June Days

It’s already June, can you believe it? We’ve had the chance to work on our home a little more. We had some particularly crappy windows in the house. They were all mismatched windows from different improvements the previous owners had made, some had wooden frames that would swell and were hard to open, some wouldn’t shut fully, half were missing screens and one had this crack across it the previous owner had repaired with sellotape. Brilliant.

So we got all of the old windows ripped out and replaced and now we actually you know… can use them as functioning windows. Joy. I’m hoping this will also mean there won’t be ice on the inside of the windows when winter comes back around.

Despite the cost of our new windows we still couldn’t resist visiting Whole Foods again, I did manage to resist this candle though, very difficult…

Although Whole Foods is the grocery store of my dreams, I do think we will have to return to Stop & Shop (The USA has to be the only country that needs to put how to use instructions in the title of their stores) because there was a distinct lack of stupid news magazines. Instead they had hippy magazines.

The Coventry Farmers Market is open again so we’ve popped in a couple of Sundays.

We took the canoe out on Coventry Lake ( which is actually called Wangumbaug only no one seems sure of how to pronounce that) for it’s maiden voyage.

We also raided Ocean State Job Lot (which is a bit like B&M in the UK) for some rocking chairs which I put together. Why is it when you get furniture to put together, the pre-drilled holes are always misaligned? They seem fine but if they begin to creak even slightly I’m super gluing those suckers together.

We also got a little fire pit which has been a nice addition, no more improvements for the time being until the credit card is paid off!




Memorial Day Weekend Americana

The weekend before last was a three day weekend for Memorial Day.  I discovered the joy of Wholefoods.

And we finally tried out the drive in movie theatre that’s nearby. I’d never been to a drive in and there aren’t many of them left in America but it was a fun novelty.

After we parked up we took a walk to the concessions stand in the middle of all the screens for a browse (although we’d packed enough snacks to feed a small army).

The drive in shows two movies back to back for the same price with an intermission in between. First we saw Grease. Grease always makes me think of my Auntie Pauline, whenever we went to visit the cousins in Essex my Auntie Pauline would let me watch Grease on VHS (none of our cousins were the same age us so there was no one to play with) and I’d sit cross legged in front of the spare TV as close as was humnely possible without my Mum telling me I’d get square eyes.

After Grease we watched Jaws, or more accurately I watched Jaws because Kim fell asleep… that was the only draw back with the drive in – the first move didn’t start until 8.40pm so the second movie ended very late. But I liked Jaws, I hadn’t seen it before and it was filmed in Martha’s Vineyard where we went on holiday last year so it was nice to recognise places. I learnt that if you stick your feet out of the car window at the drive in on a hot summers night you will wake up with over 40 mosquito bites covering both feet.

The next day I had a mooch round a nice garden center with my friend and then Kim and I went round to their house after she was done with work for fondue and Harry Potter Clue (that’s Cluedo for all the Brits).

On Memorial Day we headed down to Main Street in Coventry for the Memorial Day Parade, we sat outside the library. Kudos to the library worker who came up with the imaginative tag for the sign “we have books”… well no shit.

We camped out with our fold out chairs and chatted to the people either side of us and then the parade started.

They had veterans marching and soldiers on active duty and everyone applauded them which I thought was quite sweet. Miss Connecticut waved to us from atop a convertible.

All the scouts and the girl scouts went by – in America they don’t have girl guides or brownies. Girl scouts sell cookies and boy scouts sell popcorn for fundraisers, I think the girls must try harder than the boys because so far I’ve only ever seen the cookies.

We saw the Knights of Columbus a Catholic masonic-like organisation… they haven’t been knighted but they sure do like a fluffy hat and cape combo. My father in law is a member of the Knights of Columbus but he doesn’t have the hat yet, he said he has to get promoted one more time to get it, I got the impression he wasn’t that stoked to get the hat and cape but I think it could help him make dramatic exits from a room. My mother in law works for the Knights of Columbus insurance company but she isn’t allowed to be a member because she is a woman.

The parade went on and there was lots of horses and monster trucks and then as soon as it had started it was done again.

Then we took a leisurely stroll up Main Street to the car, I clocked this little beauty…

God bless ‘Murica.

After that we did a spot a shopping and caught up with the important news of day.

Annoyed the kitties.

Then we visited the in laws for a barbecue and my father in law and I scored a grand victory at Trivial Pursuits.

Royal Wedding

Kim is a big fan of the royal family so after a bit of a heavy one the previous night with a colleague I found myself getting up at 6am with her to watch the nuptials.

Then we continued the royal theme with afternoon tea at Mrs Bridges Pantry – a British themed tea room about 45 minutes away.

Mrs Bridges Pantry is tiny so you have book tables. I heard a couple of English accents there but it was mostly Americans. One group of American women had dressed up and wore fancy hats.

They had a set menu to celebrate that started with curried zucchini (courgette) soup, I thought this sounded a bit weird but it was delish.

