Say what?!

I’ve seen other bloggers with partners from other countries share snippets of the hilarity that can come from language differences, so I’d like to start posting some of ours.

Two Saturdays ago, we were at the grocery store to pick up a few items because we had friends coming for dinner that night. We walked down the beer aisle and this is what happened from there:

Me:  Do we need some more beer? I can’t remember how much we have in the house.

R (in his best attempt at an American accent):  Hmmm…maybe we should get a six-er. 

Me:  What is a six-er?

R:  A six-pack of beer. It’s what you say in the US.

Me:  Ummm no. We call them “six-packs.”

R:  No, you don’t. I’ve seen the movies.

Me:  Wrong. It’s a six-pack.

R:  Call your mum and put her on speakerphone. 

Later in the day, we had a conversation (on speakerphone) with both of my parents in which they confirmed that we do in fact call them six-packs.

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Who is the Brit?

Richardb&w

He’s probably going to be slightly embarrassed by this….

I know I don’t have gaggles of readers, but do those of you who read this blog wonder why I refer to him as ‘the Brit’?

The obvious answer to this is, well, because he is British. Surprised, right?! However, other people close to me began calling him this because, in their eyes, it made him more exotic and he was different from us because he wasn’t from the U.S. It became a sort of a joke when we’d go to my very small hometown in Pennyslvania, and our adopted family member/my brother’s best friend would say, ‘I knew the Brit was here because the tire tracks from the car were on the wrong side of the road!’ And we would all laugh, even if it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. And it sort of stuck. He was the Brit.

At first, I was keen to keep our names off the blog, but then I decided it didn’t make much sense since our photos were up. Duh. Regardless, I still used the Brit when I wrote about him. But, I have to say that I am outgrowing using ‘the Brit’. I think because to me that isn’t who he is. He is Richard and there is so much more to him than that nickname implies. He is the guy who has stolen my heart and has reminded me how life should be lived and makes me laugh a million and one times a day.

Some day, I will share the story of how we met and how we went from being friends to husband and wife, but for now, I think it is important to just say that he is my best friend, the most amazing husband, and my favorite travel companion. And from now on, he’ll be known as Richard around here.

Someone had a birthday last week!

‘Tis true! The Brit celebrated his birthday last week. Let me start by saying that I love birthdays. Love them. I am a jobless graduate student at the moment, so I couldn’t splurge on a big gift or fancy meal for him and this made me a little sad. I think (and hope) that we still managed to have a really great time celebrating!

The Saturday before his birthday we hosted a barbecue at our house. We hadn’t had people around to our house for awhile, so it was nice to have a fairly large group of friends and family over for a casual get-together. It had rained in the morning off and on, but then the sun made an appearance along with the wind. It was an all-around good day that started with us going to see the Olympic torch pass through town and ended (sadly) with England being knocked out of the European Cup by Italy on penalties. (When the football match ended, it was just the two of us left and it was absolute silence in our house. I wasn’t sure if I should say something or not as this was not the ending we were hoping for at all.)

On his actual birthday, we spent the day waking up at 3 AM to drive to London as the Brit is working there at least one day a week now. Because I wouldn’t actually see him much more than an hour or so on his birthday if I didn’t go with him, I figured I would keep him company on the drive. Surprisingly, I only slept for one hour of the ride down and it takes nearly 3 and a half to get there. I wandered around London as the weather was lovely until about 4 PM when it started to rain (surprise, surprise!).

On our drive home, we stopped at the Sibson Inn, which is right off the A1, for a nice dinner. If you are ever driving on the A1 and looking for a meal that isn’t from a service station, I definitely recommend stopping by the Sibson Inn. The food was very good and it offered a good break from the monotony of the motorway.

So, the actual day was a bit anti-climatic, but we were both happy to spend some time together on a mini-road trip. Happy birthday, Richard! I can’t wait to celebrate many more birthdays with you!!

{Road Trip} The ‘Great’ North

Two weekends ago, we road tripped further north to Durham on Saturday then to Newcastle-upon-Tyne on the Sunday. This weekend away was prompted by the Brit’s participation in the Great North Run. (Does the post title make more sense now? :))

It just so happened that the Brit’s friend was also running the race, so he and his wife took the train up from London and we all made the trip north together. I love road trips with friends because the time just flies by as we’re chatting away and catching up on each other’s lives. The two and a half hours was gone in a flash.

We (really the Brit) were in charge of the hotel for Saturday night and they were in charge of the hotel for Sunday night. So, for ‘our’ hotel, we stayed at the Durham Marriott Royal County right in the city center. Upon entering, the staff offered us a glass of wine plus canapés. We all indulged in a glass of wine…we were on a short holiday, after all! After enjoying some more chit-chat in the lounge, we made our way to our rooms, which were nice, clean, and spacious plus with a jacuzzi tub for two in the bathroom. Not that I was surprised, but the Brit had made a great choice!

