Thursday, 27 December 2007

Pussy cat bank

Bosley, our lovely big cat, has been fighting in the neighbourhood again. He has been off his food and has a nasty wound on his left foreleg. We had to take him to the vet today. The wound was washed and cleaned and he was treated with painkillers and antibiotics. I asked if we should insure him for the future, as pet insurance is quite common here. We were told, with his track record of fights, he would not be covered!! They advised we open a bank account in his name and put a little money aside each month to cover the cost of his next fight!! We may have to do that as today's bill was 84.00 pounds!

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Season's Greetings

David, Emily, Hannah and me.
John, the girls and me.

I want to wish all of you the very best for the holiday season, wherever you are and however you celebrate. May you all have a safe, healthy and happy 2008.

(These photos were taken on the pier at Worthing today. We went out for a wet drive/walk. Nothing like the bracing sea air!)

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Bathroom complete

The bathroom is finished at last and we are all loving the new power shower. Not to mention the streamlined look of the room itself. Pictures to follow. Now plans are afoot to start work on the kitchen (yippee) in the Spring.

We went to the Palace Theatre in London on Monday night to see Spamalot. This is a musical comedy that is so completely silly it is not really possible to explain, unless one is a die hard Monty Python fan. (Bristish humour). Adam, David, John and I had a really good chuckle though. Well worth the trip.

Finally got out to Standen today after weeks of being absent. The task was to start planting the 7,500 mainly hawthorne 「クラタエグス・モノギナ(ヒトツブサンザシ)」saplings that will become the hedge around a field. I then got a message from the school asking me to go and get Hannah who is ill. This is her third day off this week. Sadly, I had to pack up my wellies and spade, but was relieved to see her looking only a little pale and relatively upbeat. Another day of rest at least.

To make up for not getting to dig this morning, I uprooted a mahonia tree [ヒイラギナンテン]that John had cut down earlier this year. We are going to use the space for our vegetable patch. It won't be long before we have seed potatoes in at work, so I want some of those and some garlic and onions to start with!!

Thursday, 15 November 2007


The bathroom is looking better, the cabinets are in and so is the sink. I did not post a photo yesterday, will see how things look at the end of today. We need it done asap, you should have seen the frost this morning. It was like snow. Emily thought it was. The roof of the shed is still white with ice, as is the back lawn. I put feed out for the birds today. They need it. My heart goes out to anyone living on the streets in weather like this.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

day two photos

Things could not get worse. There was a hole in the wall and we could see the garden!

New bathroom news plus photos day 1 (Before)

Work started on the bathroom on Monday morning. Goodbye to the bathtub, which we rarely used...although on Sunday night most of us had a sayonara splash in it. We now have to perform that great UK tradition, the 'top and tail' style wash at the kitchen sink or the miniscule sink in the downstairs loo! Not fun in the cold....and it has been cold this week. It is now day three, and pipes are going in....

Monday, 5 November 2007

Guy Fawkes Night Nov 5

This is bonfire night in UK. To remember the plotter of treason, Guy Fawkes, who planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament on 5th November 1605 in an attempt to assassintate James I. He was caught and executed, and to this day people in Britain remember the date with bonfires, on top of which there is often a 'guy', a scarecrow like doll that is burnt. It is a rather barbaric tradition in a way. In my childhood we made a guy and paraded him up and down the street collecting pennies! Now kids seem to light big fires, no guy, but lot of fire works.

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot!

Thursday, 25 October 2007

October round-up: parents, rugby, job changes

Here we are only days from the end of the month, racing towards the year's end and hardly a moment to blog!

As mentioned in the last blog entry, my parents arrived in England from sunny Australia late in September. They have been busy, using us as a base for the first part of the holiday; they visited Paris with my brother, then Lincolnshire, where one of Mum's many sisters lives. We have taken them to Standen, Hever Castle, (the home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I) and more local sites.

The Rugby World Cup was also on during this time, and we all enjoyed watching the games, that is until Australia got knocked out, followed by New Zealand. John was gleeful about England being in the final, but South Africa proved the stronger one is saying ANYTHING!

