28 March 2011

Cracke, not craic...though it was.

So I want to apologize for my last post. My mood these days tend to change as often as the English weather in spring and I should have known better to write when I was at a low point. I was tempted to delete the post but fuck it; this blog isn’t all skipping through the flowery field all the time. This blog is more like getting a generic box of graham crackers and thinking, “this tastes like preschool” because in preschool they could never afford Honey Maid and it warms your heart a bit that you can actually remember a bit of preschool but disappointing because generic graham crackers just don’t soften up in milk like the real ones do. Maybe that really wasn’t a proper analogy but more of me describing a recent experience.

Anyhow, this past Saturday both Andy and I were convinced that I was going into proper labor. I won’t go into details but the day was mostly spent with me moaning and whining and wondering to myself how bad it had to get before we called up the hospital hoping that they’d to tell us to come in (which from what I hear, the midwives won’t let you come in until you’re crowning). Sadly, I made the mistake of “getting some rest” and woke up Sunday morning quite normal and definitely not in labor anymore. I did however feel great, probably better than I’ve felt in weeks, and we decided to make the most of a sometimes sunny, sometimes chilly, spring day in Liverpool.

We took care of the needed shopping first by going to the New Mersey Retail Park. Retail Parks are a pretty big thing here, both in actual size and in public enthusiasm. They’re a bit like a strip mall but 100 times bigger. Technically speaking, England doesn’t have anything like what America calls a strip mall. Most towns and villages here will have at least one of the following: a newsagent (basically a hardly cleaned and much smaller 7-11), a bakery, a grocery store (small), a pub, a charity shop (similar to Goodwill), a fish and chip shop (also called a chippy), and a bookies – but no strip malls. The bookies, as general information, will be the cleanest establishment of all those listed and it will also have a pretty clean bathroom that you can use if you pretend that you are using it prior to making a bet on the electronic horses. England also has proper shopping malls too, but when you’re after something big (like a bed or a couch) or for DYI stuff, you’re going to end up at one of the many Retail Parks; which we did. I suppose that was a really long way of telling you we went to BandQ Warehouse (Home Depot) for some couch cushions.

Oh retail park, how I love thee.

Afterwards, we decided to head towards the city centre as Andy has been going on about this place called the Ye Olde Cracke that he had been to many years before and absolutely loved. I have to say that Ye Olde Cracke didn’t disappoint. It was located on this tiny little street that we totally didn’t see the first time we drove past. It’s also located between two of the largest cathedrals in the area, the Liverpool Cathedral and the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral (great naming there folks). The Liverpool Cathedral is the 5th largest cathedral in the world (and the largest in the UK) and the Metropolitan one looks like a gigantic wigwam (sadly sans Indians – native, Asian or otherwise). Check me out – I went from horrible whiny post last week to boring tourist information post – somebody give me a rubber chicken for fucks sake. ANYHOW, Ye Olde Cracke is supposedly one of the pubs John Lennon used to hang out in when he went to art school in the area. I can’t confirm that but I can confirm that they had a really awesome beer garden and a weird Chinese guy who will sell you a knock off DVD for 3 pounds. Actually, I can’t confirm that the Chinese guy will always be there but for 3 pounds, our copy of ‘Rango’ wasn’t that bad….not great, but watchable after you got used to the handheld camera shake.

Paying for parking...1 pound 40 for an hour in case you're interested.

Another random shot - trying to seem arty.  Failing.  Need rubber chicken.

Andy standing next to some art.  It has some meaning, this art, but I don't know what it is because I didn't bother to read the plaque. 

Nothing like a Super Lambanana to brighten one's day.

The Cracke!

The beer garden.  Also, the Facebook masses agree with me that Andy is in desperate need of a haircut.

After a pint, we headed down the road to Liverpool’s Chinatown. Well, technically we got ourselves a bit screwed up looking for parking so we ended up in a Chinese grocery store first. In California I was used to having the Japanese grocery store nearby so I was really stoked that there was a place here I could pick up proper ramen noodles, soy sauce, pot stickers and most importantly, Koala March cookies. We managed to find the entrance to Chinatown after a bit of searching but it was pretty much shut due to it being Sunday (fecking Sunday working hours!) but we did stop into this tiny little pub called ‘the Nook’ because I was dying for a pee. Of course we had to stay and have a drink and for the prices (2.80 for a pint of lager and a small 7-up) and entertainment – this was Chinatown after all – it was well worth it.

