Thursday, August 18, 2016

Driving Miss Llygad y Dydd

I am becoming such a little old lady. I don't like driving anymore. I sit in the passenger's seat with my handbag on my lap, my hands folded on top, and I tell my driver to slow down, for goodness sakes! I swat him with my fan for good measure.

Of course, it's partly because I'm used to driving on the right side of the road, and I moved to a country where they drive on the WRONG side.


But what really makes me cringe is how narrow the roads are! When I learned to drive, I was taught to leave about a foot between my car and other cars. When I mentioned that to a British woman, she said they generally just left room 'for a piece of paper' between cars! And people drive faster here, on those narrow roads. It's enough to make your sphincter both tighten and loosen when a looming lorry is speeding towards you on a two-lane road that is enclosed by hedges or stone walls.

Then there are the single-lane secondary roads, especially here in Wales where it's not very busy.


You hope you're near a wide spot when you meet a tractor whizzing between fields.


I've been letting Mr. S do most of the driving, but I also force myself to keep in practice. I mean, what is wrong with me? When I lived in the UK before, I drove all the time. I could squeeze through traffic, and I only knocked a mirror off once. Now I am such an old woman.

Speaking of old women, we went to a car boot sale (swap meet/tailgate sale/whatever you want to call it) at a little local church. There were several mature women selling baked goods. Look what we got.


That's right - Apricot Whisky Cake. It was delicious!

Old ladies rock!!

Val

Friday, August 12, 2016

Stress? What stress?

I can't believe how quickly we've settled down in our new home, thousands of miles away from where we lived for ten years. We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.


We spent months sorting through and clearing out a home we loved, and saying goodbye to family and old friends. Now that I'm sitting here in Wales, fairly relaxed, I look back and wonder how I got through all that stress.

Here's what helped - I gave up wearing make-up and jewellery, quit cutting my hair, and stopped worrying about what I was wearing. That's why you haven't seen any pictures of me here on the blog for quite some time. It was essential, though, partly to save time and partly because I didn't always know where my things were during the move!

Since I'm a freelancer, I still spend days looking like this.

Still also wearing baggy old shorts, weather permitting

I made some paper dolls to stand in for me on social media - they're better dressed than me!


You can see them on the right sidebar as the buttons linking to my Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest pages. 

Guess which one's my favourite?


I call her Velma.

Which one is your fave?

Val

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Phone Booth



Now for something completely different -

Here's a mini-story I wrote a few months ago while I still lived in the States. In the UK I should probably say The Phone Box (especially with this photo).




She hurried into the phone booth and exhaled. With the door closed, she was alone. It was quiet. No one else was breathing the air. She felt invisible, just like she felt in the car wash. Alone for a moment, away from the friction of other humans, away from everything that can go wrong.

But she wouldn't be going to the car wash anymore. Her car had just been wrecked. She had run from it and into the phone booth without even looking at the other car - and people - she had smashed into.

It had been bad. 

How long did she have before someone came looking for her?

She just couldn't take one more thing! It was impossible that so much had been dumped on her in the last few weeks - betrayal, abandonment, theft.

Liars, cheats, bastards! She had tried to be good, she tried to do the right thing, she worked hard, she was polite. And people just shit on her, no thought for how their actions affected her. Selfish!

Tears never left her eyes. She couldn't see beyond one minute.

Now she could hear the sirens. She screamed out loud and stomped her feet. She hit the sides of the phone booth and wailed. She cursed and swore and cried as she thought about how her life had slipped out of her control.

She opened the door of the phone booth and walked toward the police car.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Not So Insta Gram



I have to get this out of my system. I promise if you let me rant now, I will reward you with pretty pictures, wine and chocolate chip cookies. But first I have to tell you that BT (British Telecom) has still failed to connect our broadband internet service. Hashtag that!

#BTfail

We were told a month ago that there was a fault with the ‘underground line’ to our house, and yes, we were told that the engineers who do that work ‘are very busy’. Since then, Mr. S contacted BT several times and been told lie after lie after lie, some told with Indian accents by people who take ‘personal responsibility’ for making sure this would be sorted out.

#BTbullshit

Finally, Mr. S contacted our Member of Parliament as well as the chairman of BT. We have been assigned a person who is responding personally, mostly to make excuses. However, as of today we have the landline telephone hooked up! That’s progress!

However, we were told it will take five to seven days to switch the broadband on!*$!#&%!

#BTWTF

We use our smartphones to do a reasonable amount of stuff – emails, Instagram, Facebook – and we’ve set one up as a wifi hotspot so we can use our computers in a pinch. That’s a real data drain, though, so I’ve been Instagramming rather than blogging, and my Muse Fondue Facebook page is slumped in the corner like a ventriloquist’s dummy.

But now I’m sacrificing my data ration to bring you – ta da! – pretty pictures from Wales! Almost all of these have not even been on Instagram – they are exclusive to the blog. Don’t you feel special? I hope you enjoy them!

