Friday, January 16, 2015
So our first night in our hail mary townhouse was...um...restful? No...peaceful? Um...hmm...you know that feeling you get when you are being water boarded? Yeah - that one. I'm not one to complain, well hell, yes I am but I am attempting to spray maple syrup on this bitch and find the silver lining. The house, which creaks and whistles and last night, I was certain I heard breathing is, well, haunted. Okay that's a strong word since no actually haunting happened. Let's go with the fact that there are more than just six living here. Can you just trust me on this? The master bed is a bit of canoe when you lay down and since I have always loved my time on the water, I will stay positive and commandeer the SS Smith to Slumber. When you open the trundle in Livvy and Maddie's room, you can't close the door so hey - lots of air coming in from the hallway, who doesn't need fresh air? Especially when the heat, no matter how hard we attempt to manipulate the heating element from 800 BAC, can roast a chicken in the bathroom. Open some windows you say? Great idea, and we can all share in the whistling wind...so what's a girl to do? Whistling and freezing winds or Florida in August - we vote for whistling winds and so did our neighbors who enjoyed midnight telly of old reruns of Matlock. And I am not complaining!? Who else under 70 loves Matlock reruns? This girl! The room that Jack and Ava share has a double bed and double in British is large twin. The wifi is abnormally clear, like freakishly good...I think the wifi password is, wetracedthecallanditscomingfrominsidethehouse. Hell if I were a ghost, I would need good signal. Don't underestimate the power of good post mortem communication. After rifling through our 16 bags and racing up and down two flights of stairs to get said pajamas and necessities to said children, my thighs have never looked better. Yes, if I have to turn this into a positive fantasy experience, my legs will rock. After getting Maddie picked up from school at 9:00pm (U of Maryland does night classes, again, lovely - everyone loves three hours of lecture after a day of moving and packing!) we settled back in the Whistler and began locating everyone's tablets and phones and chargers. It was particularly delightful to find that we don't have enough adapters to charge everything. Awww, those Brits...those silly Brits. Just more family time to talk about our day and how completely fuc...I mean grateful we are. We just don't get enough time together these days and the last seven weeks of living in a hotel together has shown me that love conquers all and wine...err family is all one needs. After a restful four hours of sleep, like they did on the farm, waking up to take Ava to school because she is a rockstar and turned down the parental gift of taking Friday off, I stumble down the creaky mine shaft and figure on my way down there is a way to avoid the creaks...one just has to tread delicately on either side of each step, like a weird game of hopscotch and then at the bottom landing, avoid it completely leaping from the last step to the tile floor, sharp right, just don't ram your hip on the banister and drop the F bomb, not that I did that. Just sayin' Into the kitchen, which is now a meat locker (so glad it caught up with our radiator banging - see? still positive!), there. is. no. coffee. pot. Racing through cupboards like a I have 5 mins to live and the key to my survival lies within the shiny white formica cabinets, I see NO FUCKING COFFEE POT. WHAT KIND OF POW CAMP IS THIS?????????? NO WAY. I am DONE. Get me the hell out of here...what kind of @#% and @$!...and then, like a beacon on the bay, like the moment you see your baby for the first time, I hear the sleepy words that change my life..."I bought a french press last night and some coffee"...lyrics to my new favorite ballad, written by my knight in shining dark roast who saved this maiden from an untimely demise. Gd Save the Husband. Forget the queen, she didn't get me a french press. So here I sit, in my whistling, haunted town house, drinking coffee and feeling grateful, or hateful...watching the sun rise over the calm waters from my balcony and wondering if once the morning light hits, will I see the body. Happy Friday.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
One month ago today we arrived in the UK...wide eyed, cold and excited. And...four weeks later, we remain, wide eyed, cold and excited. It's a strange thing moving to a new country. Things you find so endearing at first become annoying later; I suppose not unlike a marriage really. When Joseph and I were dating he used to gaze deeply at me, almost hanging on my every word. It was so romantic. Now years later I see that he uses my face as a sort of mental canvas for him to calculate his to do list. After holding my glance he now says, "did you find the dry cleaner?". I'm pleased to be the place with which my husband launches into the world and well, England is kind of the same way. I love the people, mostly. I find them refreshingly honest and ridiculously polite but then at the end of a long day at the grocery check out, I don't care what the weather is outside and I am too tired to hear how your son's wedding went. How endearing that so few people use their cell phones because the wifi and mobile signals are slow and yet, when I need to call the doctor from the parking lot, I would have better luck with two cans and a ball of string. How lovely that everything is closed on Sunday so families can spend them together yet I needed coffee and I was a miserable bitch on Monday morning. I have to pay a pound to park at the market and pay another pound to rent a cart - all money goes toward the keeping up of the uber sparkly clean community streets and parks - collective "awwwwwwww" and yet I didn't HAVE a @#%@ pound so I carried all my groceries in my arms like a pack mule and endured the stares of British patrons thinking I was either too poor for a cart or too cheap to contribute. The good news is I now keep a box of pound sterling on me at all times in case I need to park or use the bathroom, blink or walk upright...it all costs money. And yes, the streets are clean and lovely and the plants along the freeway, nice, blah, blah, blah. There, ya happy? The good news is we found a fabulous house - a Victorian period home that has all the lovely British accouterments that we love with new appliances that we need. As much as I appreciate the percolator in the "parlor", that ain't