Friday, January 30, 2009

Adventure Girl Strikes Again!!!

This time I was off to Holland Park... only about 2 miles from home but an adventure none the less! Chris saw a special on Holland Park on his flight and mentioned it to me. I decided on Wednesday night that if the sun was shining when I woke up on Thursday that I would head to the park... sure enough, we had another GREAT day! I have lucked out on the weather front lately. I had sun on Tuesday for Oxford, rain on Wednesday for the plumber, and sun on Thursday for Holland Park... however, rumor has it that is all about to end but more on that later!
Holland Park is a neighborhood (and park) to the west of Hyde Park and just south of Notting Hill. It is a VERY expensive area to live in and now I know why! I adored the park... especially the Japanese Gardens. I only knew what Chris had told me which was not much so imagine my surprise when I found this...

A full out Japanese Garden in the middle of a pretty low key park. I was thrilled and imagined myself bringing my yoga mat here in the summer for a zen moment or two. It was pretty hard to believe that I was in the heart of London... all I could hear were the birds and the water falls. I was also very surprised to see that there were GIANT koi fish in the pond. My pictures did them no justice so I am not posting them. However, without exaggeration I can tell you they were about 2 feet long! Amazing!

The next amazing moment...


Now, Chris told me about the peacocks but I had completely forgotten about them until I saw them on the hill. I think they were enjoying the sun more than I was and they were definitely having their own little zen moment!

This guy was more than happy to pose for me... I sat on the steps and started clicking away. He preened and flaunted his feathers for me. I was considering ways to get him to shake his tail feathers for me but there were about 10 people watching me and I didn't want to make any more of a spectacle of myself. After all, I nearly fell down the 3 steps I was sitting on when I put the camera down and realized he had walked about 1 foot from me and had a look of hunger in his eye... he was going to eat me, I am sure of it! Punk peacock!! Lucky for me I escaped certain death... or serious deformity in the least! I scolded him while on lookers rolled their eyes and laughed at me. I promptly turned around and told everyone I was a Canadian ; )

After the scolding, Mr. Punk Peacock decided he had had enough of the shutter bug and strutted away...

After my near death experience, I decided it was time to take a load off so I headed over to the Holland Park Cafe for lunch. I had a yummy (that was just for you , Laurie ; ) cup of parsnip and apple soup with a crusty baguette and a pot of hot tea. I sat outside so I could keep an eye on the punk... I was pretty sure he was stalking me. And he was definitely in cahoots with the squirrels from Hyde Park! It was a little chilly out but between the soup, tea and sunshine I managed to stay fairly warm. All in all in was a beautiful day. Once again I was filled with a huge desire for spring and summer to hurry up.

Oxford... Part Two!

After the pint, I took a stroll up the River Thames... a much longer stroll than I had intended but a stroll none the less. I found a walking tour on-line and it said this walk would take about 30 minutes. 30 minutes into the walk I was 30 minutes from the start and about 30 minutes from the finish! In the end, I was in the middle of no where and had to ask for directions to get back to the center of town... Luckily, the sun was still out and it was a beautiful walk.

A footpath across the river. This little bridge leads to the Crew Houses from the various Universities and Colleges in Oxford.

One of the older crew houses. As well as the newer ones... all in a row!

This young swan made a b-line for me across the river. I felt terrible that I had nothing to offer him... he followed me up the river for about 25 yards and then gave up and sulked back to the other side of the river...

After the tour, the pint, and the "30" minute walk, I found the shopping area and enjoyed a cup of coffee and a croque monsieur. It was only 4 and I had planned to stay until 6 but decided to call it a day. My legs were warn out and my dogs were barking so I caught the 4:30 train... promptly falling asleep as soon as the train started to move! My parents must have used the whole driving in the car trick to make me sleep as a baby because the moment I sit in a vehicle (be it planes, trains or automobiles) I am out like a light!
Can't wait to take Chris to Oxford... in the Spring when the gardens are in bloom ; )
Until next time... XOXO

