Saturday, December 10, 2005

Oh Christmas Tree

Brianna and I finally managed to get our tree today. I had been told that real ones were very expensive so we were going to get an artificial, but with a few more conversations found out they weren't bad on price at all. Bri had seen a place off a country road near Stourbridge that had trees so we headed out there. They had all sorts of breeds and I of course had to go for the spruce with the most prickly trunk. The guys working there netted it for us and managed to get it all the way into Rusty. The top of the tree was all the way onto my front dash and served as an entertaining barrier between myself and Bri in the passenger seat, particularly because she has to lean over to my side to open my door for me (the lock is broken on the outside of my driver's side door). We went and got a few decorations and one Christmas CD, came home, made a coffee and Baileys and decorated our tree to the music. It's a lovely little tree and we're both finding the lounge very cozy now with the tree lights, the gas fireplace and a few candles.

Our lovely tree! The width of the bottom just barely fit!

This is the base of our tree. They do have tree stands available, but most just put the tree into these natural wood blocks. I quite like it actually, it makes the tree look much more natural, I think.
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Saturday, December 03, 2005


Happiness is. . .

That was more or less the question for the day today. Following our dinner at Rachael's Thursday night, she invited me to attend a workshop she was doing today on Happiness. Rachael has recently attended the 8 week series of courses in London put on by Dr. Robert Holden, who is the director of the Happiness Project and wanted to share some of what she had learned in a workshop here at home. I am not one to be all for the self-help craze, and some of you may look at the site and think that is all it is. But I do very much appreciate meeting new people and being able to share thoughts and feelings in ways we wouldn't normally (if at all). I've had some big ups and downs since my trip to New York in October- personally and professionally, so I also thought this might be an interesting way for me to reflect a bit.

I really enjoyed the whole day. Everyone that I had a chance to get to know in the group a bit were amazing people each with their own story. We laughed a ton, especially when having to spell words with our bums toward the end of the session and I at many times was brought on the verge of tears (good ones). I left with the idea I need to start journaling for myself again (not just blogging for you all:-)!) and writing down all my little reflections at the end of the day and some of the things I am grateful for each day, which I also discovered today I am fortunate to have many.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Random Acts of Friendship

About a week or two ago, I received a call from Rachael at Homestart. Homestart is a wonderful charity organization that trains and supports volunteers to support families with children under age 5. I had made a referral to Rachael and when we met she shared that she knew another American living in the area. She rang somewhat out of the blue and invited me to hers for dinner and to meet her friend, Carolyn. I was more than happy to accept the invitation- the more friends the merrier here! Brianna came along with me and we had a great evening. It was funny because towards the end I think we were all getting tired and all said we needed to get going, and then stayed and talked for another hour or so. We found we all shared similar policital and some philosophical views, and Brianna has found herself two new running partners (I of course, have abstained from that invitation). I am planning to attend a workshop Rachael is doing for some colleagues and friends on Saturday and Bri will be running with them in the next couple weeks. It's funny how easy it can be, once one person makes the move to reach out, to make some new connections.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Let it Snow!

My first real snow in England and I have soon discovered that many people in this area do not know how to drive in it! It started lightly in the afternoon and really started to get heavy around 3 or 4pm. I had to drop Karen off to pick up her car and was headed to an appointment when I began to notice that traffic was coming to a standstill. I called the mom I was meeting and told her I would be late. About 15 minutes later, I called and suggested we rescheduled. I then headed home, starting at about 4:15. I tried to work my way through Merry Hill (the giant shopping mall in the area) thinking it would be quicker that Brierley Hill High Street. It wasn't! By the time I made it home to Sedgley, It was just at 7PM. It should usually take me about 20 minutes to get home. Brianna was stuck somewhere in Dudley as well and it took her almost as long, so we were texting, entertaining each other with jokes about the music on Radio 1. She said later that at one point she contemplated getting out of her car and dancing in the street; I think some may have joined her. Or maybe they would just think she was some wacky foreigner, "There's no way that nutter's from the Black Country!" She made it home about five minutes after me and we headed straight for the pub! We just had a few beers and on the way home I started a snowball fight, which was a very good laugh.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Festive Weekend