And then all sorts of little bites.

After that we browsed some shops on the way home including Family Dollar which is a bit like a weirder version of Pound Land only everything has different prices. I was tempted by such goods as Primates of the Caribbean.

A cushion to annoy the wife with.

And home drug tests for pot. All necessary stuff.

I’ve been trying out some different gyms the past couple of weeks.

One that has the slogan ‘Fitness for the human race’… I mean what else would want to use the gym if not humans? Also, nothing that isn’t human would be able to read the sign anyway so it’s obsolete, if any horses come in to use the treadmill they’d still need to be redirected. Did human resources just used to be called ‘resources’ until a gorilla applied for a job so they changed it? More research needed.

Cornwall Part 3

The day before our last day in Cornwall Bronte, Chris, Kim and I went to the Eden Project (the others fancied a cider farm and walking).

The Eden Project is a large botanical garden with outside plants and then two biomes, one which creates a rainforest environment and one which creates a Mediterranean environment.

The tickets were about £30 which is pricey but you can visit as many times as you like for a year and walking around you could tell it must cost a lot for the upkeep. Everything was geared towards conservation and sustainability.

We had a nice morning ambling about the plants and reading the plaques. The Mediterranean Biome was a pleasant temperature and they hold weddings in there.

 The Rainforest Biome was boiling hot.

It had a waterfall and huge water feature which made it humid as hell, it had it’s own cold room you could rest in part way round. I think in the summer when there are a lot of visitors it must be horrible to queue in that heat.

Roul roul partridges live in the Rainforest Biome as well as lizards.

Once we were done and had had coffee and cake (vital part of all trips out) we took a ride back up to gift shop up a ridge in a tractor and we could see all of the gardens from above, it was built in an old mine.

After that we met Mum, her boyfriend Kerry, Charles and Ellen back at Crantock and took a trip down to the beach.

I made a highly artistic sand sculpture as I’m not much of a sunbather.

Then we looked round the caves and rock pools the others had found a few days before.

One of the caves had carvings in them, they had been head height but over time the sand had eroded away which made them look a lot higher up.

Charles and Chris headed up a sadly unsuccessful crabbing expedition which mainly involved them throwing bits of bacon in the water and poking rocks with a hot pink fishing net.

And then we walked back up the beach which took ages because it was a very large beach. We were lucky with the weather whilst we visited but the sea was freezing.

The next day we left Cornwall and drove back to Wiltshire.

We stopped off in Devon.

For a good old cream tea (for any American readers a cream tea is a pot of tea that comes with scones, clotted cream and jam – not tea with cream in it).

Once back in Devizes, Bronte showed Kim and I the miracle that is Derek’s Deals. Derek is the manager of a Spar shop who seems to have a lot of time on his hands and has become a cult figure in Devizes. Every week he releases a new youtube video every week detailing his savings often with a current affair theme. The video the week we went had Kim Jong Un in it.

Then we visited the white horse carved into the hill near my Mum’s house and petted the cows.

Mum drove Kim and I to Heathrow the next day, Harrods and a lot of the other shops were cashing in on the latest royal wedding. We picked up Kim’s Auntie Debbie a themed tea towel.

Our flight back was a day time flight this time and it was lovely, we had a nice lunch.

And watched some movies, although I was distracted half the flight wondering what the hell this man’s belt was supposed to be made of and why he thought that gold, silver and orange was a winning combination.

Then we had a little snackette before landing.

I had to have my photo taken a billion times re-entering the USA and made a game of it by pulling stupid faces until a security guard told me to stop smiling. Spoilsport. And that was our trip to England.

Cornwall Part 2

Our second day in Cornwall we went to St Michaels Mount which is a tidal island with a castle.

When the tide is out you can walk to it from the mainland across a cobbled pathway, when the tide is back in you have to sail there or get a bit wet.

It was very pretty to look round, the style of the old fashioned buildings had been preserved, there was a free tour and a couple places to buy snacks and ice creams.

A few people still live on the island that work on the island for the National Trust as well as Lord and Lady St Levan who live in the castle.

A movie was filmed here a long time ago and they painted a mural on the side of a cottage of St Michaels Mount, they were going to paint over it once filming was done but everyone liked it so they decided to keep it.

We paid for a ticket to see the castle, you had to climb a steep cobbled hill to get up to see it.

But the view was worth it.

There was a church at the top and quite a few stately looking rooms with the usual castley type things like weapons etc. There was a picture of the Queen up there showing her visit a few years before.

I was wondering how the hell the Queen and Prince Philip made it up the steep hill but I asked a staff member and they said they were driven most of the way in a golf buggy and then the back entrance to the castle has a lift – cheaters.

So that was nice, we stopped for an ice cream and got fish and chips on the way home.

The next day Bronte, Chris, Kim and I went to St Ives (the others had a beach day) for an explore. We found an arcade and were wowed by Chris’ shooting skills… I wouldn’t want to be a pest on his farm!

