Monday, 27 December 2010

A time for reflection

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and are looking forward to a joyous New Year.  While my Christmas was wonderful, the week leading up to it was bitter sweet.  A very dear friend of mine lost his battle with alcoholism and the ravages it has on the human body.  It was a harsh reminder to take better care of one's self.  My heart aches for my friends in Florida who were also close to him.   As we often do at this time of year i have been reflecting on the past. This year has been sweet and sorrowful.  A year full of transformation, starting with my engagement in January during my first ski trip.   The next big change in my life, moving myself and six cats to the UK.  In all the transfer went really well if you don't count the fact that the British Airways World Cargo sub contractors at Philadelphia airport forgot to put the first 5 on the plane.  In the end, everyone made it to England safe and soundly. Our next trip to America included my 20 year high school reunion and the wedding of a very good friend.  We spent some time in Florida visiting friends and some of the animals I worked with when I lived there.  We stayed in southwest Florida for several days getting our wedding plans in motion.  It was also the last time I saw Brett, I am thankful I had the opportunity to spend some time with him before his passing.  I had a slightly extended stay in the States while I waited for my engagement visa to come through, but I returned to the UK about two weeks after my fiancĂ©. Our time in the Uk was filled with travel, friends, and family.  In all, we visited Edinbourough and Glasgow, Scotland; the Snowdonia region of Wales; Coventry, Stone henge, Bath, Blackpool, New Castle, Berwick upon Tweed, Sea houses, Farnese Islands, Holy Island, Eastbourne, Brighton, and I am sure many more areas of England.  I am very thankful for my opportunity to take in as much of this country as possible.   Our next trip to the states was to be monumental, we had the most beautiful wedding despite the several snags along the way.  We had a fabulous time in Sanibel and Miami.  We capped this trip off with my husbands second real American Thanksgiving. The glorious Florida weather made the snow and cold a bit more bearable upon our return to England.  The weather did help put everyone in the Christmas spirit as our house became a winter wonderland.  We had some close friends and family over in Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  The day after Christmas (Boxing Day) we went to Fountains Abbey and were fortunate enough to catch the Carol service.  My wonderful husband has given us much to look forward to in 2011, a Western Mediterranean cruise with a focus on Italy!  We are both very excited and I have been doing research on our ports of call to make sure we get the most out of our visit. This post is dedicated to:      Michael Brett Stone      Bill Meier       Charlie Houllis      Jeff Peters And all others we lost in 2010.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Married Life

Wow, what a whirlwind! Shortly after my last blog entry, I went back to the States. Spent a couple of days at my parents house picking stuff up for our DIY Beach Wedding in Florida. All the planning and emailing would finally be over and I could enjoy my beach party. It went perfectly! Steel drummer played the right songs... weather was GORGEOUS, and we even had a small pod of dolphins swim by and join in. They must have heard my processional song from the Little Mermaid! My photographer and officiant were fabulous, my flowers were the perfect colors. We even had a classic Camaro, similar to the one my Dad drove, there for pictures. The cake was picture perfect and my caterer was awesome as well. He was also from Pittsburgh and took care of us like family. I don't know how we got so lucky finding everyone and having it come together so well. I can say as much as I would love to hang out and see my friends and family and stay by the beach, I am glad the planning is over! In all I spent nearly 3 weeks in the Sunshine State. We spent time on the East and West coasts. We enjoyed quiet Gulf Coast Island life, and high paced Miami South Beach. We know which we prefer and where we would like to live as opposed to visit. It was just what I needed to face the winter in the UK. My first FULL winter in the UK, I am not sure if I could face it after my winter in PA last year...

Friday, 29 October 2010

Fuel for the Fire

Now that the weather has turned, it is time to start preparing for winter. We ordered coal and logs to help supplement our use of oil for heating this winter. Not only will it keep me warm inside, it did a good job of keeping me warm outside as well. It was delivered in these bulk bags to the front of the house. Our storage area is in the back of the house up some wonky steps. When this picture was taken I had already moved coal bucket by bucket for about an hour (probably about 45 buckets worth). The bag was filled to the top like the logs when I started at 0930. By 1330, I had finished moving the coal and started the logs. Thankfully not long after I started moving the logs some friends showed up and helped me make very short work of the rest. I built a fire that evening and it was lovely and warm without the central heating... Lets hope it lasts through the winter now!! Fingers crossed its a mild one.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