We started our Thanksgiving festivities more so on Friday. Thursday night I had drinks planned with someone so Brianna took over the kitchen to get her wild rice dish and pumpkin pies done. I woke up about 6am Friday (you would have thought it was Christmas morning and I was 5!) and started cooking around 7am with an apple pie and the turkey. I had to call Stacy because she had done a smaller dinner for some friends on Wednesday and had experienced this turkey business. It was not easy, especially coming from someone who once upon a time would eat nothing that came from animals! I managed to get the giblet bag out without too much screaming but Stacy had to endure my moans of agony at eight o'clock in the morning as I pulled the nasty neck out. Using Grandma's recipe, I managed to get it cooking. We had to take it out during the day to cook all the other dishes and I got it back in just before people came. It looked amazing but with Lesley's help to see if it was all the way done, alas it was not. We put in back in for a bit and it was fine and Paula helped me to cut into the poor bird. Everyone brought loads to drink (we still have left over wine, YAY!) and seemed to love the food. Lesley, with family in tow, Nikki and I headed to the Beacon for a few pints after people began to leave. Then later, Nikki and I got Bri and headed out to dance off the food for a bit.

I am very proud of my first turkey!

Come on! Even you vegetarians have to admit it looks pretty good to be cooked by a former vegetarian who still struggles to cook anything meat!

Lesley and Nikki, both friends from my work team you've seen on the blog before.

Lesley's daughter Charis (on right) and her friend Natalie joined us as well. They remind me a lot of our gang in high school (essentially, that means you Julia)- which was a bit amusing and a bit nostalgic at the same time. I even ventured to say that evening watching them made me miss that age, but I would like to retract that statement after further reflection. :-)

I gave Charis control of the camera and now have quite a few of her and Natalie...and a few like...

This...Can you guess which legs are mine?

After leaving the pub Nikki and I went back and picked up Brianna. We tried to just go up the road to Montey's but despite Brianna's bartering the bouncer would not let us in. We talked some guy into paying for our taxi up to Wolverhampton and were back to Cheeky's for a dance. I behaved myself and maintained, so Nikki and I were able to shoo away all the leeches. I managed to encounter the whole spectrum this time, from 17-37 year olds. The 37 year old didn't even believe that I was from the States, he thought it was some tactic. Brianna, on the other hand, while I think she may have behaved, kept disappearing on us now and then.

The next day we got up, slowly but surely, and headed for Ludlow. Needless to say, Brianna had to make one or two stops along the way, from drinking the night before. But she quickly recuperated once we got to Ludlow, for a little Medevial festivities and Christmas shopping. I agreed to drive this trip but have now decided (after all my moaning and anxiety on this one) that I will no longer drive poor old Rusty any farther than Bridgnorth.

Brianna attempted to stay warm while we waited in the long queue for the cash point (ATM) and it started to rain.

The armored man looked right at me when I took this; I thought he might come and get me for disrupting the posterity of medevial times with my photo technology!

If you look to the center you can see a very tall man in a dark cloak. This was a giant friar with a huge felt face; kind of scary when you are a little hungover!

I got myself a giant Oggie, basically a huge pasty with beef, leeks, potatoes and gravy. Not so easy to eat!

We caught a bit of the medevial carolers. The lead guy was telling jokes to the crowd that everyone seemed to laugh at but us.

And rested our weary medievial shopping arms with a half pint of ale (well, I did) and some medievial jams.

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Sunday, I went with a friend shopping in Birmingham. We were mostly shopping for Christmas gifts for his family, but I managed to get a couple CDs for myself while in HMV. Birmingham was very nice. We don't go there often enough and Bri and I keep saying we are going to get there more often on the weekends for a change of pace. It was lovely to just walk around the Bull Ring and see all the elaborate holiday decorations about. I also got a little tour of Selfridges and discovered they have some "American" foods I haven't seen anywhere. I got Bri some Aunt Jemima pancake mix, but the syrup was 6GBP so I just went with the mix!

