Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Just for Nicholas...

I promise to give you special Nicholas shout outs from now on. And I am starting with a happy cork cow! You know I love you!
For those who are wondering.... Chris, Kirk, Nicholas and I went to California last October. Kirk and Chris were infatuated by the happy California cows that we saw grazing on the hillsides in wine country. Kirk even wrote a song about them! Then on our first day in Sonoma, we found this jewel. A life size cow made completely of wine corks! It was an amazing trip. I highly recommend the El Dorado Inn on Sonoma Square and a bottle of Dutton Russian River Pino Noir enjoyed in the hotel lobby in front of the fire!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gnaming the Gnome!

So there we were driving through Wheel, Tennessee (yes, that is really a place!) when Chris looks out the window and sees a yard that is chopped full of yard art. Now, I am using the word art very liberally here but I am certain that the owner of this cozy abode feels a sense of accomplishment every time he/she looks out at their creation. Chris's face lit up like a Christmas tree with pure delight and he says "I know what we should do!" Now I follow with the inevitable question... "what?" I should really know better by now!

And Chris lays out the plan... He says we should build an ark and collect 2 of every plastic lawn animal we can find. Once we are satisfied with our menagerie, he wants to display it in the front yard. I add that my little gnome buddy can stand in as Noah... and then boom! It hits me like a bolt of lightning... We should gname the gnome Gnoah!

So there you have it. Our trusty traveling companion will be gnameless gno more.

Say hello to Gnoah (and Moe)!

And here are some family reunion pictures for good measure!

Open House #2

While Chris and I lived it up in Lewisburg Tennessee, our realtor held our 2nd open house. A disappointing 2 people came in the 3 hours she was here. One neighbor being nosey and a friend of a possible buyer. I must say I am starting to worry about selling this place! I think if I read or watch another news story about the crumbling, failing, bursting, never to get better again housing market I may end up with an ulcer and a serious drinking problem! We love our place and thought for sure the 1st person to walk through the door would fall in love and never want to leave!

On a better note, Chris and I went to Tennessee this weekend for my family reunion. It was a short trip (left Friday around 2 pm and got back Sunday at 7 pm) but I got to see my dad, step-mom and grandparents... as well as several relatives at the reunion! We had 94 Crick's show up to eat and... well... eat! It is a covered dish event so imagine all the good southern home cookin'. Chris was in heaven and at a little of every casserole on the table. Someone brought tomatoes from their garden and I secretly ate 3 slices before we said the blessing just to make sure I got some! I learned the secret to these things to be in charge of setting up the food. Then you put all the good things you want to eat at the end of the table... that way no one has room on their plate when they get to the good stuff! In the end, I think it went off really well. Most of my relatives have no clue who I am and were very confused when my name was on the invite. I had several cousins come up and say "Are you that Jennifer?" It was pretty entertaining to say the least! In the end I think my cousin, Pasty, and I will go down as the best President and Treasurer to have presided over the Crick Family Reunion! The best part is that I happily passed on my title to another unsuspecting sucker! This moving to London thing is getting me out of all kinds of responsibility ; )

On Saturday we took my grandfather and his wife to a county music talent search in a local park. It was the best people watching event I have been to in a very long while! Chris and I were in near hysterics the entire time. I would elbow him to look in one direction as he elbowed me to look in the other. I feel a little bad because my grandfather couldn't hear a thing and the music was really bad and loud but we wanted to stay and watch the crowd! Chris always complains that we don't do anything when we go to Tennessee... so I have now committed to taking him to every possible country music event in Lewisburg. The more amature the better! I haven't told him yet so let's keep it a secret ;-)

The last thing I will add in this random post is that we have named the Gnome! Come back tomorrow and I will try to post it... there is obviously a story that goes with the name!!!
Until next time! XOXO

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Things I learned while in London...

1. After repeatedly hearing about an area along the River Thames called "Suthic" I spent a good 2 hours searching my map, books and brain for the neighborhood. I later learned that this area while being pronounced "suthic" is actually spelled Southwark! Which leads to the 1st thing I have come to realize about London... they do not speak English as I know it!

