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52 Weeks Of Gratitude Challenge Week 6: The City You Live In

 A bit of an odd one seeing as I no longer live in the city! But as much as I’m enjoying life in the country, I am grateful for:

A. BEING A CITY GIRL

I love city life. Pretty much any city: Dublin, Vienna, Barcelona, Seattle, Mumbai… I love them all! Country life is pretty good but while Mr. D has rural living in his blood, I am a city girl through and through. I love doing what Mr. D calls ‘city things’: museums, galleries, coffee shoos, bars, taking in a show, riding the night bus…

I know there’ll come a time when I probably won’t want to be anywhere other than the country, but right now I need the energy and vibrance of the city. I loved growing up in a place where everything was on your doorstep and it was very easy to get around, even without a car. I love that there’s always so much to see and do. You can never get bored in a city.

Portland,OR at night
Image courtesy of pixabay.com

True, people may be more abrupt and always in a hurry but contrary to popular belief, I’ve never felt lost or lonely in a big city. I know people who live in rural towns who can’t settle in big cities due to them finding it ‘too busy.’ I can understand why they would find the transition hard which makes me even more thankful to be city born and bred, and having done the reverse has not been too difficult for me.  can never get bored in a big city.  I remember when I used to fly into Portland, Oregon on one of my visits to see Mr. D before we got hitched, looking out of the aeroplane window and seeing the city all lit up like jewelled specks on black cloak, highlighting the beauty and mystery of the night. Yes – bright city lights always make me happy.

B. BEING A LONDONER

As if being a city girl wasn’t enough, I’m so, so grateful that I grew up in the most amazing, exciting, diverse and vibrant cities in the world – London! Even though I know people are always complaining about all the negatives connected with London living – exorbitant costs, crowds, filthy streets, crime etc – I can’t quite put into words why I’m so proud and thankful to come from one of the world’s most famous cities. I love the nightlife, the arts, the mix of cultures; hearing all those different languages and accents, seeing people in traditional dress – something I miss very much now. I love that I’m able to get virtually any kind of cuisine without having to travel too far. You can complain all you want about public transport but at least it exists and there’s pretty much a twenty four hour service. There’s some absolutely stunning architecture and I love that some of the world’s most iconic sights are right there in London. And if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of London living, there are some districts and neighbourhoods that have a distinctly village feel.

The great city of London
Image courtesy of pixabay.com

London really is the city that has it all, and I’m so thankful and so glad its my city!

C. LIVING NEAR BOSTON

Seeing as the topic of this post is being grateful for the city you live in, I’m going to have to talk about Boston which is the city closest to where I live. I’ve mentioned before that it has always been my dream since I was an eleven year old New Kids On The Block fan to live in – at the very least visit – Boston. Never did I think that my dream would one day come true but it has!

Admittedly, as we live so far out of Boston, I haven’t visited as often as I’d like to but the few times I’ve visited I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve seen the Bruins play, seen some of the sights, been to a few gigs, eaten at the world famous Wahlburgers (haha! Although I didn’t see Donnie or Mark but Paul did say hi!) I’ve discovered the awesome Mike’s Pastries, and I know a bar where the fish ‘n chips are pretty decent!

I’m so glad to be living near a city as cool as Boston and look forward to visiting more of the historical sites. But more than that I’m grateful and thrilled to have realised one of my ambitions.

 

 

 

 

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52 Weeks of Gratitude: Wk 5 – Something Someone Gave You

 

 Trying to think about what I would choose as my something I’ve been given for this week’s challenge was hard as I’ve been given so many meaningful things by some very special people.

So I decided to go with  the keys that Mr. D. presented me with that opened the door to our first home – and that’s the first home that we own and not one where we’re paying off someone else’s mortgage.

As a big rock fan, I love that its not your standard run of the mill looking key and represents our love of concerts and the way we met.

But it means so much more than that.

When we lived in London, owning our own home seemed like the impossible dream – and anyone who lives in London and isn’t a millionaire will know what I mean. Getting on the property ladder was hard. We couldnt even get on the property footstool and I was really kicking myself for not having got a move on much earlier.

I just wanted a home we could call our own, where we could be us and do our own thing, and be surrounded by things that were ‘us’. Where I could entertain and have people over to stay. Mr. D. was more concerned with having woodland, animals and a lake to fulfil his desire for nature. I also wanted enough land to build smaller homes for our parents in their retirement.

Mr. D hard at work!

Talk about a pipe dream!

