Friday, 26 December 2008

For my Nutty Celtic friend

I'm gonna try to put in a few pictures.

Okay, the picture is above the text... This is my new Pennanular brooch.

Next... Hmm, that one is above the last! No wonder I don't do pictures in my blog. The label from the box.

Also I have the pennanular that Bob made for me when he took a blacksmithing class while we were in Iceland.

And just for fun, the ring Bob bought me while he was in Iceland TDY earlier this year.

Oy! I was able to move one picture to its proper place, but the others stubbornly remained where they appeared. So from top to bottom:
the ring, the one Bob made, the label, the new one. :-)


We went to the bases today for after-Christmas sales. The furniture store was closed, and the commissaries were closed, but the BX and the BXtra were open. The BX - the main store on Lakenheath - had Christmas stuff 50% off. We found a sparkly silver dress that will fit Naysha once I hem up the sleeves marked 75% off $29. And we got a tub of candy and something for Taryn's birthday. When we went to check out, the candy rang up 1/2 price, and then the checker took off 50%, so the $8 chocolates weer only $2. WooHoo!
At the BXtra Christmas stuff was marked 75% off. Bob got some chocolate covered peanuts and I got a lighted 36" nativity thing (to stand up outside), and a wooden lighted nativity for inside. Once again, they rang up 75% off, and then the checker took another 75% off that. So the $35 nativity came out to something like $3.
They didn't have any shoes in my size, but you can't beat cheap chocolate. :-)

Thursday, 25 December 2008


It was fun.

Last night Bob got off work early, so went into Newmarket to see the lights and sights. We went into a couple of stores and got some good deals at Woolworths, which is closing. Then we drove out to a nearby village to a street that was featured in the paper for having so many lights on display. We parked and walked through; it was nice.
Then we had dinner and did our normal thing.

This morning we opened presents - something like 10 each for the 4 older ones, plus several for me, a few for Bob, and a few each for the two little ones. It took too long. (We've decided next year we will do the presents in rounds. Everybody get one or two, then go play for awhile. Come back later, do another round...) Then we had breakfast of homemade cinnamon rolls, eggs, and sausage. Then we played with all the new stuff, loaded the pictures on Flickr, and hung around til lunchtime. Lunch was chicken cones - like chicken packets, but I added the stuffing mix to the filling, cooked the crescent rolls in cone shapes, and stuffed them. It was good. And the cheese I bought at the last bazaar with crackers, and fudge with dippers. It was supposed to be fondue, but it wasn't, really. Oh, well, it was all good anyway.

The haul:

New cell phone (his old one stays charged for a few hours)
personal trimmer
dark Lindt truffles
Lakenheath/Mildenhall mug
Burt's Bees chapstick (from Heather)

Coupon for a furniture item of my choice
wireless mouse (my computer fell off the couch on the old one's receiver thing and it's getting pretty sad)
a Celtic/Viking brooch
some candy
blank book (from Heather)

lap harp (from Wil and Marline)
doll (from Bob's Grandma)
dress (from my Mom)
diary set (from Heather)
colored pens
tootsie roll bank
mold and paint picture frames

Nurse costume (from Wil and Marline)
doll (from Bob's Grandma)
Caddoo game (from my Mom)
necklace and mini dogs (from Heather)
star costume
purple fancy dress
tootsie roll bank
mold and paint magnets

penguin costume (from Wil and Marline)
play tool set (from Bob's grandma)
(joint with Ced) Robin Hood play castle set (from my Mom)
giant inflatable basketball (from Heather)
dress shirts
policeman costume
tootsie roll bank
Paint and make airplane

T-Rex costume (from Wil and Marline)
play tool set (from Bob's Grandma)
castle set (joint with Riah)
giant inflatable football (from Heather)
policman costume
Robin Hood costume
tootsie roll bank
paint and make car

doll (from Bob's grandma)
shoes (from Mom and Dad - sorry I didn't give him credit for everyone else's)
little furry dog (from Heather)
farm felt play set

push and go dog toy
blinking flashlight baby toy

I *think* that's it! Never mind the trampoline which will stay apart until after the move. Yes, two weeks and we move. I'm fine, really; thanks for asking. ;-)

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

time to check in again

I feel like I haven't blogged in a week or more. Where did I leave off? Oh, yes...

