Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A Walk Along The Canal Side – bliss.

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A walk along the canal side is always going to bring joy. Last Thursday, the weather turned bright and cheerful, so we set off to walk beside the water to enliven our spirit and enjoy the softness of feeling that being beside water always brings. Come with me as I walk and listen to the sounds of Spring.
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The is the Grand Union Canal.
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A WALKERS ATTITUDE

I woke up early today, excited about the day ahead. My health and well being are important and it is my job to decide to take care of myself. Its up to me to find the time, the place and the reasons to go for a walk.

Today I can complain because the weather is rainy, or ……
I can be thankful that my skin will be blessed with moisture.

Today I can feel sad that I have so many other things to do, or……….
I can be happy that I’ll have so much more energy to do them when I’m done walking

Today I can grumble over the temperature, or…
I can be thrilled that I’ve got the right clothes to deal with it.

Today I can whine because I have to find the time to walk, or….
I can shout for joy that my body is able to keep pace with my spirit

Today I can mourn my lack of walking partners, or…
I can revel in my quiet time alone.

What my health and fitness will be like is, in great measure, up to me. I get to choose my level of well being. I get to lay the plans for a daily walk.

Have a great walk today…unless you have other plans.

Author unknown

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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Living in the U.K. - Larry's take on driving here.

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First of all, let me wish all my blogging friends on here a very happy New Year. I hope it brings you much joy and no sorrow! I have so enjoyed reading all your blogs and sharing in your lives and hope to continue to do so through 2014. Thank you to any new followers and welcome :)

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Larry has been with me in England for nearly six months now and he says he is still learning. This month's observation is all about our driving habits over here. Have a giggle...

'Five Months in England – Still learning!

Driving in the UK remains somewhat of an uncertainty. I plan on taking driving lessons in the spring - that is, if they will let an old man of 69 years drive over here. Not that I don’t know how to drive a car – been doing that for half a century now! No, it’s this business of having the car on the wrong side of me and the gear shift on the wrong side of me and the road on the wrong side of me…. Well, you get the picture. It’s a bit like trying to read a book by viewing it in a mirror. Seems simple enough to decipher a sentence or two as a party trick, but imagine having to read the entire book that way, and in heavy traffic. I just need a bit of practice to gain some confidence, and a driving lesson or two seems the safest way to proceed. Might even be a nice break for the driving instructor, not having to worry about a gum chewing 16 year-old slamming on the brakes every 100 yards to answer a text from their friends. Hopefully I’ll get an instructor who can adjust to my Tennessee vocabulary, such as ‘rite thar’, which means ‘look whar my finger’s pointin’.

Having a senior citizen’s pass to ride the bus for free makes driving a luxury rather than a necessity. But that isn’t the point. I see it as a challenge, and I’m still up for a challenge even at my age. Learning the ‘rules of the road’ in the UK, albeit substantially different from those in America, is not the challenging part. I recall my 7th grade English grammar teacher explaining to a group of 13 year-olds that it would take us two weeks to learn the rules of proper English grammar, followed by another 16 weeks to understand all the exceptions. The exceptions were the interesting bit – so it appears to be with driving in the UK.

Take, for example, a leisurely drive through a suburban area of a southeastern English town. In England we are supposed to drive on the left side of the road. Simple enough, but here come the exceptions. At least half the cars in the UK are parked in the road (they have no other choice), some partly on the curb and some completely in the road blocking the left lane entirely. So if you’re trying to drive on that road what do you do? You toss the rulebook out the window and improvise. You drive on the right lane (natural for me) until you get around the obstacle.

Unless….. There’s a car coming toward you in the right lane. That means waiting until he has passed, and then moving into the right lane. Unless….. You think you may have ‘just enough time’ to swerve around the car blocking your lane and get back in your lane before the oncoming vehicle arrives. This is where it gets interesting. Different drivers have different perceptions of how much is ‘just enough time’. City bus drivers seem to be experts at this little game of “chicken”, having played it once every 3 minutes throughout their career as a bus driver, based on my 5 months of observations.

