Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thoughts while back in the US

While Scott & I were just back home in the US for a few days over the Thanksgiving holiday, we found ourselves commenting on various bits of life in America that we did not always readily notice before. I thought I would share such thoughts in no particular order....

- Parking Spaces: They are just HUGE in the US compared to the UK. After driving over in the UK now for a while, I felt like I could park four cars in one American parking space. In the US, there is more than enough room to open your door and get out of the car while parked in a lot. In the UK, I often find myself trying to squirm out of my car in the car park because the spaces are so narrow and I have very little room between my car and the one next to mine....
Aisles between parking spaces are much wider too in the US. They must have to be given the gigantic size of the SUVs, Minivans and various other truck-type cars that rule the road in the US...

- Shopping: Americans love to do it. Consumerism is key. Being home on Black Friday was proof that Americans love to consume goods of all kinds. Shops opened at obscene hours of the night (or morning) and due to our jet lag, we were up and awake at such hours. We ventured out in the early hours of the morning on Black Friday and many others were out trying to grab bargains at the stores at those hours too. While we did not have anything specific to shop for, we were still glad to be out in a proper mall and seeing everyone else there reinforced our thought that Americans love to buy things, especially at this time of year.

- Customer Service: It is clear some aspects of life in the UK have rubbed off on us. There is excellent customer service in the US compared to here (and I sometimes have moaned about it before on this blog), however while we were back and out shopping, we almost felt like we were being assaulted in the stores. Within our first five minutes in one store, we had four sales people come up to us and ask if we needed any assistance. We know they were just doing their job and trying to be helpful - but after the fourth sales person asked us and we responded, "No, thank you - we are just browsing," Scott promptly said to me - We need to leave, this is too much to take! It made me chuckle because I always feel I have to hunt a salesperson down in a store over here and ask them for assistance - they are never outwardly waiting to assist me over here (probably to do with the British sense of privacy or greater personal space I think). I think we have grown used to being left alone when browsing in stores now and it is sometimes kind of nice...

- Eggs: I am now used to only brown eggs over here. I was home and made breakfast one morning and felt like the eggs looked pale and sickly to me since they were white. I think I may be a brown egg convert by the time we move back.....

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Thanksgiving Surprise

While living abroad does have many benefits, sometimes it is difficult to be away from family. I probably find it most difficult because I am very close to my family. I talk to my mother daily, sometimes multiple times a day. I speak to my father and sister almost every day as well. Sometimes there is not a lot to say but it's always nice just to hear what has happened in the last day since I have spoken to them and to tell them about something mundane over here. Thank goodness for our vonage phone and skype for being able to keep in touch while living so far away! Having a US phone number over in England is confusing to some, but it does make me feel a bit closer to home.

Thanksgiving week was upon us here and Scott & I attended the American Club's Thanksgiving celebration in advance of the actual holiday. It does feel slightly uneventful here, since of course it is just not acknowledged or celebrated in England. I think my husband could tell I needed to be back with my family. He is a very good husband like that. And so he proposed that we all head back to St. Louis and surprise my parents for Thanksgiving. I think they were missing us just as much as we were missing them. And so we went back to the US and surprised them this past weekend. What a great surprise it was and how nice it was to be back home for a short while!

We were slightly delayed in arriving into St. Louis because there was SNOW falling...
The backyard with the snow starting to fall...
First, my sister Carrie arrived from Denver to surprise my parents on Thanksgiving Day. My parents then called us here in the UK, leaving a message to say we could call them since the surprise was revealed (and it was mid-day in the US at this point and I hadn't spoken to them, a bit unlike me since I speak to them daily). Little did they know at this point we were already on US soil and were awaiting our connection at O'Hare airport!
My Mom was busy finishing her Thanksgiving dinner which she thought was just going to be for her and my Dad. Luckily there was enough food since she was planning for leftovers!
And then Scott & I arrived home! We made it in time for a late Thanksgiving dinner (falling asleep shortly there after due to a long day of travel and jet lag!). It felt so nice to be home and I was very glad to have one more trip back home before this little bambino arrives in about 9 more weeks....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I am a bit behind in posting these photos so I will briefly recap our weekend trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, that we took at the end of October. We traveled with our friends BJ & Beth who reside in London. None of us had been to Edinburgh before (Scott being the exception - he had a pass through of the Edinburgh airport this summer...but not a proper stay there) so we decided that we would all meet in Edinburgh for a weekend of exploring the city.
The city is very much one of many townhouses. It is a surprisingly low city with not many buildings much higher than a few stories in height. Our hotel was also a series of townhouses that had been renovated and turned into a hotel (as many are).
The view of the many row houses from our hotel entrance.
The height in the city comes in the old part of town where the castles and the high street are all set on top of some steep hills and lovely old cobblestone streets. Our legs got a work out over the weekend!
On the bridge leading to Old Town - I think this is the North Bridge in Ediburgh.
A scene on the Royal Mile (Edinburgh's main high street leading to the Castle).
The buildings in Edinburgh. All very gray but quite picturesque.
The boys found their way to a whiskey merchant as soon as possible....
Traditional scottish bag pipes being played on the street.
The decor at the bar where the boys spent their afternoon....
Scott & BJ sampling a wide variety of scottish whiskies while Beth & I spent some time shopping...
We celebrated BJ's birthday on Saturday night while we were there. I baked red velvet cupcakes and brought them up for the weekend.
On Sunday we did explore Edinburgh Castle.
Beth & BJ inside the castle walls - a very high vantage point to see the city.
The baby bump at Edinburgh Castle.
The history marker for the castle.

State rooms inside Edinburgh Castle.
After some touring, whiskey drinking and castle sight-seeing, we had seen nearly all the main sights of Edinburgh. It was a nice weekend away without having to go too far!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Autumn in England

The season now is technically always referred to as "Autumn" here although I think more often we refer to it as "Fall" in the US. Either way, there have been a few weeks of glorious colors of leaves on trees dotting in the English countryside by us. Here are a few shots from our neck of the woods...