Sunday Morning 11/10/2019: Week 10 in the UK

Trying to stay warm

It is very cold here! Temperatures dipped down to freezing this past week and are expected to stay well below normal until we leave. They’re now in the 40s during the day in our part of the world, and have dipped below freezing at night, but even colder temperatures are scheduled to arrive later this week. It seems Brett’s and my main activity right now is trying to stay warm. The gas fire is on all day, the radiators come on twice a day now, we keep the heavy drapes drawn over the front door and French doors to keep out drafts, and I cover up with a blanket when I’m on the sofa reading or writing. Still, we just feel cold all the time . . . winter really is coming. I am dreading our weekly trip to Aldi tomorrow because of the cold, and have my fingers crossed on both hands that it doesn’t rain.

Even though it was still very cold the day we left Bath, the blue skies were a cheerful break from all the wet and gloom we’ve been experiencing.
Leaves are still changing, but there are also lots of bare branches to be seen these days. Locals say that fall came much later than usual this year.

Overall we had a good trip down to Bath, but now our focus will be on making the most of our last couple of weeks here in England and wrapping up the things we need to do and get here. A visit to Stratford-upon-Avon is number one on our list of things to accomplish with Bourton-on-the-Water not far behind. We’ve got our fingers crossed we get a couple of dry days so that we can get those trips accomplished. No matter how it goes though we are happy and satisfied with all that we have been able to see and do, and we have loved every minute of our time in the UK. Leaving here is going to be a sadder than usual experience for us.

Today is Remembrance Sunday in the UK. Held on the Sunday closest to November 11, the day commemorates “the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts,” and is sort of a combination of the U.S. Memorial and Veterans Day holidays. Bells will be rung today at 11 a.m., the time that WWI ended, but will be muffled and somber. The red poppy is the symbol of remembrance (taken from the poem “In Flanders Field”) and people wear poppies beginning around the first of the month to commemorate those who died in service to the UK. Money donated for the poppies assists veterans in need.

