31 October 2009

31st October

I'm bringing the picture of the day project for October to a close with a visit to the lovely Coombe Country Park. It's about 5 miles outside of town and completely worth the drive/bike/bus ride. I'm sure the time of year had something to do with winning me over. The park has a huge abbey where you can stay the night or get married, or both. In fact, I saw two brides, and I was only there a couple of hours. There were a lot of other people enjoying the park today, allowing me to feel entirely safe. There was also a food stand, donkey rides, and possibly the greatest playground I've seen. It was like a ropes course for kids, awesome.
Strictly speaking I wasn't allowed to ride my bike down their tree lined, smooth, beautiful, perfect paths. But I did anyway. It was awesome, and it turns out that the crap bike likes trails!
So, happy Halloween, and I hope you enjoyed the pics.

30 October 2009

Plug follow up

When I first arrived, I had the great idea of using a US power strip to power all of my US electronics at once. Genius, right? Of course not! When I plugged it in on the first night, I nearly caused a fire and needed new pants.
So, instead I decided to plug things in individually, using the adapters that I had brought. I had to buy these in a bit of a rush on ebay because the one I originally had only allowed for two prong items to be plugged into it (as opposed to the thee prong plug on most things i.e. laptops).
This worked, but not really. I was afraid of it because it would occasionally spark when I plugged it in. Silly me.
When this adapter failed to work in the library, worried that I would burn it down, I set off to buy an adapter that had a fuse or a voltage adaption feature. I found one with a fuse so I bought it for 7 pounds. Victorious, I plugged the lappy in and it didn't spark once. Totally worth the money, right? Of course not!
The next day, wandering aimlessly, I found another plug adapter with a fuse fore 2.50! I bought it thinking I could return the more expensive one. Wrong, so now I have two.
Today, a few weeks later, I went to the ASDA, and guess what I found? A plug adapter with a fuse for 1.50! No, I didn't buy it but I may have cursed aloud.
Lessons learned. So, if you're traveling to the UK and need an adapter, either buy one from me, or go to ASDA. Plug rant over.

30th October

The quintessential picture of Coventry: Lady Godiva.

29 October 2009

29th October

Because I don't have a job, without shame I went to the local ASDA (the UK wal-mart). Here I got shampoo for 0.12 pence, and many other good buys. I was again fascinated by UK retail and I'm pretty sure I love it. I couldn't buy too much as I was on the bike, but I now have more confidence that I will not be completely destitute next year.

Afterward, I rode the bike back toward home. I got a great free bike route map so I was far less worried about being lost. Though, I will admit I got a bit...misplaced, but that can be a good thing.

28 October 2009

28th October

Late-night Christmas light hanging, just outside my door.

27th October

I know, I owe you a picture of the day for yesterday. But as for today...At 1030 last night, I had literally just stepped out of the shower when the fire alarm went off. Under normal circumstances this would have yielded some irritation, but being soaking wet and undressed really added another dimension of inconvenience. So, I hastily dried off and haphazardly threw clothes on, and by the time I was downstairs I realized that I didn't have my glasses. Oh well, at least I was dressed.
Again, our security arrived, and again so did the fire engine. Sweet. The fire alarms now have become more of a social gathering, so soon as we were let back in, I grabbed my glasses and camera we all hung out for awhile with some beers. It was all too easy to forget that it was a Tuesday night; we were having a good 'fire alarm after party'.

I left there with two of my friends around one. My hand was on my door handle when we noticed that an unusual number of people were out and about in the next hall over. We went to investigate and found a resident laying on the floor half in the hallway, basically writhing around in pain. Apparently she'd been sick all day and had stumbled into the hall and started shouting, effectively scaring the crap out of her neighbors. One girl said "I think she's dying!" and my friends turned to me as I happily went to check her out. Long story short I don't know what was wrong with her, but she wasn't enjoying herself at all. They called the "triple 9s" and we waited for the ambo. I collected her necessary things, and it turned out that we got a paramedic car instead of an ambulance. The medic was hilarious and had great banter.
I didn't want to make a nusance of myself, cause I'd hate to have a nosy paramedic lurking around my scene. He was alone, but it was clear he was used to working by himself and had everything well in hand. He gave her an IV and some morphine which helped her out a bit (treating abdo pain? no way!). We waited for a while, made small talk, he gave me contact info to schedule a ride along, and then we walked her downstairs to his car and off they went. I was back in my room by two, hyped up over not one, but two blue light vehicles at my building in one night! Awesome.

