Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Cheese Rolling, 665.5 Miles and Montana

The last Bank Holiday of May plays host to the Cheese Rolling Festival. It's an event held outside Gloucester. The organisers roll a Gloucester cheese wheel down a very steep hill. In some places it's a 1:1 gradient. Then, the 'chasers' go running (read tumbling) down after it. First person to lay hands on it wins. Yep, nuts. It's an event that's been held for some 200 years. Why it was started? No idea. It's quite a dangerous event, and the paramedics are always inundated with injuries ranging from minor scratches and bruises to more serious sprains and broken bones. Yes, I'm probably insane for wanting to do this. But it sounded like fun, too. Christy and I had been talking about going to it for months. So we made plans to meet up in Gloucester. The weather, however, conspired against us. I got stuck in some torrential downpours that meant we didn't meet up on time, and by the time we arrived at the hill, it had finished. Very sad. But next year I'm totally doing it!

So, I ended up in Gloucestershire, the far side of England from where I live, with Christy and 3 of her friends from the States who are over visiting.

We went over to Bath and had a very fun afternoon. We went through the Roman Baths, which I'd never done before, funnily enough! And I've been to Bath 3 prior times. But something has always prevented me from visiting. I'd seen the main pool, which is still standing, but I'd never been through the museum and seen the ruins of the temple, etc. And of course the water from the spring is supposed to have all sorts of healing remedies. Unfortunately, they have to treat it, which I'm sure renders it the same as all city water. Oh well. Still a fun fountain!

So, I had a car full of people staying in York. It worked out to be much cheaper for me to drive them back to York, and them pay the petrol. So, I ended up driving from Colchester to Gloucester (182 miles), to Bath (35.5 miles), to York (235 miles), and back to Colchester (213 miles) = 665.5 Miles Round Trip. Got home at 5.00 am today. Christy offered to let me stay the night at hers, but I just decided I had too much to get done today, and I'd sleep better if I was in my own house. And I wouldn't be worried about messing up their plans with mine.

My Dad got a new job! In Montana. He found out about this job at the end of April. He flew to Montana on Monday, last week. Had his interview with them on Tuesday. Got offered the Job on Wednesday. Saw houses on Thursday. Bought a house on Friday. Flew back to Mississippi yesterday. Starts his new job on 16th of June. Pretty nuts!

Friday, 23 May 2008

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Endure to The End

After an entire week of having no kitchen, I'm nearing the finish line. In fact, I'm so close that unless you're really observant, you won't know what hasn't been done. Remember the door trauma? Well, they got all but 2 doors in on Friday. Those two were not in stock, and should be fitted Monday afternoon. Hooray! But, everything else is in and done, so I got to reload the kitchen. I actually have more room than I know what to do with (at the moment). It's great! All in all, it's beautiful:

So, that's what it looks like left to right. This is what it looks like if you stand at the sink and look back, or the door and look up:

Wednesday, 14 May 2008


Well, the damage is not too bad. The doors will all be replaced, eventually. I find out tomorrow when the warehouse will be able to deliver them. The problem turned out to be that the designer had not put the order in for the doors I wanted. He'd put it in for the colour, but not the style I requested. The regional manager said, 'If it's not what you wanted, it's not what you wanted. We'll get it right.' Yeay. The fitter said that if the doors cannot be delivered this week, he'll drill the holes for the handles on these ones, and I can go ahead and use the cupboards as normal. Then, when the new ones do arrive, he'll come back and swap them out. So, at least I'm not going to be stuck without a kitchen for longer! But hopefully the warehouse will be able to deliver them quickly, and we'll finish on time (ha ha ha. I'm not holding my breath). These look good, though. I just didn't want the ledge to collect dust and grime. Otherwise I'd be quite happy with them. I'm just ignoring the issue of the sink, more or less. I'm going to put in a mild complaint, meaning, I'm going to tell the store that the designer ordered the wrong sink, but I'm not going to do anything about it. It's not that important.


As in, the opposite of Progress.

The supply company, who I bought my cupboards etc . . . through? Sent the wrong doors and the wrong sink. Now, I couldn't tell before they got them up because they were all in boxes. The fitter couldn't tell, because the colour does match. Just not the style I ordered. See thing is . . . I ordered the colour because of the style. The doors I ordered had no little ledges to be catching dust and grime. These do. At the time I was ordering, the only colour that they made in that style was the walnut. Otherwise I'd have gone with the (lighter) cherry! So now I've got the style I didn't want with the disprefered colour. My fitter's having a word with them.

