Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Driving to Wheaton

Erin again. I know I said my previous post would be the last, but I figured I should let y'all know that I've arrived safe and sound at Wheaton.

Set off around 9:30 in the morning, took the Beltway to I-95 and followed that all the way north to just beyond Providence. I hit Manhattan around 2:00. The traffic was actually very good; I went through Providence at the start of rush hour and there was a closed exit, but even that only caused a short backup.

Around 5:30 I got off of 95 onto the road that in theory leads straight to the college, and only then managed to get myself lost. Twice. Such is life.

But I arrived in good time, got my room keys and the sticker for my car without much fuss, and, with the help of a couple of hallmates, hauled all of my stuff up to my third-floor room. And, as you can see, I have my Internet hooked up, so I'm all set.

I was pretty anxious about making this trip before I set off -- it's the farthest I've ever driven, and on my own -- but there's something I had forgotten: I like driving. Eight hours on the highway with the music cranked up was fun.

And now I shall actually yield the blog to the Binkleys remaining in London. Cheers, all!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

If I'm good they take me to London

While not taken from the train, here is a picture of the train we take from Woking to London (Waterloo station). Can you guess where it was taken from?

If you guessed the London Eye, do pat yourself on the head. I made Chris take the following picture to prove that I over came my fear of heights to ride!

This picture was also taken during this visit to the city. Pop quiz - who took it?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Ancient Gatehouse

I (Erin) meant to post this before I left, but YouTube was being fussy and then I had a bus to catch.

From July 31 to August 1 we stayed at the Ancient Gatehouse Hotel, and if you think our flat has character, this place was up to the ears in it. We shot video of the way up to our room, because you have to see it to believe it.

Click for the video. (Note to the non-Internet-savvy: click the "pause" button until the video is fully loaded. The red bar along the bottom marks its progress.)

Chris shot the first part; Dad shot the second; Mom stars in both; and I put them together, then edited the video to minimize shakiness.

It probably won't rack up 36,000 views, but it's still pretty cool :)

and then there were 3

So after Jonathan's departure it left just the four of us. Here we all are outside the Tower of London.

But, alas duty (well actually school) was calling to Erin. So we did what had to be done: purchased cheddar cheese rated from 2 (mild) to 6 (vintage extra sharp), which, of course, we et on top of our 'biscuits for cheese'.

The next morning off she went. Special thanks for Ms. Catherine for picking Erin up at the airport and taking her to Mars for cereal, milk, and TV dinners!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

and then there were 4

Yesterday was a sad day :( as we had to say sooooolong to Jonathan.

We liked having him around (mostly because of the yummy food he and Chris cooked):

But also because of the fun places he wanted to go. Here we are inside the workings of tower bridge.

We also rode the London eye at Jonathan's request (well Judu was hip to this idea also) ... and yes I went and have the picture to `prove it'. I'll post it ... some other time :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

of tides and beef

Yesturday found us in London.
We arrived at low tide

and didn't leave until high tide!

in between we checked out the tower of London ... here I am discussing beef with a beef eater (formally he is a Yeoman Warder). It takes 20+ years of in her majesty's service before one can apply ... an impressive group!

We return to London tomorrow as Chris' friend Jonathan is in town and we want to see how tower bridge works. I'm just praying that they don't break it!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Touring the Flat - hey wait there is more

I thought it appropriate to include some views from the outside of our flat :)
First up, the bbq around back. Yes you are invited to our first bbq (details to follow)

Here are the very nice flowers off to the side!

And finally the path leading to the bbq

And a bonus for all you gardeners out there! Here is a picture of some runner beans that we picked up at the local farmers market. I'd never heard of such before, but they were quite yummy with a little garlic. For reference the coin is 10p, which is about the size of a quarter :)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Touring the Flat - Part 3

You may have noticed the slanting walls/ceilings in the reception room. They follow the roof line, as we are on the top (third) floor of the building. Chris (6'2") usually remembers to duck going in or out of the kitchen area, but he has hit his head at least once...and hard. Thus, Dave and I chose the bedroom with the hazardous corners. As Dave says, they give it "character."

The small pictures on the wall have an interesting story. Erin's college was giving away old photos at the end of the spring semester. They didn't have anything of interest to her, but when she saw the scenes of various church interiors, she thought of me. Thus, she packed them in her suitcase, and then gave them to me for my birthday a few weeks ago.

Finally, we have Chris' room. It has a nice high ceiling...everywhere. He also gets a desk for homework, and his own private bathroom. The bed even provides plenty of space for spreading out his Magic cards. Not bad! So there you have it - our home away from home. Feel free to come and see it in person!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Technical updates!

We interrupt the tour for a special announcement!

You've probably noticed our classy new layout, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Erin. All together now: Oooh. Ahhhh.

The changes aren't all cosmetic, though. Here's the one you'll care about: You no longer need a Blogger account to leave comments. Just click the "0 Comments" link at the bottom of one of these recent posts, and under "Choose an identity" select "Anonymous".

(Of course, you should mention who you are in the comment itself, so we know who's talking to us!)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled tour :)

Touring the Flat - Part 2

The letting agents call it the reception room. Basically, we do just about everything but sleep in it. (I take that back - without her own bedroom, Erin does sleep in it!) Here you see the living area, with Erin and her trusty computer. In the corner between the couch and the love seat Dave is slowly putting together his "office," and he will soon work over there on the days that he doesn't go into London.

Meanwhile, Dave can usually be found on the other side of the room, either as shown below or in the dining area. The table is not very sturdy, and it only came with 2 chairs, but in general we are very happy with the contents of our furnished flat.

