Sunday, March 2, 2014

Picking Out A Cottage By The Sea

We took a little day trip to Aldeburgh this weekend to check it out since the weather was not really conducive to sailing. It is a charming little village  by the sea with lots of nice cottages, buildings and boats to look at. We queued in line for chips at the chipper and then took a nice slow walk down the main street to get a feel for the place. The weather wasn't really conducive for nice slow walks either, so we ducked into a little alcove to finish our chips but continued on like good Brits completely ignoring the drizzle.

Aldeburgh is situated between the Auld river and the sea, so Alex plans to visit next time by boat. I thought it might be a good time to pick out or cottage in advance. These are some of the contenders:
Button cottage seemed the obvious choice for me,

but Hidden cottage was intriguing too....

Kitten cottage was extremely cute!

but Rose cottage has nice daffodils.

obviously Smile cottage was in the running, it did make me smile!

Lavender cottage is very nice, but oddly enough not lavender.
Then, at the end of the street we came to Marshmallow cottage. The name is definitely my favorite, but it was hidden behind the fence so we couldn't see the actual cottage. Maybe when we come by boat we'll catch a glimpse.

Alex decided to pick his own cottage. At first he liked this one,

but then switched when he saw this crazy place directly across from Marshmallow cottage. Someone built an addition the their lighthouse? Not sure, but this is all one building and people do actually live here. 
the recycling bin by the front gate

As we were getting in our car to go home a little girl on a pink bike with a pink helmet came out of the door to go for a bike ride. Cute!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Collecting Rainbows

I've seen a lot of rainbows since we arrived in the UK.
They never fail to delight.
 If I"m anywhere near a camera I always take a picture.
 Sometimes we see a double, those are amazing.
Now I even work under a thread rainbow, very fitting!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Burns Supper

Alex and I were delighted to get an invitation from some of our new sailing club friends to a Burns supper. 

Then we fired up Google to see exactly what a Burns supper is and got a little nervous.

 But, as it turns out our nerves were totally unfounded and the food and evening was fabulous!

Our hosts Janet and David are amazing cooks and wonderful hosts.
 It was a sit down dinner (with assigned seating, that seems to be the norm here) and each course was better than the next. 
Every time my glass was empty it was refilled without hesitation. We had Cock-a-leekie soup (delicious) for a first course. Then came the neeps, tatties (turnips and mashed potatoes) and cabbage and finally out came the haggis. 
Janet had prepared a beef dish for those that didn't like haggis, but it really wasn't necessary. I tried the haggis, and it was tasty but I couldn't really get past the psychological barrier I have against eating it. I ate about a third of it and Alex ate all of his, he liked it! 
I was so full by dessert I couldn't finish the dessert of raspberries, whipped cream and oats which was also delicious.

Liz and I had agreed beforehand that we would devise a plan to put the haggis into a potted plant on the windowsill since she had never tried it before either and wasn't sure if she would like it, but as it turns out we didn't have to resort to that plan at all. Liz's husband John who was sitting next to me politely inquired if he could finish mine for me, and I politely accepted! Of course we were kidding about the potted plant, but we were having fun and it was that kind of evening. We also devised my next potential business adventure: "The Haggis Baggis"! A lovely bag made from tartan on the outside with a removable plastic bag on the inside to deposit your haggis if you are in a situation where you don't like haggis but don't want to be rude about it. (Do you think it will be successful?)

David addressed the haggis before we ate and I have no idea what he said because his Scottish accent was pretty convincing. I think usually there are poetry readings and such but we had a slightly more low key evening than that with lots of good conversation. Liz and Bernice both have Bernina sewing machines and love to sew so we had plenty to talk about and the boys  of course talked sailing.

It was really fun and now I can check eating haggis off my list. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

We're Adjusting

It's been 6 weeks since I posted anything on the blog, not that I haven't been thinking about it every day, because I have. There has been a lot has been going on with a real mixture of good and bad and while I hesitate to get too personal here, I thought I'd give a run down for those interested.

