- Castles (and history in general that is older then the Colonies).
- Palaces (not the same at all...I honestly hadn't really considered that before coming here)
- Literature - so many of “our” classics are really “their” classics. It’s so amazing to see the places we’ve been reading about forever and see what the authors saw as they created their characters and worlds.
- No American news outlets - only what shows up on my Facebook feed
- Free museums
- Train and bus systems are awesome
- Good, fresh bread is super cheap
- Indian food...and all the restaurants in general. If there's one thing that the Burg doesn't do spectacularly well at it's food (unless you want to live off of crab dip that is).
- Biking is super easy and normal here. It’s fun to just hop on the bike to run errands
- My new gym has way more classes available then my gym at home
- Getting to go to Aquinas lectures at Blackfriars and hear Mass and sing Vespers with them
- Tea and biscuits
- Beautiful old buildings covered in ivy
- Can’t find any decent salsa. The only ‘salsa-ish’ thing that I’ve found is a Mexican spiced cooking sauce and it was not good (at long last found some tortilla chips though - with hummus they are amazing).
- Hardly any homeschoolers around and everyone is pretty well plugged into schools for community I guess because there’s not much for school aged kids going on otherwise.
- The libraries here are…I don’t want to speak ill of my host country but…I don’t know where all those council tax dollars are going but they are not going into the libraries, that’s for sure. I was really counting on a rocking library system here to help with the schooling this year since getting books overseas was not easy. C’mon, Oxford! Get it together! The world expects more of you! Thank goodness for Amazon Kindle.
- Shopping is such a chore. This bummer will gradually get better the longer we are here because they have almost everything that I want available in this country (unlike when we lived in Italy - don’t even get me started!) but I just can’t FIND it! I know that they sell say, an air mattress or peroxide for cleaning contacts or material for halloween costumes, etc, etc, etc. But I don’t know what kind of store would have it. Whenever I finally find something it makes sense but it always takes such work and googling and driving hither and yon and parking my giant vehicle to find the darn thing. The stores here just group things together slightly differently then we do. So we finally found air matresses at a bike/car store. It sort of makes sense to have a few camping things there but it’s not where I went first, or second or third. The grocery stores are the same way. They have everything, it’s just organized differently so…I find the whole thing exhausting and need to schedule a whole day if I need to pick up a few things. That will get better.
- Aside from biking, it is really a pain in the puhtookas to get around here. We are 2 miles from Blackfriars and it’s a 20 minute drive without parking/walking. Parking is a beast, driving is a beast, a lot of the drivers are beasts. I do not think it is helping us that we have a French license plate since that’s where we rented the van from. On the other hand, John and I figure that when we make a driving mistake at least the French are getting the blame, not Americans. The French and English have been enemies much longer then we ever were so for them it’s really a lost cause anyway. If you just ignore that pesky War for Independence we really get on well with the Brits. May it always be so…Sorry French drivers.
- Everyone wants to ask you about Trump and guns. I just can’t even…
HALF-BREEDS: THE BUMUS
- Our van. It’s super new and cool looking. It has awesome skylights and GPS and keyless start and great gas mileage. It’s huge for England (8 seats). BUT it has only eight seats. That means that if two people are fractious they can’t be separated. And let me tell you, there are always two people who are fractious. So, small for America and for us and we can’t wait to spread out again. Also, annoyingly it is small but has a really terrible turning radius and makes parking the darn thing a huge pain.
- Our house. We LOVE our house. Skylights, great location, beautiful kitchen, woodburning stove, room for guests. It’s just perfect. But we have to move out in December, right before Christmas. Finding the next house is not impossible and we have a few leads but none of them are as great as this one. So, we are trying to enjoy it while we can and not think about moving.
- Food. Some things are way cheaper and some things are more expensive. So we will be eating a lot more ground beef (minced beef) here then chicken breasts. A good thing since apparently the doctors thinks Anthony is anemic (?!). Sausages are cheap cheap cheap. I finally figured out that they put a lot of wheat in their sausages and so it’s less meat, I think. Hence the cheaper price. Anyhow, I LOVE them and am so happy that we can eat them all the time.
- The thing about Anthony reminds me about the National Health Service. On the one hand, thank goodness! Here we are and we can see doctors and dentists when we need to and unfortunately, we have needed to. On the other hand, the waits are long and they prescribe a LOT of antibiotics from my extremely limited anecdotal experience. Out of three doctors we've seen two of them did not do a thorough job checking out the problems/ordering up followup care/explaining the issues and the other one was perfect and I HEART her. She's my gal and she might regret being so trustworthy because I might be calling her a lot.
The next Bumus deserves it’s own pro/con list because it is the biggest reality we face day to day. It’s only a Bumus because it is temporary, it would be a Major Bummer if it was a longterm lifestyle choice. At least for me.
Almost No Community To Speak Of.
Bonus part of no community-
- We have so much time together. I am able to watch movies and read books with the kids like we used to when they were little (too little to remember most of it) and really build a family culture instead of always running out to different (great!) activities.
- We are able to enjoy each other and have all sorts of inside jokes.
- We can have routines that rarely get interupted.
- More time with dad around.
- Less running around means better/healthier/more regular meals.
- More time with online friends (well, IRL friends but communication via the internet) who we miss in our regular life.
- Almost no inflexible outside obligations. We could disappear tomorrow for three weeks and no one local would know. Hmmm…don’t tell any murderers out there that I said that.
- Slower pace of life. At home in the Burg we are a pretty typical American family. Running here and there, in separate directions sometimes (though we homeschool so we are still together for large parts of the day, at least the kids and I are). It’s nice to take a break from that and know that all the fun things will still be there when we get back (because ultimately I wouldn’t drastically change our lifestyle at home - just tweak it maybe).
- This is almost like going back to the earliest years of motherhood. When I was home all day long for the first time and I just had a little guy or a couple little guys and gals to keep me company. Any outings we chose to do out were purely optional. The difference is that I have all these bigger kids around and we can read and talk and cook and watch things together. It’s isolated but not really lonely this time around.
Bummer part of no community-
- We have so much time together. Time to get on each other’s nerves and learn everyone’s buttons perfectly.
- We are both cooped up and also run ragged. It’s sort of a “feast or famine” in terms of activity. We only have a couple of regular outside things to break up the routines of homelife but we take these big-push day-trips to see incredible things. So, a lot of the time we either have cabin-fever or we are exhausted because of the degree of umph it takes us to get something awesome done.
- No opportunities to help people - to watch someone’s kid, to water the chickens when they are out of town, to pick up their kid from an activity, no making a meal for a family with a sick family member or new baby. True, these things “interrupt” my routines at home and I am enjoying have regularity of routine here - however - it is not good for me to have my life uninterrupted by the needs of those around me but outside my immediate family. It’s not natural. I really miss the tiny bit of helping I'm able to do when at home.
- Other people are awesome. Friends truly make the world a much, much, much better place. Talking to a friend or running into someone in the grocery store can often banish the thundercloud that has been following me around all day at home. We miss our people. Friendship is a gift. And you can’t make old friends quick. Thank GOD this is temporary - I could never live like this longterm. I love my people! Maybe I'm more extroverted then I thought...
So, the moral of this story is that if my family and friends could come, start a Mexican restaurant, build some bigger roads, and bring a lot of books then we could make a utopia here. I don't think that's too much to ask.