Now that I have your attention I will get onto this week's blog.
An interesting difference we have found over here is the English alphabet. All of the letters are pronounced the same except for "h" and "z". H is pronounced "hey-ch" and z is pronounced "zed". The words are pronounced the same as in the US; hero is not pronounced hey-ch-ero and zero is not pronounced zed-ero. They just pronounce them differently when they say the individual letter. Not sure why yet but it is very weird. Maybe I will look into it when we return from vacation.
An update on Space Case Kalle's classes. Last week I asked her to name her classes and she forgot a few. So here are the ones she missed: PE (inside PE has been practising balance or gymnastics and outside PE has been playing organised games like tennis), ICT (computers but they have not done that lately), French (speaking and writing in French), and Guided Reading & Writing. Guided R & W is broken up into Guided Writing (writing about a given topic), Comprehension (answering questions on stories), Handwriting (recently changed to nonfiction book review), Guided Reading (reading selected books) and Library. She also has a morning break and lunch as part of her day. It is a small elementary school with one class per grade level and seven grade levels. Brookfield Trivia you will never use: Brookfield Primary School is named after the Brookfield farm that was once in the area. One of Kalle's classmates grandmother was on the school naming committee and suggested the name as a way of preserving the area history.
Now onto Karl's school day. In addition to the classes from last week's blog, he has two breaks, one is 25 minutes and one is 40 minutes. There is a cafeteria on the campus so he has a chance to eat at either break. The cafeteria is more like coffee and sandwich shops than a walk down the line with your tray cafeteria. I guess it is common for kids to get food but not drinks. (Must be part of the culture because I see people all over walking around eating without an accompanying drink.) The campus is set up like a college with 10 - 12 buildings total and about 2500 students divided into six grade levels. Huge campus for Karl but great experience. It reminded me of a college campus when Karl and I toured the school. I will have to remember to bring my camera the next time I stop by.
One note from Karl's Philosophy Religion Ethics class is they watched Bruce Almighty in class as part of the lesson. Right now he can not tell me what the lesson was about which really frustrates me. Am I the only parent that sends their kids to school and has them return with amnesia every afternoon?
I passed my UK driving Theory (written) test last week. Yeah!!! My Practical (driving) test is scheduled for late January. I can't wait to get all of that behind me. Lori is on a slower pace since she has to work while I can sit home all day and study the material or go practise driving. One of the benefits of retirement baby.
Anybody need a laugh? The Vauxhall has 88 HP (Lori's BMW has 122 HP for those wondering at home). The worst part is that I test drove cars with smaller engines. Not only do Brits have ugly cars they also use go kart engines. I gassed up yesterday and paid 46 pounds (about 71 dollars) for 35 liters (a little over 9 gallons). Ouch that hurts. Even worse is my 19.1 GPM (US gallons) on that tank. No wonder Brit cars aren't exported anywhere. In the two months we have been here we are spending $160 - 170 per month on petrol. Petrol goes into the car, gas is the airy stuff that fires our kitchen stove burners.
It snowed Friday for the first time but not enough to stay on the ground. It sounds like other areas received snow but we are inland enough that the snow turned to rain before it reached us. Snow sure does worry the locals.
I have been listening to Kerrang! Radio (http://www.kerrangradio.co.uk/) in the car lately. I am looking for a station like the RIFF in Detroit (Yeah baaaby - Arthur P!) or X103 in Indy and this is close at times. They don't play a lot of pop chart junk which is good but they could stand some heavier artists. They played Alterbridge and Pearl Jam on the ride home tonight which I recognised, they also played some Brit artists I didn't recognise. In the morning they have a funny segment called It's Only Words where they play the beginning of a famous person's sentence then cut off the audio and ask the audience to text in funny ways to end the sentence. They have played snippets of David Cameron, Justin Bieber, President Obama, Gene Simmons and Madonna lately. I don't always get the cultural references but it is funny at times. Simon James and Hill is who does the breakfast show for anyone checking out the website. I bring this up because texting is HUGE over here. The schools use it to send informational announcements out, food chains use it to advertise. Britain in general uses texting like US teens use it to talk. I expected it from the teens but not the whole population.
When we attended the service last week Kalle was asked if she wanted to be in the program this week and she said yes so we went back again this Sunday. I don't have any pictures from the program since there is a child protection law here that prevents you from taking pictures of children in public places - sorry. The program on Sunday was cute. The best part was when a little guy got stage fright and refused to speak. You could see him shake his head to a person off stage when his line came up. After a couple of head shakes the adult pokes his head out and yells the little guys line. Very funny and cute. Kalle did great, she was the Inn Keeper and Shepherd #2. She had about 10 lines and memorised them Friday. You could tell she had a blast performing in the play. This is definitely one of the little kid type activities I miss as our kids get older, part of life I guess.
When I dropped of Kalle for her Saturday rehearsal I talked to some of the members who were decorating the church for this week's services and they gave me some of the church history. I'm not sure how much is accurate since I have not been able to independently confirm what they told me so take their history with a grain of salt I guess. The church is a Norman church meaning it was built when the Normans ruled the area. The original church was built in the 12th century and a small portion of the original structure is still standing. I took pictures of an original stained glass window and an original door as well as others parts of the church.
12th Century stained glass from an original church construction wall. I think this kind of stuff is awesome.
Close up of 12th century stained glass window.
A new stained glass window. I keep being drawn to the stained glass windows like a moth to the flame.
"The Norman Door". This is an original door that was re-installed when the church was remodelled. If you look at the top block above the doorway arch you will see a vertical groove in the stone. In the original church this was the entry door and above the door was a bell. The cord to ring the bell ran down where the groove is now. The groove was caused by people entering the church and pulling on the cord to ring the bell. Eventually the cord wore a groove into the rock.
