Saturday, October 31, 2009

Magazine Swap?

Anyone from back in the states interested in swapping a UK knitting mag and assorted goodies for the Interweave Knits Fall 2009 issue?  I can't find it around here and the online shipping cost is more than double what it would actually cost.  And a swap would be more fun.  :)

Happy Halloween!  I'm thinking about dressing as a tourist and going outside with my camera for a bit....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Terrible Allergies are Making Me Use This Title

Yesterday we moved the seemingly unwieldy jumble of boxes from the conservatory to the spare bedroom.  Suddenly, they didn't seem so unwieldy at all.  It was as if each box shrunk as we carried it upstairs.  It just makes sense to have the boxes in a room where none of the contents are staying so that each box can be carried out and unpacked in its proper room.  Plus, I can just shut the door and pretend the boxes aren't there at all!

That also means we have the conservatory back.  After a little cleaning and decorating, it'll be nice to be able to sit at the table and have tea and Sunday papers.  And, seeing as how this is my first Thanksgiving as a married lady, I'd also like to make some sort of Thanksgiving dinner for us this year and having a proper dining room to eat in is kind of required. 

And, no, the irony of having my first married Thanksgiving in England is not lost on me.   

It's beginning to look and feel a little more like home around here.  There are new throws on the sofas and a vase of dahlias and I even unpacked my favorite piece of art and set it on the mantle.  


(an old photo because I hate the idea of a post without one)

Thank goodness I found a husband who didn't flinch at all when I asked he felt about this picture and if we could, maybe, at least temporarily anyway, hang it above the fireplace. 

Matt's doing an overnight at work again and I really wanted use this time to get a lot more done around here but an allergy attack has caused me to spend most of the evening reading Revolutionary Road (so good) and staring across the room in a hazy stupor.  That said, I'm going to bed early.  My mother-in-law and my sister-in-law. Ruth, who's down from Bath for a couple of days, are coming into town tomorrow morning and I'm going to meet them for a cup of tea and, I suspect, a little shopping.  Plus I'm oddly excited about getting a haircut tomorrow - it's been awhile.

Do you ever write a post and think, "Should I even bother to post this, for Pete's sake?"  Yeah, that's how I feel about this one but I'm going to publish it anyway. 

Huh, rather than "publish" I typed "pretty" (and fixed it, of course) - I need to go to bed. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Really Am a Knitter

A few days ago I joined a group over on Ravelry called The Blog Hub for knitting blogs and then realized that, even though it's nearly the biggest word over there in my category cloud, this blog hasn't seen a bit of knitting in a long time.  So just to prove that I really do knit, a post about knitting.

I bound off the body of my FLS, literally, minutes ago.  After seeing how pretty Ginny's was turning out and then how it actually turned out, I went into FLS overdrive.  I had started this back in the summer but packed it in Matt's suitcase when he went home in June after the wedding assuming that I'd be able to pick it back up in three weeks and have it finished for fall.  Of course, things didn't really work out that way and it stayed in his suitcase up until a week or two ago when I finally pulled it out and got on with it.

FLS Full 

FLS Side

It might go into slight hibernation because I think my size eight double points are in one of the many boxes downstairs marked CRAFT SUPPLIES.  I'm afraid to check the stash I either didn't ship or bought over the summer for fear that I won't find any but but kind of figure I'll attack the boxes tomorrow if that's the case.  I think I might have even marked the box they're in with an extra KNITTING NEEDLE label because I've moved enough to know that it's good to make sure the things you'll need are easy to find.  

When I got here last month I started on the Beachcomber Bag.  One word: bobbles.  It's in hibernation until I finish the FLS, Buddy's sweater and maybe a bit more of the Gooseberry Cardigan which is in the early, not worth photographing stages.  

Beachcomber bag

It's pretty, though, and I like the yarn quite a bit.

One last, non-knitting photo.  I found that living here requires you to carry a change purse as well as a wallet since, instead of dollar bills, there are pound and two pound coins which means you're almost guaranteed to be carrying around a some times not so small stash of change.  It took a lot of searching but I finally found the perfect one the Elusive Purse Mouse.  

Elusive Purse Mouse

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On the Way to Fishterton Mill

Yesterday I decided I didn't care if I looked like a tourist and took some photos I've been meaning to take for awhile along our walk to Fisherton Mill - a place that I've been meaning to blog about for awhile. 

