Saturday, May 27, 2006

Herd of Herds in New Ro with a Happy Mac

We're in NY...Freda and Travis and James are enjoying their vacation here. We've done Playland, the Westchester mall, Toys R Us, and some boat rigging. Tomorrow we're headed in to the city to ride the circle line- it's supposed to be a gorgeous day.

My brother is my new favorite person- he was cleaning out the attic and found an Apple Care box. Apparently I was so traumatized at spending $2000 to buy the mac, I forgot that I'd bought Apple Care. So I've taken my mac to the Apple store and they're going to fix it. For free. Hooray! The only problem is that I feel like an idiot for not doing this 2 months ago. All my data is still gone, but I've mourned it and am over it.

Posting will be light for a few days...I'm sitting out on the porch at my parents' house and not spending much time in front of the computer.

The wedding's a week from today (ack!)...we had my dress fitting on Thursday and I LOVE it. I can't wait to wear it for a whole day. And marry John. :)

Have been playing with the new camera- will be posting pics soon, I promise.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Stowmarket Bike Girl

My new bike is now ready to go...I went in to work with John this morning, picked up my bike from the warehouse, took the train to Stowmarket, and spent the day tinkering with the bike. John and I bought a helmet, a bell, and a lock last week, which I put on the bike, but the brakes were making really strange noises and not really effective in stopping. So I took it to the bike peeps in town and they put on new brake pads, pumped the tires, greased the chain, and installed a basket on the front. It's gone from ugly to "un-steal-able," according to John. It's also rather front-heavy when the basket is full of stuff...I'll have to remember not to load it too full.

John and I are both taking the day off tomorrow- he's been working WAY too hard and needs a long weekend.

I've made my appointment for the UK Visa application at the British consulate- it's NOT just a rubber stamp, even when you're married, so I'm stressing about it. We just need to make sure that we get all our papers in order before we's not a big deal, it's just one more thing to remember.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dinners and Choirs

Had the Ickworth girls over for dinner on Monday night- I made my world-famous Good Housekeeping salmon with leeks and capers, which was a big hit. There were lots of leftovers so I brought them over to Lynn's for leftover surprise night on Tuesday...and got my black dog fix from her v. entertaining black lab. Tilly has fixations on both shoes and silverware. When anyone arrives at the house, she brings as many shoes as she can to the door. I think it's an extension of the slipper-fetching instinct...but she's taken it to the extreme and there's quite a pile of shoes in Lynn's front hall. The other pile in their house is of silverware underneath the dining room table...apparently Tilly steals it from the kitchen counters and dishwasher and brings it into the dining room. Lynn is always corralling forks and things back in to the kitchen (and trying to get the interesting grease marks out of the dining room carpet). Makes Rrufus' butter habit seem relatively minor in comparison.

I also made a summer fruit tart that Freda showed me the other day- I bought frozen summer fruits (raspberries, blueberries, and some currants) from Waitrose, put them in a pan with some sugar, then filled a pie shell with it and stuck it in the oven when I took the dinner out. It was a big hit- thanks, Freda!

Had my last Bury Bach Choir rehearsal before the wedding tonight- it's a great group and I'm going to miss them all summer. I think I'm going to stay in touch with a few buddies over the summer...I've got to do something on Wednesday nights besides play D&D (sorry, guys). :)

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Worked in London on Friday and Saturday to help John with the big work move. Spent all day yesterday crawling around under desks to plug in and wire up computers. It's exhausting work- we were thoroughly knackered when we finished last night.

There wasn't much to do today, so since it was a fairly grey afternoon anyway, I hopped on a train back to Stowmarket. While I was on the train, the iPod shuffled its way to a song that will be perfect for the first dance at the wedding. I was really stressing about picking one, and I'm so glad that I found one. Not telling yet, though. I can't believe the wedding is less than 3 weeks away- John and I have been saying, "when we're married..." for what seems like forever, and it's suddenly going to happen. Yikes!

