Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Moving In

It's been an exciting week as my household goods have finally arrived in the UK. It was quite the fun filled day of delivery, damages, stuff that doesn't fit and finally feeling a little bit more like home.....

My sea container arrived right on time. It's fairly disconcerting to know that your entire life fits in a 20 ft sea container. And even then it only fit 2/3rds of the container! In the end, I still have way too much stuff. I thought I did a good job purging before I left (I took MANY bags to Goodwill), however, I still ended up with 12 pot holders. I guess I'm holding out to have a lot of cooks in my kitchen.

After the container arrived and the movers showed up, it was a bit of drama to actually get the container open. Due to this bent bolt, the guys had to drive around until they found a hardware store where they could buy a hacksaw. The crowbar just wasn't cutting it.

Turns out my queen size box spring is too big for the staircase so I've moved it into the sports/office/garage room for now. So much for dreams of sleeping in my own bed. Now I have to find a mattress store for a split box spring. Note to self: buy a two piece box spring.

The couch was also quite a challenge. Good thing the boys were able to get it through the window.

Lastly, after much hard work and unpacking on my end, I thought I'd show you what some of the rooms look like with all my junk in them. Before and After... enjoy!

I know, looking at photos of someone's old furniture is pretty lame, but for me, it made my week. Now I'm off to try and unpack/organize the kitchen. Good night everyone - I'm ready for visitors!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bella Italia

My good friends J and M invited me to meet them on their Spanish and Italian holiday and I jumped at the chance. I took a couple of days off and met them in Milan and then we headed to the Italian Riveria.

Here we are on the bus to the train station. In order to get to the tiny town of Monterosso we took planes to the airport, a bus to the train station and a train to the beach.

The views upon arrival. The train station sits in the center of town between Old Town and New Town. You exit the train station and view the ocean - and we just headed to the right and walked two blocks to our hotel.

Look just above the pier to see the man carved into the rock...

Once we got the lay off the land, we stopped off for some prosecco (Italian champagne) and some people watching.

Here's a photo of J heading down the pedestrian area carrying our after dinner drinks (we haven't had dinner yet however)

The view from our table at dinner. It really couldn't get better than this.

Just proving we really are at dinner! More prosecco.... the evening moved on we discovered a beach party in full swing. The flyers described it as a 'cartoon party' and after a few sightings of Minnie Mouse and a few other interesting characters we decided to join the fun. To all of you who we emailed, called and texted during this hour - our sincere apologies. It was the Smurfs that made us do it! Well, more likely it was the beer that the smurfs kept giving us in exchange for money. It could have been the prosecco or vino rosso too, but in the end - we absolutely apologize for antagonizing you while we enjoyed our vacation.

The next day J and M went off hiking and I spent some quality time by the beach. We ended the day with another lovely evening - starting off with some wonderful meat and cheese plates while relaxing by the water....

Just a quick photo - I like how the bidet has a hand soap dispenser. We challenged J with figuring out exactly how this works.

After two lovely days in Monterosso we heading back north to Milan. Here M writes postcards and J takes a siesta.

In Milan, we toured the Duomo. Built to hold 40,000 worshippers (the entire population of Milan at the time construction started) the church is impressive inside and out.

After climbing to the roof, we admired the spires and pondered the structural phenomenon of creating this masterpiece without modern technology.

For our last night in Italy we wandered down another pedestrian walkway for some delicious food and a final gellato.

Amazingly enough, to close our Italian visit, as we were wandering back through the park - we came across a concert being held in the local stadium. This photo is obviously useless, but I didn't know if you would believe that we snuck into see R.E.M without it. Yes, that's right - we saw R.E.M in Milan!! Holy crap!
Thanks again to my wonderful friends for inviting me along. I cannot wait for a return trip to Italy - let me know if you would like to join me. Ciao!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


My new car arrived today. Whahoo!!

I can't figure out how to fold the rear seats down, open up the trunk from in the car or figure out the display - but I'll get there eventually. Good thing I only stalled twice on the way home. Can I blame a new clutch?

By the way, it is a diesel engine that gets 50+ mpg. Cool, huh?

