Snow Comes To Coventry

So this Saturday we were all geared up to take a trip to New York City until we woke up to…

There was about 3 or 4 inches in the end, we took a little walk down to the lake which was all chilly.

We took the cats out for a little exploration.

They didn’t stay out long…

Kim’s cat bunny acted like we were torturing her and hid under the steps in our garden.

We’ve been getting ready for Christmas, I’ve done two secret Santa’s and a grab bag for work so far. I hadn’t done a grab bag before, you buy a random gift and wrap it and take it there then when you’re ready everyone picks a number. When your number is called you pick a gift and unwrap it then you choose whether to keep it or steal a gift that someone else before you has unwrapped. After the last person goes the first person gets to choose to steal or keep their gift so getting number 1 is the best. I wasn’t sure what to take so I got a bag of miniatures (which the Americans call ‘nippers’).

Kim’s Auntie Linda sent us a wreath she made in the post which was nice and it lights up, that side of Kim’s family is very good with crafts. She also sent this little candle thing which wizzed round and is very fun to fiddle with.

We’ve set up the fish tank all ready for our new arrivals. I just labelled the Christmas cards so hopefully they’ll get to the UK in time, we got some of those cheesy photo cards the Americans love because I think they’re funny. I only have a few more presents to buy so that’s a relief!

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The Driving Test & Coventry Christmas In The Village

I spent two nights last week taking an 8 hour drug and alcohol course that was mandatory before I was allowed to take my practical driving test. I had passed my written test fine (it was much easier than the UK test) so this course was the last step. It cost $140 (ugh) and was run in a little class room full of teenagers with blue hair… and me. It was run by a rootin tootin sort of American man who kept saying “veehickle” and gave such tips as “do not wear sunglasses at night” and “if a pedestrian crosses the road in a place that is not a crossing, you are still not allowed to run them down” – well thanks so much. There were endless videos that had funky dance music and featured grinning actors saying “Hey I’m Scott and I am here to teach you the rules of the road!”. It was extremely painful.

Finally yesterday I was able to take my practical driving test – what a difference to the UK! It lasted 15 minutes, I had a very friendly tester who was thrilled I was from the UK as he kept a list of different countries he had tested people from and he didn’t have the UK yet so he could check that one off. We literally just drove round the block in a long loop and I had to reverse into a bay and that was it. My brother Oliver kept saying how easy the test was and I thought surely not but there we are – easy!

Last Sunday we parked up and walked into town because they had a Christmas event down Main Street in Coventry with places you could buy different things and crafts, bake sales etc.

Kim got her annual spiced apple and we browsed.

One of the stalls sold pet things and we bought Barclay a catnip pumpkin pie (Bunny doesn’t care for catnip too much). Bar immediately sniffed out his gift.

And unwrapped it himself. Guess he doesn’t know Santa is watching…

Christmas Tree Time 2017

We’ve been thinking about Christmas Trees for a little while and hoping we could get a potted Christmas Tree like we always had in England. It was a bit like Chinese whispers, people would tell us to try one store, we’d get there then the store would tell us to try a different store and so on. So we finally tracked some down and hit a slight snag – the trees were about $200 each! In England they’re the same price as the cut trees, and a fake tree was out of the question. Kim had her heart set on spending out for a potted tree but spending that much every single year is a bit much so we decided to settle for a cut tree. We got the stand and some tree feeder and lights and planned to go out the next day. Off we set in the car with no idea where we were going until Kim spotted a sign saying ‘Christmas Tree Farm’ just down the road from us. Great we thought… until we pulled up to a small shack and an old man who looked like Father Christmas handed us this and said to drive down and pick any one we liked… huh…

So Kim chose the tree she liked and I got under it and cut it down, this photo of Kim below is staged, I didn’t trust her with the hacksaw so I gave her the important task of putting down the seats in the car!

Then we took it back to Santa to pay for the tree and get it wrapped up which was easier said than done – firstly he couldn’t understand a word I was saying, he could barely understand a word Kim was saying. Secondly he was just old and doddery, we sort of took over wrapping the tree, I even did the little winch part to wrap the tree because he was faffing around with god only knows what. We ushered him away and loaded it on the car ourselves whilst he was still wondering aloud where his wife was… I can only assume she escaped him to get away from his incessant talking bless him.

