Friday, 29 July 2011

The American Suburbanite has returned to Rural England

(c) ASRE  My favorite oak tree in the village

Wow it has been a long time coming for this post.  In all I guess it could have been worse but I was gutted when I said good bye to my husband at the airport when he left America in May and my new visa application had not yet been submitted.  Not because we were not finished, but because it had taken another few weeks for the lawyer to complete his portion of the application... Two weeks exactly after my application was delivered to the British Consulate in New York, we received my approved spousal visa.  Although it is good for 27 months, I couldn't return to England for another month based on my travel itinerary submitted with the application.

Enough about my visa application, I am with my husband in jolly ol' England again and very happy to be home (although I did cry when I left my parents and nephew behind at the airport, I have a theme going!)  We have had a great time in the week I have been home.  My husband was able to take three extra days off work when I first arrived back in the UK, it was great to have some time with him after 9 weeks apart. 

We went to Scarborough and visited his parents.  While there, I traded the Doc Ford novels I had read for two that I have not yet read!  We did a 7.5 mile walk around the North and South bays and back to the house.  And even explored a little of the seashore during the low tide.  The water was much colder than when I was in FL so no swimming for me although there were a few guys out there surfing!

(c) ASRE surfers in Scarborough

Friday after going to the gym and swimming in the morning, we went to the races at York Race Course for the evening portion of the Music Showcase weekend.  Our friend Ms. V came along as well and we all had picked at least one winner.  A night at the races is always better if you win at least one and Ms. V won a few!  After the races, Blondie performed for about 90 minutes and it was great!  We were not that close to the stage, but we could see the stage as well as a few big screens they had positioned around the course. Being further back gave us plenty of room to dance!  She sounds great for 66 years old, and still putting out new music.

(c) ASRE Blondie

(c)ASRE A gorgeous sunset for all at the Blondie Concert

We took it easy on Saturday and slept in after our big night out.  We stayed with Ms. V and family and just relaxed until the early afternoon before heading back home.  After showers and a quick nap for me (5 minutes, a true cat nap!)we headed out to do some car shopping.  Now that I am able to start looking for work, I need to make sure I have a vehicle to get me to and fro.  We are looking at the Vauxhall Corsa, although it appears an American driving license, though legal for a year, is not an easy one to get insured. 

On Sunday we made up for our laziness and walked another 7.5 miles for our lunch.  We walked the back side of the village along the footpaths through the fields to a neighboring village and stopped at the pub for a pint and a sandwich before walking back.  It was interesting to see all the different crops.  We noted two types of grain, guessing one is wheat and the other might be barley, sweet beet root, and maybe even asparagus plants.  We had another lovely sunny day, nothing like the summer sun in PA or FL lately but it was nice enough for me to wear sandals and a t shirt!

(c) ASRE Sporting my Chaco's with a little hitchiker! Ladybird beetles (lady bugs) were everywhere!

Monday my husband had to go back to work and I started some of the mundane chores like unpacking, laundry, and weeding.  Our front cobbles had dandelions bigger than me and the cobblestone was nowhere in sight.  With a putty knife and some nimble fingers I have excavated a large portion and now only want to do a length about one foot wide in front of our flower barrels before I call it done.  three days of work into it so far and probably one more to go.  It may have to wait until the weekend though as tomorrow I have scheduled myself a busy morning.  Pilates at 10 am and then a driving lesson at noon for 2 hours.  We figured if they won't inure me on an American license, they will have to when I get a full UK license!

(c) ASRE 9 weeks of no weeding
(c)  ASRE part of the finished product

Monday, 11 July 2011

A little success...

So, every woman goes through trials and tribulations with their weight at some point in their life.  I, like many have had issues about my body since middle school.   I have gone through minor ups and downs with my weight at stereotypical times, when I went to college I gained the freshman fifteen... 

When I moved to FL one year after graduating from college, I was quite fit.  I life guarded as a part time job and on my time off spent as much time swimming/walking outside as I could.  For many years I lived a few blocks from the beach which led to a great active lifestyle.

Who wouldn't work out when your gym looked like this?

The lifestyle in FL lends to being healthy.  Besides you are in a bathing suit half the time so you want to look good...

Since I have left FL I have had a hard time keeping up the activity level (and down the calorie level).  Over the 18 months or so I have put on a whopping 37 lbs.  

A bathroom accessory I have not loved lately

My husband and I joined a gym in January in England, but we were not seeing much success.  We were working out 4 times a week and not enjoying it.  It was just not the right routine for us.  When we came to the States in May we pretty much took the week off, we went for a couple of walks but the weather was very wet and we spent more time getting pampered than working hard.  It was after all, a vacation. 

As the weather warmed, I could really see the effect all the comfort food and hibirnation activity level had on my body as my clothes were just not fitting anymore, quite an unsettling feeling.   I joined the gym in PA which I was a member of for a couple of months last year when I lived with my parents between leaving Florida and moving to England. 

When I first joined, I went to a couple of aqua fit classes, but was not overly motivated.  I had a meeting with one of the trainers, a complimentary feature for all new members.  I know the motivation behind it is to pay into the service long term, but went into it knowing that I was not going to buy in simply because my time in the States was so questionable.  So I went in making sure that I could learn as much as possible in our short meeting so that it could carry through. While in FL I had a few work outs, but nothing serious,  I didn't always have a car, and enjoyed my time with my friends.  Work outs were not my priority. 

When I returned to PA, I had a refreshed attitude towards working out and eating.  I made it to aquafit 3 times and took my first Pillates class (one step beyond my video at home).  Since then, I have been super motivated and go almost daily.  I missed yesterday, but spent most of the day outside chasing my 2 year old nephew around. 