A new and old construction picture. The ceiling is wood panelling with wooden roof supports while the arches and walls are block.
The back of the church.
All of the older churches here have cemeteries on the grounds. The earliest headstone I could find was late 1700's.
A small side door that looked neat.
The front of the church. The window on the right is by the original stained glass picture from above.
After Kalle's rehearsal we went downtown to finish Christmas shopping. We picked up some winter walking boots for our holiday trip since we did not bring ours when we came over. We had them packed but we ended up leaving them home when the movers told us we wanted to bring more than we were allowed. We also ate at Pizza Express (http://www.pizzaexpress.com/) in the Westfield Mall. Our pizzas were good, they were lighter in sauce and toppings than US pizza's but still flavorful.
Today's Kevin Coleman picture - a 660 ml Peroni which is a 22.3 ounce bottle. A common pop and beer bottle size here is 330 ml or 11.1 ounces. This glass is one of the coolest pub glasses I have seen over here. The other is a San Miguel at a Mexican restaurant. I wish I could take samples of the glasses home with me but the places do not sell them. Bummer. Some of these glasses would look really good in Mark Elliott's bar. But don't worry buddy - I've got two years to work on these stingy vendors for ya.
Kalle's 330 ml (11.1 ounce) Diet Coke bottle. Even the Coke glasses are cool over here.
Dana Johnson pic. I ordered a Giardiniera pizza - artichokes, mushrooms, red peppers, santos tomatoes, olives, garlic oil, tomato and pesto base. Very good - I love artichokes.
Dana pic again - Lori ordered a Gustosa Leggera. For the Leggera pizza's they remove the middle of the pizza and add a small salad. The pizza had prosciutto cotto ham, light mozzarella, potrabello mushrooms, yellow peppers and thyme. She liked her pizza.
Dana is pretty popular in this post. Karl ordered a Quattro Formaggi. It had mozzarella, Gorgonzola D.O.P., grana padano, and fontal cheese although Karl substituted the Gorgonzola for pepperoni. He said it was okay.
Here's Dana hogging the pictures again, can you believe him? Kalle ordered a Margherita Leggera pizza. Light mozzarella, marinated santos tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and basil leaves. She said it was good but didn't like the tomatoes or dressing on the salad.
After church on Sunday we went to The Bear Inn & Hotel (http://bear-hotel.com/) with the Frey's for a traditional Sunday carvery. The company was so good I forgot to take a picture of my plate before I "dominated" it as KJ says. Maybe next time I will remember. Thanks to our excellent tour guide Steve for finding the place. (You can check out his take of the place at http://ukfrey.blogspot.com.) A picturesque drive into the hills to enjoy good food in an almost 400 year old restaurant. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The inside eating area was split into five or six different areas with almost all of the walls being block construction. The rooms must have been add-ons since the floors and ceilings were not all the same level. Very cool place though. For the foodies reading the blog the carvery consisted of ham, turkey, lamb, beef, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, peas, sliced carrots, cauliflower in cheese sauce, Yorkshire pudding (it's still only bread Dana), stuffing, gravy, and some condiments. The meat cutter slices off the meat and you take the plate down the line heaping it until the food precariously forms a gluttonous pile. Okay, slight exaggeration but you get the idea. For a beer I tried the Bear Blue Ale which was one of the better beers I have tasted over here. The English seem to rank their beers by alcohol percent, not by flavor. Most of the beer is bitter and similar tasting which has been a disappointment to me.
The adult table. No I am not twice the size of everyone else, Kalle was just closest to me.
The kid table.
Low bridge. Typical of the older places I have been in over here.
View of countryside as you leave The Bear. It was 4ish when we left, right now it is almost 5 and pitch black outside. Yes that is snow on the ground. Since we went into the hills for this country treat there was a little snow in the shady spots.
Today's Steve Frey pic. How can we see Steve and not capture his domesticated animal fascination?
The Bear from the outside.
Est. 1735. What was America doing in 1735 you ask? The Evening Post begins publishing in Boston Mass; Augusta, Georgia is founded on the Savannah River; and the thirteen colonies were already established but America was still almost 40 years away from revolting against Britain. (Sorry Mrs. Smith but I did use Wiki this time. For those that don't know Allyson Smith she was the kids 2nd & 3rd grade teacher in Brownsburg. I always remember both kids in her class doing their online research and finding an answer with a link to Wikipedia. Once they realised it was to Wikipedia they would say, nope Mrs. Smith says we can't use Wikipedia and they would keep searching. Hopefully she isn't grading my blog.)
A view on the ride back. Lori stopped illegally on the road so I could take the picture. You know who hasn't taken their UK Theory test yet.
Testing out the panoramic feature on my camera. Beautiful scenery.
Sideburns update below: "Nice... veryvery nice" to quote Bob Jacobson. Lori still hates them. Karl thinks I should have called them The Wolverine after the X-Men superhero but he likes them. Kalle just looks at them and shakes her head. I hope they come in bushy enough to qualify as Ebenezer Scrooge sideburns, I would hate to make this a two month long facial hair of the month entry.
After this week's blog I will take a few weeks off as we explore the Scandinavian capitals. I have been planning the itinerary this week which is getting me excited about the trip. A lot of itinerarizing (and out whips Aunt Joanie's red pen) to do yet but I am really looking forward to the trip. Plus Lori and Kalle will finally get the cruise trip they have always wanted. And it will give Karl something new to complain about. I can't wait!
Happy Holidays to everyone!
Thanks for listening,