Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I had a bit of bad news today. Not terribly bad, but a bit disappointing and unfortunate for Lena. She doesn't qualify as a British citizen. She was born in the UK, but since both G and I are here on limited rather than unlimited, resident permits, she doesn't qualify. If we get unlimited permits, then she could get UK citizenship. That however, will take 5 years for us to get. At which point, we ourselves could get British citizenship. Whether we stay here that long remains to be seen. It's just a bummer because it would have been great for her to have that easy access to the European Union for her future. She might still get it, who knows, but not right now.

So now we have to organise Canadian and Australian citizenship so that she can get a passport to travel. We would have done this anyways, but now we'll have to put it higher up the priority list than before. She'll probably get Canadian citizenship first, as she can apply for citizenship and her passport at the same time. For the Australian, first she has to have the citizenship and then she has to apply in person at the embassy. Okay, she doesn't have to apply in person, but G or I have to on her behalf. Least the Canadian one can be mailed in.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Attack of the Colonizers

David and Victoria Beckham have moved or about to move to the U.S.A. so that David Beckham can play soccer (it's soccer there, not football) with L.A. Galaxy. He signed up for squijillions of dollars, well, $10 million US per season as a base salary. Apparently that could go up to around $50 million with endorsements and profit-sharing. But that's not enough for the Posh and Becks. According to World Entertainment News Network, the Beckhams are considering an offer to star in a reality TV show. "The show would follow the couple as they adjust to their life in the US".

So, a very rich British couple, last living in Spain, would have their lives shown on TV as they adjust to life in one of the former British colonies. Well, if anyone wants to do the opposite contact me. A not so very rich c'lonial couple, last living in Germany, having their lives shown on Blogger as they adjust to life in Britain. I think it would a hit!

Okay, maybe it wouldn't, maybe we just don't have the drawing power of Mr. & Mrs. Posh Spice. But why the Beckhams would seriously consider the offer when they have so much cash and certain publicity is a mystery to me. I'd certainly be satisfied with the $10-50 million.

Friday, January 26, 2007

January flurries bring January flowers

Today's post title is of course a play on the saying "April showers bring May flowers". In Canada, I was never convinced of this, feeling that May showers bringing June flowers was more appropriate to the climate. It doesn't seem to be that appropriate here in England either. It snowed a considerable amount early Wednesday and again there was a dusting of the stuff last night. But today, this is what I saw in our front garden - 3 different types of flowers blooming like it was spring.

With a little help from my readers (see comments), I realise this one is a crocus.
These are snowdrops, I believe.
I'm really not sure what this is. It's blue and grows on a sort of vine.
There is one flower I'm sure about. I spotted this sweet flower in her Moses basket:
She's learning to smile, isn't that cute?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


It snowed last night. And a decent snowfall at that, at least 5cm. It's been unseasonally warm this winter, so this is late for the first snow. I don't think it snows that often in England, even less than in Munich. People who live in Munich probably think it snows quite a bit there (although again, not this winter) but compared to where I come from in Canada, it's not very much.

Today I was going to drive into Maidenhead and do a bit of this and that. But I think I'll skip the driving. Not because I feel uncertain driving on the snow, I've done enough of that to feel fairly confident. But I don't trust the other drivers out there. They don't get snowfall often enough to A. have decent tires for grip ie. snowtires and B. have enough experience to remember how to drive in the snow. Sorry England, but it's true. I'll give you a world of credit when it comes to driving in rain and probably fog, but not for snow. So my little jaunt will either wait until this afternoon or tomorrow, when the snow has melted off the roads.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

England through new eyes

As I post this, my mother is getting off the plane back in Canada after her 2 week stay here. It was great having her here, as having an extra set of hands about the place to deal with Lena when she was not in a great mood helped us to keep our sanity. Plus, since she's been around my sister's kids a lot, she has lots of recent experience with little ones, so diaper/nappy changes were a breeze for her, among other things.

What was interesting was her observations of England, especially the architecture. Living in Munich, I was pretty blasé about old buildings, although they look quite different from the ones here. But for my mother it was all new and it was interesting to see what caught her eye. Things like the little chimney pots on the top of roofs, or tower rooms on otherwise normal looking buildings. Or the decorative finishes on the roof lines. Things I see, but don't consciously notice. I'll try and be more aware of them in the future and perhaps add a few photos if I see any bits worthy of it.

Another thing that was different for her was her difficulty in understanding several of the different British accents on TV. I don't think she had any problems with anyone face-to-face, but on the TV there was a bigger variety and some of them I have to admit were more than a bit tricky. Something that she probably would have gotten the hang of soon enough after more exposure like I've had. Not being able to understand accents was something the Germans to whom I taught English always complained about. I did tell them that native speakers sometimes have difficulty with them too. I still do as well, on occasion. Fortunately the accents around this part of England are pretty easy to understand, if not always the slang or pop-culture references.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Pictorial Update

G has been on my back to put up more pictures, so here's a few that my mother has taken so far.

Here is G with Lena, apparently she is the newest Man U supporter.
Me with Lena, both of us very excited by Charlie, her newest toy.
And the proud grandmother as well.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Review: Little India in Cookham Rise

Finally, more than a month after Rolf Harris visited it, we had a chance to go and try the local restaurant, Little India.

