I have been making my rounds and visiting with some family members. I have mostly been staying with my Uncle Stephen and Isla, and we set up my own area in their newly-decorated-soon-to-be-full-with-new-M&S-furniture room. I went to the Trafford shopping center and looked around while Isla ordered her new room. I was on a mission to find a new pair of running shoes, and after a long day of searching, I found a good pair of Mizuno’s. We also visited the Lowry another day, and went shopping through the outlets and the art gallery. It is a very modern looking area with all the BBC media city buildings. I walked into the city from Chorlton one day, and had a look around, where I was to meet up with Sandra and Ben and the little ones. It started pouring down, so I took the train to Stockport, and Sandra came and picked me up. We had a very nice dinner, and had a few drinks while playing childrens scrabble with Lilly and Tom. After they went to bed, we watched the movie “Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” The next day, we all went out together to look at a new car that Sandra is interested in, then we paid a visit to aunt Shirley in Gorton. She was there looking after Billy. Simon came over later, followed by peter. After the visit was ove, Sandra took me back to Chorlton. I met up with Connor for drinks and we caught up on things, and then went on the big ferris wheel set up in Piccadilly Gardens! On Wednesday, I took the train to Bramhall and met with my moms cousin Marilyn and her husband Chris. She said I was easy to spot as I came off the train, because I look just like my mom. I could see some resemblance of mom in her too. I think it is the cheek bones. Who knows. We went back to the house, then one of her daughters came over, and we all wet to Hooper’s to have some lunch. Mom had already given her a warning about my eating style, so we went through the classic conversation of what you should and shouldn’t have. I had an Omelette at the cafe due to their large supply of toasties and small supply of fruit/veg. I love eggs, so it’s okay. We went back to the house and talked about Eddie, and the similarities of both sides of our families. There are miners on both sides  of the family, and how Eddie and Edward were both very competitive sportsmen. I already knew this, but it was good to hear it again since my history is kindof a fog. We were also wondering if there is some trace of vikings in our blood because of the small bit of reddish hair that some of the family acquired! Later, Chris came home and was very full of energy! he turned on the TV to get ready for the city match, and was asking me about what I have been doing over here. We had a lovely dinner, then we watched the game together. He was a hoot. Screaming and jumping and clapping nonstop. The result was 5-1 City, so you can imagine all the excitement. Connor and I were talking earlier about city, and he is convincing me to start supporting them instead of united. It’s very tempting, city was a lot more interesting to watch rather than the usual slop that United has been putting out. The next day, Marilyn took me to Bramhall Hall, and we walked around the pond and gardens. It was very pretty, and I can imagine how popular it is in the Spring and Summer! We met her other daughter Jillian back at the house, who had her two year old daughter, Elana (I think) with her. We had lunch, talked about things, then watched the little one play with all her toys. They set off, and we went to John Lewis to look around. After that I took the train from Cheadle Hulme back to Piccadilly, and the bus to Chortlon, where we had a good stir-fry dinner to celebrate Chinese new year! Year of the horse, should be a good one!

Meanwhile, I have purchased my train ticket to go to London on Monday. I will be taking the 6:10 from Piccadilly, and will arrive at Euston around 8 ish. that will give me time to get to where I need to be by 10:30. I am very glad that I have a railcard! Jillian was telling me my £53 ticket was a steal compared to what some people pay. Her husband has to commute to London, I am not sure how often but still, that has got to be rough! Isla has also been helping me gather questions that I need to ask about the job/support/important things. She also helped me decide that leaving early Monday morning would be the best so that I am fresh and ready rather than looking hungover from a night in a hostel. Some family friends, Simon and Philip invited me to dinner for tonight if I would be in town, but we will just have to reschedule for a celebratory new job party 🙂 Fingers crossed!!




A walk in Lambourn

Yesterday morning I gathered up my strength and headed out for a walk to the white horse hill from Jeremy and Marie’s house. I took a picture of the map, but I ended up taking the long route of getting there.  I was mad for a few minutes just because I always get lost, but the scenery and the weather turned out to be just perfect. Not one rain drop! I slipped through a lot of the muddy trail, and made my way to the top of the windy hill. I was nervous that I was going the wrong way, but I could point out the church and the wind towers that I saw the first time i had been there, so it was only a matter of time before there was a sign that I had arrived. I sat on a bench within the grounds to let Jeremy know I had made it. He offered to come pick me up, but I felt defeated at the fact that I couldn’t properly find my way here. So I turned down the offer and headed out to find the right trail to get back. I ended up asking a nice lady walking her dog, and she gave me directions plus a full history of the trail. Apparently, I would be taking the bronze trail, which is around 5,000 years old! The return journey was a 100% success, and twice as beautiful. Walking through an open field of grass with nothing to be seen, then walking along a freshly turned running track for the horses. Just perfect. My poor running shoes will not be making the next journey.