I love these clever flower pots.  It's a great idea garden idea for those of you who happen to have a couple of cracked kayaks and a tiny, leaky rowboat just lying around.

Eclectic Flower Pots 

This is my favorite storefront - abandoned or otherwise - and not just because it's shades of my favorite color although that's probably what initially caught my eye.  I wonder what it looked like inside when it was still open for business.  I'm afraid it's going to be purchased one day and, unless it's bought by a family called Knight that wants to sell fish and poultry, the front will be destroyed. 

Favorite Store Front

To the right is a cute little gift shop/Cath Kidston reseller called Lulu's.  We stopped in yesterday to see if they had her cute mini agenda books in stock but, unfortunately, that's one of the few things you can only buy in an actual Cath Kidston shop. 

Now on to The Mill.  Matt and I went to Fisherton Mill on my very first day in Salisbury back in November of last year.  I guess you would call it our first date even though we'd known each other via email and phone calls for a little over three months.  

The Mill

I remember sitting across from him, just as nervous as can be, wanting to hold his hand as it sat there on the table top, just an inch and a half from mine, but just being too afraid.  We'd only hugged at the airport, after all.  Even though it was clear that we were crazy about one another before I'd arrived, it was a little different once we met in real life.  I was mad about him in person as well and attempted to put out little signals but I wasn't sure how he felt.  Matt was too gentlemanly to be too forward and make a move and, obviously, my signals must have really been a bit weak because he wasn't picking them up at all.  We worked it out eventually - although, considering that we're married and I've moved 4,000 miles to a new country to be with him, that's probably pretty obvious.

Up until yesterday we've managed to always sit at that same first table.

Our Table with Text copy

The Mill is half cafe, half gallery and gift shop with works by local artists.  My favorite thing about the Mill, though, is their flapjacks.


I've yet to make my own flapjacks but I have a tin of Golden Syrup downstairs that's just waiting for some oats and a good recipe.  I tried making them when I lived in the states using honey, I think, because we don't have Golden Syrup and they were disastrous.  Little burnt hockey pucks.  Tomorrow, though, I'm hoping to have a post about the honey toffee I made with GS and an insane amount of honey but we're still waiting for it to harden.  I wanted to make some to take to Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night and am glad I decided to give it a test run (i.e. excuse to make something sweet) otherwise I would have made it the day of and it never would have been ready to break up and take with us. 

That other chocolaty thing was a hedgehog cake.  Good but not as good as the flapjack!

Here's another kind of blurry shot of the cafe.  The gift shop part is the glaringly bright section.

Mill Cafe 

Matt bought me a cute pair of tiny heart shaped earrings and these adorable buttons/badges (more things are called something else here than you realize).

Cute Buttons 

Speaking of cute - there was an insanely cute King Charles Spaniel (I only know this because there was one in Buddy's puppy class) under the table next to us.  Matt even offered to ask if I could take a photo because I was too shy but I just don't think they would've understood why I wanted to take a picture like that - something mundane yet, I think, as cute as a well behaved dog under a table.  I need to get over worrying about what other people think and being shy because now I wish I had taken the photo!

I avoided being the Uber Tourist and didn't snap one of the red telephone box in the close on our way into town.  I have to admit, though...I did take one of those on that very first trip nearly one year ago but I really was a tourist back then. :)

Matt needs to get to back to work so I'm going to surrender the computer - maybe tomorrow I'll actually catch up on my emails....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wardour Castle

After a fantastic breakfast of potatoes, bacon and French toast unlike any French toast I'd ever had (with herbs grilled in the egg instead of drenched in syrup), we had planned to walk over to Polly's for tea but as we were walking out the door, Matt suggested we go for a drive instead. 

We ended up in Shaftesbury, about a half hour or so away from Salisbury, where we wandered a little bit before walking down to a little cafe called the Salt Cellar.  Unfortunately, although the view is stunning from their front door...


...the service was terrible.  We sat at a table for about ten minutes as the waitstaff blatantly looked the other way when Matt tried to catch their eye.  So we got up and left.  Tthe brownies at the next cafe were worth the wait, though.

