This past week has been yet another one for the books, complete with lovely weather, two great hikes, another wonderful pub meal (over at Bourton-on-the-Hill), and ending with a fun evening at the movies in the village hall. Last night we enjoyed wine and snacks, and watched the movie Fisherman’s Friends (a feel-good film about a band from Port Isaac, where Doc Martin is filmed), with about 40+ people from the village and had a great time. We met a few residents this past week who were born and raised here and learned quite a bit about the village’s history. Our little cottage was formerly one of two doctors’ surgeries, and there were other businesses located in the little square where we are: a paper shop was directly across from us, and there was also a pharmacy, a bank, a hairdresser, and a butcher. Back down the high street a bit we discovered where the old bakery was located – it’s also been converted into a residence. We took a long hike on Thursday through the countryside, paid a visit to a gorgeous local garden, got to see a famous manor house, and were treated to an unexpected kindness by a local resident.
This past week we offered WenYu the same graduation gift we gave Meiling last year, a week with us in Japan, and she jumped on it – yay! We will pay for half of her airfare over to Japan, and then all food, transportation, admissions, etc. while she’s with us. We had been stumped about what to give her, especially because she has said over and over that she doesn’t need anything, but she is thrilled (and so are we) about the opportunity to be in Japan again. Anyway, the hunt is now on for an affordable air ticket from Boston over to Japan and I am up for the challenge. Our son won two round-trip tickets at a gala he attended this past week: round-trip tickets to anywhere in Canada from Tokyo on Air Canada! He’s always been lucky, but this may be his biggest win so far. Meiling had a successful second interview this week and has been moved on to the next round. She has been frustrated so far in finding a job but is hanging in there. Her boyfriend continues to be supportive and is taking care of her expenses, but she’s very eager to get to work. YaYu has settled into college life but is excited about her upcoming trip over here – less than a month to go!
This morning I am:
- Reading: I’m reading Middle England now and enjoying it, especially learning about how happenings here mirror in some ways what’s going on in the U.S. and do middle class attitudes (generally speaking). Granted, this book only skims the surface, but it’s interesting nonetheless (and a good read too). I just put The Salt Path by Raynor Winn on hold at the library; hopefully, I won’t have to wait too long for it to become available. It’s the true story of an older couple who walked the 600+ mile path along the southwest English coastline. The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West by David McCullough just came off of hold as well and I plan to start on that this evening.
- Listening to: I woke up to the sound of the church bells pealing away – there was a lot more ringing this week than last for some reason. It’s quiet now though, and the only sound is birds singing outside. We had a terrific rainstorm come through last night – it woke both of us up because it was coming down so hard. We’ve had absolutely beautiful weather this past week, but that’s coming to an end with more rain expected most of this week.
- Watching: I’m keeping up with The Great British Baking Show, and tonight we’ll watch the third episode of Joanna Lumley’s (of Absolutely Fabulous fame) visit to Japan. We caught the second episode last week, and I watched the first one online.
- Cooking: I fixed everything on last week’s menu, although we upgraded our cheese plate and had pâté instead of sausages. Tonight for dinner we’re having quiche Lorraine and broccoli. Other meals this week will be open-faced barbecued pork sandwiches and coleslaw, lamb kebabs with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, meatloaf, a Margherita pizza, and roast chicken.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: Brett and I took advantage of the week’s good weather and did another couple of long walks, a two-mile walk in a different direction through the village, and a four-mile walk around the next village over, Bourton-on-the-Hill, and from there over to Longborough on the Heart of England Way. We also visited the village cemetery, which was very interesting – graves dated from the 19th century until this decade, and there was a large section where Polish refugees were buried – they came during WWII to a resettlement camp here which wasn’t closed until the 1960s. I so happy to have gotten our tickets back to the U.S. booked, and I also rebooked our rental car for our earlier arrival and I was able to reserve a larger car for the same price!