I stopped in at the pub in between where most of the horse farms and jockey clubs are. I was welcomed by a lady with a group of people who recognized me walking from when she rode past me with her horses. The group was amazed of how far I had walked, and invited me to sit with them. I ordered a cup of tea with a leek and potato soup, and tried to defrost my hands and face. They were all posh looking people sharing some wine and gossiping about people and horses, of course. They asked me where I was from, who my family down here were, and where I was headed to next. When I told them that I was planning on leaving to Manchester the next day (today) The old man suggested that I hitch a ride with the man sitting next to him, named wally. He was headed up there by car to go to the Manchester United game because his friend who has executive season tickets gives them to him all the time. He asked me if I wanted to go, and I said that it sounds fun. I was not giving a yes or no answer because it sounded like a great opportunity, but I don’t have the best luck with how these things turn out. When he stepped outside, the woman leaned in and told me not to worry, that they were not sending me off with a bad person. I actually believed it. They really did seem like a nice group. I was also offered to ride one of the yearlings if I was staying longer in Lamborn ( another young man at the table who is a former jockey and now trains his own string of horses) he asked me how much I weighed, and since I grew up riding Arabians, he said they act about the same so I should be ok. I am bummed that I can’t go! Anyway, I finished my soup, took down wallys number and headed out. I walked down the road and through the old cricket ground with the old man, (Evelyn?? Very thick accent) and he lectured me for walking to fast and that I can’t enjoy where I am going at such a “speed” he stopped every time we bumped into someone, and would stop and tell his dog to go swimming in the flooded fields. He own several horses in Lambourn. Classic thoroughbred racing culture outfit too. Wellies, tweed jacket, flat cap, black Labrador at his side. We were now off in different directions and said our goodbyes and he wished me the best of luck with everything. Very nice.

I washed off all the muck of myself, and Jeremy, Marie and I went into Newbury to have my last dinner. We went to a carvery, and it was just perfect after a long hike. I had some turkey, and a huge amount of purple cabbage, leeks, carrots, and swede. Very filling.

This morning I was getting ready, and pretty excited that I had decided to get a lift to Manchester and watch the game. That saves me £25 to take the train up and could go towards a day trip somewhere! Then I got a phone cal from Wally that he was called for a job and couldn’t make it to Manchester. DARN! Back to plan A. (I can see the look of relief on Les’s face!)That would have been fun to watch ANOTHER Sunderland Man U game, since that’s the game I watched two years ago. Unless they lost, again.

Anyway, all in all, I met a great group of people in Lambourn and they asked me to keep in touch for when I return to visit on the Good Friday opening day.

Now off to Manchester!!


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Salisbury and Oxford

This weekend we went to Salisbury and walked around the village, and saw the cathedral that is home to the tallest spire in the UK. It was very pretty, and the sun shined through the middle arches and made everything look nice. I didn’t go into to see the magna carta, and we also did not go to Stonehenge (I think if you have seen one pile of rocks in a circle, you have seen them all.) We had lunch at a  nice local cafe called Bill’s. Jeremy had a fish finger sandwich, Marie had butternut squash soup, and I had a duck salad. We all really enjoyed what we ordered. The town was very nice, while Jeremy and Marie went to take care of the dogs, I wandered around the shops and did some window shopping. I actually tried on a pair of tall boots, but put them back. I think if I am going to invest in some nice boots, they should be a nice pair that will last. Anyway, I bumped into Jeremy and Marie on the street and we decided it was time to head out. They got some nice looking tea cakes from the local bakery.

Today, I went for a run around the Lambourn way and did a nice loop that went up a rolling hill, to the left, and back down into the city. It was such a great view. So much green, and the fog was starting to break. Really nice. Later in the day, Jeremy had a doctor’s appointment in Oxford, so I went along with him so that I could explore the city. It was very nice. I can see why they did a lot of filming in these old buildings and green areas. I walked past the Eagle and Child, and the Randolph Hotel where some inspector morse had been filmed. I also went to the Bodleian Library , the Radcliff Camera, Trinity College, and other places where Harry Potter scenes had been filmed. The city was very busy for a Monday afternoon. There were all the regular big named shops, but off the main roads, there were plenty of local shops, bookstores, and cafes. I saw the castle and the mound next to it was pretty odd. I don’t know the history of why it’s there. I was a bit early when I came back to where I was to  be picked up by Jeremy, so I browsed around a bookshop. There were several people sitting drinking tea while reading, and there was classical music playing. There were a few books that I read bits of the inside that I think that I would need a dictionary to learn new words. What do you expect, it’s Oxford. ImageImageImageImageImageImage

Field Trip #2

I underwent a one day experience of what it is like to commute in London. Holy cow. 