On the way home we stopped off at Wardour Castle.  It's set so far off the main road you begin to wonder, more than once, as you feel sick from all the twisty roads, if you've taken a wrong turn or if there even really is a castle.  There is, though, and it was so stunning I took over a hundred photos!  Thankfully, I will only subject you to a tiny handful.  :)   

Due to the sun, I couldn't get a very good photo of the front of the castle -

Castle Front
but the back was really the photo worthy side anyway.

Castle Back 2 

Its one thing to wander around the ruins of a castle but they have actually repaired the floors so you can explore all four floors and really imagine what it would have felt like to walk up the winding staircases, dressed in the gowns of the 14th century.

Castle Inside

Perhaps you might even pause on your way to the hall for dinner to peer out the window at the changing leaves of fall....

Castle Window

If it were four hundred years later, though, I guess you might have paused to carve your name in the stone while your parents weren't looking.

Castle Graffiti

Graffiti from the 1800s!

A little Wardour Castle point of Alan Rickman interest: I didn't know this until Matt
pointed it out (obviously, since I didn't even know the castle existed until we passed the sign and he asked if I'd like to check it out) but Wardour was used as Robin Hood's ancestral home in
Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Anyway, if you come to visit me from the states, we'll  most definitely take you to see this castle in person.  It was really amazing.

When we got home we had just enough time to get snarf a bit of frozen pizza and change before heading out to Southampton with Matt's mum to see The Sound of Music.  Really fantastic.  I've been battling a pretty terrible case of homesickness, though, for about the past twenty four hours (since we had a nice, long Skype chat with my parents) so, oddly, I was in near tears for almost all of the performance.  I have no idea why - it's not like Austria reminds me of Ohio or anything and, even though Mom and I have watched lots of musicals together, The Sound of Music was never one of them.  Anyway, all of that homesickness stuff is a post for another day - or perhaps not a post at all. 

I need some cathartic knitting, I think.  I haven't really sat down to knit in about a week so I think I'll channel my Ginny Finished her FLS jealousy in to a couple hours of knitting of my own.  Matt's at work today, it's too cold and rainy to walk anywhere and I'm getting pretty good at pushing the overwhelmed feelings away and ignoring the stacks of boxes to unpack in the conservatory....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Just a Little Note

Dear Aunt Flo,

These are the things I should be doing:

- finishing up the dishes

- cleaning the bedroom

- catching up on emails

These are the things I'm going to do instead:

- make a cup of tea

- sit on the couch with a warm cat and a book

For once I have to admit that I don't hate you as much today as I normally would.  Sometimes it's nice to have an excuse to relax even if you might not really need one. 

What do you say we bake some cookies a little later? 




The New Forest

I don't know if there will ever come a time when we drive through the New Forest and I don't feel a child-like thrill to see ponies, horses and cows grazing on the side of the road.  I don't mean they're grazing on the side of the road in the way those of us from the states are used to - behind fences - no, these are free to wander and graze.  So you'll often see something like this mare and her foal.

NF Horses

I was asking Matt if he ever actually saw pigs in the New Forest or did they hide out a bit deeper, off the road and not ten minutes later we found this trio munching acorns off to the right. 

NF Pigs

I loved their snorty sounds and the way their giant ears covered their eyes.

The New Forest was created by William I in 1079 as a hunting ground for deer.  The commoners have since then had rights to, amongst other things, turn livestock out in to the forest.  I can't say that I understand it much past that but I did read an interesting article the other day in Country Living, I think, about how they round up the hundreds of horses in the fall for health checks and branding.  That must be something to see.

Parts of the forest landscape are hard to describe.  They're unlike anything I've seen in the states.  The best description I could come up with was what would be created if the Great Smokey Mountains and the desert decided to get together and have a baby.  Lush and green but strangely dry looking at the same time.  Impossible to describe.

NF Road Landscape 

This is a view from Ashley's Walk and is the first bit of the New Forest that I really ever saw back when I visited in November of last year.  I remember that it was amazingly windy and that I snapped a few photos of a shaggy cow not too far off the path.  A horse ambled by us at one point, too.  I was also probably insanely nervous because I think it was only my second day with Matt.  It was really nice to walk on that same path today, less than a year later, as a married couple.  The weather was perfect when I took these photos but there were no cattle or horses along the path - just a few grazing off in the distance.

We did see a tiny herd of cattle as we were pulling in the car park, though.

New Forest Cows 

We were also lucky enough to spot a deer grazing beneath a tree on our way back up the path.  She let us get fairly close before bounding off in to the brush.

