Monthly Archives: September 2006

Back to Blighty

Actually we got back on Monday, but it’s been one of those weeks.

Currently waiting for a friend to turn up, he’s told several people he is coming to see me this afternoon, but not me. This is slightly annoying, as I was going to be out this afternoon, but now I have to stay in, because I don’t see him very often and it might be important. (sigh)

I’m not sure whether to alert you to this, but it’s a bit too strange to let it pass by – Maddy Prior is best known as the singer from Steeleye Span, if you’re wondering where you’ve heard of her, she’s also done an album of Wesley songs, and a few Christmas ones. Now she is weirding people out it seems.

We’re having a bathroom fitted at the moment, which is very exciting, but which also means, obviously, we don’t have a bath. Why is it that the point at which you have no bath you feel like having a long soak? Still, lovely bathroom coming up, much better than the peeling damp, grotty peach and cream coloured monstrosity that was.

I’m finding myself really looking forward to Christmas this year, Rhys should be able to get some time off, and we plan to kick back for a bit, maybe watch some of the films and other dvds we keep buying / renting / recording. Mostly though, it will be great to have pretty much all the major work on the house done, and just enjoy it for a bit. Until we decide that we want a door there, and a real fireplace here and here, and new carpets in those rooms, and a re-paint of this bit…

A toast to the USA

It’s great here. For those of you that don’t know, I’m in Pittsburgh for the week, trailing after my super intelligent other half, and scouting out church-based hot dog restaurants. As a tribute to this change of location you will notice the steel theme, to celebrate Pittburgh’s industrial past (and present), and also the name change, more about which in about 2 sentences time.

Some things of note for people of a similar disposition to me when staying in America:

1) Don’t even bother looking for the Marmite. Instead, embrace maple syrup as a wonderful breakfast food stuff, but make the most of it, as it’s too expensive to have every day for breakfast in the UK.

2) It is possible to make tea in a coffee maker. As long as you put a few jugfuls of water through first to flush it through. Do take your own teabags though, and you’ll probably have to buy your own milk too, as coffee creamer is an abhorrence in tea. (photos may well follow soon of the coffee maker-turned-teapot in our room)

3) Cheap dvds – yes it is possible to get dvds in the states for about half the UK price. No, it is not worth scouring Downtown Pittsburgh for a decent dvd store when you can get them delivered to your hotel from most decent online dvd stores. More choice, less hassle, order enough and it’s free postage.

4) If you attempt to try every exciting or interesting foodstuff that you have not tasted before you will make yourself ill. Pace yourself, and save it for the really good stuff.

5) Even though food is cheap and plentiful here, do not over-order. You will make yourself ill. Pace yourself, and save it for the really good stuff.

Great things about Pittsbugh

– It’s very friendly, people actually say hi in the street
– The weather is great, lovely and warm, but not too oppressive (this point is subject to change)
– free internet access just about everywhere you go
– great food and plenty of it
– great cookware shops
– fantastic tacky shops – taking tacky to a whole new level
– wonderful, cheap museums, not been to all that many yet, but again that will change.
– street names engraved on the corner of the paving stones at junctions, great navigation for people like me that never look up when they walk around.
– very impressive skyscrapers, even the old buildings are really tall, even the fountains are really tall.
– hot dogma, as Rhys has mentioned elsewhere (see link at top of this post)

Not so great things about Pittsburgh
– too much coffee, not enough tea
– crossing roads (traffic signals, where they exist do not apply to turning vehicles, and any solid metal vehicle will take priority over a mere squishy pedestrian)
– toilets are scary, they flush with a vengeance, and very, very loudly
– tv is bad, with too many ads, and no Neighbours (although I do have that recording at home, obviously) to emphasise the quality of the tv here, I should point out that Deal or no Deal is a prime time TV event here, and the most watchable thing.
– It’s quite dusty here, there’s building work going on everywhere
– Last but not least, I have to type on Rhys’ laptop, which I can’t type on – apologies for any inadvertent typos as a result of this (rather than the usual common or garden bad spelling)

I don’t want to finish on a bad note, I love Pittsburgh. Provided you bring your own tea the USA is a great place to be, I’m not sure I’ll want to come home as soon as we’ll have to – but that’s the nature of holidays.

‘lo

Sorry for the lack of blogging recently – I’ve been holding together (with the help of many people, especially the artful lodger) our church’s annual Holiday Bible Club, after the youth and children’s worker managed to do her neck in very very badly. The week went quite swimmingly well really, considering this big set-back, and it was great that the church pulled together in such a way that we all know we can, but so rarely do.

In the middle of all this was, of course, Greenbelt – being a bit stressed about everything, I didn’t get really into ‘Greenbelt mode’ until about 11am on Monday – not entirely helpful, as we left the site at about 6:30 that evening, but better than not managing to relax into the festivities for the whole weekend.

People that made me laugh – Jude Simpson, The Ukuleles, Gerald Ambulance, Pete Ryder at Late Night Twist, Martyn Joseph singing ‘Dolphins Make Me Cry’ to the tune of ‘Is This the Way to Amarillo’ at the comedy quiz, Rhys bending his glasses out of shape on a bouncy castle, t&e and FW losing their tent poles, and many many other little things people said and did

People that made me think – John Bell, the Fair Trade panel discussion, Doug Gay, Jonny Baker, and again, there were a lot of great conversations through the weekend that have sowed seeds in my brain that will germinate into proper thoughts later.

Top point of the weekend was a piece of fair trade chocolate brownie, straight from the oven, and with a small square of chocolate inserted into its centre. Lowest point – probably the shower queue.

Can’t wait ’till next year.