Now my parents are in the last week of a three week stay in Northern Ireland, where they are in a holiday house owned by another of Mum's sisters. It seems that droves of family have been to see them there, but they have enjoyed it.
Other very major news is that John has decided to throw his cards back in with the Foreign Office and will rejoin them in December after 5 years on unpaid leave while working in both Hong Kong and here in the south east of England. Watch this space for updates on what he will be doing and more importantly WHERE he will be......................................
In the meantime I am learning all about orchids (among other things), and will attend a course on caring for them next month. In time too, as recently when I asked a customer 'Can I help you?' She replied 'No, you can't, I probably know a lot more about them than you do' !!!
True, but a little harsh, I think.

Other than that, the girls and Adam are well; Hannah is Form Representative, Emily is playing golf and they are both helping a lot more around the house now that their mother is working. Finally!

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Evacuation from East Grinstead

Emily is learning about WWII at school, and recently covered the extensive evacaution of children from the major cities in the UK. Like Japan, children were sent out to the country side. This week, her class had a school trip to an ex-army base at Newhaven Fort, where they experienced things like the Blitz shelter. The children had to dress like evacuees, and carry with them their "gas masks" (a brown box on string they wore around their necks). This is a a photo of Em in her evacuation gear leaving home.

Monday, 1 October 2007

New month, new job

Hello! Today I started work in my new job. After watching 6 induction videos on health and safety, and putting on my steel capped boots and uniform I went on a tour of the place. Huge. I am going to be in charge of indoor plants. Not quite the outdoors, but I will end up out there. It was cold and wet and we get plenty of warm clothes.

Emily is now going to after school care as I get home late. She also had her first day and enjoyed it. I had to drag her away very quickly as we needed to get home to take Bosley to the vet.

Poor Bosley has been in a fight, and a very nasty bite on his back became infected. The absess burst last night and John and I were very concerned about the amount of blood that came from it. Still in pain and not a well pussy cat, we got him into his cage which he hates, just as John got all four of us took him to the vet. He has a high temperature, and a big wound. Two injections, a worm tablet for good measure and well cleaned cut later, we brought him home, where he is now resting in the conservatory.

The other news is that my parents are here, but left this morning for Lincolnshire. We visited Lewes and Standen this weekend and it is great having them here.

Monday, 17 September 2007

a working woman

The blog continues to be delayed, although, apart from a few more links, the Croatia holiday post is almost done.
In the meantime we are getting ready for my parents arrival on Thursday this week. Lots to do as the house is dirty.... Today we are having new windows put in the bathroom and upstairs toilet, all in preparation for the new bathroom.
My big news is that I have found a part time job, at a local garden centre! I will be working with plants (mainly bedding and indoor) and hard landscaping products...that means gravel, fencing, paving and pots. It is 27 hours a week and we have still to tweak a few hours after school when the girls need to be looked after. It also means every second weekend I will be at work, but John says that they will all manage without me. I start on October first...

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Croatia, summer 2007

We chose Croatia as none of us had been there, except me, to Dubrovnik as a four year old, which hardly counts! We wanted sun and beaches, and got sun, rocky outlets, pebbly beaches and some huge thunderstorms....
Trogir is where we stayed, not far from Split on the Dalmatian Coast (and yes we saw two dalmatian dogs!) It is a delightful place on an island, the buildings are made of stone with cool narrow streets, beautiful churches and an impressive fort. Our villa was in fact three separate apartments on three different floors. The boys stayed in the top one, Hannah and Emily in the middle one and John and I on the ground floor. We used the middle flat for meals and family gatherings. We cooked some meals and one night did a great barbie with fresh whole fish and local lamb and sausage. On the whole the food was great. Lots of red meat and fish, very simple salads, tomato, cucumber, lettuce etc and potatoes. The wine was not bad either.
The Adriatic was cold, clear and the kids loved it. They played for hours and dived off the rocks into the depths. We took a ferry to Split one day, also on the World Heritage List. The girls and I enjoyed the ruins of the Diocletian's Palace while the boys shopped. One afternoon, John the girls and I drove into the hills, but were thwarted by long traffic jams both leaving and driving back into Trogir. Being a protected area, and an island with only one access bridge, every vehicle going or coming from the town must cross the bridge. The traffic is gridlocked for hours sometimes. The heat, the hilly terrain and the distance from the villa to town meant that walking was not an option. Within a week John had learnt every back alley, side road and short cut. Our land lady was very impressed. Plans are to build a new bridge, but until then, be prepared. It is a delightful place, but one should not be in a hurry to get anywhere!
Sorry about the photo layout, not yet a mastered art!

