Archive | February, 2008

The Hoooooome Counties

20 Feb

Bodiam was great- a little on the smallish side but really cool and we took loads of pictures. It was about 45 minutes away 🙂 . Mia did a “Princess dress up” at the castle which was really cute, until the little boys started “slaying” the strangers….

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First week as Katie Poppin’s

16 Feb

Hey all!

Leaving Seattle with a huge steak and potatoes in my belly was the best way to go. I was finally getting to go to England after YEARS (!!!!!!!) of hearing about it and wanting to go. Interestingly enough on my way to the airport I had this cabbie talking my ear off about the new air-rail driving the cab companies out of business… interesting… and then they’re was the presidential primary discussion- GO OBAMA!!!!!!!!! What a way to leave America, getting told who and what I should be voting for my someone I could barely understand, I love America.

The flight plan was : Seattle to Atlanta to Chicago to Dublin to Gatwick

Not too bad, but in reality I could have gone without the 11 senseless hours spent in the Chicago O’ Hare airport…. COMPLETELY my own fault- but I did find a nice bench to fall asleep on and then looped all of my luggage straps together so no one could take off with them. Hoping across the pond wasn’t that bad of a trip, the airplane was near empty and I got an entire 2 seats to myself- so plenty of room to stretch out and fall asleep.

So after a total of 36 hours of traveling (house to house), that in reality should have been 25, I finally got to Gatwick. Cruised through Customs and met Jane, the wife, and her son Sam. We finally got home after 45 minutes of near death experiences can only happen when you drive on the other side of the road in London traffic, and p.s.- people here DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT know how to drive, it feels like everything is at least 10 to 20 more miles per hour and a 1/4th of the road is missing. Once we got to the country side it was a bit better, but I’ll let you know I was going completely mental… being on a different side of the car is comparable to being in Australia( a place I haven’t been to yet- and am speaking completely from second hand experience) and seeing the toilet water go down in a different direction for the first time, you think it won’t be a big deal but until you experience it first hand you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into.

Well we made into the country in one piece and its GORGEOUS! Absolutely beautiful! Lovely rolling hills, lots of sheep, lots of very narrow whining roads. Sorry if i keep bring up the driving aspect of this country but for the first few days that’s all I could think about. So back to the beautiful countryside, all of the land is in these different shades of green bordered in either brown or green, and stone fences everywhere. Lots of ancient churches and village halls. The villages in general are completely ancient! Its mad! I’ve never seen things so old in my entire life considering the last village I went to was a Value Village 3 years ago in college to get a Halloween costume. Its fantastic! Oh! and there’s a pub LITERALLY every 2-3 miles and they’re not your average cheap dive bar… well some probably are but they’re in these old cottages or large stone buildings… its great! And funny enough they’re is usually NO PARKING. So on some roads the cars just completely block traffic. But sadly enough its been a week and I STILL haven’t made it out to one. So that’s my goals this week- hit one of the local pubs.

I did achieve quite a bit in my first few days… set up my National Insurance interview, got a bank account, when to the grocery store- which FYI you have to put a pound coin into the carts to get them and once they are returned you get it back…., changed the rest of my money (got a little depressed then, and the bought a little bar of galaxy 🙂 so I felt better.

The food have been great! I’ve had cornish rolls, a real english breakfast (which I still prefer my mums but this was lovely), tommorrow I’m trying blood pudding and determine to not think about what it really is. I think my onl complaint is that people drink instant coffee instead of freshly ground- but thats small potatoes. Everyone has been pretty nice, they defanitely keep to themselves a bit more than most america’s. Example, I was in the way at the grocery store and some 40 something mum pushing me over with her cart rather than asking me to move… oh and if you smile and anyone they get the weirdest look on they’re face like they have a boogar hanging off of it. But its not so bad they really are nice and extremely patient- you should have seen me counting coins ot buy the papers…. omg that was a trip!