Jeremy took me to the train in Hungerford and I made my way from Paddington to tube to Pinner to meet with Vivienne. She picked me up outside the station and we went back to her house. We had lunch, talked a lot, and looked through old photos of them family, including a photo of Jean’s grandfather! I came across my new favorite picture of grandad, and enjoyed siting and reading a vogue magazine drinking a delicious chai tea while she went to pick up her husband Andrew from the station, followed by Andrew’s brother’s wife who arrived from Singapore. We all went out to a lovely steakhouse just down the street. Vivienne kindly woke up early to take me back to the station around 7:15, and I was so proud that I caught every tube/train/shuttle bus to make it to the Equine hospital ten min early! (9:00 AM) The campus was beautiful! Loads of huge modern looking buildings, a great big horse statue in the center, and plenty of green. The Equine unit itself was very nice. It had three knock down boxes, leading into the prep hallway, then two surgical theaters, both having surgeries scheduled for that day. The surgeon who was supposed to be ready to start was in a meeting, which made one of the lecturers upset. ” I am fed-up with him, I’m off to have a cuppa tea and some Valium” very different terms than what I would hear. So collected too. As the day went on, two colics were being sent in, and a wound.It was very busy, and there were students everywhere, maybe one or two trying to be helpful. I helped the head nurse tidy up some of the rooms, including scrubbing the walls in one of the knock down boxes. It was like a walk down memory lane!

By the time I was done, the head nurse informed me that they were short staffed and they would soon be looking for an equine nurse. She asked me if I was interested in this position, so I asked her about accommodation and some of the details, and basically I would have to find somewhere to live, but be close enough to get there quickly if I were to be called in. She told me that she wasn’t worried about what the RCVS had to say about my qualifications since I would always be under supervision anyway and it looks like I have ” great experience” on my CV. she also said that I am more than welcome to come back and visit anytime or stay for a long amount of time/seasonal work etc. Then I made my journey back to Newbury where Jeremy picked me up.

The funny thing is, I never sent them my CV when I inquired to visit the hospital….is it just floating around the vet hospital world? Even one of the surgeons told me that he was glad I was here visiting. I don’t know what secret language is on my CV, but it makes me really surprised by the amount of praise I received for my accomplishments. 

I have made a pro’s and con’s list in my head, and several ideas of how I would like things to unfold. If I typed it out, it would make no sense. So all my readers (all three +/- one or two) will have to wait and see how things unfold!! Plus the fact that making executive decisions is my weakest link. HA.


Field Trip #1

I was having a lazy day, trying to stop procrastinating my run, and was able to make plans to head back into London tomorrow. The plan is to spend some time with her Thursday, and spend the night at her house. Then I will be able to get up early to go to the equine referral hospital of the royal veterinary college. (aka RVC ERH) I will be able to spend the day there, then head back to lambourn the same day whenever I finish. So that’s Thursday and Friday booked!

I eventually forced myself outside, and ran to the old cricket pitch right across the street from Valley Equine. I did some exercises, then noticed that there was a public footpath hiding in the back of the park. I got to the top of the hill and saw in the distance packs of horses getting their exercise. I decided to go back because I had been out a while and didn’t bring my phone. When I got back, Jeremy had news that I would be able to visit the vet hospital!! So I took a shower, had a cuppa’ and was on my way. 

It was great. My explanation of who I am was a bit here and there, but all the girls were very nice. They invited me to stay and watch a procedure that was scheduled. I was there for a good two hours and one of the girls took my phone number so they could call me if they get any emergency surgeries or scheduled interesting appointments! yay! 

The vet that I met today, was born in England, grew up in Virginia, and came back here to practice. She knows a lot of the people at the ERH-RCV and said that they were all very friendly. I am looking forward to Friday!