Admittedly when we first went to view the house, I wasn’t really taken with it. A chance encounter with a neighbour really had me hoping we’d buy somewhere else! But the house came with land for me, woodland for Mr. D and a lake behind the nearby conservation land. Plus the house was in our price range so it looked like it might just happen…

Fast forward eighteen months and we are very settled in our home. We still haven’t done much with it and we’re still getting used to being homeowners. This house was definitely worth the wait and almost worth leaving London for… If only I could have taken my family and friends with me 😢

We’ve been saddled with a thirty year debt but believe it or not we are so thankful for that. If it means we’ll never have to deal with another greedy landlord, see another dodgy tenancy agreement or share with another hideous housemate then great! Although I hastened to add that I actually miss most of our housemates but there are some I’m hoping never to bump into again.

But yes, these keys are among some of the most cherished things I’ve been given and I am so very thankful for them.

The Better Living Series#4: Make Me A Happy Home

Our houses are so much more than just shelter from the elements. It’s the place where we expect to find peace; feel safe; be ourselves; relax; represent who we are; have friends over, and most of all, be happy!

Image from pixabay.com

Image from pixabay.com

As an excited first-time homeowner, it’s so important that the place that Mr.D and I call home is somewhere that brings us a lot of peace and happiness – a place that we can’t wait to come home to every day. And happiness doesn’t always come from designer kitchens, finished basements, and Olympic sized pools – although I wouldn’t say no to any of those! But quite often it’s the simple things that that make a house a home and bring a sense of peace, happiness, and well-being. These are the things that make mine a happy home.

1. LET’S GET PERSONAL

Many of us would like to live in the kind of home that wouldn’t look out of place among the pages of Home and Garden – or in my case, MTV Cribs! But in trying to do so, we get so bogged down with the details concerning our chosen theme or colour scheme that we discard anything that doesn’t ‘go’ with the decor – even though quite often these are the very things that reflect our personality and gives the home we live in a sense of identity and signs of life.

A few of your favourite things

A few of your favourite things

I’m often quite underwhelmed by homes that don’t seem to contain anything personal or tell me anything about the people who live there. To me it feels a little soulless. So I love to see photographs, artwork, holiday souvenirs, collections on display, a library of well-loved books, home made furnishings, home-grown flowers in a vase… anything that tells a story and says something about the habits, interests and personality about the owner of the house.

True there should be some flow between personal objects and the style of the house but with a little imagination, you can bring together the most eclectic of objects bound together in your own inimitable style. So our house is most definitely going to refect our love of travel, rock music, food, family and friends, 1980s nostalgia, angels and… Lego! Now that’s some story to tell!

2. DISPLAY PHOTOS

There’s hardly anyone out there who doesn’t carry some kind of device for taking photos which means that they can literally snap away any time, any place, anywhere. Taking photos has never been easier. But unfortunately most people have a tendency to just leave the photos on their phones or tablets or upload them on to social media and then just forget about them. When I worked in a gift shop, most of my customers would only really buy photo frames or albums as a last resort. “Well that’s what Facebook’s for,” they’d say.

Well I personally think that’s a waste of a good photo.

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When I lived at home with my family, I was photo mad. My room was a shrine to me and Mr.D. which some people found nauseating but who cares! Then I framed photos and put them all over the house which annoyed my family as they kept knocking them over. Which in turn annoyed me if the photos were just left lying there, or worse the frame was broken. And when we moved to the States, I couldn’t bring my mammoth collection with me but I made sure I had enough to put all over the apartment.

I love displaying photos and I don’t think a home feels complete without them. There’s nothing like seeing the faces of the people you love most every day, especially when they can’t be with you in person as often as you’d like. Each photo tells a story and gives you the chance to relive memories. I’ve also found that photos can be a real talking point when you have guests over – especially with people you don’t know very well.

And there’s an array of gorgeous frames available to suit everyone’s taste, to simple and elegant to colourful and funky. Yep, I’ve got the lot!

3. A SOFT SPOT FOR SOFT FURNISHINGS

As the child of parents who own a soft furnishings business, I definitely have a liking for soft furnishings – much more than Mr. D does. I think they add a touch of luxury and a lot of comfort and really make a house feel like a home. True, I’m not into doilies, you’ll never find chairbacks or armcaps on my sofa, and I’m not sure how fussed I am about tablecloths. 

 

But I know that I’m most definitely a fan of curtains. I appreciate the beauty of a well dressed window as well as the practicalities of providing privacy and retaining warmth. Beautiful bedding is a must; beanbags and floor cushions provide extra, informal seating for guests, and I don’t believe that a couch is really a couch unless is got throws – perfect for snuggling under when you’re watching TV or surfing the net – and a truckload of cushions. Not that Mr. D would agree with me!

And what I love most about soft furnishings is that it really is the quickest, most convenient, and possibly the cheapest way of instantly changing the appearance of a room.

