Three things I learned this week and food :)

Well, being sick in England is the same as anywhere else only the cough medicine tastes like root beer. There is always a silver lining. I guess getting use to our new set of germs was inevitable. But it wasn’t fun. I am still coughing and it has been a little over 2 weeks since the first shoe fell.

We discovered a great many things while sick though. First and foremost we found our go to take away 😉 For about a week my sweetie probably felt and looked like a bachelor.  I am fairly sure they felt sorry for him at the take away place, because he went in three days in a row and picked up the same order. haha I just didn’t feel like cooking at all and it was what sounded good to us both.

Secondly, I found every single health food store within walking distance of our flat. I can also tell you what they do and do not carry at each place. It was a very important thing to learn. Now we are all stocked up for our next run in with the local germs.

Last thing I have learned in the past nine days is that auditions are a great deal more fun when they aren’t school related. I need to learn how to make all auditions seem inconsequential. I had the most fun auditioning for Female Chorus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia on Friday. I was still sick, didn’t have my full voice, but felt no pressure at all so I just sang. If I can figure out how to audition like that all the time, it would be really nice. I don’t know if I got the part, its way to soon to know. Even if I didn’t, I know that everyone in the audition had fun. 🙂 So this audition season, Singers, just have fun! Remember that you actually enjoy signing! Auditions make me forget that I love what I’m doing and I CHOSE to sing. That’s my epiphany this week :p

I started cooking again yesterday and its been a treat 😉 Spinach Ricotta Lasagna last night and biscuits this morning!

Dinner Brunch Now to clear the kitchen after brunch and go for a walk on the wall. Still can’t believe I’m walking on something the Romans built.

Happy Sunday!

Time and other matters

Time is a funny thing. In some ways it seems like we have always been in England. It feels very natural and comfortable. In other ways it feels like we just got here, which is the truth 🙂 Yesterday marked a week in our flat and 16 days in York. Wow! What an adventure! Here goes weeks three!

On Wednesday we went to our first Evensong service at York Minster. Ben, the tenor in John’s program sings there so we got to watch him sing and listen to absolutely beautiful music. The choir sang When David Heard by Thomas Tomkins. (Here is a really good recording of the piece:  https://youtu.be/A0zyvkup5tE ). John’s group will also be singing this piece in their first concert in December! I am so excited to hear it again! After Evensong, we went out to  Mama Mia! with Bec (one of the sopranos in the group) and Emi (the alto 😀 ). It was delicious and fun! Next we all met Katie and Owen and at the cinema and partook in the 4oth anniversary singalong of Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail. There is something very special about seeing that film in England on a big screen! Thus ended our first real “night out” in York. I’d call it a success. It has been so lovely getting to know the people John is singing with. They really make me feel at home.

On the food front, because we cannot for a moment forget food ;), I baked a lovely 7up pound cake yesterday. I must pat myself on the back for this particular cake. :p It was incredibly moist, perfectly dense, and exceptionally crispy all at the same time! You would have liked it a lot. The recipe is for a large bundt cake; but since I do not currently have a bundt pan, I made four smaller cakes. I took one down to our sweet landlords and had a little visit with them. I cannot tell you how kind and thoughtful they are. Ray is 77 and a retired plumber. He has the thickest of Yorkshire accents and I don’t always understand him so I smile and nod. Val is in her 60s and so interesting and knowledgeable. Yesterday we asked about the birds we had been seeing in the trees across the road. They are magpies. Beautiful magpies. Val taught us the nursery rhyme:

One for sorrow,

Two for joy,

Three for a girl,

Four for a boy,

Five for silver,

Six for gold,

Seven for a secret,

Never to be told.

Eight for a wish,

Nine for a kiss,

Ten for a bird,

You must not miss.

She said they always come in pairs. I am very excited to get to know them better. John is going to split wood for them next week and probably do odd jobs around the house.

We have phones now. It took a little while but we do. We cannot call internationally… but we can receive calls. I am also on Whatsapp! so that is an easy way to text now that we have more reliable internet, thanks to Ray and Val for letting us borrow theirs until we get our own set up. 🙂

We are incredibly blessed and happy.

The cake.
The cake.
This morning's view from our living room window.
This morning’s view from our living room window.

