Thursday, 26 February 2015

Reflections on February in England

I feel like there isn’t much to say about our first February in England.  It was a quiet month for us, not much traveling except for our very fun trip to London.  I'll share the rest of that trip with you next week.  These pictures are from our last day in London when we visited Kew Gardens which holds the largest collection of living plants in the world.   

There are trees in Kew Gardens that were planted back in the mid 1700s and are still alive today.  Walking by these old trees, it was fun to image the people and styles of dress they've seen pass by over the course of 250+ years.  

It may seem like a funny time of the year to visit a garden, but I was in dire need of whatever kind of warm, tropical fix I could find and glasshouses full of lush, vibrantly green trees and plants were just what the doctor ordered.  It's still winter outside,

 but inside, it's warm, colorful and beautiful!

There happened to be an orchid show going on, so on top of the vast array of plants that are normally in the glasshouses, there were also beautiful, exotic, colorful orchids all over the place. 

February in England was cold, but it doesn’t feel right whining about that when so many of our friends and family are back in the states freezing their butts off because I assure you, it never got anywhere near 0ºF here in England.  The one thing I will say about the weather in February is that while what Mother Nature is actually throwing at us in terms of precipitation, sunshine and clouds feels like it changes from minute to minute here, the actual temperature is very steady.  Looking at the forecast each day is quite frankly boring because you know it will say the high will be 45ºF, or 46º, or 44º.  Very little variation.  Yes, I know most of you are probably thinking “I’ll take it,” but it really is boring.  At least when it’s a high of 5ºF one day and a high of 30º the next you have something to get excited about and look forward to.  

Valentine’s Day – no Valentine’s exchanges at school in England.  In fact, I heard no mention whatsoever of Valentine’s Day activities in school.  It is celebrated in England though.  For the couple of weeks prior to February 14, upon entering the grocery store you were greeted not only with a huge display of Valentine cards, candy and flowers, but also with the most horrendous, cheesy, 80s love songs belting out of speakers on top of the display.  In no way, shape or form did that awful music entice me to buy a Valentine for someone.  It made me laugh though.  

I’ve reached that point in the school year where making lunches and getting the kids to do their homework each day is getting old.  Seems like this happens around this time every year, and since school goes into July here, I feel like we have a looooong time until we reach the end and get a much needed break for a couple of months.  But Eric and I continue to really enjoy hearing about what the girls are doing in school here.  Leah’s been learning about penguins and got to do a penguin huddle in school the other day.  She’s started division in math.  And she studies French once a week.  They both do actually.  A French teacher visits their school one day a week and gives each class a lesson.  I love it!

Ellie just finished reading The Hobbit.  That one took her longer to read than the rest.  Most of the books she brings home from school she breezes through in a couple of days.  I think The Hobbit took her a whole week.  We can’t keep enough books around for that girl.  She’s wrapping up studying the Maya at school this week with a trip to Cadbury world.  Our little sugar queen gets to take a trip to a chocolate factory.  I bet she is in heaven right now.   

Ellie started playing the flute this month.  Once a week a music teacher visits the school and gives music lessons to those who want to play an instrument.  After trying to play a few different instruments a couple weeks back, Ellie announced she had decided to play the saxophone.  Yikes!  How would we get a saxophone home from England?  We’ve already accumulated enough stuff in our few short months here that I’m worried about getting it all home and thinking about what we can leave behind.  And I don't think she realizes how heavy that big, bulky case is to lug around.  Well, I do because I use to play the sax and dreaded each day that I had to drag that case onto and off of the school bus.  That’s a heavy instrument for our pint sized Ellie.  After talking to her music teacher, we realized she had only picked it because it was the easiest instrument to get some sound out of on the first try.  We intervened and persuaded her to try the flute instead and now she’s glad she picked that sweet sounding petite little instrument.  She’s only had it for one day but already she’s gotten pretty good at producing some decent sound from it.  If she wants, she can try the sax when we get back home and we don’t have to worry about lugging it onto a plane. 

Eric continues to work hard during the week at Rolls-Royce.  He is busy, busy, busy and I know he enjoys coming home each evening to the very low stress life we have.  Not having a house to work on is a vacation in itself.  We’ll be back there someday and weekends will once again be spent working on the never ending list of projects, so for now, he seems to be relaxing and enjoying this little intermission from our normal lives.

The past few years February has whizzed by for me because I was working and March 1 was a major reporting deadline for many of our clients.  I worked more hours in February than any other month and really didn’t mind because, despite being the shortest month of the year, February can feel like a long month to get through when it’s cold and snowy outside and having a lot of work to concentrate on always made the month fly by heading towards spring.   

This year was quite different.  February was slow and felt very long, but maybe that’s how it should be.  Maybe we need a month like February where nothing much is happening to let our bodies rejuvenate before the flood of spring and summer activities begin.  So I did my best to relax and enjoy it, taking care of the normal day to day household and kid related chores, I started reading Ken Follett’s 1,014 page long World Without End which I had brought with to England to help me get through the winter, I spent time making plans and reservations for our next couple of trips, and I got outside for a walk whenever I could despite the damp, dreary conditions.   

This quiet time is about to change for us.  As the weather gets nicer, we will be doing a lot of traveling, welcoming family to our new abode here in England, and wrapping up the end of the school year which always seems to be a crazy busy time.  I feel rested, relaxed and ready for the craziness to begin.  Thank you quiet February!

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