Beach Barbecue

They do this thing here where you can buy little barbecues for super cheap at the grocery store in order to get your grill on at the beach. The barbecues are less than 2 bucks, and have some sort of sustainably produced “charcoal” made of cotton or something? I don’t know. I mean, I’m uncomfortable with the whole one-off cookery thing, but for an occasional beach dinner, count me in! Also, does this happen in other places? This landbound Ohio girl is unaware.

On one of our evenings at the beach this past week we took down some nice sausages and ciabatta, a few cans of Foster’s, and joined the teeming masses in bathing suits by the seaside. Damn, I could do with more of that! For comparison, today the sun is shining but it’s back to super windy and in the mid-60s with forecasts for more of the same all week (plus rain at the end…); it seems our glorious time of heat is over for the time being. And I’m really, truly okay with it….as long as this doesn’t mean another 3 weeks of all day rain, every day or something. Ugh. My soul can’t take it.

The birds love the heat too….more people at the beach means better meals for them!

Run ragged

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Me after getting rained on for maybe the millionth time this summer, which is perhaps a ham-fisted metaphor for my life right now.

 

I’m a little burnt out guys. Burning the candle at both ends and all that. Frustrated that I am putting so many hours in at work, but only being paid for the hours I’m in the classroom-ah, wage working. Still expected to plan and prepare and do reports and go to meetings though! Oh, and I still haven’t been paid the half of last month’s pay check that was missing….paycheque, as they say here. It is a less than wonderful situation, which makes me sad because I like my job, for the most part. And there is nothing to be done about it but to work through the busiest part of the season and wait for things to slow down next month. At least then the work outside of the classroom will recede-all the better since I’m not paid for it. Remind me sometime to tell you about my disgust with paying only wages to workers that should obviously be salaried, and what a low down move it is.

The rains keep coming. Yesterday was one of the most disgusting days yet. Legitimately cold (high 50s F), plus ultra windy-and mostly this summer’s windiest days have come to coincide with bursts of sunshine, not the rain, like the heavens are having a chuckle at our expense but don’t want to push us too far. Well, not yesterday. Rain, wind, cold. The whole shebang. It felt like October. Today was better, the sun came out around lunchtime, but by the time I left work at 5:30 it was chilly and gray once again. At least there was no rain.

Man. What to do, what to do. The days of summer are quickly slipping by and yet not a single thing since May has felt like the season. It’s messing with my brain. And the English have finally jumped on board with my misery-everyone complains. Last month everyone joked about “English summertime” but now, it’s serious. And everyone is down in the dumps. The nation feels braced for the worst, powering through, even with the Olympics coming to town in ten days. As is, all I can do is throw in the towel for July and stop expecting it to get nicer. Maybe August will be a better month in the South East of England. And maybe the rains will slow down for a little while. I hope so. I really do.

Another rainy July weekend

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Another rainy weekend was had by Mister Norris and I (surprise)! However, the sun did come out for a few hours today, which was much appreciated. Of course, the wind was at it again and all, but I’m not going to complain about everything. There was sunshine, and it was nice. Last night we went out for our friend Mikey’s leaving do/party. He’s going off for 6 weeks to the Isle of Wight to learn how to work on a boat, and how cool is that? It was nice seeing such a huge crowd out and about in one place. We started off at the Sidewinder, where some brave/drunk people had been drinking since 4:00, and then made our way back to the boys’ house around 11 when the pub garden closed. It was crazy and such a throwback feeling of being at a rowdy house party! The old folks, aka most couples in attendance and most definitely Jon and I, all left around 12:30 or so and left the real party animals to their business. It was a fun night.

Jon and I slept in late this morning (almost noon, heyoo!) and had a massive clean up of the tiny pig sty that we call home. Jon’s parents came down for a visit in the late afternoon with two adorable dogs in tow, and we braved the winds for a seaside stroll. I ate an ice cream cone and pretended it was really July, despite the fact that I was wearing tights under my dress and a cardigan on top, and that last night I had to wear boots and my leather jacket when we went out. In July. Sigh.

