Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The American Suburbanite in North Wales

We are finally home from our holiday and I can get back to blogging.  Although we had limited internet connection, I just couldn't bring myself to spend too much time infront of a computer whilst out and about.  Good news, a smart phone is in the works for me so I can update on the move!

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Our first stop was North Wales. One of the things I enjoy about Wales is the Welsh language.  I do not understand it at all, but it makes you feel as if you have been abroad when a language other than English is spoken.  We stay at Plas Meirion in the little village of Trefriw in Snowdonia. We are just a short drive from the Coastal community of Conwy and the mountain-side hub of Betws-y-Coed

The village itself is fairly quiet with a few pubs, lots of sheep and unending ideallic views and walking/jogging trails. 
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 A working woollen mill is the primary attraction within the village. You can see the wool being processed through to the final product.  During our visit last year, we bought a lovely cushion, the wool is so soft and not at all itchy.

There is also a lovely waterfall that powers a water wheel for the mill. The waterfall was named by the Victorians 'Fairy Falls' and is quite a magical little place.  If you approach quietly, you might even catch the Fairies off guard!

(ok I admit fairies were pinched from google images)

On this trip we spent our time on Anglesey where we toured several sea side communities.   We started the day here:

(c) ASRE   Plas Newydd, Anglesey, North Wales

We are members of the National Trust and try to stop at a new sight as often as possible.  This trip was Plas Newydd.   A grand home for the Marquess of Anglesey.  They still live in the top floor, however the rest of the house and garden is open to the public through the National Trust.  It is more a financial benefit to the Marquess than a desire to share, but a win win for all involved.

(c) ASRE View across the Straights
(c) ASRE The Garden
(c) ASRE Garden Water Feature

After Plas Newydd, we went into several coastal communities in search of Welsh Slate.  Although we found plenty of lovely items, none of it was certified Welsh, most of the slate in the UK is now shipped in from China, what a shame.  I did manage to bring home a small piece though.  When I went down to the beach to get some pictures of this bright yellow boat waiting for the tide to come under it again, I found a very nice peice of Welsh Slate right there on the beach! 

(c) ASRE The boat that led me to my slate
With the slate find, we headed to the light house for sunset and were lucky enought to be there for low tide.  We made it all the way out to the light house and didn't need the air/sea rescue team to lift us from an incoming tide!

(c) ASRE Trwyn Du Lighthouse with Puffin Island in the Background

No Royal sightings this day, but lovely just the same.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Preparing for our holiday

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My husband had holiday time scheduled in August and if I had not been able to return to the country, he would have visited me in the States and we would have had 2 weeks together regardless of my location.  Luckily enough, I was able to come home and we still have holiday time this month to get away from his work and the daily grind.  Although we had hoped to be on our Mediterranean cruise for this holiday, my visa issues caused us to delay it until next year.  We still wanted to take advantage of our location and give me the opportunity to see some of Europe so we are doing a driving/train trip instead.  North Wales, London, Paris, Brighton Beach, and Eastbourne before heading back home!

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Because we are making so many stops and will be traveling without our car from the time we arrive in London until we depart Paris, we have decided to pack a small bag (or 2) for each leg of the trip. We thought it would be easier than hauling one large suitcase through train and tube stations.  Can I tell you, it has taken me as long to pack each individual bag as if I were packing it for its own 2 week holiday.

My husband is a bit concerned as he only has an Audi TT and it is quite small.  Here is the boot (or trunk) filled to the rim when I flew in last year with my dearly departed Mona enjoying the view through the rear window.  

(c) ASRE    Mona Moo, Military issue duffel bag, large suitcase, 2 pieces of hand luggage, cat crate and more, we should have no problems!

I will let you know how the car gets packed as well as a bit more on each leg of the trip!

Friday, 5 August 2011

A day in the City

Lovely summer display in front of L'Occitane
Yesterday, my husband had the day off.  We got out and about and got some errands completed in the process.  First stop was the Doctors Surgery (doctors office for my American friends).  Now that I have a residency visa, I am establishing myself with a doctor within the NHS.  This, so far, has been the easiest part of my immigration!  I have spoke enough about my visa trials and tribulations and will later post about driving issues, but registering with a GP, piece of cake! 

We then drove into the city where I did some shopping for both of our mother's birthdays while my husband had a meeting for about an hour.  I also did a little searching for myself, but came up empty handed in that department...  My Mom's birthday is on the 8th and his Mum's birthday is on the 10th so we have lots to do and very little time to get it all done.

