Saturday, February 15, 2014

Best Valentine's Day Ever

We've  had a rough couple of months with several things and decided to lay low for Valentine's Day. Which was fine with me, we're not really the 'must-celebrate' type. In the morning we all exchanged cards, which was lovely - all kinds of hand made goodies from the kids are worth more than any store bought card ever.

Fen gave me a bouquet of yellow roses - my absolute favourite. I carried them for our wedding. They are just so cheery and lovely. They also mean friendship, which I think is so important in a marriage. Fen and I have our moments but we are always friends first.

While Fen was at work and the kids at school I made a chocolate pecan pie for dessert. We had hamburgers and hotdogs for dinner, always a big hit. Then we snuggled up on our sofa with pillows, blankets, drinks and snacks to watch Tangled.

It was heavenly. All of us wrapped up together, singing along and giggling. I can't think of a better Valentine's Day I've ever had. Happy and cuddling with the three loves of my life. Bliss.

Monday, January 13, 2014

No Trousers on the Tube....Why?

It was the thirteenth annual no trousers on the tube/no pants on the subway day. Why is this? The photo above is TAME compared to some of the truly cringe worthy ones that are up and circulating. Here's the thing - it's cold, the subway/tube is dirty and public so why is there a need for a show up in your knickers day at all?

Well, it was started by small improve group in NYC as a joke in 2002. The group, Improv Everywhere, decided they wanted to shake things up and shock NY. As if a couple of guys without pants could do that in NYC!

Their statement: The mission started as a small prank with seven guys and has grown into an international celebration of silliness, with dozens of cities around the world participating each year.

And it is global - there are many cities that participated including New York, London, Brussels, Berlin, Hong Kong and Sydney.

Ah to be young, full of fun with no shame. Here's how I know I'm old: I wouldn't participate in this for several reasons:

1. My arse in knickers should never be on public display. Ever.
2. It's freezing cold out - I wouldn't go sockless, nevermind without trousers!
3. The subway/tube is dirty and yicky. No way I'm putting my bare butt on one of those seats!
4. What's the point? So I can show up on facebook and in blogs with my rear on display?
5. I like trousers and being dressed

The grand conclusion to this post is that I am officially a fuddy duddy. However, I'm contemplating allowing the kids to eat popcorn in our bedroom this weekend as a rules-be-damned day. How's that for living on the edge?

And the day I'm on the tube when there are trouserless folks participating and I get indignant/growly is the day I officially retire and move to a cave near a beach. Let's hope it never comes to that!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Wee Spot of Praise for England

England's not too shabby. I know I've waxed on and on about how much I love New York City and Brooklyn - and I always will. But last time I was in NYC some of the bloom was off the rose. Granted it was hot, sticky crowded summer time and I was having to run all over Manhattan for meetings in the subway, in taxi's and on foot. However, I craved me a little London after a few days.

While there is a lot of about England that I just don't get (taxes for TV, council tax, customer service, just to name a few) there are quite a few things that I think are far superior to the US. Here's a sampling:

Credit/Debit cards:

They come with a chip in them: that's the gold square thing on the left. It makes life so easy - you just stick it in, punch in your code and you're on your way. Another thing they have here are portable credit card machines in restaurants :

They bring them to the table and run you card right there - you punch in your code and the receipt prints out, tips can be added easily, no need to sign anything, just plug it in and go. Your credit card never leaves your sight and it's all done in a matter of seconds (unless you're in a restaurant in Belsize Park that does not get great wireless service in your corner - then the waiter has to carry it closer to the front so it will work - but I digress...)

When I go back to the US I admit I grumble about having to fork over my credit card and watch it walk away with a waiter. Come on USA - get it together before I move back!

The great equalizer! Here is my Cate modeling on version of her uniform. When I was in school we had ONE uniform: plaid jumper (pinafore), white blouse with peter pan collar, green cross tie, white socks, black shoes. Not here - there is a summer uniform: blue and white checked dress (crazy cute), and winter: navy pinafores/skirts/trousers with blue or white shirts, no tie, blue or white socks/tights and black shoes. They have either pull over or cardigan school jerseys (sweaters) as well. It's fantastic - we don't argue about what to wear, I buy half the clothes I used to, there's no competition for outfits with other kids (although Leli Kelli shoes are the rage), and they just look so precious and darling all kitted out in their uniforms. I just love it.


