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Archive for the ‘manchester’ Category


The past few days have been a mess. Today, I made a mess. A burnt, smokey, stuck to the sides of the muffin-tin mess. I got distracted by the content I was helping a friend write for her website, and I had forgotten several things about the oven in our flat. The first, it’s convection, which means I need to subtract time and temperature from the recipes I thought I knew by heart; second, well, things had been going pear-shaped in general so I should have been more attentive in general, and third…. let’s just say that with constantly converting temperature, weight, ingredients, and general culture, well, I was bound to slip up somewhere.
The plus was, of course, I had to snap out of my malaise and figure out what to do with twelve well-toasted muffins.

Well, beside throwing them away. The chocolate I had added to them was lovely, and it seemed a shame to waste anything that was actually edible. So, on my way to my husband’s work to rewrite my C.V. again (but this time somewhere with a printer), I carried in my hands—-muffin middles. Unattractive they may be, but they taste lovely, and I’m sure it’s that chocolate that finally allowed me to get through rewriting my CV in what is apparently known as a “skills” format. All I know is that I need a job. Although I LOVE writing content and reviews, I’m currently doing it for free (or bartering for free books or horseback riding), and well, I’d like to rejoin the workforce, thank you.
So here’s hoping the muffin middles did the trick, and I’m on my way to gainful employment.
(I feel I should say that I couldn’t take a picture of the middles. So, instead, I treated myself to a second look at the cupcakes we had at our wedding. Mmmm. They tasted and looked good.)

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So I have now, officially, gone horseback riding in the U.K. Well, where in the world shall I start? I think I will start with the weather.
After TWO DAYS of sun (a record! in a row!), I woke up this morning to a downpour that was going sideways so fast it was making the windows vibrate. After deciding that the prospect of changing in a bathroom at the stables in the freezing cold was…lame…I made the bold decision to wear my black full-seats riding breeches to the barn. On the bus. Ha. Nobody even looked at me. There are people in Manchester who wear FAR weirder clothing than I do, apparently.
The next moment of panic came when the bus driver had no idea where the stop that I wanted was. Luckily, England is filled with helpful little old ladies and one of them got off a stop early to make sure that I knew where I was going. As we tottered down the lane at, like, -5 miles an hour (little old ladies are nice, but not speedy), it started to SNOW. Thank god it appears that my bag is magic and water-resistant because, really, this was getting silly.
I made it wayyyyy early (see earlier problem with bus driver who also convinced me it would take forever), so I had a chance to watch two girls exercising horses. They looked like they were having fun, and it was good to have a chance to sit there and relax into the place. And take two ibuprofen to ward off the sore muscles I am sure are in my future.
This is one of those places where they bring the horse to you all tacked up. It felt as if I had joined some exclusive club where people brought your horses to you and then…watched you ride. Or, in my case, try to ride while attempting, with great difficulty, to remember what the hell I was doing.

The horse was a sweetheart: a six year old TB who was a little green. Complete with head straight up and neck flexed against my hand. So…I rode around. After we got the canter going (and I gave him an impromptu, “no you don’t run in the trot on your way to the canter” lesson), he was much better. We jumped a tiny bit, the trainer said I looked fine except for my heels (which I’m sure were sticking straight up in an effort to squeeze the crap out of this horse), and he was being nice and said he loved my jumping position.

And that was the first lesson. We’ll see how this shapes up; I had already sent out an email to two random eventers I’d heard of saying “I know I have no right to ride with you, who would you recommend near me…”. (One of them was the woman who went UNDER the Trakahener at Burghley like a million years ago and made them change the rule to require everyone to jump over the log.) Hopefully, they will have something to say as well. The barn looked nice, and I think they do a good job, but I really like the three-discipline aspect of eventing.
But, yay, I got to ride! And I’m not sore! well, yet. Although I have made a vow to run more now. Even if it rains and snows again….
Also, I have no idea what exactly happened to the picture at the top of the post. My fingers were numb when I took it with my iPhone, so that apparently gives you a *wavy* shot. Cool, though.

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I knew that getting a job in the U.K. would be different and difficult. I knew that trying to leave teaching and try something new when the economy seems to be in free-fall was….problematic. Plus, trying to get a new job, any job, for which you have few contacts (and all of your references are a continent away) is always more difficult. I knew all these things. But, I don’t think I had realized what that would mean emotionally. It’s almost like playing a game without knowing the rules. Or even being sure of where the field is.

Right now, I’m definitely also trying to find a life here, somewhere to ride, figure out where to grocery shop. I’m lucky enough to have found somewhere that will let me write as many book reviews as I would like–which helps, because reading is my go-to anxiety assuaging activity. But, eventually, I’d also like to contribute to the house in a non-dishwashing capacity!

