Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Box Update and Concert

Box update: about 20 packed, about 20 to go.

We've packed James' room, all the books, the tops of the closets, and under the beds. Now all we have to do are the kitchen and the front hall.

I'm singing in a concert this weekend, so our box packing time is a bit limited, but we should be fine.

If you're in the area, it's going to be pretty spectacular. The Bury Bach Choir is singing Bach's St Matthew Passion (with a full orchestra and the Bury Cathedral Boys' Choir). Here's the link to the details - you can still get tickets!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Playground? Check!

We've spent the weekend 'trooping about the place,' as Freda says. We worked all day yesterday in the cold and the rain, and the boys have hung ALL the curtain rods. Travis has started in on plumbing in the water softener, we've gotten all kinds of things that we needed, and most importantly, we've found a playground. V. nearby. And it's a GOOD one! It's got a huge crow's nest/spider web thingy, a very inventive seesaw, a big jungle gym, and a bike track. It's a paved track with bumps and ramps and all kinds of cool stuff for kids to ride around on. James' bike is currently at Mummy's but we'll see if we can sort something out. And definitely a helmet.

Here he is, climbing.

It's about a 5 minute walk from the house, and there are benches for me to sit on when I'm tired of junglegyming. This is the view from the top of the crow's nest:

We've also found a shortcut to the house- it's a MUCH easier and quicker way in. WOOHOO!

We were dropping off some of the miscellaneous stuff that we got today (we have HOUSE NUMBERS! For the front of our house!), and we met our across-the-street neighbors. We met the garage-neighbors yesterday - everyone seems really nice and THRILLED to be there. It's great that we're all moving in around the same time - people seem pretty open.

Oh, and someone in the neighborhood has a tabby kitten who's exploring everything. He came over to see what we were doing and explored our garage. He would have explored the house except that we caught him looking at it and shut the door.

He went off to chase some butterflies and pounce on invisible things in the grass. Much better, really.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Our very own chipboard castle

Short post tonight because I'm tired - but.....DRUMROLL.....we have the house! It's OURS as of about 11:30 this morning. We picked up the keys, sent the carpet guys in, measured the back garden for lawn stuff, and generally had an exciting afternoon.

Tomorrow we tackle the curtain rails with Travis and Freda. Pictures soon!!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

One Of Those Days

I've been feeling not far from the end of my tether lately - it's been the combination of the move, a whole bunch of stuff going on at work, and miscellaneous other stresses. I've been trying to move some cash from the US to our account here to help with the moving expenses and it's taken over 3 weeks. Both banks are blaming the other one and generally making a mess of things. It LOOKS like it's going to come through, finally. Fingers crossed.

I had my physio appointment tonight and we've come to the conclusion that I need to take a break for a few weeks and rejig my office workspace again, since all the good that's being done in my appointment every week is being undone again at work. Looks like a new chair is in order - my physio has recommended a place not far from the office where they'll let me sit in a chair for 45 minutes during my lunch break and test it out.

When she pointed out that the progress on my back had stagnated, I dropped my basket. I'd been on the edge of tears all day and I just lost it. She (and John) looked totally alarmed, and she immediately offered me a cup of tea, which made me laugh. John and I had fish & chips for dinner (which we haven't had in AGES) and then settled in to watch Rick Stein (a cross between Alton Brown and Mr. Rogers) and the Hairy Bikers (the unofficial successors to the Two Fat Ladies). Not sure if the Bikers are on BBC America, or if you can get DVDs, but they were really funny.

I also took my physio's advice and had a cup of tea. My mom sent me some special teas that she got in the Village a few months ago - my favorite is the Kemun Imperial blend - John made a cup for me and used the teapot and everything.

I feel revived, and tomorrow is looking much more promising.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Snow, again

It's our second snow of the season - eek!

I managed to snap these pictures from our living room this morning - it turned to rain a few minutes later and was a lot less pretty. Oh, and the orange blob isn't the sun - that's me forgetting to turn off the flash. It was at 6:30am so I think I'm allowed a little leeway. It looks really serene and wintry, though.