High corn fructose does not exist. Massive amounts of sugar added: does not exist. Things are not as artificial here. When we first arrived we thought things were a little bland, but after a while our over stimulated taste buds acclimatized and we now can barely eat the things we loved back in the US. I loved Schweppes ginger-ale - but now it's far too sweet for me, just like Tostitos hint of lime chips, even cereals are cringe worthy.

The food is much healthier here and this I really like.

I could go on and on. But one of the best things of living in London is...well, it's LONDON! Come on! That's pretty fantastic!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Holidays

We decided to stay in London for the holidays. We want to start our own traditions with the kids waking in their own beds to find Santa come and finding all their gifts under our tree. With Fen's family in New Zealand and my family in the Bahamas it's just too far to pack up everything and fly (for a minimum of 10 hours). We'll miss our families, but it's the best solution for us while we're in London.

London is really beautiful this time of year. The Brits sure know how to decorate. Harrods, Liberty and especially Fortum and Mason are so deliciously beautiful at this time of the year it's hard not to get into the spirit. We're driving up to Birmingham tonight for the night to visit the German Christmas markets, take the kids to see Frozen and a panto and to shop at the massive shopping malls there. We head up there to see shows with the kids from time to time. Just to get out of London and see something different.

I'm really looking forward to relaxing and taking the two weeks off from work, school runs, responsibilities and everything else. I've had a rough autumn. My mother is gravely ill, my husband had a health scare, I'm currently fighting an inner ear infection and feel drunk half the time (which sounds nice but really is dreadful) and things just seem to in a state of ambiguous flux. Where will 2014 take us?

Two things I know for certain and I'm putting it out there so I'm compelled to do it: I will be picking up my blog again and we are moving in 2014 - where I'm not sure but we are. Stay tuned!

Happy holidays!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Round Up of Favourties

I've been lurking in the dark lately feeling uninspired but there have been a sea of fascinating links online lately (isn't there always). I thought I'd share a few of my favourites:

Have iPhone - must decorate. I think the ice-cream sandwich or the paint set will do me fine:

Carl Sagan sure can put things into perspective, can't he? This is humbling, truthful and awe-inspiring. The world is a dot.

Who doesn't love Spock? This is fantastic. And I want an Audi now too!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I am an eBay Nightmare

I admit it freely. I put our pushchair/stroller on eBay reluctantly. Now that X is turning four he's walking everywhere. We haven't used it since July and therefore it's now collecting dust and taking up room. After staring at it for too long, I decided I'd sell it.

I've sold many things on eBay, including two other pushchairs and loads of baby items. I sell them cheaply and was really happy to see young families carting off our baby things. They were happy to get a quality item in good condition at a reasonable price and I was happy to see our things go to a good home. I'm sentimental about it.

After much deliberation, I listed our fancy stroller with all the bells and whistles onto eBay. It's the last real baby thing we have here and I had a hard time even thinking about selling it. I wanted to give it away but I don't know anyone who wanted it. After talking with Fen, we decided to just list it and give it away to someone who would appreciate it. It's worth about £900+ new. I was then excited to see someone nice walk away with it.

That is decidedly not what happened. An eBay store that buys up expensive push chairs and then strips them to sell off as spare parts aggressively outbid each of the other bidders to win it for a song. I was so disappointed. Really disappointed. I did not want my precious stroller getting picked apart and sold off for much more money than they bought it for. It was not going to happen. It deserves better.

Maybe I'm too sentimental. I'm a soft touch, I know it. But there was no way I was going to let it happen.  I cancelled the sale on the winner and explained why. They were....not happy. I've got a giant red warning on my account from them saying I am awful, rotten and rude and a terrible eBayer. I am a nightmare. I'm sorry I wasted their time and I don't fault them for their enterprising ways. But forget it.

I offered the second bidder the chance to buy it. They haven't responded. If they don't, I will just sell it on Gum Tree or hang onto it forever. So what if it's taking up so much room in my kitchen!