Monday, December 2, 2013

Bits and Bobs Part II

Thanksgiving came and went and it turned out wonderful instead of terrible like I imagined it would be this first year away from my family. My new friend Arianna and her husband Jeff hosted and did a great job making us feel welcome and preparing an amazing feast for us to enjoy. Despite the fact that Alex had to work the next day it was very enjoyable!
We enjoyed our trip to Norwich during which the skies always looked like this 

and found this cool antique and junk store that we need to go back and explore a bit more.
I did my first outdoor festival in Woodbridge and it went very well and didn't rain at all, quite the small miracle! I only took one picture of this beautiful dog that was shopping for cd's at the next stall.
I like my job and am working a couple of days a week. The other days of the week I will be getting the house ready for our next big visit: Mom and Dad!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bits and Bobs

We went to Spain last weekend on an important errand: Alex renewed his 30 year old drivers license so that he can exchange it for the UK one and avoid the drivers tests here. It was a whirlwind weekend, as a matter of fact it was so windy and rainy on Saturday we stayed home the entire day and were forced to eat lots of ham and delicious snacks.

Eric turned 15 and had a donut cake to celebrate.

I made a friend! yippee! Today we are heading out on a day trip to Cambridge and she has invited us over for Thanksgiving too,  I'm pretty happy about that.  I thought we might skip the holiday all together because (drumroll........) I got a job! I got a job and I'll be working next Thursday and won't be able to cook the turkey. 

Yes, I got a job and I'm ecstatic about it. I'm working part time in a sewing and alterations shop in downtown Bury about a 10 minute walk from my house, I started this week and so far I really enjoy it. Sylvia the owner is so nice and talented and the working environment is fun and relaxed. I had such a good time chatting about sewing and crafting and just being with the ladies who love to sew and oh, getting some work done too. 

We are spending the weekend in Woodbridge doing boaty things, but Sylvia told me about a fabric shop nearby so now that has been added to the weekend list of to-dos. Yes, things are looking up!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Renegade Re-Cap

Way back when Alex put the plans in motion to move to England by sailboat I put my full faith and support behind him. Not that I didn't complain and moan  about the cost and the amount of work it would take because I did complain. A lot sometimes. And at a certain point I said if I had to  get the house ready for sale plus  get it ready to be packed all by myself and then spend a week in Connecticut helping get the boat ready that he would owe me big time in the future.Yes I did say that,  and this weekend that debt came back to haunt him, in a big way because it was the Renegade Craft Fair in London  and I could not have done it without him. 
London sunrise

But Wow! What a weekend it was, full of the good, the bad and the exhausting parts of doing a big show in a big city on a busy weekend. I unfortunately don't have many pictures because I didn't take my camera (not another crumb would fit in the car, it was packed to the gills) and I didn't want to keep up with it all weekend so I had to use Eric's phone for any pics and he was, shall we say "unwilling" at certain times to cough up his camera. My sales were decent so that was good, but the expenses to spend a weekend in London are decent too so while I did profit from the weekend the main benefit was having the experience of doing a big show like this and testing the market in London. I thought that I could raise my prices a bit since the show was in London after all but  the truth is that everyday living expenses cost so much in London people have much less disposable income to spend, especially the younger people who attended the show.

Alex lends an engineers perspective
the crowds
The show itself was fantastic. There were lots of great vendors with interesting and trendy items for sale, you can see a little re-cap on the Renegade blog here. I had a chance to walk around a bit and was overwhelmed with all the choices and in the end just bought a few things from my neighbors since I was having a hard time deciding. It took place in "The Old Truman Brewery" which is in the East London neighborhood near Brick Lane, an amazing area! When we arrived and started to load our stuff up a dingy staircase in  what looked like a neglected building Alex commented he didn't know how anyone would find the show, but they found it! Despite the fact that there was only 1 banner at the entrance there was constant traffic both days and it was downright busy and congested most of the time. 

I didn't get out into the street during the day, but when I left at night I couldn't believe how busy the area was, no wonder it was so busy upstairs. Brick Lane is the "curry" capitol of London so every 2 steps you take someone asks you if you would like to eat in their restaurant because it is the best one! We ended up at a Mexican restaurant (go figure) because we have been craving it since we've been here in the UK and don't have a Mexican restaurant in Bury. It was good (different than what we are used to, of course!) and a fun place to eat.