2. Londoners strongly discourage any and all "ball games" from being played in public parks, gardens, alleys and other generally open spaces. There is proof all over the city as signs posted read "No Ball Games." I guess we will have to leave our gloves at home...

3. When in a London garden, don't walk on the grass. Most gardens have what I will call a Grass Warden watching. You usually do not realize they are there until the edge of your Nike grazes the precisely manicured blade of grass... in they swoop like an eagle to point out the sign that reads "Stay Off Grass and No Ball Games."

4. Cricket makes no sense and most people who are avid fans don't have a clue what the rules are either!

5. Don't say soccer or refer to American Football as "Football." Doing so may get you in hot water, especially if you are drinking pints in a pub.

6. Some pubs serve curry. Very yummy curry. Sometimes it is Thai curry and sometimes it is Indian curry but it is usually delicious!

7. Service in a restaurant is non-existent. We had Indian in Bayswater at Maharajah. The little Indian server became very exasperated when I inquired about what vegetables they had... he started to name them off in a fashion similar to the shrimp scene in Forrest Gump only much quicker. Eventually, we gave our order and the server never returned to the table! Of note, the food was delicious and we found the people watching in this restaurant to be top notch as other diners were repeatedly chewed out by our server! Each diners experience started as follows: Diner "Table for 2 please." Server "Get Inside."

8. Brits do not share appetizers at a meal. I learned this at a business dinner when asked if I would like a starter and I said I would eat a little of what was already ordered. I got some strange looks which confused me until the starters arrived and were placed firmly in front of each who had ordered them! I will not make this mistake again!

9. Brits curse... a lot! They are not afraid to drop the F bomb in any situation. Me and my trucker mouth should fit in well ; 0

10. If you are crossing a street and see a bus coming towards you... run! The bus (or car, taxi , motorcycle, bicycle for that mater) will NOT stop or even slow down. I think they actually speed up when pedestrians step off the curb.

I know that I have some more lesser known "facts" about lesser cared about London in my journal so I will provide you all with additional insight in a few days. Hope all is well with everyone!
Until next time!

PS I have a correction... I previously posted that I have only 2 loyal readers. I have since learned that I have a rather loyal following in Connecticut... so hello Kipphuts! I promise to keep you all in mind whenever I give reader shout outs from now on ; )

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Places in London where I could see us living...

The long awaited photos are here! I posted the Adventures of Sir Gnome (I am still waiting on name suggestions people!) just to wet your whistles. I am preparing for my trip to Tennessee this weekend so if I sound a little country... well it is because I am! Not that I will ever admit it again so you 2 loyal readers (Hi Laurie and Vim) are the only ones who will ever know ; ) If you forgot, the 79th Annual Crick Family Reunion is only a few short days away! I will have to be in full fledged country mode by the time I arrive in town on Friday night or my Papaw won't be able to understand a thing I say! But that is a subject for another blog....

So while wondering the streets of London, I took it upon myself to photograph homes/flats that best represented where I could see Chris and I settin' up home. There is a theme and I will give kudos to the 1st person to spot it but seriously... it is a little obvious! I will try to post the pictures in the order that we visited and I will do my best to tell you where the are... if I can remember... so off we go...

This is in St John's Wood which is very close the the famous Abbey Road Studios and the zebra stripe cross walk from the Abbey Road album cover. This flat was about half way between the Tube station and Regent's Park. And right across the way from the St. John's Wood Church Grounds. This area is also home to the Lord's Cricket Grounds... we happened to visit this area on the 1st day of a 5 day Cricket match so it was flooded with people. After 5 days of watching Cricket, Chris and I are still at a loss for a single rule in the game!

To the right is a group of flats in Marylebone (pronounced Mar- Lee-Bow)... Bow as in a hair bow not a dog bark! I think it is actually a hotel given the number of individuals standing outside with luggage but whatever... Marylebone is an interesting area that comes highly recommended but Chris and I must have walked out of the tube station in the wrong direction because we could not find any pubs, cafes, veggie stands or shopping of any kind. We have decided to give the area a second look before we make a final decision... mainly because the recording that announces the station pronounced above makes Chris giggle like the Pillsbury Dough Boy!

