Monday, February 6, 2012

A Travel Update: Day 18

So, an update. Why not.

Day 18.

We've been in the UK (England) 18 days. It snowed for the first time on Saturday night, the humidity was at 100%. Wet cold is far worse than dry cold.

If we had an idea of when we were leaving (we have yet to purchase a return ticket) we'd be doing a countdown on when we're going "home".

It seems like we're been here longer, so much longer; and some days it feels like it's going to go too fast. And other days like it's never going to come to an end.

When people on Twitter (and all other places we hang out online during the daytime) ask  "How's your vacation?" we almost always crinkle our nose, then chuckle a little.

It's not exactly a vacation, not by any practical definitions anyway. It's not really any different then being unemployed back home, which we were for the last three and a half months or so. It's just being unemployed in a different country, and with everything that entails (financially speaking anyway, we were, and are not, on any unemployment or benefits - right now we are using the last of our savings).

James got a job pretty fast when we got here, which was good, because it's expensive to heat the flat, provide it electricity and purchase food. We are indeed "blessed", as he looked for months to find a job before coming to stay with us in the states with no luck, and this time it took mere days.

So, what's it like, how is our "vacation" going?

We've finally got a shower system hooked up, but it runs on a separate line than does the bathtub taps, and so far we have not been able to use it. You never really understand how glorious a shower is until you've went about two and a half weeks without one, especially when the heat is...well, lets just say you can see your breath most days in the bathroom (and most other places in the flat), making a bath less than relaxing most days.

So far we remain without a fridge/freezer in the kitchen, which means meals must be creative and innovative. Our culinary education is coming in handy, on some levels. Luckily because the flat is so cold - it sat empty too long, making it hard to get up to temperature, and it is too expensive to keep the heat running every day, other than to take the chill out of the air - the kitchen is an adequate temperature to store most of the things we buy on the counter, or in the cupboards. We'd never buy things like chicken though, that would be too risky. Yogurt, milk, cheese, fruits, vegetables, and eggs are among the usual foods we have been keeping in the kitchen.

(Refrigeration of eggs is not actually recommended, they don't even do it in the grocery stores, it has something to do with, not surprisingly, the difference in processing practices in America vs. Europe.)

We go to the grocery every other day, a roughly 25 minute walk, to buy meat products to eat within one to two days; like we said the kitchen is almost refrigeration tempertaure (somewhere between 35-38F/2-4C) so storing red meats or sausage is safe enough over a short period.

We are also without a washer/dryer. Saturday we walked three+ miles, just under 5km, taking our first trip to a laundromat (called a luandrette here) to do laundry. A single load of laundry cost £3, about $5 USD, that's just for the washing, not the drying. We walked to the laundromat to conserve on funds because James has been having issues with the pay at his job, so until that's fixed certain things take priority - luckily we cuaght a bus home after doing laundry because it was very cold and getting dark (and for some reason our ankle has been in pain for about a week, and it has now moved into the join of our knee. I have no idea what we did to it, but it makes walking less pleasurable.)

Not to sound like it's horrible here, we're pretty adaptable to most situations, we come from hearty stock. We did get to go out to a low-cost restaurant last week, so it's not like we're suffering.  While at home it just means more blankets, hot drinks, extra layers of clothing, creative meals, and spending  most of our time in the bedroom with the door closed to keep the heat from escaping into the rest of the flat (the flat itself could use more insulation and weatherproofing, drafty doesn't even explain it). We go to the library as often as possible during the day, while James is at work, to take advantage of the free heat and the table (at the flat we do most of our computer work on our lap on a mattress on the floor).

Anyway, we're not sure about how your vacations go, or how you define a vacation, but we don't consider these conditions a "vacation", most people wouldn't, that's why we call it an adventure.

The walks into town center are the nice though, and there is much to enjoy in the scenery of the smallish town we now find ourselves in. It is a unique experience. Never again will we get to walk past 2000 year old historical sites and a castle, just to go to the library.

Thank heavens we have electricity, water and internet. We feel near spoiled getting to have internet after the first couple of days here. It's going to get better, we can be patient.

In about two weeks we will be going to London for two nights to visit and stay with a friend/follower from Twitter, and meet her for the first time (serenity_x); James has said that in about a month we may take the underground train (it goes under The English Channel!) to France for lunch, maybe overnight. It all depends on many, many, factors, but it WILL get better. The flat sale might be completed (it was supposed to have been completed months ago) and then we will be moving on to a new living quarters. For now, we're just "enjoying" a day-to-day adventure and new life experiences.

It's really not so bad, most of the time, as it may sound on paper, and it's absolutely not typical of living conditions in England; though the colder than average room temperatures is not uncommon, the English tend to be a bit more conservative in living conditions, from what we understand - we've written in our travelogue blog, and will continue to do so, about the other differences we learn about.

You're probably wondering...why'd we do it. Why did we leave the comfort of America, of all things familiar, of living in The Mother's basement (where we had been living for the two and a half months before flying to the UK)? Why?
For the stupidest, and best, and most insane reason ever.

If you want to read our travel blog, simply follow this link: Our Frank Adventures, where we concentrate our writing on England, post photos and write about some of our experiences living temporarily in a foreign country.

*While we are not all in love with James (he understands and accepts this), some are very fond of him (at least one hates him), such is the difficulty in having a relationship while living with DID/MPD. It was a democratic decision to go to England with him, rather than be apart for three or more months.

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