Thursday, March 24, 2011


Okay, so it took two years and two tries, and I am three weeks shy of my theory test pass certificate expiring. But still!

Anyway, I would have totally passed that first time if it weren't for that stupid little red car at that roundabout. (Only 7 minors! And to fail because of that car!) And it wouldn't have taken me nearly two years to even bother scheduling the practical if it weren't for the crazy instructor I had when I first moved to Oxford.

But it's all behind me now.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


When The Limey and I took the next step in pretending to be adults and bought a house, we did what we were told was the right thing, and bought a house with "good bones" in a good neighbourhood. It was the cheapest place on the block and it needed (needs) lots of mostly cosmetic work, with possibly a bit of minor structural-type changes.

Before we moved in, we repainted the living/dining area and kitchen, and repainted and re-floored our bedroom. We had lots of ideas about the rest of the place: grandiose plans of built-in bookshelves; visions of an artful, useful kitchen; replacing the falling-down lean-to with a conservatory; I demanded an orangerie!; etc.

Well, you all know how this pans out. We've done almost nothing since we've moved in. In fact, the two spare rooms are still filled with boxes yet to be unpacked. We were sensible about getting a mortgage we could afford, so we could save up some money to improve upon the house. Since we've done nothing for months, this little pot is big enough to do one thing. We could re-do the kitchen, dramatically change the garden, get a great bathroom, floor and insulate the loft, put in my orangerie, etc.

One thing.

But we don't know what. Even worse, all those ideas we had? Too vague to price up. And we don't really know what's possible, anyway. And, really, the actual problem is that we don't know what we want. We don't know what kind of kitchen (except "bigger", which, without going into details, is currently not feasible), we don't know whether we really want to spend the money on the bathroom, we don't know whether a conservatory could be used as a kitchen extension...

We basically have no idea. So we are paralyzed with choice and options, afraid to do anything for fear of it being the wrong thing. So we haven't done anything.

What I want is someone to come along, stride purposefully about the house, and say, Do these things! and in this order!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Oxfordiana, Pt 1

I've lived in Oxford for almost two years now, long enough to have favourite local spots. I figure it'd be nice to do little profiles of the places I hang out, the shops I frequent, a general "where I spend my money and time in Oxford" series. I'll try to keep it to interesting local places, so don't worry, I won't be going on about my weekly Sainsbury's shop!

However, having mentioned my weekly shop, I may as well start with a couple of places at which I spend my grocery budget. These are both in the Covered Market, so are not exactly hidden gems!

Feller's is an organic butcher which has been partially responsible for my starting to eat birds and mammals again. I stopped in college and for more than ten years, pretty much stuck to a veggie diet at home, with fish and seafood thrown in if eating out (too lazy to cook fish at home, basically). They sell what I like to call "happy" meat- conscientiously-raised, local if at all possible. They seem to know their stuff, and I love that, in season, they display carcasses, in fur and feather, outside the shop. Currently they have deer and hares hanging up. I find it helps me to remember that meat comes from an animal that was slaughtered for this- that their lives and deaths are my concern.

On the other end of the scale:

One of the two greengrocers I buy from in the Covered Market. Back when I was unemployed and living closer to town, I was at the greengrocers two or three times a week. Now, of course, Saturdays are the only possible times I can shop there and my visits and spending have correspondingly dropped off. We buy most of the basics from the Co-op across the road now, but I still go to the greengrocers for certain items when they are in season: strawberries, broad beans (favas, for the non-Brits), which I buy by the kilo (I love broad beans- we're going to grow some in the garden, but we'd have to turn the whole garden over to them to satisfy me), English asparagus, which, again, I buy by the kilo during their short season. I also stop off and check out what they have as a matter of course if I'm in the Covered Market for any other reason, and will often pick up something that looks particularly good or interesting. (Our Co-op is great, but I struggle to find anything that isn't the standard potatoes, cabbages, carrots, onions, etc.)