Chez WW in England

Chez WW in England

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Archive for December 2010

Happy Almost New Year

31 December 2010

Happy Almost New Year. Time to step away from the computer and spend some time with Andrew. Enjoy your time this eve with those near and dear.

The eve of 2011, England

Today, the last day of 2010, saw us heading off to Oxford. Not to admire the buildings or browse in the bookstores but to search for a WWII gas mask carrier similar to the satchel used by Indiana Jones. Andrew did not find any satchels that met his or Indiana Jones’ standards. He did however manage to drive us into Oxford and back out again without incident which in itself is a major feat.

Today we lunched at The Crown in Shrivenham.

We opened the door and were met by the most wonderful smells of food and wood smoke. Picture an English pub in a small village and this was The Crown. Low ceilings, cosy seating and a big open fireplace. It is a family run place and the friendly owners provided us with an incredible meal. It was a wonderful meal and such a delightful experience that we cannot wait to return.

After our meal it was time for a walk. Today we would be exploring a little of Shrivenham. There is no better way to explore a place than on foot. And walking is less nerve-wracking then driving on the tiny village streets.

And instead of intersections there are round-abouts. I have never seen so many in my whole life as I have seen in my two weeks here. they do come in handy though when you make a mistake, miss your exit or go the wrong way. We have done all of those  a lot.

My heart has always skipped a little at the sight of a thatched roof cottage. Now, everywhere I look I see beautiful thatched roof cottage. All of the homes have names. I guess if you have been standing for a few hundred years you deserve to have a name. This all seems like a dream and I am afraid that at any moment I will awake.

Next we hit the local Sainsbury’s for some nibbles. This is a huge store and it was packed to bursting today. One can even get their car washed while they shop. This job is done by a potable car wash station (shopping cart) and seemed to do a really good job. I am still amazed at the lack of liquor stores here. They are not needed since all can be bought at any grocery store. I got a cheesecake for just £2. At that price I think I may have to try every flavour. A bottle of raspberry Bacardi Breezer was just £2.49. And the cheese. there is a whole aisle just for cheese. Nice cheeses were a special treat for us in Canada due to cost but here…we got a few different types of cheese for tonight.

As midnight quickly approaches we are content with a glass of cheer, some nibbles and a wonderful life full of dreams coming true. We are looking forward to all of the adventures that we will have in 2011.

Happy New Year. Laugh lots, love often and dance much.


During the time that we were having computer/internet issues I still wrote, the old-fashioned way, about our adventures. This will be posted soon under the date that they were first written. So go back in time and join us on our early adventures in Jolly Olde England.
Hopefully by January 15th I will be living in our house in Ashchurch with internet and my new MacBook Pro and be able to catch up on all the posts and update Jody Weymouth Photography with lots of pictures. Soon life will be back to normal, fingers crossed.

Faringdon, England

30 December 2010

The snow has all melted and been replaced by fog. Beautiful fog that creates such a beautiful atmosphere. Today we drove to the village of Faringdon which is only a 5 minute drive from the B & B. Driving into the older parts of Faringdon is enough to test any driver. The streets are so narrow and since there are no driveways, one side of the road is filled with parked cars. there were moments I held my breath is hopes of making the car smaller. And Mini Me Millie is a very tiny car to begin with. We parked Millie in the old Market Square.

Like most villages in England, Faringdon just oozes history. We walked up the hill to All Saints’ Church. A church has existed on this site since Saxon times. The nave of the present building is Norman with most parts dating back to the 13th century.

The church is missing it’s spire. I have read two different versions for the reason. Cromwell accidently shot it off with a cannon ball. Or to save the spire from becoming a target, it was removed. There is still a cannon ball encased in the wall of the church. It was getting too dark to explore further. Finding that cannon ball will have to wait for another day.

I love graveyards. My grandmother would take us of us grandkids to explore the graveyard and tell us all about the people there. I was fasinated and have been hooked on graveyard ever since. Today we explored the graveyard of All Saints’ Church. The fog and dusk added to the experience.

