Sunday, May 30, 2010

God's Plans

Long time no write; hope to return here more often. We returned last month from a wonderful holiday in Florida with my family, where we were caught up in the first of what may turn out to be a number of grounded flights due to volcanic ash activity.  In our case, the trip back home was postponed a week, and ended up being a fantastic way to extend the holiday with relatively little consequence.  Nevertheless, the idea that something or someone had intervened to prevent us from completing our holiday and return back to where we were expected to be, was disconcerting to say the least.  And for others there were more than inconveniences from their flight delays.  Yet sometimes, and one of the things I've learned in these last few years since moving over here is that life's routine and your own daily expectations get upset - so you have to work with what you've got and make it the best situation you can.  You give up your job, home, leave friends and family - and you sort it all out.  It's like what John Lennon said, 'life is what happens when you're busy making plans'; you get stopped dead in your tracks - and adjust your course.  So go and make your summer travel plans.. and enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Early Doors

Some friends at work recommended to me, as I was looking to broaden my repertoire of British television viewing, a sit-com called Early Doors. The show was first aired in 2003 to 2004 but I believe can still be found on the telly as re-runs, though I'd never come across it. Recently, I saw a DVD of the first season at the library, remembered about the recommendation, and snatched it up. Initially I found the show frustratingly difficult to understand; the heavy Northern accents were too much for me to decipher. But then I discovered the sub-titles feature for the hearing impaired and it worked a charm!

I suppose you could compare it to the US show "Cheers" in that the show takes place in a pub and it explores all the characters of the pub, the owners and regulars. And like in Cheers, where the characters live has a lot to do with who they are. For Cheers, where they live is Boston; for Early Doors, it's an unnamed town in Northern England, though I'd heard Wythenshawe mentioned (which is in Manchester). Anyway, I write about this here because I found myself, by the time I'd viewed all six episodes, feeling a kind of affinity with the characters on the show and in turn with the real-life people who'd recommended the show to me, who I'm certain also found an affinity with those characters. Hmm, might it be that I am beginning to feel a sense of belonging here in the North of England, and Wigan in particular? Too bad I can't understand the language...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

14 Days, 14 Days Rain

My friend MC warned me about the weather in the UK. Downright depressing, she said or something to that effect. Funny thing is (and I don't mean funny ha ha) she was talking about the weather in London, where she lived for 10 years. The weather in the North of England, well that's a different story. People talk about the effect of the Pennine mountains and prevailing winds, but really all I know is that it's been cold and rainy here for the last two weeks and in the South East, relatively warm and sunny. However, there are some people who have taken this experience and made it work for them. Pierre Adolphe Valette was a French painter who settled here in Manchester at the turn of the last century and, inspired by the ambient atmosphere, created some of his most well known paintings. Surely, I can turn my grousing about the weather into something inspirational?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Twice Nice

Well it's been almost a month since we're back from my blockbuster birthday holiday. Andrew planned this trip for months and unraveled it before me day by day in a kind of rolling surprise celebration. We started in Bath, England with some delightful pampering at the Thermae Bath Spa. On a pit stop (another surprise) we went to the Paragon Gallery in Exeter where, for my birthday present, I picked out a gorgeous print for our home. Next to Padstow where we indulged in all things Rick Stein, seafood celebrity chef (love him!). His presence there is so apparent, the town is also affectionately known as Padstein. We did loads while we were there, which was enough in itself. Little did I know however, that there was more, much more, to come. When we returned home for an overnight before heading out on the road again (somewhere in the North; Scotland perhaps?), Andrew announced we were instead going to New York City! Incredulous, I demanded to see the plane tickets... which were of course just email printouts (doesn't it lose something?), but there it was, proof of us travelling from Manchester to JFK the very next day. Not enough? We arrived in New York Friday afternoon, and on Saturday night, when we went to meet my parents for dinner, I came face to face with over 70 of my favorite people, family and friends, all gathered together (by Andrew) to celebrate my 50 years in this wonderful world.

Afterwards, we got to do some fantastic sightseeing, including a visit to Fire Island, the new High Line and a rip roaring dinner at Sammy's Roumanian! Here are some photo highlights of our trip...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Writing White Coppice

Yesterday I attended a writing workshop sponsored by the folks from Rainy City Stories at one of the local libraries in Wigan. It was a poetry writing workshop where the focus of our writing was to be about 'place' and its meaning for us. I hadn't thought about it in that way, but really 'place' has played an unusually important part in my life lately, my being an emigre and all. Anyway, our first task was to write a triolet (sounds like "Frito Lay"), a poem with certain repeating lines. I chose to write about White Coppice, a place I wrote about on this blog in a very early post. Here is my triolet (my ode to White Coppice) and a couple more pictures from a visit there.

Because it gave me my first vista of England's North West
I love White Coppice
Each time you visit, it feels like a new discovery
Because it gave me my first vista of England's North West
Like stumbling onto Niagara Falls for the first time
with a cricket field stuck in time, stuck in my head
Because it gave me my first vista of England's North West
I love White Coppice

Monday, May 25, 2009


It occurred to me recently, as I listened to my "Harvard Business Review" podcast, that I clearly have not embraced the ways and means of my host country. I religiously watch Sky+ TV tapings of the "Daily Show with John Stewart", devour my weekly international edition (I use this term loosely) of Time magazine, and have lately been spending an inordinate amount of time listening to the Allman Brothers. I beg Andrew to take me to Costco's so I can stock up on the American products I long for, like Skippy peanut butter and Chicken of the Sea solid white tuna (though I note that I've had to compromise on the brands, since the ones I prefer are not available even at Costco, but close enough). It seems I am the embodiment of the stereotypical immigrant: the snivelling, obdurate emigre who comes to live and work in a new land yet refuses to assimilate. I can only now fully appreciate why adults who move abroad cling to the features, sounds and images of their home country; I suppose it's only natural. I realize we are most happy with and comforted by the things on which we were raised and are most familiar, and if I had been born here I would crave and seek that which I currently find not so much to my taste.


After our trip last year to Venice, Italy, I made a post on this blog, comparing the Grand Canal in Venice with the Leeds to Liverpool canal in Wigan. This year, we went to beautiful Paros, Greece but I'm hard pressed to compare the climes of Wigan with this sunny island in the Aegean. Five days home..... five days unrelenting rain. Ah, but there is an exception to every rule and we had a glorious day of sunshine in the North West on Sunday. Here are some photos from our trip last week. Also check out our new friends' blog on Paros (friends are new, not their blog!).