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Greetings From Harrogate...
Thursday, 29 November 2007
Left Behind
Topic: Harrogate

I can't believe today Ryan and I have been at my parents' for two weeks.

Things have been busy.

First, a few leftover odds and ends:

I don't think I mentioned just how much stuff we left behind. Moving is always a monumental pain in the rear, but is even more so when moving overseas. You never realize just how much junk you have until you try to move it. We wound up with more stuff left over than we imagined. First, there was all the 220 volt stuff we just wouldn't have a need for in the States: two large, ugly lamps (left over from getting accidentally packed when we left Germany - they belonged to Housing, and we got ridiculously over charged for them), two very nice space heaters, a microwave that has been with us since Germany, a water heater (Tash informed me it's called a, "kettle" Tongue out), and a couple of other things I can't think of at the moment. Many people sell their 220 volt items, but we needed them until right before we left.

Actually, there were a lot of things we needed up until we left, but just couldn't pack or mail. A lot of people deal with this problem by borrowing things from Housing (such as beds and furniture, etc.), but the way things worked out, we would have been borrowing things for two or three days, just to have them picked up again. So we wound up sleeping on air mattresses on the floor, then got left with said mattresses and sheets and blankets and pillows to mail.

We left behind some folding chairs, since the card table that went with them got killed a long time ago. (Don't store heavy items on card tables.) Those chairs were nice.

It's funny. The movers packed up everything we told them to (and more - I had to rescue some blinds that were supposed to stay, and wasn't in time to prevent some curtain ties from getting packed that were also supposed to stay), and asked us several times to go through the house and make sure everything was packed. I walked through the house more than once, and thought they'd gotten everything. Yet somehow, after the movers had gone, I found all sorts of odd things that ought to have been packed (evidently, we all forgot to check the top of the refrigerator).

We donated tons. We gave tons to friends. We simply threw out tons. (It killed me to throw out all my spices. And hey, how'd I wind up with three opened cans of baking powder???) But honestly, it would have cost more to mail them than replace them, and the stuff was such that I didn't feel right about passing it on. (A huge thanks to Sarah, who did take a bunch of stuff that was worth passing on!)

In the back yard, we left a barbecue, some shelves, a hose, a cooler, and a foot locker.

We gathered up everything and took it over to our temporary residence, the Ashness self-catering apartments. We were there about a week. We mailed at least a dozen boxes back to the States. As the time to leave drew closer, our suit cases grew heavier, and as the hours counted down, it became evident there was no early way everything would fit. We wound up leaving an appalling amount of things behind, such as food and zip lock bags. The worst was our toiletries. We left behind pretty much everything except our tooth brushes and razors.

It's amazing what you can part with when you don't really have a choice.

At London Heathrow airport I saw a vending machine that sold books! (Paula, I so thought of you!)

When we picked up our plane tickets, we were seated in the middle of a five seat row. That wasn't going to work. When we got to the airport, we managed to get seats by the bulkhead. Score! Even better, we had almost the whole row to ourselves, except for one man sitting on the far end of the row. (He left us alone, as we did him.) It makes such a big difference having that extra space.

We'd bought an expensive, FAA approved harness for Ryan, to safely strap him into his seat on the plane. We were informed that we were not to use it on the plane, since the flight attendants aren't trained on how to use it, and might need to know in an emergency. I lamely said it was FAA approved, and even as I said it, knew what the response would be (which was basically, "it's not approved by our government"). Oh well. Ryan didn't like the harness, anyway. 

We were on the tarmac for almost an hour before we finally took off. Once in the air though, the flight went smoothly. I pretty much watched "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" most of the flight - punctuated by catering to Ryan's needs, of course. I also took a break to watch an episode of "House," which I now really like! (It's funny to hear Hugh Laurie speak with an American accent.)

I'm not sure if I mentioned it or not, but Larry and I have been listening to the Harry Potter series on cd, then watching the movies. Larry had barely started Order of the Phoenix on cd, when he decided to watch the movie. Unfortunately, he decided a bit too late. With only about five minutes left, the movie was stopped in preparation for landing. I heard Larry give an anguished, "No!" and I couldn't help but laugh.

