As Time Goes By (Happy Thanksgiving!)

Monday, 21 November 2011
Where does the time go? One minute it is my birthday and the next thing you know... Thanksgiving! Since I last wrote a lot has happened for which I'm very thankful for. Which is why I'm using this blog post as a recap of these past two months (has it really been that long?!) and a Thanksgiving post.

I am thankful for a loving husband who likes to treat me. 

This year Luke and I had planned to go to Oxford to celebrate my birthday with a day out, however when I woke up on my birthday I was feeling incredibly lazy and decided I would rather spend most of the day lounging around the house, before popping into MK (that's Milton Keynes to most of you) for sushi. 

Luke gave me a wonderful present! He booked me into a spa day at Whittlebury Hall. It was pure relaxation from morning till night. 

I am thankful to be living in Milton Keynes, and to have such a supportive family.

Well, it's official - Luke and I have moved out of Worcester!!! We now live in Milton Keynes and couldn't be happier. When we packed everything into the moving van, it felt like a giant weight had been lifted.We are going to live with Neil and Nic (and the doggies Ollie & Doogal) until after the holidays. We saw no point in moving out before then, as we will be gone most of December. 

I am thankful for our new careers.

Not only are Luke and I in a new city, but we also BOTH have new jobs. Luke is in Customer Services for Europe for a big American company. As part of his role he will be learning German as well as continuing to use his French.I'm so proud of my little language buff, most especially because he is out of that other job.

I also have started a new adventure with a new company. I am now an Events & Digital Marketing Administrator for a Japanese/American company specialising in health and wellness. It is the perfect fit for me, combining everything I love: copy writing, social media, event planning/hosting, all with the aim at being a healthier/happier person. 

The team I work with is really lovely, we go for walks during our lunches around the lake and every Wednesday the company hosts a yoga class during lunch. I think I have found job nirvana.

I am thankful for the start of the Christmas season.

This weekend: The Christmas Lights Turn On is happening in Stony Stratford. We have never been before, but it is supposed to be pretty magical. It starts with a Chinese Lantern parade around the town (all the little shops build their own) and then of course concludes with the lighting of the lights and tree! 

This Sunday we will be our unofficial Thanksgiving, as the English government is not kind enough to acknowledge American holidays. (Don't worry I've written to the Queen). I have decided to give cooking a proper Thanksgiving dinner a try this year. I have helped my Grandma and Mom before, but never have I done the whole thing by myself with no expert supervision. Fingers crossed I don't burn the Turkey. 

Next weekend: Oh you know, just getting on a plane and flying to Florida to board a week's cruise of the Caribbean (Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, St. John, Princess Cayes), no big deal. Just kidding, I am so excited it is unreal. Not only will I be holidaying in a wonderful location but I will be celebrating Christmas with my mom, Dan, and siblings in the Caribbean! Prepare yourselves for the combination of Santa hats and swimsuits!

And then, just a few more weeks until actual Christmas! I love the Christmas season and all the sounds, smells, and sights it brings. The neighbours have already started putting up their Christmas lights (sometimes known as fairy lights) which look absolutely wonderful. I've already started listening to Christmas music (the new Michael Bublé album is a must) and as I've been writing this I've also been watching Miracle on 34th Street (the original).

I am so excited for this festive period, I truly do feel like a kid at Christmas. I know for a lot of you Americans, Christmas does not truly start until after Thanksgiving, so I would like to end this post with one last message of thanks:

I'm thankful for my loyal followers and readers, I know I haven't been the most loyal of bloggers but I truly do appreciate all your feedback and support. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie
cc by St0rmz

Erin x

My Favourite Books

Tuesday, 6 September 2011
In honour of World Book Day, I'm rehashing an old post of mine that I wrote for a blogging challenge back in 2011 when I was asked to name my three favourite books. However, naming just three books that are my favourites is nearly impossible so I just ignored it. Here are the books that I could read over and over again:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass: This is an easy choice for me, I have loved both of these books since I was a small child. I keep hoping that one day I'll fall down that rabbit hole and end up in Wonderland myself.

It all started when I was three years old, I would watch the Disney version over and over again, just repeatedly pressing the VHS tape in (Remember - be kind, rewind). I even had multiple copies of the film, just in case in my haste to rewind one of them broke. I then had them read to me, and then began reading them myself. Don't ask me how many times, I don't know the answer!

My love of Alice in Wonderland is well known and the icing on the cake for me was when I was asked to pose as Alice for a fashion shoot.

Jessica Stone Photography

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series: Yes, I am one of the millions of children who grew up reading Harry Potter. I waited anxiously for every book, and was never disappointed. And I remember getting every one!

