Friday, October 30, 2009

Oct 28 - Wandering about town

Ulverston has these wonderful little shops, especially jumble shops. Second-hand shops. There are at least 6 charity shops (profits go to specific charities, I think).
Indexing humor alert: Browsing the yellow pages for Furniture - Second-hand, I found this entry: Further education - See Colleges and Further Education, Schools and Colleges - Private, Sixth Form Colleges, Universities. It doesn't sound like something Americans would look up.
Here's another: Castles - See Historic Buildings, Tourist Attractions.

Tea shops will be my downfall.

Gillams' served me lunch the other day. Lancashire cheese and to-mah-to on panini, toasted, with a pot of house tea (pot of tea, pot of hot water, cream, sugar). Very good. The boxes and tins for sale on the wall were colorful.

In the bathroom, I found this gem of a toilet paper holder. Hal said, "It's a good thing you took the camera in the bathroom with you." Oh, that British humor has already gotten to him.

In one of the alleys is this interesting mural. Looks like Laurel and Hardy are in there, as well as the many festivals of this town.

Barclays Bank, in the center of town, has a few odd architectural features. Dutch influence? The tower dome is probably copper.

The old livestock auction house had this blue door, tower and rose window. Color and form.

The newer auction house is at the edge of town, rather than in a residential area. I haven't seen the action there yet. Smelled it though.

The Methodist Church had some lovely windows.

And turrets.

Stained glass on the front face; clear glass on the sides.

This red clay ornament decorated the peak of one wing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oct 26 - Cumbria Way

We have walked on the Cumbria Way. Not far, about 4 miles, but we have started. It looks (on the map) like we climbed 110 feet in elevation.

Hal next to sign on Cumbria Way.

Along the way, we learned some lessons:
1) Comfortable shoes may be important, but so are slogging boots.
2) Always bring raingear.
3) Walking sticks are helpful.
4) Watch where you step (which interferes with the breathtaking views).
5) Carry a bottle of water.

In this view, the passage into the field is between the big rock on left corner and the smaller rocks to its right. It involves s-q-u-e-e-z-i-n-g through.
It was all lovely, with amazing views. Cowpoop was not so lovely (see #4).

Hal on a wooden stile.

Rosi on a wooden stile.

The fields are all very green. I wonder what a dry spell is like here. The bracken (ferns) has turned rusty gold.

The trail went right through this farmyard, but a detour sign directed us around the back of the barn (on right), due to "water in yard." Behind the barn was not exactly dry...

The cows gave us the once over, and went about their business.

And then we didn't know where to go, but finally stumbled on the trail. Trail was quite squishy in parts (see #1). This is not a park-like trail with paving or crushed stone. It's just a path that people frequently walk on. But so do sheep and cows.

We encountered some unknown prickly bushes with yellow flowers. And an odd conifer.

Here's a stone stile. The stones were wide slabs, about 5 feet wide, laid crossways into the wall, so we stepped on both ends of the same rock slabs as we climbed up, and then down.

The sheep didn't object to our intrusion.

Below, lovely patchwork fields.

Parts of the path were pretty steep, and the variety of gates and stiles (to cross fences) was interesting.

The clouds looked ominous, but the afternoon light shining off them was beautiful.

I thought we walked for 3 or 4 hours, but it was only an hour and a half.

Looking across the valley to the next hilltop, we could see windswept trees. Hal mused about the 4 crater-like areas on a hillside - possibly bomb craters, from war practice? Germans bombed around here a lot, but didn't hit the shipyard (cit. Hal Robb). The 2nd photo is a closeup of the craters and windswept trees.

On the way back into town, we passed an alpaca farm, advertising alpaca manure for sale. 2 (British) pounds. (I don't know what volume of manure that bought.) Many white pacas, with 2 blacks, and 1 pretty brown one.

This stonewall was interesting with its decorative border along the top.

The walk was educational. We are learning the limits of not having all our belongings here. Our shipment still has not arrived. It was picked up in East Lyme on Sep 29. We are now expecting it to arrive next Tues, Nov 3. I'd really like my wellies (muck boots), long underwear, and sweaters. I seem to be cold all the time.

Back in town, we diverted to walk past Rev. David Robinson's house. He was our exchange pastor at Niantic Community Church one summer several years back. I think I will send a note of introduction to him and his wife, before I call or show up on their doorstep.

Oct 26 - Life in the Slow Lane

We're living in a lovely semi-detached (duplex) house in the middle of Ulverston. It is so close to everything. Shopping, pubs, doctors, walking paths, country. Still pinching ourselves that we're here. Hal has been here the whole month of October, but I just arrived over the weekend. Life seems slower here. Nice. We're good with slower.