So home we got it and it looked so small until we fluffed it out.

We located the Christmas decorations box and hung up our stockings. As a child I used to have a M&S stocking that was huge, there was no end to presents you could fit in there, I think I could fit both my legs in there like a mermaid! It was a matching one with my brother Charles’ – I think mine hand Santa skiing on it and his had bells (the bells were how you could catch Santa out – obviously) and maybe a reindeer.  Now we have skiing snowmen.

So we put all the lights and decorations up and now our house smells lovely, just missing some chocolate tree decorations.

Thanksgiving 2017

Just a short post about Thanksgiving – I had the day off from work for Thanksgiving (and also black Friday off – score) and Kim was working in the afternoon so one of my colleagues invited us over for lunch which was really kind. I asked what we should bring and was told potatoes and I’m not a big fan of mashed potatoes so I made sauteed with herbs etc and I was thinking we’ll need a lot so I almost tripled the recipe for two people and created a production line of potatoes – needless to say my fridge is still full of millions and zillions of potatoes.

So we had a tasty lunch then Kim had to go to work and I stayed and won a very inventive game of pictionary with another colleague.

Accompanied by 4 weeny dogs – super cute.

My nemeses, the leaves, have been slowing down finally. I tried a new trail out in Nathan Hale State Forest.

Again the leaves were against me and hid the path at one point on the way back so I just followed my GPS on my phone back to the car – nice try leaves.

My 29th

I’m not a big birthday fan, another year closer to death, but usually my day is a disaster. This birthday was nice a one, I spent the morning at work which was fine, I had a second birthday cake from my lovely co-workers. I came home and packed and then Kimmy and I drove to Westbrook by the coast in Connecticut to stay a couple of nights.

We had a nice comfy room and there was a pool and jaccuzi we floated about in for a bit.

We also discovered the world’s FINEST water, the absolute finest, and it could be ours for just $5. I had to fight the temptation to open it. Especially after I got curious about what made it the finest water and discovered it was full of arsenic when compared to tap water…um… no.

Instead we settled for cocktails and prosecco with a nice dinner.

In the morning we explored the hotel and walked to the beach.

The house next door to the beach was for sale for $1.5 million.

Then we drove a couple minutes to Madison.

We went to see a movie but we were early so we browsed a little bit and found a great bookshop.

There was a slight political undertone…

Madison seemed like a wealthy place and they had a cute arts cinema, we saw a movie called Lady Bird which Kim really liked, I thought it was OK but it was a little depressing.

That evening we went to a cajun/creole restaurant, we had to wait for ages for a table but it was worth it. We got cornbread and biscuits while we waited (Victoria sponge and scones in English).

Then we went halves on three meals (we skipped lunch so it was allowed).

The next morning Kim had booked brunch at the hotel that had “the best brunch in CT”, it was massive, it just went on and on, they had everything.

They even had an ice sculpture with prawns!?

So I got to eat the best meal of the day in luxury watching the choppy waves.

On the way back I finally found out why the bridge in Willimantic has frogs on it, there was a drought in 1758 and the frogs fought over the last bits of water, they made such a noise that the people living in the next village thought that either Canadian or French soldiers or Indians were coming to attack them so they all got their guns and were armed and ready. The next day when no attack came they found zillions of dead frogs and the Battle of the Frogs was legend.

Kim went to shop for supplies, I caught up with the important news.

I got a tasty dinner made by my Kimmy.

Then I was presented with my special cake construction, it’s a reconstruction of my favourite boy.

Mr Barclay.