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IM conversation between me and a friend:
Me: Hey!! I haven’t heard from you in awhile!
Friend: Yeah, I keep calling you, but you never call back!
Me: Eh? That must be expensive, but I’ve never had any missed calls.
Friend: Why would it be expensive? It’s a local number!
Me: Uhhh, England, no England is not local to L.A. Hollywood is far, far away from Manchester.
Friend: Oh, you LIVE there now?
Me: Yes? You knew this? right?
Friend: Well, I thought you would have hated it and moved back by now.
Me: ? ? ?

Ha. She’s a good friend, but she apparently had little faith in my ability not to melt when it rains. She was one of the people who gave me an umbrella for a wedding present. (I got a total of SIX, mostly from nervous Californians–I only brought one over–not enough room in the suitcase for the rest).
I do, in fact, like it here a lot. In all honesty, I prefer rain to Santa Anna winds and the ensuing static build-up. Plus, you know, my husband lives here!

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IM conversation between me and a friend:
Me: Hey!! I haven’t heard from you in awhile!
Friend: Yeah, I keep calling you, but you never call back!
Me: Eh? That must be expensive, but I’ve never had any missed calls.
Friend: Why would it be expensive? It’s a local number!
Me: Uhhh, England, no England is not local to L.A. Hollywood is far, far away from Manchester.
Friend: Oh, you LIVE there now?
Me: Yes? You knew this? right?
Friend: Well, I thought you would have hated it and moved back by now.
Me: ? ? ?

Ha. She’s a good friend, but she apparently had little faith in my ability not to melt when it rains. She was one of the people who gave me an umbrella for a wedding present. (I got a total of SIX, mostly from nervous Californians–I only brought one over–not enough room in the suitcase for the rest).
I do, in fact, like it here a lot. In all honesty, I prefer rain to Santa Anna winds and the ensuing static build-up. Plus, you know, my husband lives here!

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So, in California I rode a lot. Three or four times a week, sometimes more than one horse a day. I thought I would be good with a break–I often took weeks off at a time to visit Pete, and I was looking forward to slowly starting my life in the UK–and I tend to get very busy, very quickly, with the riding and didn’t want that to happen too fast.
However, in the last two weeks I have dreamt every single night that I had been riding. Every. Single. Night. At one point I dreamt I had an entire lesson and dismounted. Then, my “horse” stepped on my foot. It hurt! I woke to find my foot pinched between the mattress and the wall and fully expected a hoof shaped bruise to show up. It didn’t, but that didn’t mean that I missed out on a series of cross-country jumps (the next night) or a repeat of the toughest dressage lesson of my life (last night). It’s one thing to miss something–but I’m now at the point that I NEED to find somewhere to ride. And somehow to pay for it. I’ve scouted a few places and am planning on taking the bus to them in January. My goal for finding somewhere “permanent” is mid-February. Here’s hoping. It’s too bad those dreams do nothing to keep my body in riding shape!

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Which means, of course, that I really should call it autumn. I still would say it with an American accent and thus not be completely correct, but I believe in making the effort. Of course, autumn lasted about three weeks. It was a picturesque three weeks, full of flame coloured leaves and dripping trees after the autumn storms. Now, I believe, we are officially in winter.

Do you want to know how I can tell? I am now ice-skating across portions of sidewalk. And waking up to frost on the windowsill. And watching snow fall. And watching snow…melt?
Now, I lived in Minnesota, so I am no stranger to winter-type weather. But, there is something unique to the “Manchester Winter”. It may be that it refuses to give in to the idea that it should slow down and enjoy the time of year and the sight of newly fallen snow, and thus prevents the snow from sticking. It doesn’t prevent the ice from forming though, and with Manchester’s love of rain–the black ice here is a trip. Or a stumble, really. Or really more like a slide and wobble.

It’s been great though. So far I’ve been to a few NHS oriented things (more on that later), the public library (which I’m sure will come up again), and the “German Market” which, in describing it in emails to friends, has now been tagged with the phrase “bizarrely Dickensian”. As an English-major, using that word in daily conversation was a unique treat. Using it to describe a crazed farmer’s market crossed with a county fair where everyone wandered around looking at demonstrations for the “garlic plate” (imported from France! Grinds your garlic for you!) and drinking mulled wine because it was cold still makes me smile. It was set up in the center of town–right in front of this huge building they use for local government that was built during the Victorian Era. (Which is how I managed to shove Dickens (poor man) into it. That, and the people singing carols and buying their Christmas geese.)
I’ve been going slowly (well, it feels slow). But I’m starting to enjoy wandering out of my door and looking around. Next up, the libraries, the museums, and the food. Mmmm. Food.

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