Tomorrow marks a change in my teaching schedule and I’m not sure if I’m going to like it or not. We’re in the busiest season for students traveling over to Brighton and I’ve been moved to teaching an adult class in the morning rather than my usual class of 9 to 12 year olds. I’m a little sad when I think about it-I love the balance of teaching young people in the morning and adults in the afternoon. It’s intellectually stimulating and keeps me on my toes, plus it takes the frustration levels down a bit when either group is bugging me! I guess we’ll just have to see what happens. It’s been a crazy summer at work though, that’s for sure, and it’s going to craziest before it calms down again in late August.

Finally-we booked our tickets to Ohio tonight! Oh gosh…I can’t wait. I’m beyond excited. September can’t come soon enough-especially with all this rain and cold. I just hope it hasn’t switched to full on autumn weather by the time we get there.

Happy 4th of July!

Happy American Independence Day dudes and ladies!

Mine started out with a great treat-Jon woke up early and surprised me with American-style pancakes. He’s a keeper, that guy. We didn’t have any syrup, but who cares, right?image

The weather was completely terrible and rainy for most of the day (and even kind of cold, it’s been in the low 60s) but the sun came just in time for my work day to end and for me to hit the gym. Which was needed…..image

because we had dinner plans at this place. image

And I ate this. And a footlong coney. imageAnd the place was rockin! There was an entire table of 20 dressed up in costume. Which I thought was dumb and partially offensive, since I didn’t hear a single American accent at the table, only Brits, but I’m not going to let their ignorance ruin my holiday. (Who dresses up as Mickey Mouse for the 4th of July? Marilyn Monroe? A football player? AN IPOD?? WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH AMERICAN FREEDOM)

Anyway, it was nice. Not as nice as having the day off of work and hanging out in the sunshine drinking beers and cooking out, but it was about as nice as it could get. So happy 4th everyone!

6 months of living in the UK

My place in Columbus, December 2011.

The 28th of June marked my 6 month anniversary of living in the UK. And in accordance with the cliche, time flies when you’re having ______! I wouldn’t necessarily say that these first 6 months have been particularly “fun” or superbly magical, by any means, but they haven’t been bad either. Well, the first two were kind of bad, actually. But it’s been uphill since then! Words that would better describe this time in my life, particularly those first couple of months: frustrating,enriching, humbling, educational, heartbreaking, taxing, love-filled, isolating….

So obviously the number one part of this whole journey, the reason it had to happen this way, has been getting to be with Jon. We have a life together now, and that is something that took a long time to accomplish and which I would never wish to change, not for all the accessible sunshine and Mexican food in the world. So whether I have the perfect job, a high salary, new friends, or not-we are together and that is the awesomest of awesomes. This is why I’m here. And that’s great. And as for everything else…

Well. It’s getting better. It really is. I’ve had a steady job since the end of March, which means the past several months have had paychecks from both of us. Which is great news! And I’ve even become comfortable at my job. It’s challenging and rewarding, at times frustrating, and it always keeps me on my toes. The days go quickly. The kids and adults that I teach are, for the most part, wonderful and funny. And I’m making friends-the other teachers are lovely and friendly and last Thursday we all went for drinks. It was a poignant moment for me-going out with a group of people that I know and enjoy chatting with, and that Jon has never even met. Sitting in a pub with a circle that is my own. I have a little independent life happening again, and I am grateful for that. My soul is grateful for that.

There are still moment’s when I get homesick. Yearning for the hot weather and blazing sunshine of an Ohio summertime. My favorite restaurants. My favorite people! And I don’t think that will ever go away. But I am dealing with it in myriad ways. Just becoming more comfortable here is helping a lot. Making this a real home. But also figuring out what I miss the most and how to make it happen here, or how to get enough of it (whatever it may be) to ration me out over the long term and the yearly visits back Stateside. For example-I hate the English summertime. I’ll admit it. It’s not hot, it’s barely sunny. case in point-tomorrow’s forecast is 70% chance of rain and a high of 60F. 60! What is this??So maybe hate is a strong word, but….I really dislike it most of the time. When it’s nice, it’s still not as nice as I want it to be, and then it goes away. That’s my fault, maybe, the emotional response to weather that doesn’t meet my exacting standards, but I don’t see this bit of my desires changing any time soon. So from now on we are going to try to make one of our annual trips back to Ohio coincide with the summertime, sometime between June and August. This way we’ll have a couple weeks/a month of heat and sun and all that goes with it every year, and I can look forward to that.

