Nov 30, 2009

Oscar & Gary's day out

It seems that whilst I was in England rather than hiding under the covers crying for my return, my husband and dog were out enjoyinng themselves at the dog park...I'd never have known if I'd not gone to clean up my video camera...sneeky buggers!

Tooooo much Guinness at the rugby...

My weekends back in England normally consist of some kind of debauchery know, when the cats away the mice will play...well it's sort of the other way around for me ;-)

After a week at work (and too many glasses of red with my ex-boss) I rushed down the M6 on Friday evening trying desperately to get home in time for the Rugby... I'll include the match report later as you'll soon come to realise that I was not in a fit state to give any sort of commentary!

Firstly the M6 normally looks like this on a Friday evening....

Instead I flew down it like I had wings. I don't know if someone felt sorry for me because of the horrid little car I'd hired but I made it back to my parents ( and my rugby ticket) in record time. A quick change into my Worcester Warriors shirt ( and no, they don't play in pink! it's a special from last year to support breast cancer awareness) and we were off.
My Father has two season tickets, but my brother had already bagged the 2nd one, so I was going courtesy of my good friend Tony who asked his friend to step down so I could use his ticket! That's friendship for you!
The only thing you really need to know about Tony is that trips to the rugby are more about trips to the Guinness counter and Friday night was no different.

My mate Tony, Guiness in hand - this was probably no. 4

Me, with Guiness no. 2!
You can see we were stood on the back of the stands, allowing us to stand up without being heckled the whole game and, being on the end of a row, quick access down the stairs for more Guinness.
Apparently the game score was 12:12 in the is the match report for anyone who might be interested.

Nearing the end of the match my phone started wanted to go for a drink and a curry after the game...
Well, never one to turn a curry down (or another beer), Tony threw his hat in for the curry jaunt..and feeling under no pressure at all, I acquiesced and on the final whistle we hot footed it out to get a taxi! My brother who has no shame, immediately stole someone else's taxi by waving a twenty pound note at the driver, some people are so fickle, and we were off....
We ended up in the Marwood. I haven't been in for years, but it's all be 'done up' and is really quite tasteful, and even better stays open late, last orders being around midnight...

Inside the Marwood...I was a little too tipsy to really appreciate!

A few glasses of wine later ( and remember the Guinness from earlier) and we walked (stumbled) along the road to the curry house (The Rajkot).
I'd like to say it was tasty, but I was at the stage where you can't really taste much at all, even heavily spiced Indian! I was having a great time though, but all fun comes to an end and we rolled out to get a taxi at approximately 2am. It's the first time in my life that I've ever closed a curry house before, I'm sort of proud in a skewed way !
The end of the night involved a surreal taxi journey back to my parents with the driver telling me that he was desperate for more children but his wife had told him no...weird..
I hope I haven't left you with the feeling that I'm an incurable alcoholic, I'm not, I'm just easily influenced!

Nov 23, 2009

Missing home...(but which one?)

When you are an 'expat' like me (Brit living in USA) at first you refer to home as the UK, and you're simply visiting the US for an undefined time (don't tell hubbie!). Three years in and although I'm not exactly 'Yankyfied' home for me is Florida, even though I am thoroughly British.

I do miss certain things, the sporadic crisp winter's morning, when the sun is shining and I don't have to go to work. Work would have entailed getting up in the dark, travelling to work in the dark and coming home in the dark, at which point when I'm walking Gary on a sunny morning in Jacksonville or Clermont, in my flip flops and shorts, I don't miss British winter mornings at all...

I miss the British sense of humour, but gradually BBC America are coming through for me with such gems as Gavin and of the funniest things I saw whilst I was back was James Corden and his 'Beckham'esque' pose for charity, those of a nervous disposition please overt your eyes now.....


and finally I miss curry.....

I feel I should have been bought up on the sub continent sometimes as I could probably eat Indian food any night of the week... we do go for Indian food in Florida, but it's just not the same... they say the British national dish is Chicken Tikka Masala....a dish that ranges in colour from bright orange to lurid red and the funny thing is that when this dish was cooked in Britain and then flown over to India for perusal by indigenous Indian chefs they were perplexed by the garish concoction and worse yet, they had never heard of this dish!!!!

Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Tikka Masala was the first dish we ever had when we went for our first curry when I was ten years tastes have refined since, I love lamb dishes now...and anything with lamb and spinach (sag!) Everything must be served with fluffy naan bread.....yummy

Lamb Rogan Josh

Fluffy Naan Bread

I am happy to write that I have had two curries this week and my desires have been sated for at least a few weeks. No need for me to try and sneak some in past Customs now...anyone who has a good Lamb Sag recipe please forward to me, I'll be desperate again in a few weeks time!

Just to clarify...I do miss my family and friends, but more of that later!

Nov 14, 2009

Going to my other home....

I sit typing to you whilst watching the Gator game, door open, sun going down, shorts and flip flops on....I'm waiting for 7.40pm to check-in online for my flight back to England tomorrow. I thought, I'll check the weather to see what I need to pack...

