Sunday, July 31, 2011


Okay, so here is the ongoing list that Kate is creating.  It's many of the different words that are commonly said here in the UK.  It's funny to see the kids catching on and saying "car park" or "Where's the lift?"  I imagine the list will continue to grow as our stay continues.
The second photo is Nick in the "American" aisle in Budgen's Grocery Store.  Look closely to view exactly how America is represented...Lucky Charms, Betty Crocker, Goldfish, etc...I guess our comfort foods?  And the stores make it all possible...for a price $$.  Anyway, Nick's attempt at the buying the PopTarts failed at almost $12 a box.  (And that's for the small box.)  Seriously, is he/they kidding?!!  He can wait until our Christmas trip back home, but you can't blame a kid for trying!  He left with a croissant that he dropped on the street.  I foresee another grocery store with a similar occurrence in my near future.  Depending on the day, I may ultimately give in...

A quick hello...

Kyle's friend from CT stopped by for a quick visit.  He works for LandRover and was here on business.  We'll blog our visitors as it's so nice of them to visit.  Thanks Ryan for the packages of "Oreos" from the States.  If you've ever been to England, you realize this was a BIG treat for all of us!
Great to lunch with you in Windsor Ryan! 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Precious Little Place...

Kate and Jack in the Mediterranean

A view of the Amalfi Coast


Cliff Climbing

Our anticipated trip to Positano, Italy had arrived!  The year had it's challenges with all the travel and separation, so can you imagine how ready we all were to start our overseas adventure with such a trip.  It was our light at the end of the to speak.   We flew from Gatwick Airport via EasyJet to Naples...just over a two hour flight, taxied over an hour, and finally arrived at La Fenice...our B & B in Positano.  Ahhh.. breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea from every window, deck, and even rooftop.  Positano, being on the Amalfi Coast, has roads high, high, high above the sea that hook & corksrcew on the edge of nothing.  Vespas and motorbikes everywhere.  When looking out at the views, you can't really tell the difference between the sky and the sea.  That blue.  See the picture below of Kate. 
Down 200 steps, the pool was carved inside the cliffs.  Here we enjoyed caprese salads and native wines.  Down 200 more steps was our private beach that included kayaks, tubes, and natural rocks that became instant diving boards for the kids.  Bonus...clear blue water & monster yachts anchored ahead.   
Two different days we were picked up by boat at the beach and taken to a restaurant, Da Adolfo.  This eating place is on it's very own beach (Laurito) and is only accessable by boat.  Waiters are casual and run up and down serving in bare feet.  Everything fresh and fun, needless to say...peaches served in wine carafes.  Lunch is a special time of day in Italy where people relax and share a meal together.  I could get used to this...
A highlight and my favorite day, our boat trip to Capri.  We had an amazing two hour tour of the sea with our guide Alfonso.  He brought us all around the island showing us neat, natural rock formations...some that resembled animals and he showed us tucked away caves.  The highlight was seeing the blue and green grottos.  Wonders of the World.  We spent the day walking around Capri, and taxied up to Ana Capri.  I was told I could find the "real sharks" up here...$$$!!:)  Once in Ana Capri, we took a sky lift to the top...very close to a chairlift in skiing.  The views were simply gorgeous and peaceful.  It felt as though we were as high as the sky.  So glad we made this trip...oh yeah, I forgot to mention on the return boat trip to Positano, our captain threw out his anchor so we could take a dip in the sea, popped a bottle of champagne, and served us biscuits...pinch me I said...again, and again.
The next day we took a bus to the city of Amalfi.  At midday, I tried an expresso macchiato and a homemade biscuit..I think I was starting to blend into their culture.:)  Then we took a convertible van to a place called Ravello...up, up, up along hairpin bends and a gorgeous, scenic ride.  This place is known to have the best view of the entire Amalfi coast and was recommended by Constantine, our B&B owner.  It truly is a must see. 
Pompeii was the next city to tour...the kids were excited to see a real volcano...Mount Vesuvius.  It errupted  in 79 AD and destroyed the city of Pompeii.  We were able to walk through the destruction as it happened 2000 years ago.  During our tour, you could really get a feel of how the people lived every day so long ago.  Amazing to see they had running water, public baths, and gathered socially for wine and spirits.  Not so different than we live today.  There were even perfectly preserved bodies that were entombed in ash from the day of the eruption.

