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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Monday, August 31, 2009

My five days back in the UK

Coming back to the UK was strange as it was about a year sooner than I thought I would be going back and as it was not planned and under sad circumstances it wasn’t exactly a pleasant trip.
We managed to get flights from Washington to Glasgow via London Heathrow, leaving here at 6.00p.m. on Saturday evening (11 p.m. UK time) and arriving in Glasgow at 10.00a.m UK (5.00a.m. US time). Despite being overnight neither of us managed to get any sleep. We were just in economy class so there was no leg room or side room to move around. I just sat as still as possible and managed to watch a movie (I love you man) and read some of my book (Number Ten Sue Townsend). Despite all this the journey seemed to pass quite quickly and we had arrived in Glasgow before we knew it. I felt like I was in a dream as I just wasn’t prepared to be there. My sister met us at the airport to drive us back to hers where we were staying. It was lovely to see her and my 3 nephews and 1 niece again. Children always help you to keep going and take your mind of things as at their age they don’t realize fully what is going on around them and just want to play and make noise, so you get sucked into it yourself and end up having some moments of fun and noise as well. My sister said that Kyle, Amy and Owen had all seemed to acknowledge that their Gran had died and had talked about it to her and at school but that she was a wee bit worried about Greg as he hadn’t mentioned it once. Well I walked in a got my usual kisses and cuddles from them and the first thing Greg said to me was “Gran is dead”. Well my sister was relieved (in some way) that he had eventually acknowledged it although it did make me cuddle him even harder when he said this to me. Sunday disappeared in discussions about the funeral arrangements, playing with the kids and having a nice Sunday roast dinner together.
On Monday, my sister and I had to go down to the nursing home to clear out the personal effects from mums’ room. It also gave us something to do while the kids were at school and nursery. We decided to pack up all the clothes and give them to charity. My Mother liked to dress well and was always very well turned out and didn’t scrimp on her clothes, even near the end, so there will be a few gems turning up in the local charity shops from her clothes (and shoe) collection. I don’t see any point in being sentimental about possessions like clothes, they are only objects anyway! After we had cleared out the room and said goodbye to all the nursing staff (it didn’t help when one of the staff took a sharp intake of breath and exclaimed when she saw me as I look/looked so much like my Mother!) we went to the Funeral Directors place. My sister wanted to visit the coffin one last time. I was not sure at this point as I had never done this before – I decided against it with my dad as I wanted to remember him as a live healthy man and not the shell that was left of him at the end. Anyway, once we got there I decided to go in see the open coffin with my sister. I panicked a bit as we went in and lost my composure but we just held onto each other for a bit and said our goodbyes. I have been haunted by the vision in my dreams a bit since then but I am glad that I did go in as my Mother looked peaceful and just looked asleep (which is partly leading my dreams) certainly more peaceful than she has for the last year since she has had to wear an oxygen mask all the time.
Jarlath had gone into his Glasgow office that day to meet with some people and do some work and in the evening he made an appointment with the residents in our house in Troon. So he took a trip down to the coast and met with them as well as a surprise visit to our old neighbours Elsie and David. It would have been lovely to see them myself under different circumstances. Our tenants seem to be a nice quiet couple and the house is fairly empty of furniture as they are used to living in Military accommodation so don’t have a lot of furniture themselves. They seemed really happy with the house and local area and hinted that they may want to stay for a couple more years (the original contract is for one). This would be great for us if we had it rented out to the same tenants the whole time before we have to decide whether we are returning or staying in America.

Tuesday was the day of the funeral and the sun was shining nice and brightly. The kids were dispatched to school – I did the breakfast and then we all had to get ready for the funeral. The car was picking us up at 10.30a.m. to get to the church for 10.45a.m. then onto the Crematorium for 11.30a.m. and finally back to The Burnside Hotel for tea and sandwiches. The standard Williamson funeral package I am afraid.
The church service went very well. The Minister that took the service has been with the church over 20 years and this was actually his last week before retiring so it was quite apt that he was around to take the service rather than have a complete stranger do it. My Mother has been at Croftfoot Parish church since she was a girl. She was christened there, married there, had her daughters christened there and funerals for both her parents and her husband there, so there is a lot of emotion in that church for our family. My mother was one of the first ever woman elders ordained at the church in November 1975 and my Father was an elder so they were both very involved in the running of the church as well.
I decided that I was going to do one of the readings as it was a reading that meant a lot to my mum and there was no-one else my sister and I wanted to read it. My Mother had chosen it for my Father’s funeral as well. I was very nervous about doing it because, obviously, emotions were high. I managed it, not very well, but I managed it!
Here are the words, they make me cry even just copying them onto here:

Death is nothing at all
Death is nothing at all,I have only slipped awayinto the next room.
I am I, and you are you;whatever we were to each other, that, we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name,speak to me in the easy waywhich you always used,put no difference in your tone,wear no forced airof solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughedat the little jokes we shared together.Let my name ever bethe household word that it always was.Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means allthat it ever meant.It is the same as it ever was.There is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mindbecause I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you,for an interval, somewhere very near,just around the corner.
All is well

I chose the hymn Amazing Grace as I just love it and my sister chose the hymn How Great Thou art because that is her favourite.
The Eulogy was written and read by our cousin David Smith. David was a consultant at the Victoria hospital in Glasgow and does a lot of work for Tactent, a church cancer charity. He did a wonderful job of the eulogy as he is very eloquent and even held his composure very well when he mentioned Granny Williamson, my Fathers mum, his Gran. It is always interesting to hear stories of your parents life as somehow you don’t always appreciate that they were young once with their own hopes and dreams that didn’t revolve around you as their children. Whatever my relationship was with my Mother I must always thank her for bringing me into the world, whether I make a positive effect on it or not is another story but without her, well I wouldn’t even be here. I know I am very like her and perhaps she wasn’t the most tactile of Mothers in her time but well I don’t think I turned out too bad – no comments on that please, lol!
Well onto the crematorium and the hardest part for me is when the Minister finishes his words and prayers and you can just see him pressing the button to start the machinery rolling to take the coffin down to be cremated. I always panic at that point as if I should somehow stop it and save the person in the coffin. Luckily I had Jar with me and poor Jar got his hand kneaded to bits as I tried to keep my composure.
My sister and I then lined up outside to greet everyone that had made it. I always come across as very cold on these occasions as I can’t seem to show my emotions in public and am The Ice Queen whereas everyone around me is weeping and wailing, even Jar. I guess I just go into my own coping mode which is to keep my composure and try and help everyone around me. I don’t think either way is right or wrong just whatever works for you.
It was lovely to be able to talk to everyone back at the hotel over tea and sandwiches. My good friends Irish Sharon and Mad Margaret were there and we had a nice chat and catch up. My first husband John was there and we had a nice chat and catch up as well. I was so grateful to him for making the effort to come along from the church to the hotel, it really meant a lot to me for him to do this when he had no obligation to do so. He got married in April this year and has a wee 3 year old boy so life seems happy for him, as all he wanted from life was a happy marriage and a child of his own – which I couldn’t provide – so I am glad to see him with all his hearts desires.
I extended many invitations to friends and relatives to come and visit us in the US and I think a few will take us up on it.
I don’t like writing anything negative about this day but I was honestly shocked by the behavior of two people who I counted as members of my family on my sister’s side. I started to go into detail when writing my blog but decided that there is no point. They will not figure in my life now because of their behavior although this will make some family affairs at my sisters rather awkward. One of the people I can give some understanding to as she is young (23) and doesn’t understand when someone is trying to look out for their best interests and will believe anything they want to believe in the name of love. I still maintain that it is not good for a 23 year old to get into a relationship with a 43 year old, twice divorced man, who has three children from his two wives and the youngest was just 18 months and the ink on his divorce only a couple of months old when he was trying to woo her. I do not think that because I voiced this opinion at the time that it is right to be rude to me at my own Mothers funeral. The second one is her Mother who is old enough to know better herself and who completely ignored me despite being in my sister’s house with me before and after the funeral. I have no idea why she was being so rude but I can only imagine it is because I tried to interfere in her daughters life – even if I thought it was for the best. Some people still shock me in life but I guess the world would be boring if we all just got on with each other.