November Time

I got my first taste of medical care in America these past weeks, first I had to get a physical for work which is just a very basic check over where they take your blood pressure etc and talk about your medical history and say that you’re fit to work. First of all I’d never had a doctors appointment be so unhurried, and second of all I’d never had a doctor be so friendly and pleasant. He wanted to know all about me, why I’d moved here, what pets I had… at the end of my appointment he thanked me for coming to the USA because he was so glad to have me here (err…?) and wished me a happy birthday for later in the month! Surreal. But I thought this has to be a one off right? Sure enough, I go to register at the dentist, my appointment was an hour and a half long! They measured every single one of my teeth! They photographed AND X-rayed every tooth. My new dentist also wanted to know all about me and had time for a long leisurely chat and ALSO wished me a happy birthday for later in the month, “and thank you so much for choosing us as your dental care providers” she said… even though I just chose that one because it was down the road. Not a miserable cow bag of a receptionist in sight! Now granted we have to pay for our medical insurance and taxes paid for the NHS in the UK… but wow what a service! It was the kind of service I think everyone I have ever worked in the NHS in the UK with wished they could give their patients.

So whilst that all went very well, my oil change for Ruby the Fiat did NOT go as planned because the second I drove out of the oil change place my warning light came on and my front indicator was out – just like that! And that’s how I found myself sat in a mechanics for two and a half hours watching “news”… joy. $2 for a new bulb and about $65 for labour… plus tax.

We had a good weekend last weekend, we had breakfast at IHOP.

They have a balloon man at IHOP that makes balloon animals for little kids and works for tips, this is what he made a little boy sat behind us… (queue chanting of USA, USA, USA!)

Then we went to see Murder on the Orient Express which was very good, I hadn’t read the book in years so I’d forgotten the ending. I often think how good it would be to be able to program your memory to forget endings to good books and movies so you could watch or read them again and enjoy it just like you had the first time.

Also I found a car parked in the cinema car park that sums up my feelings on all the Christmas adverts about in November… we have a lovely client at my work who enjoys nothing more than listening to the Celine Dion Christmas album…. every single week of every single month. It’s gotten to the point where I want to hunt Celine down and make her answer for her crimes but all the Christmas ads are just pushing me closer to the edge.

In other news my laptop is on the fritz, for some reason almost everything on it is now red, I strongly suspect it has been possessed by Satan (either that or the massive dent in the front it got on the move to America is finally taking it’s toll). Have remedied this by super gluing the battery in (it kept falling out) and hitting it and so far so good. Not today Lucifer.

Got a new gadget for the garden to defeat those bloody leaves, it’s a leaf blower that also can suck up the leaves into a little bag for easy disposal, it works great and was only about $50 which I call a win. Now I just have to wait for a dry day so the leaves won’t be so wet! Found some bulbs in my shed I’d forgotten to plant in October so I planted them… hopefully they’ll rally and still come through in the spring. Still finding bloody peanuts everywhere that some kindly neighbour is obviously leaving out for the squirrels and they are bringing to our garden to bury for winter… cheeky. We’re away this weekend so I hope it won’t be too cold 😦

Productivity Thy Name Is Hayley… Sort Of

We bought a drill last week… which may not have been a good move given my history. My first real contact with a drill was when my Dad had left one out on my grandparent’s kitchen table to do some sort of handy work so naturally I was drawn to it and managed to drill a small but noticeable hole in their table… oops. The second time I used a drill I was lent one by a much loved colleague, “borrow the non electric one because you can’t break that”… then I dropped it and it broke in half. Oops. THIS time went a lot better, observe our boiler room where we do our laundry.

And now observe there are some shelves.

So that went OK until this set up on the right turned out to be too heavy so I had to distribute the weight and involve a bit of Gorilla Glue. As a new home owner I’ve discovered that Gorilla Glue is absolutely necessary.

I’ve also been signing up for a new agency job to get a few extra hours every now and then and when you join up to a lot of new jobs here you need to take a drugs test. So I had to drive bloody miles to take a drugs test and when I got there, next door to the building that ran drugs tests was a Planned Parenthood – in the car park there was some crazy protesters. I thought that only happened on TV… jeez.

We had a game night this week.

And I learnt how to play Uno and Dreidel.

I used my new drill skills to install a key safe in case Kim locks us out again.

Kim’s parents came over and I successfully made a pavlova.

And then last night we went to Harry Potter in concert where an orchestra played the sound track to Harry Potter live alongside the film which was good. The first movie came out in 2001 and it looks so old now, I hadn’t watched it in years.

So that was my week.