Thursday, 1 April 2010

Odds and Ends APRIL 1, 2010

We seem to be getting settled fairly well. We're on a sort of a schedule right now. I stay home during the week doing my housewife duties. With no car yet I am pretty much stuck at home. I do however walk down to our village main street. There I can buy a paper, mail letters, etc. The mail carriers don't pick up outgoing mail when they deliver here. So if you want to mail something you have to go to the post office or find a place where there is a little old fashioned looking red mailbox on a corner somewhere to put them in. The people are very friendly and I think are getting used to seeing me every once in a while. It is about a mile walk to town. The other day I walked to the library and got my very own library card! What a tiny little library. Definitely not what I'm used to. But it is just a little one for our village, so it's OK. Most of the books were by British authors...guess I shouldn't have been surprised about that. I thought it was funny when I saw their little selection of audio books. The sign on them read, "talking books".

I know you picture me as the queen of domesticity, greeting Joe at the end of the day like June Cleaver, complete with my dress and apron on! Don't worry, it hasn't gone that far yet. But I am enjoying my early retirement immensely. The best part of the day is when he is getting up for work and I get to stay in bed. Ahhh what luxury. I am SO glad NOT to be carrying mail anymore!

When Saturday rolls around we have to go shopping which takes a whole day. This is something quite new for Joe. As most of you know he NEVER did any shopping, with or without me. Up until now he went to the grocery store for me maybe 10 times in our whole life together. And that would have been in extreme circumstances when I desperately needed something. He didn't like to go and I just never asked him to. As far as any other shopping, forget about it. He went once a year for Christmas for me (usually waiting til the last minute at that). But because we have only the one car and he hasn't let me drive it yet, he is chauffering me around on Saturdays.

I always have a grocery list and an "other" list. Things for the house, garden tools, all kinds of things. The hardest thing to get used to was the grocery stores. Things aren't in the same places at home and a lot of the items are different names. It has been very challenging. We'd been going to this one big store called ASDA which is like a Walmart. Last week I decided I wanted to go to a different one. Joe didn't want to as he just started feeling like he was knowing his way around. (Maybe he's getting into it a little, ya think?) But I don't want walmart quality every time.

The British are not fans of soft drinks. There is a very small selection in the grocery stores. The aisle for soft drinks is called "fizzies". I have only seen coke products and then their brands. They usually only have cans too. I found bottles only a couple of times and there was only a handful of them at that. Their generic brand of coke is much much cheaper. So I tried it. Yuck! It was awful, tasted like medicine. When you ask for a diet coke at a restaurant you don't get any ice unless you ask, and then its just a few cubes. There are not soda machines in stores like there is in the US. You know how we always have them at the checkouts at home depot and places like that. No, you just die of thirst here while you are shopping.

I found it ineresting that the beer aisle was called "bitters, lager and ales". I was really amazed when I turned the corner and they had all the liquor in the next aisle. How handy! I bought some rum that looked like it could have passed for Captain Morgan, but I haven't tried it yet.

I must say Joe has been very helpful in the grocery store. He follows me with the cart (called a trolly here). He said that when I am talking he sees people's heads turn as we go by. The accent... not my beauty. I keep forgetting that WE are the ones with accents here.

Joe spent a long time in the coffee aisle the first time. He just kept looking and looking. When I found him he said he couldn't find coffee filters. Then someone at work told him that they don't brew coffee here. At least not at home. All the coffee is instant. They just have electric pots to heat water, mostly for their tea. So he is drinking instant coffee with no half and half as they don't have that either. Even in restaurants. "cream" for coffee is just milk. He says he is used to it now. Glad I don't drink coffee.

