Archive for the 'England' Category

2011 Update

Topic: England, Random| 1 Comment »

Shock of all shocks, I was not able to keep up the blog for very long. I narrate my life to myself every day but I just cant get it typed up. Aaaah.
I am innocent though. I blame the natural woman in me–she is a real lazy wench.
Well, make yourself comfortable, here is the 2011 update:

We welcomed the new year in a UK country pub dancing the night away with drunk Brits who rocked the twist and in unison asked the existentialist question “Who the F*** is Alice?” during the song “Living Next Door to Alice”.

I spent all of January in Provo due to my immigration requirements. David came for two weeks before he headed back to Australia. It was great fun to be back and see all our friends and David’s family.
I vehemently refused to go and see our house, so we stayed in a hotel. Part of it was that it would make me home sick; part of it was that I would inevitably want to kneel Jonnie for his “Martha Stewart” touches.

I also took advantage of US dental care and got a root canal…here is yours truly drugged …

February and March
British winters are depressing. The weather is dreary, cloudy, and sucks the life out of human beings faster than a Hollywood alien. I looked at pictures of exotic beaches every morning to get myself to the point where I could at least think about thinking about getting out of bed. )

Once out of bed, we went full throttle into our UK sightseeing.
Dover Castle – We explored the WWII hospital housed in the tunnels dug into the chalk cliffs below the castle. David will never forgive me that I made him leave after only four hours.
Stratford – Shakespeare’s and Ann Hathaway’s house – Did you know that to clean chimneys during Tudor times, they would use a live chicken, tie its foot and drop it down the chimney? In the panic of it all, the chicken would spread its wings and thus clean the chimney. Totally brilliant. PETA would love it.
Stonehenge – We got to go to the inner circle–upon signing a waver that we would not slaughter a chicken. I was bummed.
Hampton Court – I love the maze, plus reminds me of my favorite part of “Three Men in a Boat”–my go-to book in times of dispair (it is a very worn copy).
Hastings Battlefield – Oh, Harold, did you get it in the eye or were you dismembered? Historians ponder and you just don’t care.
HMS Victory – Portsmouth Historical Harbor–As David says, “Rule Britannia, and screw you, France and Spain.”
Windsor Castle – In case you were ever wondering, the Queen spends her weekends comfortably.
Wales – we hiked Snowdon, went pony trekking in the Bretons, and attempted to fly a kite on Anglesey.

We also got a book of nature walks around Surrey which we we started to take after work. This picture is from one of them.

(I love this picture so much I had it printed on a canvas and put it in the bedroom. There is something about it that I find mesmerizing.)

Hahah…I am typing this at the family reunion and David is cuddled up next to me on the floor and he just started to snore. I love the sound of a man snoring; I find the sound calming and absolutely endearing. Daddy, you conditioned me well! (You might have driven others to suicide attempts, but your daughter will spend her life sleeping without ear plugs…well, until I have teething kids.)

David is a funny sleeper. He always sleeps on his back, his hands clasped on his stomach. He does not move at all. I, on the other hand, am on the move all night and sleep totally spread out like an octopus.

Anyway…where was I? Am I having an ADD moment? Oh, honey, you would be so proud of me.

Oh, this is a picture of David with a goatee which he kept for 24 hours all of which he spent following me around the house while saying, “Stranger danger.” It was so absolutely creepy! I insisted he shave it off or move into the dog house, and that is how I ended up with Mario….

April was stressful. A Transatlanic move is a nightmare. My parents came to help pack but I still hoped a comet would come to bring me a sweet release.
Our last trip was to Scotland.
I now want to be a sheep farmer in the Yorkshire Dales.
Hadrian’s Wall – we hiked a small portion of the 76-mile wall and I must say that that this hike along with the walk we took at Land’s End will be etched into my memory as one of the happiest and most amazing times of my life.
We took a boat ride on Loch Ness. Saw nothing but I know she is down there.
Falkirk Wheel – just google it.
Glasgow Necropolis – the city of the dead–David lost his phone and we spent the night running around this huge cemetery with flash lights under the watchful gaze of scary gargoyles and cherubim. I would have peed my pants but all our money was stashed in my underwear–as a safety measure against mugging (which seemed inevitable). Hot travel tip: British pounds are not a comfortable currency.
Edinburgh – the castle is a must see.
Fife – The Litsters are from the county of Fife. So, we spent one day running around local cemeteries searching for Litsters. We found one–Ann Litster who died at the age of 16 on Feb 1, 1797. The grave stone was broken in half and the year was unreadable but we got a parish book that listed the year of death. It was incredible.

