Tuesday, April 27, 2010


ETA: Himself passed his practical test last week with two minor faults (a very good result, since you're allowed fifteen before you fail). I managed to pass this morning, also with two minor faults. When my examiner gave me my result, I laughed and told him I'd had a little internal competition going with my husband. When I said that Himself had also gotten two faults, the examiner said "Oh! Well if you'd told me that at the beginning I would have only given you one!" He was full of win.

And now it's done with. Hurrah!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Inappropriate clothing, cars, lilacs and WTF?

In other words, a random sampling of tidbits.

Tidbit the first: this weekend, the temps in London got up to 22 degrees C (a whopping 72F). This was apparently the signal that most of southwest London had been waiting for. In a climate that would have a number of Houstonians huddled in their parkas and wool sweaters, I was "treated" to the sight of more naked flesh then is really appropriate on my grocery run. OK, I realize it's been cold and raining for nigh on five months, but that does not make hot pants and bikini tops (thankfully not on the same person!) good ideas for a trip to Sainsbury's. Just sayin'.

Tidbit the second: my driving test is on Tuesday tomorrow (cue heart palpitations). Himself took his last week, and I'm sorry to say that my run of doing better then him in this arena is likely to be finished. You are allowed 15 minor faults on the practical test before you fail. He got two. Apparently (according to my absolutely lovely driving instructor) that's really, really, really good. So I'm bowing to the inevitable and just hoping at this point that I pass. The ALDI did give me the encouraging news* that 50-60% of people with driving experience pass on their first go. Excellent. Fantastic. Shit. So tomorrow at around lunchtime I'll either be greatly relieved or hiding under my bed.

Tidbit the third: for the first time in more then 15 years I am living somewhere with lilacs. I cannot begin to explain how happy this makes me. I have very fond memories of wallowing under the lilac bushes at my aunt's house in Somerville as a kid, and seeing those purple cones starting to flower makes me a wee bit giddy. The girls think I'm nuts, but they are infidels when it comes to lilacs. Heathens. They will be educated.

Tidbit the fourth: one of the questions I get quite a bit from people in the states is how's the food? And, for the most part, it's good. Especially in London, you can get just about any kind of food you want**, and pub food has moved towards hoity toity roast lamb with truffles kinds of things, at least at some places. But the one thing I cannot wrap my head around are the flavors the Brits chose to put on their potato chips (crisps). Last weekend at the store, I was so stunned by a display that I had to play photo documentarian (sorry for crappy phone pictures).

Bad crisps!

Bad crisps!

OK, cheese I get, Teriyaki Chicken is pretty much in line with usual choices, but Flame Grilled Steak from Argentina? I've now checked out the website, and the flavors available include: Welsh Rarebit, Argentinian Flame Grilled Steak, South African Sweet Chutney, Australian BBQ Kangaroo (???!!!!), Dutch Edam Cheese, English Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding, Scottish Haggis (oh barf), Irish Stew, Brazilian Salsa, American Cheeseburger (better then Apple Pie, I suppose), French Garlic Baguette, Italian Spaghetti Bolognese, German Bratwurst Sausage, Japanese Teriyaki Chicken and Spanish Chicken Paella.

I'm not sure what more I can say. I thought Prawn Cocktail crisps were bad, but these are beyond comprehension. Truly.

* The encouraging part being that only 10% of new drivers pass the first time.
** We have not yet found good mexican. I've been given assurances that it does exist, but we haven't found it yet.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


The girls have been on Easter/Spring holidays for the last two and a half weeks, and they don't go back to school for another week and a half. This has been death on my work schedule (what work?), but has been amazing in terms of spending time with them. We've had a bunch of expeditions: the first week we braved the rain and cold temperatures to go to a farm with friends T and M (4.5 yrs and 20 months respectively), who we met our first day here. The girls had great fun feeding the animals (sheep, goats, horses), ooohing and aaaahing at the baby lambs, and playing on the playground. We even managed to time it so we left just as the skies were opening up in a true downpour.

The following weekend was Easter weekend, and it was very busy. First up was the Easter Egg Hunt, 2010 version, with M and T again.

We kicked everyone out early so we could hop on the train and go to watch the Boat Race at Barnes Bridge. There were lots of people,

and tasty adult beverages.

I got all nostalgic about rowing,

while Devil decided she could do without the cheering,

and Boo sprawled full length in a mud puddle.

This past week, the weather has taken a turn for the absolutely divine, so we've been spending lots of time outside. We went to Leeds Castle (home of the famous albino peacock) again,

and spent another day at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens, a girl favorite.

To round off the week, yesterday we went to the Zoo in Battersea Park. We didn't do much of anything with the animals, but the playground was very popular. As was ice cream!

We've got one more full week of holiday left, and then a couple of days, and I'm beginning to think I'll actually make it through in one piece! Plans for the upcoming week include at least one more visit out of town if the weather stays good, and maybe some museums if it gets crappy goes back to normal. It's funny watching all the Brits come out from under cover, kind of like mushrooms popping up in the lawn, as soon as the sun comes out. And then I realize that we were all wearing shorts yesterday, so I guess we're in the same boat!