The Complete Harry Potter Collection by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone: At the sixth grade book fair!
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone / Chamber of Secrets / Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
I read the first one so quickly that I was able to go back to that same book fair and purchase Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: I was in Indiana visiting my grandparents at the time. They went to the supermarket for me and picked it up. I scarcely left my room that day (pretty sure I even had my meals in there).

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: I wasn't feeling well the day it came out, and was disappointed as  I wanted to go out and get it. My mom was out shopping and she brought it back in a gift bag!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Also a present from my mom, although I don't remember if it came in a gift bag. Knowing her, probably. :)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: I was in Barnes and Noble Bookstore on the 20th of July 2007, waiting for the midnight bell to chime the 21st so that I could collect my order. I figured I should do it at least once! And I'm very glad I did!

For more of my thoughts on Harry Potter, please read A Harry Potter Summer.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones: I read this Junior year of high school in my American Literature class (thank you Ms. Starry!) and absolutely fell in love. It is not the lightest of reads, but if you don't mind being a bit unsettled then I'd recommend it! (And don't bother watch the film, it's crap -- for lack of a better word)

One Day by David Nicholls

One Day by David Nicholls. My newest edition to the list! I remember when it come out last year being intrigued but I had so many books on my 'to read' list that I decided to read it later. By the time later came, I forgot about it. Thankfully, the film came out and I was reminded about it. (I have yet to see the film).

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

Labyrinth and Sepulchre by Kate Mosse are absolutely fantastic! I love how they dive back and forth between modern and the middle ages (in the case of Labyrinth) and turn-of-the-century (in the case of Sepulchre). These books have everything: intrigue, murder, love, a touch of fantasy, and my favourite aspect - history. Luke introduced me to Labyrinth, for which I'm very grateful or I never would have found either of them.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island: Various stories from Bill Bryson's tour of England (before moving back to America) is epic. That's right I used the word epic to describe this work. I actually laughed out loud when reading this, not once but on several occasions. He's so witty! I wish I could write about my experiences in England with as much talent. (I suppose that's why he gets paid the big bucks and I don't) His other books are worth mention as well. As The Times says "not a book that should be read in public, for fear of emitting loud snorts".

A Year In The Merde by Stephen Clarke
Stephen Clarke's A Year in the Merde: Another laugh out loud read! I read this while living in France, another Luke recommendation. It is all about an English man who moves to Paris. Stephen Clarke's cultural observations on the French are spot on, and most of the time barely exaggerated. The sequels: Merde Actually, Merde Happens, and Dial 'M' for Merde are also worth nods, but in my opinion they weren't quite as good as he original.

So there you have it! Some of my favourite books of all time. If you're looking for something to read, I would confidently recommend any from this list!

Erin x

Goodbye August, Hello September

Thursday, 1 September 2011
It's the first day of September, and already my hopes for an Indian Summer are dashed. My bedroom windows are covered in condensation when I wake up this morning and there is a definite chill in the air. When I step outside to head for work, I can actually see my breath and I shudder as my mind suddenly flashes to thick jumpers and heavy coats that will all too quickly become a reality. The only thought I have to keep me warm is the Caribbean Cruise Christmas present from my mom and Dan.


Now lunchtime, I suddenly feel a glimmer of hope as it is a bright, clear day now and dare I say it, actually warm! Sue at work tells me it's supposed to be 26 C (78 F) this weekend, which sounds absolutely perfect. Perhaps an Indian Summer is possible after all. Only time will tell with this unpredictable thing known as English weather.

Erin x

The End of the Job Search

Sunday, 21 August 2011
After months of applications and interviews, the job search has finally come to an end for me. That's right I finally have my first proper job in Milton Keynes, as a PA to Senior Management at a major international company, which shall remain nameless. It's not the most glamorous of jobs, but it's a great learning experience in multiple areas of the company. At the moment, I'm living with Neil and Nic during the week, while Luke continues to look for work down this way. Of course we miss each other during the week, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do, and in the end it's best for us as a couple. We just remind ourselves that we've spent far more time apart in the past and that this situation is only temporary.

I started two weeks ago, and so far am enjoying the role, but am completely shattered at night. I hope this will pass, or at least I won't feel like a total zombie when I return home from work and am able to manage something more than grabbing tea and going to sleep with Oli and Doogal for company. My role comprises the basic duties of any PA, things like the mail and arranging diaries. But besides the basics, I've taken on a couple of projects that have been neglected over the years and help out different members of the senior management team when they need. My favourite thing to get started with is the company newsletter. Not only will I be writing the articles for it, but I'll also be designing the entire newsletter myself, which will be distributed to roughly 2,000 employees on our site!