26 October 2009

26th October

Vegetable extracts. Why?

25 October 2009

25th October

Beautiful Stratford Upon Avon.
And Holy Trinity Church.

24 October 2009

24th October

Today I had some trouble deciding on the picture of the day. From ten in the morning, it was quite clear. But I didn't think that my afternoon would be as fun and nice as it was. So, I opted for two. At 1030 this morning the fire alarm went off. Thanks to all the early morning tests I think almost everyone waited a minute before actually leaving the building. Of course, it is chilly in the mornings, especially when it's raining.
So we all met outside each other with sleepy eyes and pajamas, confused and irritated. No one reported smoke on their floors or anything weird. Our security arrived as did the fire brigade. Now being outside in the rain was worth it! It turned out nothing was on fire and I assume someone burnt their breakfast. In the afternoon I had a Chinese buffet for lunch and walked to the war memorial park. After the earlier rain, it turned out to be a beautiful day, perfect for enjoying the turning leaves.

One Month In

I have certainly had an adventurous, educational, and unexpected first month in Coventry. I would not admit all of my fears about moving a month ago, but there were plenty. I was worried that stores I needed would be far away and I’d have to lug groceries for miles, but most stores are just out my back door. I worried that I’d never meet anyone, but meeting people has been easy, as I am not the only alone foreigner. I have gotten very good at walking into situations where I know I don’t know anyone. I mostly worried that I was under qualified to be accepted at school in the first place. Our class has such varied backgrounds, I feel like I fall somewhere in the middle. But ask me in a couple of weeks when I’m sweating over my class assignment.

A few things are “worse” than I expected. I am still disillusioned that UK public transport is neither fast nor cheap (in general). Recycling is not universally required, and I can’t find a recycle bin to save me. Salad is expensive and so is beer. And speaking of beer, I saw someone buying Budweiser at the grocery store and I almost physically prevented them from doing so.
I only just got a phone because after getting a bank account and debit card, I still was ineligible for a contracted plan as I have absolutely no UK credit. It never occurred to me that credit didn’t follow you around all over the world (so thank you vodafone). Also, I report with no ill will that a lot of people don’t know where Maryland is, but then again, I can’t pronounce or locate Gloucestershire.
I'm still not sure about room temperature eggs.

I think my brain has been struggling a bit while I have been here. It is confused, trapped between vacation world and student world. One minute I am working hard on my paper, the next I am wandering around a museum like I have all the time in the world.
Though I have had a lot of it, I feel like if I am doing nothing with my down time, it is a monumental waste. This week I was panicking a bit, not because I have homework, but because I didn’t have anything planned for the weekend. So I spent a few hours researching my “list of places I want to see” and got caught in a circle of non helpful information about getting to the Yorkshire Dales (is there an easy, inexpensive way to get there, stay there, and enjoy the area without a car?)
I’m like a toddler who refuses to sleep because they’ve just realized that life is interesting and they don’t want to miss a minute of it.

It has also been a strange balance of funds and a difficult transition back to that aspect of student life. I literally can’t afford to buy food that I don’t eat. Though I have been a super sleuth about finding free meals; going out for dinner nearly sends me in a panic as I can have one meal out, or feed myself for a week with the same money. I know that subsequent months will be better as I have been dealing with the “start-up costs” of living abroad.

I am far better at understanding people, though there are still a few instances of having a ridiculous exchange with someone, where I force them to repeat themselves three times, and by then I just smile and nod, hoping that I’m not agreeing to something I don’t mean to be. I still pronounce words with a distinctively strong American “r” though I have noticed myself adding a question onto the end of statements. “Then we’ll take the 3:00 bus, yeah?” or, “It's a beautiful day, isn’t it?”

I am newly conditioned to look right first when I cross a street and even on the bike I was able to successfully make right turns without losing my nerve.