Summer up date

Well here is the update of the news over the summer. When the kids first came home I confess was dreading the six weeks. All I could see was days of loitering, bored and restless children with a frustrated mother so it was a bit grim. Fortunately it was nothing like that. The guide camp started the girls off and everyone saw a lot of their friends. Adam visited his grandparents in Manchester and Whitley Bay for almost two weeks. In late July, Fiona from Hong Kong was here for a few nights. Such a lot of fun. We were really sorry to see her go.

We then went to Croatia, to Trogir near Split, for a week. (That will get its own page.)

As soon as we got back, an old friend from Belgium was here for a couple of nights. I knew Francoise in Brussels about 20 years ago. She is a very active grandmother and doesn't sit still. She is a brilliant cook as well. The girls' father arrived a few days later. He stayed in a local B&B and unfortunately had pretty wet weather for the week he was here. It didn't stop him and the girls getting out to see the country side and they had a great time. Ushio's visit over-lapped with the arrival of John's parents who were also here for a week. They are easy going and incredibly kind. Hannah and Em love their adopted grandparents. We celebrated their 49th wedding anniversay here with champagne and a barbie. The night before they left, Adam went back to school. So there we were, at the end of the summer, which although not all that sunny, (this is the wettest summer since records started in the 1700s!) had been busy and lots of fun.

Last weekend we were back to just family and it was, if we are honest, rather nice! I got back to the garden at Standen last week too, having missed the entire summer.....

High School

Hannah started high school today, a big day for her and for the rest of us. She is a young lady now and was very excited about this new phase in her life. John and I walked with her to school. She looked quite nervous when we left her and it was tempting to go back to see how she was, but that would have been too much for her to bear in front of friends. I felt quite sad, but then a mother tends to as her children grow up.
Emily starts grade 6 tomorrow, so we have another event to celebrate.

Friday, 31 August 2007

End of Summer

A month and a half has passed without updating our news. This has been a hectic summer, and already Adam is back at school, in fifth form and preparing for his GCSEs. The girls start their new schools next week. The first early leaves are beginning to drift from the trees and the air is cool now. Autumn is here.
Over the next few days I hope to bring you up to date on the highlights of the last few weeks. We have been to Croatia, and enjoyed it no end; have had a string of visitors from different countries, including the girls' father and we have also had family to stay. More family will be here in less than three weeks!
Keep watching this space for photos and news.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Empty nest

We drove the girls to the Guide camp site in rural Surrey on Sunday. Very rural, we saw deer, rabbits and llama en route. Llama are farmed in UK in some places, but it was still an interesting sight.
We were there in time to help them put their tents up. Great structures with alcoves for privacy. They sleep about 20 small girls. It was a long job, with the dads wielding mallets and mums mainly taking photos! The pirate flag, (the theme of the camp was pirates) the 'Jolly Roger', skull and cross bones on a black background, was hoisted at about 4:30. We left them then, and will not see them now for a few days.
John then had a business trip away the following night and I, really alone in the nest, took myself to London for the day. The weather was dreary so the long planned visit to Kew Gardens was put off. Instead I walked all around Knightsbridge and Leicester Square. I am getting to know the quieter streets now, and have found two great Chinese food stores for cheaper supplies of tofu and green tea. I watched a film as the rain was really coming down by mid afternoon, and then met my brother for drinks and dinner before heading home.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Harry Potter at 12:01

Em and I have just come back from the launch of the last Harry Potter book. Two bookshops in town had it on sale at 12:01 this morning. Waterstone's had a huge queue, and WH Smith, where we had a copy on order, a more modest group. We learned afterwards that the price of the book was 50p lower at the former store!
It was still quite an event, with the growing number of Harry fans merging peacefully with the spillout from the pubs and clubs.... The very present Sussex Police no doubt helped maintain the tone. Only a few people were dressed up, and there were more mums and dads probably collecting the book for their offspring than children.
We walked home under the stars and after a hot chocolate, are going to bed. The book will be started when we wake up.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Good friends, rain and camping

The girls finished school on Tuesday. Their brief time at Crawley Down came to an end. Both move to new schools in September and are excited about it. The holidays tend to be hard to fill, so we have researched lots of inexpensive activities and they are going to a Guide camp. Three days in tents in sleeping bags. The rain bucketed down today, there was thunder and lightning and it made me wonder how they will cope if they have weather like that.