(Photo of the front garden)

It's Monday. Hal took today off in order to get some things done. Dropped our applications off with a doctors' office. I don't know if that is routine - applying for patienthood. Then we bought a car. Blue 2005 VW Passat. It should be ready on Thursday after work. Set up the car and renters' insurance too.
(Photo of VW Passat)

We just ate lunch at a tiny deli down the street from us. The food was good. I liked the bottles on the shelves. (Photo of deli)

Jack The Dog is reported to be adjusting. He's living with Hal's brother, Allan, and wife, Michele, in Manchester, CT. After the second night, through bribery I think, he goes up and down the stairs fine. And slept through night 4.

Sep 18 - Wrapup to househunting trip

It occurred to me this morning as we were packing up, that since we dropped off the rental car at the Hertz return and stepped into the elevator and into "terminal world," we will be in a kind of hyperbaric chamber from Thursday evening (Manchester, UK) to Friday afternoon (Providence, RI) - about 24 hours real time. We had breakfast buffet at the Radisson. I tried black pudding (dry, unknown origins - what was in it?) and smoked salmon (not bad). To our dismay, the full buffet for 2 was 35 pounds!!! (Multiply that by 1.6 to get dollar equivalency). Security asked us "Who packed your bags, and when?" "Have they been in your possession...?" Several times in different ways, in various spots. People were not removing their shoes for security, as we have become accustomed to doing.

People in England love to complain about politics - same as us. The education system was discussed. I'm sure it will take us a long time to understand it. After 11 years of school (sophomore year?) students with decent grades go on to the Sixth Form for 2 more years of school. Many kids are done with their schooling after soph year and go to work, if they can find it. In the Abbey House Hotel, the wait staff was very young - about 16. Prince Charles (with all his privilege in education) got in hot water for saying there was nothing wrong with people finding their station early in life.

We noticed differences in British and US life. The Brits (where we were) are not obsessive about sterility and germs. Sugar in many places is served in a sugar bowl (sometimes lumps - white, brown together). Butter (very yellow and tasty) in slices on a plate. These can be left over from the previous occupants of the table, and are subject to crumbs and used tea spoons (double dipping). Less waste. Lots of tea. In Ulverston, they recycle "tins" and glass, but not cardboard, yet. McDonalds, BurgerKing, KFC, Subway, and Pizza Hut are common. Service can drive you mad if you're not flexible. It helped that we had no deadlines this week. I think we'll do fine. I'm sure life is quite different in London, but this seems like it will fit us well.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sep 16 - Walking about town

Photo of the Rose and Crown pub - back room where we ate lunch. One or two blocks from the house.

This afternoon, we took a walk on a public footpath probably a tenth of a mile from the house we're renting. Met a friendly woman with 2 dogs, playing ball by a stream. It was a nice little loop, maybe 2 miles long.

Photo of the start of the Cumbria Way in Ulverston, a long national footpath.

Photo of our front gate.

Below, Hal stands in the alley in front of our place. Our gate is in the wall to the left.

The front door of the Abbey House Hotel

Abbey House Hotel roof and chimneys

Hal sitting in front of Abbey House Hotel

Weather here has been excellent. Sunny and crisp today. According to, Feb. temps average 35 to 44 Fahrenheit. July averages 55 to 66 F. The Abbey House Hotel (3 photos here) where we are staying (big stone fortress) is home for this week only. I suppose we may stay here when we come back if we can't move into the house right away. Correction: we are driving an Audi A3 not an A4.

I didn't buy wellies yet. Scouting them out. How wild can I go in this conservative place. Looks like I can get zany with my boots. Buy the sock-like liners at LL Bean, and the boots at J. Crew (in US) or Tesco's here. black-and-white animal print maybe. You're right, giraffes are not b&w. It was a zebra print, with pink highlights.

Hal has done a great job with driving. He says it's white-knuckle driving. He just loves it when a lorry (truck) comes around the bend on a one-lane road. The road signs are very different from signs in the states. After 1 year residency, we won't be able to use our CT drivers' licenses. We need to prepare for the "theory test" (what people take to get their learner's permits, which allows them place huge - 8 inch maybe - capital Ls on their boot (trunk)). (We already have valid licenses, so we don't have to go thru the "L" thing, but we have to take all the tests.) After theory test comes the computer simulation test, and finally the practice test. Most people don't pass the first time. Hmmm. A challenge. They use the hand brake at every stop, and there are a zillion round-abouts. Hal says it's like information overload: intersection, cars all coming from the right, but in 2 lanes, cars beside you, plus beautiful scenery, and then you have decisions to make - do I get in the inside or outside lane of the circle, once I squeeze in, between zooming cars, and plan ahead for where to get out of the circle (think clock face - 9 oclock etc). Look right first, drive on the left. Keep the driver next to oncoming traffic. Hard to judge the space on the passenger side. Whew!!!

We did a drive-by on a new house that isn't selling, so it's ready to let (rent). Just another boring house in the burbs. This evening we had dinner with Hal's soon-to-be boss. Got the low-down from him and the wife on living in England. Nice people. Great dogs, too. It was a unique experience to walk several blocks through town at 9:30 pm to go back to our car.