New Forest Deer 

Another breathtaking view....

NF Horizon with Clouds 

And another...

NF Shadow Landscape 

And one more...

NF Pine Landscape

Seriously, I don't know if I could ever come here without my camera. 

Friday, October 16, 2009

How Dogs Dress in New Orleans

NOLA dogs

Buddy along with his new pals Tallulah, my brother's girlfriend's dog, and Cooper, my brother's dog who is only a few days younger than Buddy.  From what Mom said Wednesday night, they all got on great and I wouldn't be surprised to get a photo from my parents in the not too distant future of Buddy and another miniature or standard schnauzer.  If they do get a second dog I really think they should name him Ol' Pal.

"Come here, Buddy, Ol' Pal!"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Friends, Tea Sets and Tickets

I met up with a new friend, Squiblet, from the Sunday afternoon knitting group today.  Like I said before, I love Matt but it was really nice to hang out with a girl for a little bit.  After showing me some of the sewing/craft shops in Salisbury (yaay!), we went to a cafe I'd not been to yet called Polly's, for tea and cake and, I think, had a great time.   It's nice to have someone to ask what seem like silly questions like where are the best places to shop for clothes - although when you're in a completely new country, that's really not such a silly question. 

As if I didn't have enough tea and sweet things, I came home and had lunch and decided a good book and more tea was a good idea since I'd yet to use the tea set for grown ups that my mother-in-law gave me the other day.


Note, Ginny, the tray and mat - now that I've unpacked it, we use it almost daily!

Ugh, unfortunately now I'm feeling all full and lethargic and not at all like doing any unpacking.  We got a lot done yesterday, though.  We unwrapped the amazingly well packed (by the moving company, not us) grandfather clock and took all of our broken down boxes, packing popcorn and paper to the recycling facility.  It felt so to good to get it all out of the house and getting the giant clock out of the pile of boxes makes me feel like we've really made progress - it was huge.  Unpacking is a slow process but it's definitely starting to feel like our home around here.  

Oh, I saw someone get a ticket just a little bit ago for parking on our street which is reserved for residents only during the day.  It seems like a strange thing to blog about but I was fascinated by his thoroughness.  He wrote the ticket and then took photos of the front of the car and then a couple of the inside or possibly just the front windshield due maybe to a missing or expired parking sticker.  After all those pictures, he took one of the restriction sign which was only a few feet away.  Then he finished up the ticket, put it in an envelope with sticky tape on it, taped it to the top of the window on the drivers side, took a photo of it on the car and then wrote in his little notepad for several minutes before finally setting off in search of other villainous vehicles.  See?  Really thorough. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cider Post No. 1

CIDER Matt and I sampled a couple of ciders from Southampton Somerset (correction madedays later - cider goes straight to my head and fiddles with my fingertips) tonight after he got home from work.  A little to dry for the tastes of either of us but still incredibly drinkable. 

Did you know that Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of Once fame have an album out/coming out?  Yet again, something I should have known about but had to hear about on Facebook.  NPR is streaming the entire thing until October 27th - I listened to two of the songs and will hopefully be picking up the album tomorrow as I think it's already been released here*.  They're coming to the O2 in London in January and I'm really looking forward to seeing them.  If you've yet to watch Once for whatever reason, I highly recommend it. 

Speaking of concerts and the O2 - as an early Christmas treat from Matt's mum, Matt, my sister-in-law Laura, and I are going to see Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra in December.  I feel like everyone should know who Bill Bailey is but I know my friends back in the states probably don't know who he is so here are some helpful links: Cockney Music, Kraftwerk, Pub Jokes, Dueling Xylophone.  All right, enough.  I'm very excited - he's hysterical.  And - yikes! - it's after one - off to bed(ish)....

*Nope, I was wrong - it's not out until the end of the month.  Argh.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Little Gray Cloud Day

I had my first strong "What have I done?!" day today.  Not in a bad way, just in a very homesick kind of way.  In the morning, Matt suggested we go to Stourhead since the weather was amazing and I suggested Longleat since it closes in a few weeks and I haven't been there before.  The little gray cloud lingering over my head, though, kept telling me to crawl back into bed and cover my head with the duvet.  If it had been a work day for Matt, that's probably what I would have done.

