Friday, July 24, 2015

The End is Nigh

Yep, wer're about to be deprived of Tex-Mex, sweet tea and Texas temps with our move to England on Sunday. We closed on the sale of our house Wednesday, so it's time. Time to join the husband who has been in the UK for almost a month in his new gig. Time to contemplate setting up our new home. Time to enjoy milder temps. And time to be a little homesick once the new wears off. 

Catch up with y'all on the other side of the pond once we get wifi in the house in the first week of August.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Still Intrigued

The royals are such an interesting lot. Castles and estates, wealth and adoration. The history and pageantry can be awe-inspiring. But the thing that continues to pique my imagination is the contents of Queen Elizabeth's purse.

The carrying of handbags/purses is something obviously inculcated from birth, especially for the older generation. Purses, hats, gloves… all part of the era. While snooping through images of Lizzie through the years, I noticed her handbags have been pretty much the same old rather boring, rectangular shaped ones we see her carrying today. Maybe all of the old age pensioners carry this sort of bag because it's all they've ever known. I'll have to check it out once we move back to Surrey next month.

Black, white, silver, gold and cream are her preferred colors, with practical black being the obvious frontrunner for most occasions. But the burning question is what the heck does she carry around inside her rather staid handbag. Keys to Buckingham Palace? Pressed powder for her nose? Hand sanitizer to get rid of the commoner's germs? Kleenex to wipe the smeared lipstick off her front teeth? A toothpick in case she gets seeds or a bit of spinach stuck in her dental work? I'd just love to know what she keeps in there.

I had to chuckle at Prince George's christening picture because if you look down at the queen's feet, you'll spy her ever present black purse. Really? Why didn't the photographer just move it out of the shot. I say there, Camilla, just put this behind the couch for Lizzie, why don't you? Be a good chap, Harry, and toss granny's purse in that cabinet for a minute.

Eh, maybe the photographer was just lucky to get the old girl to take that highly practical black bag off her elbow where it typically rides, and have her put it on the floor.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Leased House (check)

We've got a house in the UK and we zeroed in on it our first day of hunting. We saw 10 houses on a Tuesday and knew this house was ours by Friday. We met the current tenant, a lovely lady from Australia that's relocating to Houston for her husband's job this summer. We told her they'll be all the rage in Texas with their lovely Oz accents.

This house is a bit bigger than we need, but at least we'll have plenty of room for guests. The location can't be beat - just down the street from the 9th grader's best friend and less than a 5 minute walk to the Walton-on-Thames high street. 

We've traded 1930s character and charm from our first expat gig house for something a bit more modern. Underfloor heating has replaced radiators that often went on the fritz. And we sincerely hope we won't suffer through any invasion by ants, wasps or even sweet little ladybugs with this new(er) home in the leafy suburbs of Surrey.

Now that school is out, I've been busy plotting furniture and decor. Nothing pricey, but merely more modern than our current rustic hill country chic. No taxidermied critters or nailhead trimmed leather sofas are crossing the pond. Fresh citron, yellow and serene blues are my new color palette for the kitchen, with nary a red rooster in sight.

Here are some pics of our new digs. I'm looking forward to getting everything on the freighter in a couple weeks so I can have it all set up before Momcation 2015-16 (the start of school) begins.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Hunting We Will Go

We've got plane tickets plus a car and hotel booked because we're headed to the London 'burbs on a house hunting trip in a few weeks. We've been snooping around at available houses on the net in our preferred neighborhoods, but who knows what we'll really find once we get there. Some of the listings have a pool, which seems to me to be a total waste since you might be able to swim in it without catching a case of pneumonia maybe one month out of the year. If it's in direct sunlight all day long. And they're having a heat wave in the British Isles.

The husband and I have booked a car so we can do a bit of looking on our own, but I must admit I'm a bit nervous about returning to life on the road over there. It's just so danged foreign, with the wheel on the *wrong* side of the car while you're forced to drive down the incorrect side of the road. 

And don't get me started on the roundabouts. Just stay left will be my mantra once again. I hope I'll be able to talk to passengers and even listen to the radio straight away. That was strictly forbidden when I first got behind the wheel on our previous expat stint. I smashed the side mirrors into a variety of things. And got honked at quite a bit for going too slow, not using my blinker on the traffic circles and driving in the bus lane. 