First Frost

'Tis the season to be...cold. After living in Florida for 14 years I have experienced my first full year away. We turn on the heating daily, light fires regularly, and I wear layers of clothes when I am inside, you should see me when I have to be outside. Has anyone seen "A Christmas Story"? Ralphy's little brother, enough said. Everyone asks don't you like the snow in the winter? I shoveled through the PGH blizzard of 2010, 3 feet of WET snow in about 12 hours. It was fun for a little while, we made the best of a bad situation. I am not looking forward to another season of snow though. Good thing blizzards don't typically happen every year and rarely happen in the UK. All I have to say is 1324 more days until I am back in the Sunshine State as a permanent resident! Until then I might just stay in hibernation...

Friday, 15 October 2010

Getting around

Since coming to the UK, we have been struggling to decide what my mode of transportation would be. Currently we have one car, a business car, which I am not insured to drive. For now, if I want to get out of the village, it is on 2 wheels and pedal power! It is not so bad as long as I do not have to go anywhere in the rain and we haven't had terribly cold weather yet. There are several small villages within a couple of miles, but most of them have fewer amenities than my village. The next town is only about 4 miles away and I try to cycle there at least once a week for physical and psychological well being. Part of the ride is through a farmers field and the remainder is on a fairly quiet road. It is relatively flat in this part of the UK, which I am thankful for! I only got lost once and that was on the way back from town I missed a turn in the fields. I came to a dead end and it took me a few minutes to figure out where I had gone wrong. Fortunately I could see the village church in the distance which helped me get my bearings and head the right direction. You should have seen me in the middle of these fields trying to figure out where to go! Since then I make the trip routinely and have had no problems. So remember when you are driving out there to watch for bicycles! Or just leave your car at home and pedal, it is good for you and the environment!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Purple Pasta

One of my important job as a stay at home wife to be in a foreign country is to find a healthy meal for us. This night is purple pasta. It is actually "drunken pasta" by Rachael Ray. The pasta was cooked in red wine. To add to the purple color, grated beets, sauteed with garlic and onions. A healthy serving of Parmesan cheese grated on top made this a great dinner. My other half was a bit nervous eating beet root and purple pasta, but he was pleasantly surprised. He even had a second helping! That is the true indication of a meal well done!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Roman Baths

A recent trip to the Roman Baths. We did 1150 miles around the UK and this was just one of the many stops of a sight seeing filled week.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

I am back

Yes, my hotmail and facebook accounts are now back under my control. I am sorry to anyone who was approached by my cybercriminal... Some people. Did theynot realize my email was the primary storage area for all of my wedding details... 4,000 miles away from the location with 10 weeks to go, not a good time to be out of contact with your vendors. All is well and the American suburbanite in England can now concentrate on village life and not cyberlife. Look forward to getting back into the blog!!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

I have been hacked

I have been hacked on my hotmail account and my facebook account. Anyone receiving a request asking for money is being scammed. I am not in Wales or any other place that I do not want to be in having been mugged and attempting to get home. Please use the blog to contact me for now, I will let you know when I have sorted my above mentioned accounts. I am sorry if anyone was worried about me, just know that I am safe xo L

Friday, 9 July 2010

American suburbanite still in American suburbia

It has been a month now and I am still in the States. The British consulate has had my visa application for more than 3 weeks and no response... yet. I am still hopeful and looking forward to getting back to Rural England. On the interesting side saw a leucistic house sparrow on my walk this morning. Will go back to see if he stays in the same area and take pictures soon.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The American Suburbanite in Whitby...

Had a great day at the sea side this week. The weather was sunny and warm and the breeze was soft and gentle. I walked barefoot at the beach and felt the sand between my toes... such a lovely feeling. Who needs an expensive pedicure when you can walk on the beach for free. I even dipped my toes in the North Sea! It was half term for the school children though and the place was packed, absolutely heaving. People everywhere, sick children (which I could have done without) and your typical novice at the sea side. Loads of sun burnt skin, poor English skin does not cope well with the sun, however low the UV factor seems to be compared to other parts of the world. Whitby has a number of historical and heritage sites. They stake claim to Captain Cook and Dracula! We did not get sucked into any of the typically tacky seaside attractions, just window shopped the Whitby Jet jewelers, had a meal of fish-n-chips and snacked on an ice cream cone. After our walk around Whitby, we drove to Robin Hood's Bay. Here, we witnessed the completion of a coast to coast cycle and walk. The walkers were taking their pebble from the West Coast of England and throwing it into the sea at the East Coast. It is a 200 mile journey, and something I think I would like to complete before leaving the UK... The coastline in Robin Hood's Bay is much rockier than at Whitby. We took advantage of the low tide and explored the tide pools. In just a short while we found tons of snails and limpets, a chiton (I think), a crab, some small goby like fish, and a couple of shrimp. I am sure there was much more there, but it was a short visit as it was already early evening when we arrived. This was a place I could spend a whole day checking for little critters under rocks and sea weed. I look forward to spending more time on the coast of my new little island home.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

