Welcome! Grab a cup of tea, and enjoy browsing some of the photos and stories. As the 'teawife,' it is my duty to watch and listen and be a supportive friend, and a loving mum and wife. I should post more often, but sticking my nose into everyone's business keeps me busy! Kathy the teawife

Thursday, August 21, 2008



When you live in England, you get the sense that the government wants you to have less of it. The local councils limit the amount of trash that can be collected kerbside, so it’s no wonder that parts of the countryside are littered with abandoned cars, rusty refrigerators and bags of household trash. The unsightly waste strewn along country roads or dead-end lanes can be distressing.

At our new home, household waste will be collected every other week. That’s right – every OTHER week or fortnightly. We are only allowed to have one medium-sized authorized wheelie bin. On alternate weeks, we are allowed to have one bin filled with recyclable materials. We may not allow the items to overflow the bins, or none of it will be collected.

We are desperately trying to figure out how we will manage with such limited rubbish collection. I’ve already lost sleep about the situation, and I haven’t even moved into the house yet! The current owners of the house asked for an additional bin, and they were flatly denied. The only exceptions are for extra large families or those with newborns (i.e. to dispose of the environmentally unfriendly nappies).

We’ve been trying to figure out our options to dispose of the waste greenly and legally.

1. Start a compost pile. We had two large compost bins at our old English home, Keepers Cottage, when we previously lived in England. Composting is a great way to get rid of the biodegradable waste products from the kitchen, house and garden. My friend Catherine said that paper is also wonderful in the compost pile. This is great; however, we now have a garbage disposal for food scraps.

2. Looks like we will be hand delivering bags of trash to our local council sponsored dump, if I can figure out where it’s located!

3. Buy a paper shredder so that it takes up less volume.

4. Buy a trash compactor to make the trash less bulky . . . but wait . . . that costs way too much money!

When we previously lived in the countryside, neighbors took care of their extra waste by burning it. Like dumping unwanted trash in the countryside, this option is hardly environmentally friendly. Now we will be living on the fringe of a village, and we won’t be able to get away with fires, anyway.

The easy answer would be for the council to authorize additional wheelie bins and more rubbish collection. Instead, they use the excuse of the “green theme” to justify not collecting trash and spending the funds. Very frustrating!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Trip to Guildford

One of the towns in Surrey that I’ve always enjoyed visiting is Guildford on the River Wey. It has lots of character and tons of shopping, which was the draw for me!

When we lived in Keepers Cottage near Merstham (from 2000-2002), I used to travel to Guildford every other month or so. The drive used to take about 45 minutes, utilizing busy motorways, including the always unpredictable M25. Now the drive is much easier as we are living off the Guildford Road, and it is a convenient 20 minutes away.

Even though I used to drive into Guildford somewhat regularly, I was very much out of practice. I decided our shopping needs were strong enough that I would brave the congested traffic in the city center of Guildford. The drive along the Guildford Road was really pleasant, and things didn’t become more difficult until we reached the city center and tried to determine which road to take to park. As it turned out, getting in and out of the parking was the only tricky part of the trip, and even that wasn’t too bad.

However, the weather was a bit of a challenge. Although the skies were blue with fluffy clouds when we left Leatherhead, we knew that rain and strong winds were coming at some time during the day. For those familiar with English weather, you know that it can change in the blink of an eye. We had been on the High Street for only five minutes when the sky opened up and buckets of rain started pelting us! I had an umbrella that already was on its way out; Branduff had no protection. My umbrella actually gave me little protection as the winds were so strong that the frame turned inside out and bent beyond repair. Oh well! I wouldn’t melt!

Branduff and I managed to find the Friary Mall in Guildford, and we ducked into it, along with the entire population of the town! We were packed tight in the mall, but at least we were drying out. While there, we did some critical shopping, including sports shoes for Branduff, who seems on a mission to grow right now.

Afterwards, we were able to sneak between rain showers to walk up the street to the Fridays for a bite to eat. Before we got there, Branduff found a toy store and made a beeline for the Lego section. Branduff and Niall spend a huge amount of time building Lego worlds; in addition, Branduff uses the Lego people to make stop animation videos. The stock clerk was busy working in the section, and she said, “If you wait 20 minutes, this entire shelf will be filled as we just received a huge order of new Legos.” Branduff and I looked at each other and decided to go have lunch and come back.

