Sunday, June 29, 2008

Another day, another dryer!

When I came to visit Oxford over the last few years, the flat I stayed in had this really tiny washer/dryer combo machine. The machine in our house looked just like it, so I assumed it was a washer and dryer, too. So a couple of weeks ago I went to do the first load of laundry. It was in there forever, seriously, like 2 hours, so I went to take the clothes out and was shocked to find them not dry! Then I picked up the instruction manual, which I probably should have done in the first place, and there was nothing about dryer settings. I had always wondered why there was a clothesline outside.

I mentioned this to some of my coworkers and they just kind of said "So? Don't you have a clothesline?" Now I am willing to assimilate here, but I draw the line at hanging our underwear outside for all the world to see. And do I have to remind you that we live in England, so the odds of your clothes actually drying outside and not getting rained on are about 50/50? So we started by just hanging things over chairs, on the bannister, basically wherever we could find a place. This was not good. It literally took everything days to dry. Then, my fantastic husband found a used dryer online for £20, and the seller was willing to deliver (this is key since we don't have a car)! Phew. Now I just want to do more laundry so I can use the little dryer. It's so cute- it just plugs into the wall and that's it! And it fits perfectly in our pantry, even. Am I gushing too much? On Wednesday our new TV will be delivered (we're downsizing to 42") and on Friday the furniture from Ikea, yippee! Also our shower should be repaired next weekend, so we're almost completely mostly settled in.

We went to church this morning at the Holy Trinity Church in Headington, where C.S. Lewis was a member for 30 years. He is also apparently buried in the church cemetary, but we didn't see the site. We did, however, see the frosted glass window dedicated to the Narnia characters! We liked the church service, and it's a short walk from our house, so we'll likely go back. I even met a man who wrote a book chapter for OUP-USA- everyone's an academic here.

Cheerio for now!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Venice, by Robin

First, can I just say how thrilled I am that we have internet now? Thrilled actually doesn't even begin to describe it.

Just to add a little to Jon's description (which focused mainly on the beers and cars of Italy), Venice was awesome. It rivals NC for summer heat and humidity, though! Both Jon and I had to invest in some lighter clothing. We were staying on the Lido island, a small strip of land that separates the Venice Lagoon (and the main island, San Marco) from the Adriatic. If I ever return to Venice, I would definitely stay on Lido again. The hotels and restaurants were much less expensive, there were fewer tourists, and it was just a short water taxi away from the main attractions. And being steps away from the beach was fabulous. Even though I was there for work (a Schizophrenia conference) it felt like vacation. We took lots of pictures, so watch this space and we'll get around to uploading them sooner or later! People had warned us about a particular "smell" in Venice (think thousands of tourists, with varying standards of personal hygiene, marching around in 100 degree heat) in the summer, but I have to say I didn't notice it. Apparently (according to a fellow American tourist) August is when it gets really unbearable until the rainy season washes it all away in the fall. So if you're planning a trip any time soon, bear this in mind!

Back in Oxford, we're still getting settled in the house, with a furniture delivery from Ikea expected on the Fourth of July (this should help a lot). Then we'll be ready for visitors, so start planning your trip!


Back from Venice

Well, Robin is about to get on a bus at Gatwick airport to come back to Oxford after a conference in Venice. I had the fortune of going as well though I came back Monday to cope with utility installs, etc. (we now have internet at the house- YESSSS!!!! CIVILIZATION HERE WE ARE).

Venice was great, we enjoyed the fantastic weather, the exquisite cuisine, a touch of Chianti, Nastro Azzurro, Moretti La Rossa, etc. We took a romantic gondola ride through San Marcos and saw where Marco Polo was born, some really old buildings and a host of other sites. The shopping on San Marcos was unbelievable- every brand name you could name and then 1000 more! :) We even saw Lauren from the MTV show "The Hills" shopping for leather gloves with her mom and sister. I was kind of joking to Robin that it was her but she recognized Lauren's mom and sister so we are sure it was her. I got to see a few Ferraris, Maseratis and some other $$$ cars (no Lamborghinis though). Porsches, Benz' and Beemers were a dime a dozen there. I tried to offer a guy a dime for a dozen though and either he didn't like my pricepoint or it got lost in translation.... I think it was the latter. :)

I have a big (I think it may be a final) interview tomorrow, so my/our fingers are crossed. I was recruited by an agency and am meeting with the fellow who overseas all the UK operations; the company is HQ in San Diego. The position is selling recruitment services into the European market, largely related to mobile phones and related IT areas. It would be similar to what I have been doing but definitely a new challenge. The company is in Aylesbury which would basically require me to get a car to keep the commute reasonable (by bus= about an hour, by car= 20 minutes or so). Gas is hovering between $10-11 a gallon so will have to focus on economy... no Land Rover or other V8 vehicle for us!