Stacy, Brianna and I finished off the weekend Sunday night going to see the new Harry Potter. I thought it was pretty good; and Ralph Fienes plays Valdimor! I still refuse to read the books, though.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Beer Festival

Last night I made it out with a group of friends from work: Nikki, Liz, Vicki, Lesley and her partner Mike and their friend Russ, and Denny and her friends. We started at the Saracen's Head, a pub down the road from the town hall where the festival was. After a few drinks there we headed to the festival. You paid 5GBP and got a glass (which I lost somewhere along the way that night); along the wall were various kegs and you had a guide to describe each beer and their percentages. I didn't drink anything below 6%. By the end of the festival, I had a big bottle of German lager in one hand and my glass in the other filled with "Last Rites" (11%). I also got the chance to see friends from the old Robin Hood and particularly got to catch up with Marine, who I hadn't seen in a few months. Also had a nice run-in with Steve and Jon. We danced away to the Irish tunes of the band and chugged our beers down when we were told to get out. Most of us then headed to the Civic in Wolverhampton for some Cheeky Monkey madness. Things gradually got blurry from there and I think Nikki had to drag me home to keep me out of trouble. All in all, a very fun night!

Towards the end of the festival, we made sure we had plenty of beer in each hand before they shut us down and enjoyed some traditional Irish tunes.

An attempted shot of the band and how much everyone was enjoying it, swaying (or swaggering) to the music.

As always, Lesley gives a very lovely pose for the camera . . .meanwhile Denny (to the left) keeps dancing away!

I think this was maybe taken at Cheeky Monkey's. It must of been because I don't remember taking it and that's when my memory kind of faded to black. . .
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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Brief reflection on a bad day

A little girl I have never even known has been on my mind all day today as I watched her mother suffer with the details of her loss, feeling like I wanted to do as much as I could to support her, but knowing there was nothing. Following this, I was so distracted by my thoughts that I bumped into the back of another car. Fortunately, the person I struck was so kind and seeing how upset I was, let it go. I think I almost got in an accident two more times as I tried to get home. I got myself home and phoned my friend/manager, telling her I needed the rest of the day. I managed to eat my way through the fridge for a bit and just sat then, thinking of nothing and everything all at once. Thinking of how selfish I feel that I feel so upset when I never even knew this child. Thinking about my guilt of every little thing I complain about when I know I have one of the strongest support networks (albeit, they’re thousands of miles away) a person could possibly have; and then feeling guilty for making it about me. I actually had that fleeting thought I get sometimes that it would be nice to have a man around, at least for someone to cuddle up on the couch with- just wanting that contact in this quiet house that seems large enough to envelop me when I am alone in it. But I resolved that feeling with a very long bath and Sigur Ross. I have discovered Sigur Ross’ new one is also a perfectly emotionally evocative album for those days when you can’t think straight but can’t stop thinking.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Last Weekend

Just wanted to share with you all my most recent adventure, but first I think I should tell you about Brianna's first. Some of you know the story a bit already, but two weekends ago Bri decided to go up north, near Newcastle, to visit a host family she knows well from when she studied up there a few years ago. Her little Rover that she paid a whole 450GBP for had a tendency to overheat unless she put water in it now and then and her heater was not working. On her way back that Sunday, she forgot to put water in before taking off and somewhere around Carlisle (about 190 miles from here) she overheated and broke down. She waited a bit for it to cool off but the car would not start. Eventually she called breakdown coverage and it took them forever to find her as she stood on the side of the motorway, watching the sun go down. They eventually got to her and told her she had blown her head gasket and was told it would be around 500 GBP to fix. I was going to drive up and get her but once we realized how far away she really was and that it would take about three hours for me to get there, only to have to turn round and drive back another three, she decided to get a room for the night. The room she ended up in had no heat and she had to get up around 4:30 the next morning to walk to the train station and catch the earliest train back. Her car was proclaimed dead and left in Carlisle. Who knows what would have happened to us if I would have driven up there in 16 year old Rusty!