rain rain go away...

The weather turned out quite nice on Monday, went for a lovely long walk and enjoyed the country air. I had a great sighting of ;the house martins playing in a puddle. They were so involved with their puddle, they didn't fly away when I approached. When I got home I was able to hang the laundry outside. Tuesday however was gray and miserable all day long. Took me ages to get motivated to do anything. It was a good day for curling up with the cats and our outdoor explorer even came home to get out of the rain. I finally got moving around 3:00 pm.... I started painting the "office" a closet where we house the computer. Note to self, rough plaster takes ages to paint, especially deep red. The weather has cleared again today and should be warm and in the 70's through the weekend I plan on being outside as much as possible!!

Monday, 31 May 2010

more about English Weather

I have been such a bad blogger, nearly 2 weeks since an entry. I blame it on the weather. We had sun and temps reaching the 80's! I spent every minute I could outside, for "summer" only lasted a short while, it was so cold last night we had the heat on. As I type this morning, I can hear the wind rush by the house, feels like another cold day. Aside from the cold, I am enjoying spring in England. The days are amazingly long, the early light of dawn by 4:30 am and the last light of dusk not fading until nearly 10:00 pm. I have to keep this reward in mind as winter steals the light by 4 pm. We have enjoyed our long evenings as much as we can taking long walks, bike rides, playing bowls (lawn bowling). All activities easily accomplished with several layers on to keep us warm!!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


s'mores were so good, we had them again and took some pictures... so yummy. How can chocolate and gooey marshmallows be bad though?

The Sunday Roast

If Saturday was all American, then Sunday was all English! It all started with a Sunday Roast, which I will admit, is one of the best meals of the week. We had lamb with roast potatoes, veg, with home-made Yorkshire puddings and gravy. Now for my American friends pudding has several meanings and a Yorkshire pudding is nothing like the snack we pack in our lunches! It is a pop-over. You basically mix the ingredients (eggs, flour, milk) and put into muffin tins coated with HOT oil. Cook at very high temperatures and hopefully the batter rises and puffs up. I used a mini muffin tin and a true Yorkshire pudding tin. I have to say, my American mini muffin tin produced a nice Yorkshire pudding, where the Yorkshire pudding tin fell flat! It was a bit more like a savory pancake than a pop over. The lesson, keep things hot when it comes to "yorkie puds"!!
After our dinner, we watched the 20-20 cricket world cup final. England beat Australia wit 3 overs to spare. I actually understood and enjoyed the game (match). It took me a while to figure out, but I think I would be interested in watching more cricket, at least the 20-20 variety. There are 3 types of competitions; test matches can go on for days... and end in a tie, kinda boring; local competitions, I am guessing similar to minor league sports, and just really depends on the teams playing as to whether or not you get any decent action; finally the 20-20 matches puts 2 teams against each other for 20 overs (a set of 6 balls or pitches) by each team. This game can finish in a few hours and does not end in a tie as frequently as the other matches.
Now that we had rested after our great big meal, it was time to work off a few of those calories, and we did so with a bicycle ride. It had been at least 10 years since I road a bike so we took it easy at first and just did a little lap around the village. I became more confident with each pedal pushed and we ended up doing about a 3 mile ride in the end. Not much for all you big cyclists out there but it was a good start. We rode the path adjacent to one of the fields then on the road and up the hill back to the village. It was definitely a work out for some of those leg muscles I forgot I had! All in all, a fabulous weekend full of both American and English traditions!!

