man's treasure" philosophy. Lindsay had put up Luke's wind-surfs (basically surfboards with a sail attached to them), which he has had since his mid-teens and used  maybe three times. She got a bite almost immediately in the form of a early to mid-twenties young man. He came over took one look at the wind surfs and had Ian help him put them in the car. End of story.

... Or at least it was supposed to be. About a week later Lindsay receives a text from him asking if she knows how to put the wind surfs together. Of course she didn't know so she decided to wait a day until she saw Luke to ask him. Before 24 hours had passed she received another text: "Are you ignoring me? :-(" While she thought it was odd, she still didn't expect anything amiss with it. Luke told her he didn't know how to explain the windsurfs via text but he thought there was a manual somewhere about the house she could try and find. So Lindsay sent windsurf man a text telling him she would try to find the manual.

Another 24 hours go by, another text from him once again: "Are you ignoring me now? :-( xx" For those not in the know, kisses (x's) at the end of texts, emails, etc. in England are very popular but are ONLY done between friends. To do so to an acquaintance here, is in some ways seen as a complete disregard for a person's privacy or respect. Now Lindsay is a little creeped out by windsurf man but she finds the manual and asks for his address so she may post it. His reply: "So you don't want to ever see me again? xx ;-(" To which Lindsay promptly posts the manual, doesn't respond to his text, and is now hoping and praying that she will be left well alone.

What's worse is this man knows where she lives and knows she has a husband because when he met Lindsay it was with Ian! Lindsay says she is also grossed out by the fact that a man her own son's age is trying to "see her again". The icing on the cake is a week previous, while getting a key copied for our house she was propositioned by the locksmith.

The sad fact of the matter is, Lindsay was just trying to do a good deed by giving the windsurfs away. She could have sold them on eBay or a garage sale and made some money, but she wanted to give them away to someone who wanted them but maybe couldn't afford to buy them. She felt so good after the initial fact of giving them away and wanted to try and give more away. But now after seeing what kind of people Freecycle brings her in contact with she will think twice before using it ever again. Damn and I was going to use it to try a find a free washing machine, not now!

Pocketful of Sunshine

Saturday, 25 September 2010
Signs of Autumn are beginning to show here in England - the cricket season has ended and the rugby season is just beginning (in fact Luke is off playing rugby at this very moment). Jumpers are making a comeback to my wardrobe. The leaves of some of the trees are now adorning splashes of red and orange. And further proof, last night when Luke and I were cooking dinner the entire first floor's windows fogged up. Yes, it's beginning to get a bit chilly here.

The arrival of Autumn always brings lots of things to look forward to. For example: my birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving (in America that is) and it's the precursor to Christmastime. My favourite time of year has always been October to December! This year Autumn introduced me to a new treat, figs. I was reading one of Luke's mum's magazines and it said that September is when figs are at their perfect ripeness. People seem to truly enjoy figs here, where as back home the closest I got to a fig was a Fig Newton, and even then that was just the name as I usually ate the raspberry ones. Not anymore! I absolutely love figs, every time we go grocery shopping we pick up about 5 or 6 of them. They are amazing just plain but even better when thinly sliced and put on top of Greek yoghurt with honey (my own little concoction).


As I said earlier, Luke is playing his first game of the rugby season, which is also the first with his new team - Pershore Rugby Club, located about 10 minutes away from us. Normally I will go and watch him play, but since it was his first match I thought it best to let him get his bearings. Besides, I am supposed to be getting the house ready for my mom's visit (she'll be here this time next week). Instead I got sucked into my blog, so now I better go make a start on the house!

Erin x

Wild Horses

Friday, 24 September 2010
It has been a while since my last post, blame the pressures of trying to get a new house up and running that has been vacant for a year. I keep a list in my diary of things to do and buy for the house; and it seems with every thing I tick off the list I add two more things to it. Oh well, that's moving out for you. I have learned to enjoy the little hassles, for the most part. For the past 3 weeks barely a day has gone by without the feeling of paint on my hands, but enough DIY talk.

In between all the work on the house, I have managed to enjoy myself in Worcester. There have been several visitors to the house on a number of occasions, allowing Luke and myself to play hosts which we have both greatly enjoyed. A week on Saturday we will have a very special visitor, or at the very least our furthest traveled visitor, my mother! I'm very excited to see her for her to see what we've accomplished so far. Lots to show her, not just around Worcester but all over England. Her visit will coincide with my birthday (October 9th - also the birthday of John Lennon and my Auntie Donna) for which she's treating us to a night in London and a play on the West End...


That's right the show is 'Wicked' in case you couldn't guess, one of my mom's favourite plays. I am looking forward to it, especially since I read the book it's based on a number of years ago. (No, not Wizard of Oz, although I read that too.) I am really looking forward to seeing my mom! I just can't wait!

Besides visitors, Luke and I have made some time to go back to Southam. Our most recent visit was last Sunday, when Luke's Auntie and cousins came down. We all went down to the RLS Polo Club (where various members of the royal family have played) for 'Polo in the Park', my first polo match in England - indeed my first polo match ever. I really enjoyed watching it, although I didn't understand the game all too well I did appreciate observing the polo ponies. Besides polo, 'Polo in the Park' had a mini fun fair set up on the grounds. Luke, his two cousins (Becki and Katie), and myself rode the "dodge 'ems" (the English term for bumper cars). I don't think I've laughed that hard in a very long time. After which Luke, Becki, and I took turns riding the mechanical bull which the English call the "buck-a-roo". I did myself proud, but spending the most time on the bull. Luke's cousin, Katie, was able to get videos of us riding which I'm going to try and put up.

Well, I suppose I leave it here for now - until next time.