So, being without a car, I have been driving her partially to work, which has been no trouble at all since it is on my usual route. She was not happy about the fact that she is now carless, though and her friend Maggie was coming into town Saturday. I had planned to go to Wessex but decided not to after her experience and said I could drive to pick Maggie up at the airport in Birmingham. That Friday afternoon, my car started making some funny grumbling noises. Unfortunately, I had just cancelled my phone contract and had to buy a new phone to have pay-as-you-go with a different company. Those money issues like to crop up on me all at once, don't they! Since the noise had just started I wasn't too worried. I looked at it in the daylight Saturday and thought it looked okay to drive to the airport and back, and then I would take it in somewhere Monday. Well, on our drive to the airport, it seemed to get louder and louder. We got Maggie safe and sound, but on the way back, I went the wrong way on the motorway and headed toward Manchester on the M6 Toll instead of going through Birmingham. As we were discussing the best way to get in the right direction, the exhaust hit the ground! I pulled over and made a call to Stacy, who gave me a few numbers. I called the breakdown coverage but they said they could help me until I had the exact junctions I was between. "I don't know! We were lost when this happened." Meanwhile Maggie was enjoying the sights of the English countryside for the first time from the side of the M6 Motorway with cars whizzing by. I walked down to the closest SOS (emergency telephone box) and picked up the receiver to find out my location. The gentleman on the line told me to "stay on the opposite side of my car from the lanes- it's dangerous out there" and to make sure I "bundle up because it's getting cold." I phoned my breakdown cover back and we waited for an hour or so for the tow truck. We got lucky and got a very nice guy who took my muffler fully off and offered to tow us to a locale that we could get home from. He towed us to about twenty minutes from Dudley and we were on our way, car growling at the top of it's lungs. Sounded a bit like a loud prop plane struggling to come in for a landing.

We made it out Saturday night- the usual Wolverhampton crap that I am starting to get very tired of, but managed to have a fun time, regardless of the scary 20-21 year old males there. Sunday was a day of rest and back to work this week for the chaos! Fortunately, the only visit I had Monday was with the police and they usually drive so I was able to get my car in and fixed that day for a mere 75GBP! It's sounding much better now!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"Her mix tape's a masterpiece"

I always used to think that song line was all mine, but not so sure these days. There is nothing that quite compares to the days of the Doe-Marinara mixes, circa 1992-1996. Perhaps it's the fact now that mixes are too often put onto a CD. There was something special about those cassette mixes, blaring in Big Mamma or Whitey, with their handwritten messages, creative titles, and perhaps a collage or two. But, after much deliberation, experimenting with bit torrent and failing and finally resigning to the Itunes music store, I think I may have made yet another decent mix for five special people. Not my best, but it will do.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Creationists have really gone for it this time!

I heard about this on Channel 4 news tonight and was blown away! A Creation Museum has been built in Northern Kentucky, not too far from Cincinatti (or my Indy home). The purpose of this museum is to speak out against "evolutionary indoctrination (that) has undermined the Christian foundations in America (Wait! I thought we were escaping religious oppression when the foundations of "America" were set? What about all those founding fathers that were separatists, even atheists perhaps?)" and what they consider to be "a wonderful alternative to the evolutionary natural history museums that are turning countless minds against the gospel of Christ and the authority of the scripture." How anyone could seriously believe the earth is only 6,000 years old, I do not know that I can ever understand that. Have we all heard of the geological time table? I have to say though, I am curious to check out this museum sometime and see the replica of the TRex that joined the rest of the animals two by two on Noah's Ark, I just don't think I could bring myself to financially support this insanity!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bonfire Night

Guy Fawkes Day, or Bonfire Night as most people call it was last night. Brianna decided to go to Newcastle for the weekend and the rest that were supposed to go dropped off because of the rain, so just Stacy and I went. During the day, we went to Bridgnorth with Teri and got a strong head start on some Christmas shopping. I think we were both pretty worn out after that but we were determined to check this bonfire out. We went to the one at Himley Hall, being told by many people it was one of the best. When we got there, I was expecting a big wood fire and a bunch of people gathered round. Singing Kum bi yah, perhaps? But the fire was actually a built replica of I suppose the Houses of Parliment, which Guy Fawkes intended to set on fire. Notice the little man on top in the first pictures. It was a pretty amazing fire with a great fireworks display to follow, and a cruise through a cheesey little carnival filled with teens- making me feel very old!