4. SIMPLY SCENTSATIONAL

Like songs, certain aromas are highly evocative and have an effect on our moods, feelings and well-being. But quite often how fab  – or unfab – your home smells is often overlooked.

When I used to live in a house-share, some of the highly pungent foods that my housemates used to cook would make me want to gag. I would have to hold my breath as I walked into the kitchen and I would be afraid that the not-so-sweet fragrances would be lingering on my clothes. And I couldn’t even escape it in my bedroom where the dreaded smell would be wafting up into my room. So even though I do have happy memories of my time in the house-share, this was not one of them!

But pleasant aromas can have a positive effect on us and can make us feel refreshed, calm, energised and can induce sleep. Everyone knows why people eager to sell their homes are keen to have the aroma of freshly baked goodies wafting around their home, and its that same smell that can be delightfully welcoming to a guest visiting your home. That and freshly ground coffee, and beautifully-scented cut flowers.

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I’m not really a fan of air freshener or highly fragranced cleaning products with that ghastly synthetic smell, so I wouldn’t use those. But I do love good quality scented candles and incense sticks; good old-fashioned drawer liners and lavender sachets; essential oils being used in oil burners, floral-scented water spritzed over bedding, and an aromatic bath doesn’t just do wonders for you but also makes your bathroom smell divine.

And although I wouldn’t normally have it in the house the rest of the year, I really don’t think Christmas is Christmas without some festive-looking and festival smelling pot pourri!

5. MAKE TEA-TIME A REAL TREAT

It wasn’t anything as grand as afternoon tea in a posh hotel or quaint tea-room but growing up, tea-time was a pretty big deal in my family – especially when I went to Granddad’s house. Everything stopped for tea! I guess that’s where I get my love of afternoon tea from.

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Unfortunately with the hours most of us work, tea at four o’clock every day is impossible. It would however make a fabulous,  relaxing weekend treat – just what’s needed to help you unwind. And why not go to town by using real china, cake stands and serving lots of scrumptious, sweet, creamy delicacies?

There’s no reason why tea-time at home shouldn’t be every bit as enjoyable as at your local tea shop.

6.  HAVE A BAKE-IN!

Closely linked to number five, baking used to be regarded as something that your mum or gran would do especially if you needed cheering up or deserved a treat. But for a long time it wasn’t really considered cool or especially trendy. When we wanted a birthday cake or fresh bread, we headed over to our local bakery rather than whip something up ourselves. We all live such hectic lives that when we get home after a hard day’s work, the last thing we feel like doing is creaming butter and sugar!

I knead to bake!

I knead to bake!

But baking can be relaxing, enjoyable and therapeutic.  And shows such as Great British Bake Off, Masterchef and Next Great Baker have reignited our enthusiasm  for baking and enabled us to get happy with the mixing bowl again.

Baking is an activity which involves all five of the senses. Who doesn’t love the sight of prettily iced cupcakes; the texture of bread as it’s being kneaded; the taste of choc chip cookies; the aroma of delicious home baking, and best of all, the sound of everyone happily tucking in!

7. CANDLELIGHT

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If there’s something else I think that makes a home complete other than framed photos out on display, it’s candles – and lots of them. And if they’re scented candles then that’s even better. There’s nothing like the cosy, warm glow of candlelight to bring that touch of magic into your home. It’s great for when you want to unwind, meditate, or get romantic. Candlelight is also great to fall asleep to but for this I would strongly recommend the common sense option of battery operated candles.

8. CREATE YOUR OWN SPACE

When Mr.D and I lived in London, we had to make do with a flat that was a little on the cosy side! But despite this, Mr.D and I both marked out places that were our ‘spots.’ These were places where we could put our feet up; watch a bit of telly; read; have a cuppa; blog or do crafts (me!) play computer games (definitely Mr. D!) and have it looking the way we wanted it to look.

When you live with others, I think it’s important for you to pick a place in the house that you can call your own: a place where you can talk on the phone; read a novel; write etc. and generally just slow down, enjoy your own company and be lost in your own thoughts. Absolutely nothing wrong with that!

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Your own space could be a comfy armchair by the window; a window seat with a nearby bookcase containing your fave novels; a corner of the room with bean bags, floor cushions and a side table with all your fave knick-knacks on it. In fact who even says it has to be indoors? Maybe you could relax on a blanket beside gorgeous, sweetly scented rose bushes in your garden, or a bench under a tree.

In one episode of Wife Swap, I came across a lady who had built a thirty thousand dollar meditation feature in her garden, which she never used for meditating but she did like sitting out there and admiring it (admittedly, we don’t all have the budget for that!)

9. TO READ OR NOT TO READ

Knowing that printed literature is fast becoming obsolete makes me feel sad as just looking at a book puts me in a better mood. To say that I am a bookworm is something of an understatement. I grew up with books, newspapers, and magazines and I cannot imagine a world without them.