It's DARN cold in the flat - we saw the new central heating system in the house yesterday and it has radiators that can be set on timers. Decadent, really.

We haven't packed any more boxes - John was in London today for work and the trains were all messed up so I had to pick him up in Ipswich at 8:30 and we've just had dinner. Tomorrow.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Magic Bins?

Box update: 9 1/2 boxes packed (mostly books), about 35 to go. Tomorrow, we tackle the junk drawer(s).

We had our 'home demonstration' today - basically a walk-through with one of the customer services people and one of the builders. They told us about the loft, showed us how to use the boiler, and other thrilling things. Two weeks from today we should be IN the new house, pondering the lack of internet. It'll come, it just might take a while. BT (British Telecom for the 'mericans) are not known for being speedy.

One of the things that all Brits have are 'bins'. They're like garbage cans except that they're all standard and provided by the county council and have wheels. And are therefore known as wheelie bins. Mom and Dad, do you feel a joke coming on? I knew it!!

So there's a guy who goes on vacation for 2 weeks, and the morning after he gets back, he runs in to the garbage man (the 'bin man') on his way to work.

The bin man says, "Where's yer bin?"

The homeowner proudly responds, "I been to France!"

"No, no, where's yer WHEELIE bin?"

"I WHEELIE been to France!!"

Teehee. This was on the BBC at some point while we were in the UK when I was a kid and my family brings it up at least once a week.

So anyway, I had to call the council to arrange for some bins at the new house (recycling and otherwise), and when I spoke to the guy he said that they'd be delivered at the new house in the next week or so.

I said, "So they'll just appear? We don't have to sign for them or anything?"

To which he responded, "Nope, it's just like magic!"

"Oooh," I said. "Magic bins!!"

He chuckled. "Yep, magic bins."


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bed Time

Well, we bought a bed frame today. Our flat was furnished when we moved in, although we pretty quickly decided the mattress better days. So we bought a new one last winter (thrilling, I know). The bed frame, however, was fine. But now since we're moving, we've been on the lookout for a bed frame. We've been everywhere - the Bed Warehouse places, the mom & pop stores, ebay, Ikea, the department stores - and found nothing. At all. There've been a few 'Eeh...I can live with that' beds, but nothing that's grabbed either of us.

We weren't really looking forward to putting our mattress on the floor in our new room as a permanent solution, so John went through the Yellow Pages this afternoon. We found a place in Stonham Aspal, about 10 minutes down the road. It's in a little complex with a mini-golf place and an owl sanctuary and random other stuff - we've driven by it a zillion times and never stopped.

It's called MH Beds - here's their website (although our bed isn't on there). We walked in, and I immediately saw a bed that I loved - it had really clean lines and a straight back and was exactly the right look for the house. I was a bit disappointed, since I didn't think John would like it. So I went over to the other wall, where there was a perfectly nice bed that he was moving towards. The sales guy told us about the bed, and then asked what we were looking for. We told him (wood, straight back, low foot end) and pointed at the bed that I'd seen as we walked in.

Apparently John had had the exact same reaction (I love it but Kate won't like it)...

We bought it on the spot and it's going to be delivered to the new house (and assembled!) in 4 weeks.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A different kind of tape...

Well, it's official. We've started packing. We've done 4 boxes, with about 50 to go (judging by the number that the moving estimator gave us after looking round the flat). Oh joy. Part of the problem is that the flat's so small that we can't really cordon a room off for boxes - they kind of just have to sit where they're packed.

We went to the French market in town today - they travel over on the ferry about three times a year and there are all kinds of great cheeses and breads and other yummy stuff. John also got a pair of slippers...since we're having new (white!) carpets in the new house, there will be NO SHOES in the house for at least 5 years. Maybe 10. Possibly 15. The slippers are burgundy velour - I think they're hysterical and John loves them. He's going to need a smoking jacket v. soon to go with them.

