Sunday Morning 10/27/2019: Week 8 in the UK

We had a couple of nicer days this past week, and took walks through the village . . .

We have just a little over a month left to go in England.

Thirty-three days from now we will take the train to Gatwick Airport, board a plane, and head back to the U.S., to Portland again. We have seen and done almost everything here that we set out to see and do, with a short visit to Bath coming up in about 10 days (we decided against the driving tour to Cornwall). We still want to visit Stratford-upon-Avon and Bourton-on-the-Water, but otherwise, we are content to stay cozy in our little cottage when the weather is less than ideal (which is happening more frequently these days). The first feelings of restlessness have begun to appear now and again as well, letting us know the time is getting near for us to move on. Truth be told though we will be very, very sad to leave the UK – we’ve been having a wonderful time here.

. . . but some days were just too dreary to go outside . . .
. . . and kept turning even more dreary . . .
. . . so we stayed indoors and warmed ourselves by the fire instead.

This past week was a very relaxing one, although some of the relaxing was “mandatory” – other than our weekly shopping trip over to Moreton-in-Marsh on Monday (in the rain) we just didn’t feel like going anywhere or doing anything special. The weather was nice for a couple of days and we went for walks, but we spent most of our time relaxing and reading at home in front of the fire because other days were downright dreary (Friday and Saturday especially). We spent our time during our walks trying to figure out what some of the old shops might have been (we found the old wool shop, maybe where you bought yarn for knitting sweaters? And, we think we discovered a location where a pub had been in the past). Brett and I also tightened up our Christmas shopping list and as always, talked some more about future plans and how we see those possibly unfolding.

Also, there will be a small giveaway coming up in November! I plan to post about it around the middle of next month and then announce the winner soon after we get back to Portland so I can get it mailed off in early December – it would make a nice Christmas gift if someone wanted to use it for that. Stay tuned!

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Salt Path in two days – I couldn’t put it down – and then I finished the first and second books in Colin Dexter’s 13-book Inspector Morse series, Last Bus to Woodstock and Last Seen Wearing (just finished it last night). While I read those books I could picture how amazingly well John Thaw brought Dexter’s literary character to life in the TV series. Now I have to decide whether to just go through all of the Morse books together (they’re all available from the library and are fairly quick reads) or break them up with other books in between. I only have three more books to go to finish my goal of reading 52 books this year.
  • Listening to: The church bells are ringing! Brett is puttering around in the kitchen (putting away the dishes, fixing his breakfast) and making a bit of noise in there. I don’t know if it’s because the sun is out but the bells sound especially joyous this morning.
  • Watching: This week will be the final of The Great British Baking Show, but I’m not crazy about any of the three finalists so don’t really care who wins. My two favorite bakers were eliminated during the past two weeks. We started a new show this past Thursday, The Accident, which stars Sarah Lancashire, from Happy Valley and Last Dance in Halifax. We also watched Part I of a special about Prince Charles and his work in the Duchy of Cornwall and enjoyed that as well. Coming up on Saturday evening is the new season of Endeavour!

    My favorite evening snack these days is a cup of hot Cadbury’s drinking chocolate topped with pretty pink and white marshmallows (from Aldi). It warms me from the inside out and satisfies my sweet tooth at the same time.
  • Cooking: We picked up some more Cornish pasties from the neighborhood shop to have this evening. The first ones we tried were amazing, so we wanted some more and this time we’re having chicken, bacon and potato ones. We’ll also be having applesauce – I’m making it today from British Cox apples that we picked up at Aldi this past week. Other items appearing on our dinner table this week will be breaded cod filets with roast vegetables; chicken masala along with vegetable samosas and onion bhajis; meatloaf with roasted root vegetables; and chicken en croute (ready to bake at Aldi and very affordable). Lamb seems to sadly be gone from Aldi these days.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I don’t think either Brett or I accomplished anything special other than keeping ourselves warm and dry (after getting drenched on Monday’s trip for groceries) and getting ourselves rested and rejuvenated after a very busy time with YaYu. I did purchase our train tickets to Bath so that trip is ready to go.

