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There is nothing more adorable to me then to see the kids heading off from school in their school uniforms. Especially the young kids. The uniforms look like something out of a movie or a childhood book. In the summer the girls are in a checked dress, boys in a shirt and trousers or occasionally short pants. Every person in Britain who has gone to school here has worn their uniform. Even my own 3 yr old son has a nursery school uniform. A little polo top with the school logo embroidered on it. They said that it was so that he gets used to a uniform and so none of the kids feel left out. Oh, and its so they don’t get their regular clothes dirty. He got one. I can buy more at £7-50 a piece… seven bleedin pound and 50p for a shirt to get dirty? I can get him a shirt at ASDA for as little as 75p.  Its a good thing that this ” uniform” isn’t mandatory. It will be when he is off to normal school. This is the first drawback on the uniform. The true uniform is expensive.

I have observed that the uniform sets up a mentality here in the UK. Its supposed to keep the kids from knowing who has more money. Its supposed to keep them on a level playing field. It doesn’t. They know. They know whose blazer is  second hand. They know who has the real uniform and who has a uniform from ASDA or Matilan. The teens all do their bit to keep some from of individuality one way or another. This is nothing compared to how we dressed in the states in high school. Jeans, T-shirts, and Birkenstocks. We wore what we wanted. We wore what was comfortable. Its no wonder I feel uncomfortable in a uniform.

This uniform mentality is set in them for life here in the UK. It sets them up for the working world. This is so true. Me, personally, I actually cringe at uniforms on adults in the work force. I only even had a uniform when I worked in fast food as a young adult. I hated it. Yes, offices had a dress code. Some more casual then others, but I never had a uniform outside of fast food. Here the uniform is in pretty much every workplace. The doctors surgery have a uniform, the nursery school teachers wear a uniform, pretty much every business that has a lot of women working there will have a uniform in place. I even had gone into a recruitment agency here. I noticed all the women had the same thing on: Black trouser or skirt, white blouse, black jacket. So I asked one of them if they had a uniform to wear and she said no, but they did. The mentality has become so ingrained they didn’t realize it. Without having to wear a uniform they wore one. I was the only one in the room in a suit that wasn’t black. This is a real difference in mindset for me to adjust to. The uniform. Everyone has their place. Everyone in their station in life. It does go against my American mindset of being who I am. Dressing for success doesn’t go hand in hand with a uniform in my mind. Ah well, when in Rome as they say.  I still think the kids look adorable in them.

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Now that we no longer have a cat we have taken to throwing stale bread and the crusts that my son wont eat to the birds in the back garden.  I have really enjoyed watching them have a nice winter meal of bread and sometimes a bit of Nutella on it. I have fallen in love with a little back bird with a white face. She struts around the garden, sometimes walking right past the bread, looking very sweet.

Sometimes the garden is full to the brim with these birds. I can see them sitting in the trees outside waiting. As soon as I throw out the bread they swarm like a shot. They must really be hungry. dscn2077

I was very upset the other morning to look out and see that there was a pile of feathers. Some horrid cat must of been lying in wait. There was nothing left of the poor bird. Feathers and bread. I feared it was my favorite little black bird. For about 4 days not a single bird landed in the garden. No birds in the trees either. Finally today they started coming back. I was relieved to see that the little black bird was amongst them.

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Its Christmas eve here in the UK. Time, once again, to remind me just how bloody small the fridges are here. The fridge in the UK is about a quarter of the size of the fridges in the states. This is because A) people used to just shop daily for what they needed and B) They don’t have room in the kitchen for anything larger then a dishwasher for a fridge.

Our fridge/freezer combo is so small. The freezer has 3 tiny drawers that you heave, shoving and pushing as much stuff as you can. The fridge, well think of your dishwasher. Thats the size. Wait, scratch that. If anything is at the back of our fridge it freezes so subtract some space for that.

So here it is, Christmas eve. I have bought stuff to make salads, stuffing, meat. Christmas meals. But we don’t have room. So I am left feeling frustrated. Again.

They have come out with “American style” fridges. Most are still smaller then what I had in my condo in the states, and it wasn’t the biggest fridge going.  One day, we will have a huge fridge. Either here or in the states, we will have a big ass fridge with so much room that I never, ever have to worry about the mayo freezing because it got pushed to the back again.

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I have to admit that most of my adult life I have hated Christmas. It always felt like the world was rubbing my nose in the fact that I was single. I didn’t get married until I was I was 35, so I spent many years watching everyone else have “family fun” or telling me that I should be the one to work on Christmas eve  because they have family events and I don’t. So Christmas was never fun. It always felt to expensive. A bit depressing. In my entire adult life I only ever put up one tree, until I move to England.