The Second Week :)

October 8:

We have our own place! We moved in at 2pm! It is so cute and compact. We are flat 7 in a very large 1870’s Victorian row house. It is on the third floor with three windows looking out over Bootham onto a grove of trees. The flat has kitchen/den, hall way/wc, bedroom/shower/sink. It is absolutely lovely and tiny! The landlords, Ray and Val Hudson, live on the first floor. They are retired and so they just spend their time looking after the place. It is a labor of love and it shows.

A little history of the house:

It was built in 1870 by George Fowler Jones as his family’s house. It seems he was  quite a famous architect, having designed several buildings in York. The house stayed in the family for quite some time and then began to change hands. In 1988 the Hudsons bought it and turned it into a guest house. They owned a pub with rooms to rent down the street and so the people staying in the house went over to the pub to eat. Val told me that they originally divided the house into 20 rooms so that 20 Irishmen could stay there. When those fellows moved out, Val and Ray wanted to make flats out of the rooms so they did. Three flats to a floor and then one in the basement and one in the attic. The rooms turned out so nicely. They advertise them as furnished rooms and they mean furnished. Our spot came with toilet paper and cleaning supplies and hangers and pots and pans and plates and cups and throw pillows and pretty much anything you could think of needing. We moved in and were set!

I am looking forward to getting to know Val and Ray. I think they are very neat and interesting people. Now off to get towels and sheets! – and some food to cook in our new tiny kitchen!

October 9:

Today is the first full day in our new spot. We do not have internet here yet so I am writing this on a word file and will upload it at some point in the near future. Our flat is adorable. The kitchen cooked a very tasty dinner, slept very nicely last night, and made a nice breakfast of eggs, croissants, butter and jam this morning.

We walked into town to grab wifi and pick up a few groceries we needed for the day. Last night’s shopping trip was the bare minimum.  Today we got baking stuff 😀 and tea so I am a happy girl. So far we have visited two different grocery stores. Sainsbury’s has excellent produce, very cheap and so very pretty. While Mark and Spencer’s has cheaper dry goods as well as better prices for milk and eggs. It is fun to learn where to shop. Both of these stores are easy to walk to from the flat and very fun to peruse.

I have now sent John of to his choir rehearsal with The 24 and I am sitting on our comfy settee coloring in my coloring book (pictures to come) and reading my book. Life is nice and simple right now. I am really enjoying English life. I am going to try my hand a making chips for dinner! I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

October 10:

Saturday has rolled around again. There is a quiet busyness that comes with Saturdays in York. The town swells with day trip visitors and the street performers and vendors come out in force. There is one crepe cart that always smells so good, but I’m saving it for later. 🙂

We decided it would be a good day to just walk around and try to get internet and  banking stuff sorted. In England it is hard to do either of those things. One must have A for B and C but also have C for A… but at least we know now that it can be done. In the mean time, while we wait for A and B, we got a little wireless data box to help with C. It is super cute and works really well. So that is why I can now post these little tidbits again.

We discovered Poundland in our travels today. Basically a dollar store, it is a great little spot to get toiletries and household goods like soap and toilet paper. Everything is a pound. That makes me happy.

After all of the galavanting, we picked up some salmon and parmesan and came home. A delicious dinner of pan fried salmon and pea risotto followed 🙂 so very tasty. We then had our nightly Aero bar. haha It has become a nice comforting tradition.

By the way, my chips turned out really really well.

October 11:

The days have been beautiful for the most part. There were three days the first week that were dark and rainy but since Thursday we have enjoyed sunny, cool days with very little fog.

We visited the crepe cart for a mid-morning pick-me-up! Nutella and banana crepes are wonderful 🙂 and walking around a walled city, people watching while eating a Nutella and banana crepe is just perfection.

Happy Sunday! 🙂IMG_4071

Stuff we ate :)))
Stuff we ate :)))
Pretty berries on one of our walks
Pretty berries on one of our walks
The Shambles outdoor market :)
The Shambles outdoor market 🙂

Street Performers, food and the first day of school!