Eeeeek there's a 30F difference, according to the BBC website they've had 100 mile an hour winds today and guaranteed it will rain all week when I'm there...I'm working up North during the week, whats the weather like up there.?..yep like I said, it will be raining all week.

Ok, so it looks like I'll be wrapped up like a snowman all week. I won't be needing my flip flops that's for sure. I don't keep many warm clothes here at all, luckily my parents keep a room and wardrobe full of clothes for me at their house and I'll be able to pick up jumpers, boots and coats Monday, but until then I'll have to hunt for something warm to wear for the flight back...
I have lots of fun activities planned aswell as working. I'll introduce you all to my work mates and my parents...they'll all be thrilled to immortalised on the internet!! I'm even going to a rugby match between New Zealand and England at Dad had a spare ticket and I can't wait!
So bon voyage to me and I'll speak to you soon...hopefully there will be no Anne like travel traumas, but it's doubtful as I actually give myself plenty of time to get to airports and pack essentials in my hand luggage!! (sorry Anne, couldn't resist.)
P.s Anne has a new blog layout (it's about time as hers was tired and worn out ;-) ) ..take a look here...she's mildly amusing and normally worth a read!

Nov 13, 2009

Immigration's all in the eye of the beholder

With my impending trip to the UK on Sunday there's one thing that I'd like to commend the British Immigration Authorities on..... and although I like to think of it as my little secret (as no one else ever seems to be using it) I shall pass on my wisdom.

About three years ago I was coming through Manchester airport in England and noticed a small booth advertising the Iris recognition immigration system (IRIS). Hmm interesting ...a faster way of getting through immigration at the major UK airports...for anyone who's been recently (particularly through Gatwick or Heathrow in the early morning when all the US and Carribean flights get in) the queues to get your passport checked as an UK national can be ridiculously long...literally 30-40 mins).

 I had time to spare and thought that I'd give it a go...

I had my passport scanned, my eyes scanned, my hoohah scanned (only joking)...a picture taken and I was good to go...seriously, it was that simple!

I had a little piece of paper confirming I was registered in case the machine was not working (copies available for $50 each, LOL) and I was off. I didn't think much of it until I came back into Manchester and there was a huge queue to prove I was legal....hmm...ok, lets see.. I scanned around for the machine

and low and behold, 1. there was no one in it and 2. it was switched on and actually working ( a miracle for anything remotely technical in the UK).
I positioned myself (it sort of looks like you are about to take a pee!) and lined my eyes up. I had this horrible feeling that I was going to get stuck in that machine, never to escape, but no, 3 seconds later I was out and my way to get my easy! I looked back at all the jealous onlookers who were obviously wondering exactly who I was that I could get through without the Spanish inquisition...well now they know...I am nobody who was just nosey with time to spare!!

I've done a little investigation. It seems that almost 100,000 Britons, who are signed up to IRIS, are already bypassing immigration queues at Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham airports. Damn, I thought I was the only one...however 100,000 is just a drop in the queuing ocean with 120 million passing through those four airports, no wonder I never see anyone using the machines.

Registering for IRIS is free and takes between five and ten minutes at the above airports. It works by taking a photograph of the iris pattern, converting it into a digital code and storing it in a secure database. It makes use of the fact that the pattern of the iris in each person's eye (the coloured part of the eye) is unique. This makes it possible for a person to be identified simply by looking into a special camera. Quite clever sometimes those UK bods!

Nov 12, 2009

Winter comeths...sort of!

I know I promised that I would write about last weeks trip to Disney today, but I can't bring myself to look at pictures of Rat Kingdom, so instead I ask you to feel sorry for me. I sadly report that today, for the first time since February (I think) I have not worn flip flops at least once during the day. In fact my feet have been safely contained in thick socks, and to make things worse, I had to hunt for a long sleeved top to go out in this morning to walk's cold.
I thought about wearing my socks with my flip flops but I didn't think this was good look..

Then, when looking for pictures, I found that you could actually buy socks without toes so you could wear your flip flops with them..sort of stupid if you ask me because it's your toes that get cold first.

And further hunting led me to a woman who actually knits some socks that you can wear with flip flops..seriously..she KNITS socks...weird..but each to their own..

Anyway, no flip flops today. I've realised how quiet the apartment is too (no airconditioning) how cold is this artic chill I describe....hmmm Google page says 63F, but weather channel says 59F..all I know is that it's bitter. I've made a hearty stew for dinner this evening and might burn some junk mail in the barbeque to simulate a fireplace later... I was thinking of going out and buying some warm clothes in case it snows..maybe I should check the weather forecast 1st...