On Wednesday, we had a slight change of plans as Jar flew home to the US a day earlier as his work wanted him there for an important meeting on the Thursday and Friday – they paid the cost of changing his ticket so they must have been keen. Jar was dispatched to the airport and my sister and I decided to go and clear through some personal effects at my mums flat. Although she lived in a nursing home for the last 5 months she still had her McCarthy and Stone assisted living flat as it was on the market but hadn’t sold yet. We didn’t have the energy to do all the clothes and furniture so just went through papers and personal items that needed input from both of us and my sister, very kindly, will deal with the rest of it in time. There is no real rush until it sells. It was a horrible Dreach day – a typical Scottish day – so energy levels were very low. We took it easy and then came home to get the kids from school. I needed some fresh air so I took the dog out and picked the three oldest ones up to walk them home from the local primary school.

Amy, bless her, was playing on her pretend cell phone and handed it to me and said "Gran is on the phone" so I had to explain to her why Gran couldn't possibly be on the phone but it did bring a lump to the throat.

The plus side of this day was we had proper Fish and Chips for tea washed down with Diet Irn Bru. You just don’t get decent chip shop chips over here. Always a positive in every day if you look for it!
Apologies to Fay (who follows my blog) I really wanted to come and see you but the day just disappeared. You know you, Scott and Alan are welcome over here any time.

Thursday was my day for returning home. Flight to Heathrow and then onto Washington. Another positive was I got upgraded from economy to economy plus so had a bit more leg room. Still never managed to sleep so watched the movies 17 again – light and fun – and Ghosts of girlfriends past – already seen it but fun and light again. Started on my new book, Bombay Times by Thrity Umrigar and before I knew it I was back in Washington and being picked up by Jar.

Bobby had a successful week as he was being looked after by his new Bobbysitter we had set up for our holidays. The lady that came in each day left us a lovely note about her visit from each day and described Bobby as a lovely, friendly and vocal cat, so pretty much summed him up. Bobby had missed us but was well looked after.
So both rather drained and jet lagged from our rush trip but onwards and upwards. Enjoy life while you can. Xx

Friday, August 28, 2009

A quiet week alone

Circumstances changed for me during the week after I had already written part of my blog. I have decided to leave what I had already written in as it is the truth and I don’t believe in editing out the truth.

A quiet week alone
Well Bobby and I are on our own this week. Jar is going to Austin, Texas on Monday and Tuesday and then San Diego, California on Wednesday, Thursday and then flying home on Friday. It will be a long week for him as he is up at 4.00a.m. on Monday to get his flight after camping all week. He will also be three hours behind so will be mildly jet-lagged when he gets back. So what does the week hold for me and Bobby all on our own? Started the week with absolutely no plans, except having some lie ins in the mornings. No need to get up at 6.30a.m. when Jars alarm usually goes off, so just decided to let my body decide when I get up and plan each day depending on that.
Got woken up on Monday morning with Jar getting up and didn’t really get back to sleep properly. Lay in bed until 9.00a.m. but wasn’t really resting. As I was so late getting up I missed all my usual classes at the gym and just could not get myself motivated to just go to the gym or go out running or on bike. So I decided to listen to Mrs Mac and just have a lazy day in the house. Just sat around all afternoon either reading or knitting while watching Dance your Ass Off – a tv program where larger contestants get points for dances as in Strictly come dancing but also points for their weight loss – it is strangely compelling while sitting knitting. It was also useful to get some diet tips from it. I have decided to change my diet as I have not been eating properly lately. I find that I have no appetite in the heat so tend not to eat much during the day and then just a big dinner in the evening as I am making it for Jarlath anyway. Because I am only snacking during the day my energy levels have been low and I think my metabolism has slowed down. My new diet is to force myself to eat more and especially more fruit and veg to raise my metabolism and to give myself more energy to work out more and be more active. I am trying to eat several small snack meals a day with several of them being fruit, veg and nut based but it is hard work making myself eat as I don’t always feel hungry in my tummy. So far I have managed it and already feel fairly energetic but not sure how much of that is psychosomatic!
On Monday evening I had the movie Akeelah and the Bee to watch. This was recommended by someone on RISI after I posted that I had just watched the National Spelling Bee on tv a couple of months ago. It starred Angela Bassett and Lawrence Fishbourne who also starred together as Ike and Tina Turner in their story. It was a lovely little movie and was more enjoyable because I had actually seen the real Bee. Worth a watch for a light movie.

Tuesday was a rather dull day. Went to a definitions class with Josie at the gym to tone up my muscles. My new diet must be working because instead of feeling knackered after it I had enough energy left to go into the gym and do a run and some biking to work on my cardio. After that I decided to wash both the cars as the big one had got really dusty from the camping trip at the weekend. It was really hot and humid outside but kept cool by getting myself soaked by the hose, I was already dirty from the gym so didn’t really mind too much. Lucky I did decide to wash the cars because while doing the little one I noticed that the tags at the front were hanging off. They had only been put on by the garage last Friday so on closer inspection I saw they had been put on really shoddily and had actually scratched my paintwork as well as hanging off. I phoned the garage and will have to take the car in tomorrow for them to look at and, hopefully, fix – major inconvenience.
The highlight of Tuesday was going to my first book group meeting in the evening. I had been invited along by Joel whom I had met at Thursday yoga classes. The group has been going for 15 years and they meet every month to discuss their latest book at each others houses. The members that turned up for this weeks meet were (the ones I remember the names of): Joel, Ellie, Virginia, Anna, Carmella and Jane. I drove to Joel’s house and we walked across to Jane’s and she then drove us both up to Ellie’s place for the meet. Some wine, biscuits and cheese and pear tart were laid on for us. Joel said they lay on basic refreshments so that nobody starts to get competitive about it. The book we were reading was The Ladies Man by Elinor Lipman. I went in not having enjoyed it at all and thought it was a thoroughly pointless read with no real story and no conclusion. The opinions were totally split with some finding it hilariously funny and others, like mine, not enjoying it. The discussion really helped me to appreciate the book more and while I still didn’t enjoy it I could see some funny parts in it after discussion.
It is funny as the entire book group members were animal lovers who either owned cats or dogs and they were all rescued animals rather than bought from breeders. What is it about booklovers that make them such animal lovers as well who generally adopt unfortunate rescued animals!!??
At the end of the meet we had to give our book recommendations for the next read. Joel took a note of them all and then went away to check the availability at the local libraries as one of their rules is that you should not have to buy the book for the group but that it must be available free at the library. I plan to show them Bookmooch at one of the next meetings. I briefly mentioned it to Joel and she seemed quite interested. Here is what was put forward:
From Hazel (welcome Hazel!) The Book Thief - Markus Zusak Tipping the Velvet -- Sarah Waters (a few copies available in Mont Co. library) Never Let Me Go -- Kazuo Ishiguro (available) Buddha Da -- Anne Donovan (available) A Prayer for Owen Meany -- John Irving (a few available, most checked out -- must be reading list, is mass market paperback too and therefore not expensive) Blind Faith -- Ben Elton (not in Mont Co. library -- no sense of humor apparently)
From Carmella Raymond Chandler (she will identify a title) Girl with Dragon Tattoo Brat Farrar (available) and Mrs. Pym Disposes (only 2 copies in Mont Co. system) -- Josephine Tey
From Virginia Club George -- Bob Levy (non-fiction) (4 copies available in Mont Co system)
From Jane Precious Bane -- Mary Webb (a few copies available)
From Ellie White Tiger -- check if this is the right author -- Aravind Adiga (holds, none available now) City of Thieves -- David Benioff (holds, none available)

The group chose The Book Thief as the number one choice and Girl with the dragon tattoo as second but unfortunately when Joel went and checked availability both of these were out at the libraries in the local area with long wait lists on them so we are currently voting for one that is more available. Next meet is 15th September which works in really well with my holidays then.

