Friday, 29 January 2010

last week

Okay... SO we got home Monday evening, and then Tuesday morning (no, not the gift store) we started a new adventure.

Bob is going to retire in January. The military offers a 3-day class called Transition Assistance something - TAP. "Spouses are strongly encouraged to attend." So we had made arrangements for a friend to watch the 6 older children while Bob, Elijah, and I went to the TAP class. We started off on the wrong foot, as I *knew* it started at 8:30, but when Bob called at 7:55 to ask about uniform or civilian clothing, they told him it started at 8:00. So as soon as the friend got here, we took off running. William came downstairs in time to look out the window and cry. :-(
We ran in before they'd got started good, so it wasn't a HUGE deal. Elijah slept a while, then I fed him and he sat up and smiled at the instructor. He almost fussed once, so I took him out to change his diaper. Anyway, at the 10am break the instructor told me that somebody wanted to talk to me. ?? It was the "facility manager" and he took me in his office, sat me down and explained that babies weren't normally allowed in the classrooms, but since we were here we could stay. Except, I should take him out to the WIC lounge (downstairs on the other side of the building) whenever I wanted to breastfeed him, because that might bother somebody. Well, I was expecting trouble when we got there, because they'd had problems with me bringing young William to my driving class when we first got here, so I just said, "Okay," and left. After a feeding I stood in the hall until the lunch break, and then Bob brought me home. I visited with my friend a while before relieving her of her duties, and life went on.

So the next 2 1/2 days Bob went to TAP by himself, and I starting taking control of my home life. My friend was appalled at our children's table manners, and the clutter in my house. :-( So she encouraged and helped me to get things moving. Thanks, Misty, for being bold enough to do what was needed. Things are already a lot better.

Friday was a VA benefits briefing, about how to get as much back from the government as possible, since they took everything they could for the last 20 years.

Sunday was Taryn's birthday party. One week late, but that was when we got a room at the community center. She had 8 girls (including herself) for games and an American "high tea" - hot chocolate, lemonade, and sandwiches, with chocolate swirl cheesecake for dessert. Misty loaned us her china tea set and gold forks, and everything was lovely and dainty. One of the friends there flew out the next day, so it was bittersweet. (We did go to church that morning, and it was a great worship service followed by good-byes to another American Air Force family. Lots of leaving at overseas bases.)

Oh, Tuesday last was also the first day of the college semester, and Bob is taking a Math class. Yay. The thing is, he wants me to help him with his homework, and Math was the one class I refused to take in high school. hmmm. Well, with the help of his notes from class, and the book, and some free tutorials online, he managed to get a C on his first test. :-) He has 2 classes each week for 7 weeks, and part of every Tuesday class is a test. THen there's the final exam, which counts for 60% of the grade. So he's a little nervous about that. As long as he passes it's free, but if he fails we have to pay for the class.

Okay, I think we are mostly caught up! Bob has today off in exchange for Superbowl Monday, because he isn't going to stay up all night to watch a ball game (but most of his coworkers are). Happy Friday.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

brother!

I just remembered that I left the trip hanging and didn't bring us home.

Anyway, we purposely meandered as much as possible on the way home, stopping at RAF Croughton for lunch at the bowling alley, and going by some giant WWII zeppelin hangers. We ran into some road construction, but still made it home before dinner at the BX, followed by some shopping. Got the boys some new pants/trousers. If we are going to keep us this idea of not being white trash, we can't let the boys out in knee-less jeans anymore.

So there, I made it home Monday night. For conclusions, Bob thinks the folks are friendlier at Fairford, and the food is arguably better, but Croughton is cheaper and more convenient for staying over. We think Cambridge is at least as nice as Oxford: the Park and Ride is easier to use, the market is the traditional outdoor kind, there is the river and the PARKS, and the big college cathedral is fancier, though Cambs is more crowded and there are too many bicycles in the pedestrian area. Windsor was overpriced, but we are glad to be able to say we went. The Cotswolds aren't as 'done up' in the winter, but you can get at them then. That is unsatisfactory as a closing statement, but I'm done.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Sunday

If you want to read our trip in order, scroll down the page.

