Friday, June 26, 2015

Three point five hours of creativity

Today we had to go into Newport to open bank accounts and other riveting activities. Newport is the town of my birth and quite frankly, is a bit of a dump, but it's essentially what I remember. However the entertainment seems to have changed somewhat from the druken haze that was my youth. We saw the below notice board, being scrutinized with some disbelief by two old ladies..." Good grief!" One of them said, "I'm still trying to get my knee fixed, I've got no time to fix that!".

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Back in the home country

Just arrived back in the UK after traveling from Boston last night, via Dublin. Here's a couple of things I heard on the way:

In Dublin from the stewardess at the gate ..."passengers for Bristol, please proceed true gate tree tree tree"

In England, from my GPS/Sat Nav ... " at the roundabout take second exit to the roundabout, then enter the roundabout"

Aye, it's good to be home!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Latest masterpiece

Just finished this painting of Trafalgar Square. Its almost like you were there!!!

Senior prom

High School prom....what in gods name is that all about? Emma got asked to the Senior prom this year by a guy who she didn't even know. Of course she accepted...

So what's involved in preparing for the prom? We, obviously we had to get her a dress. I thought that might be fun. We went prom dress shopping with her and her friend. Hundreds of net and tulle long dresses which, frankly, all looked the same apart from slight variations in color and amount of bling attached. After trying on a bazillion, and her friend having to try them on too (whats with that?), a dress was selected. But this was only the start. We needed silver sandals to go with the dress (ka-ching!), a small clutch bag in just the right shade of apricot (ka-ching!), a sparkly necklace (ka-bloody-ching), a hair decoration (ka-you get the gist), a boutonnière (huh?). My wallet was empty and my enthusiasm drained.

The day of the event arrived. Emma's entourage of friends came to help her get ready. There were 8 girls in my bathroom, perched on the side of the bath, the toilet, wherever, doing her hair and makeup and generally offering advice. I was tempted to join them and see if I could pickup a few tips...Then we had photos in the garden. Each friend needed a photo taken with Emma. Then the group shots of varying combinations. By the time her date arrived we'd all forgotten who he was and why he was there. More photos...

Thank goodness it only happens once per year -  I (and my wallet) need time to recover.

Fun at Armsby Abbey

Spent a very enjoyable evening at the Armsby Abbey pub in Worcester last night ( We went with 2 other couples,  never been before but what a fun place! Good music, excellent food, lots of atmosphere, dimmed lights, eclectic crowd. They even had homemade pork scratchings/cracklin'!! The Armsby Abbey specializes in beers from local micro-breweries. I had "Weihenstephaner Hefe Dunkel" - the glasses were huge (as shown by the picture)... I would've had more than two glasses but it got too difficult to pronounce...

I detect a problem

Is there anything worse than being woken up at 4AM by the small beep of a smoke detector indicating its battery is running low. Thats what happened to us this morning. We have approximately 9 detectors scattered over the 4 floors of our house and its impossible to tell which one is emitting the beep. The beeps are about 2 minutes apart. The only way to tell is to stand under each one staring up at it on the ceiling, waiting for the beep

I lay in bed thinking, I can sleep through will stop in a minute. But it didn't stop. Thankfully I have a husband who is much better at this sort of thing than me, so I graciously let him do the honors. Hopefully this will explain to the neighbors that the naked man standing on a stool looking skyward at 4AM was not us trying out a variation of a 50 Shades scenario...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Not a piss artist any more

In the past 2 years I've started painting, not my usual walls and wood trim, but watercolor painting. I took a few lessons and liked it. I'm not great at it but I'm improving. Heres a few of the paintings I have completed (and that I'm prepared to show here!)
Makes a change from being a piss artist I guess (non-UK visitors go here for a translation:

