Category Archives: Great Britain

Being Brave and Bouncing Back

Global turmoil and sudden economic instability are beginning to feel less like out-of-the-blue events and more like a set of ongoing challenges to deal with in perpetuity.

To look specifically at the UK and realise that the ‘architects of destruction’ — Cameron, Gove, Johnson, and Farage — have ALL resigned in the two weeks since they schemed and plotted to unravel the decades old alliance with Europe — who could have even imagined such a thing? No matter who ends up inheriting the reins of power as the successors to BREXIT, they will need to have carefully considered solutions ready to implement without delay.

Enough of politics for now…

After our ‘body-blow and mental angst’ reaction to BREXIT — my husband Mark thought he was prepared to just summon up a stiff upper lip and stay in Australia even if it wasn’t our first choice. But then, after two or three days of feeling shell-shocked by that decision, he told me that he hadn’t realised how badly he was going to feel if Europe was totally off the table as an option. That was an interesting admission from the sort of man who usually just gets on with things without whinging. I’m going to be honest — we were both wandering around in a fog and deeply depressed.

We’ve had a variety of ups and downs and rapid changes in our 22 and 1/2 years together, so it isn’t surprising that we were able to brush ourselves off, infuse ourselves with some bravery, and bounce back. It is clear now that whether or not BREXIT is ever actually enacted — there are going to be several years of transition. And during that transition period, we still have a chance to get back to Europe, get back ‘in the system’ in one country or another, and sink our roots into a part of the world that brings us joy.

I called our previously chosen real estate agent, he came over on Tuesday night and we signed our listing papers, and on Wednesday he brought the staff of his office through on a brief tour so that they knew what the house looked like and what the pertinent features were.

In the weeks ahead, I plan to keep you apprised of our progress as we hopefully sell quickly because the market is simply plummeting right now. Brexit didn’t just knock the stuffings out of the financial markets in the UK — it bounced half way around the world and punched us in the gut, too. The value of our tiny pensions have dipped, the banks are suddenly tightening up the money supply, and according to our real estate agent — the values of houses here in our town are a stunning 16% lower than they were a mere six months ago. The time to go is now — not a few years from now.

Wish us luck — seriously! Good vibes add to the energy of success and we need to summon up as much of that as possible. And where are we heading? First stop — back to our beloved France!

Watching the Tour de France on television in Australia.

Watching the Tour de France on television in Australia.

And perhaps Mark will be watching the Tour de France LIVE again next year instead of on television. He would love that.

Allons-y!

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By The Sea in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, UK

By the sea is where I wish I was right now. But in lieu of that reality, here’s a flashback photo essay from a trip to the lovely seaside town of Aldeburgh in Suffolk in the UK.

By the way, not ALL beaches are sandy. This one is a perfect example of that. Enjoy!

 

Medieval Moot Hall in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, UK, built in 1520, with the village memorial cross to the left.

Medieval Moot Hall in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, UK, built in 1520, with the village memorial cross to the left.


 
A seagull sitting atop one of the medieval brick chimneys on Moot Hall,.

A seagull sitting atop one of the medieval brick chimneys on Moot Hall,.


 
Fishing boats on a gravel, sometimes called shingle, beach in the UK.

Fishing boats on a gravel, sometimes called shingle, beach in the UK.


 
Close-up of a the beautifully coloured pieces of stone comprising a gravel beach, sometimes called a shingle beach, in the UK.

Close-up of a the beautifully coloured pieces of stone comprising a gravel beach, sometimes called a shingle beach, in the UK.


 

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Hot Pants and Big Hair

It was such a retro look that my head fairly well snapped when I saw it on ample display in Newcastle Upon Tyne in the north of England. Really ‘Big Hair’ on women of all ages. I don’t think I’ve seen such a generous use of the teasing comb and cans of hairspray to create that sort of back-combed volume since the 1960s.

What was even funnier was that we were in a vintage bookstore at one point during our four weeks up there and there was a book on sale that was a ‘Look Back to 1960s Newcastle’ — and all of the women in that book would have been the mothers or grandmothers of the people we were seeing on the streets. Some of the folks in the North of England seem to have gotten stuck in a time warp!

Regional trends included the messy buns — the sort of teased up and pinned up look that Brigitte Bardot used to do so well — or tight buns — teased up and smoothed into not-a-hair-out-of-place firmness with gel or hairspray. And we saw this look on women from teenagers to senior citizens. We were checking out at the grocery store one afternoon and it was everything I could do to not snap a quick pic with my iPhone of the middle-aged check-out clerk who had a bright red beehive hairdo that was towering above her small face!

Then there was the range of hot pants on display (on some icy days in February?) — thankfully on the really young girls and not on the middle-aged gals who shared their love of Big Hair with a large percentage of the Newcastle demographic. Interesting too that once we returned to London and Norfolk from our month up north, we never saw a beehive, teased bun, or hotpants look down there!

Apologies for the graininess of some of these. I did snap a few of them on my phone!

 

Teased up back-combed hair on young girls in a Newcastle mall going from the most bouffant on the left to the least voluminous on the right.

Teased up back-combed hair on young girls in a Newcastle mall going from the most bouffant on the left to the least voluminous on the right. This was taken on an icy cold day at the end of February.


 
Interesting fashion and hair at the hardware superstore.

Interesting fashion and hair at the hardware superstore.