Sunday started of clear and cool, as promised. Yay! for an accurate forecast.
It was Taaryn's birthday, and though we had a party planned for the 24th, we wanted to recognize her in some way on her "actual birthday." We had PopTarts with our breakfast cereal. :-) I had also brought two gifts with us, unbeknownst to her, that I was able to surprise her with when she came into our room after her morning shower. She got two Lois Lenski books and a pair of snow boots. (I'm told the boots look like Uggs, but I couldn't verify that. They are fuzzy on the inside, cost less than $20, and arrived in time for her birthday; that's all that counts.)

After breakfast we loaded up and headed to Oxford. I'd done my homework, so I knew that only 2 of the 5 (or 6) park and rides allowed tall vehicles, and we went to one of those. There was a height barrier, but Bob pulled to the side and I went inside to talk to staff. I expected him to come out and unlock the barrier, but instead he instructed us to go back to the road, turn at the first set of lights, and turn again to some in the secret hidden entrance by the exit. It also had a height barrier, labeled the same height as the front gate, but was obviously much higher, though quite narrow. We scraped through and parked right in front of the building/bus stop.

It was inevitable, I suppose, for us to compare Oxford and Cambridge. I'm told some old guidebooks suggested their readers go to Cambridge first, and then Oxford, to avoid disappointment, as Oxford is so much prettier. hmph. It started right away, as we usually park and ride into Cambridge. Cambs P&R is pretty straightforward. There is one bus from each parking lot, and it goes a circuit to downtown and back to the parking lot. Oxford's P&R is more like a regular bus station, with a dozen buses stopping there, each one going to a different place, and no way for the uninitiated to tell which is which. The first bus up already had a stroller on board, so we decided to wait for the next bus rather than unload and fold up the stroller. The next bus wasn't going where we wanted to go, nor was the one after. But we eventually got on, and even departed the bus near the city center. I had a map of downtown, which is a good thing, because the P&R didn't offer one (unlike Cambs), and it had all the streets in the right place. But it didn't have all the buildings in the right place. :-( We picked up a bus schedule from the P&R, but it didn't have a blowup of downtown. I'd seen one online, that showed where to get on and off each bus, and lamented the fact that there wasn't a print version of that at the bus stop.

So, we knew where we were when we got off the bus, but couldn't find the Carfax tower, which was something Taryn wanted to do. As it is supposed to be the center of town, the place from which tourists orient themselves, and tall enough to offer a view of the whole city, it was a bit odd that we couldn't find it. We ended up down some alley-type street, where all the buildings were boarded up. But somehow that led us back to civilization and we sort of accidentally bumped into the Carfax, after stopping in a lovely bookstore where every book was 2GBP. I wasn't planning to climb the 99 steps to the top, but the boys wanted to go with Bob and Taryn, but weren't allowed (age 7 and up). So they stayed down with me and read their new books.
When we left the tower, we found we were just around the corner from a McDonald's. Yeah, not very hip to go to American restaurants all the time, but after the "hamburgers" of Saturday we wanted something dependable. We had to wait for a table, but were then able to crunch into a round table meant for 4 or 5. Eight combo meals later, we were back on the street.
We also never saw the big bookstore, but we did bump into the back of the one library I'd read about. The big "silence please" sign in the doorway was enough for me to not trust their internet statement about children being welcomed, and I watched them run laps around the "camera" while Bob went in the library and took pictures. We almost had our bearings by this time, and I was delighted to see some of the "dreaming spires" I'd heard so much about (and was very disappointed in the lack of, when I visited Oxford with my parents in '95).
We walked through the covered market, which is now (partially) open on Sundays, and then to Christ Church college/cathedral/parish church. There actually was a line there (can't imagine visiting in the 'high' season), and an employee walked down the line, asking if anyone had some card (trying to expedite). I asked how many were on the family ticket, so I could have the money ready, and he said 2 adults, 2 children. SO I asked what age children, and he said up to 17 (when I was wanting to know how many extra I'd have to pay for). So then he actually looked at us, said the limits were designed to keep people from coming in with aunts and uncles and cousins all on one ticket, and we could go on a family ticket. He then proceeded to usher me and the children ahead of the line, helped carry the stroller up the stairs, and made sure we had a guidebook, while Bob stood in line to pay. Made my day.
The church was nice, but not as spectacular as I'd expected. Anyway, I got to sit and rest, I mean feed Elijah and change diapers, while Bob and the older children walked around and took pictures. We wanted to buy something in the gift shop, but just couldn't find anything that was worth the price. Some pretty little olivewood nativities for 20GBP and up, a mediocre guide book... we left it there. Getting tired now, we trudged toward our imaginary bus stop. Well, Bob found where we'd got off the bus, and upon asking the bus driver we found out that we could get on the bus on the other side of the street. Once again we lamented the P&R not providing maps of any kind. ANyway, we made it. The P&R office was closed, so we couldn't use their toilets.
We decided to just go 'home' and have sandwiches for dinner, but when Bob pulled in to a 'services' to use the toilet, we changed our minds and opted for Little Chef. Riah cried when he saw his hamburger (still not sure why), William wouldn't eat his (I tried a bite and thought it was good), Bob's food wasn't enough... But it was a break, and the children's meals come with ice cream. :-)

