Tag Archives: england

Leapin’ Lizards!

I’ve lived in England for a long time now and there is one thing that you very rarely, if ever see. In fact, I’ve never seen one here outside of a zoo. I’m talking about SNAKES! I can’t stand snakes. I grew up in an area of the States where you needed to be watchful for venomous snakes and spiders and where cockroaches, or as we call them “Palmetto Bugs”, do in fact fly. So I always pay attention.

Last year, while walking home along the footpath, I heard a noise that you only hear in horror films. The noise where something big is being dragged. I don’t know how I missed this thing, usually I’m constantly looking up and down as I walk the footpaths as there are always little mice who I don’t want to squash and normally dog poop.

But somehow I was looking up and stepped straight over something and it was only when I heard the noise of something huge being dragged through leaves did I turn around and witness the last two feet of a snake disappear down the hill to the train tracks. I kid you not when I say this, but it’s girth was the size of an Amazonian python that had just eaten a village cow.

There was a horrible smell in the air and after a mini panic attack where I didn’t think I could walk, I all but ran home and after a long internet search came across a site that informed me that that horrible almost rancid garlic odour I smelled was from a grass snake. It’s their defensive move. That snake and I crossed paths many times last summer, even when I avoided the footpath. The first time was enough for me, I didn’t need to see it ever again.

So, last night as I walked home, I stopped short as something almost golden in appearance caught my eye. I looked at it and it looked at me and I thought to myself, Mr. Michie is never going to believe me so I better snap a picture and before I could get a good one it took off.

After a few deep breaths, all but running home and lots of research, we came to the conclusion that it was in fact not a snake, but a legless lizard. As their skin is smooth and very shiny. Still, it’s enough for me to warily stare down that footpath.

Here’s to the weekend, I hope yours is legless lizard free! In fact, I hope mine is too, because they look way too much like a snake to me.

{Quote found HERE}

Manchester

I haven’t had the time or the energy to come here lately. I don’t feel I have a voice right now. Since I wrote my last post, I’ve been working on putting myself back together. It is a bittersweet thing to think I exist in a world that my Nana does not. I’m happy that I had her for so long, but sad to think that we will no longer exchange letters, or telephone calls, or have our little chats over lunch or dinner when we can be together. Sad is such a poor adjective to describe how I feel right now.

We rarely watch TV and were on no social media networks last night, so we had no idea what had occurred in Manchester until we awoke today. I don’t like to use this space as a political forum, or a soap box. But this goes beyond that; this was an attack on humanity. As I ran through the woods this morning, I kept going over the news story in my head. It has sickened me. What a cowardly act, to go after children, young adults and people who were simply out enjoying themselves.

I know how excited everyone must have been, how far some people probably traveled, what a big deal it would be to see a concert on a “school night”. To have such a wonderful evening finish on such a sour note. Last night must have been the longest night of their lives for the poor families who spent it wondering if their children were safe? Would they ever walk through the front door again?

How you could do this to people, to plan to carry out an action like this is beyond me. To go into an place, watching the faces around, laughing, talking, singing and know that you will take it all away from them, makes you more than a monster.

The saddest part of all of this, is that these events are happening more and more and we are shocked, saddened, can’t get enough information about it, but the news cycle is brief. Something will come to fill its place. These atrocities need to be stopped.

And through this barbaric act, what shone through? LIGHT! People offering their homes, a safe place to stay, a free taxi ride, phone chargers, food… the list goes on. Goodness will prevail. The darkness shall be defeated. As Leonard Cohen said, “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” We must continue to seek out the cracks, to look for the light and the kindness that exists within humanity. When you’re out and about today, commit a random act of kindness. You never know how one kind word, a friendly gesture or even a smile could make all the difference.

To the good people of Manchester, we stand with YOU in solidarity.

Garden Flowers

I’m in the process of cleaning up my computer files and I’ve gone through thousands upon thousands of photos. I found these from a long ago visit to a English manor house and their gardens. It was early Summer and the blossoms were in full bloom. The scent was intoxicating as you made your way down the gravel paths. The bees were buzzing too and fro. The back of their legs were covered in golden hued humps of powdery pollen from their endeavours. The birds were flittering and the sun was playing peek-a-boo with the clouds. It was a magical day.

Countryside Stroll

Jennifer Michie Countryside 1

We took a long walk through the countryside yesterday. Rambling along the paths. We strolled by a stream, through the church yard where an 800 year old church still stands (with medieval paintings still on the walls) and headed to the deli for lunch.

Jennifer Michie Countryside 2

We sat by the duck pond for a bit after lunch and then decided to continue down the lanes, where we saw fields of grazing sheep and cattle. After following the trail through one particular paddock, we were greeted by four gorgeous horses who all came to say hello. There was lots of petting by us and nuzzling by the horses.