My Employee ID card and First Pay Slip!

Everyone has been really welcoming at work, and we all have a bit of a laugh. It is great to work somewhere with people who are serious when they need to be, but not all the time. Of course a lot of the jokes have been centred around me being an American, more specifically from Las Vegas. Someone said to me "I didn't realise that people lived in Las Vegas," to which my reply was "Oh no, those little twinkling lights you see surrounding the Strip are just there for decoration." One of my bosses has said within a year my 'broad' Vegas accent (never heard that one before) will be no more, and they'll have me speaking like a proper English rose. I suppose only time will tell.

Erin x and
Oliver *lick lick*

Oli, keeping me company while I write.

Shocking State-istic

Monday, 8 August 2011
Just a quick one today. I was reading The Sunday Times' Style magazine yesterday and came across a shocking statistic that I thought I would share with you fine people.
"The average [British] tourist packs on 8lb during a typical two-week trip to America..."
I always knew our portions in America were large, but 8 lbs in two-weeks?! That's absurd, and yet sadly not unsurprising. I remember on Luke's first visit we went for breakfast at The Original Pancake House . All he wanted was some bacon and a pancake with maple syrup, but his eyes practically popped out of his head when they brought him a stack of pancakes the size of Mount Everest and a whole plate of bacon. The answer seems so simple, just don't eat everything on your plate but the primal instinct in everyone seems to be that you simply must finish. This is why I don't agree with parents who force their children to finish every morsel of food, especially when the portions are so unhealthily large. America really needs to change it's eating habits, and fast, or it really will turn into a country full of those massive McDonalds-munching stereotypes.

Erin x

Don't let this happen to us!

A Harry Potter Summer

Thursday, 4 August 2011
My American-Edition Hardbacks
I look back on the summers of my childhood with fond memories of pool parties, barbecues, and most importantly... Harry Potter. Yes, I was one of the thousands of children whose young adult life was changed by J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. You can take your Generation X or Generation Next, we were the Potter Generation! I can still remember the first time I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (or Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as it is known here in the UK). It was at my sixth grade book fair in 1999, when Potter Mania was just beginning to take shape. At the time there were only three Harry Potter books out with Prisoner of Azkaban just being published in the United States. But why do summers remind me of Harry Potter?  Two reasons: 1) The four remaining books were all released in the summer months and 2) my own personal tradition of reading all the Harry Potter books every summer.

My incredible 3D Harry Potter glasses!
This summer was particularly poignant as the last every Harry Potter film was released, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. I was excited, yet reluctant to go and see the film. It's conclusion would be the truly the end of an era. And last Saturday the era ended when Luke and I finally went to go see it. Luke is perhaps one of five children who didn't grow up reading and loving Harry Potter, but he is slowly becoming a Harry Potter convert thanks to my influence. He's only seen the films (which makes me shudder) but he says he enjoys them, and I hope to someday persuade him to actually sit down and read this creative masterpiece. I won't say too much about the film, I don't want to ruin it for people who haven't been. Of course the book was better than the film (when is it not?) but David Yates, the director, did a wonderful job with this adaptation. The young actors have truly grown into their roles, and the older cast is just as phenomenal as ever. Particularly, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, one of the most complex characters of the book. So if you haven't been to see the film, I would strongly urge you to run not walk to your nearest cinema and watch it!

I can remember reading every book for the first time, Rowling truly is a master at taking the reader inside the world. At the moment, I'm currently beginning my third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardary. Translation: I'm currently reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I've started my Harry Potter summer reading a little later than I usually do, and it's going a little slower as I find the older the get the less time you have. When I was younger, I could read every Harry Potter in a day but now life tends to get in the way. Boo to the responsibilities of getting older!

I think J.K. Rowling is reluctant to say goodbye to Harry Potter as the rest of us. This summer the website Pottermore was announced. Pottermore is said to be a website geared to "fans of any age who can share, participate in, and rediscover the stories." Yes I signed up. It's not completely active yet but my interest is certainly piqued.

I would like to conclude this post just by saying thanks to Harry Potter, but most importantly, thanks to J.K. Rowling for creating a truly magical world!

Erin x

Ladies and gentlemen, for your amusement... The Potter Puppet Pals!