The sink's less of an issue. It was supposed to be a textured stainless steel. The one they sent is smooth. I'm not really fussed about it being textured or not, except that the reason I ordered the textured was because it hides scratches and waterspots. The bigger issue is, it's not what I ordered!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008


This is what the kitchen looks like at the end of the working day today:

Mississippi Adventures

My folks live in Mississippi. They've been there for about 6 years. Every so often they send me a story about something that happened that wouldn't have happened anywhere else. We call these 'Mississippi Adventures'.

One day I got this photo in my email inbox:Yes, my dad's hilarious. (Actually, that's true.) They often get green little lizards in the house, and they have to catch them and kick them outside. This one got confused, and thought Dad was a threat. I've had the same thing happen, it doesn't hurt. In fact, you can barely feel it at all.

But SOMEONE out there obviously lives in Mississippi, too. And has far too much time on their hands. This is their version of the same sort of thing:
humorous pictures

Most worryingly? I thought it was even funnier this way! (For those of you who don't know, Geico is an car insurance company in the states. For years they've used a gecko in their -- very funny -- advertisements.)

Bleary Eyed and Frizzy Tailed

I'm so not at my best in the mornings. And this morning, bright and early, the guys arrived back to continue work on the kitchen. Which means I had to be up before they arrived. I know, I know, 8.00 am is hardly an unreasonable time for the guys to arrive, and 7.45 is certainly not an uncivilized time to be required to rise. But I didn't sleep well last night (still got this sinus infection) and on top of that, I just don't function in the mornings. So I'm not quite the Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed creature this morning. Maybe I'll go back to sleep. I'm sure I can sleep through the noise!
This is what the back garden looks like during construction.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Re: And the Answer Is . . .

For anyone who came here from there, Lois is my sister. Well, I say sister. Really she's a Costume-Designing-Makeup-Goddess. And that's why she was on TV ;)

A Day in the Life!

As I type this, a couple of men are demolishing my kitchen. In fact, it was meant to be demolished earlier in the day. They were supposed to have gotten quiet a bit further along than they have today. It's not even their fault! Saturday their van broke down, and had to be towed in to a garage. They couldn't do anything about that till this morning. Of course. Then they had to rent a van. And go collect their tools. And then there was a problem with the splashback I'd ordered. I'd asked for a glass one, but in order to do that, you can't have any electrical outlets or windows. I have both. The fitter had notified B&Q back in March of the problem. B&Q had never got a hold of me. That means that I get a free upgrade on the splashback! :) But it meant I had to run around choosing colours and tiles etc . . . And then there was the snafu over the insulation for under the floor. I'd ordered it, B&Q forgot to put it on the bill, so of course they didn't send it. I had to go round and show them that the mistake was theirs, not mine, so they did actually owe me the insulation. Second trip to B&Q. Oh, and the University is right next to B&Q. So of course I had to go from Uni to my house and back out to B&Q ever time! Yep, owning your own house is quite an adventure!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Mother's Day

Dear Mom,

I love you. I'm terribly far away now, and all grown up, which has changed things a little. I don't wake you up in the middle of the night crying . . . oh wait, yes I do. I don't come running with hurts and heartbreaks . . . oh wait, yes I do. I don't come asking for direction when I have difficult decisions in my life . . . oh wait, yes I do. Ok, on second thought, even though I'm 29 now, and live 4565.21 Miles away (that's 7346.79 KM), I'm still your little girl. So even though I don't physically cry on your shoulder or give you high fives when I achieve something, I still want to. And that's why I call in the middle of the night to cry, or laugh or celebrate some victory. I love you.

Happy Mother's Day.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Morocco Part 6