We have now to label each item of clothing and equipment we have bought for them to take with them. I doubt they will be able to carry their own packs, there is so much stuff. But it should be a great experience.

Apart from spending the last few days filling the camp list, we have had a visitor. Daniela, a good friend from Japan was in London catching up with friends and she spent a night with us. It was great to see her. We talked until late, mostly in Japanese, as she speaks it was a good thing for John that he was away....and then this morning took her in the torrential rain to see the sights of the town. The English are stoic about their weather, so we were determined to be so too. It was a bit damp and cold, but she took lots of photos!
At the station to catch the train back to London we were told of delays due to flooding, landslips and lightning strikes. After about 60 minutes a train pulled up, much to the surprise of all at the station who told us nothing would be there for hours. The conductor offered to take all those waiting to Oxted, about four stops from here. He claimed that there may, or may not be, connecting buses to near London!! Daniela put her destiny in the hands of Southern Rail and hopped on. We are hoping that she does not have too much of an ordeal and we also hope she comes back again.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Weekend away

John took me away for the weekend recently to Midhurst in East Sussex. We stayed at a lovely old place, the Spread Eagle Hotel. Our room had a four poster bed, fireplace, huge bathroom and creaky floor boards. We ate our dinner in the restaurant that night where there are plum puddings hanging from the rafters ageing before Christmas. The food was good but rich, so we took a walk to Cowdry Castle. Flying above the river and under the bridge we crossed were bats. Many people don't like them, but they can only survive where there are a lot of insects and a clean environment. Seeing bats is a good sign of a healthy area
We managed a drive to the sea near Chichester. A pebble beach, cold and windy, but the sea is always nice. We also, on the way home, dropped in to Parham House for their annual garden fair. We came away with a selection of his and hers favourite plants. Bliss. The house itself is elegant and has a wonderful collection of embroidery and paintings.

Friday, 6 July 2007


Big news for the town as we are to get our very own Monopoly board, depicting the famous local landmarks. Townsfolk can vote for the places they want to see included!
Standen, my favourite is at number 8 at present, a pub is in first place....this IS England after all, and the 100 year old sweet shop with its old fashioned scales and jars of sweets one would never see in a supermarket is at number 3. The girls are voting for that one. The town council has a committee to oversee the votes and of course we want to buy one of the games when it comes out at the end of the year. The long link is the announcement in the local paper a few weeks ago.

Yesterday John was at Wimbledon Center Court with guests in from the US. They watched Hewitt play and be beaten, but enjoyed a delicious lunch and of course, strawberries and cream for afternoon tea. The man made up for the few hours respite by working at home till all hours last night...
I had a more simple fare for lunch, egg sandwiches!! It was digging day at Standen and this time we were spared more laying of pipe. It was all weeding, first around the fig trees along the old wall in the lower carpark and then in the rhododendron dell. Such a lovely word, dell. On one side of the dell are rhododenron trees and where we were, on a steep slope, pitted with rabbit holes, were tiny little saplings. Next spring some of them should blossom.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

wet wet wet

Lots of rain and flooding around the country. Thunder and lightning today as well. It is getting to be monotonous. But this hydrangea loves it. It is at the bottom of the garden, and the mop heads are so heavy with moisture they lie on the lawn.
We have been busy and have decided to seriously tackle the house. First job is the bathroom. It may not start for another six weeks, but the whole thing will be gutted and redone. John has left choices of colours, fittings and tiles up to me. It is a little daunting and I could do with some of the girlfriends around to advise me. How can you choose a tile all alone? It needs thought, discussion and a little wine. Anyway, I splurged on an interior magazine for some ideas and there is still a lot of time to decide. I am even having a CAD done....and if he can be persuaded, I am going to walk John through the showroom at least.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007


We have been in England for 100 days. Emily has been keeping a toll. It is a big day for us in a small way but much bigger for England itself. Today, Gordon Brown became the new Prime Minister. Change is good and I am very interested to see how this man leads his country.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Rain stops play

Wimbledon is due to start today, but play has been delayed because of the rain. It has been wet for a week. So much for the long range weather forecast which said lower than average rainfall for the summer and higher than average temperatures!

