Every good and perfect gift is from above...James 1:17

Monday, December 19, 2005

Fun, fun, fun 'Til Her Daddy Takes The Mercedes Away

So long Mercedes, hello Citroen. The company has stopped paying for our posh rental, and we're back to real life now. We bought a Citroen C3, which is a French car. Several of Abe's work buddies gave him a hard time since there's no love lost between the English and the French. Our choices were somewhat limited since we bought a used automatic. The majority of people drive manuals here. One salesman told us that only executives or old people drive automatics. Since we're not executives, I guess that puts us in the old people category...we can't really argue. We went out on my birthday with Abe's work buddies and we had already driven home, stopped by and bought a pizza and were sitting on the couch by 10:00. I was disappointed in both of us. The Party Girl would have ignored her swollen feet from traveling and the extra 1.5 'stones' of baby and pushed on through the pain in her feet that nearly brought tears. What the heck has this baby done me?? And he's not even here yet!

Abe has wanted a minivan even before we were expecting. So I gave in and got a miniature minivan. I'm having issues parking in these tiny spaces so I got the smallest 'people carrier' as they call it as you can get. This way there is a back seat not only for baby, but also for picking visitors up at the airport. Make reservations now, as we're booking up quickly!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Reunited And It Feels So Good!

The eagle has landed!! It took a lot of deligence, prayer, 3 babysitters, 3 travel cages, hours of research, battery operated warmers, 2 four-hour trips to Gatwick Airport, tons of paperwork including official CITES, DEFRA and health forms, 2 trips to the US Fish and Wildlife, 4 trips to the vet, a trip to the US from the UK, 2 separate visits to customs, a fax to and from Heathrow Customs, deconstruction of her new cage to fit in the car, countless phone calls and emails, and numerous outbreaks of tears, but she's here safe completing our family. Perseverence, my friends.

There's No Place Like Home

Whilest hotels are fun at first, lengthy hotel stays can be too much of a good thing. We finally moved into our rental house on December 1st. It's a 2 bedroom, 1 bath. There is an extra bed for all who want to come visit! The house is what's called an attached house, meaning it shares a common wall with the house next door, much like a duplex. These are quite common here. However, this is actually a triplex. It's also common to have a 2 or 3 level house. Since there is no room to build out they build up. It feels like an apartment instead of a house, but it's cute. It was fully furnished so it's quite homey. There is a little rock garden in the back with lots of plants but no grass to mow. That works out well since we have no mower. There is also an annex out the back. The landlord used the extra room for entertaining.

We live in a little town called Beverley. It's probably about 50,000. It's large enough that it's not considered a village. We live about 60 steps from the town centre. We're right off a street that is a walking path only (the size of a street, but no cars allowed). It's always full of people until 4:00. Things close shop here in a hurry and the town is then dead. We're pretty sure the kids, or at least the people who are not expecting, go out later at night. There are all kinds of clothes shops, banks, pubs, butchers, hair salons, grocery stores, city council offices, churches, gyms, bus station, etc., all within 5-10 minutes walking time. We feel so cosmopolitan (yes, I know there are only 50,000 people, but still).

Being a housewife now--and NOT a homemaker, as I have been informed since I don't actually build houses--I've decided to try to cook meals for my husband. Going to the grocery store isn't as easy as one might think. First I tried to find buttermilk biscuits. When I asked, I got sent to 3 different people to help me. I realized that I did not mean 'biscuits' in their sense, which is cookies. I tried explaining that it's bread in a tube that's refrigerated but not cooked yet. After strange looks from each sales associate, one finally said, "You mean Pilsbury." "Yes!" I felt like I was speaking in tongues or something. When she took me to the aisle they were sold out of Pilsbury and I had to get a substition, anyway. I have also had diffuculties with baking soda and powdered sugar. I hope I have the right stuff with bicarbonate of soda and icing sugar. And when you need to buy 1 pound of ham and the 'gammon' only comes in gram packages, how much do you get? Try explaining what Velveeta Cheese is...soft processed cheese in a rectangular box that doesn't need to be refrigerated until opened, it melts easy and you make nachos with it, you know, like queso. Oh, you don't know what queso is, OK. Never mind. I guess we'll have to substitute cheddar or something. Luckily Abe will eat anything!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A 'Wale' Of A Time!