I found turtleneck jumpers.

26 December 2010

Before coming here I had dreams about the shopping I would do. I had not shopped in a year before coming here and and I was ready to shop to my heart’s content. Making this dream a reality has not been easy. Clothes does not go through seasonal changes here in England like it does in Canada. It might not be so bad to wear sheer, short and summery clothes in December had this been a normal winter here but England is experiencing it’s harshest winter in 100 years. Sheer, short and summery will not keep me from freezing this winter. I want wool pants, wool skirts and turtlenecks. None of which I could find.

Today we hit the outlet center to check out the Boxing Day sales. Merino wool long underwear was our first purchase. I seem to be having more luck in the outdoor clothing stores than the regular clothing stores. But, my heart skipped a beat when I walked into The Gap. Thank you North American chain store for providing this cold Canadian with some sensible clothes for winter. I was so happy to see warm clothes that I bought five jumpers.

There was a time when I was fine with wearing short, sheer and summery clothes in the winter no matter what the weather was like. That time has past. Now I want to be warm and look great in the winter. If England continues to have real winters maybe there will be a shift to more seasonal clothes. Until then I will wear my Gap turtlenecks in the winter.

Great Coxwell, England

25 December 2010

Christmas morn dawned a beautiful day. The air was crisp, snow was on the ground and the whole world seemed to be at peace. We decided to walk to the village of Great Coxwell. It is just a 10 minute walk from the Chowle Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast. I had admired the church tower from our window and looked forward to seeing more. I am still amazed that so much history is just in one’s own backyard.

Bundled up in warm clothes, we headed off to explore. I cannot tell you how peaceful a walk in on Christmas Day in the English country side.  The hustle and bustle of the holiday season had been replaced by a calmness that I have rarely experienced.

From the Church we walked through the village. Great Coxwell is a tradional English village – meaning tiny streets and thatched roofed cottages. Walking through the villages, one can not help but notive how they all have names – names that dates back hundreds of years. Oh, what it must be like to have such a connection to the past.

Great Coxwell is also the home to the Tithe Barn. It is located at the edge of the village and is a sight to behold. Never have I seen a barn that was constructed in the same manner as a great Catheral. I was in awe. The outside walls are littered with small stone sized holes that served as windows. I wonder what it was like to be inside this Great Barn during it’s prime.

Coxwell was a monastic grange (farm) of Beaulieu Abbey. It dates back to the 13th century.

The barn was surprising light inside and was the home to the Nativity. I felt like I was walking in a church rather than a barn.

As the sunset prepares to set on this glorious Christmas Day, I would like to wish all a day filled with peace, love and good cheer.

I am British. I do not talk during breakfast. I read.

I love to read. It is a well known fact. It is also a well known fact that that reading at the table and ignoring other people is not acceptable. Or so my Mama has told me. I tend to eat a lot of my meals alone. The TV or a great book are usually my dining partner. When Andrew is at home it is hard to break the habit and not read at the table. But, I resist when I have my mama’s voice in my head telling me how rude it is to read at the table and ignore people. My friend since childhood, Tracey, is also a book lover and tends to be an understanding eating partner. When it is just us eating a meal together it is OK to read.

This morning we had our Christmas day breakfast at the B & B. There is another couple staying here at present and they can only be described as being very ” British”. Andrew and I always talk during breakfast. We discuss our day which with our busy lives is essential. And since Andrew is often away it is nice to be able to have a conversation with him.

The wife noticed us talking and asked her husband why they did not talk during breakfast. Our conversation seemed to bother the very “British” man who told his wife “I am British. I do not talk during breakfast. I read.”  I felt a little like Alice when she went down the rabbit hole. I am not sure if I should shout for joy or be offended.

Since today is Christmas and the roads will be quiet, fingers crossed, I will attempt to drive Mini Me Millie for the first time.

Happy Holidays to all. Enjoy time spent with those near and dear to your heart. And if you are not having a great time at your Christmas dinner today, what will all those family members being forced on you and all, break out a book and read.