Wednesday morning and so much for long lies, I woke up at 7.00a.m. after having earache most of the night. Got up and went to an aerobic and sit up class which got me started for the day.
Managed to contact my sister on Skype. She is back from Spain after staying at her villa for the school holidays so I have not seen the kids for 6 weeks on the internet so I was quite excited. Managed to see Amy, Greg and Owen who have all grown so much in 6 short weeks and were all very excited about seeing their Aunt Saucy – Kyle wasn’t there. I could have cried just seeing their wee faces and them telling me they missed me and love me. Anyway we dispatched with the kids as my sister and I had some serious discussions to have. My Mother is dying, well we are all ultimately dying, but she has now given up the will to live. She lives in a nursing home and has Emphysema but my sister says she has gone downhill in 5 weeks since she went to Spain. She has had a series of chest infections which are making her breathing worse; she can no longer walk as she now has complete atrophy of her leg muscles from not using them and is not eating. She was borderline anorexic before the summer and must weigh less than 5 stones now – she was 5 foot 8 inches in height so this is very low. My sister visited the head nurse and Doctor in the home and they say there is no point now in going into hospital and they will just give her care to keep her as comfortable as possible and try to get some food into her – but my mother is very stubborn and will refuse help. I now have the dilemma of whether I should get a flight and go and try and see her before she dies or do I just wait and go over for her funeral. It sounds awful putting it down on paper in such a cold manner but I have a fairly “unique” relationship with my Mother and it is not as simple a choice as most people would have. I would welcome opinions and advice from you guys on this matter. Jar is being very supportive and says it is up to me no matter what it costs and he will come as well if I want him to.

Thursday I did my usual favourite yoga class and discussion afterwards. It is the Indian festival of Rakhi/Raksha Bandhan:
India is a country rich of festivals. Its culture is so rich that it celebrates a festival almost every month. Moreover, people of India are so lively that they celebrate each and every festival with lot of enthusiasm. One of such festival is Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan, which reflects the sweet and sour relationship of brother and a sister. Though brothers and sisters share and enjoy the bond of love between them throughout the year, but Rakhi is the day when they get an opportunity to express their tender love and feelings for each other. Rakhi also makes them commemorate their loving memories, loyalty, closeness, trust and friendship that is ever lasting and pure.Raksha Bandhan is celebrated every year on 'Shravan Purnima' (Full Moon Day of the Hindu month of Shravan), which generally falls in the month of August. On the auspicious day of Rakhi, sisters wake up in the morning, take bath, offer prayers to the Almighty and visit their brothers to perform the rituals of Rakhi. The ritual of Raksha Bandhan essentially includes tying of sacred thread (which is called 'Rakhi' or 'Raksha Sutra') by the sisters, on their brothers' wrist. Before tying Rakhi, the sisters would perform an aarti, apply tilak (by mixing rice grains and roli) on their brother's forehead and then offer them sweetmeat.After the ritual of tying Rakhi is over, the brothers would give their sisters some gift or money and promise them to help them when ever they need and protect them throughout their lifetime. In fact, offering gifts to sisters is a tradition of Raksha Bandhan. Year by year, the enthusiasm amongst the brothers and their sisters, to celebrate the festival, is increasing. It is clearly visible from the wide variety of Rakhi, Raksha Bandhan gifts and sweets flocking the shelves of the stores, during the holiday. The festival bears social significance, because it symbolizes the importance of relationship between siblings.

This discussion was interesting to me as I had actually been in Delhi, India during this festival 4 years ago so I could give a personal insight into what happens that day. We also discussed the masculine and feminine yin and yang and whether they still have the same meaning in today’s Western culture where the male /female split of nurture and strength isn’t always as defined as the description of yin and yang would suggest. Again very difficult for me to put the discussion into words but it was very interesting. Joel from my book group made it to yoga so had a nice chat with her again as well.
After yoga drove up to meet Kim for lunch. It has been a while since we have been out together as we have both been quite busy, particularly at weekends. Just went to a local Asian restaurant and had a nice lunch special and some chat. We are meeting up with her, her husband and loads of friends on Saturday night to celebrate her husband’s birthday. We are going to a place in Dupont Circle called Café Japone, which is a Japanese restaurant and karaoke bar. Watch this space to see what song I sing.

Picked up the photos from my Waterproof camera today so here is the link to them:


Good Luck to AngelicFi and Jim on getting married in Lusty Beg, Ireland today. Mary (Irishmist) and Catherine (Katieqr) are attending the wedding and I am sure we are all looking forward to seeing the photos as I am sure Fi and the ladies will look like a million dollars in their outfits.
So please to hear the news from Elaine (Dingsy) about her stable test results. Long may it continue going well for our resident lab rat.

Well received a call from my sister to tell me that my Mother had died suddenly. It came as a shock despite my previous posting. I guess I no longer have to make the decision about whether to visit as fate or timing, whichever you believe in, has made that choice for me. Like I said before I have/had a complex relationship with my mother (my whole family actually) so not sure what to think or feel at the moment. I guess my natural feelings will come to the fore once I get over to the UK and the funeral happens. Unfortunately, Jar is on the West coast at the moment so I only have Bobby for company until Friday afternoon. I have managed to get flights for myself and Jar on Saturday arriving in Glasgow on Sunday morning, you don’t want to know what they cost but that is kind of irrelevant at the moment, I will worry about that once we get back. We are only staying until Thursday as Jar has work commitments here, I am extremely grateful that he was able to cancel his work trips to come back to the UK with me. I was all for going on my own but he would not hear of it. Also managed to book the pet sitters for Bobby, luckily I was organized ahead of time for my holiday in September on this front because they have my keys and the details so can come and do an emergency five days next week so one less worry for me. I must say that the friends I have already made in the US are proving themselves to be very good friends and are all being very supportive to me and offering to help out if they can. It’s at times like these that you get to really appreciate friends even if they are relatively new ones. I also thank all RISI friends for their kind wishes on the forum. I will be fine, I am fine as I am in coping mode. My Psychologist once said I am at my strongest in a crisis and when things are going wrong and require strength and organization. It is when everything is going right that I tend to break down and sink into a Depression. I am sure once I get back to the US I can deal with that!
It’s funny trying to pack for this trip home. For one it is 14 degrees back in Scotland while it is 28 degrees here, so I need to start looking out my “winter” wardrobe and thinking about wearing “real” clothes again and not just shorts and vest tops and Birkenstocks. My feet will probably cramp up if I try to put them into proper high heel shoes!! I hope I am not coming across as cold or crass here. Part of my way of coping is to write everything down in this blog and to just get on with things, I have never been one for sitting around and weeping over something I can’t now change – except during Depressive episodes. Picking up Jar from the airport in a couple of hours and can’t wait for a cuddle and just to be held and get some human contact. On the plus side I get to spend five days with my niece and nephews and will get lots of cuddles from them.