stayin'. And yes, we have a parlor. A parlor. Where young men can be received for my two teenage daughters whilst I needlepoint over the oil lamps. See how sweet this all sounds? That's the best part of England! I love the ceremony and tradition and slower pace and beauty but dammit, with slow wifi, no drive thrus (as in anywhere), I need to be better prepared to take my coffee with me, make all the calls and emails I can during a "hot spot" and always keep an emergency Starbucks bag on stand by. See? This is really just about preparation. And driving...I am doing well but with the lack of shoulders on the road, I publicly apologize for saturating an older gentleman with rain water who was walking alongside the road. I hit a puddle, at 50 mph. I can still see the back of his wet head. I stayed sorry...all. damn. day. We have managed to have a lot of fun from touring Warwick Castle to cathedrals to parks to monuments...London, Cambridge, Elly, Peterboro and next weekend, Scotland. We move into our new house on Feb 12 - yes, a month from today and our temporary two bedroom has been reduced to a one bedroom for the next two weeks. Don't ask, just pray we don't kill each other as we head back to the Big Gulp cup to live. By the time we hit our new house, we will be like felons on a stay of execution...mania, everywhere. The food, for the most part, sucks unless you have a few of the token dishes like bangers and mash, meat pie or fish and chips...it's a vegetarian paradise. The tea is amazing, no wonder they love it and I have had enough clotted cream to harden my AND your arteries. I still ask for the restroom even if they call it a "toilet", I still say "thank you" even if they say "cheers" and I still drive and honk, even if they politely and fanatically blink their headlights, which incidentally in the dark looks like the mother ship is landing behind you. It's only been a month, I'll get there. Looking forward to more family fun, coming to you live from the new hotel room as we venture into the next chapter...Cheers!
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Okay day four is about as gloomy as the weather. I guess what I need to preface this with is, England isn't just London. Where we are? Think West Virginia with British accents...lovely, scenic but enough green fields and rural country side for this girl. Yep, after four days of family togetherness on the set of Deliverance, I am calling it. 10:40pm, Day Four. Done. Today was long and full of mishaps and just when I was SURE it was almost bedtime, Joseph shares with me that we need to take (and pass) and international driving test - tonight. As in, now. As in, before tomorrow when we attend our Newcomer Meeting. That's right folks...just what I wanted after looking ALL over the @#%^ grocery store for crackers (Guess what? They're biscuits) and chips (Guess what? They're crisps) and maybe some produce that doesn't look like it was grown right outside my hotel room under a heat lamp. And wait - that wasn't as fun as finding out I have to put in a pound just to get a shopping cart (it doesn't take American quarters...imagine). Add that to my cell and internet withdrawal since I am only operative on wifi and NO ONE HAS A FUCKING SIGNAL ANYWHERE...it's like going back in time but not in the quaint way - quaint comes later, right now, I just need groceries that I can haul across three layers of wet grass to my big gulp cup of a hotel room, to put in my camper size micro fridge that gets as cold as a beach cooler at the end of the day and go to bed without, gd help me, taking a drivers' test I didn't study for, which, by the way, Joseph is now taking for both of us. I hope I pass, if not, he sleeps in the bathtub. And before you even BEGIN to read to me how important learning to drive here is, no one does it right. You know what a roundabout is? I'll tell you - in lieu of lights because Gd knows how inefficient starting and stopping in an orderly fashion is, they put you on a road carousel that you signal entering or exiting, yielding right, going left, at 40 fucking miles per hour hoping to Gd someone sees you before you face plant against another driver. Try not to scream. Oh and do it on the "other" lane. Who did that? This girl. In a stick mind you. Are you impressed? Badass meets Terrified. And the roundabout only happens every 11 feet so you're good. And if you are fussy, make sure you hike up very close to the car in front of you and flash your lights like a maniac, but don't honk; the Brits are civilized. It's fun, especially at night - when I looked into my rear view mirror, it was like the mother ship was landing behind me. And the freeway is the motorway, unless it's a roundabout. Then it's the spiral of death. I had a meal of Chips and Mayo, yes, french fries and mayo because they ran out of two of my meal requests...and don't ask for iced tea unless you want your server to look like she ate a bad clam. It doesn't exist. There is tea - the hot kind, or you can have Lemonade, which is Sprite. No Sprite. No Ginger Ale (again, bad clam). And I'm not sure what Sponge Jam Pudding was so I passed. As my poor husband pecks away at our driving test and I share my thoughts under the glow of my tablet, on the desk I made out of a shoe box, tune in tomorrow for The Smiths Find a House.
Monday, December 15, 2014
We are here! Arrived after a very fitful three weeks of hotels and living out of a suitcase. We had our first official meal in the UK at Subway because that is what was walking distance from our base hotel. It's a little bit country and a lot of going back in time being here...dark early, stores close early - everyone walks slowly...as if they have no where to really go. Our hotel room is tiny and the kids are all out of whack but they are registered for school and start Wed (can I get a hell yeah?) and we are hoping to secure a rental car tomorrow...oh good - everything I ever learned about driving needs to be in reverse. No problem...got that pint but still working on that cup of tea. Five people, 16 bags of luggage and one big, big dog sharing space that rivals a big gulp cup, wifi from the 1800s, yes, I know but if they HAD wifi, it would work like this...and I'm grumpy because I miss my bed and my besties, in that order. House hunting tomorrow will breathe life into all of us. So will a decent night's sleep. I will say this - the British accents do make you feel like they know where they are going...ask them for directions, I dare you - they sound like GPS operators.