Posted by hkvlayman at 12:01 AM GMT
Updated: Friday, 30 November 2007 7:42 AM GMT
Thursday, 1 November 2007
Betty's and the Baths
Topic: Harrogate

Today I had my going away do at Betty's Tea Room, and the Turkish Baths and Health Spa at Harrogate. Betty's is one of my favorite places, and it was great to be there with some of my favorite people! Many thanks to Sarah for organizing our afternoon, and thank you so much to Joan, Angela, Michelle K., Michelle W., Aimee, Erin, and Sarah's mom, Nora, for coming to Betty's!

After a very enjoyable luncheon, Sarah, Nora, Joan, Aimee, and went on to the baths. (The spa doesn't have its own website, but this page has a nice photo and description: I'd never been to anything like it before. As the name infers, the spa is decorated in Turkish style. They do spa treatments there, but we were there for the baths. There is a steam room, a cold plunge pool, and three dry heat chambers of increasing temperature. You do cycles of heat, shower, plunge, as many times as you like, ending with a 20 minute rest. On the above webpage it says, "At the end of the session, many of our clients report a feeling that combines exhilaration, euphoria, total relaxation and absolute cleanliness." Exhilaration, euphoria, and total relaxation. Yep. That about sums it up! 

Posted by hkvlayman at 5:06 PM BST
Thursday, 5 April 2007
Topic: Harrogate

I forgot to mention something yesterday. Our trip to Winkies on Tuesday brought something to my attention. Winkies only accepts cash or checks (both in local currency, of course). I didn't have quite enough cash on me. It dawned on me that there are absolutely no drive up ATM's around here, or anywhere near here. There isn't even anywhere you can drive up, park, jump out of the car, get cash, jump back in, and drive off. There are plenty of ATM's you can walk to. However, there are only a very few that will accept American ATM cards. If I had wanted to get cash out that morning, I would have had to have walked about twenty minutes one way to the nearest American-ATM-card-friendly cash machine. The weather was crappy, which was the main reason I was going to Winkies in the first place, so I really didn't want to spend about 40 minutes walking around in bad weather, just to get cash to go somewhere Ryan could play OUT of the weather! There was one other option: ASDA (the local WalMart equivalent) has an ATM outside. IF you can get parking near it, you can withdraw cash. However, parking costs one pound, which is redeemable inside the store. That day, there was no parking near the ATM, AND the parking patrol was walking around enforcing the permits. I didn't want to pay one pound just to use the ATM (and I didn't want to go inside just to get my pound back). Also, I didn't want to leave Ryan in the car, but I also didn't want to get him out and put him back in just to get cash. Soooooo, I said to myself, "Forget it," and drove to Winkies, still low on cash. I always carry around a blank check from our sterling account (which we only use to shunt money into for local bills that require direct debit). Until Tuesday, I'd never written a British check before. The check I used had been floating around in my purse for about a year and a half!

So the moral of this story is please appreciate having drive up ATM's, because they are a luxury we don't have here! :)

Posted by hkvlayman at 4:08 PM BST
Thursday, 11 January 2007
We're Back
Topic: Harrogate

Ryan and I are safely back in the UK. Everything went smoothly, pretty much. I am DEAD tired! I will start catching up on our whole trip soon.

Posted by hkvlayman at 2:49 PM GMT
Wednesday, 24 May 2006
Walking Up Our Street
Topic: Harrogate
Whenever Ryan and I go walking anywhere from our house (with Ryan in his stroller), I let him out to walk up our street on the way home. (It's approx. 200 yards or so.) There are certain yards and things along the way Ryan is interested in. There are two yards in particular he seems to like. (I try to keep him out of people's yards to respect their privacy, but sometimes Ryan gets in there before I can do anything.) One yard is at the bottom of the street. It's got a circular brick path with a small tree in the middle. Ryan loves to run around that path. There's another house near to ours that he likes to run towards, though I have no idea why. There's nothing obvious that he seems to be drawn to.
Along the way, Ryan's developed the habit of closing gates that are open. Not sure why. It's a recent development. Also, not too long ago, Ryan discovered jumping in puddles. What fun! ! !
We are fortunate to live on a fairly nice street. Most people keep their yards up well, and many of them have flowers of some sort. I especially enjoy that there are three different varieties of lilac on our street. I love lilacs. They come in beautiful colors, and have a delicate, wonderful fragrance. They also happen to remind me of my grandfather, Walt. He had lilacs in his yard, which I always enjoyed looking at, and inhaling their lovely scent.
Today the weather has been very crazy. It's only midday and we've had rain, sun, rain, hail, and back to sun. During a sunny spell, I took Ryan in his stroller and dropped off a comforter at the cleaners (thanks for throwing up on it, Misty). I went out in a raincoat and sunglasses. Then I thought about the fact that I was wearing a raincoat, AND sunglasses! That's the weather here for you. (That's not a complaint, just an observation.)

