Friday, 22 January 2010

Home is where the heart is, but where's our house?

We're still trying to figure out the house thing. Yesterday, we looked at a 4000 sq. ft. house with enormous gardens, (a yard, to Americans) vegetable gardens, fruit trees, 3 garages, 3 outbuildings, a greenhouse, and, drumroll, please, an indoor heated swimming pool. And we could almost have afforded it, if the man hadn't upped the estimated rent 500 pounds. So, we're not going to live there. Plus, it only had 4 bedrooms, not quite large enough to share, especially since all the walls were used up by built-in cupboards, headboards, and nightstands. It was an amazing house, though. The other day, we went to a house that was an old country house, huge, had three stories, 5 bedrooms, a playroom (used to be the servants' quarters - all the way upstairs in the attic with very low ceilings with a spiral staircase to the kitchen), an enormous boot room (what we call a mud room), a laundry room, a nice kitchen with an AGA and an electric hob (oven - so you can still cook without having the AGA on during the summer), a large dining room right off the kitchen, two enormous reception areas - lounges (living rooms), and a large entryway big enough to be its own room. It also had enormous gardens, livery stables, a vegetable garden, a trampoline with safety enclosure, two little playhouses, and the views were amazing. Out front were grassy hills where the sheep graze as far as the eye can see, and out back the cows were meandering about. Lovely. The floors were all wonky (crooked, slanted). In order to keep bedframes level, different sized blocks had to be placed under each leg. It was quite the house. It was also 45 minutes from the base on TINY roads through beautiful countryside. I'm not driving my Chevy Astro van 45 minutes on TINY country roads to go grocery shopping, and I'd rather have Sean home those extra hours, rather than fighting fatigue as he drives those roads each day. So that house still sits there empty. There's another potential house 9 minutes up the road from the base, 6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, playroom, dining room, lounge (living room), study, AGA kitchen, and large entry hall. There's a thinned out forest right there, with a tree with a hole in it big enough for kids to hide inside, and an absolutely ornate rose garden thing out front. There's some grass, and a large pebbled driveway. Why we aren't living there right now, I'm not sure. We were ready to go sign the papers, but we both felt uneasy. So, we didn't sign them. It's still sitting there, empty. I'm kind of hoping for a better one, I guess. What could be better than that, you ask? Well, perhaps not BETTER, but perhaps different, and in a different place. Last night I dreamed we were sitting in the Bury St. Edmunds Ward, and I know some towns in that ward that would be under 15 minutes to work, and about 20 to church. If we live down there, the kids will probably go to the English schools. And if we stay in the Thetford Ward, I'd really like to live in Hockwold cum Wilton. It's right between the kids' school and Sean's work - under 10 minutes either way, and the church is 23 minutes away. Unfortunately, there aren't currently houses for rent in those places that are ideal. So we're waiting. And while we wait, we look at the houses that might work if we were desperate enough. I apologize if I sound awful. These houses we're looking at are amazing, but as we're prayerfully considering where to go, none of these are working. So we're looking, searching, praying, and doing what we can. Soon, hopefully. Maybe our trip to the temple Saturday will give us some insight.
So anyway, that's what's going on here.
Have a happy day!
Emily :)

Reading a book is fun to do, fun to do, to do, to do

I finished the Twilight books in December, and they were alright - quite gripping, actually, but I'm not going to watch the movies. I'm sure I'll survive. There's too much in them that I don't want to see. Sorry. I'm going against the decree of Monica. I also don't think Mom would really enjoy them too much. I do think she needs to read The Work and the Glory and The Fishers of Men books. Those are great and very worthwhile reading. I just read The Hunger Games, and that was interesting. I'm glad they didn't go into much gore. I was worried about that. Interesting how the romance stuff went. Kind of left me hanging at the end, so I had to go to the library and request the second book, which they are going to send from some other AAFES library. In the meantime, I'm going to read The Book Thief. Our ward has a book club, and that's the book we'll discuss in February. January's book was Dr. Laura's The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. That was pretty good, especially the chapters on loving and respecting your husband. The rest of the information was covered better in Gary Lundt's book/CD that I showed you at Deseret Book - I can't remember the name of it now. If you ever desire to "read" it, listen to him on the CD's. WAY better. Anyway, I'm still working on Inkheart. It is much more fun to read a book than to watch the movie. However, I've already seen Inkheart, so it's not as exciting as it would be if I didn't already know the whole story. Though I do like the actors from the movie, so as I read, they fit well and make the book enjoyable. I'm also reading a Star Wars book with Justin that started when Dooku had just been chosen as a Padawan, and then goes to when he had Qui-Gon as his padawan, and now we're up to Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. It's a fun book. Reading only one chapter a night is rather slow-going, though, so perhaps this weekend we'll read more of it. Nathan checked out The Mouse and the Motorcycle, so I suppose I'll be reading that with him. He can read it himself - he was so excited when his teacher let him check out a chapter book. That doesn't happen much in Kindergarten. There are still so many in his class that still don't know the names and sounds of all the letters. In Montana, it was different - more advanced. But here, I don't know, it's like they're just happy the kids come to school, and their main goal is to make sure they all feel good about themselves. Anyway - enough of that. I think we might put our kids in the English schools. It'd be a neat experience, and make our time over here more memorable. There's a family who lived here years ago, and when we asked the kids about it, all they could say was that it rained a lot and they saw lots of castles. I want to come back with British accents, British mannerisms, and speaking the British language. You might think, as I did, that they speak English here, which they do, but it is NOT the same English that Americans speak. So, I'd like to learn the language and culture. When we are asked in the years to come about our trip to England, we will have so much more to say than - "It rained a lot and we saw lots of castles." There you go. I'm going to stop writing now. Have a happy day.
Emily :)