Quintessentially English's August entry for Happy Homemaker UK's Post of the Month Club

A Weekend Up North

Saturday, 30 July 2011
Another weekend spent away, this time it was in Manchester to visit Luke's dad and his family, and finally get around to celebrating our marriage. We left a few hours after Luke finished work, hoping to escape some of the horrendous Friday night traffic. While the traffic was better than usual, it was still awful (M5 and M6 are never fun, especially on a Friday after work). It didn't help matters that our sat nav was going absolutely bonkers trying to take us who knows where. At the very end of the journey, by some sort of miracle, it finally told the truth - but by this time Luke was taking no notice of it and we ended up in West Manchester, the exact opposite of where we needed to be. This added nearly another hour to our already tiring journey. So it was three and a quarter hours before we finally made it to the hotel where Luke's dad had put us up for the weekend. I thought I'd crash as soon as my head hit the pillow, but it was a restless night, probably made so by Luke deciding to watch what appeared to be some thriller with Matthew McConaughey and Al Pacino.

Raspberry and Bits.
I felt much better the next morning. After a full-English at the hotel and a quick gym and sauna session, we met up with his dad, Lesley, and Luke's half-sister, Georgia. They took us to a delightful pub for lunch called The Cross Keys in a town they are thinking of moving to, called Uppermill. It was in Uppermill that I learned a new English phrase, which is becoming increasingly irregular. This happened at an ice cream van when Georgia asked if she could have one with 'raspberry 'n bits', which I found out just means raspberry sauce and sprinkles (or 100s and 1000s as they're called here). I don't know why they don't just call them sprinkles instead of inventing multiple ambiguous terms for the same thing! I have since asked around with people back down South, and have concluded that 'raspberry 'n bits' is most likely just a Northern thing. Whatever you'd like to call it, it was my first time having it, and it was lovely. I also had mine in an 'oyster' which is not in fact a mollusk but a type of cone shaped like an oyster, but then covered in chocolate, coconut, and the inside filled with marshmallow. Never have I found ordering ice cream to be so complicated.

Georgia, Luke, & Dougie

That night, with Georgia left in the care of Lesley's parents, we went for a very nice meal out at Albert's Shed in Castlefield, a neighbourhood of Manchester. We were joined by Luke's grandparents (Malcom and Charlotte), Uncle Gary, Aunt Julie, Julie's husband (Dave), and their two kids (Sam and Sophie). It truly was a spectacular meal, I had rabbit gnocchi for my starter and venison with a port/blackberry jus as my main. After dinner, we made our way to a pub just around the corner that had been there since the Victorian era. It still had little buzzers, which didn't work of course, to call staff to your table. I don't know why they don't do that any more, but I suppose they would be misused by some drunkards. 

Throughout our time at the pub, a group of about six or seven kept staring at us and would not look away. I met a couple of their stares hoping in embarrassment they would look away, this did not work as they continued staring. The last straw was when  Julie, Dave, and the kids had to leave to catch the last train home. They begin mocking our conversation, imitating our voices. One continued to stare by this time I'd absolutely had it. I asked him if I could possibly help him with something. To which a look of shock dawned on his face as if he'd only just realised that yes in fact I could see him. "No, probably not," was his only reply. "Then wind your neck in." Within two minutes, their party had left and I felt a little vindicated for being made to feel like a zoo animal for an hour.

The next day was an absolutely lovely day. Whether in England can be a little temperamental, but on days like last Sunday you remember why it is you put up with it. The sky was a clear forget-me-not blue and the sun was warm enough to warm you but not unbearable. To make the most of it, Luke and I took Georgia and her little friend, along with Louie (the dog), Luke's dad (Dougie) and Lesley on a walk around the old railroad track. I of course, expected this walk to have as the location implies an old railroad track, it did not. Apparently the track was removed long before Luke's or my time, to make way for a public footpath, which are another thing I love about England. The day ended sunning in the garden with a beer and a sausage sandwich before Luke and I made our way back down South. The perfect end, to a lovely weekend up North.

Remembering Norway.
22 July 2011

Erin x

Beautiful Briny Sea

Friday, 22 July 2011
Beach Huts in Torquay
This past weekend marked another English first for me - my first time visiting the English seaside. It is a trip that has been planned and postponed many times over the past few months for various reasons but finally it can be ticked off the list. The purpose of the trip was for me to meet Neil's parents, who moved down to Babbacombe in Devon some years ago, and whom Luke visited often as a child. I wasn't sure what to expect of Devon, which is often referred to as "the English Riviera". After visiting though, I can see why Devon has earned that reputation, certainly there are elements of the Cote d'Azur in the architecture of the town. There is one noticeable exception that makes the English Riviera different than the French - rain. While there were a few bouts of blue sky, for the most part it rained the whole weekend. It was that annoying light drizzle that makes an umbrella seem silly but without one leaves you covered in a fine mist. Of course, this weekend Devon is expected to have the best weather of the whole country. Not a drop of rain in sight. Isn't that always the way!