We John watched Pan's Labyrinth last night. It's been compared to Narnia and lots of other fantasy films, which I thought was really misleading. It was SO violent and gory that I had to sit on the other couch, with my back to the TV, and then I ended up leaving the room. John thought it was a good movie on the whole, but he definitely didn't love it either. It's won all sorts of awards...who knows.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tape is evil

I've been going to physiotherapy for a few months now, and last week my physio announced that she was going to start 'taping' me. "Video?", I thought. "Audio?"

Nah...big ace-bandage-y looking sticky tape. That runs up my spine and down my right arm. And is supposed to take the pressure off my shoulder. And is driving me BANANAS.

The good news? I can take it off. The bad news? Not until Tuesday (unless I develop an allergic reaction sooner).

Update: The tape came off at lunch time today - I drove home from work to take it off because it was making me so nuts...

Thanks to everyone who emailed/commented about the Times...I was pretty darn thrilled.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Dear Diary, I'm FAMOUS!!

About 6 weeks ago, I submitted a story to the New York Times Metropolitan diary. And then forgot about it. Check this out!!

Dear Diary:

My mom and I had a funny New York moment last month.

I lived in Tudor City for two years and was a daily train rider. I now live in the United Kingdom with my husband, and one night last month I was on the phone with my mom, who was on her way back home from a Broadway show.

She told me that her train would arrive in about 15 minutes and then sighed, “I’m desperate for a cup of coffee.” I asked her where she was and she replied that she was standing at the top of the escalators in Grand Central Terminal, about to go down to the main concourse.

I informed her that there were two Starbucks nearby, then proceeded to direct her to the closest one, over the phone and from 3,500 miles away. She got her coffee and made her train! Ahh, the miracles of modern technology!

Kate Hughes Herd

Sunday, March 11, 2007

He's 9...and he eats vegetables.

We've had a really low-key weekend - it's been great. Today we went and saw the grandparents for lunch, then headed back here to do some misc housekeeping and errand-y stuff. Freda's finished the curtains for our bedroom and they're gorgeous. Pics once they're up in the new house!!

We weren't sure what to have for dinner, so I flipped through the latest BBC Good Food and found a prawn (shrimp) thai red curry stir fry with broc, baby corn and red peppers. It was cooked in less time than it took to make the rice. AND James ate some of his broccoli and all of the corn and peppers. I love the fact that when I met him, 2 years ago, he liked 'Burger King and stuff like that' and now he loves spicy food and curries and veggies. SWEET.

And now that Andrea's birthday's over (Happy Birthday!!), I can post this link. I bought her present on Etsy, which is kind of like a cross between a craft fair and I was the seller's first web purchase and she was about as thrilled as I was. :)

Saturday, March 10, 2007


It's our second-to-last James weekend before the big move. Woohoo!!

One of my chores today was to finish making the tabs for the curtains that I'm Freda's making for the living room. The only spare piece of fabric we had was a long strip down the side (that we'd earmarked for the tabs), so I decided that rather than sew 14 individual tabs (7 for each curtain), I'd just sew the whole thing in to a long tube. AND I had a stroke of genius - I needed the finished tabs to be 2" across, but my sewing machine doesn't have many guide marks on it. So I took one of the sticky flags that I have for marking pieces in music books and put it 2" from the needle, on the sewing machine. And boom - a 3 meter long, very straight seam, exactly in the right spot. Oh the thrill of it.

And then I had to turn all 3 meters of it. I'm horrible at just takes forever. I came into the living room where the boys were computing (James has discovered Solitaire), and realized that James' fingers were just the right size to help turn the long tube. He thought it was a fantasic game - he kept shouting about how much he'd gotten this time!! I love it...I'll have him crafting soon. Oh, and his grandma (on the other side...not terribly predisposed to liking me, but a v. sweet lady nonetheless) thought that his lego bag was rockin'. Indeed.

We also repotted my aloe plant- I got it at Lidl for £1.95 and it's thrilled to be in a bigger pot and closer to the window. The weeping fig has been repotted too, but it may have had one forgotten watering too many. We'll see.