An English T'was the Night Before Christmas

24 December 2010

Tonight with the help of C.C. Moore I have written our own version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. May this coming year be filled with more love and laughter than your heart can hold.

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the Chowle B&B Farm House,
Not a creature was stirring, not Winston & Suzie (the 2 labs) not even a mouse.
The Wellies were placed by the foot of the bed with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
Jan and Dave were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Thorton’s Chocolates danced in their heads.
And Jody in her winter woolies, and I in my deer stalker cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the curtains and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny Shetland ponies.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of wind screen scrapers, and St Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of wind screen scrapers he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the Wellies, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Computer issues

20 December 2010

We are experiencing computer issues, being that Andrew’s laptop is dying a slow painful death. We will be getting a new computer during the Boxing Day sales and will be able to post our travel adventures. It is beautiful here with snow covering everything.
Happy Christmas everyone.

Is this a shirt or a dress? I am too short to tell.

17 December 2010

You only have to look around the supermarket to see images of the fashionable Kate Middleton. Before moving to the UK, I had discarded most of my wardrobe. After living in Petawawa, where the height of fashion is wearing matching woodland camo with your husband, I was beyond excited to shop in some stylish shops. I know that Kate has quite a bit more quid to spend on a frock than me but I was ready to embrace being fashion forward.

So off we went to the shops, pounds burning a hole in my pocket. Remember that the UK is experiencing a real winter this year. So what are the fashionable English girls about town wearing? The shops are filled with short, short skirts, lots of sheer fabric and short sleeves. I had visions of fashionable wool skirts, patterned tights and a turtleneck jumper. Nope! The fashionable English lady has ignored the weather and dresses as if summer is still very present. Living in Canada my whole life, where one packs away the spring/summer wardrobe and unpacks the fall/winter clothes in October, this has taken me by surprise.

Leggings are also all the rage and shirts are very long. Not a great look if you are under 5 feet tall. Quite a few items had me confused. I will admit to being, well let’s just be honest, shorter than the average female. I was not sure if I was looking at a long shirt or a very short dress.

The result: no clothes for me. I am hoping that I just need to find the right shop that suits my style. Maybe I can ring Kate and get her help.

Sometimes being adventurous means you have to take a long walk

16 December 2010

The day started as cold, damp and drizzly. I was sad to leave behind the amazing Barn Hotel and the bathroom of my dreams but we were eager to start our adventure. Today we traveled to Shrivenham via taxi. At £85 this is our most expensive taxi ride to date. Upon arrival we met some of the other foreign students at the Academy. It was the Christmas meet up and we got to meet many families from Australia. There were no Canadians there. After some Christmas cheer it was time to get driven to our B & B via a teeny tiny British car. Andrew is great at puzzles and managed to fit all of the baggage into the boot and the backseat. Chowle Farm House will be our home for the next few weeks. This charming place is run by the lovely Jan and Dave.

We had decided to take a trip into Swindon. Andrew’s conversation with Dave went someting like this:

- Do you have a car?
- No.
- Do you know where you are going?
- To find a car and a phone.
- How will you get there?
- Taxi.

As my Mama would say, we were just off the boat. Dave, having loads more sense than the two of us put together at theis point, drove us intoSwindon, explained the bus system and gave us a quick tour. We were dropped off at a shopping center and our hands were itching to get our new phones. I have never seen so many cell phone shops in one area in my life. It was a little over-whelming. Vodaphone, Virgin, Orange, T-Mobile, 3, Oxygen and many others. Getting cell phones requires a British bank account and a credit check. We had our bank accounts already set up but were meeting with our banker the next day to get our debit cards.

We took a break from the cell phone maze to try some Cornish Pasties. It was getting late and as darkness fell so did the snow. It was truly magical to see snow in a place that rarely sees the white stuff. And I love snow for Christmas. Our time in Swindon was coming to an end; our bed was calling. We hopped on the bus and headed for home. All we had to do was get off at the stop 500 metres past the B & B. But, it was dark and we were in a place we had never been before and were looking for a place we had spent all of 5 minutes. In his excitement Andrew pushed the stop button a little too early. We did not know it until we turned to walk back to the B & B and walked 500 metres and there was nothing. So here we were with no phones or water on a cold dark night on the side of a road with no sweet clue where we were.