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Day in Oxford

With Chris off in New York City for the week I decided it was time for me to get out and explore. After a very small amount of research, I settled on taking a train to Oxford for the day. It was an hour long journey and the weather was looking a little bleak. However, when the train pulled in to Oxford the sun was shining, the sky was blue and I was off to take in the college town. I had sleepy college town in my head and found a vibrant, bustling city. I grabbed a map at the double decker bus tour kiosk and decided to hoof it. Unfortunately for my tootsies, I completely under estimated the size of Oxford. I had planned out a full day but decided I was less interested in touring a tourist trap castle and more focused on getting to know the city. I did break down and tour Christ Church College. I couldn't resist getting a first person view of a place with such great history. This is the college that Lewis Carroll was teaching (or possibly just studying, I have found both accounts) mathematics at when he met the dean's daughter, Alice, and wrote a captivating tale called Alice in Wonderland! The dining hall was also used as inspiration for the Harry Potter films... scenes were also shoot there for the movies. Okay, so I realize this is not exactly history but I didn't take notes on the true historical stuff ; )

This is the view of the campus from the visitors entrance. The gardens look a little bare but if you look closely you can see buds popping up out of the ground! Yeah... Spring is coming!!!

This is a pretty washed out picture of a fountain and garden on campus. I wondering were the door goes? I am thinking a secret garden or maybe that is the door from Alice in Wonderland!!!

Inside the main gates, this is the entrance to the cloisters and also the sight of Harry Potter filming. Pictures don't really do it justice, it is a beautiful place.

This is the "great" stair way where Harry Potter was filmed. If you look closely and ignore the giant white safety stripes on the stairs you can see all the little wizards waiting to inside to seal their fate with the sorting hat! Yes, you read that correctly... I am a huge dork!

This is the dining hall. They still serve meals here to the students and faculty. It smelled delicious and made me want to go to school there. Wouldn't it be great to go to class in such an amazing place and get to eat lunch these tables everyday like students have been doing for hundreds of years? I could dig it ; )

After the college I headed to a pub for a pint and some sunshine. I found the greatest pub/inn that was right on the Thames and had comfy picnic tables in direct sunlight and I watched someone feeding the ducks from the bridge... this whole place made me really miss Chris...

I sat drinking my pint and considered renting a room at the inn. I decided I was giddy from the sight of the sun and that renting a room would only be a waste of money... plus who would feed Moe?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Let them eat...Crumpets.

I made a promise to my grandfather's lovely wife when we first moved that I would hunt down some crumpets and let her know what they are and how they taste. Well, yesterday when I was shopping for English Muffins... incidentally, these are just called muffins here... I came across nothing other than crumpets! So with Norma on my mind, I settled in for a nice traditional English meal this morning... crumpets and coffee. Okay, so the coffee was not so traditional but let's face it tea just doesn't get the brain moving in the morning like coffee.

The crumpets were very good. They were a cross between English muffins and sponge cake... crispy on the top and spongy in the middle. I toasted them and topped them with butter and English honey. Delicious! I think I will have them for breakfast tomorrow, too!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A day in the life...

of a very small, dual washer and dryer.

I am sure most Americans have heard of a stackable washer and dryer. However, a new concept for me is the dual washer and dryer. That is a single machine that washes and dries clothes...and it is very, very, very small. Doing the laundry is an all day or rather and all week event here in the Kipphut flat and requires a considerable amount of fore thought. I try to do a load every day in an effort to stay on top of things but with traveling back to the states and every day life, I have fallen behind. This is not the first time and I am predicting that it will not be the last. I have gone to the laundry mat ( aka launderette) but this is also an event and costs about 30 pounds to do 5 loads. So today is dedicated to laundry. Here is how it works...

First, I divide the laundry in to the following types of loads... some of which may sound familiar and some may not: whites, mids that can be dried, mids that can not be dried, mids that could be dried in a "normal machine" but turn into a wrinkled disaster when dried in my machine, darks that can be dried, darks that can not be dried, and darks that could be dried in a... you get the point. There is also the white towels, dark towels, dish towels and bathrobe loads. As well as the load of nothing but jeans that can only be dried for 25 minutes and then must be hung on a drying rack... the list goes on...