As for food-well, the sad hunt for delicious Mexican continues. And I have also found a shop that sells Ranch dressing, when that craving strikes. And an American Diner which I have only been to once but where I have made plans to attend for dinner on the 4th of July, as a good American citizen abroad should do. So I’m doing okay. I didn’t think food would be as much of a homesickness trigger as it is. For the most part I don’t think of it. And then I’m like “I’ll make some cornbread to go with my black bean chilli” and then no store anywhere has cornmeal and I freak out and my head explodes. And I do miss the bounty of fresh summer fruits and veggies! Turns out, the berries and other seasonal produce that grow here just aren’t that big. I didn’t really think of it. And now it’s July and I’ve barely eaten any strawberries, or blueberries, and not nearly enough raspberries…and we’re still getting apples in our CSA. Weird. But England has it’s own seasonal offerings as well, which I plan to get more familiar with in the coming months and years.

So anyway, the past six months have been a real learning experience. I have felt challenged and alone, loved and appreciate, and I have felt my relationships all shift on their axis, some for good and some for….not so great. I don’t know what will happen in the next six months. But I think it will be better than this recent past, and I optimistically look forward to seeing what’s going to happen. Onward and upward, keep on truckin’, all that business, you know? Here’s to the next six months of my fish out of water, American-in-England life.

Back in the grind

So it seems the epic four-part Paris blogfest that took up my time last week left me a little burnt out! I don’t have many words. It has been a draining week, I’ve picked up an afternoon class of adults in addition to my long mornings with the kiddies, and they are all in their mid-20s/30s and have already proven to only show up half the time and spend most of our class time on their phones (but other than that these adults are funny and lovely and some are even earnest, which I love). The weekend is fast approaching, thank goodness, and I will sleep. Today I got paid for some freelance work, and so tonight I took Jon out on a date, searching for a Mexican restaurant in Brighton that isn’t terrible, a gargantuan task if ever there was one considering there are very few Mexican restaurants and most of them are….gross. We found a place that I’d give 5/5 for amazing margaritas, but 2/5 for food. Oh well-Mexico’s so far away, I can’t reasonably expect too much. We walked home along the seafront, enjoying the dusk and the fact that it has finally calmed down from the hurricane winds that have been blowing over England for the past week or so. The sun has even gotten comfortable for us (and stopped hiding behind the clouds…sometimes), although the temperature still hasn’t really gone over 70. I’ll take it though. I think I’m resigned to a cool summer and just hoping it’s still boiling hot in Ohio come September!

Pictures of life lately:image

cheeky:image

margaritas on a Wednesday:image

new vinyl:image

choppy waves, although you can’t tell:image

the life of a teacher; planning edition:image

walkin’:image

clouds and sea views:image

sports!, or dudes watching football/soccer (it’s Euro season, after all):image

evening walks are the best, windy or not:image

sipping on a souvenir from Paris:image

it was windy, no kidding:image

Sun-soaked (but not today’s sun)

Today’s weather was so weird-it rained all morning and most of the afternoon while being pretty darn chilly, then the sun came out and shone brilliantly for a few hours, then it got terribly windy. I saw a rainbow! Oh England…I just never know what to expect with you. Also I now understand why people in England have so many different coats-at least it changes things up a bit in the wardrobe department. I should get a trench. Today I tried to organize my closet, and had to stop when I had the brilliant idea to put away my winter things (which is like, a coat and a wool sweater dress and a couple of sweaters that can ONLY be worn when it’s really cold outside) and then realized that due to the inconsistency of the English I basically need my whole closet available to me at all times. No “sandals/shorts/sundress” season here, no sir. And heavy sweaters in July? Could totally be necessary.  I want it to go back to how it was a few short weeks ago, but I think the chances of that are pretty low unless global warming rears its beautiful head again, leaving me to look at these pictures fondly and sigh. That was a really gorgeous couple of summery weeks we had there!

(purple on purple, yes)

(and this is Jon swimming in the sea, he’s so brave)

I’ll never stop believing in you sunshine. My love for you is endless. Come back soon, and bring the heat with you,if that’s your thing.