Tag Archives: recycling


3 Nov

I’m back in the US, now.  A long break from the blog, for me, though it was invisible thanks to the scheduling feature on WordPress.  I considered leaving with my last post — the three hundredth on this blog!! — and disappearing into the wildness of America.  Which I probably will do.  But the question I know I have had for every returning expat is on my mind:  What is it like to come home?


Well, for one thing, the view is nice.

The question is too big and freaks me out at the moment, to be honest.  Just like America: too big and freaks me out.  I walked into a local grocery and nearly fainted.  So many options in the aisle (20 kinds of string cheese?  What even IS string cheese??) but nothing I want (WHERE IS ALL THE COCONUT YOGURT?) yet everyone is friendly and chatting to me and if one more stranger is kind and speaks to me for no reason I WILL LOSE MY SHIT.

You’re too much, America.  Everything is fast, is open late, is full of sugar, is full of petroleum, is saturated with color, is shiny bright white teeth, is the latest brand, is single use and thrown away, is too cold, is too hot, is zooming, is choices, is big and wide and too much.  I’ve only been gone three years.  What happened?  To me?

Frankly I could use a cup of tea.

I’m turning off the calculator in my head.  Something worth the number “twenty” is actually going to cost me twenty dollars, instead of some larger calculation.  You’d think this would be handy, but it’s a bit disconcerting.  Everything in the UK seems to cost less, because the currency is stronger.  I wouldn’t blink at paying 3 pounds for some small trinket, but no way am I paying 6 dollars for the same item in the US.  Even thought that’s the same price.  Oh, dear, I really should have paid more attention to math in college …

The roads are beautiful.  Gorgeous.  I want to drive around all day just for the pleasure of smooth asphalt, enormously wide lanes, right-on-red, functioning street lamps at night, and no zebra crossings.

I miss my kitchen composter.  Municipal composting is a great idea.  I miss my high-viz friends at the county recycling centre.  I saw them so regularly, since our town picked up waste just the once every two weeks. I don’t understand throwing everything in to one big bin … and someone else takes it away and sorts it?  That is … that is … crazy.  I spent three years cleaning, sorting, stacking, and properly disposing of my recycling.  I bought products on the basis of whether or not they had too much wasteful packaging.  I recycled everything.  EVERYTHING.  I feel like we’ve produced more trash in a week in the US than we did in two months in the UK.  Living more consciously of waste is going to be an effort.  This country makes it so easy to consume and dispose.  Our 51st state is going to be a giant pile of garbage.

American children become consumers so young.  We went to an amusement park recently and I was astounded at all the designer tracksuits, shirts, hats, and footwear for children.  When I wanted to find running bottoms for my girls when we ran a mud run together in the UK, I was told no one made sports clothes for girls.  (We eventually settled on a very small cut women’s xtra small.  The rampant sexism in UK sports is a topic for another day.)  We walked into Old Navy yesterday and saw approximately seventy million styles of yoga pants, running bottoms, zumba trousers, and dance capris for girls as young as 2.  Choice is good, right?  But … kids become habituated to thinking of themselves as vehicles for marketing.  I don’t know.

Where is that tea.  Also, someone pull up BBC Radio because I miss British voices.  Why is everyone here so perky?  It’s baffling.  I’m exhausted.


I pulled open my photo archives and picked this one out totally at random. So many scenes to share. Each memory a little prickle on my heart.

I have tried to look through my many unedited photos and dozens of explorations which have never made it to the blog.  I find my eyes are a bit too tender at the moment, to look at Camelot.  And it would feel strange to write about the experience of being in a place when I’m not there.  It’s all memory, now.  So, I make no promises about what will show up next.  Occasional photo posts as I find something worth sharing?  Random thoughts about repatriation, as I slowly crawl out of my bunker?  In the UK my mind tended towards knights, but here I think I’ll quote a pirate — “Good night, Crumpets in Camelot … I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”


Oh, and PS – I saw this in that local grocery I mentioned, and a reserved and silent tear leaked quietly out the side of one eye. Hail Britannia. 