Jennifer Michie Countryside 3 Jennifer Michie Countryside 4

The day was perfect, the sun was out, but there was a delicious breeze going. We ended up doing about a 10 mile stretch. It was bliss.

Soldiering On

Jennifer Michie Wood

Do you know what it feels like to be walking out of the ocean and be knocked down by a wave? That feeling when you are dragged under and you try to fight your way to the top gasping for air, but are knocked down again? That is how I feel lately.

I’m still in a state of disbelief that Brexit is carrying forward. Even though this was simply a referendum and Parliament has yet to say that it will be acted on; that Article 50 will be invoked. Everything is moving on as if we will leave the EU. It’s just this giant snowball effect that seems to be gaining huge momentum before it crashes into the brick wall at the end of the hill.

I’m hearing so many stories at the moment from others and they are shocking! One such story comes from one of my husband’s colleagues. A man working with her husband who is originally from Pakistan and has lived here for maybe 10 years, is now a citizen of the UK. Last week he voted to LEAVE! His reason, he stated was because of immigration. Ironic isn’t it? I mean what do you say to that? How do you combat ignorance? How do you combat moronism?

Jennifer Michie Moss

I try to use my morning walks to clear my head. At the moment, I seem to be listening to a lot of Miles Davis and Alec Baldwin’s Podcast “Here’s The Thing”. Yesterday, I caught up on one I had missed from February of this year, where he spoke to Molly Ringwald. I’ve long been a Brat Pack fan and like many others, I’m sure, I was shaped by, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink. To this day, my sister and I still shout out lines from The Breakfast Club to each other. In catching up on some blog reading this morning, I saw on Julia’s site that Sam’s house in Sixteen Candles is currently on the market. It’s always funny to me how things seem to collide. When you notice something and suddenly it starts popping up everywhere.

Jennifer Michie Snail Jennifer Michie Breakfast

I used my walks to exhale. To continue to see the beauty around me and I am blessed to always be rewarded. I came across a snail this morning, slowly making his way across the sidewalk. His shell was lovely. I watched a bunny eating his breakfast in someone’s front yard. I watched the sun play peek-a-boo with the clouds. I feasted on a cup of tea and two toasted slices of banana bread this morning with apricot jam. I just was.

A Changed World

We awoke this morning to a changed Britain. A change that I feel very saddened about. Whether you wanted to remain or leave the EU, the decision now made will forever change this country. I am under no illusion, this morning I awoke in a different place. I’m not one to use my blog to discuss politics. There are plenty of people who do that and who do it far better than I could.

I know that the EU is not perfect. I know there is a lot of bureaucracy and complications. But I feel it would be better to keep working through our issues together and united. Even though we live within this union, Britain is still it’s own country, whether Britain’s feel like it is or not. It is still a unique place with a fascinating history, vibrant cities and a fantastic culture.

The margin to leave versus remain was slim. Why Britain didn’t do one of the things it is best at, which is just to complain but carry on anyway, is beyond me.

Not being a British citizen, I saw everything unfold from the vantage point of another angle. Now, I have studied in the UK, I have a Master’s of Philosophy in Art History and Connoisseurship from the University of Glasgow. My husband is British, and I have gone through all of the legal processes and financial costs to be able to live here as a legal resident. I have contributed to my community. I pay full taxes and I live by the rules.

However, for all my other rights, I have no recourse to public funds, which let me just state here, I am not after, but, I also do not get a vote. I state all this to say that I am not one of the “immigrants” that have been so nastily spoken about in the paper as of late, but from some people’s remarks I know that my being here poses a threat to them as well.

If I could have voted, I would have chosen to remain within the EU. The campaign waged was extremely ugly. Especially from the opposing side. Those that wanted to leave have lead a poisonous toxic campaign filled with racist remarks, bigotry and incorrect facts. I can’t begin to count the numerous pieces of propaganda concerning funds going to the EU that could instead be used to fund the NHS that were shoved through our postbox. All stating facts that are untrue. The vile attitudes that have gone on throughout this campaign were brought even more to light this morning when Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip had the audacity to say that this triumph had come to fruition “without having to fight, without a single bullet being fired”.

Maybe Mr. Farage failed to remember the heinous crime that was committed against MP Jo Cox last week by Thomas Mair. Last week, when asked in court what his name was, he stated, “My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”

I think we are living in a world where fear mongering is being used as a tactic to gain the upperhand. History has taught us what happens when fear is deployed in this way. Wars have been started! Maybe I live in a fantasy world where I would like us all to get along. If I was ever in a beauty pageant, I can tell you that “world peace” would feature in my speech. We’re all in this together. This outcome is a giant step back, not a step forward.