I think that's about it for Sunday.

and a week later

here I am again.

Saturday we woke up to rain on our windows. (Um, that's LAST Saturday, the 16th, as we were on holiday.) Bob found a nifty forecasting site that said it would be heavy rain today, high of "2," but tomorrow would be sunny with a high of "8." Now the temps were in Celsius, but even then we could see that 8 is warmer than 2. So we talked it over briefly, and decided Saturday shouldn't be spent walking around outside. Which left driving, or staying in one indoor location, which is deceptive because there is no indoor location interesting enough to stay in a whole day with a parking lot. Yeah, I mean "no indoor location with its own parking lot that is interesting enough to stay in all day." Or wait, that doesn't work either - nobody has a parking lot interesting enough to stay in all day. So forget grammar, on with the story.
So Saturday we drove around. First we went west to Cirencester, which actually has a museum, but I'm not sure if we would have found it. We followed signs to a Roman Amphitheater that is supposed to seat 8000 people, and we couldn't find it. So we drove around the "Cotsold Water Park" which has no slides, wave pools, or innertubes - it's just a collection of small lakes - and ended up in Cricklade (I think). We drove through town, but wanted to see the church, so came back through and found a parking spot. (I make it sound easy, no? And Bob makes it look easy, but I'm pretty sure no one reading this would like to try turning around or parking our bus on their streets!) We walked up to the church (the "heavy" rain having stopped) and looked around.
We then walked on through town, looking for food. I picked out a diner promising homemade food, complete with a young couple sitting near the window and sharing a giant ice cream. Bob sent me in to scope it out, and there seemed to be largish tables in the back, so we went in. Turns out the large table was reserved, but there was a table for 4 open, and behind it (in a cubby hole) an open table for 2. Good enough; we squeezed in and examined the menu. The children picked out an assortment of sandwiches, breakfast items, and pizza. Bob and I ordered sandwiches. Turns out they were out of pizza, so back to the menu. A lovely standby item - hamburger. Well, or course hamburgers coat differently than pizzas, so I had to go back to the counter to figure out the price difference. It took me one try to get the amount figured, but the waitress had to figure it 3 times, and then get both a calculator and a pen and paper to work it out right. Then, funny thing, I said "cheeseburger" instead of "hamburger" and she said they don't have cheeseburgers. hmmm, they have burgers, and cheese... but oh, well. Then, they come with "hoops" which I supposed was a sort of potato chippy thing that we've had before; not great, but unoffensive. She said "spaghetti hoops" which made me wonder, but it was included in the meal so I took them. So back to the table, and the food was already coming out. Only, they apparently can only cook 3 dishes at a time. So the first 3 came out, and then the next 3 (a few minutes later), and then the next table got theirs. Um, hello? Oh, the friendly waitress noticed some of us were done already and Bob didn't have a plate, so she went to check on it. A few minutes later and his came out. Here's the deal - the 'hamburgers' were just beef patties-no bread. And the "hoops" were not hoops at all, but canned spaghetti (like Spaghetti-o's except it wasn't "o's." With a bit of ketchup, the patties were eaten, but no one liked the hoops. All told, we weren't impressed with the place. Bob stopped in a grocery on the way back to the car and bought some hobnobs.

Then we went back to the base to check out the store (having inquired of the bowling alley staff, we knew the hours were 10-4). It was about the size of our shoppette, and was supposed to make up for all 3 of our stores. No selection, but we were able to get toothbrushes and a comb. They also had flip-flops for $1 each pair, so we got a couple. We also filled up with gas, and found out that the gas station would be open for a couple of hours on Monday. Then we were back on the road, this time to the north.