The fashion is obviously different- I’m defanitely the brightest one in the south-east apart from the ravers that wear day glo everything. My new favorite stores are Monsoon, and the Office. The Office is like having the best of the Nordstroms half yearly sale available to you all year round. Its Heaven.

As far as the jet lag goes they’re really wasn’t any- I jumped right into work on Monday, slept in a little on Tuesday and that’s been it really. I think I’m just perpetually tired, the weather is just like Western Washington’s so I feel very much at home.

Tuesday was the big driving lesson/I’m just going to give you the keys and you take Sam (their 16 yr old son how doesn’t know how to drive a car) and try and make it to Hartfield (15 minutes away) and back…

First off the car I’ll be driving is a brand spank’n new VW Golf (pressure to not wreck it was immense), then its a manual…, thirdly I haven’t driven regularly in 3 months so the odds were stacked against me BUT seeing as I only got it stuck in the mud on their massive hill of a driveway once, drove over these (STUPID!!!!!) rocks… seriously they’re pointy and on the very edge of the gravel driveway… and the drive way it very narrow…. then I stalled at an intersection while I contemplated how I was going to turn and make sure I turned on to the right (or rather left) side of the road. But once we got to Hartfield I jumped out put my head between my legs, had a quick breather and on I went- and progressively I’ve gotten better with every day. While we’re on the subject of driving…. ROUND-A-BOUTS! If you think that one on Bainbridge Island is ridiculous, good gravy you should see how many there are here and where they are… I mean goodness! I have 3 just on the 20 minute drive to school, one at in the town center which is half on a hill half off….which leads in to another… its funny now- not so funny 3 days ago. But everything is cake right now- I’ve gotten in to a bit of a routine… still couldn’t tell you the directions to half of the places I’ve got to go. The the South-East of England just had massive flooding in the area and the regular roads we would normally take were flooded out so everything has been a bit topsy-turvey.

I finally got out hiking yesterday- however its nothing compared to the stuff in Washington but its a lot of fun none- the-less. And there is loads of mud… oh my god the mud. But I’m planning on getting out every day this week, rain or shine so hopefully I’ll have more pictures. Its a little scary sometimes with the HRM Army doing drills near by and you can hear the gun fire VERY CLEARLY… I half expected a mortar shell to come flying out at me. Oh and p.s.- Prince Harry does his drills down here as well…. oh la la

So my second day on the job I did achieve something spectacular- got the wee one a bath, tea (dinner), but then there was a hissy fit that turned in to a bed time story that turned it to a screaming fit and her yelling and while sobbing hysterically. But I just let her scream- an extremely hard thing for anyone to do – then she finally yelled I never want you to put me to bed again – and then she was silent…. so I checked to see if she was dead and she was ALIVE- but completely knackered. So I watched “So you think you can dance” with my boss and then off I went to bed.

As I get more and more comfortable I’ve begun to make plans and try to get involved in activities that will get me out meeting people. Jane has found a lacrosse team fro me and I have lacrosse practice on Wednesday’s at East Grinstead (about 30 minutes away). This weekend I’m going to my Uncle’s in Lowestoft, which is about 3 hours northeast. Then Feb 6 or 7th there is a Girls Surf Club Mtg in Brighton I’m going to … so I’m pretty excited about that. Then go up to Glasgow to see a friend, and hopefully be able to understand what they say… if you never met someone from Glasgow they have this INCREDIBLY thick accent…. you have to be nearly bilingual to understand them. For example, we say “how are you?” they say “haaaaaaaaar arrrrrrrrruuuuuuuuuu’s” and that’s the easy stuff! But I should be up their for a weekend in late February, then back in June for a week long road trip through Scotland which I’m soooooo excited about!!!! Then St Patty’s day will be in Dublin of course! I need to get up to Scarboruough to see my Aunt and her family, and then over to Leeds to see all my friends from Mackinac Island. So its going to be a full dance card pretty soon.
Okay so its almost 2:30 in the AM here and I need to be up in 4 hours. I’ll try and have some interesting stories, work on my grammar because I know its awful (:-) and a few more pictures next week.