Chinatown...pretty but fucking shut.  Stupid Sundays!

It was a good day and it completely made up for the week’s worth of pissy good for nothing pregnancy mood swings I’ve been having. Well, I say that, Andy might feel a bit different.

On an unrelated\related note: Please send Honey Maid graham crackers.

22 March 2011

I'd just run away now if I were you

So I’m in a bit of a conundrum. Now that we are all moved in to our new place and all the shopping and hell that is putting together miles upon miles of IKEA furniture is complete, I’ve only got one thing to focus on - which is this shortly coming to an end pregnancy. I’ve done my best to keep my pregnancy related topics out of this blog because personally I don’t find it particularly interesting, especially with everything else that’s been going on. But now that it’s all that’s left I feel like I have to dip my toes in water – or leave this blog unattended with animated tumble weeds blowing through.

Truth is I’m grumpy and uncomfortable and don’t feel much like writing much. To stop writing until I get out of this funk (i.e. give birth) is like a death sentence to the blog itself. I’ve found that if I stop writing one week, that one week turns to two, then a month then god knows how long while I come up with lame posts that begin with “I’m sorry for neglecting you.” I figure it’s probably best to bore you shitless with the crap I do have sitting in my head like a neglected turd that no matter how many times you flush the water never reaches it then to stop writing until I have something entertaining to say.

So yes…grumpy and uncomfortable. I’ve got two weeks until my due date which means absolute crap in relation to when babies decide they want to come out into the world and start their invariable journey of screaming louder than a fog horn and stealing from your purse. I’m not going to lie, it’s no secret to anyone that I absolutely despise being pregnant. Some women reveal in this shit but they are utter lunatics that don’t like whiskey (or, to be fair, tried for years and years to get pregnant unsuccessfully before finally cracking the code). I hate it. I hate every single aspect of it. The stupid pants with elastic belly waists that come up to your boobs (but never manage to stay there). The grunting when you put on your socks. Going for a pee then feeling like you have to pee again before you’re even finished washing your hands. Feeling justified for eating Oreos for breakfast only to have that sinking feeling on how hard it’s going to be to lose the Oreo cookie thighs when it’s all said and done. The backaches, the stomach aches, the hip aches, the puking, the tossing and turning trying to sleep, and the utter constant fucking question, “when are you due?” FUCK OFF PREGNANCY, I HATE YOU.

You know what pregnancy is like? Writing a complete paragraph ranting and raving and after re-reading it all you can think to yourself is, “I could really go for some Oreos.”

SIDE NOTE: The Tesco by our new house sells Oreos - and Philadelphia cream cheese. Small miracle.

I’m ready to be done. That is to say, I’m ready to not be knocked up anymore. I’ve been ready since October really, but now that it’s safe for him to come out, even more so. The nursery is ready – it’s actually the most decorated room in the house now as we’re still waiting for our stuff from the States to come in. (It’s actually a bet I have with myself – wondering which will arrive first, our things or the kid.) Andy joked today about putting a piece of chocolate by my crotch and telling the kid, “If you come out, you can have some candy!” I bought a fucking pineapple yesterday because someone told me eating pineapple can help bring on labor (though apparently only if you eat like 7 whole pineapples a day)(dammit!). I’d go jogging if I had enough energy to put on shoes and leave the house for more than 15 minutes – or if I knew that I wouldn’t pee my pants in the first 30 seconds.

I’d like to mention that patience has never been my strong suit and seriously, I cannot stop thinking about Oreos now.


I’ll return shortly, hopefully in a better mood, hopefully 8 pounds lighter and buzzed on whiskey. If not, I’ll warn you in advance so you can skip the post and move on to a list on why Chuck Norris is better than Superman.

14 March 2011

This post is delivered to you straight to your door.

So I’m currently drinking Horlicks Light Chocolate Malt which is slowly becoming my Favorite Hot Drink EVER. It’s chocolately and malty and although it has like, the worst name since the Kum & Go in Kansas, it’s delicious. I would highly recommend it. It’s actually supposed to make you sleepy but I haven’t had a problem with zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ZZZ hmph…what was I saying? Sadly, I can only assume that when people from the States come and visit me and I’ll do my usual crap where I force a food or beverage on them telling them it’s The Best Thing EVER and they will try it and humorously give me an “it’s ok, I guess”. Maybe I need to change my tactics and just slip this to them instead of the cup of tea I’ll promise and let them make their own assumptions – which would be “England’s tea sure tastes a lot like hot chocolate.”


