Thursday, May 20, 2010


It's been a seriously crazy couple of weeks, and it doesn't look like things are going to slow down much in the near future.  However, life is totally awesome, so we have no complaints.

Awesome fact 1: Chad handed in his final papers for the semester last Thursday - grades usually take about three weeks to finalize, so we should know in a couple of weeks how he did.  I can already tell you he knocked them out of the park :)...he was working on them until about 4am on Thursday, and printed them off with about 10 minutes to spare for the noon deadline.  We celebrated by taking ourselves out to lunch at a little pub on the canal called the George and walking around a cemetery in Bathampton.  It was so nice to spend a relaxing afternoon with my husband after weeks of him perched in front of his computer!

Awesome fact 2: I'm seriously digging my job.  I finally feel like I have a bit of footing and am fitting in well in my new role as manager.  I really like the owner, Rachel, and feel that once I've proven myself a bit more, I will really have a great deal of freedom to once again help make Demuths the best vegetarian restaurant in the UK!  Rachel also runs a vegetarian cooking school, and would prefer to focus solely on that, so the eventual plan is that the head chef, Rich, and I will be in charge of the restaurant.  I thought I'd be a lot more anxious about this level of responsibility, but I'm really energized by it, and feel confident that the restaurant will be going in a good direction.  So yay for that!

Awesome fact 3: It's basically summer here, the bluebells are out, the weather is fine, and Chad and I have been playing in the garden all morning.  I'm feeling very content.

Awesome fact 4: We're doing karate!  Once we get our gis, we'll post photos. 

Wahoo! Yay for life!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

May Ball!

Wow, that was quite a night.

I have to say, that was quite possibly the best time I've had since I've been here.  The British seriously know how to have a good time...particularly the lot of British folks I was with last night.

Our landlord, Gillian, has a super tight family.  Joining her last night were her mum, Beatrice, her two brothers, Neil and Dave (photo 2),
Dave's girlfriend, Charlotte, her twin, Caroline, and their handyman, Simon (photo 1).  Additionally, there were a few more folks around our age, and we totalled about 15 people...people who seriously know how to shake a tailfeather.
In the States, in my experience, it takes a while for people to get lubricated enough to kick up their heels on the dance least a few songs during which a courageous few take to the dance floor in hopes of luring others onto it.  Thus, the "good" dance music is saved for later when there are actually people dancing.  Not in Britain.  The DJ launched full speed into dance favorites, starting off the night with "Dancing Queen".  In a matter of moments, virtually everyone was on the dance floor flailing away with wild abandon.  It was so heartening to see all these 20- and 30-something year old guys having a good time - not worrying whether or not they were making fools of themselves or hanging out by the bar, but really having a blast.  I think it was very encouraging for Chad, who, for the third time since I've known him, really let loose and had a fantastic time dancing.  I really like whatever part of English culture it is that encourages all sorts of foolish antics on the dance floor.  It's very endearing, particularly for a culture that seems to take itself quite seriously some of the time. 
Speaking of foolish antics, Neil is in the military and was decked out in full regalia (including spurs on his shoes, of which I was terrified).  Over the course of the evening, and having overheard me tell someone how appealing the ensemble was, Neil came up with the brilliant idea to switch clothes with Chad, which resulted in Chad's alter ego (who is apparently a matador, little did we know) to emerge.

Here are a few more shots for your enjoyment...we've already got plans for at least two more balls while we're here - one of Neil's military balls and the New Years Eve celebration at the Pump Rooms...I think we're hooked!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A new addition!

No, I'm not pregnant...we got a car!!!!! 


 After the heinous three hour drive down from Manchester back in September, I was not excited to get behind the wheel again, but thankfully Elaine convinced me that it would be a good idea to get comfortable driving in the UK.  Right she was, and I've been thinking about a set of wheels since she and Dad left last month.  We've had a few possibilities, but they fell through, and I was getting impatient.  I also didn't want to have to take tons of public transportation to go and see a bunch of vehicles when one was pretty much as good as the last.  So I just picked one and bought it.  So far so good.

So cars over here are suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper cheap, so we had a pretty good selection of vehicles under £500, which is what we were looking for (something cheap that we can tool around in for the next year and then sell or dump without losing a ton of cash).  Our priority: It has windows in the back seat that roll down.  Poor Nugget hasn't had a car she could stick her head out of since our first year on Vinalhaven when we got the Element, so I really wanted one where she could feel the breeze of the open road. The one we picked is a Vauxhall Astra...not really sure what the American equivalent is...maybe a Chevy of some sort? It's the same kind of car we had when D & E were here, but obviously quite a bit older.

The logo is a cool, bad ass-looking gryphon, so obviously, we decided it was the right car for us (kidding...).  It's a hatchback and still pretty small, but with a decent sized back seat.  We are accepting suggestions for names...we think it's a girl.

As I'm the only one who's done the driving in the UK til today, it was pretty comfortable driving back from Bristol (where the car was) to Bath today.  It was pretty much a straight shot down the A4, and I got to stop and get petrol (AKA gas), which made me feel very much like a car owner again.  It feels almost natural to be driving on the left hand side of the road, and I'm getting much more familiar with shifting with my left hand.  I'm even getting more comfortable with driving with cars on both sides of the road, and only a narrow passage through which two-way traffic is supposed to proceed.  The one thing I can't seem to shake is the inclination to get in on the left hand side of the car.  I was at the grocery store earlier and was hurrying to get into my car so another one could have my parking space when I realized that I'd gotten in on the passenger side.  Whoops.  I had to hop over before making a quick getaway.

Chad had his first try behind the wheel this evening.  I drove us up to the cemetery at the top of our road, and he drove around the lanes there for a little while before hitting the open road.  We took the main road that leads to the university, and it was a pretty quiet time of night, so we didn't run into much traffic.  There are about five roundabouts on the way, so he got some good practice on those.  I think they're a really good idea as an alternative to four-way stops.  No one's ever sitting there wondering who's supposed to go  first, and for the most part, traffic continues on with nary a glitch.   It was strange to be in the passengers' seat, and I must say I was doing a significant amount of hand-wringing, but I needn't have worried.  Chad did a stellar job, and seems to have a much better sense of spacial relationship than I do (or at least he wasn't making the noises I usually do when I have to go through one of the aforementioned narrow corridors with cars on one side of the road and moving traffic on the other).  Nugget very much enjoyed sticking her head out the window as we cruised along. 

I've made Chad promise that once he's done with the papers he's working on now, we'll take the car on her virgin voyage to Golden Cap. We joined the National Trust just last evening, and I want to see absolutely everything we can in this next year.  I am so. excited. to have a car.

Poop poop, the open road!