26 May 2011


Isn't that a great name?  On the website I used to order groceries (I did order groceries and have them delivered--felt a little weird. . .but really nice and stress-free), that is what Smirnoff Ice and the like are called.  So we have plonk for cheap wine and alcopops for malt drinks.

So, Hannah comes home from the school the other day with a flyer that says it will be a non-uniform day tomorrow at school. . .Maggie is having one, too, and her school is asking the kids to bring in £1 in exchange.  Here is what Hannah's school is asking. . can't even imagine how this would work out in the States!!

25 May 2011

My fridge. . .

I don't want to complain, but I had a great fridge in the States. . .Maytag french door on top, freezer drawer on bottom, ice maker. . .outside of the fact that the water pressure had not been good. . .it was a great fridge.  Here is my fridge in the UK: 

That would be about 20" x 20" x 35"!!  Makes grocery shopping more frequent, but I suppose more focused and less wasteful!  And don't feel too bad for me, Keith did buy a little fridge that we have in the utility room for the necessities: beer, wine, and soda!  :)

24 May 2011

I know it's just a number, but couldn't I have lost a size in this conversion rather than gaining one? :)

European 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50
UK 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22
Japan 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23
USA 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20

Twycross Zoo

Yesterday we took the girls to the zoo (the name of which I cannot say correctly) that is about 20-30 minutes from our house.  Their specialty is apes/chimps/monkeys, so there were a lot of them.  But they also had penguins and meerkats--which are two family favorites--and rides.  The kids were excited (and Keith and I resigned to forking over the pounds) to see that just like in the US, there was a gift shop with giant pens, overpriced stuffed animals, and racks full of cheap plastic items with the zoo's name on it!

McDonald's drive-thru:

We finally braved the backwards drive-thru!

23 May 2011

Have been noticing a few things. . .

  • Shopping carts here have a mind of their own. . .all of them are the kind that have four independent wheels. . .I feel like I am drunk when I go to Tesco (aspires to be like Super Target, but just can't quite cut it!)
  • Cleaning supplies, even the ones that say they have the same scent (ie lemon-fresh) do not smell the same. . even Pledge, which is sold here, doesn't smell "right". . never thought I would miss anything to do with cleaning!
  • There are some people--especially other women--who have acted strange when I have offered my hand to shake when introduced to them.  I wonder if that is a "Brits don't usually do that" type of thing?
  • Here is a big one. . the kids change for PE even at Maggie's age. . .but the oddest part is that all the kids change in their classrooms--boys and girls right next to one another.  I have been told that this happens all the way up to Year 5 and 6 (4th and 5th grade).  Hannah has had a little bit of trouble adjusting to that.

The end is in sight. . .

Because of how things are done over here (read: internet access and cable aren't as much a priority), we have been living in the Dark Ages since we got here four weeks ago. :)  No house phone.  We did get UK cells (mobiles) a couple weeks ago so we can actually make local calls, but they don't have unlimited data plans here.  I realize that I should probably have embraced the time without media, but it is really difficult to not be able to quickly look something up online, etc.  Keith and I managed to blast through the MB on an air card meant to last a month in about 6 days!

BUT. . .the aforementioned end is here. . satellite was hooked up Friday and broadband and house phone should be on by midnight tonight--only seven more hours.  That means I can upload pictures with wild abandon, blog until my fingers bleed, actually return emails regularly. . .it also means that our US number (309) 938-4955 should start ringing to the house tomorrow. . but be mindful of that time difference!  :)

16 May 2011

New words we are learning. .

  • boot and bonnet = trunk and hood
  • rumble strips = speed bumps
  • slip lane = exit ramp
  • diversion = detour
  • loo/toilet = toilet/restroom
  • ice lollies = popsicles
  • jam = jelly
  • jelly = jello
  • biscuits = cookies
  • crisps = chips
  • chips = french fries
  • Are you allright? = How are you?
  • cheers = thanks
  • plonk = cheap wine
  • squash = concentrated juice
  • rashers = American (strips) of bacon
  • butty = sandwiches
  • to scoff = to gobble up
  • parent/caregiver = parent/guardian

Some things that are different. . .

