Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Really, I am okay with spiders. Don't bother me a bit when they are outside. The ones who spin webs and eat pesky little bugs in my home are A-Ok with me. However, I'm a bit changed by these new English variety. My neighbor, Alison, upon our first meeting, asked me how I felt about them. Now upon our next meeting, I'll have to revise my original statement and tell her, that yes, indeed she was correct in saying there are some SPIDERS who like our homes a little too much. I might even take back that I'm willing to come over and "take care of" the ones she finds. Just when you're not ready for them *shiver*.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Stay Left, Look Right

After being here nearly 3 months now, driving has gotten considerably easier. Sure there are those heart fluttering moments every so often, but as Josh says, what would be the fun with out them.

However, the following situations continue to plague me causing me to hit the brakes, swerve, or let out a new explicative for Olive to learn:

1)Narrow roads- visually, and sometimes mathematically impossible roads for 2 cars to pass one another with wheels on pavement. Either by a very hard, solid stone wall/building, shrub, ditch, dike, embankment, or drop off looming very close to pavement's edge and equitably solid vehicle, delivery truck, or Lory on the other. It's like a game of chicken with the oncoming car. I always end up being the chicken.

2)Speed limits- technically I am allowed to drive 60mph on said road above. Mind you there is also dips, swerves, and blind spots over hills. I'm driving this country in the wrong decade of my life.

3) Roundabouts - I get them. I'm good. But, I forget certain ones are there. It's the itty bitty ones that I seem to drive straight through only to remember to look right when I see the little spot in the middle of the road. Gas stations, and small side streets are going to do me in.

4) Randomly parked cars, bikes, roadwork, and other random hazards on roadside- Nothing says break like seeing a car parked facing you in the middle of the road. Could be in a no parking zone, curb, or sidewalk. Parking rules I guess are optional.

5)Pigeons- stupid, fat, slow to gain lift birds. One will soon be victim on my windscreen. I won't mind because there will be one less wood pigeon on the Island, but it will surly crack or dent my car.

There's a few driving video's on flickr if you're interested. Josh doing the driving (and having a quick break behind a biker... it may be hard to tell since I'm putting the camera down reflexively to brace myself for possible impact)

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Wales Tales

Our latest adventure took us to Wales this past weekend for camping and seeing some local sights. It all began with what Google maps called a 4 hour drive... We thought we'd break it up by driving to our friends in Birmingham Thursday night. Ron and Maria graciously housed us, fed us, and were so polite by our late arrival due to traffic cues and confusing directions into B'ham. We left Friday morning to complete the journey to Betws-y-Coed. Again thwarted by long queues, this one for the music V-Festival, rain, confusing signs - Cat's Eyes Removed?!- and general UK roads, we arrived at our destination some 7 hours on road.

We did some research on where to stay in Snowdonia National Park, tried to make reservations, but ended up winging it in the end. With pouring rain and brisk winds most of the quaint farmland fields looked swamped and we kept on driving until we decided on Swallow Falls Inn/Hostel/Pub/Tavern/Campground. We pitched the tent on a staggered hillside overlooking the building, but had the roar of the waterfall tempering the not-so-camplike feel of the place.

After we got our tent up, and dried off a bit, we walked across the road to view Swallow Falls. A few pounds later to get thought the gate, we were able to see all of water from the latest rains. Done in 20min. So, back to the tent to fall asleep by 8. Josh, however, was devoured by little no-see-ums which left him looking like he had developed a case of the chicken poxs.

Saturday was our day of hiking. Most of Snowdonia National park is used for farming, so, essentially your hiking though someones acreage. We saw sheep, sheep, and more sheep. Other animals, possibly wildlife? Nope. Nice views of the valley from our hundreds of rock steps up. Olive caught a ride with Papa for most of it. She did want to cross the fence lines herself.

Sunday was our in town day. The morning we went over to Llanberis. There we spent the morning wandering about the Slate Museum. We were all equally impressed with the gigantic water wheel that once ran the various saws and machines. Afterward we took Olive on her first train ride. A blue steam engine named Thomas Bach and old wooden coaches down the side of the lake. Olive kept looking for his face and his other friends- Percy included.

Later on we went to the Caernarfon Castle - started being built back in 1283 - and we went up and down all the towers and halls. Olive's favorite part was the scoop of ice cream she got at the end of the trip. *note to reader, I just had to cross the room and squash a giant spider that Josh thought was a mouse* The end of the day was ended with a pint on the picnic bench while Olive played on the campground playground.

Monday was the return journey home. All seven hours of it. But before we left Wales we went to the Trefriw Woolen Mills. There we saw raw wool carted and woven into beautiful blankets. Learned about tweeds and various other styles of wool cloth. I picked up some local roving and Josh got a smashing tweed flat cap.