    We’re hoping to get out this week to search for more fall foliage, if any is left after this past week’s storms and wind.
  • Looking forward to next week: We don’t have anything planned for this coming week, although the weather is supposed to be nice(r), especially toward the end of the week. If so, we’ll probably go over to Stratford-up-Avon on either Thursday or Friday. We’re also going to attend a local production of “Cranford” at the village hall on Thursday evening, put on by Blockley’s amateur drama group.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Although most of the week was a rainy, windy mess, we did get some sunshine on a couple of days and got out for some walks. We enjoyed sleeping in every morning and being on our own schedule each day. British daylight savings began today so we’ll have longer days and more light.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Other than food shopping and buying tickets to see “Cranford,” we had a no-spend week. We have been able to stay under $300/month when it comes to our eat-at-home food expenses here, even with things like laundry detergent and paper products and such included, a good thing because this has otherwise been an expensive month. We ate all of our leftovers and didn’t throw away any food.
  • Grateful for: Both Brett and I are feeling quite thankful these days for having a lot of time to think and talk about our plans for next year. We have destinations scheduled through early June of next year (finishing with a visit to Maine following WenYu’s graduation), but I have to admit that after that we don’t have a firm idea at all of what we want to do or where we want to go. Should we continue traveling? Settle down? If so, where? We go back and forth and can’t seem to reach a decision about anything. Since we don’t really have to decide anything now we’re going to keep any ideas or plans to ourselves as we come up with something because it seems as soon as we think we’ve reached a decision and announce it, even to our family, a short time later something comes up and we change our minds again. Like our mystery destination following our stay in Japan next year, we’ll announce our plans when we get there as that seems to be the safest path for us to follow these days.

    We have lots of options, but can’t seem to settle on anything.
  • Bonus question: Overall, what’s the best purchase you’ve made this year? Hands down I have to say the best thing I bought this year was the pair of trail shoes I purchased in Portland at the beginning of last summer. They have been worth every penny, and I’m exceedingly glad I spent a little extra for the pair with thicker, more cushioned soles and a wide footbed. Those two things have made a huge difference in how long and how far I can walk, especially on pavement. The shoes made it possible for me to enjoy our time in Edinburgh, London, and Oxford, and the distances we walked there without collapsing in pain at the end of each day, or not wanting to go out again. And of course, they’ve been wonderful for countryside walks here in Blockley and the surrounding area. They are holding up very well too, and still look close to new.

    My oh-so-comfortable trail shoes were a great purchase this last year.

All in all, this was not the most exciting of weeks, but that’s OK and one of the reasons we’re enjoying our longer stay here in Blockley. We don’t have to be out exploring or sightseeing all the time and don’t need to feel guilty about staying in and reading when the weather is nasty outside. We’ve used our time off this week to think and talk about lots of things, including our upcoming return to Portland and reunion with the girls, and what we’re going to do (and eat) when we’re all together. I’m also teetering on the edge of a cold, so staying indoors and out of the cold and wet, and getting lots of rest, has been a good thing for me to do this week.

That’s all from the Occasional Nomads for this week. I hope everyone had some glorious fall weather (at least better than what we’ve had) and is looking forward to Halloween and trick-or-treaters this week. We’ll be attending “Cranford” that evening so won’t get to experience what goes on here, although there have been lots of ads for the holiday on TV, and lots of trick-or-treat candy available at Aldi and other stores.

Finally, what are you all reading these days? I’d love suggestions and ideas for new books to add to my Kindle even if I do read all the Morse books together!


18 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 10/27/2019: Week 8 in the UK

  1. If there was one country I could live outside of Australia, it is England. Just goobering around. The cold, wet weather is me. Hot weather stops people thinking, dreaming, working. Cold and wet weather is what you need to dream and plan and think and write. I much prefer cold.

    Quelle horeur. My library doesn’t have all the Morse books. So I will look for them throughout next year. 2021 is my year of England. I will read them all before I go. And I might re-read the Herriot vet books.

    Oh. And I am going to Sacramento in January! (Anything to escape sydney heat!!!)


    1. I love it here and loved the cozy days we spent inside this past week, but overall the fall/winter weather is too much like it was in Portland (which we eventually couldn’t deal with anymore). But overall I do love it here, and could happily spend a good chunk of time here every year if that was possible.

      I went to check out the third Morse book and some other library patron had THE NERVE to check out the one edition available. How long it will be until it’s available is anyone’s guess. Thankfully I have something else to read in the meantime, but it was VERY frustrating to find the book wasn’t available.

      Sacramento should be lovely in September. I hope you’ll be able to get over to Gold County/Sierra Foothills while you’re there (San Andreas, Angels Camp, etc) – it’s beautiful.