Andrew, being an amazing navigator, decided we need to walk the other way and eventually we would find the Chowle Farm House. We walked along the very bumpy narrow shoulder of the road with a water filled dtch on one side and a busy highway on the other. We passed thorny bushes and ancient grave stones covered in vines. There was not a light or a house in sight. It sure is dark at night when there are no street lights anywhere. There were lots of holes and we were very skilled at finding those. Although we were cold and tired, we found the whole thing amusing. There are moments in life when things are so wrong that you have to laugh or cry. I chose to laugh. I confess to laughing so hard I peed my pants.

After a few kms some lights came into view. We had finally arrived home. According to Andrew, “Sometimes being adventurous means you have to take a long walk.”

The Barn Hotel, London, England

14 December 2010

Arriving in England in December during the coldest period in twenty years is an eye-opener. We will be spending our first two nights Living in England at The Barn Hotel in the Ruislip area of London. If I had to describe a typical English hotel The Barn Hotel would be that place.

We will be staying in the modern build – Deane’s Lodge. The Lodge is built on the site of an ancient orchard that is mentioned in the Domesday Book. For just 10 pounds a night extra, my wonderful husband had arranged an upgrade to the best available suite. There are many reasons why I love my husband and this is yet another. Our suite was like nothing I had ever seen before or could have even imagined. We were given the Kyoto suite. After travelling for over 24 hours, this room was a welcome sight.

Our suite had three televisions, three phones and a king size bed. There was a huge living room, a bedroom and a bathroom that was out of this world. The bathroom had two sinks, a two person shower (complete with two rain shower heads and water jets in the wall) and a tub that had to be seen to be believed. I love baths so this bathroom was like a dream. To get into the tub you had to take two steps up and then step down into the enormous tub. It was surrounded by an overflow like an infinity pool and had lights and a seat. It took me a while to figure out the water for this treasure. I finally got the water flowing into the tub and it was coming from the most unusual place: the ceiling. The floor and walls were covered in marble. On the wall in front of the tub was a tv. The bathroom also had a phone. The tub was so huge that when I laid back to read I actually floated.

We were happy to see a king size bed which was home to two pairs of slippers and two bathrobes. Coming from Canada, I had taken central heating for granted. This beautiful suite with all of it’s marble had just one small plug in heater. After Andrew stepped into the bathroom in his bare feet he understood the slippers that were waiting for us. “Welcome to England; here’s your slippers.”

After a quick shower, we were off in search of food. The quickest way to get from Deane’s Lodge to the street was by walking through the Barn. This meant a walk through the lounge, sitting rooms and the eating areas. It was like stepping back in time. The place was filled with elderly ladies having their afternoon tea. There was not a gentleman in sight. For a moment I thought that I had entered Cranford.

We explored Ruislip and found a charming restaurant to have supper. The waitress was so friendly: there were lots of “love” and “dear” being thrown about. It reminded me so much of being home in Newfoundland.

Our plan was to stay awake and go to bed at 9 so that we could beat jet-lag. We made a valiant effort, helped by book shopping, but soon realized that we were too tired to be standing. At 6 we closed the curtains and settled in for a long winter’s nap. I must have been crazy if I thought that we could avoid jet-lag. By mid-night we were both wide awake and starving. But, it’s mid-night and we are in England and there is not a chance that we will be able to get food. Andrew came to the rescue. I have never, ever used the mini bar in any hotel. But, we were desperate. Two cans of Coke, a pack of chocolate buttons and chocolate covered peanuts would have to do as our mid-night snack/supper. The thing with travelling is that even if you know what time it is; your stomach may not.

After our snack and a few hours of late night tv, we drifted off to sleep.