Erin

x

Moving Out

Thursday, 9 September 2010
Where do I even begin? Since my last blog post so many things have happened and changed, namely Luke and I moved from the quite streets of Southam to the “city” of Worcester, home of Worcester Sauce (it’s true passed the Lea & Perrins factory just the other day) When Luke and I first planned to move here that was all I knew about Worcester, well that and that it was in Worcestershire but I suppose that’s pretty self explanatory. Now I can inform you that it is also the birthplace of a famous composer who I admit I didn’t know named Sir Edward Elgar and was the location of the last battle of the English Civil War. As well as being home to the world’s oldest newspaper the Berrow’s Worcester Journal which first began publication in 1690, I’m determined to get an internship there.
The reasons behind my long absence are two-fold, one being I have been so busy I’ve been running around like a chicken with its head cut off and the other being we do not have Internet set up yet at the new house. It has been ordered and a man is coming to install it on September 16th it’s still a week away and it feels like ages. To be honest besides feeling cut off from the world I have not even had time to notice not having Internet we’ve been so busy. The place we found is a three-storey townhouse although at one time it was one large property. The age of our home has been under some debate. Lindsay was looking at an old map of Worcester from 1806 and swears our house was on it, which would make it Georgian. Luke’s Granddad says the style of brickwork is too modern to be Georgian. Luke says the brickwork and style is too old to be Victorian (he lived in a Victorian property in Manchester). Someone else has mentioned a possibility of it being Edwardian (which would place it somewhere between 1901 and 1910). So where does that leave us? I’m living in a house that was built sometime between 1800 and 1910, although general consensus puts it at about 1830s/40s – in other words old. Although I guess when you look at some properties around England that are from the 1500s it puts it into perspective.
I learned one thing very quickly about living in an older property; they are a lot of work. Especially if let’s say the property was vacant for nearly a year allowing it to gather dust and giving spiders a chance to fill the ceilings with cobwebs. I never thought I had much of a problem with spiders until I moved to England and was informed that what I felt was a large spider is indeed ‘only a tiny thing’. The previous tenant seemed to not take much pride in a house the paint was just slopped on the walls. Clearly someone had never heard of this handy dandy painting tool known as masking tape.
The ground floor comprises of a living room, small hallway with a closet under the stairs, and a backdoor leading to our little garden. The living room was painted a bright aqua, not at all warm and welcoming, but it is now ‘malt chocolate’ and the hearth is painted ‘intense truffle’.
The kitchen is on the second floor and while the walls were fairly clean I doubt the oven had ever been cleaned in its life. It was absolutely disgusting. I had the happy chore of cleaning that, it has been cleaned twice and still isn’t perfect. The other disappointment of the kitchen was what Luke and I believed to be a washing machine is in fact a tumble dryer. Rented properties in the UK are not required to supply fridges, washing machines, dishwashers, or anything like that. In fact perhaps properties in the US aren’t either but when Luke and I looked at it we just assumed it was and didn’t bother to double check. That means now we have to go out and buy a washing machine unless we feel like doing all our laundry at a laundromat (which for the record I don’t) or send it back to Lindsay to do it all for us (which for the record she doesn’t). The kitchen was a plum colour, which Luke liked but I wanted to brighten it up besides it was done very badly. Luke and I argued about the kitchen colours, everything I liked he didn’t and vice versa. In the end I just gave up and went with the colour he liked ‘dusted damson’ which is a pretty purple but not what I would have chosen for the kitchen. As Luke said “Not many boyfriends would let you paint the kitchen purple” to which I replied “No, no not many boyfriends would choose to paint the kitchen purple.”
The bathroom is on the same floor as the kitchen and is by far my least favourite. It’s small and dingy and for the first week of us being here it had no light bulb in it. But Lindsay has promised to make it her pet project, says we won’t even recognize it. This was before we’d properly moved in, all we had were some thin mats to sleep on from out of Lindsay’s conservatory and not much else. We’d scheduled the moving van for a week after we first got the keys. In that time we figured we’d have the whole place spotlessly clean and completely painted. Clearly we were under delusions of how much we were going to be able to accomplish. While the rooms are all painted, none are fully done. We have trim to finish in the living room and second coats and trim to finish in the kitchen and bedroom.
So much to do and so little time to do it in – we’d like to have the place all finished (well at least painted nicely) by the time my mom comes to visit in October. I acknowledge that it will be some time before we have all our d├ęcor settled. It’s a slow process but it is fun. While I have more to say, I had better get back to the house (currently I’m at a pub) and get back to work. Photos and a video tour coming soon.
Erin
x

That's Amore

Wednesday, 18 August 2010
It is behaving like a typical English summer here at the moment - one minute I'm lounging in the back garden sunbathing the next I'm running inside as flecks of rain appear as if by magic. I've been told by more than one person and on more than one occasion that this is the way summers in England behave. Trust me, I get it... message received now can we please go back to having the continually hot weather we had during June? ....Please.

Saturday was just such a day except when it wasn't sunny outside it was absolutely pissing it down. This of course terrified Sasha, the dog, who apparently has a phobia of thunder and is none to keen on rain either. This is a dog that will chase cats and sheep and loves trying to attack the postman, but when it comes to a storm she behaves like a Grade-A chicken shit. Besides being a rainy Saturday it was also Lindsay's birthday. In the morning Bob, Lindsay's dad, and Pam and Mick, Ian's parents, came over with presents which she opened while we all drank tea. Luke and I got her a slow cooker, which is what we Yanks refer more commonly as a crock pot. I personally think it was the best gift, but that's just me being modest.

After the floor littered with wrapping paper had been cleared and the guests were gone, Lindsay, Ian, Luke, and myself drove to Leamington Spa for a little bit of shopping. Luke and I had a small list of things we wanted to pick up, most of which I can't remember and none of which we were able to find. Although we were able to pick up a slowcooker cookbook on sale for £2 as an additional gift for Lindsay, with a very selfish purpose, in the hopes that she would make us lots of tasty treats. We returned home in time for Luke and I to walk Sasha and get showered and made up for a birthday dinner at Piccolinos Italian Restaurant in Warwick.

Piccolinos was lovely, certainly not a fancy place but the atmos was terrific. It looked exactly as an authentic Italian taverna should look like. Were it not for the fact that we could see the rain washed streets of Warwick outside and everyone was speaking English I might have believed us actually in Italy. I found the food to be good, hearty Italian, the menu was authentic the owners, an Italian couple, didn't see the need to put anything fancy or nontraditional on it and for that I was grateful. For starters I had an Antipasto di Mare which comprised of pickled squid and octopus and a main of swordfish covered in breadcrumbs, garlic and lemon. Both were very yummy, although I think I might have preferred Luke's main dish of seafood risotto topped with skewers of swordfish, monkfish, and tuna. For dessert I had Amaretti Ice Cream which was just vanilla ice cream topped with a couple shots of Amaretto and crunched up Amaretti biscuits and toasted almonds it is also known as heaven!

Luke and I ended the night by meeting Pete and Sam at a bar in Leamington called The Duke. It is not a favourite place for either of us but it's cheap drinks are beginning to warm me to it. We had a few drinks in there and some delightful banter before changing locations where we met up with one of the boys' acquaintances who was having a birthday. This is something I'm struggling to get my head around, and that is the English's delight at going out in fancy dress for birthdays, stag dos, and hen dos. I state this because this particular group we met up with comprised of 20 toga-clad individuals. It just makes no sense to me that a nation that pretty much ignores Halloween would therefore make excuses to dress up during the rest of the year and then go out amongst normally dressed members of the public. At least at Halloween everyone is dressed up and you understand why, but I constantly find myself at English bars looking around and thinking 'why the hell is that person dressed like a [insert random outfit here]'. It just makes no sense. Every party here is always fancy dress, hell even Issac's 4th birthday party next month is going to be fancy dress... he's turning 4, I doubt he'll be thanking his parents for letting him dress up as Fireman Sam (a children's cartoon character here) when he's in his adolescence. Nevertheless the night was reasonably enjoyable and ended with Luke and I in a £20 *ouch* taxi ride back to Southam with a very friendly cabbie.

