Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Toys out of the Pram

I'm now an official member of the Bury Bach Choir (woohoo!), which has led to some new acquaintances. When I arrived for my first rehearsal 2 weeks ago, I was immediately presented with "The Other American"...a woman about my parents' age who moved to the UK in 1979 for a two-year assignment with her husband and is still here. In the same village as Ickworth, even. So we chatted and exchanged contact info and then had lunch in the West Wing on Monday, which was really fun. It's interesting to meet people who've done what I'm doing (more or less) and understand the transition. Yay for new friends.

Tonight at dinner I was talking with John about British expressions that I love (over bangers and mash), and I think my all-time favo(u)rite one is "I threw ALL my toys out of the pram!"

It has a similar meaning to "throwing a wobbly," which loosely translates to having a temper tantrum. But adults use it for emphasis, which I find very entertaining.

The image of a grown-up sitting in a large, old-fashioned baby carriage, knees under his chin, having thrown all his toys on to the ground, just cracks me up.

Work is good...I was bored this afternoon so I asked if there was anything non-computery that needed doing (we had a full office so I didn't have a computer to work on). Julia and Sandy exchanged a look and pointed to the floor-to-ceiling bookshelf filled with red binders, also known as our Files, which happen to be in desperate need of archiving.

Me and my big stupid mouth. Why can't I just sit quietly and read a book or go for a walk?

In any case, I've archived all of 1999-2001 and am well on my way through 2002-03. ::sneeze::

I may have to throw all my toys out of the pram.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Had Mark over for dinner tonight...we were supposed to have Paula (his gf) as well but she was working late. I made a stew from the famous Covent Garden book again...this time it was with lamb and mint and cinnamon and turmeric and chili powder and chickpeas and tomatoes...it was REALLY good.

And then we played Harry Potter Uno for 2 hours. Basically the same as regular Uno except that there are Howlers (where you can demand to see another player's hand) and the Invisibility Cloak (which protects you from icky things like Draw Fours). Rockin'.

Mark won most of the games (5), but then I won 2 and John won the last one. I tend to get a little overexcited when playing card games or board games...in one game, John had put down his last card but had forgotten to call "UNO!", so rather than let him win and congratulate him, I LEAPT out of my chair yelling "YOU DIDN'T SAY UNO!!! YOU DIDN'T SAY IT!!!! YOU DON'T WIN!!!!" And then Mark and I made him pick up 10 cards as a penalty and we carried on playing.

I need pills.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The other BBC

Had my second Bury Bach Choir rehearsal today, along with my audition...woohoo! I've tried some other choirs since I arrived, but this one feels like the best fit. The conductor is great (if a little Hallstromesque), and we sound pretty good. AND there are some Americans. Hooray! One of whom lives in Horringer (where Ickworth is) and wants to meet up for lunch. Sounds good to me. Oh yeah, and if you're under 25, membership is free. What more could I want (except possibly to postpone my birthday for a few months...)?

Have been home yesterday and today with John...he threw his back out on Monday afternoon so I've been feeding him soup and Tylenol. He's feeling a lot better this evening, so we'll both be at work tomorrow.

The D&D boys brought wine and cheese over on Monday night, which was really sweet...apparently they'd been reading the blog and my comments about D&D turning in to Book Group, where all we do is drink wine and eat noshes and talk. We're definitely moving in that direction. :) Still some gaming, though.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Where shall I drive to next?

Yesterday: the grocery store, the station, Ickworth, into Bury, back home.

Today: the station

Tomorrow: the world!

Have I mentioned that our insurance has been sorted out and I can DRIVE?? It's so funny...I feel 16 again. I was one of those people who counted the minutes to my 16th birthday from the moment I realized I would be able to drive one day. And then once I could drive, I went everywhere.

I was talking to Tim, my neighbor in New Ro, who had just turned 16, and he was saying that he loved driving so much, he'd go to McDonalds for a milkshake even if he wasn't hungry. And not the McDonalds that's a quarter-mile from his house, either. Noooo....the one in Mamaroneck, which is a SOLID 15 minutes away. Teehee.

Tomorrow, I get to drive John to work, carry on to Ickworth, come back in to Bury for lunch (it's Sandy's birthday), go back to Ickworth, come back in to Bury to go to the grocery store and pick up John, and then home again.

I've had a few glares from people on roundabouts (they're HARD...all that shifting and turning and blinking and making sure you don't get hit), but other than that, things seem to be going well.