Now my son is close to 3 and he has discovered Mimiss, that’s Christmas to the rest of us. He loves the Mimiss lights. He loves the Mimiss cards on the wall. He loves the Mimiss tree. The tree that I put whilst he was in nursery as fast as I could so he wouldn’t be into the ornaments. The tree that I threatened to take down if he so much touched, and he hasn’t touched it. He loves the tree. Wait until Christmas morning when he discovers presents. 🙂  Last year he just looked at us like we where crazy to destroy unwrap presents. He didn’t like it at all.

Okay, I get it now. I understand why everyone goes crazy over Christmas. To see it through your child’s eyes makes it fun.

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I am in LOVE!

I admit it. I am a die hard coffee drinker. Always have been. My drink of choice? Vanilla decaf, low fat, heavy heavy foam latte.  Really any creamy frothy coffee. Okay, any coffee will do. Hell, I even enjoy the instant crap that the Brits think is real coffee here in England. Yep, turn on the kettle, and instant cuppa. I love coffee but…

I have found a new love. Rooibos tea.

Roobios

Roobios

There is something addictive about it because I can not get enough. No caffeine, high in anti oxidants. Not a black tea, but not sure if it is considered herbal. No matter how long it stews in the pot it doesn’t go bitter.

I will admit that the first few cups I was unsure. This is a very different taste from my normal cuppa. Mild, no bitterness. So I gave it a few days. It grew on me. Either that, or they add something to it. I now am choosing it over coffee. Who would of ever thought. I will say this, I am feeling better for it.  Go on, give it a go.

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Today we had a drive out to Little Morton Hall. Its a National Trust site and its not really all that far away. This hall is from 1510. Its all higgly piggly. Very cute and definitely what you think about when you are an American coming to the UK.  We climbed the stairs up to the top floors. They are the typical stairs for old mansions and castles. They just go round in a circle and are very narrow. How on earth the women made it up those stairs in the old days dressed in those huge skirts is beyond me. The stairs are so narrow that my feet didn’t fit on them. It was also the typical rope for a hand rail.

When you get to the top its an open hall. I think at one point it was the largest room in England, but by today’s standards its not very big. But its was so out of plumb that I was dizzy. None of the wall where straight. I actually felt like I was on a boat and I got seasick.

I think I might want to go back by myself and hang out a bit. I never get a feel for anything with kids in tow. I also have a feeling that its probably a haunted site. Really cool though.

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It was about 5 yrs ago about this time in Sept that I was heading home to California. I had been in England, staying with my then fiance, for 4 months. In that time we had gone from having met in person once, to having lived together for 4 months. We had traveled to Spain and gotten engaged. I remember feeling so extremely happy, as you should when you are newly engaged. I had a new diamond ring on my finger. It was all so very exciting.

I remember the night before I left. S came down the stairs and he was in tears. He said that it had just hit him, really hit him, that the next day I would be gone. We had no idea for how long. I had to get home and sell my condo, sort my life out there, get rid of everything and get a fiance visa to come back and get married.

The day I left, we stood in tears at the airport in Manchester. The thing I hated most about long distant relationships was saying goodbye, not knowing when you would see this person again. There is always that level of doubt that if a few to many months pass that they will have a change of heart. All your fears come to play. Its very painful, long distance relationships. They are really not very fun at all.

After really no sleep the night before, a 6 hour layover in Atlanta, and a long flight to Sacramento, I was home. I would like to say that the next 5 months before I moved to the UK flew by but they didnt. I had the stress of cleaning, painting, sorting and selling my condo. I had the heartache of being with my beloved step dad as he lost his battle with cancer. I had the blessing of being with him as he took his last breathe. It was a long and painful 5 months.

The one bright point was in November when S came to visit. We had a few days away from the cancer in Southern CA to get my visa, a few trips out but mostly it was a bit of a downer trip for S. We did have our fun moments though. It was also what seemed to be a start of a great friendship with him and my brother. Or as S says, his brother from another mother.

5 yrs on. So much has changed. Marriage, a son, ups and downs. I came to England all lovey with very rose colored glasses on. About a year in the rose color glasses did the typical expat thing and turned to grey. I think being pregnant really threw me into the greys. Pregnancy was mentally and physically hard. Being in a foreign country with no family was very hard. I didn’t really know people as I hadn’t been here all that long. It became easy to see the bad more then the good. Its also a pretty typical expat thing to do. There is a whole science to it.

So here I sit, 5 yrs on from leaving this land for the 1st time. I can not believe how fast it goes. I also am a bit shocked at the next stage of being an expat I seemed to hit. Acceptance. For the past year our lives have been geared towards moving. 2 weeks ago S got laid off from his job. Since then everything is up in the air. Strangely I have quickly become more comfortable with the idea of staying. A month ago I would of said NO WAY. Now, its a possibility. S seems to be more about moving then me. Its all a bit strange. Not sure what to make of it myself, but I am more of the school of if we do we do, if we don’t we don’t right now.  I just wonder what I will be doing in 5 more years and I think back to the day I left to change my entire life.

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