In case you thought I was lying.

ANYWAYS, since I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath wondering if we got approved for the house in Mossley Hill (illusions of grandeur anyone?), I’m proud to say that we did. We got the keys on Saturday but since our bed won’t be delivered until this Wednesday, we aren’t officially moving in until then. Ever since we got approved there has been this Great Money Suck occurring as we rush around buying everything that we previously sold 2 months ago (those being things that plugged in or that were too big to ship) as well as things that we didn’t need before but we sure as hell need now. Obviously there are the baby things but mostly it’s the storage. For those who don’t know, in England (and I’m sure the rest of the UK if not Europe in general) houses do not typically come with closets. In the house that we are moving into – 3 bedrooms remember – there are approximately no closets. None. Zilch. Zero. There aren’t any shelves either. It’s all just walls, electric sockets and a door to each and every room. Honestly, not having closets is fine, but it’s just the expense (that we didn’t plan for) of buying cabinets and storage units so our clothes and what else isn’t piled in a heap in the corner of the room (I totally had an ex-boyfriend in my early 20’s who did that – 3 foot high piles of god knows what – and he had a closet available) that’s the pain.

Just see how fast the song gets in your head.

Which brings us to the delivery schedule. Because we bought a lot of big things that couldn’t fit in the car, we are having item after item delivered to the house starting on Wednesday. I’m sure our new neighbors are going to think that I’m a daytime prostitute what with all the strange men that will be coming to the house in the next few days. I’m even having groceries delivered! Now hear me out on this – Andy works days and I don’t have a car. Andy also hates grocery shopping. The Tesco by our house is a half mile away, which isn’t bad, but I’m also 8 months pregnant and need to buy our first big grocery haul which is going to be heavy. For 4 quid delivery, I went online and got everything we need and they’ll drop it off at my front door. The front door! Since laundry can no longer be my favorite chore, I think online grocery shopping in my pajamas will slowly move up the ranks to the Best Chore Ever.

I'll never have to leave the house again!

So yes! Bed on Wednesday, cable and internet on Thursday (no internet for over 24 hours…the humanity!), and the ugly ass couch on Friday. Did I say that? Alright, listen. We got a couch and a matching chair and a foot rest. We needed the price to be reasonable, the couch comfortable, and the delivery of said couch as soon as possible. We found a couch that was all of these things but I think its hideous looking. I think it looks like a bunch of filtered cigarettes all lined up in a row. Andy likes it. Andy works all day to keep us fed so I said that it was OK. I also know that after 5 years of cat scratching and baby puke\toddler dirt\small child jam hands that we will need a new couch. I can deal with it; it is comfortable and affordable after all. Just don’t think that this couch is in any way is my “style”. I am more the comfortable minimalist type then the “Let’s sit on a pack of Marlboros” type. The foot rest with built in storage is pretty sweet though. And come Saturday, Andy and I can lay out on our new couch watching cable TV eating frozen pizza because really, that’s all we’ll be able to afford to do. I honestly can’t wait.

 Don't laugh, you all will be sleeping on this when you come and visit.

07 March 2011


So I was going to do a UK food entry type thing for you all this week but it turns out I’ve got a bunch of other things to ramble on about (mostly for my amusement rather than yours-sorry!) so I’m going to do that instead. Well, maybe I’ll throw in a bit about the food, I don’t know yet…it will all come clear as all the bits rambling about in my head are firmly down on electronic paper.

I guess I better just get on with the news of this past week. It’s been a very hectic week but Andy and I got a shitload of necessary things done and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable with my current situation because of it. First of all, we bought a car. We’ve been using a rental car that we picked up from the airport almost 4 weeks ago and that we are due to return this upcoming Saturday. Buying a car wasn’t high on our radar until we realized that we were seriously on a time crunch. I had offered to help Andy look for cars on the internet while he slaved away at work but I ended up getting entirely too frustrated since I had no clue on the quality of the makes and models of cars here. Driving around this past month, I was mainly seeing Vauxhalls, Peugeots, Fiats and Fords on the road. Ford is the only brand I was familiar with and honestly Ford and I don’t have a very good relationship (despite what Andy tells me about Fords being better built here). Thankfully someone at Andy’s work recommended a used car dealership to him and we dropped by there at about 6 PM last Thursday.