Ok...don't worry, I'll be ok, no need to send me care packages of gloves, handwarmers and thermal knickers..It will be high 70's again over the weekend and I can wear my flip flops to the beach.. Phew

Nov 11, 2009

Chilling out in Clermont

With Disney on the cards for the following day, I insisted on a laid back day in Clermont to get myself motivated for a day of the Rat.
Living only 20 mins from Magic Kingdom means I get lots of visitors from the UK, and, therefore, I've been multiple times to soak up that 'Disney Magic'..what I do know is that it is exhausting, especially as we dont avail ourselves of the mobility chairs provided for people who like to see the parks on wheels.

Anyway, back to our relaxing day in Clermont....

First stop a spot of lunch then off to the park with Izzy and with all 4 year olds, simple swings and slides hold a bewildering facination. I suppose as you get older you forget how exciting the park can be when you are that small, but what was equally amazing was that my 39 year old friend seemed as absorbed!

'come on, I see swings!'

After a marathon swing pushing session (still not sure how come I was the pusher!) Anne and Izzy went over to the slides. It was funny to watch Anne nearly de-capitating herself as she wen't down the childrens slide.

Ok I was officially bored, hot and covered in playground sand...let go back and swim in the pool...oh not you Anne, you've got a bad hand...Izzy, let's go back and swim in the pool. Although the slides were exciting, I think the best bit of Izzy's holiday was swimming in the pool everyday.
I'll drive past the lakes on the way back so you can see how gorgeous it is's tough for all the people who live lakeside with their boats and jet skis, my heart bleeds for them....

Home, and Izzy was changed in about 2 seconds flat...Anne came out to read outside and I told Izzy I'd come in when the hot tub was warmed up (sneekily I'd put the jets on, but not the heater...thought I'd gain myself some time to read in the sun..mean aren't I?)

Me reading my book whilst Izzy waits for the hot tub to heat up (cough)

Anne chilling out in the sun

All that remained was to crack open a bottle of wine and watch the sun go down..everyone early to bed, tomorrow we slog around Magic Kingdom, hurrah!

Sunset behind my house

Nov 10, 2009

Halloween Bootie...

You may have read my blog about Izzy and I's pumpkin carving exploits..I've never done one before and what I didn't really know is that living in Florida I should have refrigerated before the big night. Come candle lighting time I was hit with a swarm of tiny flies, to which I sprayed some fly killer, which ended up in a scorched pumpkin as candle consumed what was left of fly spray. Note to spray is an accelerant...DOH!!

1. Ok house decorated... check

You can see Gary in the window wondering what was going on ( you can also see my rotting pumpkin!)

2. We had Izzy a scary a princess scary....check!

Izzy dressed in her 'scary' outfit standing in front of the candy...speaking of which

3. Bowls of candy to hand out to the little monsters...check
$50 dollars well spent at Walmart (heh I'm not proud, candy is cheaper there!) Izzy helped me bag the first 20 bags, trouble is I did one hundred, so I was candied out by the time I'd finished bagging! (Next year I'm just not going to bother....bagging that is...I'm not a misery!!)

Izzy, you are supposed to be bagging not eating!

4. Costume for Anne....hmmmm...Anne what is that you are wearing?

What do you mean?

I've got a black top on, it will have to do!!
I suppose you could pass as a scary monster, you'll do, try not to scare any little children!

5. Bag for candy....check. In fact we had two, one for Izzy and one for me to carry for her so she could dump her bootie! Clever that 4 year old!

6. Practicing saying trick or treat .....check...and scary Halloween faces....

Izzy practicing her scary face...

I've never been trick or treating before, so this was a first for all of us. We left hubbie at home (sorry chick, he had 80 kids around before we got back) and we started off around our neighbourhood.
Well even in this recession nearly every house had their porch light lit and I'm sure there was more decorations up than last year!
Izzy and my foot trick and this point my arm is falling off from carrying candy...and yes I had flip flops was 80F outside!

Sorry Iz, they aren't real!

We had a great time and Izzy will never forget her first proper Halloween...I'm sure Anne is planning just to come back next year so she can collect candy for all the village children for Christmas! We got back after about an hour, bags full of goodies, Gary going mental on the back porch because the door bell kept going and hubbie looking a little worn out from the multiple times he'd had to get up to answer the door in our absence...I took over the chore when we got back, Anne got the beers and Izzy conned us into letting her have 5 pieces of I said, clever for a 4 year old!...
I had a great time, slightly tainted by finding out today on Anne's blog that Izzy took all the candy home with clever and sneaky..takes after her mother!

Nov 8, 2009

It's a dog's life!

You may have noticed that I've not been online for a few days.. It has been a week of laptop woes involving the purchase of two new laptops ( the 1st one wouldn't do what it was supposed too!), but I'm back in the saddle now and catching up with all my blogs ;-) This week expect an influx of I've been catching up Florida Foodie ...

I just wanted to share a Gary moment with you..our dog thinks he is one of us, and earlier I caught him and my husband snoozing on the sofa together...Gary does this straight leg stretch when he is contented, I thought you'd like to see!

I'm not sure how he got in that position with the cushion under his head, but he did and he was not moving, even when I started flashing away with the camera..we love you Gary xx
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