Still, we can't really complain. Last week was hectic, so many boxes and so little room, but it was a good week. A former student from Yokohama, Mrs. Kurita, was in England on a driving holiday with her husband and they popped in to see me. The weather was not great, but we had a short walk around our small, quite pretty town of East Grinstead. It was wonderful to see her and she deserves a big thank you, as she brought some Japanese treats for us all.

On Thursday, which is the volunteer day at Standen, we lopped branches from trees overhanging one of the walkways and we put down 100 metres of irrigation pipe. This meant climbing under a 10 foot hedge, not very dignified, with rear ends poking out of the foilage, but incredibly rewarding!!

We are now planning our own short summer break, to Croatia. It looks beautiful, rustic and relatively unspoiled. More on that later.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Good and chattels

The boxes arrived bright and early yesterday. Having no real space for everything, only the girls' desks were assembled and some of their books and toys unpacked. Everything else is now in the garage. Today I set up a book shelf. Not a screwdriver to be seen in the house, so it all got put together with a sommelier's knife and a spanner which acted as a hammer. Women can be so resourceful!
The accumulation of yet more things is causing much angst. I crave a more streamlined existance. Work has started to clear space for the things we need and want to keep and to separate the things we do not need/want into charity piles and things for the rubbish tip. A few bits have gone to an online auction site, but there seems to be a lull in online trading at present. Wanting a more simple life comes with age. We in fact need much less than we all have to live well. If any of you have any ideas about how you streamline and downsize, please pass them on.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Home Sweet Home

When we first got to England in March, we decided that this house, which belongs to John, is not ideal for all five of us, so we would sell and move. A fresh start for everyone, closer to Guildford where John works and somewhere we could make our mark on. Now, almost three months later, the girls are settled in school and have started Girl Guides. John's body clock has morphed and he is up and out the door just after 7 am some days. I have 'found' a gardening activity I love, and Adam comes to us at weekends to make the family complete. All the while we kept in mind that we would not be here too long. Well, nothing in life remains the same, and after much thought we have decided to take the house off the market and to stay put. The children are pleased. Hannah is due to go up to high school in September and had her heart set on the local school. Emily was simply relieved. Too many moves. Adam too was pleased and wisely suggested we fix the shower if we are staying! (Definately!) John and I set too in the garden. Until now it was all maintenance, and keeping it in control, but not any longer! We let go. Grand plans are afoot and we celebrated by cutting back some of the shrubs that needed to go. It is going to keep us all busy getting the place to the standard that we want. The worrying thing is that on Monday, 74 boxes arrive from Hong Kong..... They all have to go into the garage, as there is no room in the house. There are going to be a lot of trips to the tip and the charity shops......

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Show Time

The South of England Show was held at Ardingly last weekend and the whole family went. It was a hot, sunny day, and what an event; it is the largest agricultural show in England. We watched some of the events in the arena, the highlight being the local hunts with their hounds. Fox hunting is now banned in England, but other forms of non blood hunts are still held. The riders looked stuning in their scarlet coats, and the hounds (200 in the arena at one time) showed how they respond to the call of the horn. It is a wealthy sport, and feelings run high about it, but it is part of the rural English tradition and is worth seeing.
If you click on the photo you can see a larger version.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Buckets, brushes and shovels.

Thursday was the first of the volunteer days at Standen. While realistic enough to think that the job would not mean strolling through the grounds with a basket over the arm snipping the heads off roses, the day was an eye opener. First up was to clear a flower bed near the restaurant for dahlia bulbs to be planted. We hear that thousands have to go in...which means the volunteers will do it..... I loved being able to ask 'is this a weed?' and being told exactly what plant it was. Hop (for making beer) was in abundance and until that day, I did not know that it is a vine! Not all weeds were removed, some were left to add colour or texture and to keep a natural look to the garden.