Friday night we made it to the carol service here in town. The church was nearly full, though there was only one other family with children. The meeting lasted about an hour, and it was stand to sing a carol, sit to hear a scripture or poem, stand to sing, sit to read. They sang a few that I've never heard, and a few that we knew but they do differently. In Silent Night, for example, we sing "shepherds quake" and they sing "shepherds quail." Away in a Manger and O Little Town of Bethlehem had different tunes than we are used to. But I enjoyed it and was glad we went. After the program they had minced pies and mulled wine. We were taking pictures of the decorations when a lady brought a tray of pies over, so I politely took one, and a couple of the children got one. I've had mince pie before, long ago at Langshot Manor, and thought it wasn't bad. These were SO strong I couldn't take more than a bite. Cedwryck's first bite had him loudly exclaiming, "I really like this!" but he nibbled around the crust a bit and decided he didn't want anymore after all. We walked toward the front of the church, but the smell of alcohol was so strong we couldn't stay. Growing up teetotalers, it's hard for me to reconcile alcohol and church.

Saturday we went to Bury again. It was much warmer this week. We made it to the market, where Bob got some magazines and I got some produce. Nothing amazing except the price - a pound of cherries for 1GBP. mmmmm. We had lunch at McDonald's, listened to the Salvation Army Band, and bought some fresh-roasted chestnuts (yuck!). Then we went to Tesco where I tried to get some lightbulbs, but I got the wrong kind. Then home, and chocolate gravy and biscuits for dinner.

Sunday was church. They had a baptism, which was cool. They don't have a permenant dunking booth, so they set up a portable pool thing over tarps in the fellowship hall. We had our song service, then everyone filed out to the other room and they baptised. There was a brother and sister, a woman, and then a man followed by his daughter and wife. Too cool. Each person was asked if they were saved by Christ, will follow Him and reject sin, then they were dunked, and then members of the congregation were invited to speak or read scripture to the newly baptised. And we all prayed for them. I've never seen it done like that, but I like it.

After church we went to Lakenheath for lunch. We couldn't decide what we wanted, so we just drove around past the various places. The club had no availbale parking. The BX had no available parking (Bob went twice last week to cash a check at the bank, which is across from the BX, and had to go back to work because there was no place for him to park down there); we really didn't want Taco Bell or Burger King; Popeyes had parking but no tables. So we sat there a minute, thinking, and we saw a large group leaving, so we jumped up and ran in to claim a table. Then we had to wait while they cooked biscuits. There was no ice in the soda machine and no napkins in the dispensers when we got there, but both were filled before we left. They were supposed to have a drawing for a cajun turkey, but they didn't. They said they'd do it later and call the winner, so I guess it wasn't us (or they "forgot").

Monday Bob left for work early, waking me up an hour earlier than usual. As half of his men are off for Christmas, the other half has to work extra to keep the work flow going. I bought the girls the computer game Cake Mania 3 from RealArcade. We cleaned, washed, cooked, played outside, had school... I feel like I acomplished nothing other than lots of stress and fussing as this is my emotional time of the month, but I guess it wasn't a total loss.

Today we ARE going shopping for Christmas day groceries and the ever important peanut butter. woohoo, I am SO excited. (Read that in Ben Stein's best monotone)

Okay, William is awake so I must go. Be blessed.

Friday, 19 December 2008

To-do list

Forgive me for "thinking out loud" here, I'm trying to figure out the next 3 weeks.

(I slept better last night, except I stayed up late and woke up early, so still very sleepy.)

Tomorrow is a weekend. I was going to look up some free stuff and see if anybody was doing something special for Christmas.

