30 July 2010

Recounting First Day Driving

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Ready To Drive: Photo of Me with Posh Crash Helmet and Safety Glasses

When I woke up on my second day in England, I was gripped by the panic of driving. My hubby was going to work the next day, and I would need to drive for errands, grocery shopping, etc. Grab the horns of that big bull!

We bought a used SUV for a variety of reasons - I like to drive up high so I can see better; we can shuttle more kids; better for long trips. What we didn't realize was that it would cost $150 to fill the gas tank!!

First of all, I don't have the mountains as a marker to indicate which direction I'm driving. On cloudy days, I don't have the sun either. My guess is villages popped up throughout the countryside and spiderweb-like bridal paths connected them. So I find it very difficult to get my bearings. Even my satellite navigation system is often confused or frustrated. But we do our best!

Let's Just Say This Is What I Drive, Because I Wish I Did
Nissan Figaro

Anyhoo, we needed to buy a TV in a town 20 minutes away. This was my first time to drive on the wrong side, or as they say, 'the right side'.  Fortunately our car is automatic, otherwise the stick shift would be in the left hand. I took a deep exhale and we were off ('Mommy, why are you always breathing like that?' referring to my Mommy Exhales).

So I started the car, and with my right hand I went to put the gear into reverse. But that turned on my wipers. Oops, use left hand for gears. Then I started backing out and realized my turning radius was not so hot, so I jumped the curb and almost hit my neighbor's car. Went into drive and swerved trying to figure out where the heck I was supposed to be.

'Concern' started to creep in when I had to get on a busy street. Along the way we went through many two lane roundabouts, which were VERY busy. The mere g-force of being in that darn thing made us all yell, and wouldn't you know it, we got spat out at the right place every time. Miraculous! Yet accompanied by 'Don't hit that car/ person/ curb/ motorcycle!'

At several points, the road turned narrow. Cars were parked along my side, which gave me only half a street to drive on. I straddled the line as cars came the other way, feeling like a game of 'Chicken'. With a long line of cars behind me, I pushed on, practically peeking through hand-covered eyes. Who could bear to watch? I literally thought I was going to throw up. My hubby said my face was flush, I was sweating, and I definitely needed a paper bag for hyperventilation. Skydiving and bungee jumping seemed safer than this.

And the kids? They kept saying, 'Please let Daddy drive. Please?!'  Poor, sweet things. And my hubby may have sprained a muscle from failed attempts to slam on the brake on the passenger side.

Once we arrived at the parking structure, we all took a Mommy Exhale together. Just like when your roller coaster ride is over and you come to the stop and it is time to get off. You survived.

We bought the TV and my hubby drove us home, to everyone's relief, and I took a huge nap. Neurons were firing that had been dormant for decades. But I have to say driving has been a bit of a snap ever since. Now I can check that big bull off my list : ) Mission accomplished.

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29 July 2010

Garsons Farm - Pick Your Own

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Last weekend we went to Garsons Farm. Spanning over 100 acres, we were able to pick our own fruits and vegetables.


There was a lot to choose from: carrots, spinach, potatoes, cucumbers, squash, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, and much more. Some things I'd never heard of such as mange tout, marrows, courgettes.

Cherry trees were under the netting. I've never seen such beautiful cherries.

Beautiful strawberries too

It will take at least a week to eat all we picked. The kids (and I) had a hard time not over-picking because it was so fun!

Click here for Garsons website

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28 July 2010

Not Your Typical Move, Part II

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

First, I want to say thank you for all the comments I've gotten on my posts. It encourages me to keep writing and I love hearing from you!

So, I am sitting in my kitchen, drinking a cup of tea while my kids sleep in. Love that! So here we go with my story worth writing...

[The Move]

So our container arrived an hour before the movers. The container guy was not so pleased, but fortunately I took my mother-in-law's advice and had tea and biscuits out and ready for the movers. That seemed to please him.

Once the movers came, they had trouble getting the container unlocked, but were successful after a half hour. The crew of two were able to unload our boxes and furniture in two days while taking many many breaks for tea (I did all the unpacking). All of this was relatively uneventful.

Wilson Gets Cozy In Linen Pile

[The Movers!]