So, I hope you’re enjoying reading the blog as much as I am enjoying updating it. More to come.

23 October 2009

23rd October

Christmas preparations in the city center.

Mobile


A brilliant compilation of the "giant phone" prank. Yes I have the same ringtone! No, it is not as obnoxious.
Trigger Happy TV - Giant Phone Compilation

22 October 2009

Trauma (reprise)

I’ve finally caught up on the last few episodes of “Trauma.” I am left wondering if it was be meant to be humorous or depressing for current EMS providers. It’s not exactly littered with inaccuracies, just a few glaring ones instead. For example: let’s work this code for about a minute, let’s enter this burning building, let’s confront this gang, let’s go into a building with a psychotic gunman on the loose, let’s fly this ankle fracture, let’s forget to triage people, let’s crash a car into whatever we want, let’s use our x-ray vision, let’s suture iliac arteries on the street. Most of these things left me whacking my head against the wall. At least they didn't shock asystole!
I get what they’re trying to convey most of the time, but it may be because I’m a medic. The job is already cool; you really don’t have to keep putting your medics in stupid situations to make it cool. And to be more realistic I think they should do some real EMS and do something boring for once!

One thing I do like about the show is that it builds up situations making you think, “oh, a lot could go wrong here.” And once you think you’ve figured what will happen, something absolutely ridiculous does. I’ve laughed aloud as much watching this as I do watching 30 rock.

22nd October

Today's post is brought to you by the worlds smallest milk. Note the penny for scale. Awww!

21 October 2009

21st October

I spent most of the day working on my paper. Then I went to a halls representative training, which basically spent an hour and a half telling me that if I have a specific problem in my hall, to refer to page 1 of the hall rep handbook. Not rocket science really. I then went to a class at church which I'm sure I'll have more to say about later. I didn't do anything particularly exciting, but did take a few minutes experimenting with low light photography. These were both taken at the same time of day (the dark) with different settings. I am not a photography genius so it's guess and check for me. This is the steeple of Holy Trinity church, I'll bring the tripod next time.

20 October 2009

20th October

Not kicking a ball or the former currency of Ireland. The Punt. Flat bottomed boat propelled by pushing a long pole against the riverbed. Formerly used to traverse shallow waters and hunt ducks. Currently used to take tourists down English rivers.
I was in Cambridge today, where punting is a favorite pastime. We did take a floating tour down the river Cam, which was actually very nice and informative. I know a lot more random things about Cambridge than I did before. (which means a bit more than "Cambridge has a really old university.") They also have a library designed by Sir Christopher Wren that houses the first edition of "Winnie the Pooh".
Also, a "stupendous" (accurately described by my Godfather) collection in the Fitzwilliam Museum, which has things from Egyptian artifacts to Monets; so something for everyone.

19 October 2009

19th October

The beautiful interior of Holy Trinity Church here in Coventry. I really like the windows here, but am more intrigued by their light fixtures. Hurray for energy efficiency in a 13th century building.

18 October 2009

18th October

After going a few miles out of my way, I found the London Road Cemetery that I had been looking for. I can't wait for my new map to arrive.
What I came to find was the civilian memorial, built for those who died during the Coventry blitz in 1940, and many of those victims are buried here. It's a really huge cemetery, with a distinctive old and new section. The old section gave me a very creepy vibe, so I didn't stay long. The newer area was nice and far less creepy. Also, my mother has a particular interest in cemeteries, so I took a few extra pictures for her. If you're also interested, you can find them online here.

17 October 2009

17th October

Kenilworth Castle. Lovely place, worth paying to get in. Parts of it were built in 1125! The castle was changed a lot over the years, most notably, all the green you see in this picture would have been filled with water in the early 1200's thanks to King Johns attempts to improve its fortification. Fast forward to the 1930's, the castle gate was still used as a residence.
It is (like every English tourist attraction) full of all kinds of nerdy history, King Edward II abdicated the throne here in 1326 and, Queen Elizabeth I visited several times during her reign.
I rode the bike here, it's only about 12 miles there and back, but it has been a long time since I biked that far!