We strolled around Durham for a bit and towards the Durham Cathedral. To me, it’s a city that personifies what I always pictured of Britain before I visited for the first time in March 2010…cobbled stone streets with not many cars, little shops lining the streets, a castle and a massive cathedral overlooking the city. It was this perfect combination of quaintness and beauty that made Durham so charming.

Streets of Durham

Durham Cathedral is completely awe-inspiring. We toured the interior with mouths agape for most of it. (Sadly, we could not take photos inside, but check out the photos on the web site.) The stained glass, the spires, the tombs, the organ, and the overall attention to intricate detail…it was just phenomenal.

The center spire of the Cathedral.

The view from our hotel room window as sun shines upon Durham Cathedral on Sunday morning.

Durham Castle overlooking the River Wear.

That night, we enjoyed a delicious and fun meal of tapas at La Tasca. The guys probably drank a bit too much wine the night before a big race, but the four of us had a wonderful time laughing and eating!

The next day, we enjoyed the hotel breakfast, which was included in our room price. Of course, the typical English breakfast was being offered with bacon, eggs, beans, tomatoes, potatoes…you get the picture. But, the runners chose wisely and avoided those foods (as did I). Hilariously, after the Brit finished his porridge, he went to get some toast and as soon as he sat down to the table, I was overwhelmed with the smell of garlic. He had actually toasted garlic bread and put jam on it! He didn’t realize until I mentioned it smelled of garlic. Awesome morning selection! 😉

Soon, we were off on the 30-minute drive to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where the Great North Run would start. Luckily, we were able to find the hotel, so we could leave the car and our bags there until we were able to check in. You could tell the guys were getting a bit nervous as we started the long walk to the start line. It was a nice way to enjoy a little tour of the city, though I think I was the only one actually looking around! (I’m not afraid to admit I can sometimes be a bit of a tourist!)

Situated at our place for the start... This run is apparently the world's largest half marathon. I don't doubt it. There were masses of people everywhere.

We said our goodbyes to the guys and wished them lots of luck. We met up with another friend whose girlfriend was running the race and had just come into town for the day. Once we found him, the three of us situated ourselves close to the start to try to spot our runners at the beginning of the race. Immediately before the start the Red Arrows, which are the Royal Air Force’s acrobatic team, did a fly-over and then the elite male runners were off followed closely (but only for a short while!) by the rest of the pack.

The Red Arrows at the start...quite cool!

In the throngs of people, I caught a glimpse of the Brit, but we didn’t see the other two. So, after waiting for quite some time to see them, we decided it was likely we missed them and took off to South Shields via the Metro train to hopefully see the three of them as they finished.

The Brit is in the blue shirt and black shorts almost exactly in the middle of the photo right before coming upon the blue column thingy.

It was wishful thinking to believe we could make it from where we were to the finish in enough time to see them cross the finish line. We were still on the Metro when I got a text from the Brit’s mum saying she just saw him finish on tv. (This race is such a big deal that it was broadcast on BBC!) Mr. Speed Demon totally surpassed his goal time! Once off the train, we still had about a 20-minute walk to the finish. So, a solid 25 minutes after he finished we found him and gave him his jacket and change of clothes. We tracked the other two runners (they also did awesome!) down shortly after and walked to the pub for a celebratory pint…or three.

Happy guys, after the race!

So proud of this guy!

Soon, we said goodbye to the two friends who had just come up for the day and we headed back to the hotel. The Hotel du Vin, which our friends chose, is quite posh. Our rooms had two levels with the bathrooms complete with claw-footed tub and enormous walk-in shower, which were situated upstairs. The toilet and a very small sink were downstairs. (There was a large sink in the upstairs bathroom area.) I wish that I could remember the name of the room (it started with a ‘Y’, I think) we stayed in, but each is named after a brand of wine. Our room was situated in the new section of the hotel, which you can see in the photos below.

The downstairs in our room.

The bathroom area upstairs.

This is the courtyard of the hotel -- the main entrance is to the left, the Bistro is directly in front, and the building we stayed in is to the right.

Since the hotel is a little outside the city center, we chose to eat at the hotel bistro that night. According to our friends, the Hotel du Vin chain is known for its attention to food and wine. The food was good, but the service could be improved. We received the best service from the sommelier, who not only knew the wine list impeccably, but also the entire menu. Of course, he was not serving us, but did help us quite a bit. It was a night to celebrate though, so we brushed off the service and enjoyed each other’s company!

Overall, a great weekend with friends! Big congrats to the Brit for his incredible finish in the Great North Run!

{Road Trip} Abersoch, Wales: Part I

Not long after the Brit and I started dating, he sent me a cell phone picture of the coast of the little seaside village of Abersoch. He always spoke fondly of Abersoch as it’s a place he grew up visiting with his family and we talked about visiting during my 5-week stay this summer. So, when it was decided Abersoch was where we would be celebrating his sister’s 30th birthday, I was really excited!

Welcome to Wales...