By the time I made the banana bread I'd obsessively woken up wanting to make (four over ripe bananas had been staring at me for several days), it was kind of too late to do the zoo or Stourhead so we actually ended up packing a bag of knitting, books, iPods and journals and driving not too far away to Stockbridge to shop a little bit with the idea of eventually finding a cafe to relax in for a bit.  That never really came to fruition but it was still a nice day.  Sure, I nearly burst into tears at Maison Blanc, a cafe in Winchester, but you'll have that.  Part of me was yearning to sit in an American restaurant - not a cafe.  In fact, we walked into a Costa and I had to admit I couldn't do Costa again and I love Costa.  Thankfully, I could at least have a cold diet Coke at Maison Blanc.  Finding a Cath Kidston shop wasn't too painful either and I picked up a really cute set of note cards.  There's something about living here that makes me want to send out real mail.  If you're interested in getting a little card from me and I don't already have your address - 'cause you lot are already going to get mail from me and a few of you already have something on the way - send it to me at sushichickATgmailDOTcom and eventually I'll send you a line or two.  :)

Anyway, being out and about was probably better than sulking at home but, at the same time, it really reminded me how different things are here.  My mood certainly perked up a little bit when we got back because once you've decided a place is home, it's home - even though I have days where even being here with all the boxes is overwhelming.  Of course, baking cookies and opening a bottle of wine didn't hurt either.  Yes, banana bread and cookies in one day. The looming PMS wasn't really doing me any favors.

I know it'll take awhile before days like this are non-existent.  And I'm sure tomorrow will be much better.  I'm really looking forward to Thursday, too, as fellow Raveler, Squiblet, has offered to meet up with me for some tea, wandering, knitting or whatever.  I love my husband and the fact that we actually live in the same country now but it'll still be great to have a little girl time.  

I had a post ready for today full of photos from our drive through the New Forest yesterday but my mood just didn't match and I want to "keep it real, yo."  This blog is about learning to live in a new country, after all and it's not all days out exploring and fun - it's hard.  I miss my friends and family.  I could even really do with a Buddy hug right now, to tell you the truth (why does that, of all things I've thought about while writing this post, make tears well up in my eyes, for Pete's sake?).  I miss the way things have always been and where and how I've lived for the past 35 years.  It's almost like being at home some times - a nudge away - but also just not like home at all.  I have to make myself deal with it, though, by being aware of it, talking about it, having an understanding husband and knowing that it won't hurt like this all the time.  

And nothing beats a good night's sleep (and maybe one last glass of wine)....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

This Week's Menu: Fresh Grilled Veggies

Matt with Vegetables

Some fresh veggies from my mother-in-law's garden.  A green pepper, an aubergine and, here in the UK, that frightening vegetable on the right is called a swede.  I figured we had to have it in the US but I wasn't sure what we would call it.  Obviously I've never seen nor eaten a rutabaga.  The UK wins in the eggplant department by calling an eggplant something as pretty as an aubergine but how often do you get to say a fun word like rutabaga?   

One-Pan Chicken Couscous

We have had our old standbys of pasta with garlic and bacon and grilled cheese sandwiches countless times in the few days that I've lived here but the other night we made a one-pan chicken couscous recipe from the November issue of BBC Good Food that was so good I had to share.  

Chicken Dish

One-Pan Chicken Couscous by Emma Lewis

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 onion, thinly sliced

  • 200g/8oz chicken breast, diced (we used Quorn)

  • good chunk fresh root ginger

  • 1 - 2 tbsp harissa paste, plus extra to serve 

  • 10 dried apricots

  • 220g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

  • 200ml/7fl oz hot chicken stock

  • handful coriander (cilantro) chopped, to serve

1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion for 1 - 2 minutes just until softened.  Add the chicken and fry for 7 - 10 minutes until cooked through and the onions have turned golden.  Grate over the ginger, stir through the harissa to coat everything and cook for 1 minute more.

2. Tip in the apricots, chickpeas and couscous, then pour over the stock and stir once.  Cover with a lid or tightly cover the pan with foil and leave for about five minutes until the couscous has soaked up all the stock and is soft.  Fluff up the couscous with a fork and scatter over the coriander to serve.  Serve with extra harissa if you like.