By trying to take the smaller roads, and making 'random' choices based on the signposts, we ended up in Bibury. Who knew it would be so lovely? (A lot of people, apparently! Some famous person once said it was the prettiest village in the country.) After much arm-twisting, Bob parked to take pictures of the water. ;-) I went across the street to the post office, where I bought a small book on the town. Then I convinced Bob to let the children out, and we walked down a footpath across a bridge, through some mud, under trees, and back across a bridge to the 'trout farm' gift store. Bob got a mug and I got a jar of chocolate curd, and each child got a cheap trinket. It was getting dark, so we headed back to Fairford. The welcome book in our room had mentioned a Chinese takeaway in town, and we wanted to find it, and the sign post for Fairford town said it had a "world famous church." We got a parking spot near the church, and walked up to it, but it was closed for the day. So we went on through town, and found two Chinese places (next door to each other). We picked one, ordered a bunch of food and sat down to wait. The man was very friendly and gave each child a sucker. Got the food (in a crate to carry it home), walked back to the bus, and drove back to the hotel. By now we are starting to learn our way around! The chicken balls were a bit greasy, and the honey-lemon sauce tasted like canned lemonade concentrate, but the sweet and sour sauce was good, and Bob said it's the best Cashew chicken he's had in the UK.

And thus concludes our Saturday.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Time to blog - Friday

I hope.

Let me dig way back in my memory vaults and see if I can find Friday. Friday was a family/goal day, which paired with Monday (Martin Luther King, Jr Day) made a four day weekend. There are some good things about being in the military. Knowing our time here is drawing short, I couldn't let an opportunity like this slip away, in spite of short, dark days and snow on the ground. I tried to get a "TLF" (Temporary Living Facility - fancy name for a furnished apartment) at RAF Croughton, but they weren't answering the phone. Finally, in desperation, I called RAF Fairford. They answered on the first ring, and happily booked me. However, when he asked if we had 1 or 2 children, and I said we had 7, he said we'd need another room. ?? Turns out their TLF is just a hotel suite, with one bed and one sofa bed. SO we got one of those AND a regular room across the hall. Whatever; it's vacation and I'm not going to worry about a silly little thing like $40 per night. (gulp) When we got there we discovered the bedroom portion of the TLF room was huge, and could easily have accommodated children who like to sleep on the floor. But we didn't know that until later.

Friday morning we got the bus packed and headed out. All we took was 2 suitcases, an "A" bag (giant military-issue green bag that would hold a roast pig), an igloo, two bags of food, the diaper bag, camera bag, briefcase, garbage bag with our pillows and Taryn's birthday present, and a tub of sweaters and hats and gloves. :-D Somehow we forgot the box of toiletries, but we didn't notice that until later.

We took the long way around, to avoid as much of the M25 (London ring road) as possible, but still ad to drive on it a while. The further south and west we went, the more snow was on the ground. The roads, however, were clear of snow, and traffic was light until we got on the M25. First stop, Windsor. They have a mini park and ride just across the river from the castle, and we got in there and even found a parking spot, but then realized we had no change for the parking meter. Being on the outside of town, there was nowhere to get change. SO we drove on into town and found a parking lot close to the castle area, but they wouldn't make change, and it was something crazy like 8GBP. So we moved across the street to a lot that would make change, and only charged 6GBP. (Yikes!) So we bought our 3 hours, then decided to have sandwiches for lunch in the van. And THEN we went up to Windsor Castle. On the street opposite the castle was a McDonald's and a Pizza Hut.
We knew beforehand (Thanks, internet) that the "state rooms" were closed, but they were kind enough to reduce the prices, so we figured we would go ahead. Bought the tickets, then had to go through airport-like security, scanners and all, before we were allowed to go in. Of course the first thing to do was use the toilets. Then we walked around the castle, checking out the "doll house" and the picture gallery before heading to the shop and the chapel. I wanted to buy something at the shop, but everything seemed way overpriced. We did get a tower-shaped pencil sharpener. Hopefully it is big enough that it won't be so easily lost. Oh, and I got myself a pearl bracelet. :-D