Yes, I know that E-readers are all the rage and that everyone reads newspapers and magazines online these days. But when I was growing up, the focal point of the sitting room were the bookshelves that contained Dad’s vast collection of books which he used to sit and read most evenings in ‘his space’. And I like the fact that some kind of reading material perched on a coffee table gives a home a nice ‘lived-in’ feel.

 

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And taking a look at people’s bookshelves also tells you a lot about them. Mine reveal my love of crafts, writing, studying languages and chick lit. My mum’s extensive collection of recipe books gives away her love of cooking, being a bit of a feeder, and ambition to be the next Masterchef! My brother’s books show that he’s sports mad, while Mr. D’s reading material point towards being a Trekkie and avid watcher of Game Of Thrones and that he loved Brian Jacques books as a kid.

10. WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS

Sleep: the one thing that most of us can’t get enough of and would never say no to more of – if only we had the time!

When I’m sleep deprived I am not a happy bunny but then, who is? That’s why it’s so important that your bedroom is a tranquil haven where you can nod off easily and get adequate hours of peaceful slumber. And when I’m not sleeping, my bedroom is the place where I lounge around, read, and meditate, so it really is the place where I get some much needed rest and relaxation.

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That’s one of the reasons why I firmly believe that, if it can be helped, you should never use your bedroom for working or studying in. It should ideally be kept clutter-free and as device- free as possible which, yes I know is hard, but we all know how technological gadgets interfere with our sleep. And if you suffer from allergies like Mr. D and me, then its important to keep your sleeping area clean, tidy and dust-free.

Even though my bedroom when I lived at home was pretty loud (which wasn’t a problem for me) most people would generally decorate their rooms in calming, serene colours or darker colours which help them to nod off more easily. Use adequate blinds, curtains and poles for windows as early morning sunlight seeping into your room might cause you to wake up sooner than you would like.

11. PEOPLE!

You can decorate your home any way you like but it’s the people we love who bring the happiness and laughter into our homes. And being a born hostess who loves nothing better than to entertain, I love having friends over to watch movies, major sports games or to stay for the weekend. I enjoy throwing parties and gatherings; hosting formal dinner parties or informal supper nights, and my famous cocktail and canapés events.

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After all what’s the point of having a beautiful home of you can’t share it with your amazing family and friends?

OMG!OMG!OMG! WE’RE HOMEOWNERS!!!

 

A while ago I told you all to expect some good news – but not of the gender reveal variety! Well I’m thrilled to announce that Mr. D and I are at last homeowners!!! Woo woo woo!

Image from pixabay.com

Image from pixabay.com

To be honest we never thought this day would come. I guess the move to America was worth it after all because when we lived in London, the dream of owning our own home was just that – a dream. Despite the fact that we were both working and Mr.D was earning quite well, it was impossible to find a property in our price range. Even a tent in a field would have been a bit much going by crazy London prices! London has gotten ridiculously expensive and it’s sad because given the choice, we’d have liked to have stayed here.

Image from pixabay.com

Image from pixabay.com

But I suppose everything happens for a reason and once Mr. D had found his dream house, there was no stopping him! If I’m brutally honest, I didn’t feel like this was the house for us. As it was in the country, and I’m a die-hard city girl, I can’t say I was jumping up and down at the prospect of rural life – something I’d tried before and didn’t enjoy, although Mr. D, of course, couldn’t wait to get back to country living.

Image from Pixabay.com

Image from Pixabay.com

Then of course there was the distance to Mr.D’s workplace as our new house is quite some distance away. As we’re leasing our car we need to keep an eye on mileage and also I was worried about him driving home in heavy snow ( I guess it shows that I’m a Londoner!) Furthermore, I’d already met one of our neighbours and let’s just say that living close to him was not something I especially wanted to do…

Image from pixabay. com

Image from pixabay. com

However it was quite obvious that Mr. D. was smitten with the house and especially the acres of woodland that came with it. Plus I have to admit, the house kind of grew on me; it wasn’t bad for a first time home; it was habitable, and needed very little work. We were getting a pretty good deal on the house… So we went for it. And now here we are!!! And I’m even excited about giving country life another attempt.

Image from pixabay.com

Image from pixabay.com

I’m unfortunately still in London, tying up loose ends and trying to pack up remainder of our never-ending belongings.  I’m very sad that I wasn’t with Mr. D. to collect the key  but then again I guess that moment belonged to him and him alone. After all if it wasn’t for his determination and persistence, we wouldn’t have had this wonderful opportunity. It really is because of him that we can call ourselves homeowners and begin to pay our own mortgage rather than someone else’s. There’ll definitely be a chance for him to carry me – and all my items of luggage – over the threshold of our new home, and that’ll hopefully happen sometime soon.