Everything is an adjustment, then you get used to it. My oven was a real shocker. It is tiny! Like everything in the kitchen. I will not be able to get one of my big cookie sheets in it when I want to bake cookies. I was used to two ovens too! How in the world do people cook big Christmas dinners? I haven't figured that one out yet. The first time I turned it on to bake a pizza I thought I had some wierd kind of oven because it only went up to 220 degrees. I kept turning the dial and turning it and wondering what in the world was wrong. Until I looked at the pizza box and saw the temperature was in celcius. The stove is called the hob. I found that out by way of box directions too. My "hob" has four burners. Three tiny ones and one not quite as tiny. You'd think the people were all midgets here! Oh, is that not politically correct? Sorry.

To fill you in in Joe's job. He likes it very much. He is working long hours right now just to learn the companies ways. He reminded me that all the parts and supplies he knew in US terms. Suddenly every single thing is different. For example USA measures in BTU's and UK uses kilowatts. You can multiply that by ALL the types of measurements he used and see how he is having to re-learn it all. Even though he doesn't deal with parts and pieces on the counter, he still needs to know and be familiar with it all. The people in the office are great and he will soon be getting out to visit the stores and get to know all the employees.

To back up just a little. Joe was basically hired to manage the company. At the time they started talking (almost a year ago) United had just hired a guy who was to be groomed to be the general manager when Joe left. His name is Andrew. But since this has all started and as months have gone by Joe, and the previous American who was here before Joe, and the head man in the US, feel that Andrew has done so well that he should be given the title of general manager now, rather than later. It also gives him more authority to the employees who may feel they don't have to answer to him if there is an american present. Joe doesn't care about titles, he just wants to help them be successful. Anyway, Andrew and Joe work really well together and think a lot alike. So Joe is kind of teaching and leading right now. Andrew told Joe the other day that Joe has a calming effect on the office. I can see that, can't you? Just as a little side note...Andrew is from Wales and one of the funniest men I have ever met! We've been out to dinner several times and it is always a "jolly good time".

This is a four day weekend coming up. They call them bank holidays even though it is actually Easter. They are off Friday and Monday. I wanted to take advantage of this so I booked a room for us at a hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon. This is a famous town that lies on the Avon river and is the birthplace of William Shakespeare. It's where he lived and died and is buried there along with his wife Anne Hathaway. All six of the houses he lived in from birth til death are still there and maintained exactly as they were in the 16th century. We plan on touring them and also seeing a play at the Royal Shakespeare Company. I think Romeo and Juliet is the one playing while we are there. There are several castles in the surrounding areas so we may do that if we have time. I am very excited for our first sight-seeing trip! I'll let you know how it goes. Happy Easter everybody!


  1. I hope you both have a wonderful time on your "Bank" break. We are getting excited here because it is almost spring break. We're expecting a BIG storm tomorrow. Glad to see the post. I hope someday to come over and see you there......

  2. Let us know how the mini trip is...sounds like fun! I thought maybe you would be able to read this better then e-mail so I wanted you to know I finally finished North and South. I really liked it a lot. I just started the 2nd one...only about 30-40 pages in. Also, the cat is gone. K gave it away cause I told her I didn't really want it here. So its just H and I again...its been nice! TTYS!

  3. J&K in the UK...Wow really sounds like your in a whole nother country...Oh that's right you are...No Freezer!!! Well I guess you can buy one. We're really enjoying the Blog. Can't wait to hear about the site seeing tours. We had a nice Easter diner with Anna's cousing today and the weather has been really awesome. Happy Easter!!!

    Much Love,
    Mike & Anna

  4. Good to hear that you are settlin' in just fine. And am very envious of your ability to take a walk to town, visit Shakespeare's home, castles, etc. It's one of the places I have never been but want to visit. Checking up on my family history too as I believe the Hinchman family came from Wales. We'll see. Take care and enjoy your hob, fizzies, et al. Joe needs to learn to drink tea.

  5. Bah tonnes of people in the UK brew coffee! They do down in the South-West at least. And half-and-half is just single cream, which should be in most stores. It's odd, in America I am always disappointed because people ask if I want cream and it turns out just to be milk :-/

    Your blog is great; glad Frank linked to it! And one tip for your stay in England: you must get down to Cornwall and try a pasty!