Now Andy had told me that buying a car in the UK was a pain in the ass but that it was no where near as bad as trying to buy a car in the US. I can now firmly attest to that and in fact, would say that buying a car in the UK in no more worse than picking up a carton of milk at the grocery store. We got to the dealership and started looking around. No one came up to bother us – in fact, we had to find someone to help us narrow down our search. Once Andy found one that he liked that was in our price range, we took a 5 minute unassisted test drive (meaning the dealer didn’t require to sit in the car with us rambling on about the car’s features), went back to the dealer’s office and put down a small deposit, then agreed on a time to pick it up. You can’t drive off the lot with the car until you have the paperwork stating that you are properly insured for it. At no time did the dealership ever ask to see Andy’s driving license. The whole process took 45 minutes. I’m sure if we were financing the car (which we couldn’t do since neither of us as a lick of credit history in this country) it might have taken a bit longer, but I can’t see that it would have been that much longer. What’s funny is that car dealerships here adhere to the same general work ethic that infects the entire UK. The dealership closed at 7 PM. If this process had taken an hour and 15 minutes, instead of 45, the dealer would have told us to come back the next day to finish up. That would have never happened in the US. If a dealer in the US thought he had a chance of making a sale, he would stay 4 hours later than closing time to make sure that it he made a commission. Anyhow, two days later with insurance certificate in hand, we went back, paid the rest of the money for the car, and drove off – all of 10 minutes.

I’m proud to say that we are now the owners of one 2007 Peugeot 307 in blue. It’s not the best car in the world but we like it and it’s big enough to fit the gigantic stroller I insisted on getting because it didn’t make me cry when using it (the stroller, not the car).

Not our actual car, but this is exactly what it looks like.  It's French (don't hold that against us), I've named it 'Pierre' of course.

The 2nd bit of big news is that we also managed to find a house to rent. Well, our applications are currently being processed but we should know by the end of the week if we have ourselves somewhere to live. The place we found is only the 3rd house we looked at and it’s in a different area then I thought we’d be, but it’s a fantastic place and I’m crossing my butt cheeks hoping that we get approved. The house is in Mossley Hill, which is a really nice area of Liverpool, with lots of nice shops and families and big parks nearby. The house itself has two large bedrooms, one small bedroom, kitchen, dining room, living room and a large back patio for Chloe to yell at birds in. Unfortunately the place only has one bathroom. It does however, have the toilet in the same room as the actual shower\bath so, you know, we got that going for us. I’m also going to have to live sans dryer, dishwasher, and garbage disposal until we are more flush again next year but honestly, if I don’t have to live in the hellholes first two places we had looked at were, I can deal. This place is at least clean and recently renovated unlike the others.

Jaysus, the first place we looked at was awful. I wish I could take pictures because I don’t know if anyone would believe me on how bad it was. The place was in Aigburth – a terraced house with three “bedrooms” and two “bathrooms”. I want you first to imagine your grandma’s house. You know the grandma – the one who has lived in the same house since First World War and hasn’t redecorated since 1943. The same grandma who is long since widowed and is arthritically challenged, as well as has a serious case of dementia, but who refuses to get any help so hasn’t cleaned the house properly since 1996. Imagine this grandma finally passes to the Great Beyond and you are walking into the house for the first time. Imagine a kitchen where the only way you could tell it was the new millennium was the 8 year old washing machine sitting under a decrepit sink. Imagine the “family bathroom” that was located directly off the kitchen that looks more like a utility room than anything remotely similar to a bathroom. There was no bath to start with – or a shower stall for that matter. What was there was a shower head hanging off the corner of the wall, with a dirty shower curtain sectioning off one of the corners of the room with a drain in the middle of the floor (all cement, painted a lovely shade of turquoise blue). I imagine prison showers to be very similar. Going for 650 pounds a month I honestly thought that it was very likely we’d be staying with Andy’s mum until Henry was 5 years old.

The 2nd place we looked at wasn’t much better but at least it had a proper bathtub (1950’s pink!). It was honestly after the 2nd place that we decided that Aigburth was entirely too student-like for us (I’m getting old) and that we were much better suited for the less bohemian and less crack heads walking around in the middle of the day lifestyle. You know, we’re having a kid….I can admit defeat to my youth. I might be kicking and screaming a bit but at least I’m kicking and screaming from a nice coffee house with a hot decaf latte in my hand.

So that’s the news. I might update later on this week with more gibber jabber on food or what not but I can’t promise anything. I might be too busy putting together IKEA furniture…or giving birth…or searching for a new hair conditioner as my supply from the US has just run out (ack!).