Sunday Morning 11/3/2019: Week 9 in the UK

Halloween night in the Blockley churchyard looked straight out of Disney. I never thought I could or would walk through a graveyard at night, but we do it all the time here.
The vicarage had a pumpkin set out to welcome trick or treaters.

We’ve had another very low key week, and spent most of our time in the cottage trying to stay warm. The weather wasn’t too bad at the beginning of the week, but temperatures dropped into and stayed in the 40s and there was quite a bit of wind as well. We had to break out our winter coats and gloves when we went to do our food shopping last Monday, and even with the fireplace going inside we still spent a good deal of time wrapped in warm blankets, and drank coffee, tea, and cocoa trying to stay warm. My knees are already aching near constantly, a hint of what’s to come in Japan next year, especially when I have to climb up and down multiple flights of steps going into and out of the stations.

We’ll be heading out of town once more on Tuesday morning, this time to visit Bath for two days. Our Airbnb there is right in the center of town, just a few minutes walk from the Royal Crescent and other sights, and a few minutes more away from the Roman Baths. We plan to take a free walking tour and we will meet with one of Brett’s former high school classmates for tea. He has lived in the area for years and teaches at a local university, and Brett has been looking forward to getting together with him ever since we planned to come to England. We will stick with our usual meal plan while we’re there – breakfast and evening snacks at our rental and one (big) meal out each day.

This past week I went to empty my spam folder on the blog (I take care of this every other month as I thankfully don’t get a lot of spam) and discovered a few comments from readers that had gone directly there. Grrrrrr. If you have sent a comment and don’t see it appear this is most likely what happened and I apologize. Also, there still appears to be something weird going on between WordPress and Blogger as I’ve had absolutely no success in commenting on any Blogger platform either from my laptop or phone. WordPress can just be weird though – I have a couple of commenters who have been commenting on my blogs for years and I still have to approve them every single time!

Anyway, this morning I am:

  • Reading: It took a few days for the third book in the Morse series, The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn, to become available for download from the library so I started Code Girls: The Untold Story of American Women Code Breakers of WWII, about the women who worked in cryptology during WWII (it was mostly women who did this work). But, the Morse book became available on Friday so I’ve set aside Code Girls until I get it finished.
  • Listening to: So far it’s been a very quiet morning. It’s thankfully not raining (for now), there’s no one out on the streets, and Brett is reading. I slept in a bit this morning and missed all the church bells but all this quiet is very nice.
  • Watching: We watched the final of The Great British Baking Show this week and decided we just didn’t really care much for this season. No quirky/interesting bakers to root for as in the past – the bakers this year were mostly in their 20s and overly focused – and the bakes themselves were weird at times. We’re still watching and enjoying Doc Martin and The Accident, and caught the opener of Endeavour – it’s going to be a great season.
  • Cooking: We’re having sausage rolls and miniature pork pies for dinner tonight along with homemade applesauce, with any leftovers for breakfast on Tuesday morning before we catch the train. Tomorrow we’ll most likely be having meatloaf sandwiches. We’re not going to Aldi again until the 11th and will instead pick up a few things from the village store after we return to get us through until then.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: The only thing I accomplished this past week was finding and booking some flights. It took a while, but I finally found a decent fare for YaYu’s trip from Philadelphia at Christmas on a schedule that worked for her but it took some effort (I have yet to ever find a real bargain on any flight between Philly and Portland, especially for the holidays). On the other hand I happened to find a very, very good price for Delta’s Premium Select seats on a flight from Tokyo to our mystery destination next April and snapped those up. We vowed after our extremely uncomfortable flight back to the U.S. earlier this year that we would not sit in economy seats again (other than on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner) for any flight longer than five hours, and we increased the amount in our travel budget to cover the cost of upgraded seats. Premium Select seats are wider, have a leg and foot rest, and recline more fully, and they also come with some first-class amenities, like dining on real dishes with real cutlery and drinking from real glassware and cups, all without a first-class price.
  • Looking forward to next week: Bath has been a dream destination for me for ages and had been our initial choice for where to stay during our visit to England, although we are now very happy we ended up in Blockley. So, we’re looking forward to our upcoming getaway, and fingers crossed, hoping the current weather prediction holds (cold but not raining) while we’re there. I’m also looking forward to having an authentic Sally Lunn bun in Bath – other than tea with Brett’s classmate and a stop at Sainsbury’s for a few things for the cottage I’m hoping that will be our only expense!