Posted by hkvlayman at 1:15 PM BST
Friday, 24 March 2006
Daylight Savings Time
Topic: Harrogate
Apparently daylight savings time starts this Sunday here. So for a week, we will be 9 hours ahead of Pacific time, rather than the usual 8. Also, they celebrate Mother's Day this Sunday here. I have no idea why. (I'm sure if I surfed a bit, I could find something about it online.)
It's kind of scary, but I am now used to the expression, "Are you alright?" used instead of when we in the States would say, "How are you?" The first time someone said, "Are you alright?" as a casual greeting, my response was to think, "Why wouldn't I be???" Then I realized it's the Brit equivalent for our, "How are you?" In some ways, it makes more sense. I mean, I really, really hate it when people ask, "How are you?" but don't really want to know. (One of the things I like about German culture is that you definitely don't ask someone how they are unless you really want to know.) If someone here asks, "Are you alright?" then you can just answer, "Yes, thanks!" It's a simpler and more sincere casual greeting/question and answer setup, in my opinion.
Today it was rainy ALL day. :( Oh well. It IS England, after all. I am hoping that there will be some nice days and that Ryan and I stay healthy in the next week or so before Larry comes home and I lose possession of the car. (Don't you just a love a good run-on sentence once in a while?)
I am going to start watching, "Prisoner of Azkaban." Goodnight and happy Friday!

Posted by hkvlayman at 9:16 PM GMT
Thursday, 2 March 2006
Topic: Harrogate
I am amazed. It is snowing quite thickly out, and yet there is still golden late afternoon sunlight through it all and blue sky overhead. It's quite beautiful. The snow is a dry snow. It is snaking across the road in ribbons.

Posted by hkvlayman at 4:33 PM GMT
Sunday, 29 January 2006
Topic: Harrogate
Yesterday, after the fog burned off, it was sunny all day. Today it was mostly cloudy all day.
There were a couple things in the shopping area I wanted to do, but both places were closed. It's always a crap shoot on a Sunday if something will be open or not. Some things are, others aren't. I wanted to pick up a book from the Tourist Info. center. It's called Harrogate With Children or something like that. You would think a TI center would be open both days of a weekend. Also, there's a toy store Sarah told me about that I wanted to check out. It was closed too. Oh well. Gives me something to do tomorrow. It was nice to get out for a walk though. I made a stop at Starbucks, which led to a pleasant surprise: they still have their holiday drinks. YAY!!! It's the little things.

Posted by hkvlayman at 5:43 PM GMT
Sunday, 8 January 2006
Belated Item
Topic: Harrogate
This is something I meant to include around late October, early November. I was in a Starbucks in a Sainsbury's grocery store in Harrogate. You know how Starbucks gets those red cups during the holidays? Well, there was a sign in the window of that Starbucks that read, "The Red Cups Are Coming." Considering it was in England, I found it to be especially funny! I had to wonder if any of the locals saw the humor in it. I also had to wonder if the Starbucks marketing folks either have a wicked sense of humor, or just send the same stuff to all English speaking countries that have Starbucks stores.

Posted by hkvlayman at 9:17 PM GMT
Thursday, 5 January 2006
We're Back
Topic: Harrogate
Just wanted to let everyone know Larry and Ryan and I are back safe and sound in the UK. Long trip. Hope to write more soon.

Posted by hkvlayman at 7:25 PM GMT

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