Tuesday, 17 May 2011

British Country Fair/British Country Fail?

This weekend we went to the Grantchester Country Fair. Grantchester is really just (from what I can tell) an orchard & a big open meadow. Sunday was grey & cloudy, but not raining or cold, so on the bikes we got, and off to the Fair. The ride was lovely - we had to go through a lovely neighbourhood called Newnham (pronounced Noon'em) which is full of beautiful British homes with pretty gardens, and then through the meadows to the fairground.
The river Cam on the way to Grantchester

It was everything a British Fair should be. There was a Punch & Judy booth: 
a race for Terrier puppies:
a bouncy castle & those big slides:

and of course, of course, a medieval fight scene re-enactment:

There was also a super British dude in an uber tweedy outfit (complete with elbow patches) who showed his Reedland Retrievers, and all their "tricks". The only problem was that none of the dogs really felt like actually doing the tricks. They would retrieve when they were supposed to be sitting, and then sit when he gave the sign to go. . . poor old British dude. And the crowd was appropriately British and didn't boo, or leave because it was boring - they all just kind of sat there around the circle and looked away a bit.

But the ultimate British Country Fair Fail was the Birds of Prey demonstration. Elizabeth was pretty stoked, and did the sign for "bird" nonstop with both hands. So they brought out this bird, Poppy, and at first she had a little hat on, to make him think it was nighttime. I wish I had taken a photo of her, because when you search Google Images for "Bird with a hat on" this is what you get:

So the dude with the protective glove that goes up to his elbow (you know what I'm talking about) takes her little hat off, and releases Poppy, and she has this beautiful, soaring circle of flight around the crowd. And then she went higher, and higher, and higher, and then . . .  she flew away. And the dude was saying, "Come on Poppy!" trying to be all lighthearted about it, but she didn't come back. And he was saying, "Poppy! heh heh heh! She must have caught a thermal, what a lucky bird! heh!" And all the other bird handlers were looking a bit nervous-y and gazing around with their hands around their eyes (to shield the nonexistent sun??). But even after a couple minutes, Poppy didn't come back,and Elizabeth stopped doing the bird sign, and we left. We will never know if Poppy ever came back.

Elizabeth fell fast asleep on the bike ride back:
We decided to end the day properly: with a pint at a small pub called the Maypole. It was delicious. Elizabeth now clinks her sippy cup with you, and says "cheee!", which is pretty close to "cheers!" and is also pretty delightful.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

One Foot In The Door

My Mum was here for a week earlier this month, and it was really great to have her here. Elizabeth loves her Nanny Juanita, and it was so nice to just have Mum around. We didn't do any touristy things (other than watch the Royal Wedding) and it was so relaxed, just spending time together.
At Nanny Jock's house, watching the Princes as they left Clarence House and headed to Westminster Abbey.
Cuddles with Nanny on the train.
 But I knew I could be sad when my Mum left, so I made plans for that afternoon with our friends Alex & Naomi Glancy. They are good people. The two of them have lived in London for the past 5 or 6 years, and just recently purchased their first flat. We were super excited to see their new place, in Crystal Palace. So we said some teary goodbyes to my Mum, and off we went.

It was so much fun!!! Their place is great! We had a great barbecue, some good laughs, and a really wonderful afternoon in their garden. I am so happy for them!
Naomi showed Elizabeth around the flower garden, and then had a little cuddle.
Alex looks particularly awesome in this photo. We are teaching Elizabeth well, and letting her play with bottle openers.  Mom and Dad of the Year, for sure.
Hellooooooo Ladies. 
After we left, I realized that they live in London. The two of them are totally settled there. They have great jobs that they like, they have a circle of friends, they have a definite home, they live there. They buy furniture, without worrying about selling it in 2 years. They buy books. They are invested in their lives here. I don't feel invested in my life here. I feel like we might be officially considered "Residents", but it feels like we're permanent tourists. It took us a month to decide to get a freezer because we'd only be using it for 2 years. I haven't bought any books - or really, anything - since moving here. We hemmed and hawed when my Mum offered to buy us a £13 bookcase for Elizabeth's books (which she brought here from home in a suitcase) - because 'what are we going to do with it when we move back?'. We have new friends here, but (for those Girl Guides out there) most of them are silver, not gold. Seeing Alex & Naomi and their complete life made me realize how certain I am that we are going to move back to Canada eventually. I feel like I am living with one foot in Cambridge, and one foot in Canada.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A Million Monkeys and an Infinite Loop

You know that saying about how if you put a million monkeys in front of a million typewriters they would write Shakespeare? (Or something?) Well, if you give Elizabeth anything with buttons, she will do all kinds of amazing and wonderful tricks with it. She has turned my laptop screen from landscape view to portrait view, she's moved my start menu to all 4 corners of the screen, she's changed my homepage on my laptop, she figured out the shortcut to change my keyboard to french, she's deleted contacts on my cell phone, she's called people all over the world, she's made a bunch of my contacts into speed dials, she even found a 'search' menu on my Blackberry - I didn't know it had that function!
Maybe her mad skillz come from eating the phone? It took forever to find a photo of her with my phone - it took me a while to realize that it's because I use the phone as a camera. I had a little moment of dumbness.
This all came to a head when I tried to book her 12 month vaccination appointment. My cousin Emma told me that the Health Authority will mail me a slip with the vaccination information & the appointment date and time. But Elizabeth is almost 13 months, and nothing has arrived. So I phoned our GP to ask how I make the appointment. They gave me the number for the local Health Authority. They gave me the number for Children's Health. And they, as expected, instructed me to phone my GP. Wonderful. I love infinite loops.

