Friday, April 25, 2008

New Visas and London Too

Right now I am taking a break from packing in order to post a bit about my upcoming trip to London this weekend. Brit Boy and I will be heading out tomorrow morning on our adventure. I will be sharing my experiences in posts next week, along with various photos. I appreciate whomever comes to read my blog. I like sharing my experiences here.

Tomorrow we will be going into London and then hanging out a bit before we go to the theatre in the evening. We are really looking forward to that. Then on Sunday, we are going to lunch with a new friend of mine that lives in London. We've never been to this restaurant, so it should be fun. Then on Monday, hopefully I get my new visa. Wish me luck. (smile) Brit Boy and I are going to get into some sightseeing in while we are there too, so it should be a good time. I always love going to London.

So I will be writing about our fun experiences next week and I will post some pics. Well, I have to get back to packing. Onward to London.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day and I like this day. I like that this day is about doing what we can to take care of this beautiful planet of ours. Nowadays there are a variety of days and programs that highlight environmental issues. It is trendy right now, but it is a darned good trend. (smile) May it long continue. I love all of the efforts. My main concern, besides the very real issue of global warming, is that we just simply can’t trash our planet. I guess that all that talk in school when I was a kid during the 70s and 80s stuck about littering. (smile) But as an adult, I know it goes so much further than that, into things about carbon emissions and the like. I am intrigued more and more to find out what I can do to help.

I just wonder sometimes though, what point has been passed and can we do anything about it now? But I guess that we have to do our best to turn back the tide as much as we can through our governments and individually. I can’t tell anyone else how to live, but I love the natural beauty of this planet so I want to do my part. I used to plant trees with my dad when I was a kid, so perhaps I can continue that legacy. After all, trees are beautiful and they clean the air for us. I will definitely find my way to help more and more. Today was our recycling pick up day and Brit Boy and I always participate in that. Tomorrow won't be Earth Day, but it is still an opportunity for me to do better. Here’s to the Earth! (smile)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Bit of Paris

Today Brit Boy and I went into town. I was having acupuncture once more. I will soon be giving this up for a while. I am feeling much better. I may go back to it again possibly later in the autumn. Karen and Ta were kind today as they always are. This time I got a few needles in my face for my sinuses. It was weird to look down and see needles sticking out from the sides of my nose. EEK!! (smile) I got my customary needles in my back and it was a pretty normal session. After I was finished, I went out to the desk to speak with Karen. I usually ask her, as I point to the shelves, “So what’s that for?” There seem to be millions of different herbs and potions. I am always intrigued. She is always good about telling me how things work together and she will give me a short explanation on the overall fit of all of these things into Chinese culture. Then she asked me what time I would be coming next Saturday and I reminded her that I wouldn’t be able to come because I will be in London with Brit Boy. And I said that I would come the week after. I told her that we were going up there to sort out my visa and she remembered then. I told her that I was a bit apprehensive about going to the appointment, but that I was glad that I would be finally getting it over and done with. She understood. Karen wished me good luck with the appointment and she hoped that I had a gloriously charmed week. She is so fab. I love talking to her.

I went along to reunite with Brit Boy. I popped into the drug store to get some things I needed. I got exfoliating wipes, face cleanser, and moisturizer. I had to stock up. Thankfully I am blessed with okay skin and have never had a real problem with breakouts, but I figure that as time marches on, I had better pay a bit of attention to my skin. So I have recently tried to do a lot better. Then Brit Boy and I dropped into the grocery store and picked up a few things.

After that, we rounded the corner and this will show how of one mind Brit Boy and I are sometimes. It gets weird honestly. (smile) Anyway, at the same time we both said, “Hey, they are having a French Market over there,” as we both pointed ahead of us. We looked at each other and laughed. We have known each other nearly six years and we have always had this thing between us where we say the same thing at the same time. We used to be invited to the house of one of Brit Boy’s acquaintances, to have a Game Night. We would play Pictionary a lot. This game as you may know is one where you draw something on a pad and your partner has to figure out the phrase or whatever. Well, we would always get it right in seconds. Needless to say, they didn’t want to play Pictionary with us anymore. (laugh)