Golf Pro
When we arrived in Torquay on the Friday, the first thing we did was head for a practice round of crazy golf. Crazy golf is a tradition of the English seaside, I just didn't realise how much of a tradition. I have never played so much crazy golf in such a short span of time, three games in one weekend! After our practice round, of which I came last of course, we headed to the arcade, another thing that Devon is abundant with, but not before a quick pit stop at Chandlers Chippy for what were quite possibly the best chips I ever had. At the arcade we amused ourselves on a series of racing games, the best being virtual motorbikes on which I won both games, no one wanted to play after that. I say they were terrified of my victories. However, everybody's favourite was an air hockey table, where we played rounds of boys vs. girls. There were a couple of close matches, and had we not run out of tokens I'm confident Nic and I could have beat the boys as they were getting too confident and careless. The arcade also boasted a "casino", and I use the word casino is the lightest sense. It only served as proof of how very different Vegas is from England.

Paignton Pier

The next day I met Neil's family which consisted of his dad and mum (Jack and Vivian), sister (Sharon), and her husband and young children (Paul, Matthew, and Francesca). All of whom were very nice and made me feel quite welcome. After cups of tea at Jack and Vivian's, we headed to Paignton's pirate-themed crazy golf course. One thing can be said for me as a golfer, I am very consistent... consistently rubbish. Of our little group, which consisted of Neil, Nic, Luke, Jack, and I, I came in last place. After crazy golf, we went to Paignton's Pier for some more arcade fun. Nicola and I amused ourselves in one of those photo booths and I got into a disagreement with a man who wouldn't let me on the giant slide. There was an age limit of fourteen but I told him I probably weighed less than some fourteen year-olds and to make my case pointed at the mammoth boy going down the slide. Probably not my greatest moment but I wanted to play! Then the four of us returned to our hotel to take advantage of the gym, swimming pool, and steam rooms. Then it was time to get ready for dinner with Jack and Vivian at the Marina Restaurant. The Marina Restaurant provided one of the worst, but in some ways best, part of the weekend. It was by far, the worst dining experience I've had in a very long time. 

Nic and I after we just arrived - still smiles!
We had a table booked for eight o'clock but weren't seated at it until twenty-past nine. The staff for the most part ignored us, living drink unfilled and us very thirsty. Luke's and my main meals came out twenty minutes before the starters had even come out and were then placed under the warming oven to get a nice film over them. They completely forgot about Vivian's starter and we were still eating when they took our plates away. Everyone complained, it was utterly ridiculous. There was a couple in the restaurant who refused to pay their bill because of the experience. The manager called the police on them, and when the told the police the story the officers said fair enough and left them to it. The reason I say it was the best, is because it was so abysmal it was comical. I felt like I was in a farce and was just waiting for someone with a hidden camera to come out and tell his the game was up. So if you are reading this, and plan on spending any time in Torquay area, don't make the Marina Restaurant one of your stops.

The funicular
The final day consisted of one last game of crazy golf in Torquay, I won't bother telling you how well I did, you already know. I did say I was consistent. After crazy golf, and a pick-me-up latte, we went to Babbacombe Beach. To get down to Babbacombe Beach, we had to take the funicular. This brought memories of Pau (where I lived/studied in France) back. Pau also boasted a funicular, which took you from the train station to Boulevard des Pyrénées. Luke and I combed the beach, we were hoping to find tide pools and little creatures in them. Unfortunately we did not, although we did find a tiny starfish in a small rock pool and a rather sizeable crab on the beach. 

Looking for creatures.

Beach combing
Teignmouth Pier
After Babbacombe we made our goodbyes, but for the four of us our adventures in Devon weren't quite finished. We made one more stop in Teignmouth. Teignmouth was probably my favourite place we visited, it reminded me in a way of southern California. It seemed more relaxed and laid back than the other places we visited, and the only arcade that I saw was on the pier. The clincher for Teignmouth was the ice cream. It was a last minute decision to stop at Jane's Ice Cream and Luke was some. I almost didn't have any but my god am I glad I did. I would go back to Teignmouth just for that ice cream! In exiting Teignmouth, Neil took a detour to Wear Farm, a place Luke spent two or three weeks at for many summers during his childhood. It was fun to see the memories of the place come back to him. While some things have changed he said, there were a number (like the corner store) which remained exactly as they had during his childhood.

I would say that my first trip to the English seaside was a great success, filled with lots of fun, laughs, and endless jokes about battered sausages.

Erin x

Mine! Mine! Mine!

Quintessentially English's July entry for Happy Homemaker UK's Post of The Month Club.

Crocodile Rock

Thursday, 21 July 2011
The following is a photo montage of our weekend away in Devon with Neil and Nic. We went so I could meet Neil's parents as they were unable to attend our wedding reception. It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend with a lot of laughs. Expect a post on it shortly.