16 October 2009

16th October

I love EMS. Here is my future ambo. I had my first meeting with the SJA "adult" unit this evening. They seem like good people, and are doing their best to get me out of some/most/all of the required SJA training. And, they have an ambulance! And a bike. And a van.
I'm hoping (and I think they are too) that I'll be able to help them with training and with responses and doing standby time with them. It all sounds pretty good to me, and I'm really glad I went. It cheered me up after a frustrating afternoon. Nothing serious, just that getting a contract cell phone here is somehow more difficult than getting a student visa!

15 October 2009

Queuing, et al.

After inductions, sorting out enrolment, checking books at the library, shopping, and using cash machines, I think I have moved from novice to intermediate, because I have stood in a lot of queues in the last two weeks.
I always show my commitment to the line and wait patiently. I give a wide space between myself and the person using the cash machine. I sigh quietly, give long glares, and shift my weight angrily when someone queue jumps (I certainly don’t say anything to them). If there is any queue confusion, I look to the other person involved and gesture kindly toward the till (and they do the same to me until one of us reluctantly approaches the counter) and if it’s me, I feel slightly guilty at the misunderstanding.

Which brings me to the word “till.” I can’t think of an American equivalent, and I’ve heard it so often here that I wonder how we can survive without an alternative. I guess we say “checkout” but I really only think of checkouts in grocery stores. What do we say in clothing stores? “The cashier?”

Of course I have noticed many small differences between the UK and the US, but as I am not the first American to realize that jumpers and sweaters are the same thing, I won’t list them all.
I did find “pudding” intriguing. At first, I just thought that the Brits just really liked pudding, but when I went to get mine at a recent Church function, it wasn’t pudding at all. It was pie. I had to ask, and for some reason pudding has become a blanket term for dessert. In fact, it’s most likely not pudding at all (at least not by my definition).
But sometimes pudding can refer to something far more sinister than a pie. Blood pudding for example, which is actually made with blood, is decisively not a palate cleanser. Yorkshire pudding, on the other hand is not sinister (can be a bit gross depending on what it’s fried in), nor a dessert. It is just some friend dough, a lot like a popover, served with classic Sunday roast.
It gets confusing!

British blog readers please set me straight if I’ve gotten something wrong.

15th October

I promise the pictures will be more interesting after this week!
But these things are interesting on a logistical basis. My student card, of course is great. Especially as it gets me into buildings and allows me to check out library books.
My Sainsbury's nectar card (which I haven't quite figured out yet) and my Tesco card. Woot, discounts at grocery stores.
More importantly is my British debit card. Not only does it feature the 2012 Olympics on the front, but it has a smart chip in it. This was popular in the US a few years ago, but didn't catch on like it did here. Nobody swipes a card here, they stick it in a machine! Oooh! Anyway, goodbye foreign transaction fees at amazon.co.uk!
Most importantly is my NHS (national health service) medical card. This entitles me to free socialized healthcare and £7 prescriptions (which is really quite cheap).

14 October 2009

14th October

The fridge. Note, that I do not call it a "mini" fridge. This is standard UK size I think, or maybe even a little bigger. Courtesy of my good friend Jean, who is better to me than I deserve.
I have stocked up on some of the essentials. Tiny milks, salad cream, "lemonade," and crumpets (which are delicious by the way, nooks and crannies and all).
I also purchased some peanut butter, something that I think America has perfected. It is not quite the same as what I'm used to, but unlike American peanut butter, it only has three ingredients.

There are so many products to try in the grocery store. As a lover of foreign groceries in the first place, I love that I have as much time as I could ever want to wander carefully down the aisles, taking it all in. I have been especially amused by "American" products including a disgusting looking jar of hot dogs and potato skins with sour cream in a box with the stars and stripes on it.
It is true that you have to bag your own groceries here, which does add a certain pressure as most of the checkouts are pretty short. Also, the bags are just in a big stack, they don't even have the (for lack of a better term) "things that hold the bag open" at the checkouts.
Bringing your own bag is even more emphasized here as opposed to home. I'm not sure if people are better at remembering though.