  • light switches. . down is on and up is off
  • there are no outlets in the bathrooms, except for ones for shavers
  • no screens on the windows because there aren't many bugs
  • no central air conditioning and radiators in each room for heat
  • many of the light switches are outside of the room, especially for bathrooms
  • US DVDs and video games can't play on UK devices, and vice versa
  • you can park on either side of the road facing in either direction--even if it means you are forcing the road down to one lane
  • most people don't use their garages to park a car--the weather is never extreme enough to need it
  • no garage sales. . just boot sales where everyone loads up their trunk (boot) and parks in a field to sell their junk. . actually sounds pretty cool
  • carpet in the bathrooms is a normal thing
  • can't use the hot water taps for drinking or even cooking because the water runs through pipes that are far too old to be safe
  • only way to lock our front door from the outside AND the inside is with a key
  • all the rooms, even the kitchen, living and dining rooms have doors like bedrooms (this has actually been great with Charlotte
  • we can't find big glasses/tumblers anywhere. . they are either glass or small for kids
  • the sodas at even McDonalds are smaller--their large is a medium back home

    14 May 2011

    We found a car!

    We finally settled on a car today. . and it's about time because I am certain our family might not have survived another day on a car lot!  We bought it from the owner of a dealership. . his wife had been driving it.  Ironically, they have three kids ages 6, 4, and 1. . .when we went to their house to look at it we found out their 1 year old is Charlotte, too!  It is a Vauxhall Zafira (which is a GM car) and it is quite a bit smaller than our Town & Country.  But, then again, most everything here is! 

    13 May 2011

    Today was a good one!

    It was one of those days. . .started out hectic like always. . but got the girls to school on time!  It was beautiful outside, so after I dropped Mags off, I wandered over to Center Street, which is the high street in Hinckley.  The picture doesn't do it justice, but it is only for pedestrian traffic and is full of shops. . .coffee, bakers, flower shops, green grocers (fresh--and beautiful--produce), resale/thrift shops, clothing, furniture, home decor. . .a little bit of everything.  And as a bonus, it was Market Day. . on Monday, Friday, and Saturday each week there are additional vendors selling everything from bird seed to fresh fish to off the truck makeup and beauty supplies.  I strolled down the street to Costa--essentially Starbucks--got my skinny vanilla latte and just took it all in.  Picked up a sweater for 2 pounds. . a couple of DVDs because we still haven't got "real" internet and television at the house. . .Monday I am grabbing some flowers for the yard.

    Then it was time for the school mass at Saint Peter's. . .Maggie's school (and hopefully Hannah's in the fall) was celebrating Our Lady with all the students bringing flowers to lay at her feet and a crowning ceremony that has been happening at that church for over one hundred years.  The homily was all about grace and how Mary was full of it and all the wonderful qualities that mothers and grandmothers all possess little pieces of.   Grace is what I pray for every morning (lots of unanswered prayers there :), so the words coupled with a church full of angelic voices was exactly what I needed!

    Then back to the house where Charlotte took a good solid nap and gave me time to get some things done. . and back to the school.  Maggie got to participate in a maypole dancing ceremony.  Very British and very cool.  This one was called the Skipping Song. . Mags is there in the front on the left. :)

    We are still working on a car for me but getting closer. . .so that is what we have been up to tonight. . .but the finishing touch on what has been a very good day is that we had dinner and a margarita! at TGI Fridays (nice to have the familiar. . .now I am at home in my pjs and results night for American Idol from last night is just starting!

    08 May 2011

    Pretty cool. .

    We have driven around a little bit this weekend, and it is really amazing how quickly the landscape changes from antiquated village to modern motorway.  All the little villages seem to have an old church in the center of them and these little winding roads that you can barely get one car through, much less two passing each other.  And the rolling hills and the views for miles are AMAZING! 

    This church was about half a mile from the motorway below!

    04 May 2011

    I am a UK driver!

    Got the rental MPV (van). . the people mover. .  a Ford Galaxy.  It is automatic (thank God!) and it really wasn't as scary as I thought it might be to drive here. . .being on the right side of the car definitely helps!  BUT this van is one of the biggest on the market, and I am concerned that there will be plenty of places where getting through will be tough and many many parking lots where it will be too big to park easily.  Funniest thing about that is that it is still much smaller than my Town & Country.  :)

    01 May 2011

    bathrooms in the uk are not good!

    NO water pressure
    NO cold water in the shower. . so scalding hot
    NO outlets except for shavers
    NO combined faucet so have to fill basin or tub to mix water temps.
    NO tile. . carpet. . actually saw bathroom carpet on the wall at a carpet store I walked by yesterday.
    NO cabinets. . only pedestal sink