Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Learning to Live in England, 2010

Tuesday, 01 June

We returned Elizabeth to her father, who met us at their house and got us to the airport in plenty of time.

Elizabeth finished her embroidery ('stitchery,' she called it) while she was at our house. It was the head of an orange and white cat she had drawn on burlap with crayons.

So then she took up knitting. She already knew how to knit, but I had the great joy of showing her how to cast on, how to purl, how to do selvedges, and how to change colors at the end of a row. We found her some yarn from my stash. ('Oh, you have twice as much as Mom, and she has a huge box!' said Elizabeth. Good for you, Barbara, having a whole huge box!) She's working on a green and blue scarf with a seed stitch texture and doing very well on it.

Daniel looked well and is dating a woman he describes as very nice ('That's the first requirement,' I said...) and 'very smart' ('And for you, that's the second.').

We arrived in England after a miserable flight. USAirways packs you in like sardines. The seatbelt barely fit me and the tray table wouldn't lie flat. And the woman in the seat next to me weighed twice as much as I do.

The weather was rainy - no surprise there, eh? - and cold. That was a surprise: the high temp for the day was 54, and that's Fahrenheit! Ah, we're going to love it here, escaping the sweltering days of a Richmond (or Greek) summer.

Julia and David greeted us at the airport, to our great joy, and they both looked well. The first place they took us was home. HOME! This little dollhouse in England is ours. We can hardly believe it. We brought in our luggage (after a bit of a do on account of all the mail that had been dropped through the slot in the front door, making the door a bit tricky to open) and then Julia and David took us to the supermarket to pick up a few essentials. We dropped those back at home and plugged in the refrigerator and put away the perishables.

Then on to the Saracen's Head for lunch. I think David and Julia expected it to look as it used to when they used to frequent it: a typical, cozy, warm-feeling English pub. It has been modernized, however, and now sports and open, airy look. No problem at all. I had a sandwich of goat cheese, beet roots, and rocket, and it was delicious. (Rocket is a salad green that looks like dandelion leaf and I love it.)

Then, home again. Julia and David, who besides being very kind, are very understanding people, said goodbye and left us to settle in and rest. We unpacked and put everything in its place, all mostly in an effort to stay awake. We tried reading through our mail, but our eyes glazed over and we succumbed to a sound afternoon nap.

Wednesday, 02 June

It's still late springtime here. Lilacs and laburnum and hedges are still in bloom, having disappeared from Richmond a month ago. Rhododendron is blossoming, too. In Richmond, it comes out right about the first of May.

There are also quite a few birds I can't identify, including a black fellow with an extensive vocabulary. He has a yellow beak. In the States, you'd see that yellow beak and immediately say, 'Starling!' (wouldn't you?) but this bird, unlike a starling, has a long tail and no speckles. Also, there's a bird that loves to perch on a chimney across the street from us. He has a small head, which always makes me think of doves, but if this is a dove, it's a humongous one. Haven't yet seen him in profile, only straight on.

The weather is perfect today: very warm but not hot sunshine, cool breeze, blue skies, temperature in the mid-70s.

We had a leisurely breakfast and sorted through our mail. The water comapny thinks we owe them £60. How can that be, when we set up an automatic debit with them at our bank?

Then we made a list of issues and prioritized them. First necessity: a telephone. It's blankety-blank inconvenient without one! Can't call the water company or the bank or Julia and David.

We went downtown and rather to our surprise, almost immediately found and bought the bed we were looking for. It's a single bed with a trundle underneath that can be jacked up to the same height as the other bed, so you can make them up as one big bed or as two singles, or even put one in the other room. This was the main thing we needed to prepare for Nick and Sharyn's visit at the end of this month. Still a few more items, like towels and facecloths, but this was the biggie. And, because we didn't have to buy a double bed, we can still use the same duvet on the new one. As I love it and as it matches the curtains, this is no small consideration.

At a pay phone, we called a couple of telephone companies. Nobody has a pay as you go plan; they're all a one-year contract. Except the Post Office; they offer a phone service with no contract. We went with that. The phone won't be connected for another 10-14 days, however. Still, it's a big relief to have it arranged. (Cell phones are what we tried last year, but they only worked outside of our flat; inside it, nobody could call us and we couldn't call out. So we took them back to America, hoping there might be a way to use them there. And then forgot, until now, we had done it!)

We can't seem to reach the water company. We get cut off within two minutes every time we start to speak with them. Well, their £60 will have to wait.


DebD said...

I'm glad you've arrived safe and sound and happy to hear about the family.

margaret said...

I'm glad too!

Your 'dove' may be a woodpigeon. When my American friend saw one for the first time he said, "What's that big-ass bird?" and I'm still not sure he believes it's any sort of dove or pigeon. And the other wee guy might simply be a blackbird? Does he sing Vespers on the tv aerial with responses from others every evening and is his missus always close by when he's feeding on the lawn?

Dixie said...

I don't know how you do it...go out shopping for groceries after a very short night on the plane? Sorry about the flight though. Have to say that with my own spatial constraints I have few complaints with Delta. I'll make certain not to book with US Air. Have a great time.

Claire said...

Anastasia, be gentle with yourself as you adjust to all kinds of new things on more levels than you're even consciously aware of!

Anonymous said...


Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Your little friend with a yellow beak and no speckles is almost certainly a blackbird (males all black, females brown)http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/b/blackbird/index.aspx

Your other visitor is possibly a collared dove http://www.garden-birds.co.uk/birds/collareddove.htm

or a wood pigeon http://www.garden-birds.co.uk/birds/woodpigeon.htm