Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Great Outdoors

If you are savvy enough to be reading this online, you are probably aware of the flooding in England. It's been very bad in places, but you don't have to worry about us yet. We personally won't get flooded, as we are up two hills from the Thames. There's a flood warning, but not a severe one. I haven't started stockpiling drinking water or bought a campstove for cooking on, and hopefully this won't prove to be a foolish oversight. Here are a couple of pictures from the Thames around noon today near Cookham bridge.

It's supposed to peak later this afternoon or this evening in Cookham. As you can see in the picture with the boats, it's just over the banks, but not really threatening right now.

In other news, I finally got a chance to spend some time on my allotment. With all the rain, the weeds were feeling very happy and healthy so I needed to do something about that. Here is a before and after picture of the weeds near my corn.

It's nothing exciting, but I took the pictures to show myself that yes, you can actually see a difference after a good 30 minutes of weeding.

Friday, July 20, 2007


The final book in the Harry Potter "saga" goes on sale tomorrow. I've already heard or read more about it than I care to already. I read something about what the last word was supposedly to be and then I saw JK Rowling interviewed by Jonathon Ross a couple of weeks ago and felt I heard too much there. Twice in the past 24 hours I was listening to BBC's Radio 1 and had to quickly turn it off to avoid hearing more. They might have just been trying to wind people up by playing a prank about reading out the ending, but I really don't care. I want to find out for myself. This is the only reason I've pre-ordered the book and hope that it arrives in the post tomorrow as planned. Otherwise I could wait a while to read it, but the chances of finding out what happened are too great. No radio, no newspaper and no current TV programs either until I finish it.

That's the media blackout for me. The other blackout is I was wondering if we were going to have power in the house today. I woke up to a thunderstorm this morning. Lightning, with the thunder less than 1 second after it, woke us all up at about 7:30 this morning. A thunderstorm at dawn!?!?! Very strange weather. Perhaps not to others, but for a girl raised on the Prairies, normally I would never expect thunder and lightning before 3pm. Along with the celestial fireworks, there is a LOT of rain. Driving through Maidenhead this morning involved driving up on the curb at one spot so as to avoid the very very deep puddle that had left one car stranded in the middle of it. There were several other smaller puddle/ponds as well. You know, I understand that England has this "reputation" as a wet weather country to uphold. But I get the picture, it rains here! Make it stop!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Back from Scotland

We're back from our little jaunt to Scotland. Sorry for not warning you about it, but I'm a bit reluctant to mention our house being deserted for over a week before that actually happens.

Anyways, Scotland was a very nice holiday, we all really enjoyed it. Both seeing interesting historic sites, beautiful scenery and also meeting several friends during the trip. Pictures should be available soon. Some observations about the whole thing:
  • A Ford Focus is okay for travelling long distances, but not the most luxurious comfort car.
  • 7 hours in the car is really pushing the limit of a 6 month old's patience. Yes, she slept for most of it, but that hour or so near the end...
  • Scottish roads for the most part are far less scary to drive on than English roads. Wider with no big hedges right beside the road, less traffic and fewer blind corners around tops of hills too.
  • Stirling Castle is really cool, especially when Elvis Presley and John Lennon tell you about it.
  • The Isle of Mull is worth a longer visit. Don't be put off by Mull being the German word for garbage.
  • The accent in the Inner Hebrides is easier to understand than the accent in the Borders.
  • All beds in small European hotels (England, Scotland, Germany, Austria) seem to only be made using a heavy duvet and a sheet. So you can either sweat and be uncomfortable under the duvet or you can shiver and be uncomfortable under only the sheet. Hasn't this continent heard of blankets?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Smoke Free England

On July 1st, England banned smoking in nearly any public place. This is of course a good thing in my non-smoking opinion. But it's funny, because it's been so rare that I've been bothered by cigarette smoke since moving to here, it won't make much of an impact on my day-to-day life. One, I don't head out to smoky places very much nowadays. Partly due to not wanting to expose Lena to smoke but more due to not being out disco dancing in clubs or late-night bars anymore. In most restaurants we haven't had much smoke and other places we've been it's been the same story. England in general, isn't a smoky place for a young family. If you want to experience smoke, go to Germany. Where, by the way, the price for a pack of smokes is far less than Britain. German restaurants are only slowly coming around to the idea of having a separate seating area for non-smokers and there are still plenty who don't offer that option. It was only in the last year or so that the main train station in Munich stopped people from smoking inside the station. It might have been very film-noir in effect, but it really wasn't very cool. That's probably the one thing that I totally do not miss at all about living in Germany.

I've also noticed that along with the ban, there are lots of ads on how to give up smoking. Many by the NHS, the National Health Service, offering advice and help on quitting. But not just them. The drugstores that sell cigarette patches and so on are also advertising more. And I bet Nicorette thinks all their Christmases have come at once with this ban. Ah well, I can't be too cynical about it, fresh air is a great benefit.