October 3:

Apparently on weekends York comes alive with street performers and food carts! Today while walking around city centre we came across a man in the square putting on quite the show. We stood there for 25 minutes watching as the man slowly stripped down to a tank top and tutu from a perfectly tailored brown three piece suit while doing many tricks and funnies. Once unburdened by the suit and several other layers of I’m not sure what, he had crowd volunteers (two men named Stuart) straight jacket him and padlock a long chain around him. In 2-3 minutes he was free of the confinement and we went merrily on out way leaving the square happier than when we arrived.  It was fun. 🙂

IMG_4039

our lovely lunch spot. The sandwich was roast beef and cheese with butter. It was heaven.
our lovely lunch spot. The sandwich was roast beef and cheese with butter. It was heaven.

After the street show we wandered some more and found our way to a little cafe called The Wildes Wine Bar. It was the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sun. We sat and were thankful for the coming year!

October 4:

Sunday is a hard day when you are trying to find a place to live. Nothing new becomes available and none responds to your inquiries. Because of this it was a quiet day. We walked around the city some more and found a Pizza Hut. John thought that sounded good so we went to try it. English Pizza Hut is not the same thing as American Pizza Hut. To begin with, the restaurant is huge and actually pretty… not a little whole in the wall, then the menu is different,  and the waiters wait on you like a real sit down restaurant. We enjoyed the experience!

Last night we stayed at Katie and Owen’s apartment. Katie is singing soprano in the consort with John. Owen was the tenor in the program last year. They are so sweet. We have really enjoyed getting to know them this last 24 hours. They are letting us stay one more night on their couch.

October 5:

Today was the first typically York day: rainy and dark. Today was also the first day of John’s Masters program! He had two rehearsals with two different choirs and a meeting to set up scheduling and what not. It was so exciting! We also looked at two apartments and really hope that tomorrow is the day we move into one! We got fish and chips for dinner and enjoyed it immensely 🙂

We are happy.

John (far right) singing with The 24, an ensemble on top of his consort.
John (far right) singing with The 24, an ensemble on top of his consort.

IMG_4044

The Doors of the two houses we looked at today. We are hoping to move into one of them soon!

The Doors of the two houses we looked at today. We are hoping to move into one of them soon!

IMG_4041 IMG_4040

An idea of the kind of weather and colors that surround us right now.
An idea of the kind of weather and colors that surround us right now.

We walked for miles

October 1st:

Today started out fogy and cold with an amazing breakfast and a visit from the b&b’s resident cat, Tom

pictured here: John and his cat
pictured here: John and Tom, the cat

The breakfast was amazing! John had a full English Breakfast and I had porridge. Mmm mmm

After breakfast we ran around and got a great deal done! John got all registered for everything and picked up all the official cards.

We viewed a little apartment and really liked it. One step closer to having a place to live. So fun!

We walked around the university and got a feel for it. After Oberlin it seems huge! There is no direct way to get anywhere on campus, you must take little paths hither and thither. The calmest ducks I have ever seen live on the lake in the middle of campus. They look cuddly – but Im sure they would have resented being cuddled.

This is Heslington Hall. The oldest building on the University of York's campus.
This is Heslington Hall. The oldest building on the University of York’s campus.

October 2:

We are starting to feel the real effects of jet lag. The its two days were easier because there was so much to do and see. Last night we had the hardest time falling asleep at a reasonable hour. So this morning we were dragging. Also we walked for miles yesterday and today our walks resembled an elderly zombie couple. The bed and breakfast we are staying in has the sweetest people running it. We booked two night with them because that is all they had at the moment but another night became available so we get another lovely night and breakfast here. If you are ever in York stay at The Plough in Fulford. Wonderful people, food, and comfortable rooms.

John had an audition for an extra choir on top of his ensemble. It is called the 24 and it is also directed by the head of John’s program here at the uni (apparently that is the cool way to say university around here 🙂 .) It will be really fun to here all the concerts this coming year.

This evening we went to look at an apartment on Queen Victoria Street. Sadly the place had nothing more than a cute door. It was a very cute door. We will continue our search.

the exceedingly cute door and adorable garden down the road
The adorable garden down Queen Victoria
IMG_4028
The exceedingly cute door (pardon the crookedness)

This evening after the property viewing we took off toward city centre to explore. We went in several little grocery stores and a Boots drug store to get the lay of the land. When we got hungry we came across a lovely little place called Bill’s Restaurant and enjoyed a lovely meal.

So ends day three and it feels like we have been here a week already. Here’s to more adventures and to finding the perfect place to live!

🙂