Image from pixabay.com

Image from pixabay.com

The idea of a thirty year debt isn’t appealing, and neither is the thought of having to cut back on the little luxuries that Mr. D. is always telling me off for splurging on which is definitely the downside of having your own home but my goodness, I won’t miss paying extortionate rent; matchbox-sized flats; greedy landlords determined to rob you blind; moving every few months; dodgy estate agents, and obnoxious housemates. And that’s just some of the horror stories!

Image by pixabay.com

Image by pixabay.com

This is the beginning of something new and hopefully good for both of us. I can’t wait to begin this stage of our lives. Its just a pity that our family and friends live so far away but hopefully they’ll all get to visit.

Just not all at the same time!

 

Back Down In London Town

 

 

I’ve been a little quiet with the posts this month as April has been quite a busy month for me. As everyone knows Mr. D. and I left England to go and live in Massachusetts after Mr. D. had been offered a job there. However  because we had left quicker than we would have liked, it was always known that I’d be returning after a few months in order to tie up loose ends – so here I am!

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It’s great being back in my city though I wish Mr. D was here because I do miss him terribly but hopefully I shouldn’t be staying for too long and I will be back with Mr. D. before I know it. In the meantime, I just want to enjoy all the fab things London has to offer; see all those I never got a chance to say goodbye to back in January, and spend time with those who matter because it might be a very long time before I see them again.

 

I’m actually enjoying using my Oyster Card and hopping on and off public transport because not being much of a driver – despite having passed my test yonks ago – I’ve never really been much of a driver, so depended on Mr. D. to ferry me around which I know will have to change once I move back to the States. You can complain all you want about public transport in London – and we do – but it’s not brilliant in Massachusetts at all, so when we first moved out there and had to wait to get a car, we really struggled. I’m so thankful that we have a fairly decent bus and tube system here in London.

I know a few people are confused that I have found myself a job in a school but it’s only for the duration of my stay. The truth is I really miss being in a classroom; being an English teacher is a big part of who I am. So when the opportunity arose, I grabbed it and I have to say its a lot of fun. It’s great getting to know my new students and colleagues, and one of my former colleagues is also working there, so it’s great to see a familiar face.

I’m so glad I’m having this time in my hometown because who knows when I’ll be back. But funnily enough, it’s also made me feel more optimistic about living in America and I really want to give it a go. Not everyone has the opportunity to experience life in another country so I’m determined to make the most of every second which isn’t easy when homesickness rears its ugly head… But I’ll try!

And Mr.D. and I have some rather exciting news which I’ll be sharing with you at some point but I don’t want to give too much away now. I will however make it clear that for those who are expecting to hear an announcement about the pitter-patter of tiny feet, well it’s not as exciting as that – but it’s pretty close!

Watch this space…

 

 

 

New Year, New Beginning For Mr. And Mrs. D.

 

Well it had to happen one day… and that day is just around the corner.

Mr. D. and I are moving back to the good ole U S of A!!!

We always knew that it would happen one day and that we wouldn’t be staying in London forever. In fact this time next month, I’ll be living in another country – and I don’t know how I feel about that…

 

It’s taken me a while to get used to the idea of moving back to the States and away from all of my family and friends. At first, I dug my heels in and refused to leave. But Mr. D. had been offered a job in the East Coast that really was too good to turn down and was most definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. I knew that if I stood in his way and he never got a chance like this again, not only would he never forgive me, but I’d probably never forgive myself. So we decided to go for it!

There have been a lot of strange happenings this year which have been difficult to understand but to cut a very long story short, I know that it was fate’s way of preparing us for this move. Mr. D was thrilled to hear that he’d landed a job on the East Coast as he was sick to the back teeth of London life.

But moving to America doesn’t really signal the end of anything. Mr.D. has assured me that this job is a stepping stone to where he needs to get to career-wise and there’s every possibility that he could be transferred to England again at some point, so even though it’s goodbye, it’s only good bye for now – not necessarily forever.

 

I’ve had time to get used to the idea but I’m still feeling a whole mix of emotions:

I’m happy…

…that Mr.D. gets the chance to return to the place he calls home and be reunited with his family and friends again. I’m also happy to be going to America because it’s been four years since I was last there and seeing the place again – not forgetting my family and friends – will be great. It’s also fantastic that Mr. D. has landed this job as it has great career prospects and has potentially life changing opportunities for both of us.

But I’m also sad…

…at having to leave my family, friends, and city behind. True, London isn’t what it used to be. It’s not the city I grew up in. It’s way too congested, polluted and expensive to live in. But when all’s said and done I love this city and always will. There’s something about London that gives you a real buzz. I don’t know who couldn’t love this amazing city.