That was our trip to Wales. *Geeze ANOTHER frickin' giant spider crawled out from under the couch towards the hearth. Josh's turn*

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

All in the Details

For the past week I've made a directed effort to get EntWorks back up and running. Alas, it's going to be several more weeks. Olympia was such an awesome town to live in - rich in artists, ideas, and supply stores. I have yet to find a fabric store that isn't a hole in the wall which looks, literally, like a mouse has tucked away scraps on bolts from the early 1990s. They have a quaint name of "haberdasheries". No browsing for Heather Ross' latest or other artist fabrics for me in the near future. Maybe somewhere near London, but not a quick 5 minute drive to Ruby St. or even a coupon day at JoAnn's. *sigh*

So, that's led to a total re-thinking of what I'll be making due to availability of supplies, changes in postage rates, and motivation to seek out other media. Here's to hopefully starting back up in September.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Races and Romps and Other Oddities

Not being a big journal writer, this blog seems to be a bit of a chore at times. I can't seem to motivate myself to type down some of the happenings of our time here in England. (Much of the mundane is the same anywhere, dishes are dishes, yah know?) But there are things to note, and I shall, just need a bit of a shove to do so.

Saturday- We headed out to the races in Newmarket. After a week long brew-ha-ha of buying tickets (apparently all our debit/credit cards are having issues with our super long English address fitting into the American 3 line address system digitally. So any on-line purchase or telephone attempt fails and you're only alternative is driving around a deserted race pavilion looking for someone who is not tending horses to purchase a ticket from... but to borrow a line from Phil Gray, I digress)

Our day out started in heals, a suit, and a smashing white frock, person dependent. Dressed to impress in the Paddock and Grandstand seating. We didn't splurge to be in the eliete seating, and realized once there, it was the place to be. Out attire was a bit over done in our area, especially when the rain kicked in and the muddy field commenced. It was as fun as it could be in the rain, and leagues away from the starting gate. You watch the majority of the race on the Jumbo LED screen since the horses start 7 furlongs or just under a mile away. Then, they pass quickly, crowd shouting, and then the winner is announced. We didn't bet, that may have been part of the letdown of the buzz of racing. We also weren't happily imbibing, the second must of watching racing. I was great to see the horses being paraded around before the race while the jockeys weighed in. They were all muscle and veins (Olive was continually questioning about them). The winning horse got to drink a bucket of water like the other loosing horses... no grand flowers, checks, or photo opts. at this day of the races. Olive thought a bucket of water was a good "prize." Next time we go back, we'll be in the family section with no dress code or expectations.

Off to Thetford Forest for a bit of a hike and a time in "nature." A nice morning walking large mowed paths through planted forest lands. There was an old Game Keepers home which we passed. The Ergo is still in use. BEST baby/toddler/preschooler purchase EVER.

Swim Costume = Swimsuit. Had to translate that one for Olive today in the pool at the leisure center when another kid came up say she liked O's Target special shorts and rash guard. With me in my board shorts & bikini top, and O in her get up, we stick out at the pool just a little.

Condensing dryer = Pain in the arse (who thought it would be a good idea to have to store the water in a large tank one would have to drain every time he/she dried a load of laundry?)

Phoning Wales = no answer, not a single business I've called has picked up a phone. Camping trip in the UK, commencing two week countdown. Adventure it shall be either by joyous times remembered or horrid times laughed at years down the line.

Made a Will = Josh and I are officially growing up more

Paris= We will see you in September. 4 Night outing here we come.

Preschool= Either O will be going to the local co-op or a Nursery that's studied by Cambridge University... choices, choices and the pounds that go with them.

"Bless Her" = the saying I hear ALL THE TIME in concerns to Olive. Today taking her into a public toilet, a very kind janitor praised Olive for minding her manors in the loo. "Ah, the little poppet, Bless her, she's adorable."

Plastic Sheet = O's first night without a diaper. She's been dry at night for months except for a few mishaps every time we changed a location. Now that we're settled in, we're giving it a go. Those of you who have kids who've been through it know how monumental this is and why it deserves mention on a blog!

That's the news for now. Thanks to those who've written, called, and commented. We love hearing from you.

olive's post

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Saturday, 7 August 2010

Proud UK Moment

Sitting in the hot tub out back the other night, Josh and I had to pause our conversation due to the sounds of bagpipes wafting over the fence from our neighbors garden. Full march, few breaks, not too bad. I am totally serious.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Sunday Stroll

Sunday's mini outing was to some of the footpaths in our village. (Footpaths are legal ways of passing over private property.) We went out the front door and headed up the road until we found the old wooden sign pointing towards Sandwich Stud. A massive farm with thatched roof barns, paddocks, and fields full of mares and foals. Each one of these race horse are potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on its pedigree and races won of its parents. We hiked along the private roads and fields of these farms passing by statues of past winners, clock towers on barns, and overgrown hedge rows between properties. Olive was able to watch young horses run in the field and hear the loudness of the hoof falls. She also had a lovely little chat with a few set of horses.