Archive for August, 2010

The Rabbit, The Bathroom Alien, and Such.

Topic: England| 2 Comments »

The following are just random tidbits from our life.

- Our landlord lives next door to us. He is a contractor and she is an art teacher at a boarding school in a nearby village.  They are very nice and even had us over for dinner last week when my parents visited. They have two sons and pet–a rabbit called The Rabbit. We get to feed The Rabbit when they are out of town. The Rabbit is huge and always hungry.IMAG0331

-  This morning I had the devilish desire to lock David out in the backyard while he was collecting our laundry.  However, I was so excited about my evil scheme that I proudly announced my intentions to him before carrying them out…and before I knew it, it was I who was locked out in the backyard watching David doing his victory dance in the kitchen. I dare not describe David’s performance. I am actually trying really hard to forget about it myself but I still think I will not sleep well tonight.

- I finally have a phone I can make phone calls with! I got a cheap Vodafone phone when we first arrived but that contraption has been so painful to use I have had it turned off for the last 2 weeks. I don’t require much of a phone. I don’t need it to connect to the Internets or Bluetooth or take pictures, but I do insist it make phone calls. Anyway, my Honey Genius jailbroke the iPhone. So, now I am using the iPhone and walk around praising Steve Jobs when David is not around.

- IMAG0332It is typical of the British to have separate hot and cold taps in their bathrooms. While true that my hands are either boiling or getting a frostbite, I have never even pondered changing the system. Not my Honey however. David went to the DIY store and came with a granddaddy special (GDS) …each tap is connected to a clear hose that hooks up to a plastic Y which then sprays the lukewarm water. It looks like the sink is giving birth to an alien serial killer.  I cannot even begin how much the Martha Stewart in me is suffering…really dying inside. I am desperately hoping (secretly praying) for David to really screw up…because I will graciously agree to forgive him only under the condition that he destroys his hideous monstrosity (David’s brother wants to call them Fallopian Tubes).  In the meantime, I wash my hands in the kitchen.

- Right now is Sunday afternoon, we just finished a great nap and now the house smells of homemade cinnamon rolls. It is heavenly.

- Yesterday we went to the movie theatre for the first time to see “Knight and Day” (which we very much enjoyed) . Tickets cost $30 for the both of us. Horrendous. Then came another shocker…assigned seating!  This system we did not embrace both out of conviction and also the theater was empty. Furthermore, we had to sit through 20 mins of commercials followed by 15 mins of previews, before getting our first glace of Tom Cruise.

Well, love you all,



Topic: England, Travel| No Comments »

Dear Readers,

Except when I am in Banana Republic (where I simply want everything), I tend to suffer severely from not knowing what I want. You might recall that about a week ago I was yearning for peace and sense of normalcy with every fiber of my being…however, here I am excitedly writing about yet another wild travel adventure.

We took Friday off and by 6 am were already zipping towards Torquay–the main resort of the “English Riviera”. Torquay, I am told, has a micro-climate which makes it warmer than the rest of the country. Right…when we got there it was cold and raining. I subscribe to denial religiously, but the way the British deceive themselves about the weather is quite concerning–even to me. The funny thing is that we did not mind the weather at all because Torquay is so quaint, you just want to pinch it–a harbor filled with sailboats and shops filled with tourists. There was a sailboat race while we were there and now David will never be happy again until he owns a small sailboat.

The best part of Torquay is Cockington–a village stuck in a time warp. Actually, it is like exactly like The Shire from Lord of the Rings. I honestly was expecting Frodo and Gandalf to pop out from round the corner any second. I kept on turning my wedding ring but nothing happened…except I think I now want a diamond band to go with it. :)


On our way to Plymouth we drove through the Dartmoor National Park which is miles and miles of bog and peat covered rolling hills. The fog got so thick you could slice it and serve it with jam. We stopped several times but did not venture out into the unknown. I am personally convinced that the Story of Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles is true and the hound relocated to the Dartmoor bog. It was a very eerie place!

Eden Project…features the world’s biggest greenhouse on a site of a former clay pit. Because of its size, it is not made of glass but hexagonal plastic film panels. It really is a modern marvel! The whole structure is self supporting–there are no columns to cloud your view. Google it. The mission of the Eden Project is to educate the unwashed masses about how to be one with Mother Earth…in other words, it wants to guilt-trip you for breathing and producing CO2. That aside;  the plants, the design, the activities are awe-inspiring and I really felt edified. My bliss surged further when I saw that the gift shop was offering samples of “apple cider”. I love apple cider. I grabbed the little shot glass and took a nice big gulp…and that is the story of my first binge. Yes, dear Readers, this apple cider was spiked and I had to make it all the way to Eden to freakin’ start boozing. Mama Mia! How come there were no signs that the apple cider was alcoholic, you ask? This is Europe, baby! Anything goes. I spend the entire time I stand in the grocery store line staring at ladies with boobies big enough to feed a band of hungry gorilla babies. If you learn about anatomy in a grocery store, you can learn about booze in a botanical garden. Anyway, the moral of the story is…be strong…for now…you can get sloshed when you get to Eden.