So anyway, we went over to take in the French Market. Each year or sometimes twice a year they will have a French Market that stops in town and they have stalls with all kinds of French goodies. The first stall had garlic prawnies and I couldn’t pass them up. I got a small cup for £3. The fellow was French, authentically so, and I thought for a moment about trying my pathetic French skills on him. But he smiled and gestured with his hands to the couple ahead of me and asked if they wanted a small or large cup. So he did the same to me. He was very jovial. I thanked him. The garlic prawnies were amazingly good. They were so huge. I was getting full after three, but I ate all of them…I wasn’t gonna let something that good go to waste. Brit Boy didn’t want any. As we walked down past all the stalls there were many great things. They had olives, ham, and all kinds of lovely cheeses and things. It was so lovely because it brought back fond memories of Paris for me. The only tiny drawback was that today has been especially cold and misty. Not great strolling weather, but for Brit Boy and I, it just seemed like a little piece of wonderful. It was a year ago nearly to the day that we were in Paris last year for our anniversary, so it was a great way to take us back.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Brit Boy and I Smile For the Camera

I am currently working on getting my application for my new visa completed. It is so tedious, but necessary. It is one of those things, that if you are like me, you find yourself thinking of a million other things you have to do instead of completing the forms. (smile) There are so many pages and so much paperwork that you have to add along with the forms, so you can find yourself wrestling with a pile of papers with seemingly no end in sight. But as I said, it is necessary and the reward is that this next visa will allow me to stay here indefinitely.

When I got my first visa, which was a fiancée visa, I also had to handle a mound of papers. When I finally sent those off, the package ended up weighing about two and a half pounds, and it was all just paper! (smile) Then two years ago, I got my first visa to settle here with my husband. And I have had to keep documents to show as evidence that I have been living here at the same address with my husband. This is to make sure that there is no funny business going on.

So at this point I am becoming sort of an expert on immigrating to Britain. (smile) Or maybe a wannabe expert. (laugh) Anyway, I am glad to go through all of this, because in the end it means that I get to stay with my Brit Boy forever. So it is all worth it.

I have started organizing my documentation and later this week, I will fill out my application form. Today’s task was to go into town and get my photo done. I have to have a passport size photo done to put with my application and so does Brit Boy. So after we had dinner, we went into town and found one of those photo booths that you sit inside of and get your picture taken. I had mine done first. The machine gives you three chances and thank goodness, because sometimes no matter how good you try to look, those things can come out weird. (laugh) I had practiced my look in the mirror before we left, although I don’t know if it really helps in the end. But my photo came out good. Brit Boy was next and his came out fine too. So we are set on the photo front.

Now, I just need to pull everything together and finish the countdown to my date in London. The countdown ticker at the bottom of this page reminds me everyday that the day is getting closer and closer. It will be a great milestone in my life.

Monday, April 14, 2008

My Weekend

The weekend was nice. I did things that I enjoyed and had another acupuncture treatment for my hip. It was a relatively quiet weekend and those kinds of weekends are treasured by Brit Boy and I, after a couple of years of tough things to go through. So we are so thankful when everything is just uneventful, unless we want it to be eventful.

On Saturday morning, I went into town to have my acupuncture. Brit Boy dropped me off and then came back home to chill for a while. When he drops me off, he lets me out of the car on the back side of the town centre. Then I just walk along a little alley and bam, I am thrust out into the centre of town. There are people going about their business, doing their Saturday shopping and it is just good to people watch. I have lived here for two years now, but I still try to soak up the feeling of this new place as much as I can. And the town centre is different than the village we live in, so it is good to see England in the country and England in the bigger towns. I guess that I am just a bit of a romantic and just love this soaking up a different culture thing. (smile) I used to daydream a lot when I was a little girl, about how people lived in other places, so I guess that now I am getting to see a small part of that.