I used to think that most of the traffic congestion in America, caused primarily by 4-way stop signs, was successfully eliminated in the UK by building roundabouts. These ingenious inventions keep the traffic moving because it is much easier to determine whose turn it is to safely proceed through the intersection, i.e., you don’t go through the intersection – you go around it (and each other if there’s sufficient space). 

However, I have since discovered that whatever time savings the roundabouts offer is cancelled out by the time spent sitting behind parked cars blocking the left lane, where ‘whose turn it is’ depends on people’s perception of ‘just enough time’. How big the oncoming vehicle happens to be is also worth considering, with city busses getting preferential treatment from most motorists.

Out on the motorways (highways) things get a bit more dicey at much higher speeds. Motorways in the UK are usually a welcome relief from the relatively narrow (curb to curb) streets in and around towns. Motorways may be wide enough (using the entire paved surface) for three car widths, sometimes wider still. Thus driving in the left lane offers some new options. If trapped behind a slow moving lorry (truck), some drivers wait until there is sufficient space in the right lane to pass the lorry before the next oncoming vehicle arrives. This is the familiar custom on American highways. 

In either country success also depends on how much horsepower you have under the hood (excuse me, bonnet). But in the UK you may choose to go down the middle, passing the lorry on its right side but staying sufficiently out of the right lane that the oncoming vehicle can comfortably (or uncomfortably) go whizzing by. This is an interesting thing to watch – a lorry at 60 mph being passed simultaneously by a BMW going 75 mph in the same direction and a Fiat coming at 70 mph in the opposite direction. Definitely not for the faint of heart!! Other options too complicated to describe here must surely be available when the motorway offers multiple lanes in each direction.

To sum up then, the art of driving in the UK requires unique skill and experience in making the fullest possible use of any portion of the roadway that becomes available at any moment, with the ability to execute split-second timing being the thing that separates the experts from the novices. I am wondering if I have enough years left (and can purchase enough insurance) to adequately master this art form. One thing is certain however. For those entrepreneurs in the U.S. who collect $100 every time they tow away a car found illegally parked in the streets of American suburbia – come to the UK. You will all be millionaires in six months.'


Thursday, 5 September 2013

I have moved!


Just to let you know that my future posts will be here.

Please bookmark the page and continue to visit me at my new address :)

Star

Sunday, 4 August 2013

My Memoirs - Larry's First Week in England.

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Back in 2007 I remarried to Larry. This is our wedding picture, one of them. Nice isn't it! At the time his dad was still alive and in his 80's and Larry was his carer. Dad lived with Larry. I went to America to live and every now and then I returned to England to be with my own family. I became a gypsy! I think I was always a bit of a gypsy really and this confirmed it. The fact that I could live this double life so easily came as a surprise to me and everybody else. I won't say it was easy. Sometimes it was very hard and there were many mountains to climb and valleys to cross. However, our love endured under these difficult circumstances and we are still together after six years.
Larry's dad died just over a year ago and just recently Larry has come to live here in England with me and my ex who still dwells in the same cottage as me. Life will be even more interesting from now on!


Last Tuesday I went to Heathrow to meet Larry and bring him back to the cottage. It was a magical moment when I saw him coming through the gate at 'Arrivals'. I had been waiting for an hour, hanging on the rail as I got more tired and a bit anxious. Finally I saw him coming through the doors.


Larry has been with me here for a week now and I thought you would like to know his thoughts on his first week in England? We are all curious about what it is like to live in another country, aren't we. Well here is his take - an American in England, part one:


'My First Week in England – Being Three Years Old Again! – Living in a foreign country is like being three years old all over again. Everything is new and different and can be learned for the first time, even if you are 68. Some examples (some expected, some not):
• Cars drive on the wrong side of the road and come at you from odd directions

• Steering wheel, gearshift – all on the wrong side of the car.

• Car is on the wrong side of ME, putting the curb and the rear view mirror also on the wrong side of me.

• Toilet paper comes off the roll in the wrong direction (I may feel compelled to fix that one at some point)

• Clouds look familiar but move across the sky at several times the normal speed limit.

• Sun comes up at least an hour too early here – 4:30 am (I should have that corrected by December I think…)

• There is this funny “u” that keeps popping up for no apparent reason, like in colour and flavour.

• Words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently, like conTROVersy instead of CONtroversy, etc.