      1. Oh thank you. Such a lovely offer. My husband’s cousin lives in Sacramento which is why we are going. The cousin was born in Australia but moved to the US as a young child. He and his wife have visited us three times so we think it is time to return the visit. I’m hoping to visit Los Vegas, and some national parks and, as we see flying into San Fran where my husband’s uncle lives, visit there.

        But if you have suggestions, I am happy to hear them.


  2. Definitely the rainy season…this is the time of year I was last there, and I needed my raincoat. As my DD says, it’s really chucking it down. Ha! But your flat looks really cozy and nice.

    Those shoes looks really comfy…I saw a podiatrist last week and I need a wide toe box and some decent padding.

    Reading Autumn Light by Pico Iyer. You might like it…his wife is Japanese and they live there. I hadn’t read anything by him before, but I’m enjoying this book. And my 87 yo mom recommended “Elderhood” which is written by a gerontologist who has hit her 50’s, has a new understanding of issues that arise for herself, and writes about medicine, aging, and life in general as we age. I started it last night, and it’s well written and fairly compelling so far.


    1. The rain here on Saturday was positively wicked – both Brett and I were so grateful for our cozy cottage and it’s warm fire. We got a LOT of reading done. Having to go out and shop in the rain last week was a miserable experience.

      I do like to check out Duck Feet shoes (I think that’s what they’re called) – the have a very wide footbed. It makes a huge difference.

      Pico Iyer – I read his book years ago about his first visit to Japan, and he hinted at having an affair with his married guide. It was sort of a turn-off, actually, and I’ve never read any of his stuff since. But now I wonder if they ended up together or if he married someone else. I’ve added “Elderhood” to my list.


      1. Oh my. I do think this woman was married when they met, but I can’t remember how it came about or if he really described it in detail. You can see I’m really absorbing the details. 😉 I’m mostly interested in the conversations and customs of Japan vs the US and the story of the family he married into.


      2. His wife is the married woman in his first Japan book. I didn’t care much for her nor the way he wrote about her and their relationship. I remember I could barely finish the book, and I love both Japan and travel books. The premise of his new book sounds interesting but I’m not sure if I can bring myself to read it or not.


      3. TBH, his writing kind of wanders and the more I read, the less I’m inclined to look up any of his other books. It’s from the library, so I may just move on, although I’m curious to see if the wife’s brother ever reunites with the family. Apparently, he was so put off by his sister’s divorce that he cut off the whole family, including his aging mother, which is sad. Makes we wonder if something else is going on with him. Ah, the drama.


  3. I love that you and Brett haven’t run out of conversation nor ideas of where to travel! I am wondering how do nomads vote in Presidential elections if you don’t have a set address?

    Reading by a cozy fire sounds lovely as do the Cornish pasties. Clocks change here next weekend and in New England the sun will be setting at 4:45, which I imagine it is already doing in Old England. Makes for too short days.

    I just finished reading two excellent books: Circe by Madeline Miller and The Day the World Came to Town about Gander, Newfoundland and all the planes that were diverted on 9/11.


    1. I think one of the things that surprises me the most about our marriage (40+ years) is that Brett and I have never run out of things to talk about, especially since we are such very different types of people and have such divergent interests.

      We are still legal residents of Hawaii and vote absentee there (and also still file taxes there).

      I ❤️❤️❤️ Cornish pasties!! Our chicken ones were good but I prefer the steak and potato ones. I’m going to have to figure out how to make them.

      I have added “The Day the Workd Came to Town” to my list – thank you!!!


  4. Sorry the weather has been so bad but sitting beside a fire and reading is a great way to spend your time. We are still having weather in the upper 80’s and low 90’s, we haven’t really had a winter in the past couple of years and we could really use a snap of cold weather to cut back on some of the vines and invasive species. I’m afraid the pythons and various lizards will start moving north as there is no cold weather to deter them. Looking forward to your mystery destination. I have really enjoyed your posts from England. I hope you love Bath as much as I did.


    1. I’m very excited about our upcoming trip to Bath – it was where we originally thought of staying in England. I’m just hoping it doesn’t rain too much when we’re there.

      Florida’s weather and wildlife are the two primary reasons I could not live there. We enjoyed our time in Key West (and the Keys were beautiful) but it was enough.

      I think our mystery destination is going to surprise quite a few people!!!


  5. It all sounds delightful to me. Thank you for your posts. I love reading about your adventures.


    1. Thank you, Wendy! I have a post coming in a couple of days about the walk we took last Sunday, the day after Saturday’s big storm. It was an adventure!!


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