I promise, the excitement will wear off soon and I'll stop writing about every little car trip. Until then, keep reading Evan's blog. :)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Think LEFT!

Had a glorious day in Suffolk. The weather was perfect, and we just had a really fun day. I drove (YAY!!!) to Tesco's, braved the soccer moms, got our groceries, came home, cleaned the flat and cooked soup for lunch. BTW, the Covent Garden Soup Company's cookbook is fantastic...every single soup we've made has been outstanding.

Anyway, once the soup was done, we picked up Michelle at the train station. Came back here and had lunch, and very quickly abandoned the original plan, which had been to go to the movies to see Brokeback Mountain. It was just too beautiful out.

We decided instead to take advantage of my employee card and go for a walk in the grounds at Ickworth. We went on a two-mile ramble, which was slightly muddy but really fun. Coming down a hill, we heard a funny horn noise in the distance, along with what sounded like a very large squeaky wheel. Turns out it was a fox hunt, and the squeaky noise was the barking of the hounds at a distance. We saw the riders in their fancy red coats galloping across the fields...it was like we were suddenly thrown into the hunting scene in Mary Poppins.

Aah....Jolly Old England.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Watch Out Suffolk, Here I Come!

For those of you who don't scrutinize my every move (lots of people, I know), I've added a new link to the site. A few, actually. My current fave: Evan's blog. He's down in San Salvador for work, and he's a great writer. And one of my oldest friends. Anyway, read the blog...it's really interesting.

My other new link is to the famous Bury Role Playing Society (BuRPS). Phew. We're out of the closet. John plays D&D. And I play too.

Now that you've stopped laughing, it's not actually all that bad. NO, it's not what I imagined myself doing a year ago. The way we play, it's basically like a cross between a board game and a movie without a board or a movie. It's fun. Last week was highly entertaining...John and Mark started making random noises, which somehow set us off on a half-hour of the kind of laughing that makes your stomach hurt.

It also seems that I've had somewhat of an influence on the boys, for better or for worse. My first session, at Chris' place, there was very little socializing, lots of gaming, and the consumption of a staggering amount of green soda and greasy potato chips. Over the last 3 months, we've moved the session to John and my flat (known as Kate's Place), the socializing takes a FULL hour at the beginning of the evening, and the snacking has reached new heights. An example: last week, Chris brought Walker's Sensations potato chips, Thai Basil & Curry flavor. Indeed. My prediction: gaming will go the way of reading the books in book club and within a year we'll find ourselves drinking wine and eating cheese and gossipping.

In other news, John and I have decided to start registering, and we were talking about where and the logistics of things and what plates to get. I think he's the most faboulous person I know, but I'm not a huge fan of his taste in china. Also, trying to order things online from the States while in England is more difficult than I thought. I gathered up a whole bunch of catalogs before I left, but now I can't find them. I'm POSITIVE I packed them...I just have no idea where they went. We have to order any electric things here, but we don't want to register everything here, mostly because things are SO much more expensive here than in the US. It's the combination of the high cost of living here coupled with a relatively weak dollar. We'll figure it out.

AND, the big news, John and I figured out the car insurance thing (mostly John), and our new insurance kicks in at midnight tonight. Whoop-de-doo, you say? This new insurance means that I CAN DRIVE!! I can get in the car and go to the supermarket or the grocery store or my office or John's office or the movie theatre or John's parents' house or Peterborough or wherever I want to go. YAY!!!! SO EXCITED!!!!

Phew. Oh, and I'm also excited because our friend Michelle is coming up for the weekend from London- yay! More on that later.

OK, go read Evan's blog now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Official News: Nothing Happening in Suffolk

Went in to town today to get some groceries and some stuff from Boots. I love Boots, by the way. There's no real equivalent in the US...I can't imagine going in to CVS to buy the store brand of anything, as opposed to the Boots house brand, which is really good.

Anyway, I was in town, and decided to stop in to the Mid-Suffolk Tourist Office, which is right next to the supermarket. I went in when I was here in November to get the leaflet of "What's On," and wanted to get the updated one. I looked around and couldn't find it, so I asked the woman at the counter where it was.

She furrowed her brow and said, "Well, we don't have it."

Familiar with newsletters at various places I've worked, I know that they have a tendency to get out late, so I asked when it would arrive.

She replied, "No, there isn't one."

"Oh," I said.

"It wasn't worth printing...there's nothing going on."

Oh dear. Bear in mind that this is the January AND February joint issue. So not only is there nothing happening for the rest of January (and nothing has happened thus far, there's nothing happening next month either. Officially.