While I don't weigh myself daily, I do check in a couple of times a month.  Enough to make sure I am not still putting weight on, not enough to get discouraged if I have not lost any.  This morning I had a pleasant surprise.  While for the nearly 8 weeks I have been in the States, I have not lost any weight, today 7 lbs down from my last weigh in.  At only 5 foot tall, 7 lbs is a huge difference in my physical size.  And although there is still quite a way to go, it is a great motivational step to keep going.

I can say from experience the only valid way to loose weight and keep it off is to decrease your calorie intake and increase your calorie out put... simply eat better and get more active.  I hope I can keep it up when I go back to England and I don't have the sunny weather to continue to motivate me. 

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Wow, time is flying

It seems as if I have been waiting so long for my Visa, that now that I know when I get to go back to England, the time is FLYING by...  I have been filling my days with mundane activities like scanning in paperwork and going through clothes still in my parents house...  I have fit in a few fun activities as well such as playing with my nephew and watching Pirates baseball.

PNC Park: a beautiful ball field even with a slightly compromised view
I think this fan has it summed up perfectly, no one ever expected the Pirates to perform above 300 let alone above 500.  The city is showing their support by selling out a number of the weekend games.

Reminds me of Field of Dreams,
"If you build it they will come!"

I have also managed to go to the gym nearly every day this week and hope to continue that routine until my departure (even the morning of my flight) I am really hoping I can keep this trend going when I get back into the English Countryside  as well. I might not be in pillates or aquafit classes daily, but if I can get in a brisk walk or a bike ride on days we don't go to the gym I am hoping to successfully take off the weight I put on living in the middle of rural the worst winter on record... with no car... My big activity last winter was walking to the out house (shed), filling a bucket with coal, and walking back into the house to keep the fires in the house warm!

Winter sky over the River Swale,
not a welcoming sight for an outdoor work out.

Here is to hoping I bring the sunshine back to England with me!  

Monday, 4 July 2011

Happy 4th of July!!

Hope Americans everywhere are enjoying their July 4th celebrations!

We celebrated with a TON of food, friends, and family!

My husband even celebrated in England at work in their respite (cafeteria)!

Have fun and be safe!

Friday, 1 July 2011

America has gone Mad for the Royals

Photo by friend Sandy K
It has been over 2 months since the Royal wedding and America has not lost interest in the Royal couple.  Their current visit to North America is only adding fuel to the fire.  The Duchess of Cambridge is certainly delighting all of the fashion magazines and retailers as her clothing sells out within minutes of her appearances.  She also continues to grace the cover of numerous magazines, however, not always without a bit of added help with her appearance (as if she needs any help)

The Duchess of Cambridge is a natural beauty, she works hard to keep fit and trim, however someone felt her waist wasn't small enough and airbrushed some of her wedding photos that appeared on the cover of various magazines.  On TV in the States an industry insider was spilling the beans on a variety of shots that have been touched up, I am not sure if it was this one of not, but I think her waist is more than slim enough
View Image
As if being in the public eye and many comparing the Duchess to her husbands late mother, Princess Diana this week Newsweek has done the ultimate comparison and photoshoped an image that appears to be The Duchess and The Princess walking down the street together and they have aged Princess Diana to look as she would today at 50. 

Royal Style: Princess Kate vs. Diana

She however has been coached well and always appears with style and grace...

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate, walk down the stairs of their aircraft upon their arrival in Ottawa, Canada
Praised for both wearing new local designers as well as a few classic staples from her own wardrobe she is becoming a style icon in her own right.  Hopefully she will learn about the airbrushing and take a stand about her published photos. 

Girls and women around the world are under such pressure to look like a certain size and shape.  It would be nice to see people as they really are, not as the publishers want them to look. 

In the mean time another great series has made it to America from across the pond... My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding!  I watched with my husband while in England and have enjoyed it a second time around (with new narration and the occasional subtitles!) in America.  I laugh even more the second time around and have enjoyed translating and answering questions for my friends back here in the States.  If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it, the season finale is this weekend with the gypsy version of a royal wedding...  Jersey Shore ain't got nothin' on the Gypsies!


Doc Ford

When my father-in-law knew I was heading back to the States he requested some new books.  While on Sanibel we introduced him to Doc Ford's Rum bar and grille.  The restaraunt was inspired by the characters of the novels of Randy Wayne White. 

Dead Silence - Author Randy Wayne White
The latest Doc Ford Novel

Doc Ford is a former government agent who wants to enjoy the pace of life on Sanibel Island while working as a marine biologist. Unfortunately drama and the job follow him there and take him on dangerous and exciting excursions.

I have read 2 books so far, 10,000 Islands and Tampa Burn and I have raced through each one reading them in less than 2 days.  I was on vacation, which makes it ok to read for long periods of time through the day, however the action and the pace keep you eager to turn each page. 

While there are 18 books now and I have not read them in order, I have managed to keep up with the action and the characters.  I intend to go back and start reading from the beginning as my father-in-law has the first and fourth and I have ordered the second, third, and fifth.  We may be downloading a few to the ipad to keep my Doc Ford fix going if I continue to plow through the books at my current pace.  Otherwise, they will have to wait for our next trip to the States in November.

An added bonus to the books, I lived in Florida for 15 years and have been visiting for over 20.  I am familiar with a variety of the landmarks described in the books.  I can see the action unfolding in my back yard or a stretch of beach I have frequented.  Its like bringing Florida home with me.