Friday, 1 January 2010

Castle Rising (4)

It was a sunny day! It was also quite chilly. The dusting of snow was from today as we began our journey to the castle.
That little white house in the background is where you buy the tickets and souvenirs. We bought some chocolate fudge, but it was more like tootsie rolls than fudge. No more British chocolate. All the stores here have the GOOD stuff from Germany and it's surrounding areas. YUM!
Ah, this picture shows the moat! It's the grassy hill stuff on the right.
Here's another picture of us. Aren't you so glad I'm posting these for your viewing pleasure? We need to take some classes on photography. Hopefully they'll improve as time goes by.
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Castle Rising (3)

I'm learning how to do this as I go along, and I'm quite frustrated that I can only get 4 pictures per post. I'll find a better way to do it. If anyone would like to tell me, I check my e-mail on a daily basis. Thanks!

This was the church on one side of the grounds. It doesn't look like much now, though.

Here's the view of the castle from the basement of the church.

This is the front of the castle, which is a keep, and as such is not as large or fancy as an actual castle. Still pretty neat, we thought!
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Castle Rising (2)

Here is the main gate from upstairs in the castle. All around the outside is a moat. The big boys (all minus Benjamin) walked the perimeter of the grounds along the surrounding earthworks, then Justin and Sean climbed down into the moat, walked around a bit, and came back out. Sorry, there are no pictures of the moat.
This is looking down into the castle from upstairs in the Chaplain's room. Sorry, I don't know what room you're seeing here.
These short ruins were barracks for some of the people that lived there.
This is Julianna, taking a picture of herself. She doesn't always have hair covering half of her face, and hopefully won't in any future pictures.
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Castle Rising - New Year's Day

Today we drove for about an hour to see a castle - the first of many to be seen. We bought the Heritage Pass, so now we can go to about 600 castles for free. Woohoo! So we'll be out and about a lot. Hopefully, the castles will have features that differ so we don't get bored looking at all the rock ruins. :)

These are the kiddos at the top of the main stairs. In the future, I'll be sure to have the people stand in the foreground so you can actually see them, and we'll use the neat places as cool backdrops. :)

So, this is Julianna, Matthew, and Benjamin standing in the kitchen. I'm standing in the room where they stored cheese, bread, etc. The bathrooms were conveniently placed right around the corner of the kitchen - I can just imagine the lovely smells while cooking.

This is Justin standing on the other side of the second story. The floor caved in during the 16th century, and they carved tunnels through the 8 foot thick walls so we could walk around the second story. Wasn't that nice of them? Actually, people have lived in there since the floor collapsed. They just had to do without the dining room. Poor them.

This alcove was built in to emphasize the head seat of the table in the dining room. The big squares at the base of it on the left and right were where floor joists used to be.

Monday, 28 December 2009

What We've Been Up To

For those of you who don't know, we've been quite busy lately. In August, we were offered a job in jolly old England, and since then we've been on the move. Our house wasn't really in rentable condition, so we had to get it there - replace windows, redo a bathroom, reroof the house, fix the concrete in the garage, fix some electrical and plumbing stuff, put in some new light fixtures, paint, install the water softener, do some landscaping, install closet doors, replace 3 bedroom doors, install new doorknobs - exterior and interior, and some other odds and ends. We're still not finished, and our property manager has her hands full. We believe we have renters. They're supposed to move in this week.

The Thursday and Friday before Thanksgiving, the movers came and packed up our stuff and sent it off to England (we hope!). A week before that, they packed up all of our storage stuff - junk that will sit in MT while we're here. If we can't remember what's there when we get back, maybe we'll just have a garage sale from the storage unit. :) Anyway, we stayed in our mostly empty house for a while, then decided it was time to go to the hotel and get the house wrapped up. So we stayed in a hotel for 15 nights. We had 2 adjoining rooms that both opened up to the indoor pool area. 'Twas quite nice. While the kids and I were enjoying our hotel stay, Sean and some friends and hired help worked on the house. They're still working on it, without Sean, of course. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!!)

Our paperwork - passports and visas - took up to the last minute, but arrived in time for us to leave Friday, December 18th.

Now we're here, enjoying the Christmas break, and working on getting settled here in England.