Serves 4

We like couscous so much that we added nearly double what the recipe calls for and we also just about doubled the harissa paste as well.  The recipe says it preps in five minutes and cooks in ten which we initially laughed at but the recipe was right. It's a fantastic, quick dish that we'll be making again soon. 

The photo was actually taken of the leftovers we had for lunch today. :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Spending Time in Town

It's a beautiful day in Salisbury today - made even more beautiful by the fact that it rained, nonstop, yesterday.  After a little housework, I packed up my knitting bag and headed out to spend the afternoon wandering around town.   The key word there is "wander."  Thankfully I discovered today that if I wander around long enough I'll eventually find what I was looking for which, in this instance, was Paperchase.  

The girl in me that still loves when stores start putting out school supplies, who would love to dive in to a swimming pool full of crayons, loves Paperchase.  It's full of cute notebooks, stickers, cards and fun little things that you really don't need but have to have.  After picking out a handful of cards and a couple of packs of stickers, I wandered around a little more until I found Starbucks, bought a cafe mocha (which, unlike Starbucks in the US, they give to you in a real mug if you're "staying in") and headed upstairs.

Despite all of the wandering, I really am feeling a little more confident.  Being out and about by myself felt really good today.  I even found myself paying for things with more than just notes and one pound coins.  I know that sounds absolutely silly but I'm still learning what each coin is worth and if you're behind be in line you might be waiting for awhile as I look for 2p.  I'll figure it out eventually, though.

After writing a few cards and finishing my coffee, I picked up a soda and a chocolate bar and headed home via the cathedral (even though that means crossing a busy street to get home - I had to walk past our flat by a block to get to a crosswalk because I don't feel confident enough to cross on my own yet).

View from a Bench

This was the view from my bench where I wrote a few more cards and wished I had either finished the pair of fingerless mitts I started knitting back in August or that I had unpacked my outer wear box and found the ones Kim made for me back in the days of the first Knitters Hunk.  It's sunny and warm here but a bit chilly on the extremities. 

In the past I've lived across the street from a shopping center at best so it's utterly amazing that I live across from something like the cathedral. 

Spire Again

Just gorgeous.  

The Button 

I also took a photo of what Matt has always called The Giant Button.   I don't know what it really is and refuse to find out until I have to (i.e. when Mom and Dad come to visit in March or April).  

As always, time has gotten away from me and my stomach, which is more used to the time change than the part of my brain that tells me when to go to sleep and when to wake up, knows it's way past lunch time....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bournemouth & Christchurch

The original plan for yesterday was to do a little more unpacking and cleaning but, since Matt was taking the day off, the plan turned in to a trip to the Oceanarium in Bournemouth which is about a half hour away. 

The fact that the wind broke my new Monet umbrella on its first venture out, before we could even get from the car park to the aquarium, was an unfortunate sign of things to come: there had been a power cut at the aquarium and it was closed for the day.   Argh. 

Instead we went for a walk on a very windy beach.


Bournemouth Ocean 

Happy Couple

We thought about doing a little shopping in Bournemouth but, after walking around for a little while, we decided to drive a few miles away to Christchurch.  We stopped for lunch at Costa...

Lunch at Costa 

..and then walked around town a bit, stopping at a great book store called Bookends and stumbling across a yarn shop called Honora Wool Specialists.  It was small but, literally, packed floor to ceiling with yarn - woo hoo!  I left with a set of needles for the Gooseberry Cardigan because I can't find my size 6 needles (note to self: carry a conversion chart of English to metric sizes in your wallet to save yourself some embarrassment), a skein of Manos in shades of blue and green, some Rowan Alpaca Cotton and a skein of Spirit (I had tried to get this online awhile ago but I think it's discontinued) to make a meerkat that actually looks like the pattern (because my first three attempts at meerkat heads weren't quite meerkatty enough).  

Then we walked around the beautiful priory. 

Christchurch Priory

The volunteers should ask you what language you speak when you first go inside, not where you're from.  After my lengthy answer of, "I'm from the United States but just moved to Salisbury last week," he grinned, said, "We don't have it in United States so you'll have to take it in English," and handed me a little guide.  Embarrassing.  

There were lots of magpies on the grounds surrounding the priory.  I am obsessed with magpies and tried desperately to get a good photo (but didn't really).  Before I came here, magpies were just something from a nursery rhyme so the multitude of magpies (and pheasants!) fascinates me.  Imagine how excited I'll be if I ever get to see a hedgehog in the wild....