 

And while I know that my family and friends will always be my family and friends, and that advancements in technology have made the world a much smaller place, it’s really not the same as just living down the road from them. When I first moved to the States, I practically lived my life on Facebook and Skype. I suspect I will again.

I am a little excited…

…at the prospect of a new life in a new country. A change can be a good thing, and it’ll give me a chance to work on the number of projects I have lined up. And to be honest, I have always, always wanted to live in New England – I am a New Kids On The Block fan after all – so this really is a dream come true. Furthermore, living in another country is not something that everyone has the chance to do, so I’m really relishing the opportunity to explore an area I’ve never been to before and embrace a new way of life.

But I’m also anxious…

…about starting a new way of life! America isn’t exactly unfamiliar territory for me. After all, I’m married to an American, I have American family, I’ve visited many times during the period Mr. D and I were dating, and I have lived there briefly. But I do know that each part of America is quite distinct, and as I’ve never been to New England before, I’m not quite sure what to expect. My knowledge of the region comes from other people’s experiences and information I’ve come across. So even though it’s a place I’ve always wanted to go to, I’m not sure what I’ll find but I’m hoping it’ll live up to my expectations.

I’m  dreading…

…the thought of the whole moving process, especially as we now have less than a month before we go. There’s the humongous task of packing – and the even bigger task of deciding what’s coming with us as Mr.D. is adamant that we are not taking everything, and not forgetting all the legal procedures that need to be followed.

I’m also not a fan of goodbyes so I’m dreading having to say my farewells to all those I love and care about – even though they are all of course welcome to see us any time they want. Just not all at the same time!

But I’m also hopeful…

…that things will work out exactly as they should. I didn’t enjoy my first experience of living in the States but I put that down to the timing being all wrong and living in a place that really wasn’t for me. I hope that this time things will be different. I don’t as yet know how I’m going to make things work but I’m sure I’ll figure it all out once I get there.

 

So there it is – my news! The new year for us will mean a new country, a new home, a new life. I wonder what will be in store for us. And even though I will not be making Chez Mrs. D. a predominantly expat blog, it’ll be great to add another dimension to this blog in the form of the ‘life in another country’ variety and I cannot wait to share my new experiences with you all.

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America, here we come!!!!

 

Bully On The Bus Simone Joseph Walks Free

Ranting and raving

Appalled and disgusted.

These are just two of the adjectives that can be used to sum up how I feel about Simone Joseph being allowed to walk free and avoid prison after her vile verbal assault on Muslim passengers – one of whom was a pregnant lady – on a bus back in October. Joseph’s lengthy, hate-filled rant – which took place in front of her own child – in which she threatened to physically attack not one but two passengers was filmed and posted online which then went viral. So now the whole world knows what a despicable low-life Joseph is.

I was not on that bus; I did not witness this attack; it was not aimed at me, and I am not a Muslim. So I shouldn’t care, right? Wrong! This whole episode has left me fuming to the point where I can’t even speak – much less type!

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Star of the show, Miss Joseph

First of all, racism; religious intolerance; bigotry; prejudice – call it what you like, I cannot stand any of it. As one half of a mixed-race couple; a product of a culturally diverse family, and someone who is proud to have friends from every corner of globe (well, near enough!) and taught students from all over the world, this kind of behaviour does not sit well with me – and that’s putting it mildly. I just cannot believe that in the year 2015, people can still be so ridiculously stupid.

But what really irks me is the fact that Joseph is a Willesden Green girl – a place that’s walking distance to where I grew up. In fact our neighbourhoods are so near each other, the area is often considered one and the same. It is an area where even though there are plenty of good people and a sense of community, it has a reputation for crime, violence and aggression. People I knew from other areas often refused to set foot there due to the fact that they’d heard “it’s quite dangerous.” Back in the early 2000s, the BBC even made a documentary series based on the high crime rate that was ever-increasing in the neighbourhood.

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Well almost fifteen years later, Joseph has just proved that not much has changed. She’s just illustrated that our little piece of north-west London is an area that should still be avoided if you have any sense.

The 206 bus where the rant took place is a bus route I’ve used many times over the years. It’s a route that’s still used by many of my friends. It horrifies me to think that Joseph could have hurled abuse at any one of my family or friends. And as soon as I discovered that Joseph was an inhabitant of my former neighbourhood, I knew that it was very, very likely that we had people in common, as very few of the inhabitants are total strangers to each other. That six degrees of separation theory is more than just a theory for us – it’s pretty much a reality! And as everyone I associate with – both past and present – are decent, hard-working, law-abiding, honest people, it makes me wonder how we came to have such a low-life in our midst. I genuinely feel sorry for anyone who has the misfortune to be related to that.