Tonight is a Christmas carol service in Cheveley and I want to go.

Next Thursday is Christmas. We have all the shopping done (I think). We are having finger foods that start with "c" (no reason, it just worked out that way) - chicken crouquets (or maybe packets), cheese and crackers, carrot sticks, chocolate fondue. I have to get the stuff for the fondue. I also want to make cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Should get sausage, too.

Bob works 12s Mon-Wed and has off Thurs and Fri. I'm thinking groceries on Monday - will fruit for dipping keep that long? I want tacos one day - tonight would be great, but I'm out of ground beef so it'll be Monday night.

The week after is New Year's, and Bob is supposed to be off work. Hopefully we will get some things ready for moving. What can we do? On the 2nd FMO is picking up our wardrobes, fridge, and dryer. They all have to be clean - including the dryer lint free. Any tips?

The 5th is Cedwryck's birthday. We need to get him something. Maybe the BX will have an after Christmas sale? He wants to watch a movie and go to the park if it's not too cold. And a race car cake (same as he had for his 2nd). Easy peasy.

The 8th Bob goes to the new house and the movers come to pack up. We will make a trip to the base that evening to take our cold stuff to the new fridge (and eat?). The 9th the movers load up the stuff and take it to the new house. We'll take the stuff they won't. We don't want to pack either vacuum, because we want to do the new house before the stuff gets there, and do the old house after the stuff is gone. We have to make sure nothing that belongs here (like window keys) gets packed, plus our cleaning stuff and fragile/valuable stuff like computers, purses, jewelry. So I guess that all needs to be sorted somehow beforehand.

The 10th and 11th we get to scrub the house top to bottom. I'm wondering if we ought to hire a carpet cleaner. Will it help or be a waste? If carpet cleaner foam doesn't get out a stain when it's fresh, will a steamer thing get it out when it's old?

Also, sometime close to moving out I need to fill out the online forms (or call) to get our final water and electric bills. I've already called BT about the phone and internet - they get an error message and will call me back. Right. It was supposed to be done by this Monday, then Wednesday, then next Monday. I wonder...

Ummm, what else?

I'm afraid I'll forget something very important.

Of course, this is on top of all the daily cooking, cleaning, training, washing that must continue to keep our little family going smooth.

Okay, i think I've got a handle on it now; thanks for listening. And if you have any cleaning advice or whatever, I'd love to hear it.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Sleep, please

So the next door neighbors have had a security light since before we moved in. It comes on whenever their cat walks by and stays on for 2 minutes. We thought that was bad.


Yesterday the neighbors across the sidewalk got a security light. It comes on whenever I wiggle my toes in my bed, stays on for 3 seconds and then flashes on again. Besides that, it is pointed straight at our house. Even with blinds and blackout curtains, it kept me awake all night. It wouldn't have been worse if one of the children was at the foot of my bed with a flashlight. On, off, on, off, on... Like sending morse code on a telegram or something. Gahhhh!

Is there a polite way to tell your neighbors their light needs adjusting? Cause if their bedroom is the one on the back of their house, they probably don't know. I wish we had a BB gun - that might fix it. :-D

Anyway, today I'm making more cookies for Bob's airmen. Wednesday he took some to the spouses of the deployed - Chocolate with oatmeal, Kix peanut butter cookies, and ginger snaps. The airmen get the choc and ginger, plus a cinnamon/orange, and maybe one other that I'll think of before too long. I've never made ginger snaps before, but I liked this recipe when I tried it at an Icelandic Christmas baking thing that we went to WAYYYY back in 2000 - yes, I've sat on the recipe for 8 years!

Time to get William up.

ETA (that's "edited to add" not "estimated time of arrival): Upon waking properly, we discovered that it isn't our motions setting off the light, but the vine growing up the wall that it's mounted to. Every puff of wind wiggles a leaf in front of the sensor and turns the light on. blah.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

the rest of the story

Sunday was Bob's birthday - he's 41. We decided to go to the church Christmas dinner, and that was nice. Then for a special birthday treat, Bob got to stay in the van with the children while I went in the commissary for milk and other WIC stuff.