To the left is also Marylebone. Can't you just see me walking out that door in my rain coat, wellies (aka rubber boots) and umbrella ready to face the day? Ignore the cars in the bottom of the pic... I did not crop or adjust any of these pics.. I figured you had all waited long enough!

To the right is Clarence Gate Gardens in Bayswater. The building is Moorish style architecture (according to Chris) and there are buildings like this all over London. This one is a little dingy but when they are all cleaned up they look a little like candy canes with the red and white bricks... cute flat don't you think?

Well, neither Chris or I can remember where this is... but in reality we can't live there so it doesn't matter. I saw this building from up the street and decided instantly that I wanted to live here... then I found out it is a school... I guess I will have to settle on sending our future children there! Although, that too may be a little unrealistic ; )

This is a Mews in Notting Hill a few minutes walk from Hyde Park, St James Park, Portobello Road and Churchill Arms... the last is the pub that Chris would like to make his neighborhood hang out. It's picture is posted below...

I think that about covers the tour of London through the eyes of a soon to be expat looking for a place to call home. Somehow I think our place may be a little less posh than all of these but a girl can hope... right? We spent a lot of times looking in the letting agency windows... they post all the available rentals in the store windows. We were pretty pleased with what we saw in most areas and feel like we can find something in a great area that will fit our needs for the time being.
We did find one final option that we are strongly considering... It is a great location with plenty of space. It is close to the parks (St. James and Hyde Park) but it is a little touristy....

Do you think the Queen would notice if we shacked up here?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gnome on the roam...

So anyone who knows me is surely aware of my obsession with Gnomes... We had a stow away on our trip ( I may have had a hand in packing him ; ) and I thought I would share his adventures through London... he is nameless at the moment so any suggestions are greatly appreciated. From the looks of it, I think he may be making a few more appearances on the blog!
The gnome made himself known when we ordered our first plate of fish and chips. As you can see he jumped right on to the plate... we let him eat all the peas he wanted!
He enjoyed riding the tube but got some strange looks when he decided to climb out of the bag and take a proper seat!
He loved how the red telephone booths match is hat. So he decided to have a 7-Up and make a quick call to one of his Gnome friends. He is a little hard to see but he is in there... I promise.
See... Gnome friends. He was looking for a place to crash but decided this flat in Knotting Hill with his buddies was not going to work out. He really wanted something with a little more character, maybe a garden and a iron fence.
And the next day while walking in the park we found it... a perfect Gnome home. Doesn't he look happy? I mean what Gnome wouldn't want to live in Hyde Park next to the Queen. Maybe he will let use crash a few nights when we move!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Afternoon in the sun...

So I can not lie... we slept in this morning. 6 straight days of getting up at 7 am or earlier, jet lag and walking around London has taken its toll on Chris and I alike. We rolled out of bed around 10:30, got coffee and headed to Hyde Park. We laid down a blanket (my pasmena actually) and enjoyed the London sun. Yes, you read correctly. London has sun! It was beautiful and relaxing. We enjoyed the peace and quite for a few hours, Chris read the paper and I recapped our neighborhood tours. Today sealed the deal... we MUST live near the park. Even if the sun only shines like this for a few weeks out of the year, I will enjoy it every possible moment!

We are hoping to find somewhere between Notting Hill and Bayswater. The council tax (a property tax that must be paid even by renters that is based on the value of your home) is about half in Bayswater. However, last night we headed to the area for dinner and did not feel as comfortable or at home as we were in Notting Hill. The 2 neighborhoods border one another so in a perfect world we will find the perfect flat on the street the seperates the 2 in the cheaper borough! I don't think that is asking too much!

Tomorrow we head home. I am rwady to be home. However, I am also ready to move. The more time we spend in the city the more I can see us living here. I know there will be a considerable adjustment period which is why I am ready! The sooner we get here the sooner I can adjust and start to enjoy this great opportunity!

In a few hours we head to Chris's new office to meet his co-workers for an office tour and dinner. Our flight home is at 10:30ish in the morning London time which gets us home around 10 pm Atlanta time!