We spent the night in a hotel a short distance from the show and the next morning while walking to the show I got to gawk a bit at the buildings and quirky funny little corners we passed by. We were treated to the sight of drunk party go-ers peeing in the streets on the way home from a night of drinking, nice. We turned the corner onto Brick Lane and stepped right into a street market that was setting up, how I wish I could have stayed and done some looking there. It was colorful and eclectic and went on forever, it seems on Sunday morning the whole area turns into an outdoor market. Someone had the the song "Kung Fu Fighting" blaring on their boom box, it set the perfect atmosphere! Also, the first floor of the Brewery is a food and vintage clothing market on Sunday mornings,  Eric got his lunch from  a food truck there, it was very tasty, the best Chinese we've had so far here.
After the show the load out is always the worst part. We  booked a parking space in someones driveway for the weekend since it was much cheaper than the hotel parking (which costs about $50 per day!) and it was only about 3 blocks from the Brewery so we ended up carrying all my set up to and from the space instead of trying to get our car in the tiny loading area of the Brewery. The blocks got a little longer with each trip, but we got it done and Alex got us out of the city without mis-hap. Driving in London is INSANE. We had to drive out of tiny streets that supposedly are 2 way, but since cars park on one side they are down to 1 tiny lane and you actually have to drive with one set of wheels on the sidewalk to avoid hitting the cars and then avoid all the pedestrians, who are drunk, or on their cell phones and expect you to avoid them and not the other way around. 

I had a great time a the show, my booth neighbors were fantastic (a young Scottish couple) and  I met some wonderful customers. The people watching at the show was AMAZING! Londoners have an incredible sense of personal style, everyone does their own thing and they don't care what they are "supposed" to be wearing, they just go for it, whether they want to wear a dinosaur suit (in the rain, no less)
dinosaur suits, not just for Halloween
 or high heel rainbow Converse with a Bavarian dirndl skirt. I really missed having my camera to document the great outfits, alas. Being in London was inspiring, I can't wait to go back and explore (I'll definitely take the train) and roam around the markets on my own. It'll happen soon I hope, and I'll have more pictures!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Half Term and Boat Work

Eric has been on "Half -Term Break" this week so Alex took a few days off from work too. The original plan was to have the boat hauled out to do a little work on her and then go for a short cruise on the river and perhaps into the next river to spend a day but the weather did not co-operate with the second part of the plan as we are having another system come through with heavy winds.

Wednesday was a beautiful day with sunshine ALL day long, which is rare. The yard hauled the boat out with the crane at 8:00 am and we had 24 hours to work on her before they put her back in the next morning.

 Alex serviced a seacock which had been giving him trouble for awhile and Eric and I did a quick paint job on the bottom. It was a very quick job because we ran out of paint before we finished, but we painted the worst spots with anti fouling paint to stave off the critters that like to cling to the boat bottom. Alex plans to haul out again after the winter so I'm afraid we'll have to do a better job again then.

With the boat work done but too much wind for a comfortable cruise on the river we went to plan B for the rest of the mini break which was to take a couple of little day trips to explore some areas near Woodbridge. 

The first was Southwold Pier. The pier has the usual shops, ice cream vendors and a traditional arcade, but also has the "Under the Pier" Arcade, and that was what we were there for.  It is a room full of handmade arcade attractions designed by Tim Hunkin, somewhat of a local celebrity best known for his TV series "The Secret Life of the Machine" which Alex and Eric love to watch. (The best attraction was "The Alien Probe" you can watch a video about it here. ) 

There is also a water clock in the middle of the pier that "performs" every half an hour. Every half an hour  when it "performs" the men drop their pants and pee into the toilet. No, we are not in Kansas anymore! 

After we  experienced the machines and had a few laughs, we went for a walk in Southwold which is a charming little seaside town with a beautiful church, a brewery and lots of posh restaurants and hotels. 

We walked past all those posh restaurants with people eating in the windows to the end of the High Street to the local chipper and had our lunch there. 

The next day after Alex did the requisite boat work (with minimal swearing this time, so all went well) we set out again to explore a retail spot I had heard about as a  possible  place to sell my merchandise called "Snape Maltings".   We were a little surprised when we got there and a little puzzled at first as to what exactly it was, but came to the conclusion that it is an old brewery that has been converted to shops and cottages on the Auld River.

 We looked around a bit at the gift shops to see if any may be suitable for my stuff then sat on a picnic bench on the river and had our sandwiches and decided to go for a walk on the footpath, always the best form of free entertainment! It was beautiful and the sun came out for the entire time we walked. 

Half term is over, Eric will go back to school and Alex back to work and I'm busy preparing for my London show next weekend! I'll report back after that.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Alex Gives a Talk and We Have a Hurricane

I've been informed that we are not technically having a hurricane, but today the Southern and Midland regions of England are experiencing hurricane force winds, something that I thought I left behind in Georgia. So far for us though here in Suffolk it has not been so bad. We have not lost power and although the wind gusts have come and gone and been pretty strong things in Bury St. Edmunds are just fine. I still get amazed at how quickly the weather changes here and they are predicting the storm to move across the country and be in the Netherlands by early evening.