Monday, 17 May 2010

An American Classic - English Style

It has been a great week, races on Wednesday for my birthday. Thursday we ran errands and met up with some old friends. Saturday, a couple of friends came over and they got the bicycles in working order and we grilled out. Hamburgers and hot dogs (and mini kabobs) with grilled vegetable pasta salad and corn on the cob. yummy. Felt like home (until we had to put the patio heater on in May to keep warm while on the back deck)! After our meal, we started a fire in the fireplace and went for a walk. The house was cozy and warm when we got back and perfect for my All-American dessert... S'mores! Since Hershey's chocolate is hard to come by, and other bars tend to be too thick for the marshmallows to melt we improvised with an English classic to replace the graham crackers and chocolate bar, chocolate covered digestives. These are a cookie (biscuit) of sorts that many English dip into their tea. I not being a tea drinker have come up with the best use for them. Sandwich around roasted marshmallows!! The thin layer of chocolate melted between the two cookies. An excellent blend of two classics! For my American friends who are interested, I know many stores carry them in the international foods department.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

English Weather

As you might expect, going from Florida to England is a big shock to the system. By May I am used to having a nice tan, have been to the beach at least a few times, and clothing is bathing suits and cover ups. Evening wear is a pair of jeans or a skirt and a tank top... Not in England We had frost last night!! It is mid-May and there was frost on the windshield (windscreen) when we woke up this morning. Now even in Florida we have frost on the windshield, but it is an occurrence worthy of photos since it only happens a couple of times a year if that in most areas. Thank goodness we have a vacation (holiday) scheduled in Florida the end of June! At least I know I will have some good old fashioned heat and humidity!!!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Lunch in Edinburgh

The whole trip, I heard about haggis.... He passed several restaurants to make sure haggis was on the menu. For those of you who do not know what haggis is, I found an excellent recipe on BBC website: It is the parts of a lamb that don't sell very well, the heart, lungs, and liver. Boil and put these through a meat grinder with some fat and a little meat and then put it all inside the stomach of this lamb and boil it again in the stock from the parts... I guess you have to give it to them for using as much of that little lamb as possible. Again the environmental side of me thinks this is a good idea... the rest of me.... not so excited. I did taste it, and in all honesty, it was not as bad as I expected. I can not say that I will be using the recipe from above any time soon though lol. Well, he had his haggis with neeps ( mashed swede or turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes) and his plate was enormous. Needless to say it was enough to feed an army. Normally portion sizes in the UK seem very reasonable to the US, rarely do you get left overs and not often are doggy bags considered. Many places do not even have a container to put the food in if you do not finish. My serving of sea bass and mashed potatoes was much more sensible, and I did not finish my "tatties" It was 3 o'clock or so by now and we were both very full, but we each had a dessert and it was all very good. We headed back to the car to check into the hotel so we could get ready for the evening. We had recommendations for a comedy club and it looked like a good evening out, but we needed to be there for 7:30 and we were walking once we got the car parked at the hotel. We had just enough time to talk to the families once we got checked in before we headed off to the club. The comedians were great, a little off color but very good. In all we had a great time even if I didn't get fed dinner (because someone ate a huge lunch and didn't think we needed to order food early!)

Friday, 7 May 2010

Edinburgh, Scotland

In all we had an absolutely lovely time in Edinburgh. This was not without a few moments of absolutely frustrating mayhem. Men, just remember, if your female partner tells you to call somewhere, call! When I booked our room early in the week, they advised calling in ahead to book parking. Well, we didn't call until driving around road blocks and traffic detours (diversions) for about an hour. Not only is traffic and parking in Edinburgh a nightmare" as we were told numerous times, but there was a 5k race and the road our hotel was on was closed as well as some crazy rugby tournament, and it was a holiday weekend. So we finally found a place in a multi-story car park (parking garage) to put the car so we could go to the castle and enjoy the day. This practically doubled our parking budget for this portion of the trip lol Fortunately the castle and a walk along the royal mile and and rose street were well worth the wait. We did some good window shopping and scoped some good prices on a few bits and bobs to bring back to the states. We found a place to have a nice lunch and I even tasted Haggus... and that is where I will leave you today!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Weekend in Scotland