 
Two young girls with teased chunks of hair sitting on the floor in a shopping mall.

Two young girls with teased chunks of hair sitting on the tile floor in a shopping mall.


 
Hotpants (even on the coldest winter day!) and big teased up hair are very popular amongst the teenagers of Newcastle in the UK.

Hotpants (even on the coldest winter day!) and big teased up hair are very popular amongst many of the teenagers of Newcastle in the UK.


 

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Photo Of The Day From Scotland: Golden Light On The Royal Mile

The photo of the day for today is from Edinburgh, Scotland.

The sun was beginning to go down on this cold Spring day when suddenly the sun blasted through the clouds, creating a golden-white light on one end of the Royal Mile and deep shade on the other side.

 

A blast of golden-white light illuminates one end of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland on a brisk late-winter day.

A blast of golden-white light illuminates one end of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland on a brisk late-winter day.


 

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World War II History In The Fields of Norfolk

It’s always a bit stunning to realise how much history has unfolded over the centuries in the UK within eyesight of what now appears to be a ‘normal’ village or town.

We have driven by this particular object for year after year and I always meant to go back and take a picture of it — but I only got around to doing it within this past week. It was a direct follow-on from a visit to an old World War II airfield that is now the museum dedicated to the 100th Bomber Group. And both the museum and this structure are less than a 5 minute drive down the road from my husband’s parents’ home in Norfolk.

As you can see, this machine gun emplacement on the edge of Dickleburgh is standing in a field that has just been plowed for Spring planting.

Nothing like a bit of of history sitting in a field that you pass every day to nudge your memory into recalling what went on there a mere 75 years ago.

 

Machine gun emplacement from World War II sitting in a rural Norfolk field


 

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Hadrian’s Wall in Winter — Part 2

Returning to our visit to Hadrian’s Wall and the museums at Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum — here is Part Two.

Walking on an increasingly downhill slope, we continued through the ruins which included what would have been a massive bathhouse for the hundreds of Roman soldiers stationed in this distant land.

 

Sign at Vindolanda explaining the Roman baths that once existed here


 

Archaeological excavation at the Roman baths in Vindolanda along Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

Then we followed the winding path that led sharply downhill through the trees toward the Chesterholm Museum, the former family home of the archaeologist Eric Birley — a house that now contains many of the discoveries from decades of excavations. This entire site is an ongoing excavation and volunteers can sign on during the warm weather months to work alongside the professional archaeologists on a dig. What fun it would be to bring up some ancient coin or fragment of pottery and know that you contributed to the efforts to reclaim history.

 

Chesterholm Museum on the grounds of Vindolanda, a large Roman fortress and village along Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

A Roman temple replica in the gardens of the Chesterholm Museum at Vindolanda, a large fortress and village along Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

We were not allowed to take any photos inside the museum so, after viewing the exhibits and the gift shop, we began the slow uphill hike along the winding path and back into the main section of ruins — all the time walking on the ancient Roman roads.

 

Walking on the old Roman road inside Vindolanda at Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

Standing in the past on an ancient Roman road at Vindolanda near Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England.


 

Feeling seriously hungry by this time, we drove out of the parking lot toward the second museum on this section of Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman Army Museum. I asked at the front desk of Vindolanda for a recommendation for lunch and the charming woman on duty drew me a tiny map to lead me to a local pub with good food and accommodations where the archaeologists stayed during the summer months. The name of the town was (seriously!) Once Brewed and the name of the pub was Twice Brewed!

 

Looking for the Twice Brewed pub in the village of Once Brewed in the North of England


 

The Roman theme continues at the Twice Brewed pub in the village of Once Brewed in the North of England


 

The Twice Brewed pub in the village of Once Brewed in the North of England


 

After a nice lunch, we drove the few miles further to the Roman Army Museum. Again, we were not allowed to take any photos within the museum — a pity since the exhibits are quite good — but we enjoyed what we saw and the 3-D film called Edge Of Empire gives you a good idea of the size and scale of the fortifications and just-outside-the-wall village at Vindolanda.

 

Roman Army Museum entry at Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

These are truly informative museums (especially the Vindolanda site), but I would recommend seeing them both in a single day to get a complete overview to life as a Roman soldier in this remote and harsh landscape. The two museums are a mere 7 miles apart and are easily visited in one afternoon. I highly recommend these sites to anyone who is travelling to this part of the North of England.

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The Massive Angel Of The North Sculpture in the UK

We had passed it several times over the last few years as we travelled either north or south along the eastern coastline of the UK — the massive Angel Of The North sculpture looming over the highway outside of Newcastle. But this time, in spite of the snow flurries and icy temperatures, we stopped to view this huge piece by British artist Antony Gormley.

I’ve made sure that I included two images that contain an adult in them so you can get an idea of the scale of this very, very large piece of artwork.

Enjoy!

 

Angel Of The North Sculpture by Antony Gormley on a hillside overlooking the motorway into Newcastle Upon Tyne.


 

Angel Of The North Sculpture by Antony Gormley on a hillside overlooking the motorway into Newcastle Upon Tyne.


 

Mark (6 ft. tall) standing at the bottom of The Angel Of The North sculpture


 

Close-up of the beautiful metal structure of the Angel Of The North Sculpture by Antony Gormley on a hillside overlooking the motorway into Newcastle Upon Tyne.


 

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