So I hurried on to my acupuncture appointment. I have been having a flare-up in my hip again these last few days, so I was relieved to go. My hip is feeling much better now. Anyway, I went to Karen’s shop and was greeted by her smiling face. The acupuncturist that I used to see there, has been away for a few weeks, so I saw another acupuncturist this time and the last time. I have been spacing out my visits though to save money and besides I have been feeling much better. Anyway, the new acupuncturist, Ta, always checks my pulse on both arms and looks at my tongue. It all tells her a lot I guess. (smile) So then I go into the treatment room and get on the table and get all needled up. I think that I counted thirty-five this time! (laugh) And once Ta gets all of the needles in, she places a magnetic heat lamp over my hip. When she is adjusting it into place, I am always slightly on edge and am hoping that it doesn’t fall over by mistake and burn me. (laugh) You see, the lamp is placed on top of a footstool to make it the right height for the table and it is perched precariously and wobbles sometimes. But I have been fine in all the time that I have gone there. And I know that Ta and Karen are very helpful and careful, so after an initial case of the jitters, I relax. It was a good session and it was what I needed. I said goodbye to Karen and Ta and went to rendezvous with Brit Boy. I reunited with Brit Boy and we picked up a few things in town. Then it was off back home for us.

The rest of our weekend was mostly watching television. On Saturday and Sunday we watched some of the Masters Golf Tournament. Brit Boy plays golf, but he hasn’t played in a few months and he says that he will teach me. I have a passing interest in golf, so I watch, but also the Masters is in Augusta, Georgia and I am from Georgia, so I watch to see home. The golf course there is just so lush and green and beautiful and the sense of beauty in nature just reminds me of where I grew up. Seeing the azaleas and dogwood trees makes me remember the beauty of our front yard where I grew up. Brit Boy and I would love to go to the Masters one day…we shall see.

Our sporty weekend continued and we watched the London Marathon on Sunday morning and early afternoon. It is always great to watch. I have always secretly wished that I could run a marathon one day. I am not a runner at all, but I love the idea of completing something so demanding. I love that a lot of the runners wear costumes that are hot and heavy, but they do it a lot of the time to highlight a charity they are running for. And then some are running in order to meet a personal goal for themselves. I love it when they stop runners or run along with others and ask why they are running. It is very inspiring. There were Masi warriors also running this year in their full tribal dress and they were amazing. They have been appearing in the media here to highlight their cause. They have come all the way from Tanzania to raise money and awareness about a problem with having clean water in their village. I think that they are amazing! (smile) They are true heroes. Another inspiration was an elderly man who is young at heart. He is 101 and I have seen him on the news here before. He still works and was out there running with everyone else. So I had a thought, even though I have a hip that flares up now and then, I can still run one day like them if I want. First I guess that I should try trotting along or walking/jogging…(laugh). But all of these amazing people in the marathon made me realize that nothing is impossible. Brit Boy and I hope to go next year and cheer everyone on.

It was a great weekend!

Friday, April 11, 2008

More April Sleet and False Alarm Fridges

Today started off quite sunny earlier and then at about 11am, all of a sudden, I heard a tap tap tapping on the roof. I looked outside and we once again were being treated to April sleet. It was funny how quickly it went from one extreme to another, but I guess that is the weather for you. (smile) Here is a photo of our stone gnome and cat outside as the sleet rained down around them. You can also see my tough tulip still standing strong despite the ice bath it was getting. I love my tulips because they are the first that I have ever grown on my own and I planted them in honor of my mother because she was such a keen gardener. The sleet has melted now.

Brit Boy came home early today. So we were making a bit of lunch/early dinner. We were cooking together, which is something that we both enjoy. Anyway, Brit Boy was going into the refrigerator, back and forth, and I noticed that every time he would close the door, it would thud and sound like it wasn’t shutting. Our refrigerator here is the type that is short and is tucked underneath the counter. So you have to sort of scrunch down to look inside sometimes.

Brit Boy was busily at the stove doing his thing and I was at the counter chopping vegetables. We kept wondering what was going on with the refrigerator so I crouched down and saw that the seal wasn’t sticking when we closed the door. Well, we both kept wondering what was wrong and then decided that we had to call a repairman because the food would spoil. We were getting ready to call the repairman, when Brit Boy saw that we had a big jar sitting in the door that was barring it from closing. We both laughed at the fact that it took us a few minutes to figure this out. We were just glad that it was only a jar in the way and that we didn’t have a repair bill coming to us.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Check Out Brit Boy!