I think it had just recently gotten started when we got there, and this was the view.

Just kept watching as the structure burned down, I was mesmerized by it for awhile. . .and then started fiddling with the new camera. . .

The fireworks display was set to War of the Worlds. There was also a laser show and narration that we couldn't really hear. The fireworks were very good- this is about the best picture I got of the display.

After the fireworks a lot of people bolted for the exit. Stacy and I strolled the Carnival which had your typical rides and games. We decided we would try the oh-so-exciting "Bat out of Hell" ride for a whopping 2GBP. We went in the little roller coaster trolley and through the mysterious dark doors to be faced with an old plastic store manequin in half with some red paint on it. We then were attacked by a big plastic spider and a paper ghost which we both swerved to avoid (Germs! yuck!...yes, we are getting old, I think). We came back out and were rushed in the most exciting five seconds down a little hill and then back in to be confronted by the scary man above yelling something in a very frightening British accent. And then the ride was over. . .we went home after that.

Today I was thinking I might finally make it to Malvern for a little hike but with the weather like this, I think I will be staying in.
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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Midweek mumblings. . .

Well, I suppose technically it is not Midweek just yet, but it feels like tomorrow should be Friday! I thought I would just post a little blurb on here so you all know I am still alive and well. I have been posting on Myspace a bit but it is nothing worth full public viewing, hence the reason I posted it there. It usually involves boredom and or drinking. Anyways. . . Things have been fairly quiet on the UK homefront since I returned from the trip to North America at the beginning of the month. Following that trip and some much needed car repairs and renewed road tax, I was pretty much flat broke. So, I have not been out and about much at all. I managed to walk down our road to Baggeridge, a park and wooded area, and hiked there a bit. That may be the most exciting thing that has happened this month! Oh yeah, and we carved some pumpkins last weekend. . . But from that little hike and a few other meditative moments I jumped out of my homesick funk and got back into the happy-go-lucky boots I more often have on. I have reinvested into the gym (literally and figuratively) and have been getting in there at least a few times a week. I figure since I have no money I may as well take advantage of what's already paid for and try to work off some of this English beer I've been drinking. I think instead of putting how much alcohol there is by volume they should put how much fat it will add to you by volume!
I still have managed to get my drink in on the weekends, but it's been in the controlled environment of my own home where the only damage I can do is a few drunken emails (oops!). Otherwise. . . work has kept me very busy during the week. I have gotten a few new cases- one with some weird sexual crime history involved and recently just got a case involving adoption so I am definitely learning a lot. I had one child I work with get into some pretty big trouble this week which has kept me on my toes (hence, the need for it to be Friday!). . .But payday is Thursday and I will have some money to get out again. Hopefully I will have my replacement camera in the next couple weeks, too, and can post pics again soon. Have some fun weekends and roadtrips planned in November and December, so stay tuned. . .

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A few random pics

Here are a couple pics of the High Street in Sedgley I took to finish off those damn disposables. . .and a random Mini pic.

The high street

"Bull Ring" at the High Street. Brianna and I often go to the Clifton (to the left there- used to be a movie theatre but now converted into a Wetherspoons chain restaurant) to start off our nights out. Very cheap drinks!

A mini Mini- I think at least a few people were asking me about car sizes, so here is about the smallest for ya!
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Fall sets in with a bit of nostalgia