13 October 2009

Katrina

Day two of Disaster theory was a very informative day. There was lots of stuff about theories, and disaster models, and other stuff that's not extremely interesting. We also had a discussion about disaster recovery and comparing that of first world to third world nations. We were given our assignment for this module, which so far seems very doable.

Before lunch we watched two short videos about hurricane Katrina. This is definitely an excellent example of everything we want to and are going to learn. What I didn't expect was while these videos played, I suddenly wished for a hole to open up in the floor, so that I could drop into it.
I felt so full of shame watching Americans struggle without hope from the government or each other. I watched helplessly at footage of the superdome and convention center that was simply awful. I know Katrina was awful, but for the first time I felt like I really stuck out as an American. They even showed all the moronic clips of Brown and Bush making stupid excuses about the response and scale of the problem and I just wanted to bang my head against the table.

In the end, no one called me out on it for which I was grateful, though we did have an interesting chat about it during lunch, as my British classmates were curious about my thoughts and I was curious about theirs. I was expecting to discuss Katrina, and I'm sure we will more in the future, but I wasn't expecting to feel so guilty about it.

13th October

I had my first training with St John ambulance this evening. Because it would cost about $600 dollars for the UK Health Professions Council to "appraise my prior learning" as a paramedic, I am biting the bullet, and sitting through SJA's basic courses. It's only a few hours, and really wasn't as torturous as I thought it would be. Though next week I know I will have a hard time not telling everyone to "push a little harder" while doing CPR.
Tonight we did the basics of dealing with an unconscious patient and some bleeding control. It was only two hours, and I wasn't too bored. They use DRABC: Danger, Responsivness, Airway, Breathing, Circulation. They like to call it "Dr. ABC" but I prefer Drab C. I'm still partial to scene safety/BSI, AVPU, and ABCs, but this gets the job done for the lay person pretty easily. Plus, a tap on the shoulder is not nearly as much fun as a sternal rub. Oh well.
Oh, and this country, or at least the under 25 crowd don't get the "I've fallen and I can't get up" joke. We watched a little video, I think it was on how to make tea, when of course someone ended up on the floor.
Instructor: "So, what's happened to him?"
Student: "He's fallen over."
Me: "...and he can't get up." giggles to self.
Nobody: got that but me.

12 October 2009

Back to School

Today was the first day of class. I met a lot more of my classmates and had a pretty nice day. My class is about 20 students strong, all from different backgrounds and regions of the world including several countries of Africa, Cyprus, France, UAE, the UK and the 1 from the US of course. I'm very happy to be getting what will be a global education both socially and academically.
This class is also a mix of part time and full time students. Some of the full timers started last January, and some, like me are on their first module.
There are eight modules between now and the spring, this week is Disaster Theory and Practice. Classes go for one week every day 9-5 and are a mix of lectures and group work, then we have three weeks for self study and to complete our module assignment (a 4000 word essay or report).
Our main lecturer is from Canada (who has worked in the UK for 25 years) the other is from South Africa, who I think will bring a unique perspective.
There are no required books, but a wide range of "suggested reading" that I am sure will be out of the library from now until next fall. So I may have to buy a couple of them for myself. It can't be as bad as medical textbooks!

Baptism Sunday, again!

Yesterday morning I went with a friend to the Holy Trinity Church. This is a beautiful old (founded in the 12th century) building. It is very near the cathedral, and I figured I'd mix it up and visit as many of the different local churches as I could.
I had a sudden déjà vu as we found our seats and I flipped through the bulletin. "It's baptism Sunday!" I frantically whispered. I again had that fleeting moment of panic as I considered running toward the exit. How could I have stumbled upon two in a row?!
We stayed of course and it wasn't really all that bad.
It was a nice service and we even sang "Lord of all hopefulness," one of my favorites. The only thing was that they had all the words wrong. I mean every single one. Same tune though, so it was the easiest thing to sing so far in my church of England adventures.

12th October

My "two ring binder" and ever exciting A4 paper. It says wide ruled but really it looks like college ruled.
Also there's my two hole punch.
I think three rings is much more sensible.

11 October 2009

11th October

Medieval Spon street. This is about as lively as I've seen it, but it's still cool.