Hello Everyone, we have been out of town for a few days and I am catching up to being home. Friday we had a wedding, then spent a long weekend in Scotland. The wedding was lovely, and I am getting to know more and more of my other half's friends. Hard to meet them all when you have lived 4000 miles apart for the bulk of your relationship lol. After the wedding we drove up to Loch of the Lowes. This place is listed as THE place to see ospreys in the UK. So we set off for a 4 hour drive to see some birds. Being from Florida, I was expecting a lot apparently. They had one osprey nest. The closest point was across the loch. If you were patient or lucky, you may see one of the birds coming in to change guard on egg duty, or the male would bring the female a fish from time to time. We only saw the osprey on the cctv cams back in the visitors center. According to the Scottish Wildlife Trust, you can watch the live cams from home on the computer, but I think you have to pay a "voluntary" fee. Every time I log in, osprey cams are stopped. :( After some disappointment, we headed south towards Edinburgh. We didn't want to go all the way into the city because rooms seemed hard to find online as it was a bank holiday weekend. We pulled up a map of Scotland and picked a city in close proximity on the water... and piked Kirkcaldy. We had a good walk along the coast and the walls of Ravenscraig's castle. The weather was much nicer than it was at the Loch of the Lowes. We walked as far as we could along the coast before coming into an industrial area, then up on the road into the town center for a very nice meal. We get so lucky when picking restaurants... we passed close to a dozen places and 4 Indian restaurants before picking one that we absolutely loved. (The only time we had bad luck with a restaurant was in China Town NYC... we were hungry and stopped at the first place we saw... packed and putting multiple parties at a table to get everyone in and out... and the food did not stand up to the crowd.. I think everyone was in our same predicament... hungry..., but I have digressed) After the meal, we walked back to our hotel. If we walked like this everyday, we would never have to worry about our weight! (over a mile just on the road straight back to the hotel, never mind the beach walking we had done earlier) The wedding party we were warned about at check in was in full swing when we returned to our room.. We were initially thinking how quiet it was, then the music started. The music as not bad, but the unattended children playing in the upstairs sitting room just outside our room however were bad. Maybe I should say cheeky and really quite naughty. They even tried to open our door at one point I think. Fortunately a parent did come and take them away (after 20 minutes of playing upstairs.) I was glad I did not have to go crash a wedding to get some sleep lol. Next stop, Edinburgh... it deserves a post to itself, so I will bring you Edinburgh tomorrow!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Garden vs Yard

In the states, we refer to our green area around our homes as the yard. We played wiffle ball (a version of American baseball played with plastic bats and a plastic ball with holes) in the back yard when I was a child. We could never play any sort of ball in the garden... we would crush everything! My nephew (as I at his age) disliked the grass in the back yard. In the UK children may play cricket or football (that is soccer for my American followers) in the back yard, but they would have no grass under their feet if the were in a yard. If there were grass in the back area around their home it would be called a garden. Now in the States, a garden is an area of ones yard dedicated to growing fruits, vegetables, herbs and the likes. One may also have a flower garden in their yard. These "gardens" are typically sectioned off with a decorative border. My Great-Grandfather had an extensive vegetable garden whereas my family now only grows tomatoes with a few flower beds (small flower gardens). In the UK, many people have an allotment. This is a plot of land outside of their garden (yard) where they can have an extensive vegetable patch. This week I have tended to my garden. We mowed the lawn, trimmed back the pampas grass, weeded the cobblestone path (thank you friends) re-potted the pear tree (fingers crossed it survived the winter), basil, and parsley. I also purchased some tulips(Queen of the Night) to replant in the fall. I am hoping to grow tomatoes and maybe some zucchini or eggplant as well. I must acclimate myself to the temperate climate. So much for tropical zone 9, I was just starting to get good at it too. I hope everyone is straight now with the new definitions!! Any questions please ask!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Refuse collection

It is amazing how things that seem as trivial as refuse collection have such impact to ones life. No I suppose I was spoiled in Florida, with collection for recyclables once weekly and trash twice weekly. Yard waste was either collected by the lawn mower man, or I usually had a large yard (garden for any English reading this, we will cover that topic soon) with a corner with a large composting pile. In Pennsylvania trash and recyclables were collected once a week. Not the twice a week of trash in Florida, but, in either location, we could put out as many bins of any size shape and color we found necessary to collect our weeks refuse in. During holidays and birthdays, large boxes and bags never went uncollected. Recyclables could also be placed in miscellaneous containers and they would make an educated decision, in which they were usually correct, as to whether the container was refuse or a receptacle which could be reused. In the district in which we live now, we have one trash bin It is collected every other week. If you have extra trash, you have to save it for two more weeks, or drive it to the local "tip". Large items such as mattresses or old furniture and electronics that can not be resold are also to be taken here. Yard waste is also collected every two weeks. The bin is the same size as the refuse bin, but we must share it with our neighbors. We mowed the lawn yesterday and the bin is full, my composter is half full of grass (not the best for a composter) and we had more grass that was piled in an unused corner of the garden. Recyclables in the states did not need separated (unless you were dropping off at a large collection site after a big party!) The collectors would collect all types of recyclables that the county collected. Here, curbside recycling takes a few types of recyclables, but the district recycles much more. You again need to drive these items to different locations, and not all collection sites recycle all materials. I am afraid this is not a sound plan to involve the masses in recycling. As an environmentalist, I appreciate the limited waste collection promotes reduction, reuse, and recycling. However, as the country that suffered great loss from the bubonic plague, does twice monthly refuse collection sound like a good plan? I have been told by my fiancee that the UK is great at handling the middle of the road, not extremes. I guess in addition to weather, refuse collection is another area where they will stand on the middle ground.