In my decompression after the weekend, I finished reading the last of the Dark Materials books- I really enjoyed it. I agree with C's comment about how Pullman goes on a Christianity rant, which is rather annoying, but I'm trying to resolve it with the rest of the stuff he was talking about. I'd love to find out more about what else Pullman's written- if there's any non-fiction where he writes about his views on religion. The optimist in me wants to think that he was just writing about the bad religion in the fictional world, but I'm not sure if that's true. Either way, the books were really good. And I wish I had a dæmon.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It's summer in England (and there are no bugs)

The weather here has been glorious for the last few days- a bunch of us wen't over to Sandy's after work last night and sat in her back garden and drank wine for a few hours. It was fabulous.

Then today she and I were v. productive all morning and then zipped down to the pub for lunch, where we sat outside on the picnic benches and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

When we were here last time, my Mom asked around as to why none of the windows or doors had screens on them to keep the bugs out. The reply? "Bugs? What bugs? We don't have any bugs!"

My Mom thought differently, and so had screens installed on all our windows and doors. There are some very lucky and bug-free people living in Peterborough.

Since the weather's been so fab, I have had all the windows and patio doors open in the flat, and so far we've had 4 spiders (one so big that when I opened the laundry bin and found it, I shrieked and closed it again...John's going to deal with it when he gets home), 2 flies, and a wasp. And that's in the last 24 hours. I like the spiders, since they catch the other stuff, but not when they pop out at me from yesterdays t-shirts in the laundry bin.

No bugs. Hah.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

I've got a new bike!

I've had quite a busy few days- Thursday I worked at Ickworth with Julia, doing my usual tricks. I'm on a personal crusade to get everyone on the property to use Excel when they should be using it, rather than creating spreadsheets in Word. Someone who shall remain nameless is rather computer-phobic, but I've offered to teach her Excel. She's taken this to mean that I'll do all her Excel-related work for her. She now turns up at my desk once or twice a week, with a hand-drawn spreadsheet that she wants me to put into a computer spreadsheet. Not exactly what I was aiming for, but it's a start.

On Friday, I helped Caroline & Ian move from a 2-up, 2-down in Bury to a v. large 5 bedroom house in Ipswich. The new house is gorgeous (with plenty of room for John & me to spend the night). We loaded all the stuff into the truck, and then I noticed that there was a purple bicycle still in the back yard.

"Don't you guys want this bike?"

"Nah, you can have it."

"Can I pay you for it?"

"Nope, we found it on the street a few years ago, with a sign saying 'free to a good home.' We took it in and never use it. It's yours."

So I rode my new bike to the Music Sales office and am keeping it there until we figure out how to get it home. I might try to bribe Julia and her Jeep to bring it over when she comes to dinner next week.

The bike has purple splotches all over it (from the factory, it looks like!) and is v. ugly and rather squeaky. I'm going to take it to the bike place in Stowmarket and have the brakes checked out (they weren't so good on my ride to Music Sales), and buy a basket for the front, but other than that, I'm good to go. Yay!!! I also need to find a wrench and raise the seat, but that's easy. It even has gears. And a rack with a clip-y thing on the back that I can put stuff on. And mud guards. And a padded seat (which is the source of most of the squeaking, I think).

Watch out world, here I come.

I helped out at Ickworth yesterday with the Hanging Basket workshop- we had a great group of ladies and the baskets turned out great! Only problem was that once I got home, I realized that I had nowhere to hang the basket- it's wicked heavy and kind of big. So I brought it over to Freda & Travis today, and Travis is going to assemble some kind of thingy to attach it to the side of their house tomorrow morning. I still have visitation rights, though. :)

When I had dinner with my Stowmarket mom last Thursday, her daughter Fiona and I were talking about books (again). We're trying to muster up the energy to start a book club, but so far just keep giving each other recommendations. I've gone a little overboard with my Inter-Library Loan account with the Stowmarket library- when I went in yesterday to pick up my Howl's Moving Castle DVD (1 week for £2...not bad), 4 of my other books had also come in. That's on top of the two I had already and the two Fiona gave me. So I blasted through the end of The Bonesetter's Daughter (Amy Tan), and have started in on the first of the Dark Materials books (Philip Pullman). They're great!! Everyone keeps comparing them to Harry Potter, but I think they're more like a cross between the Enid Blytons that I read when I was a kid and what I was hoping Jonathan Strange would be. Anyway, they're good. I'm also on a Barbara Kingsolver kick- she wrote The Poisonwood Bible (which I loved), and I've just finished The Bean Trees. Pigs In Heaven (Bean Trees sequel) arrived in the pile of books as well...I've got my work cut out for me!