I think that about sums it up,


Monday, June 16, 2008

What did people do before the internet?

So the lack of posting has not been because nothing is going on in my life- definitely the opposite! Jon is here (!!), things are starting to pick up at work, and we had a great day trip to London (and the Ikea in Wembley) over the weekend. We still, however, do not have internet or phone service at our house, which makes the blogging a bit difficult. I was carrying my laptop with me every day for the first week, but it's not so light, and my shoulders were really starting to get sore. I promise to be more diligent once I have more reliable computer access (I am, of course, completely above wasting work time on blogging).

We should have everything up and running at the house by the end of next week, but we're also leaving for Venice on Friday (what jet-setters!) so you might have to wait just a little longer...Stay tuned, I promise it'll be good!


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Fountain of Youth?

I've always thought my complexion looks much better in England. Fine lines disappear, my skin is clearer, and the damp weather means dry skin isn't an issue (I am being serious here, it is much improved in just a couple of days). My friends and I were also talking a couple of weeks ago about how our English coworkers all look much younger than their actual ages. Our theory is that this is because they get so much less sun, so their skin doesn't prematurely age like those of us from the sunny south. So forget the Botox and expensive anti-aging creams, my friends, a trip to the UK is the ticket to eternal youth!

The downside to this, of course, is the rain, which is coming down like cats and dogs today. I thought it was so nice to have some exercise and fresh air yesterday when I was walking from the bus stop to work, but I have to tell you it is not so nice in the pouring rain. My shoes were soaked through by the time I got here. I noticed other girls with similar shoes to me, and they did not seem at all bothered by this- is it just because they're so used to it? Are English feet somehow water-repellent as a result of evoltion? I'll do some research and keep you posted.

In other news, when I got home from work last night, the chair and loveseat that were in our living room have been inexplicably replaced by a really big futon! It is probably more actual seating area than the sofa and loveseat, but I liked have the different seating options. A little more disturbing is that the landlord apparently went in the house while I wasn't there, which seems kind of sketchy to me (not that I would rather have him bust in while I was home). He did do some work in the garden, though, which I appreciated. Now if I can just get him to have the place cleaned...

Back to work now!

Monday, June 2, 2008

First Day of Work!

This will be short because I'm feeling awfully tired after a full day of work and not much sleep last night. Every time I hear a noise in the night I think that some English spirit, or maybe a thief, is coming to get me. But then I ask myself "Who in their right mind would rob this place?" That makes me feel a little better until the next bump in the night comes and it starts all over again. The landlord was supposed to come over and do something about the overgrown garden today, and I've asked if they could have the house cleaned, so keep your fingers crossed!

Work was fine today- great to see the friendly faces of my coworkers and to not spend another day in solitude. Not so great that IT has screwed up my account even though I transferred within the same department. Par for the course, IT. I was supposed to get my new BlackBerry today, but they screwed that up too, so it'll hopefully be ready tomorrow. Nice to know that I'll have some means of communication to the outside world from the house soon (will be helpful for reporting boogeymen or robbers).

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Day 2

So I probably won't keep up the daily blogging for long, but there's not much to do by yourself on a Sunday in Oxford when all the shops are closed! For some reason, I couldn't connect to the free McDonald's wifi today, so I found a little internet cafe with pretty cheap access.

I made it through my first night in the house, and did a little shopping for some of the essentials today (bedding, pillows, shower curtain). I had gotten some Friends VHS tapes to watch, but I think there's something wrong with the VCR since it ate two of them! I did watch the UK version of The Apprentice (I'm already hooked) and some reality show about people vying for the parts of Oliver and Nancy in the West End production of Oliver.

I don't think I've ever been so excited to go to work- it will be great to see all my UK coworkers, and to have something to take my mind off being here alone for another week. I've figured out my bus route, and I think it'll take me about 30 minutes door to door. The public transportation here is amazing, and so reasonably priced when you consider the price of gas (or petrol, as they say here).

They need to make some kind of instruction manual for people who have just moved to the UK. Chapter titles might include how to set up phone & utilities, how the heck National Healthcare works, and if you need to bring your own pillows and sheets to your new furnished house (that advertised white goods included). You know, the important things. I think I should probably write one myself if I ever figure these things out.