Sunday night for a change of pace the White Lion quiz group went to the Sunday night pub quiz at The Bowling Green in Southam. The question style was completely different to The White Lion and I must admit we placed at a humiliating low level which made us walk out with low hung heads. It didn't help matters that Zoe had put our quiz team name as "Got Bored of Winning at The White Lion" which suffered us a number of jeers and catcalls. Just to rub salt in the fresh wound, on Tuesday we placed 5th place, our lowest ever placement at The White Lion. 1st place was only 4 points ahead of us, which helps considering we're usually at least 3 or 4 points higher than second place not 5th. What made things worse is those 4 points were lost to us based on incredibly stupid mistakes we made. Oh piss it... it was the blasted quiz's fault! Humph. Oh well, we'll go back next week and "smash it" as Luke says.

In other news.. since Friday I have completed not one but two books. The first being Labyrinth by Kate Mosse, who of course wrote the previous book I read Sepulchre. Labyrinth is another book to add to my favourites' list, loved it just as much as Sepulchre, perhaps a little more or a little less, it depends on my mood. The second book I finished was Hunting Unicorns by Bella Pollen, it only took a day it was an incredibly easy read and one of my first dips into 'chick lit'. It told the story on an American journalist trying to capture the decline of the English aristocracy while she unknowingly falls in love with an English blue-blood. A cute romantic comedy that had me laughing out loud at a few of the witticisms. I do however have some major issues with the narration as I found the method she choose to be a major cop-out but never mind I enjoyed it and that's what matters. Next up on my reading list Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, a book that has been on there for quite some time I've just never seemed to manage to get around to it... well no more I begin today!

Reverie

Friday, 13 August 2010
It is Friday the 13th and I am sitting in the conservatory with a cup of tea, listening to soft rain from overhead mingled with a little Debussy and, after I finish this entry, I'll go back to what so far promises to be a good book. The perfect rainy afternoon. As always I have been busy, sometimes I don't realize how busy I even am until I go back and reflect on my week.

Last Friday, Luke and I went and spent the night with Neil and Nic. Nicola made us a gorgeous roast dinner and for dessert we had a rhubarb and apple crumble that I think I could have eaten the whole thing if given the chance. It was nice to see them again, especially on happier circumstances as Doogal is now back home and going excellent! Doogal has made such a remarkable recovery that he is actually now a case study at Cambridge University, I've told him he's famous to which his reply was just a big lick on my face.

We returned to Southam Saturday evening because Luke's Auntie Julie and his cousins Becki and Katie had come down for the weekend which meant a barbecue on Saturday night before Becki, Luke, and I wandered down to the cricket club for some drinks with the boys. Perhaps a few too many drinks with the boys, as Sunday meant the three of us all awoke nursing hangovers and to a house full of people, including Ian's two nephews Issac (3) and Sam (1). Issac wanted to have a water pistol fight with Bob, Luke's granddad. This turned into all the adults and Issac running around the garden behaving like children while Sam sat on his grandmother's knee eating blueberries with wide eyes that suggested he thought us all crazy. In the end Luke went and filled a bucket with ice water to soak his cousin Katie through to the bone as she shrieked and Issac just laughed. All of us pretended the water fight was only for Issac's benefit but being honest I think everyone enjoyed behaving like little children.

Tuesday night as ever is the pub quiz at the 45 White Lion, and for the second week in a row we received 1st place which this time meant we won £45. I think people are probably starting to get a bit annoyed that a bunch of young people continue to beat them at the pub quiz. We're probably the youngest regular group by twenty years. I attribute our continued success to the fact that we are all reasonably intelligent and each of us has our own little area of expertise.

On Wednesday night I made dinner for Luke, Lindsay, and Ian this time using a recipe I found in an Ideal Home magazine but had never tried before. It was Salmon Ceviche served on a salad comprising lamb's lettuce, sugar snap peas, and fennel. I really enjoyed it and it helped me pacify my sushi craving... just a bit. At the moment I would kill for some I Love Sushi (my favourite sushi place for those not from Vegas) especially some Unagi and a Screaming Orgasm, don't cringe at the name it's lightly seared ahi tuna with a spicy ponzu/yum yum sauce. For some of you I sure it sounds as if I'm speaking a different language and since all this sushi talk is torturing me I'll diverge back to my original topic. The Salmon Ceviche was very good, I'd make a few little changes to it I think next time but at the moment I'm not sure how, it needed some zip like perhaps a little garlic.

My favourite day of this week has by far been yesterday, Thursday, for two reasons. The first being I finished the book I borrowed from Nicola last Friday: Sepulchre by Kate Mosse. It has been a long time since I was sucked so deeply into book. Whenever I read it, I was completely engrossed in the world of Selpuchre, I could see, smell, taste everything she was describing. I suppose for me it was especially nice because the story of Selpuchre takes place near Carcassonne, a town in the Pyrenees not so far away from Pau that I happened to pass through. The story jumps back and forth between two time periods 1891 and 2007 but the stories are intertwined. It is funny, I would get engrossed in one time period for a couple of chapters and then it would jump to the other, I would get annoyed because I wanted to know what was happening in the previous time period and then once it switched the same thing would happen. Luke was reading Selpuchre's predecessor Labyrinth and was really enjoying it but now that I'm done with Selpuchre I have taken over reading it since he reads at what I consider to be a slow pace and I cannot wait another month to read it. While Selpuchre is not the sequel to Labyrinth apparently there are some minor characters in Selpuchre that had larger roles in Labyrinth, which partly takes place in 2005 and partly in 1209. I'm only a few chapters into Labyrinth, but so far I'm loving it!

The other thing that made Thursday so special was Luke and I went up to Burton Dassett to watch the Meteor Shower. Words cannot describe how amazing it was. Luke and I lay on a blanket wrapped up warmly against the tower to block us from the wind and a thermos full of hot tea. The meteor shower was absolutely breath taking. I was expecting just a few small shooting stars but no, these looked like large fireballs in varying colours of blue, green, and orange. There were so many people up there as well, and nicely enough a lot of them were around our age or a little bit younger. It was nice to see so many people out enjoying nature!

Well that's my week, tomorrow is Lindsay's birthday and the family is going to to Piccolino's Italian Restaurant in Warwick, I have not been before but I'm sure it's going to be a good night and I'm looking forward to it.

Erin
x

Our House

Friday, 6 August 2010
All my fears about finding a suitable place in Worcester seem to be forgotten as of last Saturday. I was feeling a little despondent about the whole thing to be honest, all my viewings kept getting cancelled and I never dreamed that the four Luke and I had left for Saturday would produce anything worthwhile. The first property was nice, at least it was better than the hotel room I'd seen on Wednesday. It was small though, more like a student flat or bachelor's pad, not really suitable for two people. Still I was happy to see that at least some places didn't look like cheap hotel rooms in Worcester. At least this property was in a nice area of town, right behind Worcester Cathedral. Luke wasn't too pleased with the place and it wouldn't be my first choice either, so it was scratched off the list of possibilities.