AND I finally got an email from the FEI world equestrian games group, and scheduled a phone interview for Tuesday next week at 9:30 to be a volunteer at the Games this August/September in Normandy! I applied to this back in November…I also applied to a Nike retail store in Edinburgh shortly after my adventure there, and they called me for an interview next Thursday…which I will not be attending. No thank you. All I need now is the RCVS to get off their rocker and do their job!!! One of the interns at the clinic I visited today said that I should have no problems getting automatically qualified by the sounds of my work and school experience. Fingers crossed…

London to Lambourn

Friday went really well meeting Vivienne for lunch. In the morning, I headed down to the seven dials and stopped in at Monmouth Coffee company and enjoyed a double espresso to get my day semi warmed up. Then I walked around looking at the shops and headed in the direction to the Gap store I was to meet her outside of.. I was waiting for her outside the wrong GAP store, but it was only a few minuets down the road. We went to a really nice thai restaurant and I had a delicious chicken and pumpkin squash with cashews, with a side of Chinese broccoli. We talked about family and things that we have done over the years. It was really great meeting her and she was so nice. She even brought me a gift from Fenwicks, a lovely scarf with horses on it.  We finally decided to be on our way, and I continued to do some browsing around. I always get so close to buying something, but change my mind. It is a new years resolution to wear clothes that don’t have “The North Face” labeled on every layer. But I have got time, even though all these sales just look so great. Anyways, I made my way back to Swiss Cottage, picked up my backpack from the hostel, and took the tube down to paddington station. I looked up where the closest planet organic/ whole foods was, and it was about a 20 min walk from the station. I had about two hours before the train left, so I walked there to have a bite to eat. Of course I got stuck talking to someone about how California is starting to be polluted with all the toxins from the earthquake disaster that happened a year or two ago….I love health food stores, always the most interesting people. I headed back to the station, and used my 15 min of free internet, then stood looking for what platform my train was going to be on. I ended up going to the information desk because I never trust myself, and he had told me that I missed it. “oh wait, no you haven’t, it just hasn’t been assigned yet.” I could have killed him. So I stood and waited more with my eyes fixed on the board. The train to Plymouth finally showed up, but the preparing was still flashing. I am glad that I was standing there at the ready, because when the platform number lit up, just about everyone there took off at a very brisk pace to get there. I was able to get on and find a seat without a problem, sitting next to a gentleman who was doing something on his iPad, speaking to someone on his iPhone, and also had one of those cool nike fuel bands on his wrist. There I was, sitting there with my book. 

I arrived in hungerford around 7:30, where Jeremy was stood waiting for me. He was very surprised that the train was on time, sometimes it even gets cancelled! We made our way to their house in Lambourn, and Marie had dinner ready for us. She was also surprised at the punctuality of the train. The next morning, I went for a walk with Jeremy and one of the dogs to get a tour of Lambourn. We went through the main area, and around the parking lot of the Equine hospital (Valley Equine). After we had a few more cups of tea, the three of us headed out to see the white horse of Uffington, as well as Uffington castle. The white horse reminded me a bit of Northumberlandria with all the winding paths that make out a picture from another view. Next we went to the village of Avebury and walked around the stone circle. There were some people “wassailing” which is a tradition of singing and drinking cider to bring a good harvest of apples the next year….non of them looked like farmers to me. We sat and had a cup of tea and people watched a bit, then headed back home. I made my chicken and veg stir fry for dinner, and they both liked it! Phew! Sunday we took a trip out to Windsor. We walked along the Thames river, which was completely full and overflowing into some restaurant and apartment patios. A few kayakers taking full advantage of the conditions. It was FREEZING that day, by the way. We walked through Eton and saw the school where Harry and William both went, and I saw the uniform someone was wearing which looked like a ballroom dancing costume…a tailcoat, and huge white bow-tie. We headed back to a cafe and I had a delicious soup that warmed me up from the arctic weather outside. then we walked up to Windsor castle, and you could see that the queen was in because the flag was up. We walked around the shops a bit, then headed back home. Monday was a sit in day. I went for a run around the town, and through the public footpaths that were backed up to the training farms. They were all so spectacular. The mix of the green grass, the white racecourse fencing, the young horses, the brick barns with their black and brass fitted stall doors, with all the decorative features. I watched some horse and rider strings gallop up the slopes, and headed back to the house. I went for a walk a bit later that day, but it was short lived because of the rain. Marie had made a delicious hearty soup for lunch, then took on remaking my chicken and veg stir fry, which she aced!