10 October 2009

10th October

Cov kayak time!

Memory aids

I thought of something brilliant to write about last night. Unfortunately I had already climbed the ladder, turned off the light, and laid down. It was so good, I congratulated myself for being so clever and it was the last thing I thought of before closing my eyes, promising myself that I would remember it in the morning. As I slept I dreamt about Eddy Monsoon and meeting Barack Obama (I had him autograph a receipt.) When I woke up this morning, that brilliant line I had thought of was foremost on my mind.

It's four hours later now I still can’t remember what it was.

Now to put a pad of paper and a pen “upstairs.”

09 October 2009

False alarm

Okay, this picture is not good of anything, but it's here only for reference. The purple thing is my duvet. The thing about four feet above it is the fire alarm/smoke detector. Boy that's close.
This morning, after staying up quite late to communicate with people on eastern standard time, I was snoozing away, warm in my bed, enjoying the ever cloudy English mornings.
Suddenly, I was jolted awake by the fire alarm. I am so used to such awakenings, that rather than worry about a fire, I immediately started to shout expletives at it, and made feeble attempts to cover it with my hands and pillow. I looked down to make sure my room wasn't filling with smoke and a few more expletives later I had clambered down the ladder, just as the alarm stopped. One more expletive for good measure and I popped my head into the hallway to see a couple of my equally confused neighbors. One went to inquire and returned shortly to report that it was merely a fire alarm test.
Now fully awake and irritated, I used most of the remaining morning to watch episodes of Ab Fab, perhaps the best show ever on television.

9th October

The Coventry canal basin. A cool and strangely unpopular place. People live in houseboats on the canal, there are a few stores (including where I got the bike) and on the weekends the Mercia Canoe Club have an open paddle. Yeah that's right, a £4 (including rental) one hour open paddle session. Hopefully it's not raining tomorrow!
(I cheated a bit, I didn't take this today, as it's raining. Big surprise)

08 October 2009

8th October

How English.

07 October 2009

7th October

The new wheels. Sorry it's not a very glam location (the bike store room in the basement) but a picture of it to day was pretty much required. I found this for £30 (<$50) which, considering it has wheels, brakes, pedals, and a seat is not too bad. I've added a little light, a bell, and my mirror (on the correct side.) I am hopefully getting a helmet tomorrow, then it's game on! I have to remember only two things: they drive on the left here, and the brakes are on the opposite hands.

06 October 2009

The Blitz

I just watched a BBC special called "Blitz: The bombing of Coventry" What an amazing thing to watch while sitting here in the heart of the city, warm and safe in my room, so far from being huddled in a bomb shelter fearing for my life.
November 14 1940, after 10 hours of German bombings, 568 civilians were killed, and three quarters of the buildings in Coventry were destroyed. Here's a short video for those not in the UK. But if you can watch this, please do. I hope like me, you'll come out with a new appreciation for this great city.
(photo taken from the daily mail)
I could nerd out about this too, but I'll leave at that....for now.

6th October

Not sure which sounds worse, a flu jab or a flu shot.

05 October 2009

Baptism Sunday!

Yesterday morning I went to church in Coventry Cathedral. It was very similar to our episcopal church services at home. Some of the wording was different, and they have a "Verger" and a "Curate" (1st year vicar as far as I can tell) which we don't have but everything else is largely the same. I was amused when I flipped through the bulletin, I let out a familiar groan and instinctively looked toward the exit as I noticed it was baptism Sunday! Really it wasn't too bad, and I got to see them use their very cool baptismal font that is a hollowed out boulder from Jerusalem.

Afterward I found myself at a lunch there to discuss international students/parishioners. So that was excellent, as the combo of free food while meeting good people never goes amiss.

