Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Centre Parcs and Newcastle

I've been spending lots of my time lately in Newcastle.  Not exactly exploring, but an occasional wander.

Working lots at the Lit & Phil. Really love it there. So atmospheric.

This is us stopped in a little village of Tewksbury for lunch. Such a lovely medieval town. 
I'm learning to drive on British roads these days. It's a much different animal to the wide and straight roads of the States.  Fran's family had planned a trip down to Centre Parcs, and we drove, allowing me to have ample practice.
At Centre Parcs we seemed to see and do everything.  Here is mini-golf, themed just to suit my tastes.

Fran's cousin pulling the sword for the stone.

We went biking in the rain. I don't think I'd been on a bike in about ten years!

Several games of pictionary. Can you spot Fran's drawing of Spiderman and Nightmare?

We even got to stop in Southampton and see the dog.

Here is Indy and Felix, having a little rest from foiled attempts to breach the fence.

And this is me, studying for my motor theory exam in the Newcastle train station.

This past weekend we did indeed trek down to Centre Parcs to see Fran's family.  It was good to see them all again. Centre Parcs I found was more of a conquering of fears, such as riding a bike, or dislikes, such as swimming in public pools, though I did thoroughly enjoy being active the entire weekend. I've been trying to get back into the habit of doing a photo-a-day and though not terrible successful, find that it's a lovely way to remember.  I have indeed been learning to drive, and studying more diligently than I ever did at UNC, to pass my theory exam. Who knew that the incentive to finally get me to study was the humiliation of having to pay £36 again?  And now, we're off again, tomorrow, to the States! Very excited to see my family, and of course, my neurotic dog (we haven't seen either since our engagement) and then there's food. I may have been dreaming about fried chicken last night. xo

Monday, July 22, 2013

A weekend and thoughts on home

Fran's parents & grandmother were here this weekend.  We had a lovely time strolling around the countryside, swimming in the hotel pool, and eating lots of fabulous food. They even went rowing and were good enough to come along to see the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibit in Durham.  This weekend also boasted a beautiful bridal shower for a sweet friend.  We drank tea, played games, gave toasts, unwrapped gifts, and ate and ate and ate. It was perfect.  Weddings are lots of fun.

In other news, I've been made the social secretary of my college, which is good fun. That takes up some time now too.  I've also been thinking lots about being a TCK, and growing up in a culture not your own.  In the recent past, I've tended to not embrace this, to downplay it, to think, well it was important, but it was only a little while and you're American now.  But the longer I'm over in England, the more sense of distance I feel from America.  This makes me very sad, but it also reawakens the same feelings I had growing up in Singapore.  A sense of distance and removal, a sense of searching, a sense of wondering about home, and homeland. Some things never really go away. I think this might be one of them.

Fran often says I look forward to things too much and don't take enough time to savor what is happening now or what has already happened. Perhaps that's another token-TCK indicator.  Even as I write this, I'm thinking about my PhD to-do list, my before-I-leave-to-go-to-the-States  list, and more excitingly, what-I'm-going-to-do-when-I'm-home list.  I'm so excited! I can't wait! I'll get to see my family! And eat food! And make about 5,000 wedding decisions in the space of ten days. I've been planning my meals for about three weeks now.  Can you guess what's at the top of my list? Right here.  But before I get too carried away, here's to being grateful for our daily bread, and the space in between.  Love.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Some things in July


Attended Louise and Martin's wedding celebration in Northern Ireland

Made my way through my first hedge maze

Celebrated the 4th of July in style

Wandered about the Cathedral with MEMSA's conference

Went strawberry picking

+ The weather here has been glorious and sunny. I've even gotten sunburnt!
+ Strawberries here actually rest on straw
+ Trying to do things like my mom, like putting up strawberries or wrapping gifts
+ Finding that bad haircuts are not as traumatic as they were when I was in the sixth grade
+ Thinking about the differences between Ireland and Northern Ireland  
+ Loving the conference MEMSA put together this year
+ Having successive nightmares thanks to The Killing
+ Learning to drive in Britain, asking smart questions: "Wait, so when do I put the clutch down?"
+ Loving early morning starts and the lengthy days of sunshine.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A trip to Hexham

Through Chads we organized a day-trip out to Hexham. 

Market and Abbey


the abbey was from the 7th century

Blurry, but a rare example of steps monk used  between their dorms and vespers

That Saturday had an emphasis on art

They even had the 'Dance Macabre' or Dance of Death

Frith stool

1st century tomb

the 7th century crypt

a view of the abbey from the crypt

the best baptismal font I have ever seen

After we had exhausted the market and the cathedral, amid the downpour of rain, we went to eat lunch at a place called the Green Room.  It was fabulous. I can't believe I don't have any photos. Very good food!

From there we headed to the Gaol

And then home! Sanna looks like she's in an open carriage.

A trip to London

On the longest day of the year, I caught the 5.38 am train down to London to see my Aunt Jayne and my cousin Emily.  It was so surreal and wonderful to see them.  They were on a girl scout tour trip around Europe and their schedule looked fabulous.  They had one morning in London and I met them up before they were to take the Euro Star to Paris. You have one morning in London so what do you do?

Go to the science museum of course!

We went on the 3-D Red Arrows simulator ride.

We then went to King's Cross for some AMAZING mexican.

We wandered around St. Pancras' shops

St Pancras International
We then had just under an hour a mad thought, I dragged them to the British Library, gave them a quick tour of the rare book collection, showing them Beowulf (now on display!), some Jane Austen Manuscripts, some medieval music, and of course, my illuminated manuscripts.  We met up with the rest of the girl scouts. I was promptly told that I had an 'accent' now that I had lived here and looked exactly like my Aunt Jayne. 

Seeing them off at St Pancras!

 I went with them as far as I could, and said goodbye as they entered security.  It was so wonderful to see my family in the UK! I'm starved or not seeing family enough and I loved just looking over my shoulder and thinking, I'm named after her! We look alike! My hair will probably not turn brown, but look just like hers.  We of course talked weddings and boys and what they'd seen.  Hearing all about what they'd done and see made me want to go gallivanting across Europe again. The old desire to go had been awoken.

After I said goodbye, I wandered over to King's Cross and took my train home.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sanna: A trip to Morpeth

On Thursday, I worked in the morning and then in the afternoon, had an appointment in Morpeth to look at wedding dresses. Was so thankful for Sanna's willingness to come!

Dramatic as always

this is me terrified of deformed pigeons

a little stop a tea shop

a cream tea

the lovely studio where I tried on wedding dresses

 We came back to Newcastle where both JT and Steve had come down to see us! We met up with them in the evening, and hit the pub, where guess who we should see but some of the cast from the TV series George Gently!

Sanna and Lee Ingelby (left)
Sanna had been blabbering about all the famous people she had hoped to see in England and had been telling me how much she liked Lee Ingelby and rattled off a list of all the movies and tv shows he'd been in.  It was such a great surprise for her then to run into him.

I keep regretting not inviting them to Chads for a few drinks.  We headed there and had a great night.

Sanna: a trip to Newcastle

 We did a host of things while Sanna was here. One evening, we went to the movies, where Sanna proved to be rather excellent at the arcade

Sanna at the arcade

On Wednesday we went shopping in Newcastle

The ever elegant Sanna, in high-waisted skirts

waiting for the train

train spotting

lunch at my favorite pizzeria

From here we went shopping

And then we waited for Fran at the station