Friday, January 28, 2011

Party of Five

It's cold, the days are short and we get precipitation on a regular basis, but that didn't stop us from making our first excursion to see some of the local history.  The girls didn't have school on Friday, so we hightailed it to Windsor for the day.

When I say hightailed it, that involved three train changes in order to avoid driving our own automobile.  We boarded the local commuter train here in Walton-on-Thames, got off one stop later at Weybridge, then changed trains once more to get us to Windsor.  The train spits you out right there adjacent to the castle.  You merely walk out the door and follow the wall up the sidewalk to the entrance.  

We had someone new join our little family outing today - Flat Stanley.  Jason's brother Shane has a son, Chance, that is Callie's age.  Most American parents are familiar with Stanley.  Both of our girls did the Stanley project in first grade.  We sent Stanley #1 off to friends in San Francisco.  Stanley #2 went to New York City with my husband.  So we set off with Stanley in the husband's backpack - that man does like a good traveling bag.  He would definitely be a handbag whore if he had been born a woman.

We trotted around town to see the sights - lots of great shops along cobbled streets that were pedestrian only.  The converted Victorian train station was fabulous.  Don't ask about lunch and why we ended up at McDonald's - long story. Good old Flat Stanley would be taken out and held up at various points along the way for photo opps.  Some folks giggled and seemed to think it quite funny what we were doing, so they obviously weren't Americans.  

Flat Stanley was mailed back to Texas on Monday.  We hope Stanley earns an A for his hop across the pond.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Somebody Turn on the Lights

Gosh, I never realized the UK was so frickin' close to the Arctic Circle!  The "Twilight" series should have been set here instead of the Pacific Northwest.  Vampires would feel right at home with these overcast and short days.   

With my poor night vision thanks to the fact that I have astigmatism and can't read the big E on the eye chart, it's a real challenge to drive in the dark.  And good grief, it's only what I think qualifies as daylight for about 7ish hours.  Last week I had to make my first run to the school in order to pick up the younger one from her first girl scout meeting.  It was scheduled to end at 4:45, but that's dark thirty around here.  Therefore, me and my impaired vision leave the house at 3:50 in order to get to campus while there is still some light with which to see those evil autos that like to park with two wheels up on the sidewalks of the narrow side streets.  Honest to God, it's legal over here... but that's a whole 'nother rant.

I guess the locals are conditioned to living under these conditions, but it's a big old stressor for someone who landed here from central/south Texas just a few weeks ago.  Daylight savings time better be just around the corner so I don't have to purchase a sun lamp or order vitamin D in bulk, because I'm one mean mama without my daily dose of sunlight.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's a Jungle Over Here

Cue the Tarzan yell.  I always loved watching "The Carol Burnett Show" because she did such a great imitation when the audience requested it.  I really feel like that yell would be most appropriate here in our new surroundings in the 'burbs of London.  Who knew?

The local bird population is quite vocal, though well camouflaged in the greenery.  There is a beautiful, red-headed woodpecker that seems as big as an eagle.  It's been busy in the trees surrounding our house, making the familiar rat-tat-tat.  The magpies are quite distinctive, though I'm probably the only person who finds them so attractive.  The ravens are like grackles on steroids.  They peer at me with their jet black eyes as if they can read my mind.  Maybe they were the inspiration for Hitchcock's classic.

Deer!  Honestly, I thought we had happily put thousands of miles between our SUV and these four-legged nuisances when we moved.  In Texas, I always lived in fear of some whitetail or axis hopping out in front of me on the road.  Most folks in the hill country have their own personal stories of hitting one.  I've had some near misses and hated driving at night thinking I wouldn't be able to avoid one.  So what do I see on our second day here in the new house - a fallow deer.  I just hope the local Bambi population can run fast and is wary of autos.

The most interesting resident of our new neighborhood is a pair of red foxes we've seen in the backyard several times.  The first night we heard some barking and yipping, assuming it was a neighbor's dog out in their backyard.  The motion-activated lights turned on later that evening when we were upstairs and I looked out the master bedroom window to see a pair of foxes skittering around the backyard.  Since then, we've seen them several times.  We were sitting at the dining table, which has a clear view out the set of french doors leading from the family room to the back patio, when the motion lights came on a few nights ago.  The little fox nosing around the patio looked up to spy us right inside the house, and then went back to his business with no great concern regarding our presence.  I wonder if they help control the local cat population?  

My least favorite animal tale thus far - the night when the foxes obviously caught some small animal and you could hear its pitiful cries/shrieks.  It was a most unnerving sound, but I guess they have to eat, too.  I, for one, don't want to find them nosing through my garbage in search of a meal, so I guess I'll have to suffer through them dining on the occasional squirrel or other hapless rodent.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Fraser's Have Landed

What a crazy and interesting week we have had! I have lots of things to write on this blog. Alas, I only have access to the Internet via our ipad and it's quite tedious to type on this thing. Hopefully the wifi will be up and running about the time our air shipment arrives next week. In the olden days you would bemoan the fact that the slugs over at the phone company hadn't run out fast enough to hook you up to the local party line. Now we're bouncing signals around the globe using satellites in space and it's still not sufficient to suit my spoiled American self.

So where am I headed today? It's down to the post office for me to purchase the means to send the most antiquated method of correspondence... some stamps!