    The way the “stage” had been set up in the community hall for “Cranford” was very clever – it took up most of the floor and attendees sat up on risers around the sides.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: The “BAD Company’s” (Blockley Amateur Drama Company) production of Cranford was wonderful, funny and well done and we’re so glad we went. I’m not sure if another happening around here this past week was a good thing or not, but if nothing else it was “interesting:” We spotted a small weasel-like animal running around on our patio one morning! It was most likely a ferret (at least we hope that’s what it was), but if we hadn’t figured out by now that we were living in the countryside, that would have done the trick.

    One of our favorite frugal but indulgent ways to warm up these days: Hot Cadbury drinking chocolate with (cheap, but pretty) marshmallows from Aldi.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: A small thing: we passed on buying a tin of Cadbury drinking chocolate at the village store (@£2.29) last Sunday afternoon because we felt we could get it cheaper when we went to Moreton-in-Marsh on Monday. Yup – the same tin was just £1.35 at Tesco Express. We stuck to our list at Aldi and came in under budget (spent £43.50; our weekly budget amount is £50), even after buying some gift items to take back to the U.S. with us. We had five no-spend days last week, ate all the leftovers, and didn’t throw away any food.

    I hope my laptop battery hangs in there until we get back to Portland (above is this blog post in progress, by the way)
  • Grateful for: While she was here YaYu checked out my laptop and let me know that the battery in my nearly four-year-old MacBook Air was living on borrowed time. It’s gone way, way over it’s predicted lifespan, so although it drains fairly quickly these days (usually in around three or four hours of use), I’m extremely grateful it’s hung on for so long and has that it’s been such a dependable workhorse. Currently, Apple is offering generous trade-in allowances, something else to be grateful for at this time, so I’m going to look into turning it in when we get back to Portland for a new (and lighter) model. However, I might just replace the battery if the total cost of going new is too much and stick with my old friend. We’ll see.
  • Bonus question: Can you choose a favorite “English experience” yet? At the top of my list would be walking through the English countryside (as long as there’s no mud). I have never lived or really spent time in the country so this was a new experience for me and have I loved it more than I thought I would. The landscapes and views have been magnificent every time and never fail to take my breath away. I’ve also found myself having more energy than I knew whenever we’ve gone out, and every walk we’ve done has gone straight into my heart. I’ve also enjoyed our visits to tea shops for tea and scones with clotted cream and jam. It’s been an effort not to do this every time we go somewhere, but again it’s been a uniquely British experience I will never forget.

I don’t want to believe November has arrived – our final month in England. We are growing a bit restless at this point though, but still have things on our list to see and do here, and hope the weather will cooperate at least a few days this month. For example, I don’t want to be this close and never get over to visit Stratford-upon-Avon.

Oh, look – another gloomy picture taken through the French doors! The weather these days is much like the Portland weather that eventually drove us to Hawai’i. I used to love it, but not so much anymore.
However, when there’s a break in the weather, we hustle and get out for a walk through the village. (The rain was back as bad as ever about a half-hour after I took this picture).

As has been true with some other places we’ve visited, as much as we love and have loved being here in England, and love village life, we’ve come to see we could never live here long-term because of the weather. Fall and winter would be just too cold and gloomy for us. Somewhere along the way, we’ve turned into warm-weather people (although not hot and/or humid weather people) which we realize is going to narrow the number of choices we’ll have for where we eventually settle if and when we ever get around to doing that.

October 31, 2019: Sir Elton John and Mickey Mouse made a special joint appearance in Tokyo!

That’s all for this week – hopefully I’ll have some more interesting and uplifting news to write about next Sunday (no guarantees though). I hope everyone had a great week, full of good things, good food, good books, and good company, and are looking forward to the one that’s coming up!


24 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 11/3/2019: Week 9 in the UK

  1. Love your posts and pics! I love walks in the country also. I also really want to visit Portland after looking at your pics there. You have helped me decide the places I want to explore when I retire.


    1. Thank you, Cindy!

      Portland is a very fun city to visit, and it’s easy to get around as well. If you go and will have a car, there are several close-by places to visit as well, like Multnomah Falls and the Columbia Gorge, or wine country to the west, on the way out to the coast.

      I’ll be looking forward to hearing about and reading about your travels in the future. You’re pretty close to retirement, if I remember – just a very few more years to go.


    1. We always love being surprised by the grands’ costumes each year. The’yre at the age now where they want to pick their own costumes. Our grandson is a huge Elton John fan so this made a lot of sense for him (and it was fairly easy for his busy parents to pull together). Same for K’s Mickey Mouse costume.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh, I love Apple products but hate that they don’t last longer. (Especially considering the cost). Really looking forward to you stories from Bath. Sounds like you’ve got lots of fun things planned. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.
    We are on the final countdown for our trip to Australia. (We did buy the Trl neck pillows. Thanks for the recommendation!)


    1. I feel the same about Apple products, but I’ve been a user since 1992 and didn’t particularly enjoy my one time owning a PC and was thrilled to go back to a Mac.