When we entered the second flat, we thought we might have found the one. Compared to the first property it was quite large, in an old Tudor building a little outside of Worcester in a town called St. John's. What walls weren't covered in beams were covered in a yellow wallpaper, or perhaps it was a yellowing wallpaper, it's hard to say. While the kitchen had been recently redone the bathroom hadn't been touched since what I assume was the 70's, the fixtures were mauve. Either way the place was quirky and we liked it. We left the St. John's property thinking we might just have found the place, we enjoyed it's quirks rather than being frustrated by them.

Then we entered the townhouse, once again this place was in a nice part of Worcester a few minutes walk from the Cathedral but close enough to still hear the bells. Behind it sits Fort Royal park, a place that looks down on the entire city (quite picturesque if you ask me). The ground floor is the lounge which includes a blocked up fireplace, I already picture making a candlescape in the fireplace. At the back of the lounge is a little hall that has a closet, the stairs and a door leading out the back. In the back we have a little courtyard, complete with shed and two terraces to put plants, hang laundry, and perhaps get a little patio table so on nice days we can eat outdoors.

The first floor (or second floor in American speak) has the kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen even comes with a little breakfast nook where we can with a decent-sized table and chairs. The bathroom is basic just a toilet, sink, mirror, and shower. No bathtub, but I don't take that many baths any way. Up the stairs again is the bedroom complete with two built-in wardrobes. It's a pretty big size, at least it's bigger than our current bedroom and probably bigger than my bedroom was at home. At least it should be big enough to fit the dressing table I'm getting from Nicola! The exclamation point emphasizes my excitement at the prospect of getting a dressing table.

The place is great, all it needs is a little TLC. We're set to move in for beginning of September, but they're allowing us to go in once we've signed all the proper forms to start cleaning and painting the place. That's all it really needs, a good cleaning and some new paint. I'm sure the colour scheme might have worked great for the previous tenants but a teal lounge, plum kitchen, and baby blue bedroom aren't going to really work for us. Everyone has been really helpful here helping us get started. Lindsay and Ian have set aside things for Luke and I, like toasters, plates, pots and pans, plus we're allowed to take all of the bedroom furniture. Neil and Nicola are giving us a lot of their old furniture, like the above mentioned dressing table, a coffee table, dining table, etc. Luke's granddad is giving us a TV stand and a rug. Luke's Auntie Julie is buying us a fridge. Pam and Mick (Ian's parents) have offered to get us something, Mick suggested maybe some chairs. And Luke's dad is going to give us some money to get us started since he doesn't have anything old. Even the neighbours across the street have pitched in, they've offered us their old sofabed which has only been used twice, it's emerald green but we'll make it work!

The past two weeks have been dedicated to setting up things for the move, last week was trying to find a property, this week was securing the property, sending emails, making phone calls, filing out paperwork. While that has kept me pretty busy, Luke and I were able to make it to the pub quiz at The White Lion on Tuesday, and I'm happy to report that we got first place out of 15 teams! Not bad at all, considering we thought we'd done one of our worst performances ever. We won 40 pounds from it, split between five people it only amounts to 8 pounds a person, but still it was nice. Luke and I were at The White Lion for dinner. I had the veggie fish and chips, which intrigued me halloumi cheese fried like the fish with tzatziki sauce, a side salad and of course a side of chips. It was YUMMY! Luke had a gourmet burger, which was massive and put our burger nights at Anthem to shame. Half-pound of meat, a fried egg, field mushroom, onion chutney, I don't even know what all was on it. I just know that Luke had to press it down several times with his fist before he could fit it in his mouth.

Besides the house and pub quiz there is not much else to report, other than I'm still having trouble opening a damn bank account and just finished a pretty interesting book called The Shakespeare Curse, apparently it's called Haunt Me Still in America, which deals with the secret behind the "curse" of Macbeth or The Scottish Play as it's referred to in the theatre. Nicola gave it to me to read, she described it as a more subtle Da Vinci Code but with Shakespeare. I think that's an accurate description. It's not the best written book I've ever read but it was a page turner to be sure! I'd recommend it to anyone who has any interest in Shakespeare or enjoys books about history or like The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.

Help!

Friday, 30 July 2010
Finding flats in Worcester is more difficult than I first anticipated. I keep finding properties to view on various websites but it seems whenever I arrange a viewing it is promptly cancelled because someone has taken it. Living in Warwickshire makes it difficult to dash up to view properties at all times of the day in Worcester. Lindsay did take me up on Wednesday to view several properties and get a feel for the place. However those several viewings turned into just one viewing and that one viewing turned out to be a nightmare.

The viewing was at 3 o'clock, sure enough we turn up at 3 and the estate agent is no where to be found. Lindsay calls them only to be told that they're sorry but they are unable to find the keys and we'll have to do the viewing another day. Basically Lindsay told them that was unacceptable and they better find the keys. Jump to an hour and a half later, Lindsay and I are entering a place that looks more like a cheap and dingy hotel room than the 'nice' apartment it is masquerading to be. To continue the hotel room facade on the back of the front door is a fire escape plan like you see on the back of so many hotel rooms and to my recollection no apartment I've ever been in has had this little "feature".

I had just woken up this morning, when I got a call from an estate agent telling me that yet another property I was interested in had been let out. That brings the number of viewings for tomorrow down yet again. This is something I'm beginning to get used to, more I expect viewings to be cancelled rather than actually see the property. I guess I'll have to practice the philosophy that everything happens for a reason, and the only reason these properties keep getting snatched up is because there is a better property waiting for us. Or perhaps it is just happening to make me suffer a nervous breakdown. You know... one or the other.

Erin x

Whistle While You Work

Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Sorry it has been so long between posts this time - to say I've been busy would be the understatement of the century. The past two weeks have been very eventful and at times a little stressful. I'll try to give a brief recap of it to the best of my abilities.

At my last post I was in Deanshanger, dogsitting for Neil and Nic's two basset hounds, Oli and Doogal. The first few days were lovely we went to Oxford, as previously discussed, and went for a 10 mile bike ride that Luke tricked me to taking by telling me it was only 5 miles, what a sadist! We also took the boys up to Burton Dasset, a group of hills with 360 views of Warwickshire. The day after Burton Dasset things went pear-shaped. Tuesday evening Luke and I went to the pub quiz as always but when we returned home it was to find Doogal trembling in the kitchen surrounded by his own sick. We called the emergency vets, they told us not to panic and if he was still ill in the morning to call our regular vet. To make a long story short, the rest of the week consisted of vet visits, leaving Doogal at the vets, Neil and Nic coming home early, thinking Doogal possibly had cancer, guilt that he was ill, and a LOT of tears. But I'm happy to report that Doogal is now happy, healthy, and at home! It turned out to not be cancer, but a severe form of pancreatitis. The vet working on Doogal has been a vet for a number of years and seen a large number of cases of pancreatitis, he told Neil that Doogal is only the second dog he has ever seen to survive it. Doogal is certainly a fighter!

Oliver and Doogal at Burton Dassett

It was not all stressful times, I have very good news to report as well, Luke has found a job, only two weeks and a day after graduating. The job is in Worcester, working as a Foreign Language Customer Service and Export Administrator for a company called Rigidal Systems (they make roofs and have made famous ones such as Wembley Stadium, the Hong Kong Conference and Exhibition Centre, and the Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid.) Luke is excited about the job because not only does he get to use his French every day but it also means he will have to make a few trips to France roughly every three to six months. Plus the job will also open a number of other possibilities for him down the line.

