Rod's scribling [9/12/00]
Getting the kids signed up for school posed quite a challenge.
Only the head master can approve a new enrollment, especially coming from another
country. The problem is the head masters do not start work until the Monday
of the week school starts, then they are very busy to fit us in. Jon has a place
secured but had to wait until Thursday for his enrollment interview and start following
Monday. The term began Wednesday. I expressed my dissatisfaction but did not
want to get too strong. Lien started the first day but needed to do some testing to
find the correct classes to be fitted
into. Caroline has her special needs school all set up.
Lien was terrified on her first day. We stayed a little while with her. School
started a little later for the new students and started with an assembly. The day
ended early with a chance for parents to meet the teachers and each other. She was
much more comfortable at the end of the day. The next day I went with her on the bus
[public transport] and met her
out of school to see she got on the right bus. She seems settled now but nervous
about the busses.
Jon was more macho. I am sure he was also very nervous but was determined not to
show it. It was a new experience for him to use the bus system also.
Now the kids are set, that frees us [Merry and I] to go off and play sightseeing etc.
The only problem is there are major protests regarding the fuel prices. The
truck drivers are blockading the refineries so no fuel is getting out. This has
caused most of the petrol [gas] stations to run out and the rest to have very only lines
[blocks long] clogging the streets. We
have to conserve our precious fuel to necessities [bell practices and badminton].
The problem is quickly bringing the country to a halt. Food is running out, trash
pick-up will stop soon, public transport will stop soon. Emergency service supply is
guaranteed however. The army is poised to step in but the government is adamant it
will not step in, in reaction to trade
I did some calculations to compare fuel prices. This is no easy calculation because
it is sold in liters, which I converted to Imperial gallons, then converted to US gallons.
Then the price in pounds converted to US dollars. The bottom line is $4.06 per US
gal or 20 cents every mile we travel.
It is interesting for me to compare the flats we live in [over 100 years old] and my
mothers about 10 years old. Our flat has character and large rooms but is a
conversion and is a little chopped up. Electric outlets are one per room and quite
inconvenient. The plumbing is old and noisy. Weird moaning noises come from
the toilet after flushing. It has 12' tall
ceilings with marvelous ceiling molding and very tall baseboards, is drafty and will he
expensive to heat when the cold weather sets in. My mothers flat have 7'6"
ceilings, convenient power outlets, double-glazing and has to be more desirable in the
The weather has been very changeable. Yesterday was hot [probably 70] but the humidity
made it uncomfortable, especially walking to town and back. It was Merry's birthday
so we went to the Prince of Wales hotel [the best in town] and had a nice carvery lunch.
I stopped at the library and got some books on music theory. I would like to
spend some time arranging music to play on the bells.
Well I have started to settle in. The flat is very small. It
is two bedrooms but that means the three kids have the larger room, and with 2 girls and a
boy this is far from ideal. We have the smaller bedroom, and I mean small. Not
much room left around the very small double bed and small freestanding wardrobe.
We only arrived with a total of 9 suitcases, but there is a big challenge with storage
space, hanging and drawers. We have to improvise. We have moved down from 3000
sq ft to about 800sq ft. I am not complaining, we are very comfortable and happy.
There is small TV, which is adequate, but I quickly decided a VCR is an essential.
Taking into consideration the long winter nights, and kids being cooped up inside for long
periods, and we do not want to miss those special shows on the BBC, we found a good deal
on a used reconditioned machine [VCR].
The flat is a large Victorian house converted to make 5 flats. This conversion
happened 20 years ago, one of my last design project before I left for the States. I
now have to live with this design. Funny how I seem to be the only one who
appreciates the layout. The ceilings are very tall and even with the windows closed,
the curtains blow quite a bit from the drafts. The flat is right across the street
from my mothers flat, which is very convenient. She is 87 but very spritly, walking
all over town. There is only a tub and no shower in the flat, but I will be able to
shower after badminton. Jonathan also wants to get involved in badminton and I think
all three are going to the junior coaching [which is a very big class].
Lien had her 11th birthday Thursday. Also celebrated my birthday which slipped by
after the family left for England.
I went into town Friday morning. We live about 15-minute walk from the town center
where all the shops are. There is no parking in the center so we may as well walk
all the way. We really do need the exercise but the last leg home gets to be a bit
of a drag.
On setting out, the temp was in the low 60's with a chance of more rain, so I wore my coat
and hat. After a couple of stops, the sun peeped through the clouds and the temp got
close to 70 and very humid. This made it uncomfortable walking and carrying the coat
etc. and my purchases. My chores included getting my two badminton rackets fitted
with new handle
grips which cost $3 each including installing. Very reasonable I thought. My last
stop was to sign up for some classes at the local college. I am signed up for
Computer maintenance, basic programming, desktop publishing and photo shop [computer
program]. That should keep me occupied for two days a week.
We like to go to the nearby towns and villages once a week to visit their market, have a
quiet lunch, tour the houses and get back for school out. That will start next week.
The schools are not settled yet. Caroline has her school fixed, Jon has decided on
his school but not yet registered but that school has no room for Lien, so still working
on that and so all three
will be at different schools. School starts Wednesday, but most schools are not open
for registration until Monday. Once all fixed up, we have to get the uniforms which
will be expensive.
I am going to play badminton tonight [Friday]. I have been assigned to the 4th team
for the coming league. I have not played for 4 years. I went to Santa Rosa the
last two Sundays before I left. My game was fine but my fitness was well out of
shape. I was exhausted before I finished my warm-up. I have been working on
that and am now more prepared. I have
arranged for another player to pick me up as it is also about 15 miles away and we have
only one car. We will have to get into our routines.
Merry has gone off to play handbells in Preston, about 18 miles away in the other
direction. She has been playing with them since she arrived. I am hoping they
will have a place for me once my badminton place is secured. Matches will start in a
couple of weeks.
It will take a while getting use to the narrow roads [lanes] and especially the parking
stalls. No wonder the small cars are very popular. It is very easy to get
frustrated with the road system and start designing how it should be, but of course that
is one of the items that makes England what it is. No power steering, no AC [tough
this is rarely necessary]. Just about
all cars are stick shift [using the left hand of course for the gears]. No big.
Saturday we went to the 'boot sales'. This is basically swap meets where cars set
out their used stuff out of their 'boot' [trunk]. It is big business here and a
great way to buy those little essentials for our stay, and treasures for our return.
We are limited to one suitcase of items to take back which is a challenge.