The next job was to clean out the kidney shaped pool in the bamboo garden. It was built to swim in during the Victorian era. Lined with concrete, no pump, no chemicals to clean the water and with an island in the middle of it, (no longer there, but to be replaced) covered with arum lillies, it was quite primitive. Kids in those days were a robust lot. Can you imagine a modern child swimming in brown water? Most of the water had been pumped out to try to discover a leak. The slimey mud at the bottom had to be removed and the pool swept clean. So those of us with Wellington boots climbed in and shovelled out dozens of bucket loads of muck. The chemical free water was a happy spot for frogs and newts (the Great Crested Newt shown here) and a variety of insects. These we caught and released into the ornamental pond. I was covered in mud from head to toe and physically worn out by the end. But I can say, I cannot remember a more cheerful and satisfying job, ever.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

England Swings like a Pendulum Do

The first words of a song about England and things quintessentially English......nothing to do with the wilder side of life!!

We have been to London. Twice. The first day we did an open double-decker bus tour to get a feel for the city. Despite asking for it, we had no Japanese commentary, so grandmother S just enjoyed the sights. We got off at the Tower of London. There is a brilliant tour there, led by ruffled Beafeaters, which we did not do this time. We ate our obento on the steps near the pier and then went down the Thames to Greenwich to the Royal Observatory. The weather was great and the river trip lovely. We saw the burnt out ruins of the Cutty Sark, a historic tea clipper that was recently severely damaged by fire while undergoing repairs. You can see the news in the link. Greenwich is a lovely town with great views of the river and city from the hill, but the highlight is undoubtedly the Meridian Line. Here are the girls straddling it with their grandmother.

The second trip was en route to take granny to Heathrow. The girls had a day off school.....something we do not make a habit of. We went to the Japan Centre in Piccadilly Circus, where resident Japanese and Japanophiles can get their fix of food, books, manga etc. Prices are exhorbitant. Hannah paid FOUR POUNDS for a Bleach manga...which retails at about 400 yen in Japan. She actually paid 970 yen...and the clever thing had a good idea to put up a sign on the notice board there asking if people want to trade or sell old copies. She will do better that way.

After the shopping we had lunch in Green Park and walked to Buckingham Palace. Too late to see the Changing of the Guard, but it was a first for all of us to see the palace. Then a quick trip to Harrods. What a place. The food halls have the loveliest pillars, tiles and cornices. I just love the interior there. Emily and Hannah both splurged and bought one Godiva chocolate each. We then took granny to Heathrow and said our goodbyes.

We hope she comes back soon, but we are gearing up for another visitor next week. Hope they keep on coming.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Our cat

Bosley, the much loved Rutherford cat. He likes to sleep in comfort, preferably in Adam's bed, where there is a sometimes a trail of footprints, fur and the odd leaf. The conservatory is another favourite spot. He loves attention and is very friendly, but has an independent side. He hunts at night and carouses with other cats in the neighbourhood.

Raining cats and dogs

The girls' grandmother is here from Japan. Day one was warm and sunny, but since then she has had a real taste of wet British weather. We went to the Surrey County Show one of the annual rural shows, complete with stalls, rides, show jumping, cattle, goats, dogs showing their skills, produce and agricultural machinery. We 'rugged up' but obviously haven't perfected the knack of keeping the wet out. The locals were there in wellington boots, long water proof coats, hats and rarely an umbrella, (not many people use them here). We bravely trudged through thick mud and darted between tents to keep dry. Lots of lingering over pygmy goats and birds in as to avoid the wet! These shows are big and take up a lot of space, and while we could hear the commentary for the show-jumping, hadn't the energy to find it. To watch would have meant more standing in the rain. We lasted only a few hours, but were all happy to have least gone and seen it.
I am now going to keep my wellies in the boot of the car, along with a warm rug and a towel. The wellies will get lots of use as I am about to start as a volunteer at a local National Trust home called Standen. See the picture above. I am going to work in the garden there. Gardening is a real passion and there are opportunities to learn as well as do something good for our heritage.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Red Fox

