Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Riding, Ploughing, and A Hot Air Balloon

We had a really good time up in Durham- it was v. relaxing to be away from work and stuff for a few days, and we had a lot of fun with Andrew and Barbara.

The puppies are very funny...they're generally excited about life and are very bouncy and cute. James is fairly afraid of them, but tolerates them if he has to. I did a lot of horse riding with Barbara and Andrew and Katie- I'd mentioned that I'd love to go for a ride and they all sprung into action with jodhpurs and boots and horses and I had lots of fun. Their horses are stabled in a barn on the crest of a hill, so the view is gorgeous and there are lots of green fields to ride around.

In keeping with the horsey theme, we went to Beamish, an open air museum, on Saturday to watch a ploughing competition. They had all kids of old plows and tractor horses and other stuff...lots of fun.

We came home yesterday after a brief stop at Ikea, and were eating dinner tonight when I looked out the window and saw a hot air ballon drifting by, out over the rooftops. Had to take a picture, natch.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Off to Durham with the Herds

We're off to see John's brother and his wife and their daughter in Durham tomorrow...we'll be there for 5 days. There's going to be various things going on- they have two black lab puppies who are about 8 months old and v. springy, along with a geriatric yellow lab (who would have given the pups a run for their money in her day).

Have seen a few more houses- still nothing is catching our eye. The one today was nice, and reasonably big, but had no cloakroom, a postage stamp of a back garden, and was kind of on the edge of Stowmarket with a LOT of cars on the road. The good points: there are a lot of kids in the neighborhood, it's not far from fields, there's a nice sunroom (hence the postage stamp), and the kitchen is reasonable. It also has a small driveway and garage, and an en-suite shower/loo to the master bedroom. Haven't fallen in love with it, though.

It's nice to be in our position...we can basically wait as long as we need before we buy something, and the longer we wait, the bigger dent we make in our down payment. Payday was yesterday and I've now received my first paycheck in pounds. With the $-£ exchange rate at the obscene $1.89 to the pound, getting paid in pounds has a major advantage.

I'm haunting rightmove with great regularity...if anyone sees a house that they think would be good (within about 5 miles of Stowmarket), holler.

I've also put links to Mark and Pete's blogs on the right...go forth and check them out. (Pete- now you've GOT to update the blog!!)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Andrea and Patrick are WAY more motivated than I am

Andrea and Patrick are running a marathon. They're awesome.

They're also raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and need your help!!

Check out their blog (and donate to their race fund) at Running Pair.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Pat's Special Blend

As previously mentioned, the sandwiches at Music Sales are free. Yum. As is the coffee & tea, although we can only have it at the appointed times (10.30 and 3). And Pat has to make it- there is no making of your own unless your name is John.

Last week, Pat was on holiday and Mandy took over...she made me a lovely cup of (instant) coffee each morning and afternoon. Now Pat's back, and the coffee suddenly tastes REALLY strange. I can't put my finger on the taste, and I'm getting used to it, but it's defintely not normal. I can't figure out what she's doing to it, since she's using the same hot water, the same instant coffee, the same dishwasher & soap, and the same mug.

Pat's Special Blend it is, then. NOT coming to a Starbucks near you any time soon.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Crafty houses

Postings have been thin on the ground lately...the LAST thing I want to do when I get home from work after Musicrooming all day is go anywhere near my computer.

I've become completely addicted to craft blogs: Twelve22, Wardrobe Refashion and Craftzine are my current favorites. I've made a few skirts using the sewing machine that Freda gave me, and I'm planning on making a quilt next. I have to go in to Bury soon and get some quilt squares. Emily has a quilt that's UBER soft with corduroy on the back...that's what I'm aiming for. I think she got it at Anthropologie yonks ago. Either way, I can't wait to make one. One of my favorite button-down shirts has gotten a huge hole in the arm (no clue where it came from), so I'm going to cut it down for quilting. The other option would be to take it to a tailor and have them make it 3/4 sleeve...I should check with Freda.

We've been househunting madly...I took John & co back to the house that I loved this weekend and we ended up putting in a bid, but someone else got it. Sad times. We've seen a few others that haven't even come close, but we're still in the early stages and I'm sure something will come along. The property market in Stowmarket has suddenly gone mad...houses are going in a matter of days. Everyone says it'll calm down once kids go back to school. Here's hoping. At least now we know that we're definitely in the right price range for a 3 bed/bathroom/cloakroom/reasonable kitchen/smallish back yard. When we get a house, y'all can come visit. Not all at once, though. And once I've made the curtains. :)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Week One: Complete

I have now officially made it through my first week at Music Sales. Basically I spend all day updating the various stuff that goes on Musicroom. I'm not used to working in such a structured office...everyone is in at 8:30 on the dot, we work until a tea break at 10:30 for 15 minutes, lunch at 1 for an hour, and then another tea break at 3. Everyone leaves at 5:30 on the button. For some reason, Music Sales Bury is the ONLY Music Sales office in the world (out of about 10) that works a 9 hour day rather than 8. I mentioned it to my boss, and he said, that we all WORK for 8 hours, with an hour for lunch. Someone somewhere has gotten their wires crossed...legally, we're supposed to be at the OFFICE for 8 hours, with a 1-hour break for lunch. Oh well. At least we get free lunch every day.