We limped down the hill back to the car, only 15 minutes after our ticket expired, and grateful that there was only the one flight of stairs in the castle. And we were on our merry way. Google maps had taken us through a rather squiggly back road to the base, and we would have been there before dark, except for the heavy fog. ahem. Anyway, at the exit that Google suggested, there was a sign saying RAF Fairford should use the next exit instead. SO we followed the sign. It was a slightly less squiggly back road, with light controlled corners so cars wouldn't run into each other (it was only slightly wider than 1 lane). We saw where the Google road would have come out, so we were back on track anyway, and kept following the signs. We came up to the base fence, and the road ran along it for awhile, and then veered away. No fear, follow the signs. Except at the next 2 critical junctions, there were no signs. As we sped through a village, something caught my eye and I turned back, and there was a sign from the other direction, to turn. But we were well past it, and I wasn't confident that it was an RAF sign. SO we went on into Fairford town, where there were no signs again. Through town twice, out the other side... Found a place to turn around, intending to ask for directions in town, but on the way back in there was a sign to turn for RAF Fairford. Once again, only visible form the direction we weren't going (verified in daylight, this turn really only had the sign from the one side). Oh well, we were on our way again. It wasn't long before we found the gate, and it happened to be the right one (more about that later).
The gate guard came to check our IDs, and Bob asked for directions to billeting. The man replied, to the best of my knowledge, "Whan ya coom to the stoop sayn, tarn royt. Goo as fair as ya keyn, and tarn laift..." It took us a minute to figure out what he meant, but it was easy enough to find billeting (the hotel). I checked us in, having to ask for directions to the room (she wasn't going to tell me), and then thought about food, so asked about that, too. She thought the bowling alley was open til 6 (it was 5:30). SO I asked for a base map, and went back out to the bus. We decided to get to the bowling alley first, and then unpack. We located it on the map - just across the road, really, and headed over. After helping everyone over the snow bank that lined the sidewalk, we were in! Turns out they were open late that day anyway, for league night. Got all the children cheeseburgers. Can't even remember what I had. The people there were very friendly, and I thought the fries were very good (Taryn didn't like them, but thought the gross burgers were good).
We then took a little drive around to check out the base, but when we followed the map we got nowhere, so to avoid frustration went back to our room. Upon further study, we discovered that the rest of the base was actually across the public road. aha! Now we discovered our rooms, in spite of the doors being labeled with numbers other than the room numbers, and they were large and clean. The kitchenettes are a joke, but there was a full-size fridge in the living room, and though clean, the room is a bit run down (doors sticking and things like that). We unpacked, noticed that they have WiFi (yea!!), watched Flying House on Youtube, and went to bed. A few hours later we actually went to sleep. Boys!

oy, I'm stiff. Maybe I'll do Saturday later.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

hurry

I'm not really here... I'm planning a trip to the Cotswolds (details to follow). But there was a cutie the other day I had to share.

William, who was just 1 1/2 when Mom and Dad were here 6 months ago, remembers that Mom wears short socks. We were getting dressed to go get the MOT done, and I had a new pair of socks for William - short, barely over the ankle socks. He stuck his foot out, and as I pulled the sock up he said, "Gram sock!"

By the way, we did get the MOT (inspection) done; passed after changing the bulbs in the brake lights. But I couldn't find my proof of insurance, so still haven't paid the road tax. I called insurance yesterday, and they are resending my proof.

Misty, if you are reading this in the AM, I plan to call you later. :-)

Monday, 11 January 2010

numbers don't lie?

These should sit and stay.

Anyway, I heard recently that the UK is a more dangerous place to drive than the US. So I looked it up.

US has an estimated population of 308,333,000.
Auto accidents for 2005: 6,420,000.
Fatalities: 42,636.

UK has estimated population of 61,383,000.
Auto accidents in 2005: 271,017.
Fatalities: 3,201.

Maybe they figure it different than we do, but according to the numbers, the US has 5 times as many people as the UK. But the US had 23 times as many accidents, and 14 times as many traffic related fatalities.

What with that, and the weather, I'm beginning to think we should stay here! But, I do miss my family and my dog. sigh. Makes me re-appreciate my favorite hymn, "When we all get to Heaven."

Friday, 8 January 2010

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

awards



Ganeida sent me an award! I'm the first one she suckered into blogging and she feels guilty about it. No, wait; she likes it. :-)
I'm supposed to pass it on to someone who's been blogging since I started, and a new blogger friend. Well, it'd be silly to send it back to her, and the other person who's been blogging since before me is my brother (hardly an appropriate recipient), I'm going to compromise and send it to my RL friend over at From the old Country. She's a great blessing to me; a real sister in faith.