After we left Taroudant we spent 9 days hopping from point to point. The first stop was a town in the Anti Atlas Mountains, called Tafrout. It was this little tiny town, only about 6 thousand people, surrounded by these gorgeous red granite rocks. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing the only full day we had there. So we didn't get to see most of what surrounded us. That was a real shame, because the day we left the wind had calmed and the rocks were gorgeous! But our one day there we took a drive up into a canyon. Actually we didn't know that's what we were going to do. Our driver, Youseef, decided we were going to see this gorge. This happened a lot of the time. I kind of wanted to go take a hike out to see the petroglyphs. But that was clearly not on Youseef's agenda. The staff at this Auberge didn't speak much English. Youseef didn't speak much English. I don't speak much French, and even less Arabic. So we had kind of a hard time communicating our various thoughts on what should be happening. Especially right at the beginning of our 9 day tour. We got out into the middle of this gorge and Youseef stops and we get out for a few minutes. He then got on his mobile phone and made a call. Then he turns to me and hands me the phone to do . . . something. I don't speak French, remember! Eventually I figure out that I'm supposed to order food. I think I'm ordering dinner. We got the order done in a very odd mixture of French, English, Spanish and Arabic. Youseef, Grandma and Lois were all standing around laughing at me. They wouldn't have found it so amusing if it had been THEM trying to get the message across! Eventually I finished ordering, and we got back in the car and headed home. Seriously, we drove out there, ordered food, got back in the car and came home. Very odd.

Anyway, on the way back to the Auberge we had Youseef stop off at Tafrout and we got some bread and cheese for lunch. We'd had so many enormous meals by this point that we didn't want anything but a little bit of bread and cheese. I was also quite exhausted. Translation duties are never easy, but when you really don't speak the language, they're even worse! So when we first got back to the Auberge, I lay down for a nap. Got woken up about 30 minutes later when there was a knock on Lois' and my door. Youseef was there! He clearly was trying to say something, and Lois wasn't getting it, so she made me get up to figure it out. Something about a drink. The bar. Umm . . . Oh! He was inviting us to the bar for a drink before lunch. Ok. We can go have a drink with you. We collected Grandma on the way to the bar, but when we got to the bar, we realised Youseef had ordered a bottle of wine. All the sudden my brain registered the word he'd used at the room: apéritif. Ooops! That's an alcoholic pre-food drink! I knew that! So we managed to explain that we don't drink alcohol, and got some Diet Coke. As we were sitting there attempting to converse with Youseef, the waiter came over and said that lunch was ready. Lunch? What lunch? We hadn't ordered lunch! Oh wait. Was that what was going on back at the canyon? Yep! We'd ordered lunch, not dinner! I don't speak French, remember? So we had lunch!

After lunch we split back up into our rooms (me and Lois in one, Grandma in another). It was too windy and cold to sit outside and enjoy it, so we went back to our rooms to read/sleep. We'd arranged with the Auberge owner, Elizabeth (a Dutch woman), to meet at 4.00 for a 'easy hike'. We = me and Lois. Not Grandma. So at 4.00 Lois and I set out with Elizabeth to do this 'easy' hike. In truth it was not a hard hike. We crossed the . . . I'm not really sure what to call them. They were bigger than hills, but smaller than mountains. I'll stick with Rocks, I guess! So, I wouldn't have called it easy, either. Good fun, though! We hiked for two hours, up the side of the rocks. The rocks were gorgeous. Really reminded me of the colours of Brice Canyon in southern Utah. And, like the southern region of Utah, it ached to be climbed. If I were to go back to Morocco, this is where I'd come. With my gear! As it was, it was a fun scramble (yes, that is a technical term, thank you!)

After we got to the top of the rocks, we saw two nomad families! Elizabeth, our guide, said that the first family had been there at least 3 years. The other family, though, had just arrived. They had these little kids (as in young goats), and the kids were out playing. They were so adorable. Chasing each other around the tent. Was great proof that kids are kids, no matter the species. And if the species doesn't matter, why should the language or race amongst our own species?!? They were fun to watch. Elizabeth told us if we wanted to go over, they'd host us and give us mint tea (of course!) But we didn't want to impose on the families. Would have been kind of fun, though. Never mind.

At the end of our hike, we arrived at the town of Tafrout. Not much to say about the town except that it exists. We had a 4 km hike back in front of us when, all the sudden, the manager of the hotel showed up with the car. He had an errand to run in town, so Elizabeth had arranged to have him come in when we were ready to go home. So we got a lift home! Lois and I spent a little time by the pool before facing up to an enormous (and rather surprising) dinner. Why was dinner surprising? Well, I'd attempted to order one pizza for the 3 of us. What happened? Yeah, 3 pizzas! We canceled everything else.

And, as always happens when I travel abroad, I collected another admirer. One of the staff has decided that the sun rises and sets with me. *sigh* Now, I'd like a boyfriend. But I want one who at least speaks English! This guy speaks just enough to be a nuisance. He gave me a note:

When you look at the sky if
you see the falling stars
Don't wonder why, just make
a wishes, it be come true.
Believe me?!
I like to Talk to you,
I Find you nice and very Beautifull
I want to know you more and
to Tell me about you?