Monday (he had the day off, remember) we opened up the barber shop and gave all 4 boys a haircut (and shower). William was a real trooper while having his head buzzed. He thought it tickled. But he still doesn't like baths. To make up for the trauma, he took a really long nap afterward.

After lunch we went to Bury St Edmunds. We took the back roads (we usually do) and ended up going a different way than ever before. But coming into town, I checked the van's compass and quickly figured out where we were. We got a parking space in front of the cathedral (usually overfull) and walked down to Jessops (a camera store). We stopped in a charity shop and I bought a skirt, a puzzle, and a book. Then on to Jessops, where Bob got himself a birthday (and Christmas) present - a new Nikon D700. This has a bonus of making a present for me - his old Nikon D80. :-) I tried to talk him into switching, but he's not buying it. The new one uses the same battery as the old one, and most of the same lenses. The only lens that doesn't work is Bob's favorite one. Ah, the thorn amidst the roses!

Then we went back to the car (stopping at another charity shop where I bought 2 skirts - one for me, one for Taryn - and a notebook) and headed toward Lakenheath. See, the camera bodies are cheaper in England, but accessories are cheaper in the States. So we went to the base to get a memory card for the camera (it uses a different kind than the old one does). We also got Ella a couple more presents - socks and shoes - as I'd realized that morning that she only had 3 things compared to the others' 8 things. We saw leggings on sale, so I grabbed 2 pair, and took the children to sit in the food court while Bob checked out.
When Bob came out he handed me the reciept and asked me to check if it was right. Sure enough, it wasn't. One pair of leggings (shorts, actually) rang up $6.79 and was marked $3. Yeah, I figured $3.79 was worth going back for. So I took the stuff back to customer service while Bob and the children ordered and ate dinner. Yes, it took that long. As I was waiting I realized that under the $3 price sticker was a 75% off sticker, which would have made the total price about $2.25. So when my turn came I asked the guy about it and he gave me the lower price. Sometimes AAFES people get it right in spite of store policy.
Anyway, after I ate and Bob played with his camera we headed home.

Today Bob is back to work and so am I... catching back up on laundry, dishes...
Which reminds me. For the church dinner I was asked to bring a dessert. I asked Bob if he wanted me to make a double cheesecake and take up there (his birthday cake is always choc swirl cheesecake) or make his for home and another for church. He opted for the latter. So for church I made a peanut butter-filled choc bundt cake. Except it broke when I turned it out. SO I set that aside and made a choc sheet cake. And then I made the cheesecake. And then at the dinner there were gobs of dessert and the sheet cake only had one piece taken out of it, so I brought it back home. So we have a house full of excited children and dieting adults with 3 cakes and stacks of dishes. yay.

Umm, back to my list for today: laundry, dishes, school, cooking dinner, baking cookies for Bob's airmen, cleaning bedrooms...
Which reminds me. Sunday morning Riah came out of his room dressed for church. ha. I can't believe we didn't take a picture. He had on heavy stone-washed carpenter jeans (with a rip above the knee), a tee shirt with a clip on tie, and a button-up cordoury shirt over that. hmmm. So we sent him back to change (of course) and he came out in overalls. Oh, well. In the process he dug through his drawers and closet, and all the extra clothes are now in the floor.

So anyway, I have lots of work to do and should get off the computer.

Sunday, 14 December 2008


Yesterday we had a goal of going to the market in Bury St Edmunds to get Bob some photography magazines. One of the regular merchants there sells back issues of all sorts of magazines for a good price, and Bob got a photography one there a few weeks ago that he can't find other places.
It was just above freezing, and very windy, so we all bundled well. The boys had sweats under their trousers, the girls had hose and leggings under their skirts, and we all had on two shirts under our coats.
As we came into Bury on the industrial side, I asked if we were going to the Warehouse superstore there. Sure, why not? It was just opening as we arrived - perfect timing. So we walked through the store (stopping at the toilets, of course), and got a long handled squeegee for washing the house windows. Bob wouldn't let me get flower bulbs for the new house. :-( We looked at furniture (I want a book shelf for Christmas) and basically wandered through. Then Bob took the children to the car while I went back and got some Christmas presents.