Well thought I would go ahead and still post my blog this week as I believe it should be warts and all. I will be offline for sometime and hope everyone stays safe and well. Xx

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Wonderful world of RISI

Just think about this for a moment. 2 Strangers who have reading in common but have only met very briefly once in Belfast and lived on opposite ends of the UK. They know as much about each others family and what is currently going on in their lives as a very close friend but never email or speak to each other. So when they meet in a different country (nay, a different continent) they have a lovely morning and are chatting away as if they were close friends. It sounds weird when you try and put it into writing or try and explain it to family and friends but it seems the most natural thing in the world to most of the people on RISI.
Well as most of you know the above happened in Washington DC with me (Saucier) and Sarah (Sazzymch). We met in Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café in Dupont Circle.
Kramerbooks is a cultural landmark of sorts...Many people do not consider themselves true Washingtonians until they have received a phone call that begins as an invitation for drinks after work and ends with "I'll meet you at Kramer's" Kramerbooks & Afterwords is definitely an institution. There is no place like it here. It is known throughout the town, almost entirely through word of mouth. Of course, anything worth knowing in Washington almost always is." The New York Times

We were joined by the gorgeous 4 year old Luke who was our official photographer. It just seemed so natural and was like two old friends meeting for brunch. We had a bagel with cream cheese each, pots of tea and water and lots of chat. We then decided to go for a walk up to Rock Creek park as it is supposed to be bigger than Central Park in NY. We found an entrance but once inside it didn’t look very nice so we came out and walked along P street towards Georgetown to Rose Park where there was a wee play park for Luke. Luke played away on this while myself and Sarah sat in the shade (it was 100 degrees that day) and kept chatting. If Sarah was moving to DC I am sure we would become good friends but she is moving to San Antonio, Texas, which is as far away as the UK to me so we will just have to remain online friends.
Sarah, Chris and Luke had spent the weekend seeing the sites in DC and from her photos on Facebook it looks like they had a great time. Unfortunately, I can’t post the link to them so you will need to go onto Facebook to see them. Here are my photos from our meet.


After my lovely morning and RISI meet I just chilled about in the afternoon and made a Quiche Lorraine as I had some bacon and Gruyere cheese needing used up in the fridge (as you do!). When Jar got home from work we decided to go out for a run. A bit mad given it was the hottest day of the year so far, but we both fancied a workout and didn’t feel like a game of tennis. Didn’t do too bad and got to break in my new running shoes. I need to work on lengthening my stride because for someone with legs as long as mine I have a really funny way of running which is almost trotting along taking baby steps. When I try to Lengthen my stride I cover the ground so much faster (Obviously) but I can’t keep it up and get the breathing right – it will come with practice I am sure.

Tuesday morning and we got up and headed off to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) to start the drivers licence process. Anyone who watches the Simpsons or American movies will know the reputation of the MVA and their staff for being very slow and Jobsworths. I found them slow but very pleasant to me. We were waiting by 8.00a.m. for the doors to open at 8.30 so that we were about tenth in line. Got our number at the reception and then waited for someone to see each of us. Got taken very quickly and did the eye test and photo taken and all the relevant documents scanned onto the system. After that we had to take the multiple choice written exam. I was very nervous about this but I am always over nervous before exams. I got full marks and the questions were common sense for anyone that had been driving over 20 years like me. Luckily Jar passed as well although he got one question wrong but had misread it. You then have to queue to make an appointment for your practical test. Now from the stories we heard this could take a few weeks to happen but not with us. We were both sent outside to do our tests right away. I was sick with nerves as I was doing it in Jars car and I haven’t driven it in a while but thought well will give it a go and I can always re-sit it. The US practical test is an absolute joke and explains why most US drivers are terrible drivers. You do not go on the road but do it in an enclosed parking lot which measures about 20 feet square. It consists of driving across to the lot, doing a parallel park between some cones, doing a turn but it doesn’t need to be in 3 points, it can be in as many moves as you want. You then have to reverse for 30 yards and drive back to the test centre, all without having to deal with other cars beside you. I lost some points for not checking for traffic but it was difficult to remember to check for traffic when you knew you were in an enclosed lot! Anyway we both passed and went back inside and now are the proud owners of our laminated US licences for The State of Maryland. Picture is dodgy because I had not washed my hair due to early start but hopefully not many people will get to see it.

Wednesday I decided to be a bit of a lazy arse and just have a day doing nothing. Started well with a lie in but my day doing nothing turned into me doing the housework, completing a cross stitch and knitting the back of a baby cardigan while watching a movie. I can’t seem to just sit still and do nothing! It was still very relaxing anyway and lots of productive time so I felt quite pleased with myself.
Then Bobby had his first American vets appointment. Now don’t fret it was only for his annual booster jags. Luckily there is a Vets hospital just five minutes round the corner from the house so I had just booked him an appointment there. I still drive because he is bloody heavy and whinges his face off so much that I get lots of funny looks if I walk. The staff at the vets were really lovely – although you usually find they are lovely at vets as they are all animal lovers. We got shown straight into our own private consultation room!! Bobby was then allowed out to be weighed and he was allowed to be left to explore the room. The wee tart that he is he decided that he wanted a cuddle to jumped on my lap and proceeded to knead away to get comfy. When the vet came in he was a bit taken by surprise to see a cat just sitting on my lap staring at him quite calmly as they usually prowl around the room to explore but Bobby just was not interested. He further tarted it up by jumping up himself onto the vet table and rubbing up against the vet and his assistant and allowing them to make a fuss of him. He was thoroughly checked over and given his injections and was pronounced a very healthy and cute cat. It then took us some time to get his passport all stamped to keep it up to date – I think the Vet thought I was mad when I produced a passport for my cat but he stamped it so we were good to go. As expected Bobby then was quite tired and had a bit of a fever overnight and into the next day. The poor Wee mite found a dark corner of the basement where it was nice a cool and lay down on an old sports bag of mine and slept for about 18 hours without eating or going out. He was ok by the next evening and woke up, had a bite to eat and then went out exploring.