The ramifications to leave the EU might not show themselves as quickly as the financial implications for this decision have already done. But they will begin to unfold as things slowly tear apart from the seams.

I Miss the South!

Jennifer Michie Queen Anne's Lace

As I headed out for my walk this morning, the sun was glistening in the sky and there was a nice breeze going, that was offsetting the warmth of the sun. It was a walk that started out full of optimism and excitement over what discoveries I would make along the way.

Half way through my walk, I was already down trodden and it wasn’t the heat, or the fact that I was tired from not sleeping that great last night or that a blister on my heel was rubbing against my sneaker. No, I can deal with all of that and still stay upbeat. It was the people I was passing! In the 50 or so other walkers, joggers and strollers I passed, I said “Good Morning!” to every single one and in all of those, “Good Morning’s!” only two people responded, TWO!

One man only responded because the path narrowed and there was no way for him to get out it, I guess? But he didn’t look at me and just mumbled a gruff reply. The other was from a gentleman who like me, was smiling. He cheerfully replied while his cute little fluffy white dog ran down the path. Everyone else pretended they didn’t hear me.

I have to tell you, this morning my walk left me disheartened and terribly missing the South. There is no way I could do the walk I do in the time I do it in if I was in the South. Because, everyone stops everyone else to comment on the weather, the gardens, the seasons, a simple “Hello!” to a neighbour turns into a catch up on family news and life. I miss the South where gentleman hold doors open for you instead of rushing past you. Where people are simply polite to one another. I miss being everyone’s, Sweetie, Honey, Lil’ Miss, Ma’m and Shuga. Where no one is a stranger.

Now, I’m not saying I’m after the other walkers, joggers and strollers life stories. But if someone offers you salutations the polite and basic human kindness thing to do is to reply.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better walk! Here’s to the weekend, long may it last!

Holiday Shopping in the 1960s

Mashable Christmas 1

I have a soft spot for the 1950s and 60s. The hair, the clothes, the houses, the furniture! I came across these photographs from the 1960s on Mashable. Taken by amateur photographer Ronald Sanderson of department store window displays around South Shields and Newcastle-upon-Tyne during a 1960s holidays. These photographs are too cute! Enjoy!

Mashable Christmas 2 Mashable Christmas 3 Mashable Christmas 4 Mashable Christmas 5 Mashable Christmas 6

Feels Like Fall

Jennifer Michie Dawn

It felt Fall-ish this weekend. It was cool and rainy on Saturday, sunny and chilly yesterday. Today I left the house to a dark and windy morning, which slowly budded into the most gorgeous sunrise, the sky was filled with pink and gold and a deep purple, the trees and houses I passed, black silhouettes against the rising dawn. All this beauty had vanished behind clouds and a rain filled sky by the time I got off the tube.

It feels like Fall has arrived to England. Blustery, rainy weather and the crunch of leaves underfoot. I just wanted to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea this afternoon. It feels like sweater weather!

Below is a small Autumn Playlist that I made, these songs make me think of hot apple cider, pumpkins, sweaters, the leaves changing, the evenings closing in sooner, the train racing past fields filled with birds following the Harvester, rainy afternoons and crispy mornings, to name but a few things.

Autumn Days by Jennifer Michie on Grooveshark

Whack-bat

fantastic mr fox film how to play whack batSummer not only brings with it Wimbledon, but also, cricket matches. Mr. Michie, truly enjoys watching cricket. Over the years he has watched numerous matches and throughout those many matches he has attempted to explain it to me and I have done my best to understand it in return. Maybe I need to be trying harder.

Don’t ask me why, but I just don’t get cricket. Now, give me a good game of baseball and we’ll be talking. Now, for all the avid cricket fans that might read my blog, I am sure that you are cringing right now and screaming at your computer screens. Maybe it is the way he explains it, or maybe I need a “Cricket for Dummies” book? I don’t know! For whatever reason most times he has ended up explaining the rules to me, we are sitting in a pub, weirdly enough, it is usually this one particular pub in Covent Garden and inevitably he starts to draw everything out for me on a napkin and the more he sketches it out, the bigger the hand gestures get and the more passionate he gets over trying to make me understand it and somewhere in the middle my head is filled with creases and wickets and stumps and bowls and I just start laughing and we don’t get anywhere.

We watched a match being played at Lord’s Cricket Ground last night and heaven knows why but as I watched it all I could think of was The Fantastic Mr. Fox film. There is this wonderful scene where the coach explains the rules to “Whack-bat”. I think Mr. Michie might be explaining Whack-bat to me when we are discussing cricket. If he starts telling me they are bowling a flaming pinecone then I will know for sure, I’ve lost it!