Well, they call it Autumn here, but it is still Fall to me. I hit my snooze so many times this morning the alarm went completely off. I woke up to Bri talking through my door, asking if I was going to get up and you know how I can be in the morning. . ."Yeah, yeah, I have a training right near home, I'm sleeping in!" But then I looked at the clock and it was about 8:45! I thought it was about 8AM. As this late morning and early evening darkness sets in, I better get used to it- it's only just beginning. Before I know it, it'll be dark at 4:30p. Fortunately, I showered after the gym last night so I stumbled into the bathroom and refreshed and headed off to learn about "Equality and Diversity." As I was driving to work with my window down, I breathed in the cool crisp air that comes with the early days of Fall and became nostalgic for my Broadripple home. I was remembering leaving my lovely little apartment on the Monon, the courtyard filled with leaves and making a stop at my friendly Starbucks- saying hi to my buddy Pete and getting my coffee before making the short drive to work. I also thought of those lovely evening walks on the Monon, hanging out on Ryan's porch and pulling out the dark beers for the cool weather. . .among other great Fall memories. This afternoon, I took a nice drive and enjoyed the weather that way as I went to check out a restaurant for Christmas dinner. I then headed to Wolverhampton and proceeded to drive in and out of the ring road for an hour- trying to figure out the one ways in order to get to Waterstone's and maybe find and buy Dharma Punx. By the time I made it- Waterstone's was closed. I do not think Noah Levine and I were meant to be! But, I did not let that or the bus that tried to run me over ruin my great Fall mood! Sounds like you Indy folk are enjoying the weather setting in there too from a chat today with Julia. Have a nice evening walk and a stout on the porch for me!

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Haircut

Em asked for some posted pics of the new do. So, rather than make you wait until you see me at the end of this week, here's a few for your perusal. . . :-D

Just a peek!

See you weddin' folk in three-four days! WooHoo! I'll be sticking my tongue out even farther than this (as I love to do) and dancin' on the table. . .Thursday, Friday and Saturday!
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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

August Bank Holiday

Rather than Labor Day weekend, we have the August Bank Holiday Weekend the weekend before. I have been trying to get together with Mick, an English friend that I met while he was living in Indy, for awhile and we finally set up to go visit him this Saturday. We decided to make a day of it and headed in the early afternoon to Calke Abbey, a huge historical estate near the village of Ticknall in Derbyshire.

As we entered the grounds of Calke Abbey, we came upon a huge herd of sheep grazing across the grounds on either side of the road. Bri and I both, without discussing it, pulled out our cameras and started shooting.

They weren't phased, they just kept eating.

This house was amazing! Never actually an "Abbey," it was owned from about 1622 by the Harpur-Crewe family. Members of the family continued to live in the house until the early 1980's.

This part of the house is the main home. Behind it is the original home when the estate was bought by the Harpur family which dates to Elizabethan times. For some reason we did not get pictures inside, I am not even sure if you could. We were mesmermized by the various rooms with amazing furniture and art, and others that were left neglected by the family and now have wallpaper peeling and mold on the walls, just the way the family left it.

The estate closed at 5pm, before we got a chance to see the gardens, which are supposed to be amazing. We walked the outskirts of the estate to check out the Chapel. Bri tried to get back in the gates to no avail.

Here is the family's chapel toward the top of the estate. We walked around here a bit and then headed back on the road toward Derby.

We got to Derby eventually...leaving the Calke Abbey we had to leave a different way and got completely lost. We ended up essentially doing a circle around the area and ended up back by the entrance of Calke Abbey. We eventually found our way back to the motorway and made it to the Derby area, no problem! Once we got in Derby, I proceeded to get lost once more. In my man- I don't need directions way- I kept assuring Bri I knew where I was going, even though I could remember the name of the village ("I know it has a B and a S in it! I'll know it when I see it!"). We eventually found our way as Mick guided us in. He was an excellent host and took us out for a night on the town. With the exception of the smoking/heavy drinking pregnant American (a whole seperate story!), it was a great time. I didn't get any pics of Mick that night, just this cute one of Bri in the second bar we went to. Mick said as we called down the stairs, "Doesn't it remind you of the Casbah?" and later, "Doesn't it remind you of the Alley Cat?" It did, it was one of my favorites of the night.

We said goodbye to Mick early the next morning, both expecting to have outings with our friends- Bri was supposed to go to Devon, I was supposed to go on a pub crawl in Wolverhampton. Those both got cancelled for various reasons so we attempted to go to dinner in Clent and the Lyttleton Arms, supposively a good pub/restaurant. We went with Stacy about 6 or so and when we got there it was much more posh than we expected, with a Zen theme happening inside. Of course, being that it was Sunday and we live in England, they stopped serving food at 4PM. We headed to the Fountain, to no avail, but the manager was sure to give me a card for when I wanted to come next time. We made it to the French Hen and ended up having a very nice French style dinner. We rented a few movies, went back to our place and had a laid back end to the bank holiday weekend. I spent Monday with the house to myself, loud music, a little cleaning and some wine while Bri went on her trip to Wales (no longer Devon).
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Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Attacked