The job offer meant Luke could also finally get a car of his own, we spent all of last week looking at cars and on Friday Luke drove away in his first car, a 2002 Ford Mondeo (with only 36,000 miles) in Graphite. I'm very proud of him, it's a nice car with a massive boot and in immaculate condition! Which is good considering the drive from Warwickshire is about 50 minutes, and Luke will be doing nearly 400 miles a week. That is an awful lot, and after consideration and looking at finances Luke and I have decided to move to Worcester. Neither of us knows much about the place, but everyone we've told this too that knows anything about Worcester always responds with "Worcester is... [beautiful, amazing, great, etc. etc. etc.]" It has been my job to look at properties online. Tomorrow I'll be going to Worcester with Lindsay to do a few viewings, and on Saturday Luke and I will have some more viewings. Found a number of good prospects. Fingers crossed.

This past Saturday it was a fancy dress party for a family friend and the theme was "popstars". Originally I wanted to go as Lady Gaga, put a giant telephone on my head where some crazy spandex and I'm done. However, I thought everyone would think of this, so I decided against it. Regretfully no one at the party was dressed as Lady Gaga so I should have stuck to my first choice. Instead I went as Britney Spears from her ...Baby One More Time video. Luke and Ian went as Wham! And Lindsay went as Adam Ant, apparently he was an early 80s popstar who got a drug problem and fizzled into obscurity. I don't think he ever made the trip across the pond as I'd never heard of him before. But then again 80s and pop are two things I don't put together and associate with music.


Erin x

Through The Looking Glass

Monday, 12 July 2010
As of this past Thursday Luke is officially a graduate of the University of Manchester (with a 2.1 no less) and I'm so happy I was able to attend the ceremony. I have only ever attended a graduation ceremony that I took part in, so it was nice to sit in on one from a different perspective. The ceremony occurred in Whitworth Hall, a location Luke and I had visited on our trip around the uni. I took photos of it in a previous entry, it is the place that looks exactly like Hogwarts!

The ceremony was short and sweet, in fact much shorter than I was expecting - only an hour long in fact. It appears the English have managed to get all the pomp and circumstance into their ceremonies without making them long and drawn out. Something much appreciated as the room was stifling hot.

After the ceremony, I joined Luke's mum, step-dad, grandad, and dad at a pub across the street for a celebratory pint or two before the family sans Luke's dad went out for a lovely Italian dinner at Felicini's in Didsbury (basically a posh suburb of Manchester). Felicini's caters to the more Mediterranean side of Italian cooking, I had stuffed vine leaves for starters (by far the best I have ever had) and pan-fried gnocchi with goat's cheese, spinach, and sun dried tomatoes for my main. Before ending the evening with a selection of ice creams (fig and marscapone; cherry; double chocolate). The meal was the cherry on top to a lovely day!



I found out something new this weekend, July 10th is Alice's Day, a celebration of everything to do with Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll. This knowledge came to me quite by accident. Luke and I are currently at Neil and Nic's watching Oli and Doogal (their previously mentioned Basset Hounds) which is not to far from Oxford. Saturday morning Luke and I were talking about going to Oxford, and he asked me if I had anything in particular I would like to do there. Of course being an Alice fanatic I asked if by chance there were any Alice in Wonderland museums in Oxford, last time I was there I couldn't remember hearing of any. A Google search told us all we had to know.

Alice's Day is described as a frabjous day celebrated in Oxford (birthplace of the story), I'm still unclear if it's celebrated anywhere else. There are a number of activities to choose from. Luke and I went to The Botanic Garden to enjoy a picnic that Luke had packed and watch 'The Hunting of the Snark', a ceremony based on one of Lewis Carroll's nonsensical poems "that charts the impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature." The Botanic Garden was a personal favourite of the Liddell family for a day out. Alice Liddell served as inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, as it was written for her one summer's afternoon on a family outing along the river.

After our picnic, Luke and I had a wander around Oxford, down to Christ Church (which Carroll was the Dean of). We found the famed Alice's Shop which basically was like walking into a fantasy land for me, everything you could think of in an Alice theme. I had every intention of purchasing a souvenir but it was an incredibly small shop, on an incredibly hot day which meant it was stuffy and unbearable - I left the shop much earlier than I would have liked feeling faint. This was remedied by a stroll around Christ Church Memorial Gardens, where we had an interesting experience watching a demonstration on honey bees. We were able to post up and watch the bees coming in and out of their hives while listening with stethoscopes to their buzzing.

After our walk through the gardens, Luke and I fully intended to go to the Bodleian Library, which was having an exhibition of early edition Alice books, including one illustrated by Salvador Dali. To our dismay we arrived three minutes too late as the library had just shut. Oh well, there is always next year, for a feel an annual tradition coming on!

Alice's Shop with Christ Church in the background.

Erin x

Summer Wind

Monday, 5 July 2010
Source
Yesterday was the Fourth of July, marking the second Independence Day I have missed out on cheap beer, hot dogs, and fireworks. This time last year I was living my last few weeks in France and enjoying every minute of it. I know it is silly, but I miss celebrating the Fourth and as I see my friends posting statuses of Facebook I can't help but giving a little sigh that I'm not there with them. Oh well, I suppose missing the Fourth of July is a small price to pay for living my dream out in England.

As always, life is full of activity on this side of the pond. Last Tuesday I took part in a pub quiz down at the Radford (a town about 10 minutes away) pub called The White Lion. You'll notice that most of the pubs in England are almost all named after animals with a colour in front (usually red or white but I have also seen black (as in The Black Dog in Southam) and I think maybe even green once). I suppose it's because most of the pubs are hundreds of years old and therefore have had the titles for that long, but they are seriously unoriginal. Now enough of that, the pub quiz is a weekly tradition in a lot of pubs take part in around the country. Locals of young and old come down to the pub and answer series of questions read out by the pub master. It is very enjoyable, I've been taking part in The White Lion pub quiz since last summer. Usually my team doesn't do too bad, we placed second one time and I believe even first another (both of which mean cash prizes which are usually used to purchase the team's pints). However, this time we placed a humiliating 6 out of 10 teams. Simply disgraceful, but still a good laugh.

On Thursday Luke was in work for a 'trial day' - which means the company paid him to come in and work like he normally would while they see if he fits for their team and Luke can see if he enjoys the work. It is a practice I have not heard of in the States, and Luke tells me it is rare to see here. Since Lindsay and Ian were also both at work I decided to make dinner for everyone that night, including Luke's grandad whom I also invited. I made Asian Rainbow Trout, a really simple dish that tastes amazing. I've made it for my mum and Dan before and they both loved it. It was a hit again, although I personally don't think it turned out as well as it has before. I served it with Japanese Snow Peas and Udon noodles. (For those interested in trying the recipe I will place it at the bottom of this post)

Luke and I have been trying to find the time to do some fishing the past few days, we even purchased some maggots (ick!) for bait - which Luke then to my horror put in the fridge. They were covered and could not escape he assured me, but still! It was amusing when Lindsay returned home to find them, I was in the other room when I heard "Oh my God, that better not be what I think that is in my fridge!" and forced Luke to put them in the garage, which he complained heavily about. There has been no time to fish since we received them, and since Luke is also doing another trial day today and tomorrow I doubt there will be anytime until Wednesday. I just hope the bait survives until then.