We introduced Bronte and Chris to pacman smash air hockey where 20 little pucks come out at random intervals confusing the hell out of everyone.

Bronte won some key rings which she broke 5 minutes later and Kim and Chris showed off their dance skills on dance dance revolution (Chris wasn’t as good at dancing as he was shooting).

We walked around St Ives harbour and browsed the shops.

Then had a coffee served by an over enthusiastic waiter who was so friendly I thought he was going to sit down with us and drink our coffee for us.

That evening Kim and I met up with my lovely friend Amy who is working as a doctor in Truro.

We hadn’t seen each other in years so we got to catch up over pizza, we shared a dessert pizza too which I hadn’t had before (thin crust is the best).

Cornwall Part 1

We visited Cornwall after stopping off briefly in Wiltshire, the first stop was in Padstow.

It was imperative to fit in quick pasty stop, there is no pasty like a Cornish pasty.

We used to have summer holidays in Padstow when I was a child so parts of it seemed familiar and parts of it I couldn’t remember at all. Kim had started the Cornwall questions – “Is this where Cornish Hens are from?” she asked looking round as if expecting to see one…. “Err…probably?”

It definitely felt bigger, we found the old house we used to stay in on our holidays ‘Mermaid Cottage’ although it had been repainted a different colour since the times we used to stay there.

After a mooch around Padstow we left to go to Crantock where the Airbnb we’d rented was. I hadn’t tried Airbnb before but it was really simple and because it was split between 8 of us it worked out to be cheap. The house we stayed at was new and the owners lived in an apartment to the side of it so we saw them briefly a few times, they’d left us some homemade scones which were very nice. One of my colleagues and I at work in Connecticut have a long standing debate over the definitions of scones, biscuits and cookies. What she calls biscuits I call dodgy looking scones, she thinks scones are triangular, she thinks what I call biscuits are cookies… and I think she’s wrong on all accounts.

So we had a snoop round and dumped our luggage.

My sister Bronte had organised a grocery delivery so we put all of that away.

There was a lovely garden with lots of seating and a fire pit.

Then we walked down to Crantock Beach which was massive but very lovely. We didn’t realise quite how fast the tide was coming in though so Kim, Charles, Ellen and I had to outrun the tide for a good few minutes while Bronte and Chris succumbed and just let it take them.

Bronte’s boyfriend Chris expertly grilled on the barbecue.

 And then we played my brother Charles’ cards against humanity which was very funny.

From Boston To London

We returned home from England Monday and I’ve been getting over a grotty cold ever since. I took my car Ruby to get an oil change this morning and noticed the mechanic had ‘You’ll never walk alone’ tattooed on his arm (from Liverpool Football Club) and it reminded me I hadn’t done my blog! We flew from Boston Airport, kindly Kim’s parents gave us a ride to the airport.

Logan Airport shops aren’t really as good as London airports, I never realised how good our airports in England were compared to other countries (except Norwich Airport which was truly shit). We shuffled through security like cattle and then headed off to browse the few shops. I found another Jesus magazine, like last time, no one in the store found this amusing except me. This is how I looked when waiting to board:

I think because it was a night flight the wait felt super long. Although we saw a little mouse scurrying about in the seating area that amused us for quite some time. I resisted the urge to buy something to feed it with.

Eventually we were able to board, amazingly for once I did not get seated near any children, let alone screaming babies. I think they must reserve this special treatment for when I fly alone, perhaps Kim broke the curse.

We flew with British Airways and got some little wines to make spritzers.

I like aeroplane food, I got a chicken curry although precisely the time it was served we got a lot of turbulence so trying to eat was quite funny jostling all over the place.

Eventually after lots of bumping about and crappy sleep we arrived at Heathrow.

They’d re-vamped the airport since I was last there with some English themed decorations… some of the decorations I think would be misleading to foreigners…

Then we traveled to my Uncle’s house in Upminster. My Uncle lives part of the year in Cyprus and his house was empty so he kindly let us stay for a couple of days which was nice because we got to visit with my Great Auntie Lily who lives in Barking and see my Mum’s cousin Elaine who we are close to.

On the Tuesday we made our way back into central London on the underground.

And we went for lunch in the Walkie-Talkie building with my brother, his girlfriend and my Dad who we almost didn’t recognise because he’d grown a beard!

I didn’t even realise you could go in the walkie talkie building but it had a beautiful sky garden and viewing platform. I think we went on quite a good day because you could see pretty far.

So we had a nice long lunch and a good catch up.

Charles had sorted us out train tickets to go to Wiltshire but we had some time to kill so we walked along the river Thames (pronounced ‘tems’ not ‘thay-mes’).

Uncle Jim had left us some vouchers for London attractions so I think we paid about £3.50 to go to the Clink prison museum.

For £3.50 it wasn’t bad and we got a silly photo for free afterwards.