The Lloyd Family in England 2000

updated 9/13/00

Ah Lord Street!  This is my favorite street in the world (of course that makes it sound like I have been to zillions of streets in the world) and the down towne main drag in Southport.  There are several blocks of shops on one side of the street from the late 19th century.  If you stand on the opposite side of this wide street you get a full view of the architecture of these magnificent buildings.   The lower portions have been modernized to accommodate the shops of today but the over hangs and these charming poles which offer some protection from rain as they are glass-roofed are magnificent and as you can see during the summer bedecked with these wonderful huge baskets of growing flowers.  Yes those are geraniums on the top of these. LordSt1.jpg (205640 bytes)
LordSt2.jpg (204245 bytes) Here is another row of the hanging baskets, a little different in their main colours and obviously these border an eatery.  This one is quite large and on a corner but many of the little tea shops have two or three tables outside on nice days.
One more look at a lovely basket that adorns this portion of Lord Street.   Sefton, as noted on the trash basket, is the local council that takes care of this area of Merseyside which includes Southport. Lord St 3.jpg (217850 bytes)
phone box.jpg (195860 bytes) Well, could you have pictures of England without these charming phone boxes....still only ten to make a call here, tho of course thats pence and it represents about 15 cents today.  The item to the left with ER on it is a Pillar box [mailbox].   The man at the right is emptying the trash bins and using a hand cart to collect the bin-liner bags...even tho this is a fairly wide street, it would be horrid to have a trash lorry clogging the traffic so this hand-cart collection is very good.
This lovely old Church is also on Lord Street.  There is quite a mixture of buildings along this down towne area.  On the shop side one can find everything from soup to nuts.  Many little tea shops which usually sell a range of baked goods as well; fine department stores including the Bon Marche located further down this row of photos (that one is for you, Patti!!); there are so many shoe shops that we wonder (and discuss) on each visit how they can possibly all remain in business.  And some of the shoe shops have very expensive shoes....on our walk today I saw a very nice pair of women's loafers that were priced 75 pounds (thats about $130)  Have no idea who buys those.  There is another one that has reasonably priced shoes for the whole family and they are tied together and hang over bars, just a find-it-yourself place but very well done and we bought two pair of school shoes there;  there is also a plethora of book shops - from discount ones to fancy ones.  Its such a wonderful street for just window-shopping!   There are no shopping malls in Southport with shops like the ones in the down towne area so Lord Street is a buzz every day with shoppers.  Sunday shops ARE closed but people still walk this lovely area to window-shop and enjoy lovely Southport. Church.jpg (138164 bytes)
cancer.jpg (185777 bytes) Several Charity Shops (Thrift shops) also adorn Lord Street and this one, the Cancer Research Charity shop is one that I volunteered in four years ago and I return there on Tuesday next for a couple of mornings each week.  The back room overflows with merchandise that is donated by residents, mostly clothing and great care is taken to steam, size, price and hang the items that are put into the shop.  Last week they received 92 big black bin-bags full of items to sort so I will be kept busy and might come home with a new wardrobe....if Omar has been donating!  Having first chance to buy some of these things is really a treat. There are four charity shops within about two blocks; part of Lord street I frequent! These shops are considerably smaller than those in the states.
We could not resist this photo.  Haven't a clue as to who this was, but he was out in never-never land.  Dead to the world, but I did make sure he was breathing.  He was totally decked out as you can see, perhaps having been to a wedding or perhaps one of the councilmen in total collapse at not being able to get petrol after the blockades. local colour.jpg (204048 bytes)
Bon Marche.jpg (224183 bytes) There it is Patti, the Southport Bon Marche!!!  On Lord Street of course.

There is a smattering of 'locals' in these photos and if you study them you can see how British they are.  Southport is a sea-shore resort area, many 'day-trippers' come from other parts of Britain and the Continent; but it is also a retirement community.   About 80,000 people and in today's paper alone there were two centurians listed.   Many many nursing homes, but NOT like the chain ones in the states.  They are old homes that have been redone with lovely large 'homey' rooms and caring staff.

Good grief, who are these people???

This was taken in our little flat by Jonathan with our trusty laptop in the foreground.  Yes that is Rod.  He shaped his beard for the duration of our stay.

Rod&Merry.jpg (146558 bytes)
lilly.jpg (164106 bytes) Aren't these lovely?  My sister-in-law gave these to me for my birthday.  Can't show you the gift from the other's as it was Cadburys lovely chocolates and quickly disappeared when the children saw them.  Oh we had our share to be sure and in the left of this photo, guess it, my iced tea.   I brought two ice cube trays with and when I saw the mini one that was in the flat I was sure glad I had!!!  

Watch this site for future editions, will include our huge flat in the next and you will quickly understand why we need to shop almost everyday.

Tah for now.

updated 9/10/00

This is Jonathan in his new school uniform, ready for school.   Jonathan is 13, attending Stanley High School, year 9

The expression on his face about says it all.  But he sure looked good in his "Marks and Sparks" blazer.  There was much "I won't wear that" and similar statements but after the first day of school his comment was something to the effect of 'its not bad'.    THAT is good enough for us!  he is of course not yet into the full swing of academics, but one day at a time will do just fine. If you compare this photo with Lien's you can see that Jon has grown, must be the rain!!, and is nearly a head taller than Lien right now.

Jon.jpg (67956 bytes)
lien.jpg (69896 bytes) This is Lien in her new school uniform, ready for school.  Lien is just 11, and is attending Moels Cop High School which just happens to be the High School that her Dad attended a few years back.   As many of you know our little Lien's middle name is "Sarah Bernhardt" which says it all of course.  Well, on her first day of school she was so quiet I had to look to see if she was still breathing at times.  It was stark terror we are sure: new school and nearly 200 brand new year 7 youngsters in full uniform and none of them even knew who she was.  But of course all that changed by the end of day One...and she has now even taken public transport to and fro on her own.  Well, there was a phone call from her that she had missed the bus, but we sent her scurrying back to the bus stop and the next bus of course did arrive and so did she, safely home.
This is Caroline in her new school uniform, ready for school.   Caroline is also 11. Attending Presfield School, a school for children with mild learning disabilities, year 7.  Caroline had the advantage of a pre-school-start tour and though the thought of High School had her on edge she actually came home on day two looking forward to the start of homework the following week.  Now that it has begun I think she might be a bit sorry she said that, spelling is after all, still spelling!   But she is very enthusiastic about her new school and I am sure she will do just fine.  How can she miss with a total of 7 pupils in her homeroom class?

  This means that at least for now, all of our children are in High School....makes us feel a little older but of course in their eyes not much wiser!!

wpeE.jpg (10033 bytes)
wpeF.jpg (44327 bytes) Here merry is showing Gran [my mother aged 86] the laptop computer, messages coming in from the US.



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
union pressure.

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 long run.

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.

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