I leisurely strolled up and down the little streets of York amused by the sights and sounds of summer.  It was a 'tropical' 81 degrees F yesterday as we drove into the city.  The Yorkshire men and women as well as holiday makers clearly did not expect the heat as they are not very good at dressing for warm weather (something I take for granted after living in FL for nearly 15 years). 

There were many a men in shorts and socks, some with black dress shoes, others with sandals.  A number of men just did not wear a shirt at all in their effort to beat the heat.  It was not at all appealing to see.  A few gentlemen were dressed appropriately, younger men in longer cargo or board shorts and t shirts or short sleeve button down shirts, while older men wore light colored trousers and a pale colored, short sleeve, button down shirt, and occasionally a stylish hat. 

The women were also in various states of undress.  Lots of very pale legs, arms and stomachs sticking out of tiny articles of clothing.  One trend I do not understand at all is the wearing of sheer stalkings and letting the reinforced portion show below shorts or skirts.  I know the Duchess is wearing nude stalkings with her formal wear, but it is not necessary to replicate that under a pair of jean shorts, especially when they are so short I can see all the parts of the stockings that are meant to be hidden under a pretty frock.

A number of women were dressed classically and stylishly with just the right number of trends to not look to out dated.  A good quality sundress goes a long way when it is only worn once or twice a year.  I saw several on women of all ages with hot pink as a prominent color and they looked lovely on all.  I also saw some very cute very mini dresses on some young girls and even a few jumpsuits that looked OK on the girls that were wearing them (and yet others did not pull of the trend quite as well).  While there were no shortage of maxi-dresses, I am sticking to my guns in saying this is not a trend that can be worn by all... Trust me!  I have tried them on time and again, and can not bring myself to by one. 

Nothing better!
I can say that I am thankful for having so much sun while State side.  It makes wearing a pair of shorts easier.  My outfit yesterday included a simple white tunic shirt, grey plaid shorts, and some orange accessories for a pop of color.  My favorite accessory of the day, a fresh squeezed lemonade.  The cart only comes out a few times a year here, and while the lines for ice cream were a mile long, the lemonade line was fairly short and it was a great way to quench my thirst on the hot afternoon. 

After shopping and strolling the city for nearly an hour, I heard a familiar sound that I do not equate with England, but rather FL especially around 3pm, THUNDER!  Muffled and in the distance at first, but then more defined and closer.  I worked my way towards the shops near the Minster as it is only a short walk to the car park from there (I had nearly forgotten I had the keys to the car!).  The charity shops are quite good for picture frames and the likes.  I was very glad to have stopped in one that had umbrellas because the sky was about to open! 
clouds moving in on our blue skies

I confidently walked out of the charity shop with my new purchase and opened it to find a very tiny umbrella, but it was enough to keep my head and shoulders mostly dry.  The wind was blowing so my arms and legs got a bit wet, but it was warm enough that I didn't mind so much.  Had I been wearing a hat and something other than a white blouse, I may have forgone the umbrella, but thought it a good buy at the time.  Most of the holiday makers in the city were huddling in shops or under the smallest of shelters.  The crew working on the scaffolding of the Minster were coming down quickly as they did not really expect to see lightening in the North of England!  There were only a few of us continuing about our business of the day.  One couple was apparently enjoying their walk in the rain as they were sans umbrella, absolutely drenched, holding hands and smiling as they walked down the path around the Minster. 

By the time I had made it to the car, the rain had nearly stopped, 20 minutes of hard rain, then sunshine, just like the afternoon thunderstorms at home!  I checked my phone when I arrived at the car and I had missed a call from my husband.  I had my mobile phone in my pocket expecting my husband to call as his meeting was to be over at 3 pm, but the rain and thunder were so loud, I did not here it ring!  After several attempts to call him back with no success (straight to voicemail) I texted him to find out he had stayed dry and warm at the meeting office. 

I had convinced him the rain was stopping and he started to walk towards the car. We had a few more scattered storms that afternoon, but cleared mostly for sunset.  We decided to go to the 'Designer Center' since it is indoors and we could look at a few different shops to finish our birthday shopping!   Success, Mum's birthday present found.  Mom's birthday card and little bits sent (more to come from Paris!)  The UK drivers code bought for me as well as a practice cd-rom...Study Study Study!

side note:  My white Birkenstocks are definitely in need of new cork and soles and did not want to stay on my feet in the afternoon thunderstorm that soaked the city...  nor did they have very good traction on the wet Yorkshire stone walkways.