Monday, July 26, 2010

Learning to Live in England, Part 19

The Ascot has been run, Wimbledon has been played, the World Cup is over, and that seems to be how summer is measured around here.

Weather-wise, summer appears to have happened in June. July has been rainy, but still we have enough clear days to get out and enjoy things, and some days are even bright and sunny. There is always a fairly stiff breeze blowing. While the Atlantic Seaboard states suffer under sweltering heat and humidity, we wear sweaters when we go outdoors. We leave our windows open at night if the weather is mild enough, but about half the time I get up and close them as it's too cold. Yes, it's COLD, not chilly, at night. I am going to find and buy that old English stand-by, a hot water bottle, to take to bed at night to warm my feet.

For the school children, 'summer' begins now; they only finished their term last week.

Although we have been getting out and doing things, I thought I'd relate all that later, and for now, just tell you how life ordinarily is, when we are at home.

Well, then, we get up in the mornings at 8:30, give or take half an hour; in other words, whenever we jolly well feel like it. Breakfast is usually continental, tea or coffee and toast. We bought a box of porridge, but have yet to open it. Bacon and eggs we usually have for some other meal than breakfast.

We sit at the table and eat our breakfast and watch a little television, a morning news/talk show, similar to Today or Good Morning America. By 9:30 or 10:00, the TV has been turned off, and Demetrios starts work. That's to say, work on his book. He studies various books he brought with him and takes notes, and Saturday he said: "I've hesitated three days to tell you this, but I finally feel ready to begin the actual writing." HOORAY! The hesitation is because he has made two or three false starts in the past two or three years, only to realize he was missing a piece of the puzzle, without which he could not proceed.

While he works, I clean house, then read or knit until it's time to cook.

About an hour a day, on average, keeps this flat spotless. It takes as many as 3 days, however, to do two loads of wash. That's because we have no dryer, just a drying rack, and when it's wet outside, it takes one load a day and a half to dry.

What have I been reading? Murder mysteries, of course! I've sampled the Agatha Raisin series by M. C. Beaton, but I don't much like the main character. I've tried Nora Roberts and the story was good but the characters lack values and there was the supposedly mandatory 'pink porn'. I've read two books by Anne Perry, A Christmas Visitor and A Christmas Guest, and these are the only ones I can recommend, and very highly, at that! The characters all have character and there is nothing horribly graphic, and the author has some rather deep insights as well, on What Life is Really All About. I'm also reading The Greeks, by a Professor Kitto, whom Demetrios once met, many years ago. It's an account of the country and the character of the ancient Greeks. It's highly enjoyable reading, erudite, insightful, and very witty. I've loved every page.

My knitting consists of a blue and white throw I'm making for us to snuggle under evenings, and for when I become bored with knitting that, a very girly pink baby blanket.  The latter is what I take with me to my two knitting groups.  On Mondays, there is a knitting group at the church ('the church' being the Ormskirk Parish Church, Anglican) and they do charity knitting, specifically, tiny baby things for the preemies at the hospital, blankets and 'jumpers' (onesies?) and caps and booties and things to make for dead babies, as well, to make them look pretty for their mothers.  The other knitting group is at the yarn shop on Tuesdays, and I take the same baby blanket with me there, as it uses yarn bought from this shop.  The throw is of yarn I bought elsewhere, and it occurred to me that it might be unseemly to use it at the yarn shop. 

Television here is far better than in the States.  I've already mentioned how much more information you can receive here, but there's also better entertainment.  There are funny, heartwarming comedies such as The Darling Buds of May; there is a show called Time Team in which archaeologists dig up various interesting sites; there are detective shows without all the gore and gruesomeness of programs like CSI (which is also shown here). There are nature shows, differing from most American ones in that they do not consist simply of showing one animal killing another, and they do not concentrate on scary creature such as spiders, snakes, and sharks. They show how animals carry on their courtship, build their nests, care for their young, grow up, interact, what their habits and peculiarities are, and a million other things. Television here is actually watching! (Not all of it, of course; there's plenty of junk, but more good stuff than we're used to.)

We have our main meal in the middle of the day. I can report that the Spicy Parsnip Soup is very good, tastes like a curry. Demetrios doesn't like it. He also doesn't like the Carrot and Coriander Soup, but I do. And I've found a dessert to die for. It's just called Bailey's. It's double cream mixed liberally with Bailey's Irish Cream. You eat it with a spoon. Heavenly!

I haven't so far been able to find any Graham Crackers. Which means no Graham Cracker crusts for various homemade desserts. Bummer.

After lunch, it's naptime. Demetrios takes a long nap and I take a short one or none at all. Afternoons are when I mostly go out, to the library to use their computers or return or check out books; to Burscough Street to poke around the little shops there; to the grocery store because without a car, I can only buy at any one time as much as I can carry home.

I especially like the charity shops, secondhand shops that benefit various charities. That's where you can buy very pretty little things for pennies. I found a gorgeous crystal set of four sherry glasses for £3.50; I've also bought a cut-glass jam pot and a salt and pepper.

Not long ago, I also found a van Gogh print for £6. I had it re-framed for a very reasonable price, about a third of what I would pay in Richmond, and it now hangs in the master bedroom. It's one of his paintings of irises, and it brings me to tears sometimes not only because it's so beautiful but also because that was the view from his window in the asylum. Inside the asylum, he was miserable, but outside, he still found beauty and painted it.

We have tea with a small snack around 4:00.

A light supper is around 6:00 or 6:30, followed sometimes by an evening walk, if we haven't gotten out before and weather permitting. Then we talk or read or watch television some more and then we take our pills and go to bed whenever we feel like it.

Well, I don't know if this sounds good to you, but we enjoy every minute thoroughly. And we're doing it all in England (!) and that's the best part. Well, the second best. We're doing it together, that's the very best part. I look into Demetrios' face and see a happy man. And he often expresses his happiness; this in contrast to when I first met him, when he was desperately miserable. I asked him whether he feels more at home in England or in Greece, and he said that was difficult to decide.

Glory to God!


Miss Tilney said...

Big Sister says digestive biscuits are suitable in lieu of graham crackers. When she was in Colorado (whereever that might be) she used graham crackers for all the things she would use digestives for here.

DebD said...

It all sounds heavenly.

Sarah in Indiana said...

I've noticed in British blogs and cookbooks that they make crusts with shortbread the way we use graham crackers, so that might be something to try. I love graham cracker crusts, though.

Anonymous said...

Your day sounds so wonderful...makes me feel as if I am there. Please keep writing more!

Bb said...

I was about to say what Miss Tilney has said. I did a Google image search to find out what graham crackers are (you're right - they're not something we have), and they look a bit like thin digestive biscuits. Digestives are lovely and yummy, and are the standard base for cheesecake so is certainly dessert-friendly.

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

McVitie's Digestive biscuits are the nearest equivalent to graham crackers. MvVities's are the niest, but also the most expensive. Avoid the very cheapest supermarket "own-brand" ones; they are like eating damp cardboard !!

James the Thickheaded said...

So are you moving in permanently???
Even TV worth watching? And nature shows where they don't leave you chasing kids from the room because either 1) lovemaking's a little too graphic, or 2) eating is a little too graphic! I miss Marlin Perkins and "Jim". Maybe they died and moved to England.