At this point it was raining pretty consistently, and still really cold, so we decided to skip the hours of walking outside. We went to Mildenhall for lunch, and finished the Christmas shopping in their toyland. Wow, that sounds so simple in print. It took just over 3 hours.
The shopping Saturday was to buy things from the grandparents, who sent money for the purpose.

I think we are set for a good Christmas, and it cost us very little out of pocket. I did spend some time on Ebay, but it was well worth it.

Today is Bob's birthday, and we are going to the church Christmas dinner after meeting today. (And then to the commissary for milk etc). He has tomorrow off work, as a thank you from the Capt for Bob's help with the squadron Christmas party.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Things America does well

So here's the sister post to the last one.

What America has right:

Private bathrooms. In people's houses, the majority of American bathrooms have cabinets which is really handy for keeping little items in, like towels. Also, there are power outlets, which are handy for, oh, I dunno, HEATERS and hairdryers and curlers and radios and....

On ramps. On a multi-lane divided highway, on and off ramps are very convenient.

Road signs. Except for slummy neighborhoods where the cool kids steal them, most streets have their actual name written on a sign, posted at every intersection, so that one can know, at a quick glance, what street one is on (or approaching). Also, the highway department has a standard method of signage, so whichever town you are in, you can be pretty sure that the major streets will be marked enough ahead of time for you to do something about it (like change lanes, brake, etc).

Tumble dryers as standard. Often, right next to the washer!

Central A/C. Sometimes, it just gets hot and you want to do something about it.

Parking lots. Just about every store has one, so that one can actually drive to the location of one's choice, park the car, and go in. They don't charge for it, either. I hope it's a long time before I complain about having to walk across a parking lot (as opposed to walking across town).

Electricity. America has a building code, so that every plug is wired the same way; every lightbulb and switch have the same wires and connectors. Also, we use 110 voltage which is less lethal than twice that, and all American plugs fit in all American sockets (except really old houses which sometimes have ungrounded sockets) - you won't find a myriad of plug adapters there. AND, every room has its own circuit so that if you ever do blow a fuse it doesn't turn off the whole house (and you are much less likely to blow one).

Garage sales. Depending on the town, you can stick a sign up in your front yard and thow a bunch of junk out on the lawn any time you want to.

Advertising. (another weird one to mention) Americans know how to get the word out. If there is an event, a sale, whatever, chances are people are going to hear about it. Stores have signs, which does clutter the view, but it makes it a lot easier to find them.

Restaurants. They're big, and there are lots of them. We only had to worry about getting a table if we went to certain popular places at 7pm on Friday. And even then it was a matter of waiting for a clean table, not a matter of them not having room for 8 people.

Churches. There are more of them, more choices. And since people actually go there and pay tithes, the churches don't have to resort to becoming a book store or a day care or renting out to the boy scouts to stay afloat.

(Disclaimer: on both of these lists I have resorted to a lot of generalizing. Of course not EVERYthing will be true of any country ALL the time. And some things are true of both, to an extent - I know America has radiators up north. And the list is by no means all-inclusive. I've already thought of another thing to add to the England list.)

Also, as I'm making my lists, I find that something I really like is conformity and standards, which is funny for a libertarian-leaning type like myself. Hmmm. I'll have to ponder that further. And there are a lot of issues I'm just not going to touch, like media and health care, because I don't have sufficient knowledge of those things. So anyway, I hope you all enjoy.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Things England does well

I wanted to do this as a side by side comparison of things England does and things America does, but I guess it'll do as a stand alone (since I have no formatting skills) - anyway, this way I can talk more about some items if I want to.