Saturday morning musings

There is nothing better than a Saturday morning. With the sun coming up around 5AM, I've been waking up early these past few weeks. I'm not someone who can doze for hours on end so I get up. I love being the only one awake in the house. I put on the radio (BBC Radio 2 obviously), feed the cats and make my favorite tipple...a nice, strong cup of tea. Bliss!
What is it about the British people and tea? And why is it impossible to get a good cuppa in the US? I am always amazed at how some people in work make their tea. They fill their cardboard cup with hot water, add milk, then eventually float a sad-looking Liptons tea bag in the mix. It never changes to a shade deeper than oatmeal (for the guys reading this, thats pale brown), whereas it should be a beautiful, dark tan color (guys....thats dark brown). A cuppa is the antidote to everything...broke up with your boyfriend? Never mind, have a nice cuppa tea. House been burgled?...Never mind, have a nice cuppa tea. In my house the biggest disaster I can imagine would be to run out of teabags...

Friday, June 19, 2015

Squat till you puke

I used to be a bit of a gym rat, and at one time went to workout sessions up to 5 times per week. For the past three years I have done nothing, but all that is about to change. I caught site of my back view in the mirror and it was decidedly too middle-aged mum like for my liking. So back to the gym for me. I've written this in my blog so I can't back out. Watch this space...

By the way, I don't actually look like the attached picture, but I figured I will in a couple of weeks...

It's a mans world

Just back from my yearly mammogram where my boobs have been squished into shapes only otherwise seen in the Rorschach ink blot test. It struck me how barbaric and archaic this technology is. I'm sure if a guy had to go through similar humiliations and pain getting his nuts squished between 2 electronic plates, something more humane involving soft music and gentle massage would've been invented by now.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I'm so fucking classy

One of the great things about being in this country is that the locals LOVE my accent! Unlike in the UK where it is not so cherished! I've been told that even when I swear it sounds classy. So I shall remember that the next time I get pulled over by a cop for speeding; when I tell him to go fuck himself I shall look forward to him telling me how cute that sounds...

Wildlife in my garden

Just took this picture of a deer that wandered onto our back garden. It was pretty big, although it doesn't appear so in this picture. They are usually very shy so its strange to see one in the open like this. We get a number of animals in our back yard that would be unusual in the UK. Here's some others that are regular visitors:

Opossum - The Virginia opossum is North America's only marsupial. The opossum is about the size of a large house cat. It has a triangular head and a long pointed nose. It has grayish fur everywhere but on its ears, feet and tail. We've seen Opossums on our deck at night, usually stealing food from the cats bowl. 

I tried to take this picture of one through the window, you can just about see him..

Chipmunks - Chipmunks are small squirrel-like rodents that are native to North America. 

Chipmunks construct extensive underground burrows which can be more than 3.5 m in length and these chipmunk burrows often have several well-concealed entrances to keep the chipmunk burrow a secret from unwanted predators. Most of these burrows seem to be in my garden.

Northern (red) cardinal - we frequently see these beautiful birds on our bird feeders, especially if we have sunflower seeds in the feeder

Hummingbirds - We hang hummingbird feeders on our gazebo every year, and every year the hummingbirds come visit us. These really are beautiful birds, very bold but so tiny. Some are the size of your thumb. The feeders are filled with a sugar solution, sometimes colored red to attract them.

Decisions, decisions!

We've recently started to think about where we will live when we retire. We are lucky to be able to choose, but it does become overwhelming when you are faced with too many options.

I'm currently sitting on a swing on my deck. Its 8AM, its warm and sunny and the birds are chattering. The only noise other than that is the occasional drone of the air conditioning kicking on.  Its been this way every day this week. Glorious weather, and the best part is we know it's not a one off, for the most part it will continue like this through to end of September. Whats not to like?

The winter. Months of endless snowfall and below zero temperatures day and night. Endless snow clearing. House-bound for weeks because its too cold to go for a walk, and even if you decide to brave it, its dangerous because there are no sidewalks, the roads are narrow and visibility is poor due to the snowbanks either side.

Then theres Britain. Winters rainy but mild, and pretty much over and done with by February. Summers can be nice, but it rarely gets hot and the clouds & rain are never far away.

