Where I’m from.

I started this blog as a means of keeping my friends/family in the US informed of my travels in the UK. However, now that I’ve returned to the US, I’ve decided to keep it going as a means of updating my British family of sorts about my adventures on this side of the pond.

In that spirit, I’d like to present snip-its of my first few weeks back in America (in mostly chronological order). Here it goes.

My introduction back into America began with a trip through its glorious history – a history of silly hats and games of tug of war.

Times were tough in 1838.

I participated in the American economy by going with Peter and Andrew to the Brimfield flea market (okay I didn’t actually buy anything…but I did encourage them to buy a sick bird-cage thing).

Contemplating the utility of a wooden statue.

Despite having two bikes in the UK, I missed my amazing technicolor bicycle terribly while away. We’ve been having some bonding time to make up for my absence.

Bike date at the reservoir.

When not riding my bike I tried out my other set of wheels, my car Delilah. Having not driven a vehicle for 9 months, I was more than a little nervous to get behind the wheel – though it turns out most people in MA still drive worse than me. Somethings never change.

Excited to drive on the right side of the road.

Having concurred the open road, I drove to the most American event I could think of – the country fair. I mean, where else in the world can you buy a corn dog that’s nearly a meter long?

Only in America.

Having survived two weeks of full on MA intensity, I made it to my birthday! To celebrate I went apple picking with Jona and the family (a fall tradition for the Belisle’s).

Jona would like you to know that his apple is as red as his lips...

Squinty with excitement.

After apples Jona surprised me with a make your own pizza dinner with some of favourite people on this side of the Atlantic. It was absolutely lovely.

Pizza party fun times.

Well I guess that’s all for now! Be warned, Jona got me this AWESOME book on how to make pickles/jams/liqueurs/cheese/etc., so expect many more food adventure posts. I wonder if Jona and I can have anywhere near the fermentation success of the bee and bird combo (not blowing things up would be an improvement)? Things to consider.

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I’m a stranger here myself

So once upon a time, this author named Bill Bryson moved from America to the UK and then moved back, landing in New Hampshire, some years later. He proceeded to write a bunch of articles about his experiences transitioning back to his former home, and compiled them into a book entitled “I’m a Stranger Here Myself.” It’s pretty hilarious. I recommend.

I’ve decided to reread it having just returned to America myself, and it’s prompted me to consider how different my life in the states to the my one back in Bath. Notable differences include:

  1. Sales tax: I totally forgot that this wasn’t included in the written price of something in the US! I had an embarrassing moment today when I went to buy a notebook for $0.99 with the only 4 quarters I had – imagine my surprise when the nice cashier lady asked me for $1.05. Luckily an even nicer lady gave my a nickel.
  2. Cars: I have easily spent more time in a car in this past 3 weeks than I did in the entire year I lived in England. I’ve spent infinitely more time driving.
  3. Landscape: Lawns – people have them. Trees – they are everywhere.

I’m sure there are lots more things that I am too lazy to write about right now, things like food and accents and sales people who check in with you way to often, but consider those 3 a start.


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In case you didn’t know…

I am no longer am a resident of “The house with the yellow door”, Crandale Road, Bath, Avon, UK. On September 10th I hopped on a plane which hopped across the ocean and brought me back to Boston, MA, bringing a swift end to what was a radically amazing and empowering year of my life. Yikes.

Leaving was of course super sad. I did a pretty serious amount of crying alone in my office (trust me, this is even more pathetic than it sounds) and a lot of denying that I was actually leaving the amazing community I had found. Though luckily, in between the bursts of sadness, I managed to enjoy my last days in Bath with some of my most favourite people. Let’s review the highlights.

Well for one, I finished my thesis! After so many hours of writing I was very pleased to be holding the actual printed copies in my hands. Yay research fun times!

Thesis! I imagine this is what a proud mama feels like.

With work done I had time to adventure with my favourite man named after a bird, Robin. Together we went on an 11 mile jaunt over the hills that surround Bath. There was much snacking on blackberries and gazing over the beautiful cityscape and countryside, but the highlight of out adventure was definitely sitting on top of this big hill, drinking gin and eating cake. Amazing.

Robin surveys his habitat.

Hill top picnic.

I couldn’t leave Bath without a special date night with my most lovely Helen. There was popcorn, movies, cake and many tears. It was perfect.

Joint birthday dinner.

Movies, gin and popcorn make for a very happy Helen.

And with that I left. Helen put me on the bus at 10AM and waited with the other family members as we departed, and a brief 12 hours later I was back in MA. But no worries Bath, I’ll be back. xx



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The Final Countdown

Well we’ve officially made it to my last week of residence in the UK. In 7 short days from now I’ll be on a bus heading to Heathrow to fly back across the Atlantic and back to Massachusetts. Craziness!

The last month or so has been more than a little bit hectic with trying to finish up my thesis and making arrangements for leaving. Between the long hours in the office and the continuous phone calls with my cell phone company (how can it be so difficult to just disconnect a line?) I haven’t had loads of free time, though I’ve been trying to make the most of it with various dinners, adventures and trips to my favourite Bath locales.

Some highlights of the past month include:

  • Dinner at Demuth’s with Jona, celebrating our collective 1.5 years or living on this small island.
  • A final trip to the Apple (a barge that sells cider) with the boys from the office.
  • Frequenting the Little Theatre.
  • Harvest Festival!
  • Getting rained on and watching sports in Oxford.

I’m going to miss this place.

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You can’t keep a good man down.

And apparently you can’t keep Robin and I from trying to make things from scratch. Despite previous unsuccessful attempts to be resourceful and do things like make our own cheese, pizza dough, nettle beer, etc., Robin and I decided to tempt fate once again and try to make another homestead classic: jam.

Well I can happily report that jam making, despite being incredibly messy, was a wonderful success. We decided to use Damson plums for jamming because: a) there was a big tree full of them right outside our office, and b) you don’t need special sugar to turn plums into jam (the pits have all the pectin you need built right in).

Not only was picking plums much easier and less dangerous than picking nettles (ok, there were a few incidents of throwing plums at each other but no injuries were reported), but the final product was much more delicious! I think this is one cooking experiment to be repeated. Yum.

Delicious damson plums becomming delicious jam.

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Small Accomplishments

  1. I submitted the first draft of my thesis which is hands down the longest thing I have ever written.
  2. I grew a massive sunflower! Check it out!

Sunflower success!


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So this is what it’s like to be a grad student…

Well since I’ve gotten back from holiday things have sort of shifted gear. I’ve moved from the relaxation that is lying on a beach next to Jona to the pit of despair that is spending late nights in my office trying to write my thesis.

Okay so it’s not THAT bad, but it certainly isn’t enjoyable. The reality has set in that I will very soon be leaving which means I must finish my thesis very VERY soon. I’m sure it will get done, it’s just a matter of how much pain I want to experience at the end of my time here to finish it (answer: as little pain as possible please!).

Well beyond the exciting world that is office 4E 2.26, my garden has been growing! The last time we checked in things were just starting to come up, but now that “summer” (I use that term very generously with regards to the weather situation in England) is in full swing things have really taken off. Check out this photographic evidence!

I grew this funny looking thing!

So much tomato.

Beans and lettuce and peas oh my!

My sunflower is taller than me! Here is an awkward picture to prove it.

Fuller view of garden. I know what you're thinking, and yes that's a strawberry popcorn plant in the foreground.

Well that’s all for now. Let’s just hope I write faster than my pepper plants grow (fun fact: they aren’t growing).




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