The Good:

 We had a wonderful Christmas with a lot of company. My parents came for a weeklong visit and it was superb. We had the right balance of low key time for chats and walks in Bury showing off our new town  and whirlwind sightseeing.  They came to visit during the darkest week of the year so we had to take advantage of the available daylight before 4:00 to get it all in and  we did!
picture of Dad taking a picture
 I'm pretty sure the highlight was touring our local brewery and then the tasting session after wards.
Dad and Maureen, our brewery tour "elf"
Mom looks anxious at the responsibility of  holding up the beer
We spent a week with Alex's Mom, and Eva and her kids at Christmas in Hastings. The weather was atrocious on quite a few of the days so we hunkered down and did  a lot of cooking, searching for good movies to watch on TV (cable here is about as bad as it is anywhere else) and sitting by the fire. My nieces got bicycles for Christmas so we did manage a walk in the park when the weather cleared after Boxing Day.
new bikes!
Alex and Nani

We had a wonderful New Years Eve. We scored an invite to some of our new sailing friends house for the evening and it was great! Whenever the conversation lagged (which was hardly at all...) our hostess brought out a poem to read, word puzzles were provided, singing happened and limericks were recited. (Note to self: learn some limericks for next year) Then there was fireworks, billiard games and much wine and champagne and singing of Auld Lang Syne which everyone knew ALL the words to! Very fun.

I love my job. I love hanging out in the alterations shop (who knew? I always said the one thing I would NEVER do is alterations, or wait, maybe that was sail making that I swore never to do...seems I swore I would never do a lot of things, but never mind I'm doing them anyways) and meeting people from the town, getting to know my new boss and my co-workers. They are extremely hard working, wonderful people and I have learned  not to complain about minor things in my life because they will set me straight for sure on challenging life situations. In the shop we are all immigrants to the UK and they have seen it all and been through a lot, a lot more than my problem of not being able to find good Ranch dressing. By the way on the Ranch dressing, I've started making my own and it is delish!

We've been exploring the area a bit and getting to know some of the small towns and coastline in our region. Alex, Eric and I are learning to compromise when sightseeing so we all can have fun and enjoy the experience. Translation: the boys tolerate Thrift Shops, I tolerate "Transportation Museums" and Eric Tolerates pubs. Win, win, win.

Eric likes his school. That's all I know because he is 15 and stops talking about himself after about 4 words.

The Bad:

We've had extremely bad luck with our home  in the US with lots of things breaking, the basement flooding, trees falling in the yard etc. We are essentially paying for two homes on one income. yuck.

We miss Jordi and don't have much communication with him. 

We miss our friends and family terribly but  at least we have Skype which makes it tolerable.

Not much sailing for Alex. It's cold and wet and the tidal limitations make it a rare occasion when we can actually take the boat out. He's had Nani out 3 times since August and is definitely looking forward to summer.
sunrise at the marina, no photoshop involved with this photo!
After New Years I had a bit of a slump trying to stay positive, but I feel better now, we seem to be getting into a groove. Little things like finding a favorite place to buy bread, driving to the grocery store by myself  and making a new friend at an art festival make me feel like I'm getting adjusted, maybe putting down a root or two and feeling normal.  I've got a few projects in the works to keep me busy and the days are getting longer, it is still light at 4:30! I hung a horseshoe over the door to change our luck on our Oakwood house and so expect that will improve that situation soon. 2014 will be good.

I hope everyone is well, please keep in touch and come see us soon! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Bits and Bobs Part II

Thanksgiving came and went and it turned out wonderful instead of terrible like I imagined it would be this first year away from my family. My new friend Arianna and her husband Jeff hosted and did a great job making us feel welcome and preparing an amazing feast for us to enjoy. Despite the fact that Alex had to work the next day it was very enjoyable!
We enjoyed our trip to Norwich during which the skies always looked like this 

and found this cool antique and junk store that we need to go back and explore a bit more.
I did my first outdoor festival in Woodbridge and it went very well and didn't rain at all, quite the small miracle! I only took one picture of this beautiful dog that was shopping for cd's at the next stall.
I like my job and am working a couple of days a week. The other days of the week I will be getting the house ready for our next big visit: Mom and Dad!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bits and Bobs

We went to Spain last weekend on an important errand: Alex renewed his 30 year old drivers license so that he can exchange it for the UK one and avoid the drivers tests here. It was a whirlwind weekend, as a matter of fact it was so windy and rainy on Saturday we stayed home the entire day and were forced to eat lots of ham and delicious snacks.

Eric turned 15 and had a donut cake to celebrate.

I made a friend! yippee! Today we are heading out on a day trip to Cambridge and she has invited us over for Thanksgiving too,  I'm pretty happy about that.  I thought we might skip the holiday all together because (drumroll........) I got a job! I got a job and I'll be working next Thursday and won't be able to cook the turkey. 

Yes, I got a job and I'm ecstatic about it. I'm working part time in a sewing and alterations shop in downtown Bury about a 10 minute walk from my house, I started this week and so far I really enjoy it. Sylvia the owner is so nice and talented and the working environment is fun and relaxed. I had such a good time chatting about sewing and crafting and just being with the ladies who love to sew and oh, getting some work done too. 