With his wife on the dark side, David turned to his ancestors for a sign of hope. Originally, the Mayflower Pilgrims set  out from Southampton when their ship was damaged during a storm, causing them to stop in Plymouth for repair. While in Plymouth, we were able to see the restaurant the pilgrims ate their last meal before setting out to sea and stand on the very steps on which they bid their goodbye to the motherland. That was really special. It is amazing to get to be at the same spot someone down the family tree stood centuries ago.

Now to a dream nearly fulfilled…it has always been my dream to visit St. Michelle in Normandy. I have not been able to do that yet but am planning on it for sure. In the meantime, we were able to visit its twin–St. Michael–in Cornwall. These rocky islands are about a half a mile away from the coast and are connected to the mainland by a natural land bridge that gets revealed during low tide. So, we were able to cross on dry land and then on our way back took off our shoes and waded through the water. It was SO awesome. The castle offered some stunning views of the water and the village on the coast but the crossing to and from was the highlight for me.
Near St. Michelle, we briefly visited Penzance because David once played a pirate hunk in BYU’s production of Pirates of Penzance.


Finally…Land’s End–the most westerly point of mainland England–a place of rugged cliffs, fierce winds, crashing waves, and ship wreck. We went on a walk along the edge of the cliffs and I must admit that it was one of the most magical moments of my life. I felt I could stay there forever and still never soak it all in. I was so overwhelmed and so happy.
Love you all.

Just another magic Sunday

Topic: England| 3 Comments »

Dear Readers,

First of all, thank you for your kind words of appreciation.  I am thrilled and truly touched  that my badly-spelled ramblings have provided you with moments of entertainment.

David and I had a wonderful Sunday. We started off by being fashionably late for Church. After Church I finished putting away my Costco loot while David spent 2 hours trying to help his latest pet–a carnivore plant–catch a fly . Unfortunately the plant simply was not hungry. It totally ignored ten flies that descended on it baited by a piece of chicken with jam that David set up. David’s other activity was killing wasps that decided to nest right above our back yard door. Currently we have 20 wasp carcasses on our patio and the number is growing. I am forbidden to clean up this Armageddon because David keeps on going and admiring his Terminator handy work while laughing like an evil clown. Oh, we also went on a bike ride. David borrowed a bike from our landlord/neighbor. There is a path right in front of our house that goes pretty much all the way to the southern coast of England. We had a great time though I tried David’s patience quite a bit. While he wanted to race, I was riding at such a pace that I was passed by several pedestrians. :( I simply could not get enough of all the fields and meadows around us, herds of cows, bunnies and of course my wicker basket.


The story of the dryer

The average population density per square mile in urban areas in the United states is 2,900 compared with 7,900 in Europe. This predicament is tackled by two diabolical strategies—deceptive language and removal of key household appliances. Let me explain…

The sizing scheme. While Americans sleep on “queen” size beds, the English sleep on “king” sized beds. Of course, the dimensions are the same but the English fall asleep feeling utterly superior.  And US “king” is disguised as “super king” in the UK. Super king? You would think the British of all people would get royal titles correctly. Who is a super king? Unless we are talking hamburgers. My suspicion is that it is a secret snub at its former renegade colony and reassurance of British superiority. There might be a good conspiracy theory but one that I could hardly resolve without Glenn Beck. .

While misleading language is perfect for those of us who subscribe to denial, sometimes more practical and drastic measures need to be taken to tackle the lack of space. Shockingly, the appliance to draw the short end of the stick among critical apartment furnishings is the dryer. Yes, it is extremely unusual for a European to own a dryer. There is an alien offspring that is both a washer and a dryer but those are not very common. So, you ask what does a European do with his/her wet laundry?

Well, first option is to dry it on yourself which I don’t recommend because it always takes longer than you think and all the wetness makes you go to the bathroom way too often.

Another option is to hang your laundry on the central heating radiators. Central heating has been raised to an art form in Europe. For example, for bathrooms they offer central heating that doubles as a towel rack. That way when you turn on your central heating, you are welcomed by nice hot towels upon getting out of the shower. Our cottage also has this wondrous invention and I must admit that it is “like totally awesome.” Imagining my future without it makes me feel very cold (naturally) but, worse, utterly unpampered.