Lastly, I got a kick out of this sign.  Christchurch is obviously budget conscious as it was, of course, much cheaper to paint over the "West" on this sign than to build a new one after the unification of Germany.  


In other news, Matt is working two days in Oxford so he'll be staying overnight which means I have the house to myself until late tomorrow.  I know this kind of opportunity will be kind of exciting eventually but now, since I've only been here for, nearly at this moment, exactly a week, it's kind of weird.  But good, too.  There's still lots of unpacking and cleaning to do.  Plus I might venture in to town again to do a little knitting at Starbucks or maybe take the new book I'm reading, Olive Kitteridge (very good so far), to the Mill for tea and a flapjack (yum).  Or I might just lounge in front of the television watching British cooking shows....

Monday, October 5, 2009

Meeting New People, Seeing New Things & Being Out and About On My Own

I felt a little overwhelmed yesterday for the first time.  I really thought I would stay in "oh, I'm on vacation" mode for at least a week but, no, I woke up grumpy and a  Thank goodness for understanding husbands and happy pills.  I had actually forgotten to take mine for a couple of days which, I'm sure, didn't really help with the feeling of being overwhelmed. 

Some Sunday I'll take a photo of the Sunday papers here because the papers in the States just do not compare.  We picked up three yesterday and spent the morning relaxing in bed - my favorite way to spend a Sunday.  My original idea was to walk over to Starbucks by myself to meet the knitting group but I'd yet to go in to town alone and my mood wasn't exactly ideal for meeting new people so Matt and I walked over just so that I could say hi and meet everyone.  And by everyone I mean lots of people - for you Daytonians, it reminded me a lot of the early, crowded Brown Street days but with more seating.  Anyway, it was nice to finally put faces to Ravelry names and I really, really can't wait for the next meet up.

After Starbucks we drove out to Matt's favorite walk, Pepperbox Hill.  It was a little gloomy yesterday but I snapped a few photos as we walked up the ridiculously steep hill, around and back down again.

Cathedral small
The cathedral, which is right across the street from our flat - I can see the spire from the window here on the third floor - is near the center there, a bit to the left.

Purple flower small copy 

One small copy 

Path small copy 

This is the path back down Pepperbox Hill and the road that leads back to Salisbury.  

There's a folly here as well but we saved that for another visit.

So I mentioned that my original plan yesterday was to go in to town by myself but, when you get right down to it, I chickened out, right?  Well, I walked to the grocery alone today!  I have to admit, I took the long way at first to avoid crossing the road and then only crossed the road when the signal said it was okay or if someone else was crossing because I still can't get used to looking in a new direction and I'm sometimes not even sure where a car might be coming from.  Silly, I know.  I'm a bit paranoid, too, and felt like everyone could peg me as a non-native - especially the check out lady at Tesco who took a good long look at me more than once which made me feel like I was doing something wrong.  Even though the language is the same, things here really are very different.  And, of course, I completely forgot the diet Coke I walked there for but I did get the makings for salsa and veggie burgers for lunch tomorrow so it wasn't a complete failure.  

Anyway, lots to do.  One more box and the kitchen is completely unpacked!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Settling In

I know it's only been two days but I'm still bowled over by random thoughts of, "This is where I live" - a statement that has randomly ended with a period, exclamation point or question mark.

We're already working on making the flat "ours" and made an exploratory trip to the IKEA in Southampton today.  We managed to come home with chocolates, my third mini pink hippo, two baskets for the bathroom and the thought that we might come back after we've done a little more with what we have.  Speaking of what we have - my stuff arrived the day after I got here.  Eighty boxes are stuffed into the conservatory.  Matt's going to work tomorrow so I'm going to attempt to start unpacking the kitchen.  Considering we packed all of our wedding gifts within a handful of days of receiving them, it's going to be like opening them all over again. Fun!

I haven't been online much since I got here but I'm looking forward to catching up on some blogs and email tomorrow, too.  And knitting on the new bag I started Wednesday.  Sunday afternoon is the Salisbury knit together and I'm really looking forward to walking over to meet some new people and, hopefully, make a few new friends. 

All in all, things have been good so far.  I just have this thought in the back of my head, though, that one day I'm going to realize without a doubt that I do indeed live here and I wonder how that's going to make me feel....