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Posts Tagged ‘Liverpool’

DP’s prompt for today was:  If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, which would these be?

 

The answer to this is so easy for me.  The scenario is truly an expats dream.  The only thing that could make this more appealing is if you included a teleportation device to make the travel between the two places as simple and quick as possible.

Most readers of this blog know that I am an expat living in Liverpool, UK.  I absolutely love the city of Liverpool, as it is just large enough to have a fair representation of the arts and culture that I thrive on.  It is also small enough that I do not feel claustrophobic here, as I have in larger cities like New York or London.  Liverpool is small, but it doesn’t feel small.  It is large (really, it’s not a suburb, which is *just fine* with me!) but not too large.  The climate here is actually pretty mild, though you’ll hear everyone in the UK complain about the weather constantly (I believe it is the national sport).  Liverpool has amazing local bands, great museums, a proud history and the friendliest people I’ve met in the UK yet.  If you asked me what I love most about Liverpool, the answer is immediately going to be the people here.  We also have the best sports team ever.   (Ha ha, made you look! It’s true, though.  Very very true!). I am a train ride away from London, Glasgow, or Edinburgh.  I am a quick easy jet flight from Dublin (though I have yet to make that trip). I’ve had great food here and been to some great pubs.  And really – I’m near the water.  This is what I need.  It might be colder water than I am used to, with a sometimes bitter off shore breeze, but it IS the water, and that soothes my soul.

 

Image of Liverpool's skyline at night.  Attribution Unknown

Image of Liverpool’s skyline at night. Attribution Unknown

 

This is a shot of Bold Street, my favorite street in the city.  It's not where the chain stores or the posh stores are.  Most are locally owned artisan stores, and there are a lot of really good restaurants here.  My favorites: Kashbah, Leaf, The Custom Cupcake Company, and Passage to India.  Photo by Catherine Cavendish.

This is a shot of Bold Street, my favorite street in the city. It’s not where the chain stores or the posh stores are. Most are locally owned artisan stores, and there are a lot of really good restaurants here. My favorites: Kashbah, Leaf, The Custom Cupcake Company, and Passage to India. Photo by Catherine Cavendish.

Part of the city's rejuvenation projects nearly 10 years ago, the Albert Dock was restored and museums, cafes, and attractions were opened.  I love this part of the City almost as much as Bold Street.

Part of the city’s rejuvenation projects nearly 10 years ago, the Albert Dock was restored and museums, cafes, and attractions were opened. I love this part of the City almost as much as Bold Street.

 

This is the city, lit up in the night.  The Mersey River divides New Brighton and Liverpool.  So beautiful.

This is the city, lit up in the night. The Mersey River divides New Brighton and Liverpool. So beautiful.

 

The place I would split time with is unlikely to surprise anyone – my home-region (I will not say home town because we moved when I was young and there are several places within the region I could call home) of Southern California.  Specifically, I was born in Huntington Beach.  What can I say about Huntington Beach? Except that it can be paradise.  It can be crowded – the houses are small and close together and the population is high – but the beauty of the region is impossible to deny.

Yes, this.  Picture by me.

Yes, this. Picture by me.

 

One of my sons, enjoying the beach.  Picture also by me.

One of my sons, enjoying the beach. Picture also by me.

 

The food, oh the food! I can’t actually talk about it because I will drool.  I miss it so much.

There’s a lot to do in So Cal.  Every conceivable kind of beach or water sport, is, of course, obvious.  What few people know is how convenient it is to other types of sport.   Where we moved when I was 12 (and where my Dad and brother still live in Lake Elsinore) there are vineyards and lakes nearby, and a short bit of a drive further will take you to the mountains.  Idyllwild and Big Bear have skiing in the winter.  I used to hike there many weekends with my friend Denise from work. I spent one summer at Idyllwild Institute Fiesta, a leadership camp for girls.

One of my favorite places to hike, ever.

One of my favorite places to hike, ever.

 

Or, if you go a bit further south east, you can go to the Mojave desert and Ocotillo (where my great grandmother lived, and I spent some formative parts of my life).  I grew up with the sands of this place between my toes.  I learned what it was to cover my skin with the scalding sand in order to protect it from the sun, much more likely to burn it in the end.  My family grew up here.  My brother and his family still go here to ride their bikes and their sand rails and their buggies.

 

Ocotillo

 

Nearly every possible climate in the world is in Southern California (yeah, maybe not the rainy wet climate of Liverpool or Seattle).  Southern California is roughly the size of the entire UK, I’d say.  Don’t quote me on that, I haven’t done the actual measurements.