The Royal Wedding–
Was a nightmare. From the London eye, we watched William’s car pull up to Westminster Abbey and that is all–apart from the greasy heads of about a million tourists.
Wisely, we escaped the insanity and went on a boat ride on the Thames to Greenwich. Camden and Portobello aside, a boat ride on the Thames is my favorite London activity.

We came back May 1st. Spent 300 dollars on deJonnieing our apartment and went back to our old life. Before you ask, let me answer: I love Europe. Living in the UK has always been my dream. I miss Europe terribly. I hope I will get to live there again. But I do love the US. This is an amazing country. And David? David is happy to be back in a country with fast internet and good cell phone coverage.

I spent most of June in the garage getting rid of as much stuff as possible.
We got called to be the cub scout leaders. OMG. Nine eight-year old boys. I felt like Joplin, Missouri, every Thursday. But things have really improved…though I fear the moment when I cant keep them outside and have to bring them inside the house. I might wait till it is 40 below. Fresh air is important for the youth, you know.

Our company blew up a car and my iReport covering the event made it all the way to the CNN homepage. For a CNN junkie like myself that is pretty much Nirvana.
We babysat Sumo. Gosh, I love that dog.
We went on our annual trip to Redfish Lake. I yearn all year for that moment when I push the kayak into the lake. I love the Sawtooths. So much…I got a speeding ticket for going 22 over. Seems the policeman did not understand I did it out of happiness. Aaah.
My last day at work was on Thursday. I am sad. I cried a lot. I will miss some people terribly.
It is David’s birthday today; 31. I love you, Honey.

Well, that is kinda it.
Love you all. Thanks for reading.
Keep tuned for my next big adventure – backpacking through Iceland.



Topic: England, Travel| 2 Comments »

Dear Reader,

Random ramblings about our 9-day trip to Ireland…

The trip got to an extremely unillustrious start when I had to drive the manual transmission rental car off the lot. I drove a manual only once before and it ended with flames coming out of my nostrils; but since I rented the car under my name, I had to be the one to drive it away. If I were on TV, it would have been something like this: Interesting. Oh, OK. I get it. Hmm. Oooops. NOW, I get it. Beep. Beep. Beeeep. Beeeeep. Beeeeeep. Beeeeep. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP. By the time I killed the car for the eighth time without having moved out of the parking spot, I moved onto Czech… which signals the beginning of an Armageddon. What can I say? It wasn’t pretty.

Over the course of our trip, I am proud to say that I became, according to David, a shifting ninja :) . However, getting the car moving from first gear without inflicting deadly hiccup seizures on it remained a challenge. Thus, anyone who had the audacity of making me come to a stop was doomed by my evil twin to a future of boils, cavities, and some serious diarrhea.

Say what you want about Marge, Marge was an automatic.


Due to the Catholic v. Protestant conflict, Belfast is divided up by about two dozen forty-five-foot tall walls that separate the two groups. Some of the walls have gates to allow flow of traffic during the day but they all get closed at night. Residential areas are strictly religiously segregated and most of them are controlled by paramilitary groups.


There are Catholic doctors, Catholic car dealers, Catholic pet shops, Catholic barbers, etc. and similar shops for Protestants. While the unrest began because the Protestants wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK and the Catholics wanted to join the Republic of Ireland, now the conflict now is simply religious. The irony is that apparently hardly anyone actively attends church. You are simply born Protestant or Catholic and you spend the rest of your life hating the other. The two groups don’t interact unless completely necessary and most go through life without ever having spoken to a member of the other group. It is absolutely insane.

That aside, we also toured the dock where Titanic was built and that was amazing.

Giant’s Causeway

Giant’s Causeway is a natural wonder of thousands of interlocking hexagonal basalt columns and the birthplace of David’s mom’s grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The grass is so green it is blinding. The combination of the black basalt, green grass, blue ocean, and white clouds makes you feel like walked into a postcard.

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Carrick-a-rede Bridge

This rope bridge connects the Ireland mainland with a small island offshore that happens to be smack in the way of migrating salmon. So, every year local fisherman put it up to get to this magical bounty and stupid tourists pay 4 euro to pee their pants crossing it. I am starting to seriously doubt my intellect because I keep on spending a lot of money to climb an obscene number of stairs and stand at unpleasant heights. I must admit that David had to come back for me and help me cross. The swaying was … not good. At least, I did not require a boat to come get me because I was unable to cross back–as apparently many do.

