The snow has also made it difficult to orientate ourselves. When we arrived there was more than a foot of the stuff. It was quite icy so Madeleine (and me too if I was careful) could walk on top. Everything just looked white. The view from the house to the back garden was lovely, as the snow was completely unblemished except for funny waddle marks from wedded feet. Madeleine, Tilda and I went out into the garden to investigate, but I immediately felt guilty – were we allowed to walk on the snow? Or was there some rule of which we were ignorant. Householders are forbidden from putting up fences and washing as it spoils the view, so maybe the same logic was applied to virgin snow. There seems to be a lot of rules here. I get the impression that Americans like things to be spelt out for them; rules give boundaries, rather than limitations and restrictions. Basically, if you apply common sense you should be ok. In that case, I think it was ok to walk on the snow. So we did. There was a skid mark where the duck had landed and we followed the track as he walked in a circle and flew off again.
Madeleine wasn’t as impressed as I thought she should be, being a little preoccupied with wanting to make a snowman. The snow was perfect for this, but when I say she wanted to build a snowman, what I really mean is that she wanted me to make one. Tilda was getting cold so our snowman was pretty short, about the height of a litre of pop, and without a carrot for a nose. In Madeleine’s book this was not a real snowman.
But our chance to put this wrong right has melted with the snow. Despite the depth over the last couple of days it has disappeared with amazing speed. Everything looks very different. What I thought were fields are actually lakes (good job we didn’t walk very far), and everything is starting to get a little colour. We’ve had some brilliant sunny days, mist in the morning as the snow evaporates, and today rain. I’m glad we’ve missed most of the harsh winter and this weather is pretty typical of the UK, but people here must have cabin fever after three months of this. Very depressing.
I do think we’re going to be happy here though. I already love the space. The house is lovely and the people friendly.
I feel a little overwhelmed by everything at the moment as I can’t make quick decisions based on brands I don’t recognise yet. The UK is small enough that you can shop around and compare and make a decision based on facts. It’s too big here, with too much choice, to do that. There is always something cheaper, quicker, nearer, more convenient, and its best just to accept that you’ve made the best decision you can based on the information you have. There are infinite possibilities, it’s fantastic when you have choice, but you need to put up with the slight nagging feeling that you might be missing out on something else because you haven’t been able to do infinite research.
Shopping around is almost an art form. I suppose that’s because in the UK shops are all within walking distance of each other in the middle of town. Here you drive to everything and unless you can be bothered getting the children in and out of the car you tend to buy in the first place you see. We made the mistake of spending a lot of money in one place to then be offered a 20% off voucher. I get the feeling the prices might be artificially high as there are so many vouchers and it is expected that you will purchase your goods using one. So very quickly I have learnt that your first shop should be a modest one, which enables you to get on a mailing list for vouchers to spend on subsequent trips. Then you have to remember that you have the damn things. And then to add to the problems that everything has different names. Who thought we had the same language. Diaper is a nappy, napkin is a serviette, silverware is cutlery, canker is a mouth ulcer! That one was difficult to fathom in the pharmacy.
The girls are adapting well though, better than us in some ways. Madeleine even told me I was changing Tilda’s diaper. I had to bite my tongue to stop myself correcting her; after all she is going to need the Americanisms when she goes to preschool. At the moment she is determined that everything has a colour. Every question she asks is followed by another question, usually, what colour is it? “What colour is your house?”, “what colour is your car?” are typical ones, but it did create an embarrassing conversation with one lady. It went something like this:
Madeleine: “What are you doing?”
Lady: “I’m waiting for my friend.”
Madeleine: “What colour is she?”
Lady: “Err, um, Korean.”