Erin x

Station X

Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Bletchley Park, or Station X, is the historic site of the codebreaking centre which helped to secure a victory for the Allied Forces during World War II. It is asserted that were it not for "Station X" the war would have lasted for at least another two years. Winston Churchill himself called the codebreakers the "geese that laid the golden egg". And last Wednesday, I was fortunate enough to go and see where it all happened. For it being such a massive part of history, Bletchley Park appears to me a place that time forgot. Considering the nature of the work done at "Station X" was kept silent until the mid-1970s, I suppose this is understandable. And it wasn't until 2004 that Bletchley Park was opened as a public museum.

The Bletchley Park manor house

But before Bletchley Park was a code-breaking centre it had been a Victorian mansion belonging to a wealthy London financier. Originally an old farm-house, the eccentric style of the manor is due to the family's love of travelling. They would go abroad, find a house they liked the look of, and when they came back add an extension in that style. In looking at the manor house it is quite clear to see each of the different extensions, and although they are all quite different it does seem to work.

The working Bombe reconstruction
The codebreakers arrived at "Station X", as Bletchley Park became known, in August of 1939. The most famous of these workers, was Alan Turing, the head of the section for responsible for German cryptanalysis. Alan Turing developed a number of techniques for breaking the Germans ciphers, such as the bombe, a machine which allowed the codebreakers to decipher the Enigma machine (which the Germans believed to be uncrackable). Achievements such as these are what helped bring an end to World War II.

At the conclusion of the war, Churchill ordered that every scrap of evidence was destroyed. This is most likely due to the fact that England did not want their former ally the USSR to know of Bletchley Park's wartime accomplishments. Thankfully a number of photographs survived, and using these a number of working reconstructions of the machines have been created. I tried to make sense of these machines, but failed miserably.

Two days after my visit, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh came to unveil a memorial statue to the work done at Bletchley Park. The ceremony was attended by some of the surviving codebreakers and would explain why I saw a number of workers fervently painting sections of the property. It appears Bletchley Park is finally getting the recognition it deserves. 

Erin x

This post is dedicated to my Grandpa - who has probably read every book on World War II in existence and whom I thought of the entire time while at Bletchley Park. 

For more information on the history of Bletchley Park please visit the BBC History Page.

Hounds of the Baskervilles

Tuesday, 12 July 2011
I went for my job interview yesterday, my first proper one in the UK. From my perspective, it went well - no curve ball questions, I didn't feel like I was under the microscope, and the ladies I was interviewing with were lovely. We actually had a few laughs. The only awkward moment was at the end when they both offered their hands to shake at practically the same time and I didn't know whose to go for first. It was laughed off though. I had to giggle at myself, for at one point the woman, who would be my direct supervisor, asked if I felt intimidated by working with foreign languages and for a split second I thought she meant British English. It was a blonde moment of mine that thankfully wasn't stated out loud. I hope I get the job, I'll be proper gutted if I don't.

Currently, I'm staying with Neil and Nicola and of course my favourite boys, Oli and Doogal. Doogal is currently snoring at my feet and Oliver off in a huff somewhere because Doogal wouldn't stop licking his ears. Bless, even dogs have disagreements with one another. These dogs never cease to put me in a good mood, you giggle just looking at them. They are after all Basset Hounds, with ears that drag on the floor and more wrinkles than the Queen Elizabeth II. (No disrespect intended to my dear Queenie.) And when they bark they sound like a couple of seals. Which would explain the odd dream I had last night about working at the 'seal reserve' with seal pups. Although perhaps not the dream I had about helping Angela Lansbury in a Murder, She Wrote mystery. Enough of trying to interpret my dreams, I'm off to the supermaket to pick up something for tea tonight. I'm cooking!

Erin x
and Doogal *lick lick*

The Silver Lining

Friday, 8 July 2011
My life these past few months has been a never ending cycle of looking for jobs and sending out CVs, with to be honest not much feedback. I've had a couple nibbles that never really went anywhere, a few emails saying sorry you have not been successful, but mostly just a lack of response. I did have one telephone interview, the woman had a lot of positive feedback on me but said unfortunately I didn't have quite the experience she required but would like to take me on in the future.

Today I had a proper bite, finally. I found the job yesterday, quite by accident, and applied. It was fantastic role for a global company based in Milton Keynes using all of my skills. I was really keen and decided I would send a follow up email today, just to make sure they'd received it. I got a response quickly saying that in fact yes they had received my application and would be very interested to have me in for an  interview. RESULT!!! This girl now has herself an interview for Monday afternoon! Everyone keep their fingers crossed.