What hit me hard was Hanane Yakoubi, one of Joseph’s victims, describing the distress she felt and still feels after the incident, and explained that she doesn’t know how to ask for help because she doesn’t speak English. I know there is a lack of sympathy towards anyone who goes to a country without knowing a word of the native language. But as it’s my job to teach English, I see the struggles my students face and the efforts they make to try to improve. They often make good progress but then they encounter a situation where they do not possess enough language skills to help them communicate effectively which upsets them deeply and knocks their confidence. What people like Hanane Yakoubi need is patience, understanding and tolerance not abuse and aggression.

The defence for Joseph – who gave herself up to the police after the video went viral – claimed that she was ‘ashamed’ and wished ‘to apologise to the complainant and the other people on the bus’ while the magistrate accepted that Joseph was ‘remorseful and of previous good character.’ What’s even more shocking is when the defence revealed that Joseph herself had Muslim relatives. This seriously smacks of ‘I’m-not-racist-I-have-Chinese friends-and-love-Mexican-food’. Yeah, whatever – tell it to the judge! Oh of course – that’s what she was doing.

I’m often told I’m too understanding and forgiving but this time I’m just not buying any of it. Would Joseph have been so ready to hand herself in if she had not been so clearly identifiable in the video? Would she have felt any shame and remorse had she not been in the dock? Has she any idea of the anxiety she’s caused a heavily pregnant woman? Do people of ‘previous good character’ behave in this manner? Do people with Muslim relatives viciously attack (albeit verbally) other Muslim people? Do mothers carry on like this in front of their children?

The answer to all the above is a big fat NO!

I’ve come across the Simone Josephs of this world. So have my family and many of my friends. I know first hand how distressing such an encounter can be. People like her start off as the stroppy kid at nursery who snatches toys out of other children’s hands, to the playground bully at secondary school to a thoroughly nasty and unpleasant adult who believes it’s their right to stomp all over whoever they wish – and most of the time the whoever they wish is someone who they believe they can pick on which shows how cowardly they are. Joseph was spoiling for a fight that day and she picked people who she knew were easy targets. You’ll notice she was in no hurry to take on the bus driver who tried to get her to shut it!

So Joseph left  court with a suspended sentence and a slapped wrist. Am I surprised? Of course not. This is exactly the brand of justice we can rely on in this country and will hardly act as a deterrent for the next bully on the bus. If there’s anything good to come from this whole episode, it’s that Joseph will think twice before she starts a fight with anyone again. Not because of her good character but because she is now more aware that there are cameras everywhere and once you get caught, there’s really nowhere to hide. But I do hope that in time she will see just how wrong her actions were and make a real effort to turn over a new leaf, and more importantly teach her child that this is not the way to behave or treat others. I really do hope she can do this because it’s a small step towards making this world a more peaceful place.

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Please Rain On My Parade!

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We’re still in August but the cooler temperature of the last few days has been an indicator that Autumn will be here before we know it – and I couldn’t be more thrilled! It’s pelting down with rain as I’m writing this post but instead of feeling dismayed at the grey skies I cannot wait for Autumn to arrive which is most definitely my favourite season.

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As a Summer baby, the irony that I don’t ‘do hot weather’ isn’t lost on me. I put it down to the fact that I’m a Londoner, and that the cold and the rain is what I’m used to but then I know that that doesn’t count for much as most Londoners crave the sun – mainly because we don’t usually have any! But I’m most definitely an Autumn-bordering-on-Winter kind of girl. When planning our wedding, the original date was to be in Winter (Mr. D’s birthday to be  exact) but the reaction from our guests – who acted as though we’d just announced that our wedding was gong to be held in a morgue – made us reconsider. So as a compromise, we held our wedding in the twilight month of September: technically Summer but with a more Autumn feel.

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I understand that to say you don’t like hot weather is like saying you don’t like chocolate, can’t stand Friends or never listen to music! I’m not totally sure where my negativity regarding the Summer comes from because I’m quite sure I loved it when I was a child.  I put it down to the fact that as I got older I became less tolerant to the sun (or maybe the sun became less tolerant towards me!) But I don’t see anything great about sweating like a spa; having your make-up slide off your face; getting heat rash  and sunstroke… I could go on and on. Sure we get to indulge in ice-cream, barbecues, picnics, give our summer clothes an airing, and drive with the top down if we’re lucky enough to own a convertible. But for me, the colder months have more appeal.

So why do I love Autumn so much? Well…

1. If it gets too cold, you just put on extra layers. What do you do when it’s too hot? I don’t live near Miami Beach so running around in a bikini is not an option!