I really don't have a lot to say on this. . .most of you will have received my mass email stating I am alright. I live two hours away so I am not directly effected by this tragedy. Birmingham, the second largest city that I live just outside of, is also under watch for further bombs. All I really can think to say is how impressed I am with the people of Great Britian for their stoicism and courage to not let these events hinder our daily lives any more than it absolutely has to. I am proud to be living here at this time, with so many other great things happening in this country and in the world.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Another New Home

Here is my new house!

This is the view from the front of the house. You can see quite a bit of countryside; this picture doesn't quite do it justice.

This is our sunset view from the front.

This is our back garden. There are all sorts of flowers and it seems something different blooms everyweek. There are also some herbs already growing in the garden. It needs a bit of weeding and clean up but still looks beautiful with everything in bloom.
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Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Independence Day!

It is funny how many people over here were aware and mentioned the 4th holiday to me today. I came into the office with a handdrawn flag and a sign saying up with the rebels on my desk from my colleague Alan this morning and numerous people mentioned it to me throughout the day. I never really gave it much thought except for the fact that I should be off work today! Stacy and Brianna decided we should have a BBQ for a little celebration. We invited all the Americans who are here but it ended up just the three of us (and one Brit). We managed to get American as possible with bbq chicken, potatoes, apple pie and of course, Budweiser (which, as an aside, I recently found out the original Bud comes from Chezc Republic and the American co. stole it). It wasn't the most pleasant weather for grilling outside but we managed to talk the sky into giving us enough time to cook the food and have a nice little 4th of July celebration here in England.

Here we have Stacy trying to keep the grill going in the drizzle while I supervise.
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Sunday, July 03, 2005


We headed to London Friday and went to see Fame the night before. It was probably the worst theatre production I have ever been to but we had a fun night in the bars before and after. I had a great picture of Martin, Jackie and their friend Jason but somehow lost it on my computer.

We headed for the park around 10:30/11:00AM. Here was the crowd before the show before everyone got in. Most people brought little picnics and stuff to sit on and took breaks between sets. Jackie and I agreed we were a little less prepared than we would normally be but it didn't effect our good time.

The show started with Paul McCartney singing Sgt. Pepper's. "It was 20 years ago today. . ." referring to the last LiveAid. He had horn players in the uniforms of the Sgt. Pepper album cover. He was joined by U2 and Bono sang along before they took over to sing "One" and a few other songs.

The guys from Little Britian came out to do one of their routines and introduced Elton John

Elton John was okay. . . I was not as impressed as I thought I would be, I think because of the songs he sang. For his last song they sang "Children of the Revolution" originally by TRex and was joined by Pete Doherty (originally from the Libertines) and that boy was not looking good.

Coldplay was the next on and they were wonderful!

Before Michael here, Dido was on. I have never given her much of a chance but I really liked her. She was then joined by singer Youssou N'Dour who was amazing. REM put on a great set but I got the feeling some of the Brits surrounding me weren't so keen on them.

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LIVE8 continued. . .

Throughout the day we also had Keane, Ms. Dyamite, Snoop Dog, and introductions with Kofi-Anan and Ricky Gervais (I never thought those two men would be in the same sentence!) Bob Geldof popped back on stage and said he was so thrilled he had to sing a song. He pleased the crowd with his "I don't like Mondays."

This one's for you Don! Travis brightened the stage with their delightful melodramatic pop that we love so much!

Then the next surprise. Brad Pitt came out (with bleached blonde hair) to introduce Annie Lennox. I didn't get any pictures of Annie because I was mesmerized by her performance!

Madonna brought on stage a young woman whose picture had been shown all over during the time of LiveAid and was on the brink of starvation. She is now attending university. I'm not sure how I felt about all seemed a little exploitave.

But Madonna was good!

The Scissor Sisters then rocked as they always do!

Velvet Revolver received some mixed reviews.

Sting got the crowd going again.
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