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.
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!