Second, I wash the first load which is normally whites because Chris is out of undershirts and socks. However, by now it is already 3 o'clock in the afternoon and one load takes about 2 hours so the rest will have to wait til tomorrow! Today is different in that I got up at 6:30 under the disguise of making Chris breakfast. In reality, I just wanted to see if I could do 5 loads of laundry in one day! Okay, I admit that I got a head start by doing 2 loads yesterday but they count because...well, I said so : )

Let me pause to fill everyone in on a piece of information that I omitted... if anyone is still reading this, that is... The fastest wash cycle takes 59 minutes and most full loads take between 50 and 75 minutes to dry. Towels take 90 minutes to dry, sweat shirts take 60 minutes plus about an hour on a hanger in the hall to dry and the bathroom rug never dries!!! Jeans and my pajama trousers can not be left to dry completely in the dryer because they wrinkle to unrecognizable levels. This means that in addition to the several hours in the machine many things spend another 60 to 120 minutes hanging on all available hooks, bars, chair backs, door knobs, etc...

Third, about half way through the drying cycle I remove everything from the machine to check for wrinkling, dampness and to determine how much additional time is needed. This takes about 10 minutes and inevitably ends in me either burning my hand on a hot button or zipper or forgetting to restart the drying cycle after replacing all the wet clothes. Neither scenario is fun.

And finally, after 2 or more hours I remove the clothes from the machine or their respective hanging locations, fold them and put them away... and then start on the next load.

The good news is that it is almost 11 am and I am about to finish up with load #4... maybe I should get up with Chris every morning...nah ; )

Monday, January 19, 2009

London Marathon

As many of you may know, Chris is running the Flora London Marathon in April. He is running for the YMCA. The YMCA is involved in the holistic development of young people and their communities. YMCAs operate in more than 240 communities throughout England providing hundreds of unique projects working with and for young people. He has to raise 1250.00 GBP or just over $1800. Uncle Ernie donated a large chunk of change so he is almost to his target but he still needs a little extra to get him to the finish line. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
Click here to donate!

Another Proper English Lesson

Hire: This means to rent. For instance, you can hire a car or a dinner jacket.

Dinner Jacket: A standard tuxedo which can be worn with a cummerbund or a waistcoat.

Waistcoat: A vest.

Jumper: A sweater, generally worn by a woman.

Pants: This is a fun one because of the difference... In England, pants refers to underpants as opposed to trousers which are worn over the pants! Pants can also me "crap" i.e The game last night was pants!

Knickers: Women's underpants.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Domestic Goddess!

That is right!
I am a Domestic Goddess!
Not that this statement needs much of an explanation, after all you have all seen and read about by adventures in cooking. And who could forget my headboard... that was a masterpiece of domestic ingenuity, if I say so myself. However, you may be asking what is that I have done today to proclaim myself an equal to Hestia (Domestic Goddess in the mythological sense...) Well, the answer... I ironed Chris's work shirts! They are currently hanging, crisply and wrinkle free, in his closet waiting to be worn. I am thinking of making him a sign to wear around his neck or pinned to his shirt with a safety pin like a kindergartner's bus number... the sign will read, "My Wife is a Domestic Goddess." No explaination needed on the sign as the sharp creases and smell of light starch will be explanation enough.
To prove my position even more, I might just run the hoover or make the bed ; )

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Weather Update

I am no longer jealous of Tampa weather!
At this moment (7:45 am GMT or 2:45 am EST), It is the same temperature (45) in Tampa and London! However, Tampa's low is is 34 while London's is only 45!!!! This is a brilliant day as far as I am concerned... as long as we don't discuss the highs or the sunshine!

I will bask in this glory for as long as it lasts and ignore the rain as best possible!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Shopping Woes

During my short trip back to the states I went to the grocery store, I was almost immediately over whelmed by the choices. The biggest difference between shopping in the states and here is not the walking or the store layouts, it is the amount of choices. Here they may have 2 brands to select from or they may have an organic option but that is it! There is really no need to cost compare because there is usually only a difference of a few pence or nothing at all. Obviously, the larger the store, the large the selection but the largest store in walking range does not offer much to the arena of selection! I am missing the over whelmed feeling I had just a few days ago...

While shopping today I learned that the following two items are difficult if not impossible to find...