Little India isn't the first restaurant we've visited in the area, but it's the first I've had the chance to review. To start, let me tell you my reviewing criteria; which I hope is pretty simple. There are 3 categories, each valued from 1, 2 or 3 points. The categories are ambiance, service and food. 1 point is pretty low on the scale. Not enough to walk out of a place because of it, but probably low enough to merit a bit of complaining during dinner. 2 points is good, not to the point of being amazing, but head-noddingly good. 3 points is absolutely stellar, a level of quality that will be remembered for a very long time. So, for Little India, my short and simple review.

Ambiance: 1.5 It was nicely decorated, but we were the only people in there, which made it all a bit odd. Would be better to judge on a busier night.
Service: 1.5 Service was attentive, but not especially friendly. It was thought perhaps they weren't being unfriendly, but rather a bit formal.
Food: 2 The sauces for our main dishes weren't anything particularly special, but that could just be down to what we chose. The meat was very good quality and both the naan and the papadums were excellent, along with the sauces served with the papadums.

So all in all, a decent rating of 5 out of 9. We normally try to only go back to restaurants that get a 6 or higher rating, but we'll probably go back to Little India for a couple of reasons. One, it's very close and convenient for us. Two, the prices are really reasonable, which makes it worth visiting again.

Little India's website: http://thelittleindia.co.uk/

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Extra C'lonial About

My mother has come over for a visit, so the posts might be a bit infrequent over the next 2 weeks while we spend some time together. She adds a fresher perspective to life in Britain, so it may inspire some good future posts. For example, I am bilingual in British and Canadian for the most part, so I forget that phrases like "twenty quid" aren't automatically understandable. Quid is slang for British pounds by the way, similar to how Canadians might say twenty bucks instead of dollars. These sort of things are things I forgot and it's funny to be reminded of them.

For those interested in more pictures, G has put some more Lena photos up on our webpage.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Mothercare - A mild rant

When the c'lonials take over this island, one of the first things to go will be Mothercare. For those who don't know, Mothercare is a chain store here in Britain that sells everything you need from pregancy through to toddler years. Sounds fantastic to have everything under one roof, but sounding fantastic and being fantastic are two different things.

There is a large Mothercare store in Slough, where we have been several times and have found the staff to be pretty useless. We went there at the beginning of December, looking for a stroller/pram/thingy. We walked around the display of 25 or so strollers, a bit overwhelmed by what we were looking at and not being sure where to start. Since noone offered to help us, after about 5-10 minutes of looking, we grabbed a member of staff and asked her which ones had car seats that integrated into the strollers. She said she wasn't familiar with the car seats, so she would find a colleague to help us. Another 5 minutes pass. Finally the car-seat expert showed up. He pointed the strollers that have car seat attachment capability out and said, "If you have any questions, just ask," and then walked away. Well, we had a lot of questions, but didn't know where to start. We didn't see him again in the shop, so we left.

Contrast that to when we went to Bear Essentials (another baby equipment shop) in Maidenhead. When we asked them in general about the strollers, the 2 girls working basically said, "Right, this is our best selling model and here's why", explaining all the features, which car seat fit with it, why they recommended it above the other strollers, but also pointing out the features of the others. They gave us information about it and then answered all our questions, rather than just pointing them out and walking away.

We bought the car seat from Bear Essentials, but still haven't bought a stroller. As we were driving past the Slough Mothercare yesterday, we thought we'd take another look in, since we now have a slightly better idea of what we are now looking for. Again, in a near empty shop, I walked around the strollers for a good while without anyone offering to help me. I asked one of the girls about them again, and she pointed them out, nothing more really. When I saw a model that fits the car seat we already have, I asked if she could show me how the car seat fits into the stroller. She had to go off and get her colleague to do it, as she didn't know how. So the assistant manager came over to show us how to remove the stroller seat to attach the car seat. He struggled with the seat material for a long time, several minutes at least, having been pushing where he should have been pulling. Then, when he finally got it the back cover off, the stroller had two left adapters instead of a right and a left, so we couldn't try it out anyways. What a pain.

I've also been to the Mothercare in Maidenhead and wasn't overly impressed with it either. Nothing particularly wrong with it, other than when I went in there, I was the only shopper and the 3 members of staff didn't stop for half a second from their gabbing with each other to greet me or ask if I was looking for anything specific. No, sorry, that's wrong, they did, once I had been in the shop for about 20 minutes.

Amazing that I could post about the great shopping service at one place less than a week ago and now complain about the total lack of service at another. But that's the way it is in life. To use the British expression, "It's swings and roundabouts". My final comment is basically, if you live near Maidenhead, Windsor or Slough, I would recommend you go to Bear Essentials if you need baby equipment. Friendly and competent staff, a big contrast from Mothercare.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

House Construction and Dust Hares

Those who know me well will know that housekeeping is not amongst my top priorties. I clear off my desk from papers about as often as they elect a new pope. However, it's usually a case of disarray, rather than actual filth, that adorns our abode.

Living in a place where you enter right from ground level has forced us to become slightly more, hmm, aggressive, in our approach to cleaning. We used to live up 4 flights of stairs of a walk-up, so by the time you got to the front door, there wasn't much to wipe off of your shoes. Plus, if you left the door open for a while, there wasn't going to suddenly be a little dust-storm of leaves and debris coming into the foyer. With a ground level house, this can be the case and has meant that what normally would be a few dust bunnies under the couch was more like several giant dust hares. Not quite to genetically-mutated monster stage, but not far off. Fortunately a few turns with the vacuum cleaner soon had them at bay.

What I don't understand is why places are built absolute flush with the ground. Not even a half-step to the door, only the width of the door frame separates the door from the earth. Seems to be a common British building trend. Anyone care to explain it to me?