Thursday, September 30, 2010

Getting Into Hot Water

My greatest challenge here has been to understand the water heater.
1) There are several switches to turn it on: one for the unit and one for the unit that programmes it.
2) Whilst English is spoken here, it is entirely a different language from that which is spoken in the U.S. The term off-peak programming, would imply when you didn’t need the water heater to be working so hard.
3) There are day rates and night rates for electricity (and you get to shop for which electric supplier you want to use, even in an apartment building).
When I first moved in, I didn’t know the second switch was for turning on the water heater. I figured the thermostat did that and I had its lights all twinkly. 24 hours of traveling to get a cold shower. After looking it over and dinking around, I really fouled it up. This last weekend I was using the tea kettle to heat water so I could do dishes. And I was cooking so there were a lot of dishes. Then I was getting cold showers in the morning and lukewarm baths at night. I sought out and downloaded (thank God for the Internet!) the instructions for the thermostat. Off peak programming was for scheduling when you wanted the puppy to be cranking away and heating the water, at the cheap night rates, so you had a hot shower in the morning and a little boost (if you wanted it) for evening dishes and baths at night. I just did their magic RESET combination of buttons and all is right with the world.

Friday, September 24, 2010


One of the pleasures of working in the UK is that now I am considered one of the International Team. I call us the I-team. And one of the joys of being part of this team is the daily interaction with other I-Team members. Being a US based company, English is our communication language. However, because we are an International company, English isn't necessary the first language of my colleagues. I admire anyone that has the skillset to fluently speak a second language and listen in jaw-dropping awe to those who are multi-lingual.

My  funnybone was tickled today in the following exchange from a co-worker who has sought my help, but wasn't feeling well and had a good distance to travel to return home:

"Today I’ll leave at noon because I’m feeling very sick (influence) since yesterday and have to go to bed (after my 5 hrs ride to home).

Since 4 weeks it’s hunting me like a little dog, but yesterday suddenly it was a big Rottweiler with poison Teeth who bit me :-("

I sent him my ICKY TEA recipe in hopes of helping him.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Take The Moments As You Get Them

I was looking out of my window last night and saw a few dozen birds flying around. Up and down, around and around. I went out on the balcony. They were riding the air currents over and over and over again.

They were migrating swallows.

I watched them for about an hour. One landed on the balcony. Poor little guy got confused - glass on two sides. He could see the open space, but couldn't quite get up to it. Fortunately, I'd closed the patio door when I went out, so he didn't make it into the house.

He let me pick him up, give him a little nuzzle and raise my hands so he could rejoin his friends.

They were gone today. Passing on more joy somewhere else.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I haven't been sleeping well. Partly, I think due to not being on the go so much, which used to allow me to instantly fall asleep due to a daily dose of exhaustion and partly to the fact that I have a window in my room that is at the perfect angle to gauge the time of night and gain a weather report. I shut the curtains, which doesn't seal out light, but stopped the mental calculations of time and precipitation. I slept until 9:30am, which is unheard of for me. And the fact that on weekends, I can do that now, is a blessing!

I need to run an errands today. This will take make longer to get ready to go, than it will to go, do, and return. Such is the life of small town England.

And today I will do my first Hoover. One doesn't vacuum here, they hoover.

I will also read, again, how to do laundry. The single unit washer and dryer has me perplexed. I can get the clothes washed and then dried, but the 3+ hours it takes to do a load from start to finish is driving me nuts. Yes, it might only use a gallon of water, but I feel like I've drained Hoover dam or have a wind generator my name on it for the electricity it has taken to do the load.The problem is, the instructions for the machine are good and seem fairly automatic, but the "this may not be your model, seems to come in to play more than it actually telling me how to use this model.

My errands netted me the most PERFECT wicker valise for my travel brochures and maps. It was probably once a picnic basket of some sort. So quaint and so perfect for storing up info on all the places I want to visit whilst here in the UK.

The Pope is coming to visit the UK this week. I'll be in Scotland whilst he's in England and he'll be in Scotland after I return. There are all kinds of groups going to see him and the Church is making it very easy to do so. I would have loved to have participated in one of the pilgrimages. Sad face.

September 1

Yet another September 1 to add to my list of  September 1st adventures. Hello UK!

Well, Not Exactly

Here's an old entry that I never got posted.

Right now the most difficult thing about my move is pulling information together. Everything I need to gather in the U.S. is presumed to be "the way of the world". In my case it isn't so. I need to gather information in the manner in which the UK needs it. Nothing has been radically different, just a little different.

I've run into "that's government for you, I'll just do it this way, and you'll be fine." I'm not requesting admittance into a war torn, contentious country. It is a reasonable country with reasonable requests. If the picture size is in mm vs inches and the size is just a little different and the background requirements different, please don't tell me you're going to alter it and "just not tell me". Let me go find a place that can accomodate the difference. Which I did.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Rain Stories

I am now officially a UK resident. I have a lovely flat in a lovely burrough outside of London. Here is the first of many England rain stories I'm sure I'll get to share with you. Weather, specifically rain, is  a day long topic here.

Here's my first story:

I was walking home yesterday and I could hear the rain beginning to fall on the leaves above me. Before I even felt or saw the rain, I started hearing a popping sound. The sound was everyone opening their “brollies” (umbrellas). No one missed a step or paused even momentarily. They just "popped" and carried on.