1. Swiss Cheese. Yep, good old fashion Baby Swiss, Lacey Swiss... any kind of Swiss, really. I looked amongst all the cheese options and when I had no luck I asked the guy in the deli. I said,"Do you have Swiss cheese?" He said, "Yes, what kind of cheese from Switzerland would you like?" I said, "Swiss." He said.... do I need to go on? I left the store without Swiss cheese.

2. Wham breads. Okay, so this was my mother's term for biscuits, croissant rolls or any other type of bread that comes in a can and is opened by "whamming" it on the counter. I forgot about this until I was in the store today looking for Wham pizza dough and couldn't not even begin to know what to ask the grocer for... Can't you just see me walking up to the stock boy and saying, "Sorry to bother but do you have any wham pizza dough?" The cheese man looked at me like I had 2 heads when I asked for Swiss cheese! I have everything i need to make yummy ham and cheese turnovers... except the turnover!

The good news... I got everything I need to make Balsamic glazed sirloin steak and horseradish, chive baked potatoes! Chris sure is one lucky man!

Until next time. XOXO

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Trey makes his debut...

Trey Micheal Farmer is making his Florida Girl debut...
Please give him a warm welcome!

What a cutie pie!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Trey Micheal Farmer

I mentioned in my previous post that Michelle (Chris's sister) had her baby. I feel he deserves his own entry... plus he threatened me if I didn't give him his own posting... after all he was like 7 ft tall and 240lbs at birth so I have to do what he says...

On a serious note, Trey was 21 in, 9 lbs 15 oz and his birthday is January 7th. Momma and baby are doing well after a long delivery that ended in a c-section. They went home from the hospital today and Grampie and Nana Kipphut couldn't be happier! Chris is pretty excited as well... after all he is once again... Uncle Piss!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Florida Girl in...Florida!

Back in the TPA for business and the gods are smiling down on me. I have not seen clear blue skies like this in... well, three months! This is just what I needed to really make me homesick! I miss London terribly but I think this is a direct result of Chris being there and me being here. However, there are a few things that I have really come to enjoy in London that just don't work in Florida.
First, I really miss the ease of walking everywhere. Since I am at the Kipphuts it has been nice to walk Bayshore and to Hyde Park for shopping (just what I need!) but I miss walking to the grocery and to get coffee. Driving is a real pain in the touchous... especially when you are driving your father-in-laws Lexus and the battery dies and you have to call him while he is visiting his first grandchild in Atlanta and tell him that you just broke his car... but that NEVER happens, right?!? Seriously, I thought I was on some stupid prank show because the scenario described above is not something that happens... unless you are me! I digress... back to the list of things I miss about London other than my hubby!
Second, small cute little stores. I went to Target and suddenly felt overwhelmed with choices! The same thing at the grocery store... I went in for a quick snack and left without anything because I couldn't make my mind up! There were options upon options of fruit flavored water, chips, frozen dinners... everything! My brain went in to hyper drive and I came home without eating... too many choices! Funny that one of my biggest complaints about London has been the limitations and now I miss them after a week stateside!
And finally, people watching! I miss my afternoons of watching the world go by at a random cafe or bookstore. London is packed full of interesting people from so many walks of life. I can sit in one spot for 30 minutes and see practically every continent represented and hear 10 (maybe more) different languages.
So... with all that said, I think I am going to try and spend more time out and about in London. I don't want to miss a minute of the city and I really can not wait to get back! It was nice being back and wonderful to see all my friends... dinner with Jennifer and John, walking with Jennifer on Bayshore, dinner and drinks with Kirk and Nicholas, a day with Vim and Baby Violet, breakfast with Jason and getting to see his "all grown-up" home, and even a few minutes with the Kipphuts before they headed to Atlanta. Not to even mention the weather... 70's, sunshine, blue sky... I miss Florida weather!!! However, even with the friends and weather I still can not wait to get back to home... to London.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Getting off to a good start in 2009

Happy New Year!
I made my resolution last night and got up this morning for a chilly run through the park. Okay, so it was more of a walk than a run but it was better than staying in bed! I was fooling myself in to thinking that all the walking I have been doing would be enough to keep my 29 year old figure. However, all the cheese, beef, fried food and generally unhealthy food has dashed my plans!
New year, new Florida Girl!