Yup, you heard me. FREE lunch. There are a few catches: Pat the dinner lady has given the entire company food poisioning on more than one occasion, so there are some risks involved. Also, you have to order one kind of sandwich for the whole week, so by Friday you're bloody sick of tuna/roast beef/ham or whatever it is you've been eating for the last 5 days. You also have to come get your lunch AT 1pm, any later and Pat is not a happy bunny. There's not a whole lot of freedom surrounding the tea breaks, either. There's no mechanism for suddenly deciding you want coffee one morning, rather than tea. And you can't skip tea break, eather. Because then Pat will bring your mug and come and find you and plunk it down on your desk with a pointed look. And woe bedtide you if you don't bring your mug back at the appointed time.

But other than that, it's a free lunch.

Have been looking at a few more houses...we've seen two that were NOT ours and then I saw one yesterday that I completely fell in love with. Which is bad, because we're not QUITE ready to buy. The house is great, though. It meets all the criteria that we have, and it's really bright and airy and in a quiet neighborhood close to town and is quite big for our price range. I'm taking John and Freda and Travis back to see it today. Apparently there's an offer in on it already, but I don't think it was accepted. I'm desperately trying not to get too emotionally attached to it.

This househunting thing is exhausting.

Monday, August 7, 2006

I'm a Data Monkey

Had my first day at Music Sales today. I'm completely knackered...I was a data monkey all day. And starting a new job means that you have all the random stuff from the supply closet, since everyone else has traded up. My chair was not ok...I'll have to raid the office tomorrow to get one with fewer holes in it.

I was walking around the warehouse with Peter (my boss), and have discovered my new favorite Music Sales product:



Friday, August 4, 2006

Takin' the Long Way Around

I had my last 'official' day at Ickworth today...I'm going to be working in Reception tomorrow afternoon but that doesn't count. Julia organized a cream tea for everyone in the restaurant, which was really sweet. Jenny gave me a mug (which will be alternated with my NY one at MusicSales) that says "World's Greatest Computer Geek." I'm really not...that's John's title...but at Ickworth, I was definitely the one everyone called anytime they had any computer issue. NT is not known for its tech support...

I can't believe that I was at Ickworth for 8 still feels like I'm 'the new volunteer from America,' but at the same time, I felt really settled there. I don't think I could have done it without them- I have such an awesome 'pack' now.

John and I are going to see our first house tomorrow...we'll see what happens. We still need to get a mortgage sorted out (ugh...I feel like a grownup), so nothing's going to happen quickly, but at least we're getting started.

We had a funny experience with the Attack Ducklings in our parking lot last night...the ducks are particularly aggressive, especially if they think you have some food for them. Our neighbors (not the pothead ones) were going out, and the ducklings followed them to the car and were getting in the way of the wheels...they couldn't go anywhere without hitting them. We watched and giggled for a few minutes, and then took some pieces of bread outside to lure the ducklings away. They were great- eating right from our hands. It reminded me of when we lived in Weert, Holland, and would go to the stream and feed the ducks.

I got my passport, visa, and wedding certificate back today from the DVLA (like the DMV). They'd needed the originals of all the documents to send me my Provisional Driving License (which should be arriving shortly). Then I can be like a real Brit and take the insane 45-minute driving test. Drive around the block and parallel park, this is not. I'm SO relieved that my docs are back, was freaky not having any real ID documents or proof that I'm in the country legally. I also wouldn't have been able to get back to the States if anything had happened. Not a fun feeling.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

I missed having a MusicSales email address

So, starting this Monday, I'll have one again. :) I've been in the closet about it (for obvious reasons), but I'm definitely out now. I'll be working the Product Information department, dealing mostly with the text and stuff that goes on MusicRoom. It's the job that I was originally hired for last September, which fell through because of work permit/visa issues.


This means 3 things:

1. My full-time Ickworth tenure is rapidly approaching
2. I'm going to have to actually WORK, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. No more tea brakes from tea brakes.
3. Our house-buying is kicking into gear.

Regarding 1., it's meant that I've finished up a couple of long-term projects, as well as written all the press releases through the end of the year. They're pretty rockin', so make your Pudding Lunch reservations now, people!

About 2., I think I'll manage. I do have to remember to bring my "New York City" mug, purchased at the QD (think dollar store) in Stowmarket for 90p, home with me. And then to Music Sales.

As for 3., I think John is feeling a little panicky about the whole buying-a-house thing. So I'm going to be my usual take-charge self and get on with it. I'll try not to steamroll him. I'm hoping that he'll adopt the "if you can't beat em, join em" strategy. I'm going to look at a few places on Saturday morning...I've been watching for weeks, so I have a fairly good idea of what's out there.

Our dream place: 3 bed, 1 bath/1 cloakroom, reasonable sized kitchen, medium backyard, a sm. driveway, and not too far from the station. In our price range, it'll be tricky, but it's do-able.

When I was talking to the estate agents this afternoon, lining up the appointments, the agent told me that the place that I'd emotionally bought and moved into went off the market because the woman's not sure she wants to sell it, not because it was sold. So there's still hope...yay!!

One more thing...Lizzie's started a blog...the link is over with the other ones. Also, Emily's letter to the Transvestite on Her Stoop got on the Best of Craigslist. I can only aspire to be so famous. :)