- Looking forward to next week: I have two big things coming up this week that I’m very excited about! First, I will be meeting someone I have admired and followed for a long time, actually from the time I started blogging nearly 10 years ago. One of the very first frugal lifestyle blogs I discovered and was inspired by was Move to Portugal, and I’ve been a fan of Laura and her minimalist lifestyle ever since. She’ll be coming to Blockley on Wednesday and we’re going to have lunch at The Great Western Arms and catch up on everything. Second, I was invited to attend the bell-ringing class at the church on Thursday evening! I just hope I don’t do anything stupid but I think it will be fun. Brett and I may be going to Stow-on-the-Wold on Tuesday not only to check out the town a bit but more importantly to visit the Tesco superstore because we have just about run out of coffee filters and it may be our last chance in finding them. None of the other stores we’ve visited, including Aldi, carry filters but we were told the hardware store in Moreton-in-Marsh may have them, so we’re going to check there first before we go to Aldi. Fingers are crossed! If we get a day of good weather next week we’re want to walk over to Broad Campden, a lovely village filled with traditional thatched cottages, but our backup plan is to take the bus to the town of Broadway. Rain is expected for most of the week but you never know.
- Thinking of good things that happened: Our walks this week were just about near perfect, and we met some lovely people, saw lots of beautiful things, and picked up some pretty pheasant feathers along the way too (and learned the shooting won’t start until next month – yay, I guess). It was exciting to learn about our cottage’s former role in the village. We found lilikoi (passionfruit) curd at the cheese shop in Moreton-in-Marsh, and it’s as good or better than what we used to get on Kaua’i, and much less expensive too. We’ve seen passionfruit growing around in places so this was an exciting find. We also discovered gingernut cookies at Aldi, and just 25p per package – delicious! I fell in love with a beautiful vase in the window of an antique shop when we were in Moreton-in-Marsh on Monday but I was sure it was very expensive so we kept going. Brett liked it too though and encouraged me to go in and at least ask about it. The price was a very surprising £15 ($18.70) . . . so I bought it! It’s a wonderful piece of sturdy English pottery, but with a Japanese feel to it.
- Thinking of frugal things that happened: All of my dental billing has come through and after all the insurance payments were made it turns out we will be getting a refund of $200+. We once again purchased round-trip bus fares at every chance, but on Thursday the fare machine was broken so the driver let us ride for free. We stuck to our shopping list at Aldi but still put about six things back, and spent just £45.10 ($56.20) this past week. It was a bit more than last week because we bought a big bag of name-brand dishwasher detergent pods to get us through our stay. We had four no-spend days this week and are on just under our daily spending average. We of course ate all the leftovers and didn’t throw away any food.
- Grateful for: Both Brett and I are feeling very thankful these days to have that big Aldi store nearby. The prices are amazing, we’re eating well, and shopping there is helping us to stay within our daily spending limit, freeing up funds for other outings and treats. We were told that just a few years ago middle-class shoppers here wouldn’t let their cars be seen in the Aldi parking lot, but these days they can’t get enough of the store!
- Bonus question: Are you ready for fall? I think I am. Although I’ve enjoyed all the sunshine and warm temperatures I am looking forward to cooler weather and the chance to pull out some of my sweaters. I’m also looking forward to seeing the leaves change color. I’m not especially looking forward to the coming rain though as we love to walk (and have to walk to get to the bus stop, get our groceries, etc.) and wet weather will definitely hamper our ability to get out and see things and experience the area as much as we have been able to this month.
Finally, we received some help this week, one of those occurrences that restores your faith in humanity and reminds you that at heart people are basically good and kind. At the end of our walk to Longborough on Thursday, Brett and discovered we were stranded – there were no buses nor time to walk to the next village to catch one, and taxis were all booked for the next couple of hours. The retired man tending the Longborough village shop told us he was just finishing his shift and would drive us to Moreton-in-Marsh, three miles away, so we could catch the bus in time from there! We offered to pay him but he wouldn’t accept anything from us except a cold drink from the cooler. Thanks to his kindness we made it home, and we are thinking of how we can pay Andrew’s kindness forward.
That’s it for this week! I hope all of you had a lovely week too, that you have good books to read, had lots of good things happen for you, and that you’ve been able to complete your gratitude scavenger hunt every day.