I then decided to phone Emma, who knows all about this kind of stuff (being a British Mum and all), but hey, her contact info has been handily deleted by a certain 'someone'. Maybe this is her way of letting me know she doesn't want her shots?

Monday, 9 May 2011

Westward Ho!

We have had a busy month - I still think it's April, and we're already almost half-way through May. Easter weekend was the same weekend that Matthew's parents (Larry & Gina) left, and we decided to join some friends in North Devon, at a seaside village called Westward Ho! I'm not kidding, the place actually has an exclamation point at the end. Sometimes I love England. We went with Alex & Nikki Finnemore (sometimes known as Alex & Nikki 'Spectacular Love', the supposed origin of their surname...), Nicholas Charles Victor Pilkington (aka Gob - yes, that Gob from Arrested Development), and Molly Dorkin (aka Molly... how come she doesn't have a nickname yet??). For half of the trip, there was also James-British-Physicist, who's last name I don't know, and also a guy named Ben, who I thought was in first year medicine, but actually was in fifth year medicine. How embarrassing for me, when I introduced him to someone as a first year. . .
From left: Molly, Gob, Nikki, Alex, Lady Hawk and Hawkeye

 North Devon is 228 miles away from Cambridge (366 km, if you do the math right), and so Google Maps says it will take 5 and 5 minutes to get there... not on a bank holiday, my friends!! On the way there, 7 hours and 15 minutes, and on the way home, a whopping 9 and a half hours. AWESOME. At one point on the highway, we could have turned the car off and had a nap. We were in a convoy on the way there, and having road challenges via text message. Examples: Challenge 1: photo of a farm animal, Challenge 3: photo of a pink car (aka impossible, as England is apparently the land of no pink cars). Then as we passed the signage for the town of Swindon, we challenged them to find a sign with their birth town on it - I was born in Swindon. Next thing we know, there is a van with "Alberta, Canada" written on it, and a photo of Folk Fest! No jokes!!
How bizarro. After we saw this, I made Matthew speed up to be alongside it, and totally freaked the driver out by waving and trying to (somehow) indicate that we were Canadian. I failed. He slowed right down and drove a few cars behind us from that point on...
 The reason our friends were going to Westward Ho! is because it is actually a surfing town. I know! Who knew you could surf in England??  Nikki & Alex are experienced surfers, and the rest of us were first-timers. I have to admit: I thought it would be easier - I have pretty good balance, and am relatively strong in my core, so how hard could it be?

The answer: hard.

Apparently, I have no upper body strength. The hardest part was paddling out over the waves so you could have a far enough distance from the beach for the time it takes to get into a squat/stand. I admit: I only got to a squat. But seriously, the paddling out part was exhausting! Nikki was my expert instructor, and all I could hear was, "This is yours Georgina! Go for it! Paddle hard! Paddle, paddle, paddle! Harder!! Paddle harder!! Paddle harder!!!" Both Matthew & I had a good time, but were so pooped by the end. And then, no one tells you how hard it is to get a wet suit off. . . not a very attractive ending to surfing.

pre-water lesson - surfing is way easier on sand. :)

I wish I knew how to add an audio clip of the theme song for Beverly Hills 90210

The rest of the weekend was spent playing some intense games of Pandemic and Ticket to Ride, eating fantastic food, relaxing in the hot tub, drinking yummy cocktails with Cava and Campari, and having a really great time.
I wasn't kidding when I said his nickname was Gob. This is his hat. Underneath "GOB" it says "I've made a huge mistake." I don't think I called him Nick for the whole weekend.

Elizabeth LOVES bubbles

"We need to get to Bangkers, it is going to outbreak soon!" "Wait, I'm a researcher, I can get a cure faster in Shangkers." "Well, what if another yellow gets drawn, then Santiago is out." "Oh man, what are we going to do if Hongkers gets hit again?" (Hongkers = Hong Kong, Shangkers = Shanghai, and Bangkers = Bangkok. Obviously.) I think they beat the game once?

In England there are common grounds for horses to ... hang out in? We petted a whole bunch, and there was even a little pony! So cute!!

Big thanks to my friend Kate Tudor for lending us the hiking backpack. Elizabeth loved it, and now we are searching for one!
I highly recommend visiting Westward Ho! the next time you're in England. And from now on I will not underestimate the good ole UK - who would have expected I'd come to England and learn to surf? Who knows what else we will do while we're here!