As I promised, Brit Boy has contributed his guest post and I hope you all enjoy it. Check it out down below. Thanks for reading both of our posts.

Guest Blogger: Brit Boy! - The Word on the Street

When Americano Girl first mooted the idea of me being a guest blogger on her site I thought that I might talk about my thoughts on her homeland, based on my trips over there, to give a flip view to that of her opinions and experiences of life here in England. Well, I may do that in the future - if I ever get invited back! (smile)

But another subject came to me yesterday. Americano Girl (AG) mentioned that she had been watching “Return to Witch Mountain” that morning, and we agreed that those series of films were very much of the 70s. We often talk about our experiences of being kids in the 70s, and remark about how similar our childhoods were, even though they were lived out on two different continents. AG always used to be Jamie Sommers when she played, whereas I was always Steve Austin - both running in slow motion somewhere, or making that ih-ih-ih-ih-ih-ih sound as we lifted an imaginary rock to throw at an equally imaginary enemy. Bionics were definitely a big thing in the 70s - less so now if you have seen the recent (pale imitation) Bionic Woman remake!

So, what other things were symbolic of the 70s? Well, still in TV land, I remember that the words “One banana, two banana, three banana, four” were the prelude to the best half hour of the week - or of the day if you were lucky enough to be a Brit Boy on his summer holidays. And you have to be a child of the 70s if you think that HR Pufnstuff made any sense at all! And no Saturday night would have been complete without learning what was the latest “word on the street” from Huggy Bear as he helped Starsky & Hutch to put away yet another “mean cat”.

You were a kid in the 70s (or I guess before then too) if you can remember being off sick from school and not hearing or seeing a single vehicle drive down your street. Wasn’t the world quieter then, or am I just getting old? You go out in the middle of the day during the week now and it is just like a Saturday afternoon.

If you were around in the 70s then you will remember the day that Elvis died. Our parents always talked about remembering where they were when they heard that JFK had been shot, and the modern day equivalent would be Princess Diana. But in the 70s, the big shock news was that Elvis had died. I was on holiday in the south west of England, and can still vividly remember turning on the TV when we got back from our day on the beach, to see pictures of the thousands of people outside of Graceland.

And the 70s was the era of Space exploration. Yes, the first moon landing was in 1969, but the 70s was crammed full of Apollo missions and for a youngster growing up in that era it was the most amazingly exciting thing that you could imagine. I was fortunate enough to get to go to the Kennedy Space Center a few years back, and it brought back all that excitement and wonderment of being a boy in the 70s marvelling at the exploits of these superheroes called astronauts. Americano Girl and I hope to go back to Cape Canaveral someday soon, but she may have to hide my credit card for the day - either that or keep me out of the shops there. Like a kid in a candy store (smile)

Being a kid in the 70s meant loud clothes, Star Wars, space dust, chopper bicycles, strange haircuts and a million other wonderful memories. It is just one thing that binds me and Americano Girl so closely. I always knew that Steve and Jamie would get married in the end! (smile)

The Guy They Call Sir !

Today I went out with Brit Boy again to see a client. He likes to have company when he goes out, so I go along. And also I just enjoy it because it gives me a chance to see further out into the countryside and see all of the other little villages around. I tell you, some of these places are just beyond belief. The best thing is to go down these narrow little roads that may or may not be paved and it leads to a tiny little village, complete with thatched cottages. And it is quite common for many of the cottages to date from the 1700s.

A lot of Wiltshire is green and lush and just gorgeous. We usually leave home early in the morning, so we are met by the sun, just starting to peek over the hills, and it sends light streaming through the trees. I am in awe as we drive along. There is nothing like coming around a narrow little lane that hugs one of the rolling hills and it leads down into a valley. More than once we have rounded the corner into a valley and straight ahead of us is a carpet of green that leads down to some lovely little village.

Today we went through the village of West Knoyle. As we approached the village, we were treated to one of those moments of sheer beauty. The little village of West Knoyle was nestled in the surrounding hills and was great to see. I will be posting a photo of the view coming into West Knoyle.