As it happens, Luke is most likely going to have an interview next week, but in Manchester - the other side of the country! Wouldn't that just be our luck.

Erin x

The Apprentice (T.G.I.W.)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011
Rebecca Black and Katy Perry need to forget about Friday, it's all about T.G.I.W. (Thank God It's Wednesday)! One step closer to the weekend, but more importantly The Apprentice is on telly tonight. I can already hear the theme tune, albeit in my head. I remember watching series one of the original US Apprentice, with Donald Trump with my mom. Let me assure you all, the UK version is 10x better! Largely in part that I don't have to see Trump's horrible ginger comb over in every boardroom.

I think I may actually cry when this series is over and I have to wait another year to watch it. And with only six candidates left now the end is near! Most of my least favourites have gone now, except Natasha (who fingers crossed will exit this week). Here is a quick look at the six candidates left:

"Global Business" Melody
It actually wouldn't surprise me if Melody killed for this opportunity. She's like a tiger, going after what she wants, perhaps a little too aggressively. And of course she's always talking about how she runs a global business.

"That's Not Fair" Suzy
In the first few weeks I felt bad for Susan, she never seemed to be allowed to get her ideas across. Now, she just irritates me. Any statement anyone makes against her, including Lord Sugar, is deemed as "unfair" in her eyes.

"Golden Girl" Helen
If The Apprentice was a horse race, as demonstrated on The Apprentice: You're Fired. Then Helen would be the horse to bet on. She hasn't lost a task yet and is rather laid back compared to most of the other candidates. But could her winning streak make her careless? At this point I think she's too far in the lead to not see the final, if not win the whole thing.

"Bad Attitude" Natasha
She's made some poor decisions in the past weeks and her survival at this point is based on pure luck rather than actual merit. I don't think Lord Sugar rates her, and if she's brought to the board room I think she'll be gone.

"Jedi" Jim
Or as Alan Sugar would call him "The Incredible Bull-Shitting Man". At first I thought he was brilliant, the way he was able to get customers, clients, and even colleagues to seemingly bend to his will. But his jedi mind tricks are getting a bit tiresome and he can be a bit manipulative.

"Absent Minded Inventor" Tom
Ah, poor Tom. He really is a sweet guy but definitely a bit absent minded. Last week he held the board room door open for the ladies, which I thought was very cute. Only problem, he's more a goldfish than shark. That being said I hope he makes it to the finale.

Only 3 more hours to wait!

Erin x

Viva Italia!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Luke and I returned from Florence, Italy on the 23rd of June and I'm only just now getting back into the swing of things. My last load of laundry is being done as we speak, but clothes from the week since Italy have piled up. I blame Luke, as I asked him to pick up clothes soap and he kept forgetting.

I know I usually just write exclusively on my English life, but this counts as it was my first official holiday as an English woman. It was an absolutely fantastic holiday but "A picture is worth a thousand words." And with that adage I hope you enjoy the video!

Erin x

Born on the Fourth of July

Monday, 4 July 2011
It was on this day in 1776 that the Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence declaring independence from Great Britain. Of course, it took a little thing known as the Revolutionary War to really get the message across to the Brits. Thankfully they don't hold grudges and we have that "special relationship" that allows us to be friends today.

Uncle Sam (United States) and John Bull (United Kingdom)
Uncle Sam and John Bull

All over America this day will be celebrated by thousands of barbecues (I can practically smell the charcoaled hot dogs) and red, white, and blue cakes. Inevitably, after one too many beers drunken renditions of patriotic songs will pop up, which let's be honest are must better than their sober counterparts. My friends favourite was the highly inappropriate theme song from Team America, which if you're easily offended I wouldn't bother looking up. Alas in the United Kingdom, the Fourth of July means none of these things and I'll have to go another year without my hot dog and drunken renditions.

The Fourth of July saw the birth of a nation in America, but in the United Kingdom it was the birth of another great. On this day in 1862, in a rowing boat on the River Thames, somewhere between Oxford and Godstow, Lewis Carroll was telling a story that got curiouser and curiouser by the minute to Alice Liddell and her sisters. This story would become the basis for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, one of my all time favourite books.

John Tenniel's A Mad Tea Party from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
John Tenniel's A Mad Tea Party

So less we forget, today we celebrate the birth of two greats - the United States of America and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. A truly great day to celebrate!


Erin x

My Apologies

Friday, 10 June 2011
My sincerest apologies, dear reader - I've been a very bad blogger, letting life get in the way and not pausing to write. To recap on my activities and whereabouts for the past two months would take far to long, but I'll try and mention a few highlights.