Thursday morning and my favourite yoga class. It was a great class and I felt very powerful and centred in it. We were doing a lot of hot poses so it was quite hard work but very energizing as well. We then stayed on for 15 minutes of meditation afterwards and had our normal chat about life. We were talking about getting centred in the right way so that extreme feelings and emotions are just on the side of your centre so that they don’t take over your life. It is hard to explain on paper but makes complete sense when sitting and discussing it and when trying to do it. We have been set some voluntary “homework” for next week. We have to bring some writing – famous or our own – that helps us to find our peaceful centre. I was not sure at the time but have a couple of poems in my mind which I will look out and see what they feel to me when read them again. Again all sounds a bit hippyish but is really helping me with my change in lifestyle at the moment. I feel a much calmer and less emotional person these days. I don’t tend to react to things immediately but rather just take them on board and then only react if they require a reaction once I have thought about it. Although most things now just seem to wash over me instead of upsetting me the way they used to.
In the afternoon I decided to head down to The Smithsonian and get some more culture. On the metro I saw an older couple looking a bit confused so decided to help them out. They were trying to get to the Smithsonian as well so they ended up following me. I chatted to them a little and they were from Seattle and had never been to Washngton before – it actually sounded like they had never been on a metro system before either. Anyway I deposited right in the centre of the mall, gave them my map for the surrounding area to keep and left them to it. They were really grateful and I felt a warmth from helping someone out. I had a nice wander around The Natural History museum although it was so busy I didn’t really get to read all the plaques rather just looked at the exhibits from afar. It is not the best Natural History museum I have been to – The one in Chicago and Glasgow it better in my opinion – but it was still an interesting afternoon out. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my camera so no photos of this. I then sat in the mall enjoying some of the sunshine and reading my guide book which led me into the Smithsonian Castle. Here is some blurb about it:
Completed in 1855, the original Smithsonian Institution Building was designed by architect James Renwick Jr., whose other works include St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. This Washington landmark is constructed of red sandstone from Seneca Creek, Maryland, in the Norman style (a 12th-century combination of late Romanesque and early Gothic motifs).
Over the years several reconstructions have taken place. The first followed a disastrous fire on January 24, 1865, which destroyed the upper story of the main segment and the north and south towers. In 1884, the east wing was fireproofed and enlarged to accommodate more offices. Remodeling from 1968 to 1969 restored the building to the Victorian atmosphere reminiscent of the era during which it was first inhabited.
This building served as a home for the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Joseph Henry and his family and for many years housed all aspects of Smithsonian operations, including an exhibit hall from 1858 until the 1960s. In 1901, Washington’s first children’s room was installed in the Castle’s South Tower Room where the original decorated ceiling and wall stencils were restored in 1987. Located inside near the north entrance is the crypt of James Smithson, benefactor of the Institution, while outside on the Mall, a bronze statue of Joseph Henry, executed by William Wetmore Story, honors the eminent scientist who was the Institution’s first Secretary.
It also had a lovely garden out the back which I sat in and enjoyed the sunshine again before heading home.
On the way to the metro I was stopped by some people with a camera and microphone who were filming some sound bites for a promotional video for a new video game. They asked if I would answer a question and gave me the option of hearing it before hand or being asked on camera and them filming by reaction. I said ok and they asked me “live” on camera. The question was, if you had another life how would you live it. My answer was simple – I said I would live it exactly as I am doing my current life as you should always make the most of what you have now, instead of always wondering what if and that life was good. Not sure if that will make it into the video but I signed a waiver form to allow them to use my image and they gave me a business card. I will look them up on the internet to see if anything comes of it – as long as I don’t end up in a porn site I will be fine – lol!

Friday and we are off camping for the weekend after Jarlath has finished at work. He took my little car to work so I could pack everything up in the big car so we could set off as soon as he gets home in the evening. Set off at 6.00p.m. for the drive down into Virginia to a campsite at the top of the Shenandoah river. It took just under two hours and the traffic was nice and light so it was a very pleasant drive. The lady at the campsite was so lovely; she drove us around to let us pick which site we wanted. Unfortunately, there were no sites on the riverside left but we picked a nice big site with a firepit and picnic table and surrounded by small trees to give some privacy. Started setting up camp then Dawn and Simon arrived not long after us and we all set up for the night. It got dark really suddenly at 8.30 to 9.00p.m. so we were glad we had just got set up and ready to light the fire just on time. Made some burgers on the grill for dinner and then we just sat around the campfire, drinking and shooting the shit. We had a great laugh and the others saw some shooting stars (I didn’t though). We ended up sitting up until 2 in the morning as we hadn’t realized how late it was because we were just having so much fun chilling out and roasting marshmallows.

Up early on Saturday morning (7.30 a.m.) as the sun was up and making the tent really warm and campsites are never quiet in the morning. A bit tired due to lack of sleep but after a cup of tea and a bacon roll we were ready to go out for the day. Decided to go tubing down the river so went to the company that hired the tubes and you get onto a school bus and they drive you up river and drop you off to get in your tube and let the river just take you back down at a lazy pace. Luckily we had a cooler and a separate tube to carry it on the river to keep some juice and snacks in it. The tubing took about 3 hours. It was fun but we all felt we wanted a few more rapids to make it more fun. I think we were all done after a couple of hours as the last hour was very slow and there were no rapids to break it up. We then had a swim in the river to cool off afterwards – although the river water had a temperature of 78 degrees. I would do tubing again but not at that location but would try and find somewhere with a bit more life in the river. Unfortunately, Simon and Dawn got a bit burnt in the sun and slightly dehydrated. We drove up to Front Royal to get something to eat and a beer and then just headed back to camp to chill out for the evening. After having a kip or a read in my case, we got some more wood and then set up around the campfire again. Much the same as the previous night with us sitting up until 1.30a.m.

Sunday came and we were all tired as woken up early again. Dawn wasn’t feeling great as she was bright red from the sun. We packed up camp after breakfast and Dawn and Simon decided to go and see Luray Caverns as they were only 19 miles further down the river. Jar and I decided just to drive home and do something when we got back. I was exhausted after unpacking the car and could have just climbed into bed for a nap but as it was more a mental tiredness rather than physical I decided to go out on the road bikes with Jar. We cycled up the road towards Great Falls and I was quite pleased with how I managed it. Jar went a little further than me as he dropped down into the falls as I headed back home. I was so glad that I did this as it actually helped to give me some energy and shake off my tiredness – I usually find this when I make myself do some exercise.
Photos of the camping – none on the river as I didn’t have a waterproof camera with me.
Lazy evening watching some funny programs on tv and then off to bed fairly early as poor Jar has to get up at 4.00a.m. to fly to Texas for work. I don’t envy him having to do this.

Another interesting week is over. No plans for next week and Jar is away all week so will have a nice quiet one I am sure. Take it easy y’all. Xx

Monday, August 10, 2009

Is it August already?

I can’t believe it is August already; time does indeed fly when you are having fun. Just having a chilled time now I am back from the beach. Lots of laundry and housework to catch up on this week, it’s surprising how much it builds up if you neglect it for a while.

We just had a chilled day on Saturday. Went to play tennis in the afternoon and ended up playing in the pouring rain but it was quite fun and cooling although it became very humid afterwards as it was drying off. People were driving by and looking at us as if we were mad, but I am Scottish so I am used to doing things in the rain!
In the evening we went into Bethesda for a drink at the Tiki bar and then had a lovely Italian meal. I had such a big portion I got a doggy bag for my lunch the next day. We then went to Flannagans to meet up with Simon and Dawn. They are from the UK and Simon is working over here and Dawn has come over to support him. I have met them before (and they were at our BBQ) but never had a good chance to chat to them. I was driving but still managed to stay out chatting until about 1 in the morning. Jar was a bit tipsy after several Guinness’s when we walked back to the car. It is funny not drinking and being out with people who are knocking them back. I am getting more and more used to it though as over here I generally have to drive to get to a lot of places when we go out.

Sunday we had a really lazy morning and I didn’t emerge from bed until about 10.30a.m, it was nice to lie in together for once. Today we decided to go and buy Jar his birthday present. It is a couple of months early but as he wants a Road Bike we thought it would be better to buy now rather than at the end of September so we can get some use out of it during the summer.

Monday I decided to kick start the day with a cardio workout at my gym. I went to a 9.00a.m. Step circuit workout. Now I remember back in the eighties when Step was first introduced as the new, hot workout concept and I did it quite a bit back then. It was funny doing the workout again as it felt quite dated somehow. It was a hard workout but I just couldn’t get the picture of a much younger me in skin tight lycra, weighing 2 stone less, pounding on the step!!
Afterwards I spent the rest of the day catching up on the housework and doing some cooking and baking. The produce from the garden this week is fresh raspberries and mint. I made a huge batch of raspberry muffins and we have been eating them fresh as well. Thanks to PennyT from RISI for the freezing suggestion. Freezing them individually worked although in my usual obsessive way it was probably funny watching me lay them in very straight lines with the exact spacing between them on the trays to open freeze them. I also tried to make some mint jelly but it looked and tasted vile so it has been washed away. When I re-read the recipe and looked at the feedback I am not the only one to get this problem – far too sweet. Will try some traditional mint sauce with the rest of the mint or treat myself to some Mojito cocktails with it at the weekend.
In the evening we had our last Argentine Tango class. We are getting ok at it but could have done with a couple of more classes to get the practice and fine tune some of the steps. I am determined to keep practicing it each week but just need to persuade Jar to join me! Sorry MandyJ no video on Youtube until we get a lot better.