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Bru Na Boinne

Bru Na Boinne is a Neolithic site of passage tomb monuments that was built over 5,000 years ago–several hundred years even before the famous pyramids at Giza. The passage is very small compared with the size of the monument but it engineering is awe-inspiring. The roof of the tomb chamber is a dome and at the winter solstice the sun enters it for only a moment to bring promise of life and bounty for the next year.



Dublin was a little disappointing because its main attraction–pubs on every corner–we simply could not appreciate. Sections of the riverfront are charming though. Anyway, we both agreed that we prefer Cork.



Glendalough is a national park about 20 miles south of Dublin. The name means a valley with 2 lakes. We went on a three-hour hike that took us around the larger of the lakes along the very ridge of the surrounding hills. It was stunningly rugged and breathtakingly beautiful. We walked around hundreds of sheep and wild goats and even came across several herds of deer. Since some of the deer were male deer with serious antlers, we armed ourselves–I carried two big rocks and David had his camera tripod. We were laughing at ourselves the whole way. We had a grand time.

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The famous Waterford crystal is made in SE Ireland. Neither of us had particular interest in touring the factory. However, we did peek inside the store that was filled with enormous chandeliers and exquisite glasses that I cant imagine anyone drinking out of.


Rock of Cashel

The Rock looks like a dark castle but it actually is a medieval abbey. It is a natural fortress, a limestone outcrop that stands above the surrounding countryside and gives clear views for miles around.


Legend has it that once upon a time St. Patrick was preaching to a sinful crowd and in his preaching vigor, he slammed his pole into the ground. Sadly, before getting to the ground, the pole went through the foot of a local king who stood next to St. Patrick. The king, thinking he was being cleansed by St. Patrick, did not even make a sound—not even a beep.

Blarney Stone

We kissed the fabled saliva-drenched rock that is perched on the top of a tower reached by a hundred life-unfriendly winding stairs. To kiss the stone, you lie down, bend completely backwards at 90 feet above ground, show everyone your underwear, and holding onto a safety grill you make out with thousands of strangers at once.This less than graceful act supposedly gives you the gift of gab–not to mention some juicy bacteria.

The Blarney Castle is located on extensive and gorgeous grounds which, among other things, feature a “poison garden”. This garden is designed to educate about poisons in traditional and some nontraditional garden plants. It was absolutely fascinating. I could have spent hours there but David did not think it wise. :) BTW, did you know that rhubarb leaves are poisonous?

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Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive around the Iveragh peninsula and a must for every tourist. The drive is about 200 miles long and takes you through picturesque towns like Kenmore along the rugged cliffs of western Ireland.

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As a surprise for David, I booked us a room in the Lake Hotel with a view overlooking an old castle ruin on shores of the lake. In the morning, we got up to admire the mist sprawling across the lake with the mountains towering in the back, the ruin sitting so peacefully on the shore…when suddenly a herd of deer came to drink from the lake. I will never forget that sight. I had to pinch myself to make sure I was not on a page of some fairy tale book.



After breakfast, we took a carriage ride through Killarney National Park.


Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula cannot be described in words. All, I can say is that I want to move there, become a sheep farmer and live a utter life of happiness.

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Limerick is a large modern city with a medieval Castle. Good for shopping but not touristing really.

Cliffs of Moher and Galway

Cliffs of Moher are truly stunning but tourism has turned them into a circus with a parking lot that charges 6 Euro per person and shops that are after the rest of your money. So, we decided to trespass and admire the view from the neighboring fields along with some very confused cows.


It turns out that Cliffs of Moher are also a prime surfing location—there were about 20 surfers having the time of their life when we were there.


As always, love you all.

Sandy (author)

David (photographer)

Jam, Club, and Mushrooms.