The orangery at Powis Castle

Plunge pool at Powis Castle - looks inviting, no?

View from the orangery
Leighton church doorway with finger (I did it on purpose, natch)

Llanerfyl church doorway

Bishops Castle street

Bishops Castle square

Montgomery Castle ruins and view beyond

And for those of you who also want wine and chocolate chip cookies, send me your address and I’ll, um, put them in the post.

Val

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Cheap and Cheerful



Thank you all for your kind comments on my last post. I recovered from the horrible bug I had (Brexit bug?), thanks to some down time and a gift from Mr. S.

Chocolate can cure almost anything.
Now, I know you’re all wondering about our new house. 


It’s bright and pleasant, small but adequate, and fulfils that wonderful British phrase 'cheap and cheerful'. We've quickly filled it up with new furniture and other crap that we feel we need to live a modern life. We've been up to our ears in flat-packs, corrugated cardboard and plastic packaging. I hope we’re done now because I’m getting a serious case of stuff-itis – and we don’t have any more room!



We received the boxes we had shipped from the States with the belongings we kept. It’s funny opening them after six weeks, now that we’re in a new environment. Some things I look at and wonder, ‘What the hell was I thinking? Why did I keep that?’ But other things are such a joy to unwrap, and finally make this place feel like home.


Blogger keeps turning this photo sideways - weird.

As you can see up above, we painted one accent wall. Otherwise, we've made things easy by sticking to the 'new-build neutral' colour scheme. Most things we bought in either cream or white, with just a few patterns to shake things up.


I have a nascent craft corner in the garage.


I have a new bicycle with pretty patterns on it.

It's pretty, but it's not exactly top of the line.

The shower, which is so small that I almost can't bend my elbows, shows what the builders thought about following instructions.


Although we're in a rural location, we're in a newish cul-de-sac just off a highway. It's a fish bowl with great views of all the neighbours' cars. 


It's not ideal, but there's only so much you can do when you buy a house online! We’re looking at this as a starter home, so we may have to move all this new furniture and stuff again someday. What fun.

I have surprisingly few local pictures available except on my phone, so if you want scenic shots (it is gorgeous here!), check out my Instagram feed (@musefondue). But here are a couple blog-exclusive pics taken in local towns, and I’ll share some soon of our trip to Powis Castle.



There's so much more I want to photograph, but it seems we're always rushing on our way to somewhere else. And the weather has been mostly horrendous! Hoping for sunshine and a slower pace soon!

Val

Friday, July 8, 2016

Amerexit/Brexit



Would you Adam and Eve it?!*

I move to Britain one week, and the next week they vote to close the borders, more or less! You might say I got here just in time. Or you might say I just moved into a big financial and political hurricane. Or you might say, like me, WTF.


chapel in Llanwydden


So, here I am in Wales. It's very green because it's very wet. I'm using wifi at the library because we still don't have internet/phone/cable hooked up at our house - thanks, BT!




We had a smooth flight over except for the requisite turbulence during meal service. After landing, we hit the ground running - we went to the bank, got a mobile phone, and renewed our driving licences before you could say, 'Please return your seats and tray tables to an upright position'. (UK punctuation and spelling rules apply now.)

That was just the beginning of the fun!

After feeding us and giving us her bed for the night, my stepdaughter, Emma, drove us to our new house out in the Welsh countryside, where we dumped our three huge suitcases. Then we dashed into the nearest town with a good variety of shopping (20+ miles), and we quickly loaded up several shopping trolleys with pillows, duvets, towels, towel rails, broom, mop, dishes, mugs, glasses, kettle, toaster, cleaning supplies, tools, and two patio chairs. We made quite a spectacle, especially when one of the trolleys rolled into the street as we were waiting for Emma to bring the car round! 




Then back to the house just in time to receive our new car so we wouldn't be stuck when Emma departed. An hour later we received our new bed, which turned out to be very comfy. After that, a quick run in the new car to the supermarket (18 miles away) and we were set for the night, eating beans on toast and sitting in our patio chairs.

Then several more days making the rounds of the local towns to get more supplies, pick out furniture, get keys made, join the library and sign up with the health centre. Home again to unpack and find a place for everything in our little house.


nearby tea shop


And the house needed cleaning - it had been either rented or empty for the last five years. (Oh, the dead spiders and flies in the window frames - ugh!)

And then I got sick. Not surprising, really, but I haven't been ill like this in decades - sore throat, fever and aches, lots of sleeping. It's a bit of an extreme way to engineer a rest, but we have furniture and food so I'm taking it easier now. 


Lake Vyrnwy


Until we get fully online, I've been getting used to my smartphone. I'm on Instagram (@musefondue), but for everything else I really prefer a proper keyboard!

Enough for now. I'll have more pictures when it stops raining - someday.

Val

* Cockney rhyming slang for 'Would you believe it?'