A 'Wale' of a Time!
Nov. 18-20, 2005
We decided to go Welsh for the weekend. It was about a 3-4 hour drive over to Wales. They are bilingual, speaking a mixture of Welsh and English. Even the road signs have 2 spellings. It's an odd little language, sounding like a mixture of German and Hebrew. Araf means slow (the 'f' sounds like a 'v') and bwyty means restaurant, just to name a few of those crazy Welsh words.
We ran into this little old couple at a pub. The lady was very eager to speak to Americans and tried giving us advice. The problem was she was hard to understand. It's one of those things where you say "Yes" and "Oh?" and hope they're in the right places. As we were walking out I was about to comment to Abe that I wasn't sure if it was the Welsh or the beer that made her hard to understand, but then her husband followed us out and held us captive in the cold outdoors for about 10 minutes in a one sided conversation. Once again, I don't know if it was an accent or too much beer, but you couldn't understand him any better than his drunk wife. We're hoping that won't be us in 40 years!
We saw 3 of the 4 castles built in 1283 by King Edward I. He was a busy man that year. They were in better shape than some of the ruins we've seen and you could wander around all the halls and up and down all the stairs. They are so large it's easy to get lost in them. We also saw the meeting site of the first parlimentary meeting with King Edward I, also going down in 1283.
On Sunday we were everywhere in Shropshire. We saw a couple of old bridges, one being the first iron bridge, a couple abbeys and priories, and the outside of a catholic 'safe house' and a Roman bathhouse. Those Romans sure were smart little boogers. They had a leisure center, frigid rooms, tempid rooms, hot rooms, cold rooms, and even an outdoor swimming pool. I felt like I was back at home. (That's me laying out by the pool.) Except it's about 8 degrees C in the sun.
We're back in the Castle again this week. It's close to Abe's work and I can pinch their wireless internet here. This is a sunset view from our room.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Lake District and Hadrian's Wall

Up The Lake District and Across Hadrian's Wall
Nov. 11-13, 2005

We drove across the island to the west coast on Friday afternoon. We went to The Lake District. We stayed at a B&B in Kendal. We stumbled onto a tiny house owned by a lady named Janice. We were told to try some famous Kendal Mint Cake when we were in Kendal. It’s supposed to be really good, but you can only find it in this area of the country. Then we found out it was only sold at newsagents and not restaurants. That made us a little doubtful about the supposedly yummy taste. We heard the chocolate covered ones were best, so we gave it a shot. It came in a package kind of like a candy bar. I was wishing for a little liquid courage first, as you all know I AM a supertaster. Of course, everything goes better with a pint or two or five. England is known to be the biggest binge drinking country in Europe; I’m smack in the middle of it all and I can’t even have a single pint. It’s seems a bit like punishment to me, but I digress. The chocolate mint cake was similar to a York Peppermint Patty, but more solid in the middle. Not nearly as good, by the way.

We drove up tiny roads through the Lake District. It was beautiful countryside with green rolling hills, lots of lakes and even more sheep. Once we found some sheep on the road. You can see how small the back roads are.

We found Castlerigg Stone Circle after driving by it once. It’s a bit like Stonehenge—a big group of rocks out in the middle of a pasture no where in particular. There was not audio tour, so we didn’t learn a whole lot.

Next stop was in Penrith Castle. Another freebie with no audio tour. It’s 15th century remains in a cute little city park. England’s cute!

We came across Lanercost Priory, which was built in the 13th century. They spent most of their days praying, worshipping in song, or in silence. Many of the walls are destroyed now, partially from people taking the materials many years ago, and from weather over hundreds of years.
We drove along Hadrian’s wall, which was resurrected by the Romans to keep the Scots out of their domain. It is over 75 miles long and stretches all the way across the country from west to east. There are several remains of forts all along the way. By the time we got to the first fort it was sunset. Very pretty, but hard to see the different stops along the wall.

We decided to stay the night in Corbridge. First thing in the morning we visited the remains of a Roman town in Corbridge. The city was founded in AD85. There are remains of granaries and a fountain house with aquaducts under all the buildings for water and heating purposes.

The wall ends in Tynemouth on the east coast. We visited Tynemouth Priory and Castle remains located on the top of a cliff with the ocean pounding against the wall below. The Priory, founded in 1090, had a graveyard for saints and kings located behind it. Some of the headstones were decaying in an odd pattern like brain coral. Remains from both World Wars were also located on the top of the cliff.

On the drive back down we saw Hylton Castle built in 1374. Abe was caught marking his spot on the castle wall. He has been doing that along the historic sites of Britain.

From there we tried to find Barnard Castle. We got to the town but drove around a bit and by the time we found it, it was closing time. So we bought a bunch of truffles for dessert.

We are still staying in hotels until December. We are in a small village called South Cave. The hotel is called Cave Castle, which is an old castle built for a family to live in at one point.

The belly seems to be growing a little bigger each day. Here’s a picture in the Castle by some animal heads and horns hanging in the hall.

I can’t seem to get enough chocolate these days. It’s just so much better here. A couple of nights we went to the store and bought nothing but chocolate for dinner. We were like a couple of 7 year olds in a candy store picking new kinds of candy bars whilst getting the old faithful as a backup. The Castle has a good gym and they have exercise classes I have been taking. When I told the instructor today I was 19 weeks she said I was tiny! As you can clearly see, I am anything but tiny, but it made me feel good. Cheers!

The Lizard should be here in a week or two!