On Saturday Luke's Auntie Julie (or AJ as he sometimes calls her) was down to visit for the day so much of the day was spent in Luke's grandad's back garden relaxing and basking in the afternoon sun. On this day I came to realize how much the English love the act of gardening. Lindsay, AJ, and Grandad would walk around the garden commenting on the different flowers "That's coming in nicely" or else making suggestions on the plants "Perhaps you should move the lavender away from there and closer to the front". And it is not just them, it is pretty much everyone middle age and above. There is an older gentleman a few roads down who without fail, should you pass him he will be out there trimming and pruning his garden. I imagine him out there with a leveler trimming the grass strand by strand with pruning shears making sure the grass is completely level. Maybe it is because I come from an arid climate but I have never seen such behaviour as this and while I follow the family around trying to understand the attraction of it I am still so far befuddled. Perhaps it is gene that lies dormant for years and I will one day wake up and suddenly have a compulsive interest in gardening.

As per my summer tradition, I am once again reading the Harry Potter series. Luke has named himself a Harry Potter Widower, he states that every 5 minutes I pick up the book. A slight exaggeration on his part considering I can easily finish any of the books in one day and have currently been reading the 5th book for the past two weeks. I am on the last three chapters of it and plan on finishing it today while he is out of the house. It is Lindsay's tradition to read every night before bed. While Luke and I were in Manchester, Lindsay finished her book and did not have anything left to read so decided to pick up my first Harry Potter and give it a try. She has never had any in Harry Potter, not even watching any of the films but now she is obsessed. She's half way through the second book now and now Harry Potter has creeped into her dreams. She told me this morning that last night she had a dream she went shopping in Diagon Alley. I love having a converted Harry Potter freak in the house. Since Luke has seen his mother enjoy them so much he has expressed an interest in reading them as well, something only a few months ago he told me would never happen. Great success!

Erin x

Asian Rainbow Trout


Ingredients:


I don't use measurements but have given some as rough guidelines,
my recommendation is to play around with it to suit your personal tastes.
  • 2 fillets of Rainbow Trout (I recommend getting ones with the skin still on as it adds to the flavour and can always be easily taken off before serving)
  • 2 tsp/10 ml Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp/4 g Brown Sugar
  • Spring (Green) Onions (I usually use an entire little bushel that they come packed in)
  • 1/2 tsp/1 g Minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp/1 g Mined ginger
  • 1/2 tsp/3 ml Sesame oil (Olive oil will work fine if you don't have any Sesame, but I find Sesame just adds a little something extra)
  • Salt and Pepper

 

Method:

  1. In a small bowl mix the soy sauce, sugar, salt and pepper.
  2. Rub the trout with the mixture.
  3. On medium-high, heat the sesame oil and then add spring onions, garlic, and ginger; cook until golden brown.
  4. Add trout and cook until browned and crispy (roughly 3 mins.) then turn over and cook until fish flakes easily with work, about 3 minutes more.

 

Serving Recommendations:

I recommend serving with either one or a combination of Japanese snow peas, sugar snap peas, Udon noodles, or steamed brown rice and placing the fish on top so the flavour seeps into the side. Also, if you use just a touch more soy sauce you can create more of a sauce which you can then put on the side of your choice.

Here Comes the Weekend

Thursday, 1 July 2010
As stated in my previous post, Luke and I spent the weekend at Neil and Nic's house near Milton Keynes (about forty minutes outside of London). It was a lovely weekend with a few disappoints: USA was knocked out of the World Cup on Saturday in their match with Ghana and England on Sunday in a crushing defeat against Germany, 4-1. Alas, there goes England's hopes for a victory for another four years. Football has been turned off in most households now, except for the die hard fans. No matter, like I said it was a lovely weekend and one should not focus on the negative.

On Friday, Luke received his results for his degree - he received a 2.1! I know this must not mean much of anything to the Yanks out there, but it's a very good result. It is similar to scoring a high GPA. Luke was convinced he wasn't going to receive a 2.1, but I always believed he had it in him. Very proud of him, and we will head back to Manchester next Wednesday to celebrate his achievement and watch him graduate. (Don't worry Grandma, I promise to get pictures of him in his cap and gown and send them to you!)

After we arrived at Neil's and said hello to the boys (Oliver and Doogal, their two Basset Hounds) we walked down to this Pan Asian restaurant (it serves both Thai and Indian cuisine). Neil and Nic were disappointed, apparently it was not as good as it usually is. I don't mind, Luke and I both enjoyed our meals very much. I personally think mine was the best, an Indian duck curry with caramelized onions and apricots -gorgeous!

The following day we went shopping at T.K. Maxx, the exact same store as America's T.J. Maxx but the name has been changed for the English market. Apparently there is already a store called T.J.'s, therefore the company changed it so no one would confuse the two. Luke found a number of nice shirts to get. Nicola and I ransacked the women's department, but I found nothing, alas it was just one of those days.

We went to Stony Stratford for lunch, a little market town which is where the phrase "a cock and bull story" was created. The Cock and The Bull are the two pubs in town, and during the coaching era people would travel from one pub to the other telling stories. Often, these stories would change between the pubs and thus the saying was invented. (See http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/cock%20and%20bull%20story.html for more information)

The pubs are still there and working, which isn't surprising considering this is England where they like to keep cultural treasures and not Las Vegas which tears down anything that is over 50 years old. We had lunch at Neil and Nicola's favourite shop in Stony Stratford - the Stony Wine Emporium. We had a bottle of rose and two anti pasti platters, an English one with local English cheese and meats and a French one with some pates and two of my favourite cheeses: Roquefort and Port Salut.

At the wine store, Neil and Nicola were also able to order a case Jurancon Sec, a local white wine from the area around Pau. It is Luke's and my absolute favourite white wine, I don't like many whites, and next to impossible to get outside the region. Luke and I are dogsitting for Neil and Nic the end of next week, so hopefully the wine will come in by then and we can have some!

Got all dressed up on Saturday night, because Neil and Nic were taking us out to celebrate both of our degrees. We went to Brasserie Blanc, a nice French restaurant owned by the famous chef Raymond Blanc. Started the night off with a bottle of Champagne, followed by two bottles of Rioja (a lovely Spanish red) and ending the dinner with a nice Port. I had escargots for starters and moules marineres (mussels) for my main, then Nic and I split Baked Alaska for dessert. It was an excellent meal with even better company. After dinner we sat in the back garden listening to music and drinking a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape (an incredibly nice red) until the wee small hours of the morning.