Tuesday I started the morning with a Definitions class, which is basically Pilates with weights and other equipment. It was really hard and my inner thighs are now killing me. Decided to do a bit more baking as well. I made Banana and Walnut bread to use up some old, very ripe bananas and made some Irish Soda Bread to use up some Buttermilk left over from the raspberry muffins. All turned out well although Jar now tells me he doesn’t like walnuts!
I then got a bit stir crazy just hanging around the house so decided to jump in the car and get the Metro downtown. I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up. As usual I felt a bit ill on the metro – not sure why I always feel rough but put it down to the air quality and the motion. Got off at Metro station and left the station instead of changing lines onto The Smithsonian stop. Came out the station and decide to just walk around following my map and seeing where I ended up. I found the Shakespeare theatre (which I didn’t know existed) and will be looking up what is on their over the next few months to go and see a play. They actually do a summer free play run in September which I am going to try and go to (Taming of the Shrew), although I think it clashes with our holiday. I then came across the Verizon centre, which is where a lot of big bands play and the Ice Hockey team hold their home games. There was a crowd of groupies hanging about outside the centre so I stopped to see what was going on and it transpired that the American Idol tour was playing there so the groupies were waiting for autographs off the Idols. Not sure why you would want the signature of someone just because they have appeared briefly on a singing show! Anyway, I walked on and walked through Chinatown, it wasn’t as pretty as the one in London but interesting to see all the authentic restaurants. Ended up in the park at Federal Square amongst all the Federal office blocks. Just sat and read my book in the sunshine for a while soaking in the busy atmosphere. I am reading The Ladies Man by Elinor Lipman for my new book group and finding it a totally pointless book.
In the evening we had a nice chilled BBQ at home after Jar got back from Karate. I did Garlic Potatoes, Fresh corn on the cob and a Pork Tenderloin with Honey and Mustard dressing. It was delicious.

Wednesday started with Yoga class with Padma. She was doing some heating poses and it ended up being a really powerful and difficult class. I was aching afterwards but felt really fired up for the day.
In the afternoon I was meeting with the lady from the Pet sitting service. It is a service called awalkwhileyoureout and they walk dogs for people who are out during the day and come in and feed cats and other animals when the owners go on holidays. They also do overnight stays with the animals if you require it. We are going away in September and I need someone to come in and feed and check up on Bobby. He has never been to a cattery and we have always been lucky enough to have great, pet loving neighbours to watch him for us but I don’t know my neighbours here well enough yet to ask them. So anyway the girl from the company came out to meet me and to see the house and pick up the keys. She was really lovely and an animal lover so I am fairly relaxed about leaving them to watch Bobby. They also bring in the mail every day so that no-one can see that we are away. The mail boxes here are located out on the street (you have probably all seen the type in movies) so it would be obvious after a couple of days if the mail is building up and would be seen by everyone driving and walking past. It is a strange system and I am always nervous about how open they all are as anyone walking past can reach in and take your mail! At least this service means there won’t be a build up of a week. It costs $13 per day for a 15 minute visit so plenty of time to feed Bobby and spend some time with him. Oh and ps the mail is not delivered until 4.00p.m. here every day except Sunday which is really late compared to the UK.

We had a terrible night during Wednesday night/Thursday morning. There was a horrific screeching sound from outside for hours. It sounded like some sort of animal either in pain, being killed, giving birth or mating call. I have no idea which or what animal it was but it kept us awake all night. I woke up at 6.30 with the alarm with a pounding headache. Poor Jar had to get up a go to work but I took a couple of headache tablets and tried to get some sleep. Unfortunately, due to this I missed my favourite yoga class but I really needed the extra rest. After that I was pottering about and decided to go out and pick some more of the ripe raspberries (we know have a freezer full of fresh raspberries). While doing this I saw a deer lying down in the back of the yard. At first I thought it was hurt and this is what we had heard during the night. I ran indoors to get the camera and managed to get some decent shots. I was relieved when it stood up and walked around because at least it wasn’t hurt. It didn’t seem too bothered by me and was fairly tame although I didn’t approach it too closely. Here are some photos:

As the weather wasn’t that great I decided to drive into Bethesda and try a Pedicure for the first time. I went to the nail place recommended by Vicky and decided on a Pedicure and a Manicure. It was a lovely little place and I enjoyed sitting in the chair getting my feet pampered while reading my book. I have some hangups about my feet so I was quite nervous and as it turned out I was really ticklish when she started massaging some exfoliator into my feet. It was quite funny with me squirming about while she tried to rub my feet so much so she was laughing her head off at me. Anyway I was really please with both and came away with a bright Aquamarine colour on my toes and a natural pink colour on my hands – I don’t do bright polish on my hands.

Friday we woke up to much nicer weather so I got up nice and early and went to my Barre class with Jocie. Afterwards after some chores I decided to treat myself and spend the rest of the day at the outdoor pool. It was hot but the humidity was low so it was the perfect day to sit outside and read with the occasional dip in the pool.
In the evening we decided we wanted to stay locally so drove up to a place about 4 miles up the road called The anglers Inn. We thought it was just a restaurant and were just going to look and see if we could just get a drink but we were pleasantly surprised to find they had set up a separate outdoor bar and bbq part. We were able to sit enjoying the outside with a couple of drinks and they also had some live music. Because of this we ended up staying longer than we meant so were really hungry and drove straight to the Irish Inn at Glen Echo for something to eat. Jar had Bangers and Mash and I had Fish and chips. They were ok but the place was really quiet so our plan to stay for some chat and a drink was thwarted as it was just empty.

Saturday morning and Jar went to Karate as usual. We then decided to drive down to Tysons Corner in Virginia. There is a big shopping centre there that is supposed to have a great mixture of normal and designer shops but we were a bit disappointed. It was a good shopping centre and had a Bloomigdales, Macys, Nordstorms and lots more but we have a shopping centre 5 minutes from the house that provides almost all I need anyway. I didn’t get anything although Jar got some work trousers from Macys. I needed some sports gear with all the classes and activities I am doing so as I didn’t get anything here we decided to drive up to Dicks Sporting Goods at Washingtonian Lake (mentioned in previous blogs). I got two pairs of leggings, one top, running shoes and water bottle and all in the sale. While we were up at the lake we decided to sit outside for a beer as there was a live band playing and lots of people to watch. Then decided to drive home but were both in the mood for a night out so drove to Bethesda and parked the car up for the night and went to a couple of pubs for some food and drink. We called our friends Dawn and Simon to meet us in the Tiki bar and then we moved onto the Harp and Fiddle and just had a lovely night chatting again. Drank a wee bit too much and stayed up too late but had a lot of fun.