It was 12:30 p.m., and I expected a huge crowd in there, but it was eerily quiet, with only about six diners. The staff had time to kick back and watch the BBC coverage of the Olympics. Everyone was transfixed on Michael Phelps of the US as he had just clenched his sixth gold medal of the games at that point.

We returned to the toy store before leaving Guildford, and Branduff found yet another Lego set (featuring brand new Clones) to add to his collection.

All in all, we had tons of fun, even in the rain! It is great to live in a place that has so much complexity and richness that an outing to shop in Guildford is more fun than I ever had living in Abu Dhabi.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Waiting to Move

I should be using this blogsite daily or nearly daily; however, I have been very bad about staying in touch! Now there seems so many things to tell you about that I don't even know where to start! One of the things that seems to preoccupy my mind is our home in Fetcham (see below).

We still have 3 weeks until we move into our new home in Fetcham. We plan to visit with the owners of the home tomorrow. They are also expats like us . . . wandering souls who go where their company takes them. They are bound for Trinidad in late August.
I must say that they have done so much with their home in the few years that they lived there. They have lovingly refurbished and renovated the kitchen, living rooms and bathrooms. I feel quite lucky to be able to live in their home while they are overseas.
It's only been recent that English homes have started to experiment with great kitchens and open living spaces, which is so typical of many homes in the United States.
Previously in old English cottages and homes, the bottom floor would be chopped up into individual "reception" rooms of a dining room, formal living room or parlour, and casual or family living space. The fact that this home has a wide open modern kitchen with Italian range, granite countertops and light wood cabinets is truly special. As you can see from the photo, there is an eat-in granite table; in addition, the kitchen flows into a spacious open dining room.
From the dining room, the hallway flows into the long expansive living area featuring two fireplaces made in Portugal. The property is stunning. The owners have the living room visibly (but not physically) split into two by using two separate suites of leather furniture. We plan to do something completely different, and I'll post photos when we're done. More than likely, I will have my computer in the living space (pictured below), overlooking the back garden.

Incredibly, we still are a bit short on space for our needs! A friend exclaimed, "You have five bedrooms. What are you going to do with all the space?" But I know we will struggle to find room for our bookcases, hutches and cabinets! At the same time, while we might have to lose some furniture, we will have to purchase a wardrobe or two.

Our master bedroom with ensuite bathroom is massive and stretches over the width of the garage, so it is really roomy and has massive IKEA wardrobes and storage. None of the other bedrooms have closets or built-ins, so we have to purchase wardrobes (which take up more space!).

Niall needs an office/study for his computer and library; he needs the space and quiet for concentrating on our finances and future! His office is a really good size and overlooks the back garden.

The guest bedroom is simply gorgeous -- it has a big brand new bathroom. If you are coming to visit us, you will find this bedroom a nice sanctuary and spa get-away!
Son Branduff will have a good-sized bedroom with views of the front garden and the extensive fields across the road. He also will have a very small second bedroom to use for his computer, digital piano and games. Fortunately, he has outgrown the age of big toys and games that require a gigantic playroom.

I was hoping to end up with a designated craft room, but that won't happen, unless I inhabit the lovely, lovely guest room. But where would all of you stay when you come to visit? I just hate to lose a guest suite, even if the room is occupied only a fraction of the time. In addition, I find I spend most of my time downstairs in the kitchen and living area, and I am going to try to set up my computer and craft area down there. I think I can do it without driving my family crazy with the clutter! This time, I won't have a little "boutique shop" in my house, the way I did in Abu Dhabi. There, I actually had a large metal display spinner and shelves to display stuff for sale. There are enough stamp and craft stores here that I don't need to have my own business; I'm going to be just an artist! Whoo-hoo!
As you can tell, I am quite excited about our September move into our new home. I stay awake at night, virtually placing furniture and determining how everything will look and function! For the time being, we are still in our two-bedroom apartment in the heart of Leatherhead. We've had lots of fun walking to local pubs and restaurants and strolling around the city center. We do miss our doggie Sophie very much (no pets allowed at this apartment complex), and we will be happy when we are able to collect her from the kennels, where she is "vacationing." We have visited her twice since we've been here, and she seems so happy and "full of beans." Even with her happy disposition, we know she'll be even happier to be "home."
And so will we!