Oh yeah... and here's a picture of the scratch that I already put in the wheel. It only took me 2.5 miles to run into a curb. How can I be so talented?!!?!?? The sad part is, I was warned as soon as I moved here that I will hit the curb at least once with the left front tire - so sad that I managed to avoid it until I got the new car. Oh well, I guess I don't have to worry about scratching it from now on.... Now, who is ready for a spin?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Finally! Something Comes Out of the Closet

It's a joyous weekend - I finally have a closet! To be precise, I now have a wardrobe. Two of 'em as a matter of fact but who's gloating?

Michelle, a girl from work, was gracious enough to offer the services of her husband Greg, who just happens to be a handyman. They came over on Friday night to help me assemble my IKEA purchases. Here Greg shows me how my patio doors open. I had no idea the whole thing slides out of the way! I thought they were two sets of French doors. As soon as I get some furniture, I will be ready for entertaining. (And my apologies to Greg for catching him at an awkward time. He really kind of looks odd in this photo, doesn't he?)

The final product for the bedroom wardrobe. You'd never know that we had to take it apart twice due to mistakes on assembly and the fact that it wouldn't fit through the door assembled. Note to self: always build wardrobes in the room where you plan to put it.

And now with clothing! I am so excited. Sad, I know, but its weird ironing all your clothes and then laying them on the floor so they don't get wrinkled.
My apologies for the following photos, they were taken with my camera phone.

Saturday was bright and quite clear so I spent some time on my bike. Here's a photo to show you that the Saturday rides end at a cafe and not at a pub. I don't want everyone to think that everything I do here is alcoholic. Here Jane sits in front of the bridge - it crosses the Thames and heads over to Eton.

Simon and Armando? Alando? Fernando? (I've already forgotten his name) chat about his recent trip to Italy.

Just a shot of pedestrian area on the other side of the cafe. By the way, it is called The Chocolate Cafe. Once again, karma. Definitely the place for me!

On Sunday I braved the wind and did a little more bike touring. This time I wandered through the Great Park only to find it full of equestrian events. Can it be any more English than Dressage, Show Jumping and Polo? Dressage...

Show Jumping...

Polo..... (sorry for the awful photo but the zoom apparently makes the photo smaller)

Don't forget it is not just the players who may need medical attention.

I liked this photo of all the Horse RVs. If you think RVs are big in California, you should see the rolling Horse-mobiles!

And so ends another weekend in Windsor. Oh, and by the way, continuing my battle with appliances and technology, I had to have the maintenance guy come out. My washer was filling with water when not in use. Not good when you have a front loader and you leave the door open for venting. Of course, I have no idea if that is how it is supposed to work or if it is a problem. Luckily my fellow cyclists assured me it was not the English way of doing things. Washing Machine working again: check.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I May Live On An Island, But It Ain't No Fantasy

When I lived in Ann Arbor, it was drunken college students who woke you up at night. In Chicago, it was the countless taxis and drunken yuppies. In Texas, I lived by the train and even though I got used to it, certainly it caused issues on some nights. Even in Modesto, I could hear the train from my window. In Windsor, however, it's more than that. Something they don't share with you when you are house hunting, is the change in traffic when the wind changes. On special days when the wind suddenly begins blowing from a different direction (and I believe this is when Mary Poppins arrives), I am treated to a spectacular day of departing and/or landing aircraft. I had no idea how close I live to Heathrow until the other morning when the planes started landing into the wind...

every (JAL)....

1 minute (Luftansa)....

and 30 seconds (Air Lingus).
Really, the photographs do not do this justice. Objects in the photo are closer than they appear. Seriously, the planes started landing somewhere around 5AM, every 1 minute and 30 seconds - LIKE CLOCKWORK. Thank goodness I was getting up early to run - I would hate to actually want to sleep in when this is happening. You truly get a feeling for how international Heathrow really is when you can stand on your deck for 10 minutes and see airlines you never even knew existed.
Okay, so not terribly exciting but more of a warning for anyone trying to sleep in when the wind is coming from the East. Even Tattoo would get tired of pointing out the planes. May the wind blow from the west when you come to visit me. :o)