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Bury Bach Choir Concert

Here's the first of the shameless plugs for the Bury Bach Choir concert (which I'll be missing, since we'll be on our honeymoon):


Bach’s Mass in B minor

Saturday 10 June 2006, 7.30 pm (performance ends 9.20 pm)

St Edmundsbury Cathedral

Tamsin Coombs - soprano
Alison Kettlewell - mezzo-soprano
Philip Salmon - tenor
Martin Robson - bass

Bury St Edmunds Bach Choir and the Suffolk Baroque Players

Conductor Philip Reed

Concert sponsor LloydsTSB Private Banking
Choir sponsor Music Sales

The Mass in B minor is Bach’s last and greatest sacred work, famously described as “the greatest musical artwork of all times and people”. Pretty impressive! What’s more, the baroque instruments in this authentic performance will bring the unusual excitement and pleasure of hearing the music exactly as written by the composer.

The splendour, the symmetry and the logic of the Mass in B minor demonstrate vividly Bach’s creative genius. And what a wonderfully contrasting and rewarding ride it makes for today’s audiences! The singing is impassioned, yet somehow innocent. The celebration is loud yet also religious, festive yet devout. The emotions are solemn yet sometimes almost sensual. Above all, the pure melodious inspiration of the music guarantees an uplifting experience, an experience that absolutely should not be missed.

For tickets, costing £7 adult and £5 student (unreserved) or £10 or £14 (reserved centre aisle), please ring Theatre Royal Box Office on 01284 769505 or visit This will be a very popular concert and early booking is strongly recommended for the reserved seats. If you’re buying unreserved seats (which you can preferably do in advance, or alternatively you can queue for them at the door) be sure to arrive in good time to get the seats of your choice,

We can guarantee a wonderful evening. Do come!

Parking for the cathedral is available in the centre of Bury St Edmunds on Angel Hill in front of the Angel Hotel, and in the Shire Hall car park beyond the Great Churchyard.

For more information on the choir, go to our website.

To join the free mailing list, phone 01284 705278 or email

See you there.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Andrea Wins!

Yay for Andrea- she guessed that the mystery link was to the town where my Mom was born: Garches, in the suburbs of Paris. We visited the house with Grandma when I was studying in Paris, which was fascinating. (And gave Andrea a substantial advantage...she was in Paris with me at the time). Grandma and Grandpa were living in Paris after the war, and Mom appeared.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Happy Birthday Mom!

It's my mom's birthday today- happy birthday, Mom!!

In honor of her birthday, I've included a mystery link. I'll cook dinner for the first person to correctly guess why this goes where it goes in the comments. Mom and Dad, you don't get to play.

It's also a year since John and I got engaged in Central Park- crazyness. We haven't killed each other yet, which is good.

We dropped James off in Ipswich this morning, then went to Freda & Travis' for lunch. We went for a walk in Christchurch park afterwards, which was really refreshing. Spring is most definitely here. Freda has given me more back-issues of Sainsbury's Magazine (yes, Sainsbury's the supermarket). It's got all kinds of great recipes and stuff...I'll be curled up with it for the next few days and my recipe folder will get much fatter.

My other addiction: Real Simple. If I could subscribe to it in the UK, I would. I love all their stupid tips on how to save $5 or 5 minutes cleaning the kitchen or vacuuming the car or organizing your clutter or whatever. I even use them, occasionally. I made their lemon rosemary chicken and it was fantastic. Who knew I could roast a chicken?