The 2019 Remembrance Poppy.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn and now am back to reading Code Girls. I have also been going through the little book I bought in Bath, Secret Tokyo. We’ve only been to three of the places in the book, so there will be plenty for us to explore when we go back to Tokyo next year.
  • Listening to: Brett is rustling around in the kitchen fixing his breakfast, and the church bells just began ringing to call people to the morning service. The peal they’re ringing is especially lovely this morning too, although the bells will be somber later. Patches of blue sky and sunshine are visible outside so it should be a nice albeit very cold day. We may bundle up and go for a walk later if Brett feels up to it (he’s come down with a cold). However, yesterday started out nice and devolved into a wet mess so we have no expectation that things will remain as they are now.
  • Watching: The satellite feed to the TV stopped unexpectedly on Thursday night but Brett successfully got it rebooted on Friday so we could watch the next episode of Endeavour last night. We have been thinking all this time that it’s a new season but learned yesterday it has already been shown in the U.S. – I can watch the episodes online at PBS! While the TV was down we discovered we could still access Netflix, a good thing because the new season of The Crown begins next Sunday and we didn’t want to miss it if we couldn’t get the TV signal back. 
  • Cooking: We came home from Bath to a nearly empty fridge, but stopped by the village shop and picked up a few provisions to get us through until we can get to Aldi tomorrow (weather permitting). Tonight we’re having breakfast for dinner: eggs, sausages, sauteed apples, and scones. Also on the menu this week will be tacos; meatballs in marinara along with roasted Mediterranean vegetables; sweet & sour chicken and vegetable stir fry; breaded cod filets (we love these!) and roasted root vegetables; steak & potato pasties; flatbread pizza; and quiche Lorraine with vegetables of some sort. We discovered a fish and chip stand in Moreton-in-Marsh that gets high ratings, so we’re going to go there for lunch tomorrow before we head to Aldi. We can’t leave England without having fresh fish & chips!
  • Happy I accomplished last week: Getting to and from Bath, and having a great time there, was our big accomplishment, especially with the last-minute changes to our train reservations. We also finished up the last bit of the Christmas shopping we wanted to do while we’re here – we’re going to pack all of that up and ship it back to the U.S. this week versus adding too much extra weight to our suitcases. I purchased our tickets to get us out to Gatwick on the 28th, but we still have to arrange for a taxi to get us over to the station that morning because the train departs before the first bus of the day leaves Blockley.
  • Looking forward to next week: We haven’t planned anything for this week, and will just take it as it comes. If the weather looks decent one day (i.e. no rain) and we feel OK we’ll head over to Stratford.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: The best of all was the meet-up with Chris and Jane while we are in Bath. I’m always wary and a little scared of first-time meetings, but they were a lovely couple and we never ran out of things to talk about. They also showed us a few things in Bath we wouldn’t have known of otherwise and I hope we’re able to get together again someday. After two nights in an uncomfortable bed while we were in Bath, coming back to the supremely comfortable bed in our cottage and getting a good night’s sleep was pure heaven. It’s true what they say: “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” Meiling messaged us to say she had a great first week at her new job, is very happy there and the company environment appears to be a very good fit for her. She even has a window in her office with a gorgeous view of Manhattan. We’re so proud of that girl!
    This little guidebook will help us save when we’re in Tokyo next year as every place mentioned in it is free to visit. There are also editions for London and Rome as well.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We pretty much stayed on budget while we were in Bath, with the only unplanned purchase the Tokyo guidebook I found in the bookstore. One of the items we had planned to purchase we ended up getting for free, and we were able to find better-than-expected prices for the Christmas items we bought (and that’s all I can say about that!). For now, we’re only very slightly above our Daily Spending Average but have no more big purchases left for the rest of the month so that will be coming down and we’ll hopefully end the month with our spending below average.
  • Grateful for: About 18 months ago, our Japan Airbnb host, Yasuko, decided not to go ahead with licensing her rentals for Airbnb. Because of that decision, our Airbnb reservation was canceled and we received a large gift certificate from Airbnb to make up for the inconvenience. That certificate made this visit to the UK possible, something we couldn’t have afforded otherwise. We will be forever grateful for how it’s all turned out and for the experiences we’ve been able to have here because of that decision.
    Gingerbread and chocolate? We weren’t too sure if we’d like this combination or not, but it was quite good with lots of crunchy bits of ginger cookies inside. One was enough though.
  • Bonus question: What have been your favorite sweet treats in Britain? We definitely haven’t stuck to a carb-free diet here, but have still tried not to go overboard with the sweets. I don’t think Cadbury makes anything that isn’t delicious, and besides enjoying their drinking chocolate we’ve also tried a few of their new and unusual (to us, anyway) chocolate bars now and again. Cadbury holds a contest every year where customers submit new flavors with the top three being marketed and the winner chosen by the public. We’ve gotten to try two of the three final entries for this year, but the grand prize-winning flavor, Choca-latte, has been impossible to find because it’s been so popular (its creator was just 18 years old!). I do love a Mars bar now and again but also loved the walnut whip I tried from Marks & Spencer. Both Brett and my favorite cake here is coffee and walnut, with lemon drizzle close behind (and I still want to try a slice of a traditional Victoria sponge before we go). As for biscuits (cookies), I have yet to meet a ginger nut or shortbread I didn’t love.

The big effort going forward for both Brett and me will be trying to stay and/or get well. With all the cold weather and damp, I’ve been teetering on the edge of a cold but so far it hasn’t developed into anything serious. Brett hasn’t been so lucky and acquired a sore throat and cough which has now settled into his chest. It seems that we spend an awful lot of our time resting and not doing much these days, but we know in this weather pushing ourselves or getting too wet and cold would probably lead to one or both of us coming down with something miserable – that’s what happened last year and we don’t want a repeat. 

We’ve got just 18 more days left in the UK, and we’re focusing now on what we need to do to finish up here and get ready to go back to the U.S. As I mentioned above, we’ll be sending a package back to the U.S. this coming week with things we purchased here for Christmas. It will be expensive, but less than we would pay for overweight luggage. 

I hope everyone is staying warm wherever you are, and that you all had a wonderful week full of good things, good food, good books, and good friends, and that you’re looking forward to the week coming up!

18 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 11/10/2019: Week 10 in the UK

  1. Laura, you seem very connected to England. I’ve received confirmation this week that my penpal of 50+ yrs from Northampton will be coming for another visit in June. I’ve enjoyed your blogs from England so much. I have new places to look forward to when I return to England for a visit.

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    1. The feeling here has been one of familiarity. So much is different, but familiar at the same time, and we speak the same language. And of course it’s all very beautiful and full of history.

      I also have strong familial connections to England as well. My ancestors on both sides are from here and Scotland. Maybe that as well has something to do with feeling connected.

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  2. Extreme cold coming for much of the Country.. record breaking cold temps. Feel better Brett!! And enjoy your remaining days in that beautiful place.

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    1. I read about the cold coming to the U.S. – is Portland going to be affected? I hope the girls are prepared!