Off to the hotel to pack and get ready for dinner... xoxo

Saturday, July 12, 2008

It must be the shoes...

People keep asking Chris for directions. Despite our backpack, camera and map; they think we are locals. More specifically, they think Chris is a local. We have concluded it is his very euro trendy brown Sketcher shoes. One look at those kicks and he has instant cred! Too bad for all those suckers Chris has no idea where he is or which direction he is facing at any given moment. I am not much better. Taking the tube is very easy but tends to mess with my fine tuned sense of direction! Several times we have walked for blocks certain we were heading north and as is turns out we were heading east!

We are getting used to the idea of living here. The first morning, we sat in a Starbuck's drinking coffee and Chris asked if I could see us living "here." I gave it some serious thought, looking up and down the street, studying the people walking by and simply could not picture it at that moment. It was very scary. However, spending the last few days getting lost and getting to know the city... I can see it now. I have to squint my eyes and stand on one foot with my right hand in my pocket but I can see it!

We have gone in "grocery" stores and priced food and other daily goods. We have looked for our brand of toothpaste and deodarant. We look for pubs in each neighborhood that have good food and good beer (although the beer is usually the first thing we look for!) We locate all the closest tube stations and today we even ventured onto the bus system with considerable success! We have ruled out several neighborhoods and added a few we previously did not consider. Overall, I think you could say we have spent the last 4 days doing our homework! If we end up living in a place we do not love then it will certainly not be for lack of trying to get it right!

We've also had some fun and some great food, Thai and Indian especially. We have scoped out some places we will take everyone when they come and visit. We have a spot picked out for Mike/Chris's dad (a Starbuck's in Camden Town that sits on the lock and looks out over the street with the best people watching in the city), Laurie/Chris's mom (the Glass Cafe, a resturaunt with a glass ceiling serving grapes on salads and what looked like delicious ice tea), Steve/my dad (Churchhill Arm's pub in Notting Hill with great beer and pictures of US presidents on the walls) and we have also been making lists of places we will return to in the future.

I think the 2 top neighborhoods so far are Bayswater and Notting Hill. Both near Hyde and St James Parks with great shopping and food. Transportation is excellant and the streets feel cozy and livable. I found the public library in Notting Hill and decided I could see myself there on a rainy afternoon with a cup of hot tea and books galore! We also found the best Thai food we have ever had (except when Vim's mom cooked for us) and it is served in a Notting Hill pub! Does life get any better than that? Bayswater is very quaint and we found a Mews, which is like a culd-a-sac filled with two story, shotgun type town houses (aka Mews Houses). We would love to rent a Mews House! So cute!!!

So tonight we plan to grab some fish and chips then head to bed early. We both fell asleep on the tube and missed our intended stop, so sleep is a must if we want to make it another 3 days! Tomorrow morning we are meeting Sal (really nice guy who works with Mike and has lived in London for the past 2 years) for coffee and people watching at Covent Gardens. We had dinner with him last night at the Texas Embasy and enjoyed some delicious margaritas (another destination for Laurie!) I will try to write again on Monday but if not look for pictures by Wednesday.


I almost forgot... today we rented 2 lawn chairs in Hyde Park and enjoyed a picnic of food (greek salad, fresh fruit, homemade humus and fresh bread) we bought at Portabello Market. What an amazing Saturday afternoon... we have to live near the park!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

In London...