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2. I’m very much a jeans and boots kind of girl, but who can wear boots in scorching hot weather? I love the ballet style pumps I live in throughout the warmer months but it feels so good to be back in a pair of knee-high boots!

b4e6a25b83ef8c80e736e40fc392ece53. I love my snug, cosy jumpers, sweaters and cardis.

b6d50e938049e42d1175d6ed956511464. The colder temperature means lots of frothy, hot drinks. I love the wonderfully flavoured hot chocolates and coffees that are available. Gingerbread, eggnog, pumpkin pie lattes… bring it on!

9dac74f8b853b89380b8696fdc948ac55. All the best holidays – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Bonfire Night, Christmas and Valentine’s Day – take place during Autumn and Winter.

91ef87c27baacc591457da8c505abb1b6. There’s no denying that blossom looks gorgeous in Spring but there’s just something naturally stunning about the simplicity of Fall colours. Plus walking ankle-deep in fallen leaves reminds me of my childhood.

e0e4af7801503de99673e4e9991824ec7.  It’s the perfect excuse to lie around in cosy pjs, with a warm blanket watching movies all day (providing it’s the weekend of course!)

jam8. Comforting soups, stews and stodgy puds were made for this weather!

c22bf7b45c460be365672c6fdcc6810d9. There’s something quite beautiful about a  dark city street, after it’s been raining and seeing the street lights reflected on the glistening ground.

imagesHAY40OMF10. If you think miserable weather means being cooped up indoors, think again. Some of my best nights out have occurred during cold and wet weather.

imagesJNYNTT8111. …but if you do decide to stay in, sofa Saturday nights with takeaways, booze, movies and mates are fab.

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12. You can ditch the exercise plan as you won’t be getting your bikini bod out for a while!

images52SLUESX13. It’s great news for holidaymakers and soon-to-be-marrieds as everything tends to be cheaper around this time.

919cba7fcc60496198876a96b44c36ad14. No one wants to be stuck indoors during the Summer, especially not in a hot kitchen, but Autumn’s great for practising your baking skills.

af17f96ebd70102e575eadee310cb16815. There’s an extra hour in bed!

child-sleeping16. It’s great to fall asleep to the sound of falling rain.

swr17. The crisp, cool weather makes for great walks.

322594c5e6154444c0e2aacd2bec075918. Who wouldn’t like to sit in front of a real log fire?

imagesBS01HPVG19. Packed tubes, trains and buses are way more bearable when it’s cold.

efee4-imagescap4210j20. I can wear my beloved scarves and not look like an idiot!

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I can’t wait to say

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Bring it on!

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People, Get Spatially Aware!

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Today, while on a fairly packed bus to get to a busy town centre in order to go to an equally busy supermarket, I was amazed at the number of inconsiderate people who thought they were the only people out on the street – causing me to get more than a little irritated. Crowding doorways; blocking aisles with pushchairs; dawdling too long by the veggies when I’m trying to reach for a packet of baby spinach; trollies heading straight for me and missing me by millimetres without so much as an apology or an ‘excuse me’ from the wreckless trolley-pusher… it seems that people have absolutely no awareness of other people around them. They think nothing of invading your space or getting in your way, causing you to waste time and lose patience. I also almost had an irate man crash into me while I was carrying several bags of groceries because he was too busy arguing with his wife and walking backwards (don’t ask!) without bothering to check if there was anyone else behind him on the very narrow pavement. This kind of behaviour isn’t just inconsiderate, I also find it to be quite arrogant. It’s almost as if other people and their space aren’t important.

 

I work in Central London and often walk to the station after work with a friend from work. It’s only a five minute walk to the station but on the way there, I’ve often lost count of the number of people who have bumped into us; hit us with their over-sized bags; rammed their buggies, strollers and trollies  or just stopped abruptly right in front of us while they answer their phone or rifle through said bag. Now, I know that all of this is just part and parcel of city life, especially when the city is one of the world’s most overpopulated. However, an apology in a situation like this would be much appreciated. My colleague is not a Londoner, but hailing from a major American city, she does  understand that this is what London life entails. However unlike me, she is not prepared to allow someone to get in her way and say nothing about it. She’s got something to say all right!

 

It seems like a sign of the times where it’s almost acceptable to be rude and not say sorry. And of course, no one wants to tackle anyone about their behaviour. It’s different for my American friend  – after all who wants to take on an angry American? – but most of us know that complaining can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth so we just keep quiet and accept that it’s just the way people are these days even though we are inwardly seething.

On a trip to Brighton earlier this year, a friend of mine later told me how surprised she was when as we were wheeling our stowaway cases along the streets of the seaside town, she noticed that I kept stopping to let people by and was aware of anyone who might be around me. well, of course I was. and it’s what any considerate person would do.

Sadly there don’t seem to be many considerate people around.

 

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