Sunday Alex gave a talk to the sailing club about his trip across the Atlantic, he did a great job! The audience was very appreciative and asked many questions. He was well prepared with a power point and plenty of notes but gave a very natural delivery and got a big round of applause at the end and of course a free pint. 

We are really enjoying getting to know everyone in the club, they are the friendliest group of people I have ever met and without exception have lived very interesting lives. Many of them have lived on multiple continents, have children spread out throughout the world and travel extensively.   They also host many different types of social events to spark the interest of everyone in the club from country walks (usually having a pub as the final destination), quiz nights, dinner parties, craft clubs and of course cruising events on the river. The club even has a bar, what more can you ask???

Eric entertained himself and the locals with his remote control toys and we watched cute kids feed the swans. It was a good day.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Weather and Laundry Report

I was chatting with some locals yesterday and they assured me that no matter how many years I live in  England I will never figure out the weather. Their advice was to not even try but just  know that  always having something to talk about with strangers at shops  can be a good thing. I enjoy British humor.

Today is a perfect case in point. Here's the weather and laundry report for Sunday October 19th:

8:00   a.m. Bright sunshine, yeah! I think it is a good day to do laundry and hang the clothes out on the clothesline
10:00 a.m. Cloudy. First load of laundry is almost done washing
10:30 a.m. Quite heavy rain. I put the clothes in the dryer and give up on the clothesline
11:30 a.m. The sun comes back out! Time to do another load of laundry
12:00 p.m. Beautiful sunshine streams back through the windows, laundry almost done so I can hang this one outside maybe
12:30 p.m. Still sunshining and quite windy so I go for it and hang the laundry outside and then  go for a walk

2:30  p.m.  Complete cloud cover again and looking like rain so I take down the clothes and put them in the dryer to finish drying.
3:00  p.m. Rain

So that is where we are right now,  3:00 and rain but I fully expect it will change a couple more times before the day is over. And I am enjoying chatting about it so I guess the locals were right!

Friday, October 11, 2013

2 Months

I looked at he calendar today and realized it has been 2 months since Eric and I arrived in the UK. 2 months, really? Is that all? It feels like so much longer! There must be some phenomenon to describe the sensation that even though the weeks fly by quickly that when looking back in time 2 months feels more like 6 months. 

I've been a little impatient to get completely adjusted, make lots of new friends and get my business up and running but today when I realized it has only been 2 months I relaxed a little. I confidently told my friends in the US before leaving for the UK that I knew it realistically takes 5 years to make a new place really your home, and now that I know  we are only 1/30th of the way through that process it feels like things are progressing just fine. There are lots of things to like about living here in Bury St. Edmunds such as the great pubs, the beautiful town itself and the fact that I don't need to a car to get anywhere in town. I love walking everywhere and I can already feel it has made me healthier.  Alex also has a much shorter commute which has made a big difference for him. These are big quality of life things and make it totally worthwhile.

Of course though, there always is the temptation to think about the things we miss in the US and Eric told me his list this morning: Chick fil A, good ice cream, swimming in the lake in the summer and 7% sales tax.

My list: dinners at my mom and dad's, Jordi, hanging out with my friends at the lake, my big sewing room, good chinese food, and reasonably priced restaurant food in general, I've been cooking a lot more these days.

It's good to keep a little list every now and then of the good and the bad, what we miss and what we appreciate to keep things in perspective. Sometimes there is just so much darn paperwork and logistical issues to figure out that it is easy to get bogged down. So I think tonight we'll walk on over to the pub, have a pint and some chips and celebrate 2 months of adjustment!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Morning Light

I love getting up early and having a bit of time to myself before anyone else is awake, especially when we spend the night on the boat because the morning light is so beautiful. We spent the night out this weekend on a mooring ball near The Ramsholt Arms and the sunrise was spectacular. 

Alex got a bit of sailing done, that made him happy. Eva and her foreign student spent the night with us, I'm pretty sure he had a good time. Alex let him drive the boat for a bit and they rowed to the pub for a drink and a snack.

Most people we've talked to take their boats out of the water for the winter season but the weather has been so fantastic I guess they are waiting until the last minute because the moorings are still mostly occupied with boats.
I'm still entertained by photographing all the varied and cute little boats that populate the river.

In the afternoon we took a walk along the river in the opposite direction that we normally go and saw where it ends. There are lots of interesting barges and weird boats to look at, most of them occupied by live aboard couples. 

Except this one I'm pretty sure.