Good News! We made it to London safe and sound. We spent yesterday wandering around Bayswater (just south of Hyde Park) and then met Chris's former co-worker (Areej) for dinner. We also walked along the river in an area called Little Venice. There are house boats and beautiful terraced homes (aka townhouses) along the water. It was an exhausting day but by the time we made it back to the hotel Chris and I were both wired! Luckily, the Marriott gave us a complimentary bottle of wine. 2 glasses a piece and we were both snoring!
Today we went to St John's Wood (home of Abbey Road). A very nice (expensive) area and home of the Lords Cricket Grounds. There was a match today between England and South Africa so the whole area was swamped with people... mostly men in suits with umbrellas! We will need to see how many Cricket matches they have each year and how long the season lasts before we move to St. John's Wood. The tube was packed, no seating, no room to move and when the doors open we were lucily we were heading in the same direction as everyone else.
Regent's Park is near by so we walked through to Camden Town. The park is also home of the London Zoo so as we were walking we were looking through the fences at the camels, goats, donkeys and some other racoony looking things. It was a pretty walk and Chris thinks the park would be great for running. I used the 2007 Loo of Year while we were in the park. It was lovely! Then we headed to Camden... of all the areas we were considering Camden Town is officially off the list! Very fun area with loads of pubs and steet markets (mainly clothing). However, it was very seedy and we did not feel safe at all. On the outside edge it is quite and decent enough but we would have to walk through the heart of the area to get to the tube. So we can at least cross one neighborhood off the ever growing list!
We also stopped in Marylebone which is not pronounced "Mary- le-bone" as one might think... Very quaint, neighborhood feel but very few restaraunts and no grocery stores to be found. The tube stop is an old train station with a beautiful flower shop in the center... However, I don't think I can pick my future home based on a flower shop alone!
We have an appointment this afternoon just south of Regent's Park and then we plan to find pub and enjoy a pint or two! Hope to write more later this week.
Until then... cheers!

P.S. The spell check is not working so I am sorry if anything is spelled wrong... also the n and k keys don't work well so I tried to catch all the errors. I promise to come back and edit later!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hi Ho Hi Ho...

it's off to London we go! Chris and I leave in the morning for England. Initially, we were supposed to fly to Newark but Chris called Delta with a story about needing a direct flight, possible weather delays, almost expired travel vouchers and then boom! we have a direct flight. What do you know, he has some of his mother's genes after all ; )

I am hoping that the hotel will have free Internet access and a computer for me to keep my loyal readers (I think there are only 2 of you) up to date. Otherwise there will be some marathon blogging upon my return!

Until then.... hugs and kisses!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy 5th of July!!!

Yesterday was fun. Chris ran the Peachtree Road Race so the family and I went to watch. Of course, the best place to watch the race is at our bar, Tap! Hooray Beer! Chris did a great job and finished in 54 minutes! That is about 8 and half minute miles!!! We saw him at mile 5ish... he ran up and grabbed my beer, took a big sip and off he went! He said that the beer tasted great and if it been in a plastic cup he would have taken it with him! I will post a picture when Laurie emails them to me... Laurie, Don't forget to email them to me ; ) After the race we went to the pool and grilled. Then... I went to bed! Too much morning beer drinking for me!
The rest of the weekend is dedicated to packing for London.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Just a matter of time...

This is an important moment for my Blog for several reasons. First, it is only a matter of time before the house sells now that St. Joe is tucked away under the red Georgia clay which means the move to London is imminent. This is important to the blog because... well look at the title, this Florida Girl needs to get her tush to London or change the name of the Blog. Secondly, the Kipphuts are about to make their first appearance (on the Blog, of course)! So sit back (make sure you can still reach the mouse) and enjoy the adventures of PVC St Joe in full color photo!

First, we got a shovel.

Some how it avoided the yard sale a few weeks back and was safely tucked away in the basement corner. This was a good thing because we had to dig a hole.

And by we, I mean Chris had to dig a hole and he did quite well! Doesn't he look sharp?

I did not know we were getting dressed up... Anyways, once the hole was dug... in goes the Saint!

Yes, he is a protective, plastic sleeve... after all nobody likes a dirty Saint. We closed things up by saying a few words... which was mostly Michelle laughing and me trying not to since I had to say the words! Then a handful of dirt...

Chris shoveled the rest on and we replaced the pine straw for a finished look. Matt was kind enough to find a nice stone marker to lead us back upon sale to dig up our "Underground Agent." And we finished the evening off with a family photo... taken from the truck of the car!

Thanks to the Kipphuts and the Farmers for helping us get good ol' Joe in the ground! Maybe we can repeat the fun, family get together after the house sells and we dig him up!
Chris is running the Peachtree Road Race tomorrow so look for some more fun pictures soon.... until then!
Hugs and Kisses ;)