      We are going to miss this place more than any other we’ve visit, for many reasons, but most especially because it is beautiful.

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  3. Billy Connolly said there’s no such thing as cold weather, only inappropriate clothing. Not that I agree with him. I hate it when you just can’t get warm and breathing in cold air doesn’t help. The Germans insulate their houses so well and make them so air tight that they don’t need much heating. We found the apartments so hot with a tittle bit of heating. (Those clever Germans!)

    We were actually cold here at home on day 1 with a breeze blowing through our uninsulated house. But better cold than what’s coming tomorrow. 37°, wind and declaration of catastrophic bushfire day.

    Stay dry!

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    1. The cold feels very different here. I think it may be because it’s a damp cold, the kind that gets into your bones and chills from the inside out.

      In Japan they like to “feel” the seasons so houses weren’t very well insulated. We used to heat our house there one room at a time (with kerosene heaters), and the bathroom was always cold (still is actually). I prefer insulation, thank you! Our son’s home has heated floors – they make his home very comfortable.

      37 degrees – yikes! That’s like it was when we were there in January and it was miserable. Fingers crossed the brush fires don’t materialize.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! That is an extreme temperature for this time of year- this is when it’s supposed to be cooling off.

      Meiling’s job sounds like such a good fit for her. She’s so glad to finally not have spend her days in the apartment – she was beginning to go stir crazy!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your mention of Cadbury bars brought memories flooding back to me. I never heard of them until I met my (then future) mother-in- law. She was in love with all things British and especially Cadbury bars, which were hidden at home for her enjoyment only. I remember once when she was in the hospital, we even snuck in a few bars to speed her recovery.
    We were in Portland this week for a few appointments, and I thought of you guys. It was sunny and warm, almost 70 on Thursday, amazing! We were lucky, supposed to go back to the 50’s and light rain this week. But great while it lasted. Stay well!

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    1. On our trips to Disney World when the girls were little, one of the highlights for us was stopping in the British shop and stocking up on a big variety of Cadbury bars – they were that special. I love their milk chocolate, especially the fruit and nut bar. I can’t get over all the varieties we’ve seen here though.

      It’s sunny here today – yeah! But windy and cold. It was nice yesterday as well but with Brett’s cold we stayed in. Today we’re off for fish and chips and groceries, and if it’s still nice on Wednesday we’ll try for Stratford. However, temperatures are expected to drop like a stone by the end of the week, so we’ll be inside trying to stay warm. I expect Portland to be miserable when we’re there in December.

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    1. Brett is feeling better today after a not-so-good day yesterday. We have to go to Moreton-in-Marsh for groceries today but will be breaking out our gloves and the new scarves we got up in Scotland. Brett also has a hat and I’m going to make him wear it! I’ve heard the fall weather can be beautiful here but apparently not this year.

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    1. Postage for overseas shipping is exhorbitant, but not as much as paying for overweight luggage. We’ve thought about using it before but managed to get everything into our bags and stay underweight, but not this time with the things we’re bringing back. Fingers are crossed it doesn’t break us.

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  5. There are a lot of British foods I don’t like, but Cadbury chocolate is awesome. Sorry Brett is sick…good idea to take care it doesn’t ramp up anymore. The cold damp is pretty awful…when my DD moved there, she said their buildings just weren’t insulated and she was chilly a lot.

    Overweight luggage must be pretty pricey if postage is cheaper. 😂 Sending gifts and other items to my daughter is SO expensive. I am challenged to think of lightweight gifts every year. And I do ship some things to her directly from Amazon UK. But it’s crazy. Also, the timing is so random…we never know if she’ll get it in a week or three. So I’m working on her package now (December birthday & Christmas).

    Hope you get to see the last two places on your list and you stay healthy!

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    1. Cadbury is wonderful although I find it almost too rich at times. My favorites here continue to be their fruit and nut bars and the Double Decker (nougal on top, crunch on the bottom). And of course the drinking chocolate!

      We’ve decided against shipping – it’s just going to be too much, and more than the value of what’s inside the box. I discovered we get two checked bags each when we fly – YEAH – so will fill my carry-on with stuff as well and check that instead (the cost of paying woould be equal to the postage). With my coat out of my big bag i’ll be able to get extra things in there as well so hopefully it will all work out.

      The weather here has been crazy and COLD. Yesterday was nice and we got our shopping done, but today the wind is howling and it’s been raining off and on. Fingers are crossed that it’s OK enough tomorrow for us to get to Stratford because after that it’s supposed to be just plain awful for days.

      Liked by 1 person

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