The girls and I went for a walk after dinner the other night. It stays light until around 9:30 now, so it was very bright. We took the bridle path that is near the house, which is as the name suggests, a pathway for horse-riders. England is laced with bridle paths and public footpaths, some of which actually cut through private land, but are accessible to the public. They make for fantastic walks, as they are often through fields and forests. I always look out for birds, and in the evenings, rabbits and other mammals...(I want to see a hedgehog). We saw nothing of interest until we were on the main road near the house when Emily spotted a large red fox. (A bit like the one in this image). He stood in the driveway of a house across the road and we eyed each other off for about five minutes. He then made his way into the garden of the house. Foxes have become common in urban areas and are even found in large cities, where they forage for food in garbage. Often they are thin and mangy, but this one was large with a lovely coat. We will keep watch for him again.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

I am who I am

Hello and thanks to everyone who e-mailed and commented on the blog. It was great to hear from so many people..... all the messages and emails were good to read.
The lovely sunny weather has gone and we have had showers on and off all week. The truth is that the rain helps. England, like much of the rest of the world faces water shortages, although this year it looks better than last year, so far. Life in Australia taught us to respect our water, but it is hard. Of late, anything used for washing vegetables and rice is put into a container for the pot plants and the drier patches on the lawn.
We compost madly too. All vegetable scraps and peel, no seeds and no citrus, the occasional egg carton (they are cardboard here) and egg shells. It is looking good, but won't be on the garden for months and who knows where we will be then? I am wondering if we can take our compost bin with us when we move...
This last week I have been working on two translations and have discovered how disciplined one really has to be to work at home. The humble oven timer did it for me. 60 minute cycles of head down, no checking e-mails, cooking, reading and NO flurries of housework, (that bit was easy). The girls were invaluable, they read some of text aloud to me. J was saintly in his patience and over the long weekend we shared the computer as his is down.
Tomorrow I have to travel to Brighton, about an hour south of here on the coast, for an interview. Because I left the UK so long ago.....decades in fact...I do not have national insurance number, which is necessary for jobs, tax and the pension. The interview aims to prove that I am who I say I am and that I really do live in England and plan to be here for a while. Much paper work has to be presented, but it should go smoothly.
Hope to get some more photos up soon. We had a grey squirrel in the garden yesterday, officially pests, but quite pretty from a distance.
Till next time.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

May 1st - First Blog Day

Here am I now guilty of adding to all that cyber pollution with yet another blog. But it seems to be a good way of letting people know how we are, when there is so little time to write to you all individually.
May Day. Sunny and warm. The weather has been fantastic with the exception of two rainy days last week and our first week in March, when it snowed. Even then there were daffodils and cherry blossoms in bloom. Now we are seeing golden rape fields, apple blossom, lavender, lillies, rhodedendrons and early hydraenga buds. This is a great place to garden.
The girls are now settled well at school and are in the gardening club; mainly as the netball club season has ended and there is little else; but it is a chance to get wet and dirty after school one day a week.
The school is Crawley Down Church of England Village School in the small village of Crawley Down. Crawley means ' a place where cows gather on a hill....' as far as I remember. Very poetic. We drive through country lanes to get there and often see people on horse-back, squirells, pheasants, rabbits and ducks.
John commutes a long way each day to work, sometimes it takes 90 minutes to get there. So, we are selling this house and moving to a better location for all of us. The house has been on the market for four weeks and there is not a great deal of activity. The good side of that is that the longer we are here, the longer the girls can enjoy this school. They have been to school in four countries in the last year.....Japan, Australia, Hong Kong and now England, so another move so soon would be hard for them.
I am getting used to being a homemaker, domestic diva, etc. It is hard work! But I do like the cooking. I have had a small amount of translation work and would love to do more, but still feel unsettled, so will have to hope that after the next move, more comes my way. Eventually I will go back to work again.
I do miss friends though and have not met anyone here yet. Today I am going to a yoga class, that is a start.
Hope you like the photo attached of the girls and me at Alnwick (Annick is how you say it) Castle, north of Newcastle where we spent Easter with John, his son Adam and his parents. The castle was used as inspiration for Hogwarths school in the Harry Potter books.

If you read this blog, do send me a comment. Hope to hear from you all soon.