Consecrated in 1962 (when the Queen herself broke a bottle over it), this is the youngest cathedral in Britain, and I was pretty excited when I realized that my church at home is actually older than one here. Very excited.
Now the old cathedral was built in the 14th century-ish and was destroyed in November of 1940 when Coventry was heavily bombed during WWII. They did not rebuild it, but rather left it as a visual memorial and reminder of what people can do to each other. The "new" cathedral, St. Michael's Cathedral formally, was built directly attached to the ruins to show the bridging of the old and the new. Rightly so, all of Coventry is interested in the reconciliation after the war, rebuilding the city, stiff upper lip and all that. The symbol of Coventry is the phoenix, of course due to the birds rebirth and rising from the ashes to be better than before.
All cathedrals everywhere are built on a North/South axis. The new cathedral here is on the East/West axis, which serves I think only as a bit of trivia. (okay, nerd rant over)
The tapestry inside is the second largest in the world. It used to be the largest of course, then someone with a ton of money decided that they wanted the largest tapestry in the world so they got to sewing.
So, it's a pretty cool place, lots of modern things, mixed with some traditional things. I like it mostly, but I'll leave it for you to decide.

5th October

Some pics of the Cathedral.

04 October 2009

Bonus Pic

Bonus pic before the joke gets too old, I was going to put one up but wait, someone has something more important to say...

4th October

A sweet vintage St. Johns ambulance in the Coventry Transport Museum. A must see!

03 October 2009

Shopping adventures

So, right outside my door is the first and one of the largest pedestrian shopping areas in the world. Every store one could imagine is there, and even though I generally hate retail, I have wasted a lot of time just wandering around observing things. This place is always busy even in the middle of the week. Oh, except for after 6pm when absolutely everything save the Tesco metro shuts down. Then it is a very boring place indeed.
Today I spent the morning in search of nothing in particular. There are three outdoor stores within 5 minutes of eachother which pleases me. The IKEA is easily less than a 10 minute walk. A full size Sainsbury's is about 5 minutes away. After living the last two years within walking distance to one grocery store, a liquor store, and a bank, the choices before me now are fantastic.

I visited a Boots store today which is basically just a UK pharmacy/drug store. Never has someone enjoyed an aisle of plasters (band-aids) more than I have today. I spent long minutes pouring over available medical supplies and over the counter medicines. Yes, you can get tylenol (paracetemol) with codeine here over the counter.

I then went in search of salt and pepper. If you know me, you know the irony of not having any in our kitchen. After watching my neighbor grinding his own pepper in a bowl last night, I decided to find some shakers. I finally found some cheap shakers with salt and pepper in them, but when I got home I realized I had actually bought two different kinds of pepper and no salt at all. White pepper? Looked like salt to me in my excited quick glance. Oh well, it was only 39p.

I spent some time at Coventry market, (see below) which seems to always be a lot of fun. I bought an onion for 6p, so can't go wrong there. Above is a picture of my favorite stall there, the American import store. Pop tarts, stove top, Jif Peanut butter, Hershey products, and various sodas, all normally unavailable here. I could have gotten a Reese's cup for 85p, but I couldn't stop giggling.

It is a cruel irony to find a 3 liter bottle of drink (yes, 3 liters!) at a cheap price, and know that I can't buy it because it won't fit in my fridge, and I haven't seen and ice cube in Britain yet.

3rd October

Coventry market boasts "all kinds of everything" and I have never seen a place where that is so true. Fresh fruit and veg, clothing, bike accessories, pet stuff, cell phones, linens, fresh meats, fish, anything you could need all within a hundred or so stalls. Here is a huge stall of Halloween costumes, and a sign I found amusing.

02 October 2009

2nd October

LDN. We had a free trip to one of my favorite places today. The post grad center here offers free trips around the country throughout the year, the first to London today. On the way there I met a few people who were really great. They had never been to London so I took them around and showed them some of the places I knew how to get to. We only had a few hours so we hit some of the touristy highlights. I made sure to give us an hour at the national gallery (didn't see Sister Wendy this time.) I have a very warm place in my heart for this museum. I know it's nerdy but I love it!
I was thrilled when we saw a RRU, a couple of ambulances and a motorcycle response unit throughout the day. When we went back to our bus, we stumbled upon the picture below. I was excited of course to be anywhere near an ambulance and accident scene. Yes, now these people know that I'm a nerd and a freak! But really, how great. I'm not sure why this scene required no less than 10 police vehicles, plus a horse! It seemed pretty straight forward to me. Must have been a slow day.