Our English Wedding Reception (April 24th): Luke and I celebrated with family and friends on this side of the pond at the Dunchurch Park. It was a beautiful setting and event. I got to wear my wedding dress again, which I was thrilled about since I absolutely love it! Luke, once again, looked mighty handsome, if I do say so myself. It was a night filled with a lot of laughs, dancing, and alcohol. Some of the photos of Luke towards the end of the night are particularly amusing.

That Other Wedding You Might Have Heard Of. (April 29th): On April 29th, the world seemed to stop and watch the wedding between two little knowns, Prince William and Kate Middleton. I was no exception, the family gathered at Ian's parents' house for a Royal Wedding BBQ. We had a giggle looking at some of the ridiculous getups people were wearing, in particular Victoria Beckham (who looked like she was going to a funeral) and Princesses Beatrice & Eugenie. I "ooh'ed and aww'ed" like the rest of the nation at all the right places, and smiled when they had not one but an unprecedented two kisses on the balcony. I draw the line at crying.

Grandma in London (May 21st-22nd): My Grandma and her friend Phyllis, went on a cruise around the British Isles which ended in Southampton. Luke and I met them for the weekend in London and stayed in Covent Garden. It was great to see them both and show them around. Lindsay and Bob met up with us on the Saturday and we walked around Westminster. On the Sunday, Luke and I took them on a River Thames Cruise before going into the Tower of London. After which we met up with Neil and Nicola for lunch at the Hispanola, a restaurant my mom and I have ate at almost every trip we've taken to London.

Besides that, we've both been busy looking for jobs and trying to get out of Worcester. Although the job market is better here than America, it still is not the greatest. Combined we've probably applied for well over a hundred jobs and only had a few bites back which then turned into pretty much nothing. We're still hopeful though, the right job is out there for both of us and we'll find them!

Next Thursday, we're heading off for another wedding, but this one is in Florence! To say that I'm excited would be the understatement of the century, I could definitely use the holiday! And in honour of that, I say to you... CIAO!!!

Erin x

Lambs and Daffodils

Wednesday, 20 April 2011
I have never given much thought to spring, coming from Vegas where the lovely warm weather stays for mere weeks before the summer heat (of around 115 F) is upon you. However, living in England is giving me a new found love for this season. This being my first spring in England, I'm experiencing new things I never have before, and thoroughly enjoying them. Watching the buds slowly creep out of the ground and back onto the trees, daffodils grow like wildfire and are everywhere you turn, and of course all of the baby animals, especially the lambs.

Two weekends ago was a particularly lovely one in Southam, where Luke and I spent much of the weekend lounging in the garden. While Ian and Lindsay toiled away with potting plants and officially ending winter's reign over the garden. Knowing my new found love of spring and my obsession with lambs, Lindsay arranged a special treat for us on Sunday. A friend of hers from work, Deanna, has a smallholding and invited us to come up and feed the lambs.

Deanna and one of her chickens

In the warm sunshine surrounded by animals a smallholding is rather appealing to me, but Deanna is quick to point out in the wet winter months it is a lot of work and images of me having one quickly pop out of my head.  Deanna and her husband have a wide range of animals: horses, chickens, sheep and even a donkey named Jenny. Of course my favourite were the lambs, they were so soft I felt like I was cuddling a stuffed toy. A number of them had really big personalities, especially Lamb 24.

Jenny the Donkey

Did you know: That when lambs are born numbers are spray painted on them so the farmer knows which lamb belongs with which ewe. If multiple lambs are born they are all given the same number. For example, our Lamb 24 had a brother and a sister both with 24 spray painted on their sides, but they weren't sociable like she was. 

'Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb... whose fleece was white as snow.'

As soon as we entered the field a number of lambs came bounding over as they knew we were bringing milk. I was shocked to find them so happy to play with us as I was expecting Deanna to have to coax them over. In fact it was quite the opposite, not only were they only too happy to come and play but they wouldn't leave us alone. We could pick them up and hold them without them kicking up a fuss. I was also surprised to see their mothers didn't seem to care in the slightest that we were playing with their lambs. Lamb 24 followed us around the field and kept jumping up at our knees. I think she was almost as sad to see us go as we were, she stood at the gate 'baa-ing' until we were out of sight.

Luke feeding our favourite, Lamb 24

 Lindsay and Deanna called me the 'lamb whisperer'

Lamb 24 didn't want us to leave.

It was a lovely morning and a very rare opportunity that I'm very grateful for. I'll leave you now with a poem by one of the Romantic-era masters, William Wordsworth, an Englishman who with this poem, I believe, captured the essence of an English spring.

Erin x


I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

-- William Wordsworth
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