Tu Mi gusta mucho
(That's slightly wrong Spanish for, I like you very much)

Reproduced as he scribed it on the paper.

Below the note/poem thing he included his email and phone. Why is it that I go abroad and the men come out of the woodwork, but at home I can't even get a single date? Where's the justice? So I avoided him for the rest of the day, and was relieved that we were only there for two days. The guide book says that most western women feel that they've met the entirety of the single male population of Morocco by the time they go home. Oh is it true! That's exactly how I feel! Apparently because they don't have much contact with females (other than mothers and sisters, I guess) before they get married, they find western women, who are not bound by Islamic/Moroccan law, exciting and exotic. Kind of odd thinking of myself as exotic!

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Morocco Part 5

I really hope no one's getting bored of these. I had fun. When I have fun, I take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures.

So, back to Morocco . . .

Another of our Moroccan Adventures was a trip out into a collection Berber villages. Dunia, one of the ladies who work for Naturally Morocco, is from a nearby village. She took us out to where she grew up and gave us a tour of several villages. The first one was a village where they make soap.

They'd had a number of chicks hatch a few days before. They were cute running around the patio area. One of our fellow travellers was a young man named Max. He's from London, and hasn't ever had much of a chance to see chicks or other farm animals. He really badly wanted to hold the little chicks, but was just a bit afraid of getting pecked, too. He also wasn't sure how to scoop them up. As a child I had the chore of going out and feeding the chickens and collecting the eggs every morning. I know chickens, young and old. They hold no fear for me. So I knelt down and scooped one up and handed it to him. He was well impressed. Wanted to know how I'd done it. So I showed him! By the end of a few minutes, he'd got the hang of things to the point where the chicks were all cuddled up on him, one even asleep in his hand!

Moving onward and upward (literally, it was quite a climb up the hill) we arrived at the second village. It was a pottery making village. They make all sorts of different pots. And lots of them! The way they make the pots is a bit different. I've never seen these big jugs made before, but the process was really interesting! They take a slightly smaller jug than the one they're trying to make, up end it, and make the base on it, like a mold. Then they let it dry in the sun. After it's dry, they take it off, and take the mold back inside and do it again, but instead of closing it off, for a base, they make a spout at the top. They take it outside and let it dry, and then put the two pieces together, sealing them somehow. Then finally they put them in the kiln. Pretty cool.

Finally, we walked up the rest of the hill and went to Dunia's family's house. Lois had not been able to find a good hat before she came out to Morocco. I'd bought one years ago in Rome which rolls up great. So after we'd been out in the sun all morning, I made Lois put my hat on. However, the sun was really bright out, and Cathy (another fellow traveller) was worried about me getting sunburned or sun stroke. So she lent me a scarf, and I wrapped it around my head. Loved the bright blue. Got to see if I can't find something in that colour.

Dunia's family welcomed us into their home. The first thing we had to do was take off our shoes and leave them outside. Then we went into a large room covered in lovely carpets, and lined with cushions. We sat down in the room, along the edges, and waited. Eventually one of Dunia's cousins came around with a kettle of cold water and a basin. She set the basin in front of each person, in turn, and poured water over their hands so they could wash up. I thought it was a terribly civilized custom! Then they brought in this large round table and laid it out with fresh made flatbread. You don't get silverware (or flatware for that matter!) at a Berber lunch. You use the flatbread to scoop up the food out of the tagine. I've decided I really like the Moroccan food. Usually they just gave us so much I couldn't eat it. However, this time, with one between 5, it was great! And after a bit of practice, you get the hang of the whole eating with your fingers thing. The tough thing is to get the big pieces of the potato or carrot with the flatbread without dropping anything!

After lunch Dunia came in to make, you guessed it, Mint Tea! She showed us the whole big long process. Note to LDS friends/family who go to Morocco: It was at this point that we found out that Morocco 'Mint' Tea is actually Mint and Green Tea! Oh the moral quandary this produced. Cheers!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

There are 14 of me

Have you ever wondered how many people in the world have the same first and last name as you? In my case, I figured there couldn't be that many. I was right. There are only 14 people in the US (that's 14 living, legally registered) with the same first and last name as me. So neener neener all you with thousands of clones! Apparently, my first name is the 914th most popular first name in the States as well. Who knew? Bet you anything they mostly do not pronounce it the same! And my last name is 289th in the common surname list. The combination is apparently pretty scarce.

LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?