Archive for September, 2011
The temperature is set to ‘soar’ to 27 degrees over the next few days. You know what that means…
And my toes are celebrating.
Don’t think for a second I’m shaving my legs, though. That would be overkill.
Well, we’re just back from Hampshire — Jane Austen country — where I paid homage at her writing desk (reader, I touched it!).
I received an email from my agent while I was away, seeing if I wanted to pitch something to someone in particular. I have been duly inspired by Jane and have since been busily knocking off a mother of triplets in childbirth in 1908 and then, twenty years later, getting one of those triplets addicted to heroin, taking off half the face of the hero in a car accident and other such merriment.
Hampshire was gorgeous. Apparently Jane was happiest living here, in Chawton, and you can see why…
Her day went something like: get up, play the piano, eat breakfast, write a bit, eat lunch, go for a walk with Cassandra, eat dinner, read a bit. Nice work if you can get it (though the dying of Addison’s at 41 leaves me cold).
While we were there, I bought a bumper sticker for the car that reads, ‘What would Jane do?’. A question we should ask ourselves more often, really (though there was that time she added a fake union into the parish marriage registry between herself and a certain Fitzwilliam). Anyway, here’s me with Cassandra, who I certainly hope did not whinge walking around Chawton as much as my children did…
We spent the rest of our time tootling around the area and spent a day in the nearby village of Alton, where we stumbled across the story of Fanny Adams. I had no idea that Fanny Adams had been a real person. You can read about her life, and murder, here (be warned: it is not a very nice story at all). Standing on her grave, I gave my own daughter, the same age as Fanny when she was murdered, the biggest stranger danger talk of her life. If she ever even sees a man come within 5 metres of a boiled sweetie in her lifetime, she will probably run away screaming. I think Fanny would be quite happy with that, though.
Walking home from school today, some little friends followed us on the opposite side of the riverbank, all the way home to the flower meadow. They moo’d all afternoon, which was lovely.
And then we had beef sausages for dinner, but we won’t talk about that…
Okay, so I have this problem. With roundabouts. English ones, that is. Let’s just say they like their roundabouts here. So much so that you’ll often find two or three that you have to negotiate within a very short distance. I can’t remember ever seeing two roundabouts in quick succession in Australia, let alone three.
There’s so many of them and they’re often so close together, it reminds me of biology in high school where we learnt about ‘budding’ in a reproduction unit. You turn your back and where there was one roundabout, there’s suddenly two. No, wait. There’s four!
Scary stuff, budding roundabouts.
The truth is, most of these roundabouts aren’t even true roundabouts in my book. They’re more painted white dots on the road that have often worn out. Feel free to ignore them, because that’s what everyone else does, driving straight over the top of them (which, I’m guessing, is how they become worn out). Here’s an example of a ‘drive thru’ roundabout from our village…
But my real problem isn’t with the number of roundabouts. And it’s not even with the GPS guy, who can give some pretty dodgy roundabout directions (you can get up to seven or more exits on a roundabout because he likes to go crazy and count petrol station and KFC driveways and the like). No, my problem is with the roundabout rules. Or the lack thereof.
There seems to be one, basic roundabout rule — travel in a clockwise direction. And that’s where the similarities seem to end with Aussie driving. Because once you’re on the roundabout, all bets are off. Each time I enter, I feel like I’m in a Lewis Carroll novel. Anything could happen. Though, unlike a Lewis Carroll novel, there does seem to be one thing you can count on — whatever happens, exiting will be a issue. Mostly because everyone just seems to slide off to the left whenever they feel like leaving.
It’s all most peculiar.
The English seem to understand their mad system and they actually seem fond of their (oh-so-many) roundabouts. There’s even a roundabout appreciation society. Apparently their ‘Roundabouts of Redditch’ calendar sold something like 100,000 copies. I’m not sure what to think about that.
I’ve owned a driver’s licence for over 20 years now, but am seriously considering getting a driving lesson in the hope of understanding the exiting thing. Oh, and I’m keeping well clear of Swindon…
Anyone remember the movie The Holiday? The little house below us reminds me of that movie every time I see it…
I distinctly remember the blackout blinds in the LA house, too. I’m still coveting them. Lots of comparisons between the two houses here…
Will call the Australian consulate today and ask for emergency advice…
Thinking of moving into an old mill? Considering renovating the old mill in your backyard (hey, aren’t we all?). Well, you might want to consider the
freakin’ ridiculous number of steps that come with living in an old mill. Like the 52 steps that you will be required to climb several times per day (and to drag/push/bribe/pinch/cajole two children and all their gear up) to get to your front door.
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the past ten weeks or so, it’s that the English know how to embrace summer. They’re just so gosh darn enthusiastic about all six days of it.
The sun’s out, the lock’s working overtime with boats popping in and out, people on canal boats are waving cheery hellos and ‘lovely day!’s to passersby, people are out walking and exercising their black labs (no other dog will do, unless it’s a chocolate lab, of course), the barbecues are smoking, the fetes, open days, Pimm’s parties and punting go on until dusk.
This has all hit home for me today as the weather has been all over the place this week. Friday saw the temperature ‘soaring’ (bless them) to 28 degrees celsius or so. It was only the following two days, overcast, windy and around 17 degrees, that I realised people weren’t ready to let go. The convertible tops were still down. The children were desperate to continue cavorting in the local park’s paddling pool. Only my kids and another little girl (who I later found out was Italian, which explained a lot), watched on in horror. You’ve got to give them top marks for enthusiasm.
All of this summer fun has made me realise how much we Aussies take our fantastic weather for granted. I mean, when was the last time you exited the house, saw the sun and felt the need to strip most of your clothes off? Probably not since you were two years old, I expect. Well, I’m not taking it for granted anymore (though I’ll most likely remain clothed, thanks very much). I’m making sure I soak up the last few rays, because it’s going to be the last bit of sun I see for some time. The kids return to school on Tuesday (hallelujah!) and, apparently, by half-term in October it will be dark. By 4pm. Shudder.
So, all you Aussies heading into the warmer months… enjoy! Try doing summer the English way this year and embrace every second of it. Oh, and if you fancy a three-quarters full bottle of Pimm’s, let me know (I embrace only within limits — that stuff is disgusting).