Monday, September 30, 2013

Weekend Recap

We had a quick trip to Hastings again this weekend to visit Alex's sister Eva and the girls. This time of year gets so busy and so we looked at the calendar and decided we better go now or else it could be several months before we make it back. (AKA: Alex wants to go sailing every weekend after that) We set out on Friday evening after work with plans to get to Hastings around 7:30 or 8:00 just in time for a beer or two and some chit chat, but traffic had a different plan for us. About and hour into our trip, just as we were reaching the outskirts of London we saw the ominous traffic announcement:  M11 Closed. The main artery from the north was closed due to an overturned cooking oil trailer, go figure. We thought we might be able to get around it so we set the GPS to an alternate route, but so did everyone else who was being diverted off the highway during Friday evening traffic in a busy London suburb (it was a nightmare) so we finally gave up at a giant round about after we went around it once trying to figure out the route and as we went around again, we just took the exit towards back home. We zipped home and splurged on a Chinese meal in Bury. 
We got up the next morning and set out again with no problems and no spilled cooking oil on the highway. It was a good day and we just relaxed, took a little walk and had plenty of conversation. My sister in law hosts foreign exchange students, so there were 2 extra members of the family this time, the kids had a good time playing, I mean "hanging out".

 Alex and Eric got doughnuts

Matilda got a doll with her "next weeks pocket money" (a loan from Milena).

We headed back early on Sunday for grocery shopping and hair cuts and laundry and all the fun stuff.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Weekend Again

Another weekend has come and gone, it happens so fast doesn't it?
Alex had planned to participate in a cruising event for the sailing club on Saturday and Eric and I were to join him on  afterwards since the tide allowed him to leave at 2:30 on Friday and Eric would still be in school. It seemed like a good plan, but as it turned out we all had to be a little flexible.
I had an interview in Chelmsford on Friday morning to interview for  my National Insurance Number (the closest equivalent to a Social Security Number) which is about an hour away. We drove to the appointment, found our way with the GPS through endless round-abouts and made it on time. I completed the interview but it took a little longer than anticipated due to the fact that I am self employed and I had to present  proof that I am indeed self employed. The lady was very nice, but didn't seem too convinced that I would get the number, I'll find out in three weeks.

We rushed out of the office and headed home for Alex to drop me off so he could make it back to the boat in time to get out of the slip with the tide, but alas we didn't make it. He missed the chance to do the sail up and down the river with the club, but we decided to attend the Bar-B-Q anyways on Saturday night to hear all the stories of the day and we met some more very nice people. 

Sunday we attended the 25th anniversary of the building of the Woodbridge Sailing Club Clubhouse. The Commodore told a little history of how they purchased the land and the club members built the clubhouse themselves. The Commodores table was full of special guests: older members who were part of that original group of members the oldest being 93 years old who stood up and told a few stories, it was very entertaining! Honestly, everyone we have met in the club has been so warm and welcoming and has defied the British stereotype of being reserved and hard to get to know.  What a great group of people!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Azores

Alex described their stop in the Azores as a true highlight of the trip, it was everything and more that he had heard from sailors and read in sailing magazines
I found this description of the Horta marina on their website: 
Horta is a small town, filled with sailor spirit and sea legends. Our marina walls haven’t got empty spaces, being filled with paintings made by yachtsmen in order to have good luck on their sea travels. Tradition has made Horta’s marina an open air gallery. Horta means also the mythical Peter CafĂ© Sport, which is more than a silor’s bar: it is a post office, an exchange currency spot, a scrimshaw museum and, most of all, open arms and a restful happy in your journey. The whole town of Horta vibrates with and for the adventurous yachtsman. 
Before we left Connecticut I was sent on an errand to buy paint for the traditional painting on the sea wall and thanks to Alan and Bob for getting some great pictures of the result.
Alex dedicated the picture to his Dad Juan Miguel, who is always sailing with him in spirit.

Monday, September 16, 2013


It was a  weekend full of information and learning. I had my first selling experience here in Bury and it was very interesting.  I told myself going into it that if I made back my selling fee than it would be a success, and since I almost did that, I'm going to call it a success anyways, just to keep on the bright side.

I did have great neighbors and spent the day chatting and learning about everything from good shows, what are the best sausages to buy and when to buy maple syrup in England: on Shrove Tuesday in early February when anything and everything related to pancakes is half price. That information alone was worth the price of admission! So it was a good day and I'll do it again as soon as I can.

After the show we wandered around Bury for a bit and saw that there was a parade route marked off on  a main street so I looked it up on the internet when we got home and saw that September 15 is the commemoration of the Battle of Britain and that there was a parade going on the next day.  Sunday we packed our umbrellas and went downtown to see the parade, it was possibly the shortest parade I've ever been to, but still fun. Just some town elders, a guy in a fancy red coat and two units marching to fife and drum. I do love parades and was happy to see the American flag flying. 