Topic: England| 1 Comment »
Dear Reader
Random observations from our life…
1.  Jam
Since “people here don’t make homemade jam”, I had pectin imported from the US.
We purchased enough strawberries to get David through the winter (and a normal person through 4 years) and after only a few hours of cleaning and chopping strawberries, we were finally ready. Before ripping the pectin box open, David stroke it one last time while creepily whispering “My Precious!”  like  Gollum. We successfully overcame the absence of corn syrup on this heathen island by using the mysterious Golden Syrup and ended up with a nice supply of this heavenly substance.  I am happy to report David’s life is worth living again.
2. BYU
David downloaded BYU’s first football game vs. University of Washington. Watching BYU football is one of our bonding moments. And I must say I really felt homesick.
3. Club
Last Monday I was invited to the Cranleigh Country Club. Cranleigh is a larger village about 3 miles away from our house and is home to Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton. I am happy to say that the idea of the rich and famous had no effect on me. I simply  envisioned Eric Clapton falling madly in love with me and dedicating a hit ballad to me and me doing an interview with Sean Connery about how I broke Eric’s heart.
I opted for swimming as I have never held a golf club. The trouble is that without my glasses I cannot see anything except for moving human blobs and some walls. So, it is possible that there was Ringo or Eric in a speedo doing laps or sitting in the jacuzzi eyeing me but I would not know.
Worst of all, the rich and famous apparently bring their own towels because the club provided none. This posed a serious problem to me who came unprepared. So, I proceeded to dry myself of my tights– an article of clothing I could easily spare. However tights shockingly don’t have any drying ability. So, I at least wrapped them around my head to stop my hair from dripping everywhere. My next idea was to use the hair dryer to dry myself off. So, there I was in all my glory with tights on my head and in the middle of drying of my left calf  with the hairdryer when a  club member waltzed into the changing room. She gasped for breath and then mumbled, “I think I will play tennis today,” and zipped off. I also gasped for breath, got dressed in 2 seconds, and dripping wet ran to my car.
Not one of my most glamorous moments. :(
4.Mushroom hunting
The most amazing thing about being in the UK is that I was for the first time ever able to just hop on a plane and go home for the weekend. But not just any weekend–a mushroom hunting weekend.
Mushroom hunting is the Czech national sport–even beer drinking and hockey come as far distant second and third. Three out of four Czechs go mushroom hunting at least once a year. The fact is that good mushroom spots are the most valued family heirloom. :) Life revolves around mushrooms in late summer and early fall. There are daily harvest updates on prime time news and of course interviews with premier hunters posting with their biggest or rarest pieces. Early morning buses for the woods are packed because, heaven forbid, you should start hunting after 7–everything will be picked by then.
Some sacred rules of the ancient art of mushroom hunting:
1. Know your mushrooms. Some are eatable and delicious, some are eatable but not good, some will make you sick, some will make you high, and some will kill you.
Disclaimer: I have been trained from a young age, so I know what I am doing. Also, I happen not to eat mushrooms much to my father’s joy who is happy to eat my portion.
2. Never kick a mushroom.
3. Be early. Competition is fierce.
4. Be quiet. There are spies everywhere.
5. Make everyone jealous. Put your best pieces on top. If your hunt was not successful, put socks/shirt on bottom to mislead and frustrate competition.
6. There is no such thing as having too many mushrooms.
7. Bring a big lunch.
8. Guard good mushroom recipes with your life.
9. Mushrooms can be dried, picked, fried, breaded, made into goulashes and soups. Humankind can survive anything solely with mushrooms and duct tape.
10. If hunting in groups, spread out into a row covering as much area as possible. Agree on a secret whistle to keep track of one another.
11. The most senior hunter carries basket and knife and decides which forest to enter and when to leave.
12. If you run into another hunting expedition, try to make it look like there are more of you by calling out random names. If they persist to pouch in your area, pick their weakest member and you try to kill him with your look at all costs.
As always, love you all.

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…

Random Blabbering

Topic: England| No Comments »

Subject: Random blabbering

I suffered 2 huge shocks yesterday at the grocery store.

I wanted to surprise David with a nice steak dinner to celebrate the construction of our kitchen table. So, I waltzed into the meat isle to get some nice steak. To my absolute horror steak costs $12 per pound!! It is cheaper to buy a live cow!

Then I asked a shop assistant which isle pectin is on (David loves my home-made strawberry jam). I felt discouraged to see her bewildered expression that screamed “What the heck is pectin?!” So, I pressed on that I needed it to make home-made jam. She looked at me in disgust as if I asked where I can buy used dental floss and then she declared that “people in this area don’t make home-made jam.” The image of the Rolls Royce dealership by our house flashed before my eyes and I began apologizing for taking up her valuable time.