Monday, 4 January 2010

time flies when you're having fun

And "flime ties" when you're getting senile. :-)
Sorry it's been so long. I try not to be on the computer when Bob's around, which he has been last week.

Well, Bob was officially off work from Christmas Eve until today. But he had to check in on Monday, and Wednesday he had to go in for training.

Saturday was Cedwryck's birthday party, at the bowling center on Mildenhall. As the earliest time for a party was 12:30 - 2:30, and we normally eat lunch at 11, we planned to eat first and bowl after. So by 12:45 our guests had arrived, and we ordered the food. Children's meals were part of the party package, so that made up one order, and we ordered adult's meals separately. The adult meals were ready pretty quickly, and we waited for the children's food. The children were happy, and sat in their chairs and visited, so we never had to get any games going (which is a good thing, because I'm terrible at things like that). Then an employee came in to remind us that we had to be out of the room by 2:30. We knew that. I'm not sure exactly what was said... Maybe Bob said "We're still waiting for our food." The man said we should have been bowling. SO I told him we wanted to eat first, which is why we ordered right away when we got there. At this point we all check our watches, and it's 1:30. He was incredulous that we'd been waiting so long, and left. It was just a couple of minutes later when the food showed up.
The food was okay. The cake was great, if I say so myself, and the presents were just what he wanted. Then the bowling. Bob took charge, and I'm so glad he did. The boys had one lane and the girls had one lane. Most of the girls are older, so they kept up with themselves. Bob had to keep the boys going, while I visited with the other two mothers. We finally finished up about 4pm, just in time to see the sunset.

Yesterday we made it to church! We were late, as we didn't think of warming up the bus before it was time to go, and when we went to get in, the back door was frozen shut. So Bob started it up and we all went back inside for a while.

Today, Bob and I both had dentist appointments. He'd had one for awhile, and last week we called to get an appt for me. I guess they thought it would be nice for us to some in together, so they made my appt for 50 minutes after his. So we got there and thought we'd be polite and ignore the sign in the waiting room about not bringing children in unless they had an appointment. :-D They did some school work and watched the AFN cooking show. (That's Armed Forces Network - a TV station just for military folks.) About 10 minutes after Bob's scheduled appointment, they called him back for X-rays, and said they were behind and would get to him asap. Another 15 minutes and Bob started to worry about time overlap, as a cleaning is supposed to take 30 minutes. So they re-scheduled his cleaning, and just did the exam. Then it was my turn. Bob took the children to the commissary to buy his lunch while I went in. Got X-rays, and went to be cleaned. I told the airman that my gums and teeth were being sensitive, but she dug in anyway. After the first few winces, she asked if I wanted to reschedule for "upstairs," where I can be numbed up first. Since it's such a humbug to get to an appointment, I said to go ahead, just try to slow down a bit. Well, she hacked at me a little longer, and the dentist came in. He prodded gently (after I got the blood rinsed out of my mouth), said to keep on brushing and flossing like I have been (I have never heard that from a dentist before! No matter how much I brush, they always get onto me about something), and then he left. Now the fun was to begin. She got one tooth, and I was nearly crying. She stopped and said I needed to go upstairs; she wouldn't continue. Took my bib off, then gave me mouthwash, and handed me the vacuum thing to suck it out myself. Of course I missed, and a big splosh of Listerine and blood went all over my shirt. grr. Anyway, I was outta there! Called Bob and went to the bathroom to rinse my mouth again while waiting for him to come. He got back jsut as I was headed for the door; took us home, and went to work. 3 hours later and my mouth still hurts. I hope they wait a couple of days before calling to reschedule, because today I don't want to. And how will I convince the children to go? Not feeling it. And yet, it's free to do it here, so we really should get it over with.

What else? Ah, Bob finally got the headlights changed on the van, on his first full day off, but when we called about getting the MOT inspection, the garage was closed until Jan 4. That's right, all small shops are closed for 2 weeks at Christmas. Since the MOT expired Dec 31, and the road tax along with it, we can't drive the van now. We should be able to take it in without getting into trouble, as soon as we get a chance again. I hope.

Taryn's birthday is the 17th, and she wants a tea party at the community center, which I still need to call and see if they have a room open. Yikes.