After that we ventured into the grocery section at Marks and Spencer to try and find dill pickles. No luck, we'll keep trying, we have a couple more grocery stores to explore.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Back Into the Routine

This week has been quiet and uneventful, just another week of work and school. Alex's big project is done so he has been getting home a little earlier, Eric is adjusting to school and I've been sewing up a storm in preparation for this weekend where I'll be selling my things at a table during the weekend Market in Bury St. Edmunds. It's a pretty small venue and I'm not sure what to expect, but just want to get a little feedback from lookers and hopefully customers on my products and prices. Instead of loading up the truck with my tent, tent weights, heavy metal grid display along with tables and banners and a zillion other things and then driving at least an hour to a weekend venue like I used to do in the States, Eric and I will carry 4 Ikea bags full of purses up to town and set up on the tables provided. If it works out to be profitable at all I think I will really like the ease of this new set up. I'll report back.

In the meantime I've been collecting pictures of some entertaining signs we've come across.

Monday, September 9, 2013

First Sail on the Deben River

We took the boat out on the river this weekend for the first time since arriving in August.  We left early Saturday morning and got to Woodbridge around 9:00, in time for Alex to do a little maintenance before taking the boat out at 2:00 at high tide.
 The Tidemill Yacht Marina is great! The facilities are wonderful, the price is right, the people are friendly and it is situated next to a charming town full of shops, markets and restaurants but it has one downside: you can only get in and out of the marina for about 2 hours a day since the river is very tidal. The marina has a sill which keeps the water deep enough for the boats but when the tide goes out you can't get over the sill, so you have to plan your arrival and departures to co-incide with the tides and so does everyone else who wants to get out on the river that day. It turns the marina into a hive of activity for 2 hours and the narrow channel into a highway of boats. 

Saturday was quite a windy day, but we got the boat out of the slip without any major incident which is no small feat since the area behind the boat is barely wider than 40 feet and got her out into the river. The channel is quite narrow so you have to follow the markers very carefully in order to stay in enough water. After that you have to dodge all the numerous boats on moorings, the dingy racing that is going on in and out of the channel and through the moorings and the other sailboats that are sailing towards you in the channel and have preference.  I didn't get any good pictures of this, but I'm going to try to get some next time out, it is impressive. Most of you who know me, know that this was probably just a little bit stressful for me! Alex decided on the first day out not to sail since it was quite windy (about 15 - 20 knots) and  did not want to risk running aground. I was fine with that decision.
out on the river
beautiful landscape
going home after the race
We motored down the river looking for an anchorage that Alex had heard about where we thought we could anchor for the night. We found it, it was full with dingys and there were lots of people swimming, these Brits are tough! I had on 2 sweaters, a hat and gloves and there were people swimming in the water! 
dingy party
The dingy group had left by the time we anchored for the night and after the wind dropped, it was quite a peaceful evening. 
sunset at "the rocks' we didn't actually see any rocks

our flag did attract a lot of attention
In the morning we saw more people swimming, they must have been training for something because they were swimming in large groups up the river with a dingy chaperone. We also saw a large group of people walking, probably bird watching along the footpath, about a dozen or so people riding horses and people searching for shark teeth on the shore. We made a quick trip to shore to check it out and then back to the boat since Alex wanted to sail. 
Nani gets her sails up

We sailed for about an hour and a half where the river opens up a bit and then turned around to make it back up the river to get over the sill at high tide. It definitely was easier the second time around navigating the buoys and the boats, so I'm sure it will become second nature eventually. There were lots of kids and teenagers out on the river in dingys in shorts an T-shirts even in the rain on Sunday, so I guess they start them young turning them into tough hardy sailors. 

The boats on the river are all so colorful and interesting and most of them are in really good condition.  The long dark winters must be a good time for boat maintenance! We saw so many interesting boats, the pictures don't really do justice. 
dog in a dingy
beautiful boat
rafting up Deben style 
We made it back into the slip without a scratch (Alex was very happy about this!) and just before leaving saw this gorgeous rainbow. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

First Day Report

It seems that the first day of school went well! The head teacher appointed a buddy for Eric for the first few weeks to help him get around and get used to the new system. His  name is Josh, and he is from Texas and has lived in the UK for about 3 years, Eric said he had a bit of a British accent but not much.  I didn't get a lot of information as I suspected I wouldn't, but when he came home he was relaxed and in good spirits, so I read between lines as a mother of a teenager often has to do. Most importantly, he did not get lost  and did not have to eat lunch by himself, so I would say that was a very successful first day in a new school in a new country!

He will be walking or riding his bike to school everyday and it is literally a walk in the park. I took a few pictures last week while on my way to pick more blackberries. It really is a pleasant walk with lots of people walking their dogs, pushing baby carriages and lots of bunnies frolicking on the grass.  Except on the days when it is raining, like today. It's a good thing I have a pile of rain ponchos to dole out as needed.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First Day of School

Today is the first day of school for Eric here at the County Upper School of Bury St. Edmunds. He was nervous, but handling it quite well. He would NOT let me take his picture in the school uniform, but let's just say he looks exactly like these kids from the school brochure. 

He also has a complete PE uniform which is also new to him, in Spring he will learn Archery and Cricket! 

I rode my bike to the corner  for moral support (I did not turn the corner so as not to embarrass him unintentionally!) and saw lots of other nervous looking kids walking and riding their bikes to school. I can't wait to hear about his day, (as much as he will tell me anyway being a 14 year old boy) and I'll update later with whatever he'll let me say on the blog, although it might not be much! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

More Trip Pictures

As promised, here is another batch of trip pictures not really in any special order or theme this time, just a glimpse at the daily life during the first half of the trip.