So, after a year of living here, this is my list of things that England has got right.

Public bathrooms. (This may come as a surprise if you have read Dave Barry's travel guide, and it takes some getting used to, but...) Not every store has a toilet, but nearly every town does - often at the parking lots - and they are actually open to the public (though some do charge a fee). The coolest thing is that the stall doors actually overlap the door frame, so there isn't the 1-inch gap that people walk by and look at you through. The doors also come down almost to the floor.

Roundabouts. Except for on major highways, roundabouts are very efficient at moving traffic.

Front-load washers as standard. They are quiet, small, efficient, and gentler on clothes.

Fireplaces. Most houses have one, and they are small enough to not be drafty.

Radiators. In my opinion this is a nice way to heat a room - non drying, no blast of cold air when the heater kicks on, and each room can be set to a different temperature.

Pedestrian areas. Every city has a pedestrian zone where you walk from shop to shop. It's personal, healthy, more fun and interactive.

Mail. The Royal post is efficient (I keep using that word...). Mail is delivered the day after it's sent. Packages are sent quite cheaply.

Home delivery. Groceries ordered online (or bought in the store) can be delivered to your door when you like for a small fee.

Organics. Organic produce and dairy aren't much more expensive than "regular" stuff.

Farming. Small, local farms are highly encouraged, and people actually go to the farms and buy directly from them. All the animals I've seen around here are "free range."

Boot sales. Sort of a flea market/garage sale where one sells from the boot of one's car (or laid out on a tarp). Prices are usually terrific and they are held nearly every weekend all summer.

Churches. With one standard denomination, every village has a church and it is part of the village. Most churches are open for people to just walk in, and many of them have an honor-system book store in the back corner. Also, churches have graveyards.

Not such a good ending point, but I think my list is getting long enough for now.

Monday, 8 December 2008

not much

Just little things going on...
Friday was Bob's squadron "holiday" party, so he didn't get home until 9:30 or so.
Saturday we pulled some stuff out of the storage building and boxed up some movies. See, military movers have to count all your movies and cds and list them separately from your other stuff, so we thought it'd be handy if we just took that ourselves in the van (as we'll be driving back and forth anyway to clean/eat/etc).
Then, after lunch, we went out to run some errands. A man in Beck Row was giving away a trampoline (had an ad on the base web site) and we got to it first. (I'm not celebrating yet since we haven't got it together yet and I'm hoping all the parts are there.) Then we went to the BX and Taryn and I each bought a pair of dress shoes - $8 total. The store doesn't go far toward meeting our needs, but sometimes they have good clearances. Then I popped in the commissary for diapers and sour cream, and we came back home.

Sunday Bob woke up with a migraine. He is used to "cluster" headaches but this was different. The lights and sounds were making him sick to his stomach, so after a few minutes he went back to bed and didn't get up again until after 11. So we missed church. But I got to bake a little for a breakfasty lunch and that was good therapy. Bob still wasn't feeling terrific, so I took Naysha and Cedwryck with me for the rest of the trampoline and gas for the mower. Got back in time for dinner of canned biscuits and smoked sausage.

Today Bob had a dentist appointment - for his teeth gaurd, I think. At his regular check-up they noticed he'd been grinding his teeth and so fitted him for a thing. Anyway... I called BT to transfer our services, as the website said to give them 14 business days notice, but the guy said he was getting an error message and they'd have to call me back. I wonder if the currant occupant of our new house hasn't cancelled yet. At 2 we have a mover guy coming to see how much junk we have so they can bring the right amount of boxes.

And that's that, I think.

Friday, 5 December 2008


Thursday I wasn't full speed, but recovering. Taryn was iffy, Naysha was recovering. So I let them watch videos in the morning while I made cookies for the party. We did get the living room tidied, but the kitchen is a lost cause.

