At The Height Of A British Summer

I tore through a mass of unpacking yesterday, got the washing machine in place, mowed the (small) lawn, and generally attacked whatever else I could think of. Yet there still seems so much to do. You probably know the feeling: in any house move, all you see is what is left to be accomplished!

What still awaits. The unpacking continues. [Photo by me, 2016.]
What still awaits. The unpacking continues. [Photo by me, 2016.]

Leave it to us to move as well over the hottest days of the year here. Don’t be fooled, it can get very hot here. And I shouldn’t complain: at least it wasn’t raining!

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Our Varied Heritages

Ancestry.com is after me again. This below is from an email I received this morning:

Screen capture of Ancestry email.
Screen capture of Ancestry email.

A few years ago through Ancestry, I found one of the ship manifests that included my maternal great-grandmother as a young adult sailing to America. She had traveled with about a dozen other people of varying ages, all from the same village in Sicily. My great-grandfather was in America already, awaiting her arrival.

She was born near Syracuse (as was he). She departed Messina, stopped in Naples, stopped next in Marseille, and from there journeyed to New York’s Ellis Island. It was typical for the time and their nationality.

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“In My Life”

We’re off later to see what will be our latest house starting on Friday. Another moving week ahead.

As I told my dad the other day on FaceTime, “It’s in Hertfordshire, which is pronounced Hartfordsheer.”

“Is that near Midsomer?” he joked.

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To “The Honorable Ezekiel Gilbert”

Yesterday’s post was depressing. The present day isn’t exactly doing it for me lately. I thought let’s have a retreat to the past for this one….

Main entrance. George Washington's Mount Vernon. Virginia. [Photo by me, 2011.]
Main entrance. George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Virginia. [Photo by me, 2011.]
But naturally there were troubles back then, too. Moreover when it came to communicating with our representatives back in the U.S. as to what we abroad were witnessing, there wasn’t even email! And we definitely couldn’t “@” them on Twitter!

We would have sat down and composed an ink-splotted letter by candlelight that we hoped might get to its destination in two or three months if we were lucky….

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As Nationalist Walls Go Up Still Higher

This is quite a serious post. There is no levity in it. Based on what I’ve seen – we’ve all seen – in the last week and a half, I simply want to say this.

United Kingdom voters, as you probably know, voted on the 23rd of June by 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the European Union.

That EU referendum, we all also know, has bitterly divided politics here in Britain.

It’s decidedly one thing flinging insults at total strangers you disagree with – “insane,” “idiots,” “racists,” “Hitler,” “old white trash” – on social media. But this? We’ve discovered friends of ours – she, a non-British EU national and staunch “Remainer,” married to him, a British national and vocal Brexit “Leave” supporter – are practically on the verge of divorce over the referendum’s outcome.

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Stop: Don’t Throw The PC Out The Window

We spent the weekend down in Christchurch….

View towards Christchurch Priory. Christchurch, England. [Photo by me, 2011.]
View towards Christchurch Priory. Christchurch, England. [Photo by me, 2011.]

….visiting with the couple – our former neighbors there, where we used to live – who had generously lent us their flat in Tenerife back in the spring. They are also the inspiration for “Mrs and Mr Hall-Surrey” in the Atlantic Lives novels. And they know they are – and were such good sports about it when they discovered it.

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“Land of lovely dames”

A bit more “history.” Please don’t run for cover. I think you’ll find this amusing – especially given this is 4th of July weekend in the U.S.:

Excerpt, from Kindle for iPad.
Excerpt, from Kindle for iPad.

That excerpt is from a recent biography. The first part is from a 1782 letter written by the subject while he was traveling; the second half is from an 1811 letter he also wrote. In 1782 the writer had made his way across Sweden (including Finland, which was part of Sweden then) while returning from Russia.

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Trapped In “Interesting Times”

I mentioned it yesterday. I’m sure you’ve heard in recent days about the June 23 referendum in which 52 percent of U.K. voters chose to withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union. It has been a controversial choice on those voters’ parts to say the least.

The British losing minority is furious. European Union officialdom is irate. European heads of government are – if not publicly, likely privately – angry. And it seems onlookers in much of the rest of the world are baffled.

The "Big Ben" clock at the Palace of Westminster, London. [Photo by me, 1996.]
The “Big Ben” clock at the Palace of Westminster, London. [Photo by me, 1996.]
A majority of its voters having made their wish known, the United Kingdom is, for the moment, essentially “a pariah state.” This is now “the new normal.” It will likely last for some time to come.

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Back To Britain

Hello again from London! Once more I’m “home” in the United Kingdom….that is also evidently on course to leave the European Union eventually: how our world changes unexpectedly. Incidentally, my Atlantic crossing reading….

[Photo by me, 2016.]
[Photo by me, 2016.]
….from back when the world was dramatically changing in another way. In yet another sense, we are also so privileged to be able to fly the Atlantic in about 8 hours. In the 18th century, it took weeks by sea – if you even managed to survive to get across it.

For Friday evening’s flight from Newark, I got lucky. I was upgraded to a window seat in premium economy – a benefit of being a frequent flier and of perhaps flying alone. I suppose it’s just easier to move you around when alone than if you are in a party of two or more.

For a time, I also thought I had hit the lottery in another way: I had no row-mate in the other seat. That didn’t last, though. About fifteen minutes after take-off, a flight attendant escorted a Finnish woman from behind in economy to the previously empty aisle seat next to me.

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