Across the Pond and Beyond…..
Trials, Tribulations and Tea (Part 1)
August 8/9/11: In a mad attempt to furiously capture all the details since our arrival on June 25th, I pause quickly to count the weeks….. *INSERT GASP HERE* Could it BE? Have we really been in England for 6 weeks?
As I sip my coffee and look out the window in awe of how these days just mysteriously vanished…. the fresh cut grass smell is swirling all around me as Ray is mowing the back garden, and I am instantly transported to Minnesota summers. (minus the chill in the air of course…. it is August, right?) Or perhaps it could be the house we are ‘sitting’ for our friends Sarah and Tony while they are on Holiday. The familiarity of this space is sinking in and we are becoming quite comfortable in this town of Chesham, England. Its all starting to feel like home.
But how did we get HERE? To this sweet lil’ spot in Chesham.. ahem, or what I like to call Cheese-Ham? It was certainly very un-planned….
My grandma Lavonny reminded me via Skype the other day (bloody brilliant way to communicate, by the way) of one of my favorite phrases.
“We are always in our rightful place.” And not sitting in front of my ‘First Full English Breakfast’ in Hastings, kind of rightful place (however, beans on toast with a side of sausage always helps lift MY soul) but acknowleding that without having to go through some of our biggest ‘highs and lows’ yet, it wouldn’t have ever led us to THIS experience. And to the next…..
But lets rewind, to when we were full of anticipation and jumping right in, only to realize it was going to be a ‘one step forward- 2 steps back’ kind of world.
I have to acknowledge, that after going through all the stages, frustrations and massive amounts of paperwork of getting Ray’s residency in the U.S. and then onto his Citizenship… well, its pretty ironic that we are going through this all over again. Like it deserves maybe one ‘Hardy-Har-Har.’ But on a optamistic note, the British government seems to be a bit more lienient. As within the first month in England we had my national insurance card (social security card), a primary doctor, UK bank account, insurance on Diva, and one British drivers license. (This so we could register Diva in England and get lower insurance rates; which still= 1000 pounds per year, or over 1,600 US dollars)
SIDENOTE: Perhaps the biggest feat out of them all was the drivers license, as this may be one of the biggest challenges for the young (and we now know, old). I don’t know about you, but when I turned 16 my mom took me to Burnsville, MN in the blue mini-van where I went on a ‘pre-made’ course to pass my test. (I believe I passed with a 98 our of 100 if I remember correctly? For those whom have driven with me, shocking… I know).
But imagine having to do that course all over again NOW after all these years of driving and remembering the ‘perfect parallel,’ hands on 10 & 2 and to be over exaggerated when looking in the mirror? (Perhaps I still am, however not concentrating on the road… just applying more lip gloss). Ray had to first pass his Theory Test which was about 50 questions out of 1560 possible that he studied for, and then take a 50 minute road test throughout the small narrow ‘hilly’ streets of Hastings, England on the left hand side of the road with stick-shift (also on the other side). Did I mention how incredibly strict they were? Well, needless to say, after 1 failed test and 2 behind the wheels later (‘to practise with an expert’) on Tuesday, July 19th Ray was a proud owner of a license. We took one HUGE step forward that day.
….And with all ‘huge feats’ celebrations must ensue in the land of the Wyatt’s! We have managed to experience (and make) quite a few of our own.
Saturday, July 2nd: It was just our luck that the Hastings Beer Festival (supposively the LONGEST bar in Europe?!) was going on the first weekend of July. Everyday the week before we watched this festival build up right within beautiful Alexandra Park (just down the road from where we were staying with Ray’s mum).
I think I may have even managed to start believing that they were actually throwing this festival all for me, I could barely swallow my excitement. (I think Ray was getting nervous of the let-down). But alas, it was everything that I expected and MORE….. The bands were incredible, the beer selection was out-of-control and I found a new ‘special day.’
SIDENOTE: Biffy’s/Port-a-potty’s here in England are INSANELY clean. And get this, they FLUSH. I believe the first time I came out of the ‘ladies’ room at the Festival I shouted “RAY– THE BIFFY’S FLUSH!” So NOT proper, I know….
But I will tell you about some of the more ‘Proper’ British past times we were able to take part in… (and we aren’t talking afternoon-teas!)
Sunday, July 10th: My very first Boot Sale. Imagine…. a Farmer gives up his entire land for the day, charges 4-6 pounds per car that would like to ‘feature their treasures’ from their ‘boot’ (or what we Americans call ‘trunk’) and we have ourselves one intense full acreage garage sale! (a la’ a bit of cow poo on the side to keep you on your toes)
Holy hanna…. It was sensational to see the amount of ‘STUFF’ that we spent the good first few months of 2011 dumping, here it was… literally spilling from their cars. So. Much. Baggage. We would have filled up a dozen boots with what we gave away in the end!
But the most special part of the day was spending it with Ray’s mum, Jan… It will always be one of my favorite days so far as we meandered up and down the rows and enjoyed a perfect English (proper) day.
Another very “Proper Tradition” that we feel we are already professionals in the art in is that of “Picknicking.” Now, the nothing compare to the British and how they picnic…. when they go they have ‘mugs’ of Tea, bring along tables, chairs- (it IS an event!)… and all the ‘delectables’ that one could possible fit in one basket. …Plus a few sausage rolls.
Monday, July 11th: Well, we are just ‘beginners’ but I do feel we did a pretty good job the day we celebrated Anita’s and Ron’s (Ray’s dad and wife) Wedding anniversary as well as her success in beating breast cancer! We went ‘proper picnicing’ to a beautiful place right off the coast near Hastings called Fairlight where you can’t tell where the blue of the sky ends, and the sea starts. It is MESMERIZING.
And we had gobs of food.. and one umbrella. I think the most difficult task was actually putting it up?! But we had a lovely afternoon, and Ray even got his dad to throw some frisby with him. For all of you that know Ray and his ‘frisby fever’– you can quite understand how special this ‘frisby session’ was for him to be able to play with his dad. I couldn’t stop smiling….
Its really these special moments with Ray’s family that I am so grateful for. Having the opportunity to slow down and spend some proper time with them. When its only a week here or there when we visited in the past, so much must get squeezed in. It was a very different time spent in Hastings this time around. One we could take our time and have genuine amount of moments shared with all.
And as many of you know- there are some other special people in his hometown. Two very important people in our lives that we tried to see almost every day we were here. Grandad and Grandma Wyatt.
I have said more then once that if Ray is even half the man of Grandad when he grows old, the amazing man he will have become. And Ray is already well on his way. If you could only see how he takes care of his grandparents, what he has done for them… how much he loves them. I truly wish I could bottle up that generousity and devotion, and the world would be just as it should be. Even on the days he cannot be with them, he calls to check in. Every day he connects with them….. You can’t help but thrive to be a better person through Ray’s actions.
So on that note, I leave you with with (Part 1) of our journey in his hometown….
NEXT UP…. Not Your Average Every Day Field Trip (Part 2)