• Other words have new meanings, like BOOT and BONNET – yes you can wear these here on a spring day, but they are also the front end and back end of a car

• Inanimate objects have hidden desires, i.e., “the car wants washing today”, the floors want vacuuming (excuse me “hoovering”!)”

• Ten words are often used where I would use only five, but it sounds so much nicer using ten. That is a skill is simply must master!

• You can watch an entire two-hour mystery movie on the “tely” with no “adverts” to make you forget what the movie was about. This means you need to go the toilet before the movie starts, like in a movie theater (excuse me – “theatre”)

• The “toilet” here is the entire room, not just the porcelain thing you sit on.

• You can still have your milk (and bread and cheese) delivered to your door here!

• A doctor will come to your house if necessary! Absolutely amazing!!

• One is rewarded, rather than penalized for being over 60 here. I have a “bus pass” that lets me ride the local buses for free! Even gives me a discount on the train to London.
• No sales tax (“VAT”) on food or children’s clothes here.

• I used to wonder where “the good ole days” went. It appears they went here in many instances. I have fond memories of things I used to do as a child growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. To my surprise you can still do them here.

• It’s fun being three again!!!Watch this page for my second week in England…..'

Monday, 24 June 2013

Baby Sam - update

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Baby Sam is my second grandson. He was born on May 27th 2013 to the delight of all his family and especially me. Here he is having one of his first baths. Isn't he cute.

On Friday he visited the cottage with his parents for the first time - quite an occasion and one of many to come. So far he has been asleep most of the times I have seen him. He does seem to be a very contented baby. I'm thinking he might have auburn, curly hair like his Dad.

Needless to say his mum and dad are very proud of him. Here is Dad having a cat-nap with his new son:

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Isn't that adorable? My heart swells with pride when I see my lovely family growing and thriving.

STOP PRESS

My American husband has applied for a visa to come and live in England. Tomorrow, Monday 24th June 2013, we will get the result of the application.

I don't know how I got any sleep last night.

For sure the decision will change my life.

Please wish a favourable outcome for us and watch this space.

Star

My English Garden in June - a riot of colour.

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We got off to a very slow start this summer. Everything is late and here at the cottage there has been some replanting. The gardener has had to replant his runner bean seeds because first they didn't germinate properly - owing to the cold Spring and then when they did, something ate them under the ground.  Every morning we went out to look, but nothing! Finally we gave up and planted some new seeds. As I speak on 18th June the little plants are about 3 inches up.

My Morning Glory seeds germinated and then got water-logged and cold and died so I had to buy another packet of seeds and replant them. They have just germinated - watch this space.

However! despite all that the garden is a riot of colour as you can see here. Come take a look...
The poppies, daisies and acquilegias are all in full bloom.

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Here and there some lichnis growing fast (that's the grey foliage in the bottom left hand corner of next picture).

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The bees are happy and that's the main thing!  Happy gardening peeps.

How have you found the weather has affected your garden (if you have one) so far this year?

Sunday, 2 June 2013

My knitted socks - finished in time for summer?

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I finished knitting these socks last week using a pattern from GlennaC. Click here for her website. You can find another of her patterns here. I made them because I had to because I wanted to know why everybody seems to love knitted socks so much. As we have just started our summer here in England, it may be some time before I wear them in earnest, but when the time comes, I will be ready!

I made these on four double pointed needles and mastered the technique in the end although I can tell you it is tricky and requires practise. Then I saw a video on Tina's website showing how to knit socks using two sets of circular needles so next time I'm going to try that. Tina at her website was making some stripey socks and I admired the way the stripes seem to match up in each sock. Some clever sock wool designing there!


So I'm getting into sock knitting. In America sock yarn is everywhere but I don't see it very much over here in England. Perhaps I just haven't noticed it. We have different yarns in varied plys and I'm so familiar with the English ones that when in America, I see everything with fresh eyes. You have the space in your shops to see everything displayed my American friends. Never take that for granted please! To me it is like shopping in Aladdin's cave!

Here are my socks again. I'm pleased with them. Thank you to Glenna and Tina for the tips.

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You can find other posts about knitting, sewing and spinning at my Stitching Stars Blog.