Fun in Pompeii

The last two days were spent like a vacation should be...swimming, boating, eating, drinking, talking, reading, taking walks, and sleeping.  We tried to roll off Italian words from our tongues...per favore, grazie, anguria, spiaggia, and of course sbrigati! (hurry up:).  Nick became a favorite among the locals as he frequented his usual places...the grocery store, beaches, etc... They called him "piccolo bellisimo" - little beauty.  Did I mention he wanted to stay here forever with or without us? :)
I must also note that Kate celebrated her birthday while we were there...lucky nine year old, right?  Buon Compleanno!
We won't forget the charming place we visited and hope very get back there.  The gelato, wine, margarita pizzas, towers, pasta, sunsets, lemons & limoncellos, cameos, flowers, rocks, cliffs, caves, sea glass, etc...will always remind us of this precious little place. 

 Kate turns 9 in Italy

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Our friends, the Sobran's arrive!

Well, a promise made good!  The Sobran's from Hingham, MA (Roberta, Jack 13, and Lauren 11) arrived for a week in London. :)  Roberta was one of the first few people I called before Kyle and I said we were "on board" for this adventure.  She's a true blue from my college days who has traveled Europe more than anyone (besides Kyle) that I know.  Bonus...she speaks fluent Italian...we'll be heading to Italy together next week. Wow, right?!  Back in March, she promised she'd visit us, then be our tour guide in Italy.  Who better to go with right?!   Our travel plans for July 2011 were solidified quickly...
We spent the week touring around London...London Bridge, London Tower, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Regent Street, Windsor Castle, Portobella Market, Harvey Nichols, etc...we kept the kids and ourselves running everyday, had a lot of laughs, and just had a ball. Too bad for kyle as he missed must come first, after all that's why we're here. 
The quote of the week was..."Where's Nick?"   He sneaks away so often...quietly, quickly, and discreetly.   Difficult for even the seven of us to keep our eye on.   He's a boy on the move...lookout Londoners, he's a curious kid always on a mission.
 All the kids loved the early train rides into the city and looked forward to "Nerf gun" wars at nighttime...bullets, baracades, and forts.  So nice to have our friends visit and stay with us.  We're grateful for the goody bags with snacks, paperback books, Kate's necklace, etc...that the Sobran's so graciously brought.   A terrific time had by all...and our trip to Positano, Italy still to come...our journey together continues...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

One Lush Green Forest

07/10/2011   We visited a park called  "Go Ape" pursuit to have some fun on it's rope course.  The kids just did a similar ropes course in South Carolina in June.  It's pretty cool...each person is harnessed in and they navigate through  ropes, bridges, ladders, etc...and it's way up high.  The kids were all excited to get another chance to climb, and this one had zip lines through trees!  You can imagine their excitement.  Well, we soon learned there was at least a two hour wait to even begin the course.  We opted to come back at a less busy time, and proceed with mountain biking instead.  It was a beautiful day and we were still able to get some fresh air and exercise.  Nick was a champ and found each and every puddle...and lake.  :)  We biked about five miles and explored the forest together.  Btw, when did the kids get faster than us?...:) 
Although plans changed, a fun day indeed! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Everything is a Learning Process...

Ok, so we've been here a few days and the kids kept saying they weren't jet lag for us Mom...blah, blah, right?  Well, I couldn't resist taking this picture because let's just say that it's been a LONG while since they've slept in the car...all at the same time.  And...we didn't travel more than 10 minutes down the road.  Ha ha, it catches up with you! 