So Cal is where my family still live.  I miss them incredibly. The lot of the Expat is that no matter how they love their new home, how much they adore the people they meet, they will always miss those who are left behind.  So Cal still holds everything I was made from.

So yes, please.  Let me split my time between the two.  And get me that teleporter, ASAP.

 

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So, we moved house.

There is a long story about moving out of the old house, and frankly that story is not yet finished, so I won’t tell it here, just yet.  But we are in a new house, which is much smaller, more modern, and much more warm.  We are happy and cozy, here.  The house is not yet in order, as we’ve had to compact our lives from a house about 3 times as large into this one, so no pictures of this house are ready.  But we also love our new neighborhood, which is not all that far from our old one, but may as well be miles away.

I got to talk to my Daddy today.  I miss him so much, and lately the ache of Mom’s loss is greater.  I know it is hard for him to talk to me on the phone for long periods of time.  He’s constantly on my mind.

The boys and I went for a walk today, as DH had gone to a Manchester United vs. Arsenal game.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day, with sun shining through the yellow and gold leaves, and a brisk cold breeze.  Here are a few snapshots I took along the way.

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A variety of reasons (or excuses) have been made for not posting more recently.  Firstly, the last time I posted about a house as if we’d already signed and moved in, it fell out from under our feet.  I didn’t want to jinx the whole process yet again.  Secondly, life is just hectic right now – I am still working, I am still a full time student, and yet I’m also moving internationally, helping my children adjust, attempting to work with ALL THE BUREAUCRACIES, and trying to find a school for the boys, which is much more difficult than it sounds.

But I can safely report that we are in our home.  OUR HOME.  It is lovely and provincial and so very much what we need.  Our home is not a modernized, easily-heated McMansion in the suburbs.  It is also not a dilapidated, falling-apart, impossible to heat behemoth.  It is a modernized 150 year old farmhouse that sits on a lovely piece of property and feels a bit like heaven to me.  There is a distinct personality to this property- the mixture of an impoverished gentry feel that was given an injection of new money and modernized in ways that are alternately delightful or perplexing.  We’re nowhere near finished moving in, and everything is still a little chaotic for my liking.

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See? He’s nothing stunning.  Just a farmhouse remodeled, that includes the former barn, and has a walk-through annex (which is a fantastic, humongous laundry room, by the way). What is really fabulous about this house is the outside. This is the view from my front garden.  It is also the view from my kitchen windows, which wrap all the way around the room.

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This is the backyard shortly after sunrise.  That statuary is one of the perplexing bits, but is also a piece of the personality of this house.

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This house is not in downtown Liverpool but is really only about 20 minutes outside the city center.  We are in walking distance of a family pub that serves good food.  We walk to the postbox.  When I start running again, I will have plenty of hills to challenge me (save me!).  I love it here.  I mean, I really love it here.

The following is a photodump of other things we’ve done in the house, or bits of the house we love, or bits we find perplexing.
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I know I owe a post on the house.  And of the adventure retrieving the car.  I just can’t 1) Jinx the house by posting about it or 2) Actually relive the experience of getting the car.  I want to wait on the restaurant review of Kasbah, for a time I can return and get good pictures.  I’ve never done a restaurant review for the blog before – I’m not sure how to go about it.  Should I inform the owner or get permission? I’m just unsure of the protocol, being a complete novice.

So this post will be about our trip to Southport to see Rachael and Ross (yes, they are, and yes, we’ve heard the jokes already).  Rachael writes the lovely blog Tales from the Village and is one of my favorite people in the whole world.  And I think she rather likes this guy she’s with.  See?

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DH (this morning it was the worst of the interpretations of the acronym) managed to leave our lovely bottles of alcoholic housewarming presents on the counter *and* to put us an hour or more behind schedule (I hate, hate, hate being late). I subsequently almost got us hit by a bus by trying to turn into oncoming traffic – it was my first time driving the car  – but we managed to make the trip relatively unscathed. They have a lovely old Victorian home just block from the seaside.

Rachael and Ross served us a delicious lunch of burritos (I had two!) and ooh, a fresh avocado or two were in the mix somewhere.  It was scrumptious, and one of the things I already miss. I *will* get a dwarf avocado tree.  Someday.

It also happened to be the day of the Southport Air Show, which I hadn’t known in advance but which turned out to be a nice way to spend the day.  We walked down to the shore and took pictures of the planes, Ross actually squeed when he saw the Lancaster. That would be this one:

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We saw the Lancaster, its escorts (a Spitfire and a Hawker, I think), and a few biplanes.

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I was IN LOVE with this wing-walker, and got a lot of amazing shots.
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DS1 was impressed (ok, bored) by the show, but he absolutely loved Ross’s aviator helmet getup.
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All of the lovely children played well together, and there were only a few injuries of note. We count this as a win.  Our three boys, their three boys, and one pre-teen daughter made things VERY interesting, to say the least. Not bad in a house full of wired children!