Sunday and we were up and about surprisingly early in the morning so I made raspberry pancakes with the fresh raspberries picked from the garden. We then decided to go out on the mountain bikes and take the canal path into Downtown DC to go and visit Eastern Market, which is a flea and fruit market at the back of Capitol Hill. The canal path was a lovely ride and we found a place halfway along at Fletchers Cove where they hire Kayaks, canoes and boats to take out on the Potomac river, so have registered that in the data banks of my mind for activity time in a couple of weeks. Made it into Downtown on the mall and tried to find the Market which was supposed to be on the corner of 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue but could not find it. Luckily Jar had his Blackberry so we looked it up on the internet and on the sat nav and found that there is a whole other 7th Avenue 2 miles away from where we were!! Cycled the extra couple of miles and found the market. It was interesting but nothing that special that we couldn’t find closer to home. Decided to start the journey back by coming slowing up The Mall past all the Smithsonian museums. I was keeping my eyes peeled in case I bumped into Sarah (sazzymch) while we were cycling as I knew she was out sightseeing with Chris and Luke. The ride back was very hard as it was 100 degrees in the sun and we had been cycling in total for over 4 hours but made it back albeit a bit stiff and sore – why do we always overdo it?!
In the evening we had been invited for a Roast Chicken dinner by Simon and Dawn at their condominium so while we were really tired we were so looking forward to getting a home cooked meal. Just ate and had a chat and then came home fairly early as it was a school night.

Well another week over – where is it all going. Love to all. Xx

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My week at the beach

Well from my previous blogs you will have seen that I have met a girl called Vicky. We have so much in common – she is an Accountant and works as a Financial Controller in Industry, she loves to read, she has been married twice, we both like a beer or two etc etc. – so we have been meeting for dinner and at the pub just trying to build up a friendship. She was going for a week on the beach to Ocean City Maryland and she asked if I fancied coming along for a few days. I thought what the hell, it would be fun to see Ocean City and the perfect chance for us to spend some time getting to know each other better. I got up early on Tuesday and packed up the convertible for the drive to Ocean City. Using a borrowed sat nav from Kim I managed to do the drive in only 3 hours, so I was there by 11.00a.m. After unloading luggage we went straight onto the beach. Vicky had hired an umbrella and deck chairs for the week, which was very handy as the girl set them up each morning and took them in at night, so we didn’t have to lug them around with us. The first day we just chatted for ages on the beach in between hiring a boogie board and jumping around in the surf. The chat just kept coming so naturally and we both were comfortable opening up fully to each other. So much so we barely touched our books. We then wandered up to the Tiki bar at the hotel for happy hour (5.00p.m. to 6.00p.m.) for a couple of beers and to decide what to do that evening. Maryland is famous for its crabs so we decided to find a seafood place and have me try them out for the first time. Two separate guys at the bar recommended one place which was only a block from the hotel – On the Bay Seafood. Quick shower and we wandered down. It was a very basic place with picnic tables outside on a bed of sand but what they lacked in luxury surroundings they made up in their fresh seafood. We got the all you can eat crab deal and landed with a huge tray of steamed crabs rubbed in Old Bay seasoning. It was great fun just ripping the crabs apart and using the little hammers to get all the meat out. They were very messy but as you can see from the photos we had lots of fun. They were so messy that there was actually a clean up station outside the crab place for you to wipe down your hands and arms from all the brine and seasoning. It was also good to try them for the first time with someone who knew what they were doing so I could get some tips on how to get the most meat out of them and which bits not to eat. I will definitely try them again when I go with Jarlath.

After our crab feast we jumped in the car and drove down to the other end of Ocean City where they have a board walk. It is a combination of an old fashioned pier with Blackpool. An amusement arcade, lots of shops and lots of food places. We just had a bit of a stroll to work off dinner and for me to see the boardwalk. It goes on for 28 blocks and there were some sights to see! We were then tired so drove back and had a night cap on the balcony. Vicky had chosen a room that had a balcony that overlooked the beach and the sea and it was just lovely to sit in the sea breeze and watch the stars.

Wednesday we had a lovely long lie and then wandered down to the beach again. It was much the same as the previous day with lots of jumping in the sea, talking and some reading. We also treated ourselves to a couple of beers in the afternoon as they actually had waitresses in bikinis who would go and fetch drinks and food – it would have been rude not to use them!!!! We then decided to drive to Baja Marina to visit a bar diner called Fish Tales. The marina is on the bay side of the road and we had a lovely view over the water while having some lunch and a couple more beers.
In the evening we were fired up for a wild night out so decided to go to a place called Seacrets. It was a waterside complex with several bars, nightclub, dining. It actually has bar stools and tables which are in the water and you can also hire a float to lie in while sipping on a cold drink.
We enjoyed dancing to a Reggae band and rocking out to a Rock band as well. It was so much fun and we drank way too much and got home about 2.00a.m. Definitely worth it just to see the place.

Thursday we took it easy after our wild Wednesday night. I was originally supposed to be going home on Thursday but we were having so much fun that we decided I should stay another night and go home on Friday. The joys of being a Lady of leisure is that my plans can be so flexible. I did feel a bit guilty about leaving Jar working away to keep us all week, but I worked hard on getting over the guilt.

Thursday night we decided to go to another resort called Folgers Island for a posh last night dinner. It was a bit further away so I drove and just had a glass of wine with a lovely Shrimp and Chicken Thai curry. Vicky had a lovely piece of Sea bass. We were then going to drive down to the boardwalk again but both decided that we fancied just heading back to the room to read our books and have a wee nightcap. We just always seemed to want to do the same things and were totally on the same wavelength. Just chilled on the balcony for a while watching some kids have a bonfire on the beach.
Friday came and it was time for me to go home. Vicky was staying until Sunday but I wanted to go back and spend the weekend with Jarlath. The drive home was pleasant although the sat nav took me a slightly strange route off the main road but as I wasn’t in a rush it didn’t really bother me. I just cruised along with the roof down. Unfortunately as I was coming into Washington I saw lightning ahead and a very dark cloud but luckily I pulled over onto the hard shoulder and quickly managed to get the roof up before I drove into the rain. The rain was torrential so a bit depressing coming back to that after beautiful weather at the beach.
Well that was my week and it was so much fun. Vicky and I have also become so close after spending 3 nights and 4 days in each others pockets. We both admitted we were nervous about how it would go but agreed that we are very alike and will be good friends.

I also enjoyed Ocean City so much that Jar and I are going back there for a week in September for part of our main summer holidays. I booked the same place that Vicky and I stayed as it had everything we would need.

Here is some info on Ocean City and it is worth looking it up on a map as it is a strange long thin part of land but still in the state of Maryland.

Ocean City, sometimes known as OC, is an Atlantic Ocean resort town in Worcester County, Maryland, United States. Ocean City is widely known in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and is a frequent destination for vacationers. The population was 7,173 at the 2000 census.

The sun and surf of Ocean City, Maryland, have been attracting visitors since Algonquian tribes first came to our beaches to fish and sun themselves.
Europeans first arrived in 1524 when Giovanni da Verrazano surveyed the east coast of North America. By the 17th century, British colonists had moved north from Virginia and settled in the area.
Due to Ocean City's isolation as a barrier island, the town remained a sleepy fishing village until 1875, when the Atlantic Hotel began welcoming visitors. The following year, the railroad bridged Sinepuxent Bay, and a resort was born.
In 1878, heroes took up residence. The U.S. Life-Saving Service, an ancestor of today's Coast Guard, established a station here. Their mission: to venture out in stormy seas and rescue shipwreck victims. The second station, built in 1891, is now the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum, enshrining Ocean City's history and saluting the brave men who worked here.
In 1900, the first boardwalk was constructed. Trimper's Amusements opened shortly after. Unlike today, however, the boardwalk wasn't a year-round fixture. The boards were actually taken up in the winter, and stored until the following spring!
The 20th century brought a dramatic separation and some vital connections. In August of 1933, a powerful storm ripped open a new channel from the bay to the ocean. Engineers made the inlet permanent, and with its new harbor, Ocean City became one of the east coast's premier sport fishing destinations–the White Marlin Capital of the World.
And what railroads did for Ocean City vacations in the 19th century, bridges accelerated in the 20th. In 1952, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge offered quick, direct access from Baltimore and Washington. In 1964, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel opened a direct connection to the Virginia Tidewater region. In a few short years, Ocean City, Maryland, established itself as the favorite resort for visitors from all over the eastern seaboard.
Today, Ocean City stretches along 10 miles of beautiful beach from the Inlet to the Delaware state line. Our classic wooden boardwalk offers nearly 3 miles of food, games and shopping. The Roland E. Powell Convention Center is a highly popular site for meetings of all sizes. And with more than 10,000 hotel rooms and 21,000 condominiums, we have accommodations for every need and taste.