An interesting note also about this region is that West Knoyle is predictably next door to the village of East Knoyle. And East Knoyle is the birthplace of Sir Christopher Wren. He was the clever guy who designed St. Paul’s Cathedral along with over 50 other London churches. He was very influential in the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire.

So today I was a woman who was from another land, thoroughly enjoying this new land that I live in.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Special Guest....Brit Boy!

Hello to all of you who have read my blog. First of all, I truly thank you for coming here to read what I have to say. (smile) Today I just wanted to share this short note about an upcoming guest blogger. I write a lot about my life with Brit Boy, my husband. Well he has seen how much fun I have in writing my blog and now he wants to get in on the act himself.(smile)So coming soon, Brit Boy will be doing a guest posting on my blog. He has not told me when he will do this, but then he likes to keep me guessing. (wink) His guest posting will be coming soon,so watch this space! My Brit Boy is coming! (smile)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

April Snow & Mom

Today would have been my mom’s birthday. I love that it falls on a Sunday this year, because she loved Sundays. For a while after she died I disliked Sundays because she died on a Sunday. It hurt so much that I just couldn’t face the day somehow. But I am coming to know bit by bit that time does heal, because last year on her birthday I was sad. I was wishing that I could call her and wish her a happy birthday. But something has shifted within me, without me even noticing very much. She has been gone a bit over two years now and there is something settling within me. I will never ever forget her, but it seems that I have been unconsciously creating a place within my heart just for her slowly, bit by bit. So today, on this Sunday, I rejoice in the fact that this was her favorite day of the week, and that her birthday falls on this day this year. I am getting to the point now where I am seeing the beauty of the fact that she lived and not concentrating on when she died. To have lived is a joyous thing and I saw how much she meant to the world she left behind when we had her funeral. So I am proud that she was my mother. My mom was a sunny person, no matter the circumstances, even though she was like many and had some hard times in her life. She had that something within that just wouldn’t be beaten. The outside world couldn’t take away her smile or her good attitude. That is how I want to be one day. I have read many things that tell how to be like that, and yet, my mom was that way and didn’t get it from a self-help book. (smile) So with the sun shining today, on this Sunday that she loved, I think of her smile and remember how she lived.

It’s funny, even though it is a sunny day outside right now, we actually woke up to snow this morning. They had forecast it, but as we all know, sometimes they get it right and sometimes they miss it by a mile. We were forecast to have snow recently and it didn’t materialize. It’s just how it goes. Yet today the snow arrived. When I looked outside, there were beautiful fluffy white flakes of snow all over the grass and flowers. The roads were clear though. It was gorgeous. Bit by bit the snow has melted and the sun has been shining very beautifully today. All of the snow is virtually gone now, except for some shaded areas in our back garden. I will post a picture of what it looked like nestled on top of my almost open tulip. The snow was nestled just so on the tip of the slightly open tulip. It made me smile when I saw it. My mom was a keen gardener and I always tell Brit Boy that she would first laugh and then be proud that I seem to have a way with flowers. I always thought before that there was no way I had inherited her green thumb, but now I think possibly narrowly maybe. (smile) The jury is still out on that one. But I was so proud that the tulip bulbs that I planted in the dead of the cold English winter, have indeed come to life. I used to kill every plant I had before, but something has changed. I don’t know what. (shrug) Anyway, I smiled this morning when I saw the tulip with snow because it was like a wink from my mom. It was like “happy birthday mom…happy Sunday…and hey look at the snow in springtime” that I was sharing with my mom for that brief moment. So I think I have passed another tiny milestone in how I feel about my mother passing on. Deep down, I know that she is okay and I will be too. Happy Birthday Mom!

Friday, April 04, 2008

One More Thing

Just one more thing for today. At the bottom of the page, I have added a couple of tickers for a couple of big days in my life which are coming up. I have added one ticker to countdown to the day that I go and get my visa extended, which will be fabulous and a load off my mind. I have been waiting for this day for two years so it is a big milestone for me. And then I have added a countdown to the day when we go to Wimbledon. Brit Boy and I are so excited and can't wait to experience the view of it all at Centre Court. I will definitely be posting pictures of our Wimbledon experience here to share.

