Tuesday, September 22, 2009

a tale of a sewing machine abroad

I think I mentioned in my last post about how much free time I have had these days, and I really have nothing new to say about that except that it continues...

Last week, in a moment of desperate energy, I decided it was time to sew a clothes pin holder.  We do not own a dryer, and I much prefer it this way.  There is something very elemental about hanging your clothes out to dry (with the exception of towels which get a bit crunchy at times, but I have been pleasantly surprised with how well our fabric softener works).  Anywho, it dawned on me pretty much right away that a pin bag was an immediate necessity.  And so for the first time in the great nation of the United Kingdom, I brought out my beloved sewing machine from the china cabinet, where it has been since the day I arrived, and with an  overwhelming sense of anticipation plugged it in... and it blew up.  It quite literally POPPED and then did absolutely nothing at all.  While I was shaking my head to clear the ringing sound from my ears I took note of two things:  1. My sewing machine obviously does not like the voltage level here or is not dealing well with culture shock very well, and 2. I still needed a clothes pin bag, like ASAP, because I had a load in the washing machine.  So in spite of my fury and frustration (and an overwhelming sense of sadness) I hand sewed this clothes pin bag.  It works like a charm just as I had hoped, which sort of makes up for the temporary loss of my sewing machine.  Here you can see it in action doing exactly what it was created to do.  Look at it hanging there proudly in the breeze, it even looks like it's smiling:)

While my sewing machine is being repaired I am very fortunate to get to work with this beauty, on loan from my mother-in-law.  It is SO fun to use and has a wonderful old smell and makes the most delightful spinning and whirring sounds.  

I have used it to make covers for some pillows we got from IKEA last weekend with some old velvety curtains that belonged to Sam's great-aunt.  They are a temporary fix but feel so so nice and were almost free since the pillows themselves cost about 69p each.  Sorry about the bad quality of this picture, I have limited resources here and am also quite lazy.  But you should be able to see 6 pillows in two wing-back chairs (the one on the left used to belong to the same aunt as the velvety curtains and the one on the right was Sam's grand dad's, I love them both equally and massively).  

My next job involves a ladder, some plants, a squeegie and the ability to overcome a fear of heights that has been with me for almost 26 years (i.e. my whole life).  Any guesses as to what this might be?  Well I'll tell you.  I am going to borrow a ladder, lower it down into the stream behind our house crawl down and plant some irises on the opposite bank that we can enjoy next summer, then climb up the ladder and wash the dreadful windows of our conservatory and yank down a bunch of ivy that is trying to come through the roof of our conservatory.  And if I still have time I might throw whatever is in our compost bin into the neighbor's yard because they were rude to me last weekend when our guests blocked their auxiliary gate with their car.  How horrible of me, I would never do that.  Anyway, for a better idea of what I plan to do see exhibit A.

Exhibit A
On the job front:  I have been hired on as a nanny for a family who are waiting for their au pair to arrive which they expect to be in the next 5 weeks or so.  This is great because the job I am hoping to get at the college in town will begin around the beginning of November.  So for the next month I will be taking care of a little boy named Freddie.  I also get a Land Rover, gas, insurance and food into the bargain.  So it's a bargain.  Except for the Land Rover part because these roads are skinny man.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I've had A LOT of time on my hands

I started off last week by painting the bathroom. There is still some work to be done in that funny little room, but it's work I look forward to.



I was sick with a stomach flu or food poisoning or cat scratch fever or something last week for 3 days, which was annoying because I haven't been stay-in-bed sick for about 10 years and it just had to strike during a time when I was so excited to be out and about. But by the weekend I was back in action, and went berry picking with my mother in law. Sam and his brother and dad went to play golf, and my m-i-l went along to forage the course. Holy moly did we ever, may arms were sore the next day. We walked along with the men from hole to hole and picked like crazy, each of us exclaiming over how many berries there were. We came away with purple hands and pounds and pounds of berries. We also picked pounds of sloes wich were used to make sloe gin (will be ready in time for Christmas). This whole berry thing is new to me, but there are millions all around so I'm getting loads of practice--it's very addicting. I keep hearing that there are an unusual amount this year, which I am thankful for because it's been so much fun. I have made 3 blackberry crumbles, blackberry and sloe jam, and sloe gin--it's been fun to learn how! And of course the best part, the part that puts a sly grin on my face, is that it's all for FREE!

These are some berries I picked on a short walk around the village.

One of the yummy crumbles about to go in the oven.

Like I said before, I have gone for lots of walks. The weather has been so nice! It's wonderful to discover new walks and paths and little places to sit and read--I've also found some GREAT pic-nic spots:) On my walk yesterday I met an sweet older couple from the village (who told me of some other "lovely" routes) who asked me to "call 'round for tea" which I think is so great! Totally melted my heart. I wanted to follow them home then and there!

This nice view is from up the hill above our village--which you can see in the right of the photo. Such a great spot to sit and take in the magic. You can actually see almost to Bristol up the coast on a clear day, and all the way to Minehead and North Hill to the left. Also, there's Cardiff, Wales across the estuary there...

In other news, we've had our new wood-burning fire place delivered, and hopefully it will be installed really soon. These are commonly used in houses here as opposed to open fires because they generate so much heat. We should be able to heat our entire house with this little stove, and we can even cook on top of in the event of a power outage. I plan to put a kettle on top so I'm ready for when visitors call 'round for tea:)

Not much else to add to this update except that I am enjoying learning about life in the country--the English countryside at that. It's all so exciting and new. Oh, I did have a meeting at the college in town and it looks like I will probably be working there in the next couple of weeks which is great news. Fingers crossed! I am now going to go sit on our deck in the sunshine, listen to the stream trickling by and peel a bunch of apples that we picked over the weekend. They will be boiled, frozen and saved for future apple pies and apple butter! YUM!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

In the Past Month

Sam and I spent a week in Mexico with our friends and family...

Got married...

Spent a week in Texas where we also  had a reception...

Packed as much as we could into our allotted luggage and moved to England...

Into this cute little yellow cottage...

Had another reception at the village hall in Luxborough where Sam's parents live...

And honeymooned in the Maldives where we stayed in a bungalow over the water.

It has been the most hectic and enjoyable month of my life!  I sometimes forget where I am in the world and the calendar, it looks like it's September now which is CRAZY.  We have been busy setting up our home and getting things in order.  I have had to register at the doctor, apply for a National Insurance Number, learn to drive on the wrong side of the road, cook using the metric system, and look for a job.  It's been great!  Sam is back at work now, so I have been looking for jobs and have some very good possibilities right now, just waiting to see how they play out.  I have gone for long walks almost every day, and the incredible beauty of my surroundings has only intensified with each breathtaking view I discover.  We live in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been too--how lucky!  And to top it all off, being married has been even better than I expected, we are having so much fun:)