Well hope everyone is well and I have finally managed to catch up on my blog. Xx

The link to photos:


Saturday, August 1, 2009

To the end of July

I am so behind with my blog that Mrs Mac will give me into trouble. There just always seems to be something else to do other than sit at my computer. I am behind on RISI, Bookmooch and Facebook as well.
Some interesting but useless facts:
1) It is not illegal to drive while using a mobile phone in the state of Maryland. Some of the bad driving you see because of this is unbelievable. The worst was one woman changing lanes at 60 miles per hour on the motorway, while using her mobile phone and eating a banana. She should have been in the circus ‘cause Goodness knows how she was steering the car.
2) The worst drivers are generally known to be Asian woman. There is a joking phrase of DWA – Driving while Asian – to describe bad driving. Not being racist as this joke was told to me by Kim who is Vietnamese!
3) It is perfectly legal to undertake on motorways and most major roads and is actively encouraged in the Highway code book.
4) It is not unusual for people to drink drive.
5) You also don’t usually lose your licence for drink driving as being able to drive is deemed necessary to carry out your work – even if you were caught steaming drunk behind the wheel.
6) Everyone thinks I am Irish when I first speak!

We just chilled on the Sunday after the Housewarming BBQ and went a gentle ride on our bikes along the canal path towards DC. Luckily we didn’t have too much tidying up to do, the joys of an outside party.

On Monday I was booked in for my first Dentist appointment with my new Dentist. It was just for a six month clean and check up. Poor Jar had to go as well for his ongoing Root canal and crown work! Even just for a cleanup I was in over an hour and I swear my teeth have never felt that clean. My gums and teeth were a bit sore after she had finished because of all the poking and prodding but it was well worth it. Had X rays taken as well. Luckily our dental insurance is very good so this standard clean and check up doesn’t cost any extra. Even with the best dental insurance, if I need a cap or new filling it will cost me about $500 with insurance paying about $600. Not sure how most people can afford to have such beautiful white teeth as they all seem to, perhaps they look after them so well from childhood because of the cost if something goes wrong. I have one heavily filled tooth that will need a cap in the next year but will put it off for a while.

Tuesday morning I was booked in for a free hour trial on the Pilates Machines at my gym. These look like torture machines but were very effective. Josie took me through the hour and it was so simple. Most of the resistance comes from the way you hold your own body. After an hour I really felt like my muscles had been worked. Not sure if I will use these again as they cost extra over the gym membership fee and are not particularly cheap for an hour session. I think I am getting a good enough workout from the free mat pilates and conditioning classes that I am doing so I can’t justify this extra cost. It was nice to give it a go though.
I then decided to spend the afternoon site-seeing. I had received a wee box of site-seeing cards as a housewarming gift from Vicky. These give you maps and a short walking tour description of various sites and areas around Washington DC. I had been meaning to have a look around an area called Dupont Circle but did not have a map before so had not plucked up the courage. I ended up doing 3 separate walking routes around Dupont Circle for a few hours, ending up in a book sale in a charity shop (as you do!!). Dupont Circle is only a few stops on the Metro line from Bethesda so it was very easy for me to get there.

Dupont Circle is a cosmopolitan part of DC with Victorian manses and row houses crowded in the Gilded age suburb. It houses a mixture of lawyers, diplomats, left wing activists and affluent gays. The area directly around the park in the circle is very Gay with gay influenced bars, bookshops and coffee shops. Seemingly it is a very happening place to visit for a night out and for something to eat. I just enjoyed myself following the walking tour on the cards. It even took you past the site of the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. Massachusetts Avenue is now home to a lot of Embassies and it has a feel of London about it. The architecture is very similar and the wealth of the buildings reminds me of the more affluent parts of London – Knightsbridge etc. Around the park reminded me of Covent Garden in part. I sat in the park reading for a while just lapping up the varied cultures around me – due in part I am sure to some of the lesser known embassy buildings.

The rest of the week went in the usual activities. Then the weekend and our camping and Kayaking trip to Harpers Ferry. We drove up on the Friday to a spot by the Shenandoah river. We had got a permit to do some remote camping just beside the river. No facilities and no other people. It was lovely just setting up as the sun went down over the river and then gathering wood to light a bonfire to sit around chatting and having a glass of red wine. It all would have been perfect if not for the freight train track that ran just behind the location! The trains ran all night and all weekend so sleep did not come easily if at all. While it didn’t ruin our weekend and experience it certainly took the shine off it somewhat. We were so tired on the Saturday morning that we were bickering all the way to River riders to do our Kayaking trip. Anyway we got to River riders and after much waiting about for them to get organized we climbed aboard the school bus – and it was the old yellow type you see on American movies and tv programmes so I was quite excited. We were on a guided Kayaking trip down the Shenandoah river and there were about 10 people on the trip and a couple of Rafts following with some other groups on them. It was hard work getting the hang of paddling and keeping up right and keeping in a straight line but we both managed to get the hang of it quite well. We just tootled down the river until we reached some of the white water area. Jar ended up going down first and he fell in, so when I came down about third all I could see was Jar attached to the end of a rope being pulled out the water. I was killing myself laughing ‘cause I knew how annoyed he would be at falling in. Anyway he saw the funny side of it himself and we continued on. We went through a couple of more white water areas. I could call them rapids but they weren’t as dramatic as that makes out. I had bought a waterproof camera and have taken some photos but need to send it away to get it developed and put on a disc. I will post them on facebook with the link here in a couple of weeks. Here are some other photos from our trip.


On Saturday night we drove into Harpers Ferry for some dinner and ended up staying for some live Irish and Scottish Music that was on in the pub before heading back to the tent for another bonfire and night of Freight trains.

Sunday we went out on our mountain bikes into Harpers Ferry and along the C & O Canal for part of the Appalachian trail. We were both tired so didn’t go very far before heading back for some ice cream and frech lemonade – delicious.
We then decided to drive to Charlestown WV after packing up camp. We ended up at Charlestown races and slots. This is a horse race course and gambling place (like in Vegas) with lots of slot machines. West Virginia is, obviously, one of the few states in the US where gambling is legal. We didn't stay long just had a look say one race and then headed down the road to home.

By this time we were very dirty and very tired. Remember we had not facilities so to wash we had to go into the river and do as best as we could. It was very refreshing but just didn’t get you as clean as a proper shower. Once we got home we both had lovely very hot showers to power some of the ground in grime off us. Don’t get me wrong it is lovely being at one with nature but it is equally nice to be able to get home to a shower.

Well that is the end of another week with me packing away the camping gear and getting myself ready for a few days at the beach with my friend Vicky but that can be for the next blog.

Hope you are all well. Xx