Camembert au Calvados

22 Feb

Oui, oui!  For a far-too-quick week, this crumpet turned into a dairy product and roved the countryside of Basse-Normandie.  (Yes, I turned in to a cheese.  I love cheese.)  Following the model that served us well when we visited Skye last year (start here to read those posts), we set our base in a quiet holiday cottage in the middle of the Calvados area of Normandy and went out in various directions for day trips throughout the week — with a hefty dose of taking it easy, listening to birdsong, and eating local food mixed in.


I found this cottage online through tripadvisor and liked the look of it.  It’s always a bit of a leap when you book a holiday cottage — gites when you’re in france — but overall I think we lucked out.


Our hosts left wine, bread and milk for us, which was a welcome sight after a long drive down from Calais.  We came over on the Chunnel, which I was almost giddily excited about.  At first we weren’t sure how to navigate the boarding area, but:


We just followed our noses to the platform.


Which was pretty amazing — the Chunnel is fast, simple, and the least expensive path to France from the UK if you are bringing over your own vehicle.  It was like getting on the DC Metro — if you could drive your car on to the Metro.


Youngest was disappointed in the chunnel — she had imagined it would be a glassed tunnel and various fish and seals would swim around us.  That visit to the Bristol Zoo made a strong impression.

The drive from Calais in to the Normandy region is not to be underestimated.


Especially if it snows (!) on the way.

Our first morning we spent being thankful we made it through the storm to our cozy cottage, and enjoying some walks around the property.


We were deep in the bocage.


The area is known for turfed agricultural borders and deep ditches, which — at least at this time of year — are filled with fast-flowing water.


And very distinctive mud.


It’s rural, is what I’m saying to you.  Very, very rural.


We visited Bayeux and the Bayeux Tapestry, Mont-St-Michel, the D-Day beaches, Caen, Vire (our ‘local’ large town) and the Vire Valley.  After a good long nap, I’ll get those photos together and enjoy revisiting with you.


PS – You didn’t think I’d go to France and NOT take a photo of the village recycling point, did you?  Of course not.


You’re welcome.

That’s rubbish

26 Jan

I haven’t updated you on my love-hate relationship with English rubbish removal recently.  I’ve become largely resigned to the monthly trips to the landfill/recycling centre to remove the rubbish and recycling the city is too precious to pick up.  Inured to the occasional bin-tipper who just dumps all their household trash into a city rubbish bin, where it sits for weeks and weeks.  The rejected yogurt pots removed from my recycling bins and tossed back on to my driveway.  I’m still on good terms with the jumpsuited fellows at the recycling centre, which looks nice and frozen this time of year.


Now, remember all that snow we’ve been having?  This part of England is not really cut out for snow.  No plows, not much salting or shoveling.  Mostly a lot of staying home or stepping gingerly over icy walkways, waiting for the inevitable rain to return and melt it all away.  And, apparently, these conditions mean our delicate rubbish men are unable to retrieve our rubbish.

20130125_120634Look at those terrible road conditions, several days out from our major winter storm!  How … um … what?  Really?  Rubbish collection — which only happens once every fortnight, anyway — has been canceled for this round because of the road conditions?  These road conditions?

What does this make me think of?  Hmm, what was it?  Oh, right, the last time our trash removal was delayed in the States:

img_0467Delayed.  Not canceled.  Darn it, England, are you just not trying?

img_0473I thought I’d include this shot of our mailbox, from that same storm.  You know why the mailbox is open?  Because the mailman delivered the mail.

Sigh.  Since the sweet, helpless, osteoperosis-ridden grannies who pick up our rubbish (I assume) are too dainty to collect when there is a spot of snow on the road, I’ll be off once again to haul my own rubbish and recycling to the local out-of-town recycling and landfill centre.  Because, apparently, I am more hardcore than the professionals.


And wuv …. truuuuuuuuuuuuuue wuv, will fowow wu …..

21 Nov

It was very much like a dream within a dream.  One perfectly normal Tuesday evening, I went out to sort through my rubbishy recycling bins.  Somedays, I do indeed feel like the Queen of Slime, Filth, and Putrescence.   Sigh.  It can’t be Highwaymen and Swan Knights every day.  

But … But … what was this?  What glorious shinning object reflected my wondering face back at me? It was even better than the very best MLT!

I ran inside to tell my husband he had finally done something right.  “As you wish,” was all he had to say.