The roughly 2 1/2 hour drive (or 2 hour drive when the Brit is driving!) was quite beautiful as much of it follows the coast. Soon, we had arrived at the boat yard in Pwllheli (pronounced puth-HEL-ee) and we were off on the boat to meet the rest of the group. We really  enjoyed the boat ride to Pwllheli, even though it only takes about 15 minutes. The weather was surprisingly good (much nicer than expected) and the views are stunning.

My mom asked me if there was snow on that hill. I should probably start speaking better about the weather in the UK (or learn to take better photos)!

Abersoch is just past that cliff....along with 10 million jellyfish.

We dropped anchor off the beach in Abersoch and all I saw were jellyfish. A lot of jellyfish. Keep in mind, we still had to wade in waist-deep water to get to shore. I’m not usually one to shy away from jumping into water (okay, that might be a small white lie…I am terrified of sharks and other random creatures lurking below), but no way was I getting off that boat and risking a jellyfish sting!

So, the Brit waded to shore narrowly avoiding the sting of no less than 1,000 jellyfish. Meanwhile, I’m on the back of the boat waving to everyone. Ha. Finally, I got the courage to jump into the water and another jellyfish floated by right where I had planned to jump. This happened roughly 5 more times before the Brit took pity on me. He waded back to the boat and proceeded to carry me piggy-back style to shore while I yelled about the jellyfish coming right at us from every direction. Real smooth, Yank, real smooth.(I realize I’m not doing a good job of selling Abersoch. I swear the jellyfish are not always there…only once in awhile. In fact, most of them were gone by later in the afternoon!)

Half of the beach in Abersoch is for swimming and the other half is for boats and jet skis to anchor offshore. The boat-friendly half of the beach is also car-friendly, so people actually launch their boats and jet skis from there. It’s quite a neat system they had set up. The weather was absolutely beautiful that day, so we enjoyed time on the boat and sitting on the beach. It was actually quite hot, but the sea breeze kept you at a perfect temperature.

The Brit showing off his mad wake boarding skills!

After our afternoon on the beach, we were all ready for a shower and a rest. We had arrived too early that morning to check into our hotel, so it was perfect timing for us to take the boat back to Pwllheli and head straight to The Venetia. We received a warm welcome from one of the staff members, who was actually an American woman married to a Welsh man! She took us to our room and showed us where everything was and how our keys worked. Of course, once in the room, my eyes went straight to the tray of freshly-cut strawberry slices and homemade chocolate truffles. (The Brit and I finished those off in 0.2 seconds…so yummy!)

Such a cute place...we stayed in Room Due which are the windows on the top left.

The Venetia is a boutique hotel with five charming and amazingly modern rooms. The rooms are impeccably clean as are the bathrooms. After long days out and about, it was so nice to return to such a comfortable space and fall into such a fabulously comfortable bed, too.

The Venetia boasts a fabulous in-house restaurant. Breakfast is included in the room cost and is delicious. (We also had dinner at the restaurant one night, which I’ll talk about in the next installment!) I’m completely blanking on what I ordered on the first morning, but I know for certain I had the lemon and sugar crepes the following morning. Wow. They were perfectly balanced in flavor with sweet and sour. The crepes were perfectly thin, light, yet surprisingly fluffy in texture. For those craving the traditional English-style breakfast, that was an option as well.

We all had a good chuckle when I ordered water for my drink and the waiter thought I had asked for a latte! I said water a few more times before the Brit just said it and then all was cleared up. The waiter even laughed at that point! (I wish I could say this was the first time that has happened as I attempted to order water! Oh well, it goes with the territory! :))

This is getting quite long, so I’ll continue in another post tomorrow!

Studying (legally) in the UK, Part II

(Here is Part I, in case you missed it! You know, since it is so hard to find it amidst my whopping three posts!)

After the FedEx box swallowed my application, I told my perfectionist self that it was out of my hands and hoped for the best. At that point I had done everything I could have done. It was hard not knowing if I was really going to start graduate school or not, especially because I had no back-up plan which is not typical for me.

A few days after I mailed my application, I received an e-mail that my application had arrived at the British Consulate in New York and was in line to be reviewed by an Entry Clearance Officer. This same e-mail mentioned that I should receive another e-mail stating when it was reviewed with a follow-up message informing me of the outcome. So, I continued to wait.

That same week, the Brit was coming to the US for a quick visit. (I would be doing all the traveling, but my passport was being held hostage, remember?!) I picked him up at the airport on Thursday night, and on Friday, we were enjoying lunch together at my favorite cafe in my hometown. For some reason, as we were waiting for our food, I decided to check my e-mail. There, staring back at me was an e-mail about my visa.

I opened it and the first line was all I needed to see, “Your UK visa has been issued.” YESSSS! (Apparently, they skipped the middle e-mail and just went straight to the good stuff…fine by me!) We were both ecstatic! I planted some big kisses on the Brit and neither of us stopped smiling the rest of the day. (He even beat me at miniature golf that afternoon, and I still didn’t stop smiling!)

So, the process I was most nervous about went better than expected. In a matter of a week and a half after mailing the application, I had my passport back with a fun sticker inside!

Good thing I didn’t have a back-up plan after all!

A snippet of my visa in my passport!