Anyway, we had tuna sandwiches for dinner.

We have a home!

Topic: England| No Comments »

Ladies and Gentlemen-

1. We have a home! I cannot even begin to describe how amazing it is to mop, iron, scrub the toilet, and assemble Ikea furniture.

2. I discovered Costco about 1 hr away!!!!!!!!! And they accept our American membership card!!!!!!!!!!!!! After a week that crushed my sanity, I just dashed through the aisles crying with happiness and throwing anything within reach into the cart. You will be comforted to know that David patiently took nearly everything out of the cart. I was never as happy as when I saw those sexy packages of 12 paper towel rolls. (In regular grocery stores they sell 2 rolls for ₤ 2! Insane.) Life finally makes sense again.

3. Ikea is about 1 hr away and we got a kitchen table and a desk. We are also exploring some charity shops to see if we could get a cheap couch. The bed the landlord ordered should arrive some time this week. For now we are on a futon mattress but at least we finally got a blanket and some bedding yesterday after spending 2 nights fighting over an airplane blanket.

4. On Thursday we are leaving for a mini break to Paris to celebrate David’s 30th bday. We are coming back Monday night.

5. We went to Farnborough Airshow–the biggest airshow in the world. We saw F16, F18, Chinook, Spitfires, etc.–all nearly within our reach. It was pretty awesome. The Chinook dropped off a Land Rover and a trailer that were hanging from it plus a small reconnaissance unit and then another Land Rover that was inside it. It was doing all these cool maneuvers. It is very acrobatic. Then the army guys fired a flare and it came back and they staged pick up of a wounded comrade. It was AWESOME.

7. Church. The branch meets in a school very close to the office. There are about 50 members and they are all bound on making us stay forever. They are desperate to increase the membership. I think they would give me a medal if I had a baby. There are about 4 kids total. We are speaking in 2 weeks. With a branch that size I can only assume that everyone gets to talk several times a year! Again, everyone has been extremely welcoming. We had a great activity this week–virtual tour of London while eating fish and chips. Union Jacks everywhere. It was so British! I have also noticed that it is impossible for anyone to give a lesson or teach without mentioning Hitler or Churchill. Last Sunday school lesson was on bad/good leaders and that was a real WWII trivia extravaganza. I was laughing so hard–in my head of course. (And yes, I still talk to myself.) David is finally starting to realize that what I have been telling him about all the European nations hating each other is absolutely true.

8. Our address:

9. We live in an extremely quaint village…with a Rolls Royce dealership. Yeah,  we live in a ridiculously posh area with only 2 pounds in our pocket. It is rather funny.

10. Love you all.

Our English Cottage

We are still alive!

Topic: England| No Comments »

Yes, we are alive.

I am in the UK and David is back in Germany till the end of the week.

In no particular order…

1. It is cloudy and rainy. Shocker. Brought none of our 7 umbrellas. Dont know what happened to my brain.

2. Everything is ridiculously expensive. I have been to the UK 25+ times and never picked up on it thanks to my beloved Daddy who bankrolled all my shopping spree adventures so far. It was a rude awakening I must admit. I think I will sell a kidney. David’s. :)

3. Driving on the left side of the road is CRAZY and it seems I have no spacial awareness on my left side. I talk myself through every move. That has taken a toll on me because now I talk to myself all the time even when I am not driving. The lanes are so narrow–maybe 5 inches on each side of the car. Parking is impossible–particualarly for me because the only time I paralleled park was during my driving test and never since. Yesteday, I had to walk everywhere because I did not manage to get the car out of the parking spot after somebody parked behind me. They probably thought they gave me enough space but after several attempts and a decimated ego, I gave up and decided to walk. This automotive feat caused a traffic jam as five cars lined up to take my spot. I turned off the car and pretended to be parking instead of pulling out. I prented this three times. Finally when in true Hollywood style I stormed out of the car pretending to talk to my cell phone which really was my calculator yelling at an imaginary boyfriend who could not decide if who was picking up who for the movies. I know I know. Pathetic.

4. Guildford is beautiful. There are flowers absolutely everywhere. The downtown is particularly picturesque. The countryside is also beyond words.

5. We still don’t have an apartment. I am going to look on Thrusday.

6. Work is good. I like the office and all the guys. I am the only girl so they are all super nice to me.

7. David is in Dusseldorf working long hours. I miss him terribly.

8. In short, life is busy but good.