Sunday morning was a little rough for some people, not to point fingers but LUKE. It was the hottest day of the year so far in England. We took Oli and Doogal for a walk around the park and then chased them around the back garden trying to give them bathes, which they did not want in the slightest.

The England match was to begin at 3 o'clock, so we had a late lunch comprising of a barbecue before watching the match, which I will speak no more of, the memory of the loss is still too painful. After the match, Neil drove Luke and I back to Southam.

Luke and I had another lovely barbecue waiting for us back in Southam courtesy of Lindsay and Ian, this one was with a Greek twist and I stuffed myself on Lindsay's homemade Greek salads (one with grilled vegetables and the other more traditional) and Tzatziki sauce.

Ended the weekend with a bottle of pink Champagne, a very satisfactory end indeed!

Erin x

Bicycle Race

Friday, 25 June 2010
It has been a pretty busy week this week up in Manchester, filled with lots of interesting experiences. My time in Manchester is done for now though, which I have mixed feelings about. I enjoyed my time in Manchester but I am also looking forward to living down South. Currently I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Birmingham while Luke has a job interview before we meet up with Lindsay and head to Warwickshire.

The weather has continued to be lovely, which Luke and I have been taking full advantage of. Been watching a lot of footie (that's football aka soccer for all you Yanks) and having barbecues. I'm also proud to announce that both the USA and England are moving forward to the knock-out round in the World Cup. USA at top of the group no less, not bad considering many thought they might not make it to the next stage.

Sunday was of course Father's Day and we spent it with Luke's granddad at Luke's aunt's house in Middlewich (a town about on hour outside of Manchester). It just so happened that this weekend Middlewich was hosting a boat festival (it sits on a canal), so after our lunch buffet Luke and I walked down to have a look about. It was interesting, mainly because of the people watching, there were a lot of gypsies (gypos) about, one even with a horse tied to the side of their boat!

Perhaps one of the most enjoyable things to happen this week was on Monday. Luke and I joined Ben and Helen, his flatmates, for a bicycle ride to Reddish to do a spot of fishing. What's more impressive is we biked eight miles to accomplish this, I haven't ridden a bike since I was nine except one small bike ride in Sardinia last year to the store which was less than a mile away. Ben let me use his new bike to make up for my disadvantage. We caught a few things, not as much we expected but at least we caught something this time! The ride back was rough, my backside was extremely sore and a few of the hills left me feeling out of shape but the accomplishment of the long bike ride was worth it!

Wednesday had an eventful ending to the day, Luke and I were just deciding what Family Guy episode to watch to fall asleep to when we hear the startled shouts of Ben from downstairs, "HELEN!" We looked to each other in confusion before a second shout came from Ben, "HELEN, BRING WET TOWELS!!!" Luke realized what was happening before I did. Sure enough as we ran downstairs and into the kitchen we were greeted by a massive cloud of smoke as the smoke detectors started going crazy.

The small fire had already been taken care of by the time Luke and I arrived, but the amount of smoke it created was unreal. Ben had turned the grill on intending to make a late-night snack before deciding to just have a bowl of cereal, and had completely forgotten to turn it off. So, Helen and I ran around the house opening all the windows and doors while Luke fanned the smoke out and Ben kept turning the smoke alarm off. We'd been at this for about two minutes when Luke's last remaining housemate, Adam, came downstairs in his dressing gown rubbing his eyes and utterly confused. An amusing end to the day to be sure.

Today is Friday, and like I said I'm sitting in Starbucks waiting for Luke's mum to arrive, which should be any moment. Luke should be done with his interview in a half hour and then the three of us are going to do a spot of shopping before Lindsay drives us back to Southam, where Neil will pick us up from tonight. Going to be spending the weekend near Milton Keynes with Neil and Nicola, which I'm excited for, haven't seen them since Christmas!

Erin x

Simply Red

Friday, 18 June 2010
There is a saying here in England, that the southern Englishmen like to say "It's grim up North". This saying applies to the people, weather, etc. etc. After spending the past three days here in Manchester I must argue the contrary. The weather has been absolutely lovely here. With the exception of today it has been bright sunshine, barely a cloud in the sky, and incredibly warm. I'll give the English this, they take advantage of the nice weather more than your average American. The parks are filled with people sunbathing, having little BBQs and playing sport.

Yesterday I was amongst those people. Luke and myself went down to Platt Fields with two of his flatmates, Ben and Helen, for a spot of fishing and sunbathing. It was Helen's first time fishing and while we were all hopeful of catching something, Helen and I soon gave up and just laid back to enjoy the sun, Helen with her knitting and me with a book. The boys on the other hand were not so willing to give up, they kept switching bait and location hoping to coax the fish out of the lake.

We weren't able to catch any fish, but I was able to make an observation of the English people. I never realized how helpful the English are, or at least how helpful they try to be. We were down at Platt Fields for probably near five hours, and at least once every fifteen minutes would be approached by some one inquiring if we'd caught anything. When this inquiry was met with a disheartened 'no' there was a standard set of responses we would get. 1) What bait were we using? When the boys told them, they would suggest something else to try. or 2) They would point us in another direction of the lake and suggest we try to fish there since they had seen some (insert name of the fish they saw here). A couple of middle aged men, who looked the least likely to be of any help, stop to chat to us for five minutes offering a number of helpful pointers.

In America it has always been my experience that people will more or less let you get on with it, whether you succeed or fail is not their concern. I do not mean this as a criticism of America, it is just a different attitude. I think Americans find it rather rude when they are offered advice without asking for it, that the person giving you the advice must think you're an idiot. Here it is simply just friendly advice. Whether you take it or not is up to you, but at least the people feel they have done the neighbourly thing.

We left the park at five, and that night Luke and I made a lovely supper of Thai Prawn Curry. I'll try to remember to put the recipe up here at some point. We've made Thai Prawn Curry a number of times, but I have to say this was easily the best we've made. The portions were huge but I ate every morsel, it was just so amazing. We added a few extra ingredients this time which I think kicked the dish up a notch, like lemon grass and some random Thai root that I'm spacing the name of. My mouth is watering again just thinking about it...

Yesterday was an amazing day in Manchester, but it easily ties with my first day here. Luke had to return a book to the university library, so he used this as an opportunity to take me on a tour of the University of Manchester. I've been to the university before, but during a cold wintery day, so I wasn't able to appreciate the beauty of campus as much. We went into Whitworth Hall and I felt as if I'd stepped back in time, or perhaps more accurately stepped into Hogwarts. The building is around 150 years old one of the workers told me. It's hard to believe considering that UNLV is only 50 years old and I highly doubt has any of it's original buildings.

Told you it was Slytherin House

Inside Whitworth Hall aka "Hogwarts"

Me in front of the GIANT organ

Luke at University of Manchester

University of Manchester

Our tour of the university concluded with a little look at The Manchester Museum. I was expecting it to be small and rather insignificant but was happily mistaken. The museum is only three floors, not as impressive as the other museums I've been to in England but still had it's share of interesting artifacts. I especially enjoyed the Ancient Egyptian wing which had actual mummies out for display - including mummified shrews and crocodiles.