Standard of living in the US is high. Clothes, electronics, cars, furniture and even houses are cheaper. In this part of the US, theres room to have a big house and yard. Even the most modest of houses have space around them. No rows of terraced houses like in Wales, even semi's are unusual. But you won't find a selection of good pubs, or anything like a city center unless you live in Boston, which is prohibitively expensive. And theres no public transport network, cars are pretty much essential - a downside of living in the suburbs

Healthcare in the US has been, in our experience, excellent but the insurance is so expensive and the paperwork that goes with it is incredible. We have been told that you have to allow around $10000 - $15000 (7000-10,000 GBP)  per year to cover a couple. Thats a big chunk out of your retirement pot. The NHS, for all its faults, has a lot going for it and I think Britain doesn't realize what a benefit it is.

So there you go. Hot summers, freezing winters, cheap cost of living, expensive health insurance? Or mild weather and pubs and Marks & Spencer?
Decisions, decisions?

What would you do?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A night on the town

Had a pleasant evening out with a friend this evening. We went to Hudson, a nearby town, that has a few good microbreweries. We started out in the Rail Trail Flatbread Co. for a couple of beers and some food. Good atmosphere, beer and food. Then we had a beer in Medusa, which brews its own beers in the pub. You would never believe this was a Saturday night., the place was 80% empty and the barstaff were cleaning up at 10PM. Finally we went to the old faithful "Horseshoe" pub which was surprisingly disappointing, with bright lights and no music. Hardly like a Saturday night on the town in the UK, nobody throwing up in the gutter, but better than TV and a cup of tea.

Cause of death...angry elephant

I read on the BBC News today about a man from Germany who was attacked and killed by an elephant while he was out on his morning walk (the man, not the elephant...although he might have been too). How unlucky can you be! I bet the death certificate will make interesting reading...


Some recent pics of my lovely, how they've grown!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Leaving America

So, my son Robert has finally left home! As soon as he was done with school he crossed the pond to spend the summer traveling around Europe. His trip includes London, Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Morocco, Rome and Madrid.

I have had very little contact with him but have seen a number of Vine videos and Instagram pictures, most of which seem to be taken in a bar. Good lad! A true Brit...we taught him well ;)

Aye up!

Had to add a comment about this picture which came courtesy of my lovely brother. Reminds me of when I was on vacation in Yorkshire with my friend Lynne back in t' 90s, we were in a bar (obviously) and a guy in a flat cap gestured for me to have a drink with him. I politely declined and he said in a gloriously thick Yorkshire accent (which I hope I can reproduce in type) "If yer dawnt ask, yer dawnt git"!

Eee by gum!

My new toy

Yesterday we picked up my new car from the dealer. I'm really excited. Its a 2014 Audi S5. It looks great, it goes like a bat out of hell, but the best part is it has 12 B&O speakers meaning I can play my Abba tracks so the people in the next town can hear them!
(Just kidding, I obviously prefer Max Bygraves to Abba, but it sounded uncool to admit it)

Lets cut to the chase

This mornings headlines on the BBC related to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. I read that "Germany has dropped an investigation into alleged tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone by the US National Security Agency (NSA)".  I thought about this for a moment and the burning question I have is "who on earth cuts her fringe/bangs and do they use a ruler?"

Sunday, June 7, 2015

2 years in 2 paragraphs

So whats been happening over the past 2 years. ..
- We still live in Shrewsbury
- We still work
- We are all getting older and bigger
- We still have 2 cats

Just as well I gave up the blog, it would taken the imagination of J.K. Rowling to make that into 2 years worth of blog fodder

Hello strangers

Well, this is interesting! First post in over 2 years! And I really have nothing to say but am not going to let that deter me. I was reading through my old blog, and realized what great memories it brought back. Pictures of my kids when they were young, things we used to do, vacations, anniversaries....its all there, crystal clear and not the fuzzy mess that my brain has become over the years.

So I feel like I should do a "fill in the blanks" type post to cover the last 2 years. Let me see, there must be so much to write. Oh yes...
Get up, work, home, TV, wine (repeat)

That about sums it up. Bet that wet your appetite for whats to come! (I'll try to do better, I promise). Anyway, its good to be back (I think)