Saturday, 24 April 2010


My fiancee had two days off back to back so we e took a trip to the Northeast coast. It took a couple of hours to get there, but well worth it. On our first day we stopped in Seahouses, a little seaside village, but the wind was too much for the tour boat operators. So we continued North through Bamburgh onto The Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Before crossing the causeway (which has limited cross times due to tidal fluctuations much greater than I am used to in Florida) we stopped at the Barn at Beal. This place was fabulous. We had fish-n-chips in view of the North Sea. It was very nice. Then we stopped at the Bird of Prey Center. Although we entered near the end of the day, the staff was excellent and was very pleased to be in the company of animal people again, even if only for an hour or so. We then crossed the causeway, which looked more desert like than waterway, to Lindisfarne. After parking up we walked to the Castle of Lindisfarne. The castles in this part of England were built more for military defense than royal decadence. You can see why this island was picked for such defenses. The views into the bay and back towards the mainland were phenomenal. They would have been able to see the Scotts coming from miles away if they had weather like ours. After the castle we had a few hours before the the causeway would be too wet to cross so we walked through the Village of Lindsfarne to the new church and the old priory. Saint Aiden is the patron saint of the island for he brought Christianity here and set up a priory in the early 7th century. We made it off the Island with plenty of time to spare, but the landscape had changed to that of a wetlands from a desert. You could see why they do not keep it open around the clock. As we continued north a bit further to Berwick upon Tweed picturesque views of quintessential English countrysides were plentiful. We walked around the walls of Berwick and out to the lighthouse before choosing a bed and breakfast to spend the night. From here I was able to Skype my one year old nephew on his birthday and sing Happy Birthday from 4ooo miles away. The next day we chose to head back to Seahouses for another attempt to take a boat out to the Farne Islands and we had success. The "Glad Tidings III" was our vessel for our 2.5 hour tour of the bird island sanctuaries and seal colony. We had the opportunity to explore one of the islands along well marked pathways. By staying along the marked paths, the birds were familiar with people being on the island and continued nesting behavior as normal when people were around. They even have a blog which i follow giving updates of the Islands activities. Good Stuff My fiancee picked a great location for our "weekend" getaway in the middle of the week. If we lived closer I would volunteer with the National Trust on the Farne Islands!! Northumberland is a must see for any animal lover visiting the UK!! It was a nice change of pace from village life.

Friday, 23 April 2010

A llittle background

I will let you know a little about my childhood I grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh. My dad worked in the mills, we cheered for the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. My grandparents lived next door. We didn't go on many big vacations but we did lots around the city or within the tri-state area. It was an average upbringing for a child of the seventies. After high school, I went to college and studied Environmental Science and Biology. My school was in a tiny town with the population of Amish residents outnumbered faculty when school was out of session. I went home frequently I missed my family and the city. I also started my love of travel at this stage of my life. I took 4 opportunities to study biology abroad. These classes have shaped a large part of the adult I have become. Upon graduation, I moved home and worked for a year in retail. It was not long before the travel bug bit me again. This time I would not be coming home. I moved to the Gulf Coast of Florida. Again I lived in a very suburban area. I drove everywhere, had grocery stores on every corner, Malls on every other corner. I could go to a professional sporting event and a play on the same day. I lived in Florida for 13 years before meeting the man who would change my world and my address. After over a year of long distance relationship, spending more time on skype than in the same room, we decided the UK would be our home for the foreseeable future. I had visited several times over the last year, so I knew what I was getting into. I hope you enjoy it as much as am!