The final option is that of a clothes line that straddles a balcony or a yard. This is obviously the most “green” option and since I love Mother Earth, this is the option we embraced.

Warning: A story spoiler. Yes, this green option proves to be the most complicated and expensive one.

We orderly hang our whites on the line to let them bask  in the sun and drove off in our OPEC-friendly car to work. After a hard day at work, we were welcome by our whites in a pile on the ground covered in gravel because this glorious summer day brought with it 3 showers and one proper rainstorm. Huh. Next morning, as a good English housewife I checked the forecast before I even thought about doing my laundry. A glorious summer day it was to be. After hard days work, I came home again to completely wet laundry. Apparently, “we were surprisingly treated to some rain from the north”. Liars.

In short, I just finished washing our whites for the third third time. The radiators are turned to 85F, David is running around half-naked ,  and I am drying my socks on my feet. Huh…gotta go pee.

Love you all.


PS: I successfully spent GBP 389.20 ($ 600)  in 1 hr 22 minutes at Costco. And yes, you can buy happiness—it costs GBP 389.20. IMAG0177

Paris Mini-Break

Topic: England| No Comments »

Dear Reader, We are back from our Paris mini break to celebrate my Honey’s 30th bday. Here are some random observations by yours truly…

1. Paris is expensive. We blew through our budget on our first day. A small glass of soda is 5 Euro which is about $6.25. The worst thing is that at 95 F you are actually begging the waiters to take your money. There are no grocery stores in the center and the water in our camel backpack was boiling by noon.

2. We devoured more croissants and crepes than I feel comfortable admitting. Good thing we don’t have a scale. I love being in denial.

3. Everyone smokes. I have never seen so many people smoking while walking. There is nothing like a romantic walk through early morning Paris eating croissants, holding hands, and indulging in heavy second-hand smoke.

4. The metro system is beyond confusing–not the lines, the ticket machines. We never knew if our ticket would work, if they would even require a ticket to get in/out. Sometimes we were able to reuse our tickets, sometimes it would not take our tickets. In any case, most Parisians simply jump over the ticket machines.

5. Our hotel was in the Latin Quarter by the Luxembourg gardens. It was a perfect and beautiful setting.6. We saw it all…Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs des Elysees, Louvre, Versailles, La Defense, Notre Dame, etc. Everything a proper tourist in Paris is supposed to.

7. The weather was really hot with gorgeous sunsets. 8. There is trash everywhere. “French maids” only pose with feather dusters but heaven forbid they should do some actual work outside of bedrooms. :) Cathedrals are clean up to eye level but my trained eye noticed inches of dust on anything above 6 feet. It was horrifying. Notre Dame should hire me and 10 sprightly Mexican ladies and in a week tourists would need to keep their sunglasses on inside–it would be so shiny clean.

9. Every other street smells of pee. I am convinced that they hire whole legions of people to pee all over Paris streets at night. I cannot fathom achieving such horrific smell without an organized effort. BLEACH. That is all I can say.

10. Parisians know how to party. Every night, work day or weekend, they are out on the river banks, cafe, on bridges having cheese and wine parties. It is such an amazing atmosphere. I absolutely loved it.

11. There is a bridge connecting the left and right bank right by the Louvre where lovers attach key locks on the fence and throw away the keys into the Seine–to lock their love forever. David and I, of course, did that…while cutesy and giggly to an extent that would make you all sick. So, I will refrain.

12. I am happy to report that my quiche is better than any of the ones I tasted in France. I am absolutely addicted to French onion soup and David is addicted to creme brule.

13. The cheese that we bought for my cheese party that I was going to throw today in the office was confiscated at the Paris airport because it was too ripe. No idea what that is supposed to mean. Does ripe cheese constitute a biological weapon????

14. I sat next to a man with some horrible skin condition on our plane ride home. His whole body was covered in dead skin and bloody blisters. Needless to say, I was so cuddled up to David it was indecent. :) The man was either scratching himself all over vigorously or tapping his head violently the whole ride. I was really freaked out.

But the truly horrific experience came when I was waiting for David to get through immigration…it turns out that he was blind and an extremely elegant lady that was a stranger to him, came up to him, took his arm, and helped him get his luggage. I just stood there absolutely stunned. I did not feel bad, horrible, terrible, or even like a scum–I actually felt like I ceased to exist for a moment I was so ashamed of myself. I felt like Dorian Gray seeing himself for what he truly is.

15. This whole European experience has made me so very grateful for our life in the US (and remember I was born here). I really have felt overwhelmed with the abundance, space, efficiency we have in the US–even with Obama :) (forgive me, Joyce).

16. Love you all. You all mean so much to us and I am grateful for everyone of you. You have blessed our lives greatly, forgiven us many indiscretions, and supported us through thick and thin.More later…