We are spending the weekend in Woodbridge doing boaty things, but Sylvia told me about a fabric shop nearby so now that has been added to the weekend list of to-dos. Yes, things are looking up!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Renegade Re-Cap

Way back when Alex put the plans in motion to move to England by sailboat I put my full faith and support behind him. Not that I didn't complain and moan  about the cost and the amount of work it would take because I did complain. A lot sometimes. And at a certain point I said if I had to  get the house ready for sale plus  get it ready to be packed all by myself and then spend a week in Connecticut helping get the boat ready that he would owe me big time in the future.Yes I did say that,  and this weekend that debt came back to haunt him, in a big way because it was the Renegade Craft Fair in London  and I could not have done it without him. 
London sunrise

But Wow! What a weekend it was, full of the good, the bad and the exhausting parts of doing a big show in a big city on a busy weekend. I unfortunately don't have many pictures because I didn't take my camera (not another crumb would fit in the car, it was packed to the gills) and I didn't want to keep up with it all weekend so I had to use Eric's phone for any pics and he was, shall we say "unwilling" at certain times to cough up his camera. My sales were decent so that was good, but the expenses to spend a weekend in London are decent too so while I did profit from the weekend the main benefit was having the experience of doing a big show like this and testing the market in London. I thought that I could raise my prices a bit since the show was in London after all but  the truth is that everyday living expenses cost so much in London people have much less disposable income to spend, especially the younger people who attended the show.

Alex lends an engineers perspective
the crowds
The show itself was fantastic. There were lots of great vendors with interesting and trendy items for sale, you can see a little re-cap on the Renegade blog here. I had a chance to walk around a bit and was overwhelmed with all the choices and in the end just bought a few things from my neighbors since I was having a hard time deciding. It took place in "The Old Truman Brewery" which is in the East London neighborhood near Brick Lane, an amazing area! When we arrived and started to load our stuff up a dingy staircase in  what looked like a neglected building Alex commented he didn't know how anyone would find the show, but they found it! Despite the fact that there was only 1 banner at the entrance there was constant traffic both days and it was downright busy and congested most of the time. 

I didn't get out into the street during the day, but when I left at night I couldn't believe how busy the area was, no wonder it was so busy upstairs. Brick Lane is the "curry" capitol of London so every 2 steps you take someone asks you if you would like to eat in their restaurant because it is the best one! We ended up at a Mexican restaurant (go figure) because we have been craving it since we've been here in the UK and don't have a Mexican restaurant in Bury. It was good (different than what we are used to, of course!) and a fun place to eat.

We spent the night in a hotel a short distance from the show and the next morning while walking to the show I got to gawk a bit at the buildings and quirky funny little corners we passed by. We were treated to the sight of drunk party go-ers peeing in the streets on the way home from a night of drinking, nice. We turned the corner onto Brick Lane and stepped right into a street market that was setting up, how I wish I could have stayed and done some looking there. It was colorful and eclectic and went on forever, it seems on Sunday morning the whole area turns into an outdoor market. Someone had the the song "Kung Fu Fighting" blaring on their boom box, it set the perfect atmosphere! Also, the first floor of the Brewery is a food and vintage clothing market on Sunday mornings,  Eric got his lunch from  a food truck there, it was very tasty, the best Chinese we've had so far here.
After the show the load out is always the worst part. We  booked a parking space in someones driveway for the weekend since it was much cheaper than the hotel parking (which costs about $50 per day!) and it was only about 3 blocks from the Brewery so we ended up carrying all my set up to and from the space instead of trying to get our car in the tiny loading area of the Brewery. The blocks got a little longer with each trip, but we got it done and Alex got us out of the city without mis-hap. Driving in London is INSANE. We had to drive out of tiny streets that supposedly are 2 way, but since cars park on one side they are down to 1 tiny lane and you actually have to drive with one set of wheels on the sidewalk to avoid hitting the cars and then avoid all the pedestrians, who are drunk, or on their cell phones and expect you to avoid them and not the other way around. 

I had a great time a the show, my booth neighbors were fantastic (a young Scottish couple) and  I met some wonderful customers. The people watching at the show was AMAZING! Londoners have an incredible sense of personal style, everyone does their own thing and they don't care what they are "supposed" to be wearing, they just go for it, whether they want to wear a dinosaur suit (in the rain, no less)
dinosaur suits, not just for Halloween
 or high heel rainbow Converse with a Bavarian dirndl skirt. I really missed having my camera to document the great outfits, alas. Being in London was inspiring, I can't wait to go back and explore (I'll definitely take the train) and roam around the markets on my own. It'll happen soon I hope, and I'll have more pictures!