We stumbled on Crufts on TV on Thursday night and have been hooked. It's the biggest dog show in the UK and one of the biggest in the world. As a v. doggy person (if you haven't seen Best In Show, go get it), I'm now completely obsessed with it. Tomorrow night we may have to give James special school-night bedtime dispensation so he can stay up at watch it.

We were all cheering madly for the dog & tennis ball relays - teams of 4 dogs (mostly collies) have to jump over 4 hurdles, hit a target to launch a tennis ball, catch the ball, and hurtle back over the hurdles to their human. It was unbelievable how fast they were, and really funny when some of them got SO excited that they abandoned the hurdles entirely and just ran back with the tennis balls. Rrufus has missed his calling.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


Apparently some grown-ups in Westchester are freaking out about vaginas. As a card-carrying Vagina, I'm with the students. Performing the Vagina Monologues in a high school (not even in its entirety) is a fantastic idea. The New York Times article is here.

For those of you who are feeling slightly traumatized by this...sorry. I was in Colby's '03 V-Day production of the Vagina Monologues and it was a fantastic experience.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Moving along...

We've got the mortgage moving, the movers booked, and we're starting in on changing all of our addresses. One of the things I'm most looking forward to: having our OWN mail slot. We have a communal one in the flat now and it's horrible to come in to mail that someone's opened and then stuffed back in the envelope or has muddy footprints on it or is strewn around the hall.

In the new house, if the mail is muddy, it's OUR fault.

Oh, and I can't wait to have an extractor fan. We had trout for dinner last night and we woke up this morning to the flat REEKING of fish. And this evening when we came home the smell hit us like a brick wall when we walked in. And yes, mom, we took out the garbage and have washed everything down. I think the griddle that we used was holding the smell, so I washed it in lemon juice at the MiL's suggestion. We'll see how it is tomorrow morning - it wasn't too bad when I got back from choir.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

More Than I Can Chew...

Right...I've abandoned the blog - it's been crazy around here! I'm back now, at least for a bit.

I spent some quality time with Freda (John's mom) this weekend - in my infinite wisdom, I'd decided to make our own curtains so we could save a little money. I hadn't really thought this through, though...I'd picked out and purchased fabric and lining, but I only had sort of a vague idea of what to DO with it. Yeah, I can sew dice bags and skirts and little stuff, but curtains are big and complicated and if you mess them up, everyone can see them.

We worked on them all day Saturday and Sunday and got to 6pm Sunday evening with one set of curtains, mostly done. I have to do the tab tops this week but we've done the lining and the hems (bloody complicated!) and the seams up the side. And the ironing. Ugh.

My mother-in-law is a saint...she looked at the carnage on Sunday evening and said, "Ok, you're not proud about these, right? Can I make the rest of the curtains? MY way?"

"Erm, yeah, that would be awesome."

I'm feeling a bit sheepish. I felt better when I talked to Mom, though...she reminded me that when she made Edward and my duvet covers and matching window valence thingys it took her WEEKS of wrestling with the fabric and the pattern repeats (I HATE pattern repeats) in order to get them right. Granted, the duvet cover she made is amazing and all the flowers DO match up. I guess I have nowhere to go but up...

Speaking of flowers and Freda, she presented us with some gardening stuff on Saturday evening (we cooked them dinner after all the curtaining). Two big plastic planters, gardening gloves for each of us, and two gardening books.

Their titles? The Low-Maintenance Garden and The Impatient Gardener. you think she's trying to tell us something?

Thursday, March 1, 2007

New house

Well, we don't have a firm moving date yet, but it looks like we'll be in the new house by the end of March. Woohoo! We've accumulated all kinds of furniture from all over suffolk, so far...most of it is hand-me-downs from various friends. We've got a massive list of things that need to happen between now and the move, not least of which are packing, scheduling the movers, setting our mortgage in motion, making all the curtains, and getting the carpet guys in. Right...can't think about it all in one block like that...all that makes me want to do is crawl under the duvet with my blankie.

We'll get just looks a little daunting from here!