      Bath weather still looks to hanging in there, but it’s going to be c-o-l-d (low 40s and upper 30s). I’m still super excited about going though – we’ll manage.

      Wishing you a great trip to Oz! I think you’ll be happy with the Trtl neck pillow/brace – it makes a huge difference.


    2. I’m surprised that you feel Apple products don’t last long. I have a Macbook Air from 2011 that I only replaced a few months ago as it had insufficient memory. My ipad is from 2014 and still going strong. My iPhone 6 is from December 2015 and no issues. I found when I had a Windoze based computer I was having to update every couple of years due to the blue screen of death.


      1. The battery in my Macbook before this one lasted two years before the battery literally burned up. I replaced it but it started acting up again a short time later so I got the Mac I’m using now and YaYu nursed the old Mac through until earlier this year when it finally gave out. Maybe they just made things better in the past – my iPhone 6 lasted for years, and WenYu’s is still going strong (she got it at the same time I got mine). I only got an 8 last year as I wanted more memory and a better camera (I traded in the 6 and got $150 for it after all those years too). I plan to keep the 8 for years as well – it suits me fine and the camera is great. Brett’s iPad is two years old and going strong though with no issues. I guess like with most things there are no guarantees though. Mac’s battery life has been an issue for me twice now.


  3. You’d be totally shocked by Portland’s weather lately. Sunny skies and people in T-shirts. We’re visiting for a few days and enjoying this perfect fall weather. No one remembers the last time kids didn’t have to have rain gear to go trick or treating.

    Have fun in Bath. Since you’re staying near the Royal Crescent, hopefully you’ll get to the museum. It was the highlight of my visit last spring.


    1. Of course they’re having nice weather in Portland – the bad weather will show up the day before we arrive! Portlanders are funny too – the first nice day of spring, even though it’s still in the low 60s, if the sun’s out you’ll see people in t-shirts and shorts! I think we dealth with either rain or freezing temperatures almost every year we took the girls out trick-or-treating!

      Thanks again for the reminder about the museum in Bath!


  4. Your granddaughter is so cute I could just eat her up. (Can you tell I’m missing my own granddaughters something awful??? 😆 )

    Can’t wait to hear about your April mystery location now that you’ve purchased your airfare. Curious minds and all that!

    Leaving shortly to walk the beach and visit the Sunday farmers market in San Clemente. I often think of you as we head there every few days.


    1. K has changed so much in the past few months – still cute as ever but growing up. I am so excited about seeing them both next year and getting to spend an extended amount of time with them again.

      San Clemente lingers on the horizon for us, but we’ve realized we’re still a couple of years (or more) away from settling down – there are still so many places we want to see and experience.

      I was so excited to find those tickets at such a terrific price. We’ll be at the mystery location in less than six months and the secret will be revealed.


  5. Have been having some problems commenting on WordPress, so trying again.

    Love the pics of the grands for Halloween! So cute!

    Cold and rainy here lately, too, with added snow mix a few times, though luckily nothing stuck yet. 😛 DH was sick and I was the dog walker this week. I have decent gear, but still, who wants to go out in this? My dog! We had one night with pelting rainy snow flakes and big wind. But DH is better and took over again yesterday, so all’s well that ends well.

    Having grown up in a remote small town, I find myself moving farther into the country as I age. We live outside a small city but in a rural area. I love walking out here. It’s really peaceful and uplifting. I find nature really healing and relaxing.

    Looking forward to your Bath trip. Good friends of ours lived there for a few years while he worked for Herman Miller UK. And it’s so nice that you and Brett stay in touch with people and can connect with them on your travels!


    1. Both of your comments went to the trash and I have absolutely no idea why! You’re an approved commenter and your comments have always gone straight through. WordPress is starting to get a bit squirrelly if you ask me.

      Too bad about the snow – it’s sort of early, isn’t it? Maybe not, although I’m not sure how far north you are. I hope your husband is completely over whatever he had. I think it’s something of a miracle that neither Brett nor I have gotten sick yet – we have days where we feel like something might be coming on, but then the next day we wake up and we’re fine. Fingers are crossed that it holds.

      Kaua’i was fairly rural once you got off the main highway, and I found I liked it, but the setting we’re in now has been amazing. We always thought we’d settle in an urban area, but now I wonder if we’d like something like this more. We’d definitely have to have a car, but have also figured out we don’t need to use it every day.

      We’re packed and ready for our journey to bath. There’s no direct train from Moreton-in- Marsh. We head 50 miles to the east, past Oxford, then change and head southwest to Bath. Weird. Brett’s friend taught at the university in Bath, but moved to Taunton after he retired. They’ve stayed in touch via Facebook so are looking forward to getting together.