The good news - my UK driver's license is good for another six years and I have no points on my record. Plus I plan to purchase an SUV that doesn't rival a Sherman tank in size. Last time I was all cocky and got a model closer to the size of my then Yukon I was driving here in Texas. I confess - learned my lesson the hard way. So yeah, looking forward to house AND car shopping in the coming weeks. I'll keep count of how many Brits give me the finger as evidence of my less than stellar driving skills when we're over there for house hunting and report back to you.

Isn't that a great idea?

The girls have hatched this scheme. It includes input from the daughter that doesn't even live at home anymore because she's off at college. So anyhoo, the girls got this great idea that we need to get another dog once we move back to England.

They try to play it off like it's in the best interest of our current dog, Ollie, the blonde Cairn Terrier. He'll like a buddy. He probably wants another dog to play with him. They'll keep each other company when you're not at home. 

They've even gone so far as to pick a name for this dog they believe we need - Jaffa. For the non-Anglophiles out there in my vast audience on the blogosphere, Jaffa Cakes are a type of English biscuits (in American English speak, that's cookies). It's this not-so-tasty combo of orange and chocolate, which totally isn't my cup of tea. But the girls think it's the perfect name for our own future dark gray colored female Cairn. 

We all know what would happen in this little scenario. We'd visit the breeder and fall victim to puppy fever. Then I'd be the one stuck walking and feeding and house training the latest furry member of the family. And who knows how Ollie would feel about some other dog getting all of the attention. So yeah, I'm passing on the second dog idea right now. Let's get ourselves moved to the UK before we start piling more responsibilities on mom.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Totally Appreciated

The phrase is "killing them with kindness", but the PTO at my school is killing us with coronary heart disease and diabetes. Brownies, cookies, cakes, candies, sodas and cinnamon rolls swimming in frosting for breakfast, with more on tap for the next few days. It's a deliciously yummy list of treats they've plied us with this teacher appreciation week, and I have very little willpower when it comes to sugar.

I'm hoping they roll out something savory tomorrow so I won't be tempted. At this rate, I'll be wearing my stretchy waist exercise pants to school by Friday if I don't push away from the dessert laden table in the teacher's lounge. I'm loving the goodies, but can feel the fat cells multiplying with every bite I take. Somebody please put me in sugar time out or send me to detention in the gym where I'm forced to do a bit of cardio.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Back to Britain!

Who woulda thunk?! We're moving back to England this summer. Talk about a surprise. This is how it all went down. 

The day we returned to school and work after our great spring break trip to Italy, the husband found out there was a good chance he'd have the opportunity to move back to the London office as president of Europe. Lo and behold, that's exactly what happened. We've been sitting on this HUGE news for about six weeks.

As always, leaving family, friends and all things familiar will be bittersweet. It's England, so of course we're thrilled at the thought of living abroad and seeing lots more of the world while we're on that side of the pond. But I had landed my dream job for next year, teaching 6th gr history at the middle school. And the 8th grader made JV cheerleader. So yeah, it's hard to leave when you're really happy with where you're at and what you're doing. But the closing of this chapter means another door has been opened wide for us and we plan to take advantage of this second-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Needless to say, the travel bucket list will be getting some additions. It will be a fast and furious summer once school ends for me and the almost high schooler that first week of June. Mimi will be moving out of the MIL guesthouse to a new freestanding home we're purchasing for her, just six doors down from my sister and her family. Gotta keep that in-state residency in place for the coed at a major Texas college, as well as for the one we still have to launch to university in four years. 

Then the whole house has to be sorted - put on the ship to England, put into storage here in Texas or put into the dumpster. I do some of my best purging when the husband and daughters with their hoarding tendencies are otherwise occupied. This sorting also includes my classroom things. We're putting our house up for sale, getting rid of our vehicles, and figuring out how to get our British born Cairn terrier Ollie back to his homeland. 

Lord have mercy - makes me tired just thinking about everything that has to get done by the third week in July when me, the daughter and dog will board the big BA bird to hop the pond once again. It's exciting to contemplate, beginning with a house hunting trip to our old stomping grounds in Surrey later this month. This blog, which had been put on the back burner with my return to teaching a couple years ago, will once again be filled with expat antics. And I think that's kinda cool.