Rachael and I snuck off to the quiet little attic room and had a long chat without children, save for the ones who occasionally snuck up to check on where their moms were.  That’s a safety check, don’t you know?

I can’t wait to go see them again. ❤

***Edited for gross spelling errors and typos.  Also, not editing for the ingrained habit of double spacing after a period.  It would take me all day long.

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One morning, while Jay was working and the boys and I were doing our best to stay out of tiny little apartment home, we walked down to Albert Dock, where they are doing a demonstration of the tall ships.  We’ve been to the tall ships festivals in Boston, in Virginia, and in California.  This is a smaller and much more modest festival, but still lovely.

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Our favorite ship at Tall Ships was the Kathleen & May.  It is an old three masted schooner, which is parked at Albert dock year round.  We were allowed to go on board and take pictures.  Turns out, the caretakers, Cindy and Jeff, were some of the most lovely people I’ve ever met.  Took the boys and I under their wings, brought out biscuits for the boys, and sat and chatted with me because Cindy spent a year or two in California.  She sat with me and reminisced. As soon as I have a kitchen again, I will bake her muffins and go deliver them, and invite her to the house for tea.

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The regatta was small, but a worthwhile walkaround.  The boys had fun, and there were plenty of hot donut and ice cream carts to distract them (and that they pestered me about).

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Many adventures this week, which I meant to blog about as they occurred and of course failed to do. I will have a series of posts this week.  I am trying to space them out so as not to bore you.  Upcoming posts will include: Tall Ships Regatta, A restaurant review (Kasbah), a summary of the housing situation and the story of Getting The Car.

One day, the boys and I went to explore some parts of the city that we hadn’t yet done.  Beatles fest was last week, which we avoided due to the (drunken) crowds.  The boys and I decided to cruise down Mathew Street and see some of the venues in which the Beatles played.  See?

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The boys were rather unimpressed with Mathew Street.  It wasn’t too exciting, to tell the truth.  I’ve been to Mathew Street in the evening, with friends, and it was much more fun. 😉

After strolling there for a while, we found a Caffe Nero, which had been recommended to me by several people.  Now, we live upstairs from a Starbucks, and just a quarter of a block from a Caffe Nero.  I have gone to Starbucks most mornings, probably because it is easiest and closest, and also because I know it.  That will not be happening again.  Seriously delicious Latte.  See?

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It beat my previous favorite Latte, at Coffee Beans and Tea Leaf, hands down.  The yumminess was sublime.  Skinny Hazelnut, extra froth is my favorite, by the way.  In case anyone wants to bring me one, ever.

This is the look of children, who two seconds after the photo is shot will upend the table, break a cup, do other things that I will not mention here in case their future girlfriends read it, and then spend the afternoons in their beds as a result:

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You don’t want to be a child of mine who misbehaves in public.

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I looked down on the countdown timer for the move.  It clicked over to 1 month.  How is that possible?  I surely still have two months left, don’t I?

Things are happening rapidly and are a bit mind-numbing at the same time.  We have so many details flying around our heads that we’re just flowing along trying to make sure we do not forget anything.  We’ve managed to get everyone in for a last check up at the dentist and gathered everyone’s dental records as well.  We’re working on the medical records for all the boys now, and the eye-gouging process of attaining mine and DH’s.  Ours are scattered at several different “specialty” offices.  Ugh.

DH leaves for Liverpool on the 25th, and he won’t return this time.  He will remain there and work until we get there.  I am flying to Liverpool (Manchester, actually) on the 4th of May.  I will stay there until Friday, May 11th.  During that time we will be  looking at schools and at houses.

We’ve finalized our housing allowance and to say it is generous is an understatement.  The houses in that range are extremely nice. EXTREMELY.  Now the process will come down to which house will let us bring our dog.  Oh, Roscoe.  You tricky little thing, you.

Schooling is still all a bit vague.  I’m told we really can’t do anything about the schools until we get there.  But, not to buy or rent a house until we know which school we’ll be in.  But that we can’t apply to any school until we have a permanent address.  How does this make sense?  Ohio Virtual Academy is looking more and more appealing.

I am also in the market for a vehicle lease.  We will have a generous vehicle allowance (roughly 450 pounds per month), but I don’t know what that will get us there or what we should worry about in terms of insurance fees, taxes, etc. Any advice on that would be appreciated.

This is really happening.  Now if only I can stop stress eating and get back to exercising so I don’t fit the stereotype of the overweight American.  Is that still a stereotype?

 

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