Saturday, 30 January 2010

Fun with Language (or Raising an "Anglo-Southern" Child)

Crumpet is just over 16 months old, and though she has been saying a handful of words for a few months now (most of them beginning with the letter "b"), it is amazing how much her language has developed in just the past couple of weeks. Water, chair and window are her new favorites. However, it isn't just her vocabulary that is expanding; her accent is also becoming more distinct. It's very amusing to see her point to Daddy's pint and explain, in a very British accent, "Beer!" Then, turning to Mummy's drink: "Tea!" But "tea" sounds more like "tay," confirming that we are not just raising an Anglo-American child, but, rather, an Anglo-Southern one.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

My First London Celebrity Sighting

Okay, so, technically, today's sighting is actually my third since I first started coming to London in 2002. But I don't count the first time, which was on the Gatwick Express after flying in from the US for a visit, because at the time I had no idea who Vernon Kay and Tess Daly were. Nor do I count the second time, when I worked with Jack Black and Amanda Peet.

No, today was what I consider my first real, random celebrity sighting. Walking down Euston Road after work, I saw Jim Broadbent talking on his mobile phone. At least, I am 98% sure it was him. I glanced at him and then did a quick double take, and he gave me a look as if he knew I recognized him. For those of you who don't know who Jim Broadbent is, he's probably most well-known for his role as Bridget Jones's father, although he's been in loads of other things.

Okay, so it wasn't Robert Pattinson or Hugh Grant or anyone else who would have made me faint, but it was the most blog-worthy thing that's happened in a while.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Accidentally French?


In an idle moment at work today (of which I get so few these days), I stumbled upon an article on MSN about the best and worst countries to live in the world. For the fifth year in a row, International Living has ranked France as number 1. This is based on climate, health care, overall quality of life, etc.

So I started dreaming, of course. Of lavender fields and strolling along the Seine on a crisp spring day. Of sipping a cafe au lait on a sidewalk cafe or lingering over a bottle of vin rouge at a cozy bistro. The Other Half and I have often talked about just picking up and moving to France. The fact that we could buy a house over there in cash (not in Paris, mind you, but I could easily trade city life for a farmhouse in Normandy), while here we'd struggle to afford a one-bedroom flat without maxing ourselves out, is one major incentive for hopping the Channel. The fact that we don't exactly speak the language? Well, not so much.

We don't plan on moving anywhere for the next few years, not at least until Crumpet and Crumpet #2 (and, no, there isn't another one on the way yet) are in school, but I've definitely been thinking more and more lately about the allure of running a gîte somewhere in rural France. Who knows, maybe one day Accidentally English might become Accidentally French.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Extreme Weather Conditions

It usually takes me about an hour to get to work (45 minutes if I time it right). This morning, however, it took me nearly an hour and three quarters.

I arrived at my local train station to find that my usual train (the 7:51) was not running. Instead, there was an "emergency" schedule in place, with only two trains an hour. Luckily, the next train was at 7:59, but when it rolled into the station at 8:09, it was completely packed. There was no room to even get on, and those aggressive commuters who did manage to shove their way on were packed like sardines. So my neighbor (who takes the same train as me) and I decided to take a bus to the nearest Tube station. But, as luck would have it, we had just missed one and would have to wait 17 minutes for another. So we walked (or trudged, really) a mile in the snow. When I finally did arrive at work at nearly 9:15, I was huffing and puffing and generally frazzled. Not the best way to start off the new term.

I certainly wouldn't classify a light dusting of snow as "extreme" weather, but apparently National Rail does.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Holidaze

Today's blog entry borrows its title from a recent episode of Grey's Anatomy, but it seems to perfectly reflect the chaos we have been through the past couple of months. That chaos is also what has caused me to be so woefully neglectful of my blog. Each time I have intended to write an entry, something comes up or I find an excuse not to. Or I've just been too overwhelmed and don't know where to start. But with a new year (when did 2010 happen?) comes a resolve (notice I didn't say a "resolution") to write more -- blogwise and otherwise. Here is a recap of the latest.

Shortly after my last entry at the beginning of November, Crumpet contracted a case of the chicken pox. We're not exactly sure how she got it (or from whom), since she doesn't go to nursery or attend a regular playgroup, but we're pretty sure she picked it up from Rhyme Time at our local library. It was not a very fun couple of weeks, although I think it was worse on Mummy and Daddy than it was on her. She wasn't quite old enough to understand that she could itch, which was a good thing because it left her with minimal scarring, but it also meant she was pretty grumpy and miserable. We had a few restless nights, but once the worst of it was over she was back to her usual perky self. Looking on the bright side, at least she got it while she's young, unlike me, who had to endure it at 22, during my first year of teaching. Despite her spots, I was still able to cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for my in-laws.

Not long after she recovered from the chicken pox, Crumpet got a cold (her second of the season), and it seemed like her nose didn't stop running for nearly a week. Just as she got over it, we lost our gas supply and were without heat and hot water for almost two weeks. We were one of 1200 homes in North London affected, so for five days we huddled together in two rooms, heated by little electric fan heaters, and cooked on an electric hob (when we had had enough of takeaways, that is). Luckily, we were able to escape Stateside on Christmas Eve and enjoy the warmth of my parents' home while the gas engineers restored the gas supply, so we didn't have to endure Christmas without heat. Our ordeal even made it onto the BBC News. My brother-in-law can even be seen in the video link for a split second, but I'll protect his anonymity and not identify him....

Just when we thought our troubles were over, Crumpet had a bad fall at Heathrow while we were checking in for our flight on Christmas Eve. I put her down for a second while I put our passports away, and she stumbled and hit her head on the luggage cart. A huge green welt immediately appeared on her forehead. She was screaming and crying uncontrollably, I was screaming and crying uncontrollably, and The Other Half was in a quiet panic, running around looking for ice and demanding that the airline send over the paramedics. Luckily, Crumpet did not suffer a concussion, and within an hour she was happily eating a cookie while the airline called a doctor in the US to clear us for flying (since apparently the altitude can sometimes cause complications with a head injury). As a result, we had to rush through security and just made our flight. Not exactly what you want to go through just before a transatlantic flight, especially when flying makes you nervous anyway (which is more the case for The Other Half than for me, but ironically the more I fly the less I like it). The flight itself was a bit bumpy, and not because of the turbulence. Crumpet slept for only one hour of an eight-hour flight, and most of the rest of the time she was fighting sleep. Now, however, she has fully recovered. The bump on her head has receded, the bruise has faded, and you wouldn't even know she had been through such an ordeal. I think Mummy and Daddy will be scarred more by the experience than she.

After our airport trauma, we had a lovely, yet low-key, Christmas and New Year. We've been very busy the past couple of weeks... doing nothing. Yes, this holiday was much more about relaxing and enjoying the company of family and friends than it was about rushing around seeing things and stocking up on cheaper clothes, books, etc., although I did manage to make a Target run yesterday. I have barely even thought about work, which is a true sign that I have been able to relax.

We head back to the UK on Thursday, and I am less worried about the journey itself than I am about what awaits us when we arrive. The forecast is calling for heavy snow tomorrow in London, to be followed by light snow through Saturday. I just hope this doesn't throw a wrench in our travel plans. At least we have heat now when we return.

Now that the "daze" of the holidays has passed, my aim (again, I refuse to say "resolution") is to get myself more organized and devote more time to writing. I'm even hoping to give my blog a little makeover, but maybe that's being too ambitious. For now, I'll at least try not to leave my readers (all six of you -- just kidding) hanging for two months between entries.