The Christmas party was listed as 2-4pm, but we got there at "1:30" (we nearly made it) to help set up. It was pretty much done. Bob managed to get away from work to come help. Thinking about it later we decided the thing would have worked better if more men had been able to make it. There were crafts, snacks, and friends to visit with. A game or two, a "program," and door prizes. What more could one want?

Our children behaved very well, and I told them more than once how proud I was of them.
The program started with a string quintet, and then a little girl got up to read Luke 2:10-12. When Riah saw how nervous she was, he about lost it. He didn't want to say his "rememory" verse. But there was plenty of time for me to calm him down before his turn came. We decided that I would go up with him and hold the mic, and he could just say it to me. He did fine. Then they all sang "I'm in the Lord's army" and then "We three kings" - they sang the first and last verse together, and Riah, Naysha, and Taryn each did a solo on the kings' verses. Then Cedwryck said his verse, a few other people did things, and Naysha said her verse. Ella (who is used to saying a memory verse at home) jumped up and said, "My turn!" and was rather upset to find it wasn't. She tends to try for cute instead of just saying her verse. Anyrate, as they all started to sing the first song, she was saying her verse on her own.

Sorry if this doesn't make any sense. The children are VERY interupty this morning. I guess they used up all their good behaviour for the week yesterday.

After the party we had dinner at Burger King and I went in the commissary for a minute to get milk and fruit.

Now I just have to clean up the kitchen...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


Bob had off Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving, so naturally we took a trip.

Thursday morning we got up at 5 in an effort to beat the traffic on the M25, and we almost made it. We stopped at Tesco for bread (for lunches) and doughnuts for breakfast, and were on our way. Drove down toward London, then around the M25 toward Heathrow, and headed west after that. Yes, we could have gone straight south-west, but it would have added an hour or more to the trip.

First stop, Bath. They have a "park and ride" system, but the "park" part of it wasn't working properly - the lot was overfull when we arrived - so we drove on into town and eventually found a parking lot there. Then we walked. Past the Royal Crescent, past the Jane Austin center, to the baths. The pedestrian signs didn't quite point the right way, but between them and the map I'd printed before we left home, we managed to find our way. The Roman baths cost a LOT to go see, so we contended ourselves with shopping at their craft fair and using their toilets. Bob bought a hand carved (from local limestone) nativity set for me.
We ate some lunch at Burger King, but no one got full. We walked through the Christmas Market and down to the river. There was a green there and the children ran around while Bob took pictures and I rested (I need new shoes). Then back to the car where we had some peanut butter sandwiches, apples, and chex mix.

From there we drove to Plymouth, where we had a hotel booked. Once we got parked and found our way to the front door, checked in, and put our stuff in the room, we asked where to eat. They pointed us down the road (nearly a mile) to a local pub that was good and cheap. It was also small and crowded. We tried to order so the food could cook while we waited for a table, but they wouldn't let us order without a table number. Maybe they should charge a little more and hire people with brains. So we walked all the way back, hoping to get a phone book and order some pizza or Chinese, but the staff was gone to bed. (It's a 'small' hotel.) So we went up to the room and had another peanut butter sandwich and went to bed hungry.

Friday we took full advantage of our included-with-the-room-rate breakfast. Everybody had a glass of juice, a bowl of cereal, and then a "full English." There was nothing left on the table except a few beans. Then we went to the quayside and saw the Mayflower Memorial. We also got to see a lock in motion.
After that we drove out to Tintagel and visited with King Arthur a little while. The tide was coming in as we got there, so Bob quickly climbed down to the caves while the rest of us stayed above. It was sunny when we arrived, but raining by the time we started up the stairs. The children ran around in the rain and *didn't* climb on the walls while Bob and I sat it out in a little bus-shelter looking thing. It stopped raining and we walked around on the hill and watched the waves, the rainbow, and the birds. Then back down the stairs (about 100 of them) to our waiting stroller, which was now wet, of course. We put William in anyway, on a blanket, and let Ella walk.
I can't remember where we ate lunch or dinner Friday. hmm. Must be the stomach bug.
Then we drove to Bristol to a Days Inn hotel for the night.