I miss New York.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Day At The Seaside

John and James and I spent Saturday at Southwold. It's what English people refer to as a 'beach,' unrecognizable to anyone else in the world as such. It was lovely weather- about 6° C (about 40° F), 20 mph winds, and cloudy. The sky and North Sea were matching shades of slate gray.

We walked around the pier and saw their collection of unique and handmade arcade games, which were pretty funny. John got slobbered on by a wolf- you put your 40p (about 75 cents) in the machine, and then hold your hand inside the cage. A mechanical wolf drools on you while the machine measures how long you have your hand in it. John made it all the way to "foolhardy." Awesome. Then we played the "Zimmer Frame Challenge," where you use a walker connected to the video game to cross a busy road. It was unlike anything I've ever seen.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the town, which is very cute and slightly touristy (and was buzzing considering it was a cold Saturday in January). We're going to go back, probably once it gets a bit warmer, but before it gets too crazy with tourists in the summer.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Stowmarkate Returns

Against all attempts by Immigration to thwart me, I'm BAAACK. Got in yesterday at about 11am, blazed through customs, found John, got mildly lost on the highway and ended up in Reading, turned around, had Little Chef (YUM!), and got home. I showered, napped, had dinner, and went to bed.

Went in to work this morning, as I'd decided that spending my first day back home all by myself in the flat would probably NOT be a good idea. So I fought the jet lag and woke up at 7am (2 am NYC time) and toodled in to Ickworth. My colleagues were impressed that I could string together a sentence, and gave me a design project to get started on. Apparently my creative juices were not hampered by the jet lag, so all was good.

We have James for the weekend, so it looks like we'll head to Aldeburgh tomorrow to fly some kites and eat fish & chips. He discovered my iDog, a Christmas present from my brother, and within about 20 seconds had figured the whole thing out and was telling me what "mood" it was in. The same thing took me about 20 minutes to figure out. Kids today. Sheesh.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

New York Roundup

I'm headed back to the UK tonight...it's been kind of strange to be home. I've had a blast hanging out with my friends and my family, and it's been SO good to have some independence back.

The things I'm going to miss most:
my independence (anyone up for an evening out in Stowmarket??)
my church and fellowship group
my friends and family
Rrufus (he's been sleeping in my bed every night...he's such a bed hog, but doesn't steal the covers like a certain other person I know)

I knew this was going to be tough when I went into it, but I was expecting to meet more people than I have. I guess my comparisons are with starting at Colby (450 freshmen who don't know each other and are looking for buddies) and moving to NYC (some friends already in place, with a job and a church group where I met lots of people).

Once you meet them, Brits are nice. But they make it damn hard to meet them.

Monday, January 9, 2006

I love New York

Had a great weekend in NYC- I'd forgotten (sort of) how much I love it.

I've been noodling around New Ro and Westchester for the last few weeks, which has been really nice, but only in the last week has everyone come back from their holidays home with their families and stuff. So all of a sudden my life has kicked into high gear.

Last night, Book Group and I went out for drinks with Dan and Robin and Patrick and two of Patrick's friends. We went to this random bar on 36th between Madison and 5th, called Under the Volcano. We spent the whole evening chatting and really having a good time. Ran for the 11:10 train (aah, the joys of being a bridge-and-tunnel), and then was back in this morning for church at Redeemer. If you're ever in the city, definitely check it out. It was fantastic to see all of my churchy peeps and catch up with what they've all been doing. It's such a great group- people come and go but there's always a core group who are so welcoming and just refreshing to be around.

I miss John and I'm excited to see him again, but if the whole county of Suffolk could just pick up and relocate itself somewhere just outside of Manhattan (maybe we could replace Staten Island?), that would be a major improvement.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Brit Snit

Good news and bad news.

The good news?

I saved $500.

The bad news?

The reason I saved $500 was because my UK fiance visa application was turned down before it was even submitted (thus saving the $500 application fee).

It's pretty much my fault- I wasn't clear on the fact that John and I have to get married in the UK within six months of obtaining the visa for it to be valid. So I wasn't and we're not and I'm back to being a somewhat under-the-radar visitor.

This time, though, John and I are going to make sure that we rearrange some stuff so I can drive, which will be a major improvement.

The guy at the consulate was really obnoxious, though...I definitely didn't deserve the treatment I got. Harumph.

Oh yeah, and you should all check out Evan's new blog- he's going on an extended business trip to Central America. I've put the link over on the side with the other ones. Bon voyage, Monsieur Curfew!!