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Monday, July 18, 2005

Life here may take a bit of getting used to.

We needed to buy some butane gas this morning, so we set off for Coleford, the town nearest to us. (Why on earth did we need butane, you might ask? Well, the house we're staying in is in the process of being renovated, and the kitchen is still a work in progress. Since the oven and hob don't work, we're cooking on a two burner gas thingie. Hence the butane gas.) Anyway, we arrived at the general store, which has an intriguing mix of gardening stuff and tea sets and camping equipment in the window - but it was closed. Apparently they only open at two in the afternoon on Mondays. So then we went to the library. Which, it turns out, is closed on Mondays. Entirely closed, all day. Undeterred, we had a quick whip round the grocery store (big chain, Tesco's, has sane hours and is reasonably priced with lots of choice) and then returned to the general store, where we bought our butane. We were happy about that, because without it supper would have been a bit dismal. And then we needed to run into the bank, so that we could wire money from our American account to our British one. Only, sadly, the bank here closes at three every afternoon. Bet you didn't see that one coming, did you?

So we'll be going to the bank first thing tomorrow.

I did manage to register the family at the doctor's ... or at least, I think I did. I filled in some forms and handed them in, and they called here this afternoon for a few more details (like the name of our doctor in the states). But I am rather surprised that at no stage did they ask me proof of residency here ... seems odd, they must surely have some sort of mechanism in place to stop holidaymakers from sponging off the NHS?

A few of the more enjoyable things we've done in the last few days ...

  • Enjoyed a cream tea with my parents on my mom's birthday on Saturday.

  • Eaten a traditional Sunday lunch at the local pub the next day.

  • Visited Tintern Abbey on a glorious sunny morning, and found a quiet corner in the grounds where we could read a bit of the new Harry Potter (we're reading it out loud, together - seemed the only fair way to deal with the problem of one book amongst five people all desperate to read it.)

  • Been for a walk along some cliffs in a nearby nature preserve. We were hoping to find some accessible climbing, but didn't manage, unfortunately.

  • And here are some of our observations about the English, gleaned after one whole week of living in one small village.

  • When the sun comes out, English men like to take their shirts off. Even in places like grocery stores. Sadly, it seems that the people most likely to do this are the ones with the least appealing midriffs.

  • When one meets fellow walkers in the evenings, they become uneasy if greeted too enthusiastically. The correct approach seems to be a sort of discreet nod, or maybe - if you're feeling particularly effusive - a muttered "good evening". Anything more seems to be considered a bit over the top.

  • Garage is pronounced "garridge".

  • The American Kit-Kat is a pale, watered-down, sad, tasteless cousin to the British one. And British mint Kit-Kats are sublime. But the lemon-yoghurt flavoured Kit-Kats are, unsurprisingly, foul.
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