Saturday we went through Avesbury to Stonehenge, eating lunch at a pub on the way. At Avesbury I felt a lot of confusion at the stones. At Stonehenge I mostly felt cold. :-) And then we came home.

So that's the short version, I guess. You lucked out this time.


Well, it started with William, then Ella got it, and I was next. Cedwryck picked it up this morning. With the Christmas party tomorrow it has to stop there.

From about noon yesterday I didn't feel well, and from dinner last night I've been running to the bathroom every 30 minutes. Yay. Now I know why Ella was crying yesterday, saying "my back hurts" while rubbing her front. :-)

I did get Bob to stay home from work today and take care of me. At 5 this morning I could hardly walk to the bathroom. I'm not sure if the bug is passing or if it has simply run out of ammunition.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

catch up

I want to do a detail trip report, but first I guess I need a follow up on my last post.

We have been on the base housing waiting list since last November (30 days before we got here), but everything indicated that it would be 3 years before a house would be available. As we were only planning to stay for 3 years, getting on the list was seen as a mere formality.

The desire to really move on base began to grow as the season changed, and Bob found himself driving to and from work in the dark. Then it got cold and we realized the bathroom radiator, always iffy, wasn't heating at all. We could call the estate agent, but if they decide we did something to it we'd have to pay the plumber. A cold bathroom may seem like a little thing, but it really wears on us.

Then Bob had some new guys at work who were getting houses right away - 4 bedroom houses - on Lakenheath. So we got to looking, and it turns out that when we arrived and had to pick the areas where we'd like a house (as "base housing" ranges from actually on base to as far away as Thetford and Ely), not knowing anything about the areas, we'd picked Mildenhall and Feltwell but not Lakenheath. I really think the people told Bob there weren't 4 bedrooms on Lakenheath so he may as well not put it down. Anyway, he updated the selections to include Lakenheath, and we waited.

One day (the day after I had to order more heating oil for this house) Bob called with the news - we've been offered a house. It's in the area known as Lord's Walk, and used to be within the confines of RAF Lakenheath, but they've recently re-drawn the boundaries so that it now lies just outside the fence. So it will be easier to get in and out - don't have to stop and show ID - but still close enough to consider things like riding a bike to work.

There was a catch with the offer, though. The house is occupied, and the owner was not available until mid-December. But we had to decide if we wanted that house (or wait for another offer) within 24 hours. They gave us the address and a floor plan - why would we need to see inside? At the very least, Bob wanted me to see the location, so I drove up to meet him after work and we went to walk around the house. Whaddayaknow? The current occupant was in the back yard. So we talked to him for a little while, and he eventually decided to let us in. It's doable.

The house is smaller, as we will lose our second living area, but there are two full bathrooms, and all but the master bedroom are bigger. The kitchen is bigger by square footage, but there are fewer cabinets and bigger appliances. But there is a hot pantry - I'll have to think about what I put in there (it's right next to the furnace and we were warned that chocolate will melt in there). The yard is bigger, and flat, so more opportunity for play equipment (I've been wanting to get something, but here it would have to go on the stone patio, which is bad for falls, because that's the only flat space). Also there is a sidewalk behind the houses where (I suppose) the children could ride bikes.

The whole thing will be an adjustment, but that's how life is. I'll miss my convection oven with broiler, but I'll be able to use my toaster oven. I'll miss the front-load washer, but it will be nice to have dryer right next to the washer instead of in the other room. I'll miss my larger sink, but will enjoy free water. And so it goes.

The movers will start packing us on the 8th of January, as Bob is on base getting the key to the new house. On the 9th they will finish up here and deliver to the new house. As that is Thursday and Friday, we will have the weekend to clean up the old house before turning it in on the 12th. Our housing allowance stops on the 8th, but we get a "partial dislocation allowance" to help with the out-of-pocket expenses and stress, etc. It's a rip-off, but we'll manage.

And that's that, I think.