These are two of the places that I ran past, I need to go back and get some pictures!!prettyPhoto


Today, Jeremy and I went to Bath. Unfortunately Marie could not go with us since she had to work.It was so pretty! We almost missed the train due to to absence of any parking spaces, but we eventually made it to the platform after a mixture of running, and waiting patiently in line for the tickets. After the woman at the counter told use the train leaves in two min, she started having a conversation mid-sentence while pausing to hand us the tickets. Really?! The train was a bit behind, so lucky for us, we were at the platform a full 30 seconds before the train got there. It was a quick train up there, and it was only £7.04 for there and back, since I am a railcard holder! Anyway, we walked along the river avon, and had a cup of tea in a little cafe inside the bridge on the river. The view was very nice. Then we walked up to see the Circus and the Royal Crescent, and walked through a couple parks, through the shops and past the abbey. All the buildings and houses were very pretty, and there were little hidden shops and cafes hidden in all the little back roads. I also went into the pump house where the restaurant had a live band playing some classical music, it was also next to the entrance of the Bath spa museum. We had lunch at another nice cafe that had a great view from the second floor. I convinced Jeremy to have the American club sandwich, and he enjoyed it. Boring me had a turkey salad, and had to dodge the huge scoop of coleslaw hidden underneath it. We stopped in at a local bakery and picked up some Bath cakes for Marie, then also got some fudge from another shop. We stopped for some tea in one of the little alleyways, then walked past the Thermal spa and picked up a leaflet. One day I will go there, it looks so peaceful! A rooftop spa from the natural spring of Bath. Ahhh….We headed back to the train station and from Swindon, made or way back home. The sun was out the whole day, and the sites were so gorgeous. I can easily understand why this place is so packed in the summertime, with all the pretty flowers and greenery. 

Some good news that I got this morning was that my mom was able to get some contacts of more of her family that I can meet up with soon. Some in Manchester, some in Brighton. I did have Brighton on my places to visit list, but now I have an even better reason to go! AND, the lady who is part of the Referral Equine hospital at the Royal Veterinary College of London said that I can visit for a full or Half day any time except the 20th next week! YAY! 

I have some planning to do!

Enjoy my roll of pictures in no Particular order.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

London part two

Today had less issues! Thank goodness. I walked up the street to find a cafe to get some breakfast, then stopped at a posh looking fruit/veg stand named artichoke. I got a type of pear that looked like an apple, a couple carrots, a real apple, and a plum. all for£1.87! The pear apple thing was amazing. I took the tube to london bridge and made my way to the borough market. I started with a cup of delicious coffee from Monmouth Coffee, then went to town on all the delicious local food. I am sad that I did not book into a self catering hostel, or I would have liked to get some of the random veg that I never use like the wild mushrooms and the other weird shaped plants. So instead, I had a few cookies, and a panini from the place I went to last year! Totally worth it. I had to force myself to leave. It was bad. haha. Then I walked along the Thames through all the fancy apartment and restaurant blocks, past the imperial war museum, and the nice bridges. I wanted to see what the new convent garden market looked like, and after all the mess of having to backtrack and make my way into the actual grounds, it was closed. oh well. Then I walked past the old energy plant, which was very impressive looking. I eventually made it to battersea park,  walked past the running track, and then saw Jessica Eniss doing some sort of photo shoot. sitting on a park bench. I eventually crossed the Albert bridge, walked through Chelsea, and went to the Natural History Museum. They had a section dedicated to human evolution, and I was able to follow the timeline and comprehend what it was talking about. Thanks book! There were also huge skeletons of dinosaurs and whales and a bunch of rocks and gems and other things. Pretty cool. Then I walked up the street to the art museum, looked at a few things, then carried on up Brompton Road. Stopped in at Harrod’s to see what it was about. It was about having money, so I left. I turned left at Harvey Nichols, went through Hyde park to Marble arch.Right on Oxford, left on Baker,Park rd  to Finchley Rd, to swiss cottage at Palmers lodge where I was staying. When I got in, I swapped out my flat shoes to my running shoes and went for a run around hampstead. Tomorrow I WILL make it to parliament hill athletic park, my navigation skills have taken me in all the opposite directions. darn.  Now I am sitting here on this nice leather couch in the common room wearing the slippers my grandma gave we from her river cruise, and I mapped my route from london bridge to the hostel. 9.8 miles. Minus the backtrack in Lambeth, the breakfast walk, and whatever jumbled route I just ran. Thanks Borough market, thanks a lot. 

But I still probably consumed more energy than I used, and according to my book, It is going to lead me to obesity, and die. Haha. 

I Booked a train from London Paddington to arrive in Hungerford around 7:30 to meet with Jeremy and Marie. I can’t decide on if I am going to walk to the station from the hostel, or drop my bag at the station (£9 eek!) but I also need to use up the rest of the money I put on my oyster card for the tube ( which is way easier to use than I thought,)…which I am sure will be easy. I will probably use that to get to Bond street to meet Vivian so I don’t look windswept and exhausted. Good plan.