We took a bus into the centre of town to do some shopping for Father's Day, since we're seeing Luke's dad this evening, and a spot of lunch at Nando's (A Portuguese chicken restaurant that is beyond amazing!)

As for today, Luke has gone down to Birmingham for a job interview so I'm here at the house doing a bit of writing and reading, listening to music, and watching the Slovenia v. USA of the World Cup. It's the perfect day for it, with the cool breeze coming in through the windows and a scattered rain showers, so relaxing.

Erin x

Three Lions

Monday, 14 June 2010
Well I made it across the pond with very little trouble. I was able to sleep fairly well on both my flights, which is good considering I barely had any sleep the night before. I can only make one complaint on my travels and that was with my seat. When booking my flights I had explained, or rather my mother since she was the one speaking to them, that I had problems with my left knee and therefore had to be seated on the right side of the plane so I might stretch my knee into the aisle. The agent got this backwards. I was going to ask to switch sides on my transatlantic flight but Delta had overbooked and people were quite agitated so I chickened out.

Mustn't grumble, what matters is I have arrived. I've spent the weekend staying with Luke and his parents in Southam, Warwickshire but tomorrow Luke and I shall head up to Manchester with his cousin, Becki. I've had an eventful weekend that surprisingly has not been dampened by jetlag. I arrived Thursday at noon, Luke and his grandpa picked me up from the airport, but we didn't get back to the house until about half-two, customs and collecting my baggage took a good hour. Lindsay, Luke's mum, had arranged a nice light lunch with pate and cheeses.

Friday, I just unpacked and that evening went to dinner with Luke, his mum and Ian, grandad, Becki, and Ian's parents Pam and Mick. Just went down to one of the local pubs, The Bowling Green, so I could have a taste of English cusine. I had liver and onions, which were made with lamb's liver. It was good but certainly not as good as my mothers, I think this was partially due to the fact it was lamb's liver and not beef. I had a giggle at the menu when I read about one of the desserts called 'spotted dick' which apparently is a type of sponge cake with raisins in it if I'm not mistaken.

Saturday was a big day as it marked the first match for England in the World Cup. It was a particularly big day in this household as it just so happens England was playing the good ol' U.S.A. I felt very outnumbered being surrounded by England flags everywhere, Lindsay gave me an American flag to wave and I decided to count the dog on my side as an American supporter. Within the first five minutes England had scored a goal and I braced myself for what I assumed was going to be a humiliting defeat. However, America did not disappoint me, as I must confess I'd been predicting for the past two days. They managed to score a goal, but this was only due to the England keeper's, Robert Green, fumble.

After the match, Luke, Becki and I walked down the the cricket club. For those Yanks who have no idea what this means, cricket is a huge summer sport for England of which I'm sure I'll have a countless number of posts on in the coming months. I still don't understand the game, no matter how many times Luke or anyone have tried to explain it to me. Lindsay has told me to not worry about it though, she's English and doesn't understand the 'bloody sport'. The club is just where all the members of the team and their familys go to hang out and watch various sport together and drink, of course. I didn't get teased too badly by the people down there, most of them were too ashamed of England to say anything to me about the tied game. Therefore I was able to leave the club with my head held high knowing my team didn't perform nearly as poorly as they had been expected to.

It's been a lovely couple of days here so far. Whether has been nice, although it has been threatening today and yesterday evening. Still it's warm and I've managed to take the dog on a number of lovely walks in the English countryside. Like I said tomorrow, Tuesday, I'll be heading up to Manchester, which means I get to see Luke's dad's side of the family and get a lovely curry on Curry Mile. I'm quite looking forward to it!

Erin x

Time Is Running Out

Sunday, 23 May 2010
As Luke pointed out in today's Skype session, this coming Wednesday (May 26th) means two weeks until I'm on my way across the pond. This realization was met with heavy breathing and a little bit of panic. I have a lot to get done in the next two weeks, especially considering this coming weekend I'm going to be down in the Deep South for the wedding of a family friend. Time is running out!!!

In my few weeks since school let out I've gotten a lot accomplished, and yet I still feel so behind. I've been to the dentist and eye doctor. Where I got my teeth cleaned and was told by the doctor my eyes are "immaculate ". I am having trouble setting up an appointment with the general practitioner. Instead I talk to this receptionist who is going on a power trip and tells me she'll get back to me later. I've acquired photocopies of a good portion of my medical records and spoken to my bank about closing my accounts. Not to mention a trip to the post office to send three boxes of books off to Southam, which cost nearly $200. I used the flat rate boxes and figured they'd be around $20 a piece, boy was I mistaken. No more using the post to send boxes for me. Instead I think I'll add an extra bag to my flight itinerary.

I've gone though all my old CDs and imported them into my iTunes. After which I threw away all the mixed CDs and gave the rest away. All of my winter clothes have been Space Bag'd and are ready to be put in a suitcase - with the exception of a few wooly hats and my ski gear, which I have not yet been able to find. I've gone through boxes of old toys and photos. Given a lot of stuff to charity and trying to sell what I can on eBay.

Every day I've been working but everyday it seems I think of one more thing I should get done. Moving is no fun! But the end result will be fun, so I must keep focused on that.

Erin x

The Big Move

Sunday, 2 May 2010
For years I have been talking about that one day when I would move over to England. I don't know if it comes from the fact that my grandmother moved from over there in the mid-50s or that all my favourite childhood stories were of English origin - either way I've always felt a strong affinity for the country.

These past nine months have been especially taxing for me, what with me living in Las Vegas and Luke in Manchester. Having a long-distance relationship is no picnic let me tell you

Classes have now ended, all I have left now is a series of final exams. I graduate this upcoming Saturday, the 8th of May. Then one month and one day after I graduate I'll be on a plane heading to London-Heathrow. When I exit through that arrivals gate and see Luke standing there, all the waiting will have been worth it!

People have asked me if I'm scared or nervous to be moving 'across the pond'. My short answer is no, not really. At least not as much as people would expect me to be.

I feel like I've been preparing for this day for a long time. Living in France for 8 months also helped, as I know what it is like to be away from my family and friends and deal with the time change. I think my two months spent living with Luke and his family (at the end of summer and for Christmas) have also helped me get a rough idea of what life is going to be like.

The plan is we're going to live at his house in Manchester for a month or so, since the house is completely paid for. Then we'll move down to Warwickshire. We'll live with his parents in Southam for a few months until we get settled and then probably get a place in either Leamington Spa or Warwick.

So that is the plan thus far and I couldn't be more excited to begin this new chapter of my life. Don't get me wrong, I'm going to miss all my family and close friends dearly but I can visit often and I'll welcome them as visitors!


Click on each map for a larger image.



A Map of England
Manchester is the larger city circled at the top
& Warwick is the red dot circled at the bottom



A Map of Warwickshire
Leamington Spa & Warwick are the red dots labeled red dots,
Southam is unlabeled

Erin x
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