  6. Warm down in Rome! Cadbury hot chocolate is my favourite. The European hot chocs are always too rich.

    I think your post is uplifting. Love the planning of trips, the snuggling wet weather with a fireplace allows, the reading of books. And cute grandkids.

    Oh, had caccio e pepe two days in a row. Yum!


    1. November is a great time to be in Rome! Decorations are going up at the Vatican and the weather is good, but cooling off. One of the most magical days in all our travels was walking back to the Vatican along the Tiber at dusk on day, and getting to see St. Peter’s lights go on.

      And of course any time is a great time for caccio e pepe. I am so envious! When I had it I also had a BIG plate of fried artichokes – I really thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

      We’ve been able to get outside here the past two days, and have had some great walks around the village, getting back indoors just before the rains starts up again. We love this place, and it’s going to be very sad to leave. But, we will be reunited with the grandkids in a little over a month and a half, so we have that to look forward to (and of course being in Japan too).

      Liked by 1 person

  7. One of my daughters in law is British-from Brighton. The weather there is just something that locals are used with and as a tourist I find it difficult to cope with. I just want to stay indoors, cuddling by the fire and dreading any type of outing. I fare better in sunny, warm places.
    Have a great trip to bath, looking forward to see pictures of Bath!


    1. The weather is problematic for us because we don’t have a car – we can’t just hop in and go somewhere. Any outing we make involves being bundled up, walking some distance, etc. Everything we do seems to be managed by the weather (we did almost everything in the rain in London and it was miserable).

      We’re ready to go tomorrow!


  8. We’re the same warm weather folks- lived in Portland @7 years and dreaded the cold, wet winters, especially the husband.
    Went to Bath 6 years ago, but was lucky to be there in early Sept with dry, sunny weather. Remember the Roman Baths, the Royal Crescent, and several gardens, yummy pasties, but no Sally Lunn😟. Must go back!


    1. I didn’t start out hating the winters in Portland, and we had a house with a detached garage! That meant carrying groceries, kids, etc. from the car to the house in the rain, and vice versa for years, and it still didn’t bother me. Our second house had an attached garage, but even with that the gloom and cold finally got to me – I needed more sun, and came to dread the winters there.

      Fingers are crossed that the weather holds for the next couple of days. I’m taking a chance and wearing my poncho instead of a raincoat (but still bringing an umbrella along).


  9. I’m so glad you were there for beautiful weather in September. November’s weather is dicey in so many places. Today it hit 55 but Thursday night we are getting snow – CT that is.

    I laughed out loud when I read the group’s name is BAD Company!!! So clever…and such a long heritage of telling stories, acting, and being witty with words.

    The Halloween costumes are FAB.

    Good luck with your knees. I’m so glad to hear that you aren’t done traveling yet – I love following along with your adventures.


    1. September was glorious here – I’m so thankful we had that one great month and were able to make the most of it. The beginning of October wasn’t too bad either. These days . . . no so good, but we have a great place to cuddle up and stay warm.

      BAD Company cracked us up too – they were surprised when I told them it was a band in the U.S. Apparently a few other village groups start with “BAD” – they’ve been clever about that.

      Last winter in Japan was the first time my knees have ever hurt, the result of a double whammy from the cold and lots of flights of stairs. I will be more proactive about it this time and hopefully it won’t be as bad. Otherwise Brett and I feel great. We were just talking about how much we are enjoying our nomadic life – Brett says all that he misses is having a regular doctor and a dependable neighborhood barber shop!

      We eagerly anticipate the kids’ Halloween costumes every year, and every year they have been GREAT! My favorite remains the NASA flight suit costume our grandson wore when he was 2 – absolutely adorable.


  10. Love the costumes! The weather is turning dreary, dark and cold here too. It doesn’t bother me when it’s just for a short time, but I don’t think I could live in a place where it’s like this for many months. Looking forward to hearing about your adventure in Bath!

    That drinking chocolate looks amazing. There is a store near me that sells products from all over the world (World Market) and they have it there so I’ll be heading there this week to pick some up!

    I’ve had good luck with Apple products. My iPad is from 2012! Until recently, I had the iPhone 6. It still worked fine, I just wanted to upgrade for more storage, better camera.

    I’m very curious to know where your next mystery adventure will be…


    1. The endless greasy weather is what eventually got to us in Portland, and I’m beginning to think it might be worse here. We on our way to Bath as I write this and it’s fairly miserable outside, although not raining – just very, very damp and cold.

      The Cadbury drinking chocolate is very good – we’re bringing back a canister for the girls’ Christmas morning cocoa.

      You will know the mystery destination when we get there – bwaaaaaaaa (evil laugh😉).


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