Okay, but here's the unusual part. So what would you have done? Turns out the movers lived 4 hours away and were with a traveling moving company. They move people all over the UK, so they sleep in their moving truck. My neighbor said she would offer them a spare room if she had one. So, yikes! Am I supposed to offer mine?! So now the movers are sleeping in the room next door? Awkward! I don't remember seeing the protocol in my London guide book on this one.

We did not offer our spare room - just too creepy. But they did use the 'loo' and the shower. They didn't have a smaller car to drive in, so we brought them dinner and the cigarettes they asked for. They seemed mildly grateful for my hospitality (fed them 3 meals), but I got the feeling I'd done less than most. Needless to say, we didn't tip them.

Good news is we got everything in perfect condition and a colorful story to tell throughout the years!


27 July 2010

Not Your Typical Move, Part I

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK


We had prepared for almost a year for our move abroad, yet it still didn't seem like enough time. Many details needed to be taken care of at the last minute, such as utilities in the US and in the UK.  As my also-moving-to-UK-friend stated, 'It is a tsunami of details'.Well said, girlfriend! Thank goodness for the internet and faxes, for those international phone calls would have cost a fortune.

Our last day in the US involved me with my home phone on one ear (I was on hold), talking on the cell phone on the other ear, and working the computer at the same time. Meanwhile, my husband was doing the same thing next to me. It was madness. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and it was the perfect 'I Love Lucy' episode. And with teary eyes, we said goodbye to the US and our beloved friends.

And so the local movers packed us up in 2 1/2 days and put everything in a big container like you see on the back of a semi truck. The container was then put on a train to go to port in Houston, Texas to be shipped to our new house in the UK. And magically it appeared on our doorstep last week, almost exactly a month later : )

First sneak peek of our block! Londoners call our area 'leafy'. I like that. It was the first day of rain the whole week, but I didn't mind. I was so excited to get 'situated'. Will write more tomorrow...


22 July 2010

Four Cool Things About Living In England, So Far

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

[LETTER CARRIER BY BIKE] His name is Mark, and he seems to be a nice introvert who was surprised when I chased him down to introduce myself. You may not know this, but my dream job is to be a letter carrier, by bike even better. Seriously : )

[HOUSE KEYS] We have a different church key for each exterior door, of which there are many. I hope we don't lose any of them!

[HYDRANGEAS] These hydrangeas are outside my back door. We can't grow this variety in Colorado, which makes them more special here. They are many in the neighborhood.

[LIBRARY CARDS] Each of us chose our own design. I wanted the pig and elephant one, but it was reserved for kids. I'm glad Little G chose it.

Our container of furnishings arrives tomorrow! Happy day!


20 July 2010

UK Tidbit: Water Butts

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

While reading a brochure from our water company, I was intrigued by how I could save water by using my 'water butt'. At first I was wondering if I should be offended, but then decided to delve a little further. It is a barrel to store water at the end of a gutter. Here are some photos to clarify:

This is a 'slim' water butt

My favorite, the 'ROBUST' water butt

And the prettiest water butt

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16 July 2010

We're Off!

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Our bags are packed

and I can finally say we are moving to England today!

I am hoping this is the car my husband will pick us up in ; )


14 July 2010

DIY Painted Eggs

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

My first DIY "Tutorial"! Probably like you (right?), I have looked everywhere for painted blue robin eggs. Empty handed, I decided to make my own.

Acrylic Paint, Varnish

I bought a package of wooden eggs at the craft store. I painted them blue. Once dry, I splattered brown paint on them.

Once dry, I applied a coat of varnish to make them shiny. 
I can't explain my need for these little eggs, but are a must for our move to England.

I put them in a little nest I also bought at the craft store. 
I think they turned out cute : )

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13 July 2010

London Tidbit: Architecture

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Brutalist Architecture was most popular in the 1950s - mid 1970s worldwide. Its distinct concrete block form is easy to identify in many cities. Interestingly in London, a Brutalist style building likely replaced a WWII bombed site because it was relatively inexpensive and quick to build. The banks of the River Thames was particularly hit hard during WWII.

National Theater in London

Fortunately, the beautiful Tower Bridge was spared because it was an important aerial landmark to the Germans.


07 July 2010

UK Tidbit: Fingerposts

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

This is called a 'fingerpost', pointing the way. 
I could not have named it better myself.

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