So, when friends heard about our upcoming move to London, we often heard the same sort of phrase...similiar to..."at least you're moving to a place where people speak English..."   And this was true... EXCEPT that everything else is different and would have to be learned.  So often, we hear slang, change in dialect , or just different vocabulary than we recognize.  They may say the "pitch" and mean field or say "quid" to indicate a buck or dollar. I refer back to the title, "Everything is a Learning Process" and will share our daily challenges.  Kate keeps a running vocabulary list...I'll share it at another time.  I love to see her adding new terms. :)

Well, of course, there are obvious changes like the cooler temperatures and time...we are five hours ahead of east coast time.  And most clocks are digital on the 24 hour clock.  Nick will struggle, no doubt. 
The money is pence and pounds...pounds are paper money and the least value is five.  If  it's less than five pounds, you'll receive a coins, indicatating one pound each.  So you don't throw your change around here... as it can add up quick!  My "laundry making saving jar" is becoming MUCH more valuable here in London, rather than the US.  :)  

Now a change in cooking...truly a challenge due to measurement and oven temperatures...I knew the metric system would snag me.  We made pancakes the other day and the mix called for 390 grams of mix with 525 ml of water..."What I say?!..."  Let's just say we didn't have computer access to cheat and the pancakes took a l-o-n-g time to make.  The moral, pay attention in math when learning about the metric system.  I had the chance to really impress my kids and I blew it.   One never knows when you may need to convert!  The stove and ovens have metric readings as well...gas markers too.  Isn't 350 degrees standard for anything?!  Apparently not.:)  We're doing better now that we can get online for special guidence.  Did I also mention brands are not the same?....remember, we've got to buy laundry soap, dishwashing detergent, cookies, crackers, etc...basically starting fresh and all over.  Again, we're learning as we step at a time.  Oh, and these everyday products are not available in "family size", so yes, we walk to the market daily.  Bread, fruits, vegetables, and flowers seem to be the best and so fresh...I've actually found feathers in the egg cartons and dirt in the lettuce. No joke.  There are not many, if any perservatives in the foods here, so you can imagine their "snacks" are not quite like the States.  And yes, the kids are surviving after all.  If you really search,  American favorites can be a price.  Example:  Lucky Charms are $10. :)

The biggest challenge?  Driving for sure.  Not only is the steering wheel on the right side, but the cars drive on the opposite side that Americans do.  Their roundabouts also travel what seems to be in the wrong direction.  Kyle's had a bit more time and is now pretty comfortable driving.  I take the car out on off times and have to really kids talking and no radio.  I compare it to bumper cars, you hit a curb and you're right back on the narrow road.  I now envy Mini Coopers.  The roads demands my full attention, along with my navigation...or.... it won't turn out well.  Hopefully practice will make me perfect...or close to.:)

Our American tv shows are delayed by one day...we were watching the Homerun Derby the other day and I caught Kyle searching online to see who won and then wagered Jack to a bet.  Caught in the act...!

Anyway...just wanted to share the differences and let you know we're learning new things everyday and adjusting pretty well to our UK transition.  We have guests coming in soon and a we leave for Positano, Italy on Sunday.  Quite amazing...really can't even grasp it yet.  I have a feeling the summer will zip on by...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

10 Maple House

06/30/2011  Welcome to our home!  Unpacking time and settling in...our air shipment will arrive in a few rush...there's much to keep us busy.  We need tv, cell phones, internet service, groceries, plug adapters, etc...and remember we still had those 14 bags to unpack. The rental furniture company should arrive later today. 
Our neighborhood is called Sheridan Grange and it consists of 11 homes.  There's a train station, a grocery store, and a very small town within walking distance.  The Tasis School, is about a 15 minute bus ride....the kids await 1st, 4th, and 5th grade...nice to have them all together in the lower school.   Fingers crossed for a few new friends to make this transition easier.  Now off to unpack those boxes...straight away!  :)

Touchdown at Heathrow Airport, England!

06/30/2011  Good morning! We flew over the Atlantic Ocean, through the night, and eight hours later we landed in the UK.  Did I mention these kiddos flew business class?  The bar is held high now!  Movies, meals, treats, and reclining chairs...what more could they need, right?  Dell took care :).  All went well on the plane except for some bad sinus pressure felt by Jack.  Two vans awaited our arrival.  Our bags were loaded destination was a town called Sunningdale, where we will call "home" for the next year. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

and so the journey begins...

06/29/2011 Well, the time had come...after 10 long months of talking about this move...our departure flight was finally here.  We've said so many goodbyes and received such kind words & gifts from our family and friends.  It is a new beginning for us...we hope to make the best of it!   The kids had packed their belongings, plus a few extra things that I've found along the way.:)  We and our 14 bags...are heading over 4,000 miles away. Wish us luck!