My Uphill and Downhill Walk

This morning I walked up to the High Street to pick up a few things at the grocery store and also to mail a card for a friend’s birthday back home. I don’t do this everyday, but from time to time I go up there to keep in touch with a bit of village life. The walk to the High Street for me is mostly uphill all the way, so I always get a workout when I take this trek. I am in pretty fair shape, but I must admit that I have broken into a sweat a few times even in winter. (laugh) It was semi-overcast when I walked up, so it wasn’t too hot or too cold. And I only got a slight “sheen” on my brow from the exertion.

I always love walking to the High Street because I get a chance to see the various cottages and houses in detail, more than I can see from the car. I get to see the gardens and little courtyards here and there between the houses that hide these magical little places where you can just imagine yourself sitting and relaxing. Most of the people that I see on the way to the High Street are usually elderly ladies or men going about their business, some pulling little carts behind them to gather groceries, and others following behind metal walkers to help guide their steps. But I always admire their spirit. They keep at it with life and don’t give up just because it is harder for them to get around. Their spirit reminds me of my own mother, although she was some years younger than most of the people I see on my walks. But I like those moments when things cause me to remember parts of her still, in my daily life.

When I arrived at the post office, I got my correct postage placed on my letter for the US and then dropped it into the big red mail box outside. After that, I walked around the corner to the grocery store. I usually dilly-dally for a bit and take a look at the magazines…today was no different. I gaze over the celeb magazines and then I look at what I call the horsey magazines. I call them horsey magazines because they talk about life for the whole horse-riding set here in the countryside. It is fun to take a look and take a peek into their lives. I guess we all like a bit of a nose around things like that. And even though there are lots of similarities of life between England and the US, there is just enough difference to keep my interest in learning about life here. So I figure that my curiosity is all in the name of understanding and that is a good thing in our world today.

Then I was off…back down that hill…starting to glisten with perspiration and thankful that it's all downhill from here. (smile)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

My Green Machine

Today I started the day hanging around, just waiting and waiting. You may ask what I was waiting for. Well, I was doing that thing that we all do from time to time...I was waiting for a delivery. Why is it that they always give you a time frame and then end up arriving five minutes before the end of the window they gave you? (laugh) And you don't want to do anything else like go to the bathroom or take a shower in case the doorbell rings.

Well since waiting for a delivery is one of my all-time least favorite things to do, I decided to go at it in a new way today. In order to handle the shower thing, I got up really early and showered. Of course this left me even longer to twiddle my thumbs, but at least I was clean.

So the delivery guy finally came and he had something just for me. Today I got my new laptop delivered and it is a beauty. I love it and I am typing on it right now. It is green and really cute. I have christened it "my green machine". I think that we will have a wonderful relationship.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

My Day in Nomansland

Today was a gloriously beautiful day here in Wiltshire and you could just feel spring in the air. So I went along with Brit Boy to see a client. We had a long ride today because we were going to Nomansland. Back home in Georgia, we would say as an expression that somewhere out in the middle of nowhere was no-man’s-land. Well, it is no longer a place of fairytales or expressions for me, it is a real place. Nomansland does exist and lies along the Wiltshire and Hampshire border. It is a small place and is situated along the edge of the New Forest National Park.

The New Forest National Park is a former royal hunting area that was created by William the Conqueror in 1079 as a place for mainly hunting deer. It has been officially designated as a national park within the last couple of years. The New Forest is a lush green forest and a place of recreation and has walking trails and such. There are deer that still roam within the forest.

My favorite bit about the New Forest and Nomansland area is that there are wild ponies that are allowed to roam freely around the forest, along the fields and they even wander into the road. The speed limit is slowed in the area and there are signs to remind you to watch for these beautiful creatures. There is just something so wonderful about the fact that in our modern world there is still a place for animals to act as they always have. It is great that they are free and that humans and animals live peacefully side by side. Here are a couple of pictures of the sweet ponies. I sort of caught the tail end of a couple of the ponies, but you can get the idea of just how close you can get and how gentle they are. You can also see the rugged scrubbed terrain out there. The land is hauntingly beautiful there and is dotted with this scraggly bush called gorse which has yellow flowers. When Brit Boy and I go through there, it is like it is just us and the ponies.