Finally, at the end of the room we have the cooking and cleaning area. The middle cabinet on the left contains a single mini-machine that both washes (quite well) and dries (very poorly), so I have followed the lead of the locals in using a drying rack. The kitchen came with variety of mismatched items, so we have had fun purchasing things from the "first home" series at a nearby store. We now have matching dishes for 4! Living here is going to be a big test for the queen of procrastination. (That would be me.) Limited laundry space means that I can't let the dirty clothes pile up. We have a dishwasher, but since we run out of dishes before it fills up, I wash them by hand. (Definitely beats ironing, in my opinion.) And without a car, I'm at the grocery store at least every other day, because I can only carry so much on the 10 minute walk home. Think these habits will continue back home? Nope, me neither....

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Touring the Flat - Part 1

Judy here. I'll do this in 3 parts, but today I won't get past the hallway. Picture 1 is taken just inside our front door. Nice neutral colors, but note that the walls are cream, not white, Shelly! There are 2 hall closets, but you can only see 1. In the 1 you can see there is an iron and an ironing board (like those will get used by me...) and in the other is a heavy duty vacuum cleaner that I tried out for the first time just before taking these pictures. I'll walk up to the radiator, where you'll get a quick glance at the 4 rooms in our flat.

Starting at the left is the main bathroom. It has one of those half shower doors that the Europeans seem to love, but it drives me crazy. Way too much water ends up on the floor, but it gets less each time, and Erin already has the proper technique down. I wonder who will be next? Moving to the right is our bedroom. If there wasn't so much glare on the widow, you could see that the building across the street says "Surrey Police." Makes us feel very safe!

Next on the right (but to the left in the picture!) is the reception room, where Dave is hard at work. Well, not anymore, because I'm now using that computer.... And finally, you see Chris' master suite - it contains both his bedroom and his en-suite bathroom. I'll focus on the reception room in part 2, and finish with the bedrooms in part 3.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

weeeerrrreee back


as of last night (after only three phone calls to tech support [ yea i have a degree in computer science ]) we have an internet connection here in the flat! sorry about the absence of a live web cam ... soon : ) when not setting up the wireless, i've been slaving away at work. i almost have the train route down! meanwhile, the rest of the crew has been catching up on emails and alike ... i expect soon they will upload their thoughts on our adventures to date :)

i'm off to go configure skype so that chris can call jenny :)

all the best
- dave

p.s., for you baltimorons it rrrrrrained alllllll day today .... in august ... i had to were a coat!
odd place the mother country is !

Saturday, August 11, 2007

saturday at the plough

Saturday finds us still without a good connection to the net, so erin and i are spending the afternoon at the plough in near-by horsell. so far being car-less has not been an issue; though chris now owns a 15 speed bike! virgin-media claimed that the modem will arrive monday ... can you tell i'm a bit fixated :) better pictures then!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Well deregulation and the free market make sorting broadband / phone / tv almost impossible for an outsider. You can however can post us a note to our new address! just send us an email or call
Judy's mobile (ok, so email us for the number, also send a brick or two of gold, as chris chatted for a minuet with jenny and it cost me and arm and _both_ legs :) ).

After surviving move in on Monday, Tuesday was spent by Dave and Erin in London connected to the net (and in some meetings). Judy organized the flat and Chris went exploring. He found the local Pizza Hut (guess what we had last night :) ). Today we spent 2+ hours buying food and the rest of the day buying other stuff ... find of the day -- my new belt is also a bottle opener! gotta love the Brits!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

absent friends :)

"Absent Friends" Our first toast in our new flat!
(A request of a neighbor who remarked that this
quote (from Dickens) was the favorite of his wing whenever they met. These meetings now only include himself and his navigator, who is in Chicago). While we raise this toast with slightly less gravity, those of you who are reading this are missed!

The picture, taken from the kitchen, shows the side of the living room. More picture soon, but first I need to sort out getting a network connection in the flat (by order of my women :) )

Saturday, August 4, 2007

"At last, British summertime..."

So read the headline of one of today's papers, The Independent. Unlike July 2006, which saw record high temperatures, July 2007 was unseasonably cool and rainy. With a weekend forecast of sunshine and low 80s, the Brits are soaking it up before the rain returns on Monday. We spent the day at Windsor, both inside and outside the castle. Apparently it was very exhausting! (The "long walk" next to the sleeping beauties leads to Windsor Castle in the background.)

ah work [really a friday post]

well it had to happen ... i took the train into kings ( if board check out the folks i work with ).
the good thing about starting work on a friday is that you only have a one day work week!

as for the rest of the crew, they never left the lodge ... and were happy about it .... they even made a new friend 'chip' . we'll try to upload a picture of chip soon :)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

easy way to post a comment


we created the account named anonymousbinkfriend (password 4binks) so that those of you who can't be bothered to create an account (or are security conscious) can now make anonymous comments!


My birthday!

My 43rd birthday (Wednesday) began and ended at the Ancient Gate House Hotel in Wells, which is where we spent 2 nights. The guidebook described it as having "wonky walls," and we had to climb a circular stone staircase to get to our room. Very cool. The hotel lounge looked out at the cathedral itself, and was the only place in the hotel where we could get an internet connection, so it was a very popular place for our family to hang out. I took a guided tour of the cathedral in the morning while everyone else surfed the net, and then in the afternoon we drove to Cheddar. Yes, that is where the cheese by that name was originally made, and we all enjoyed the factory tour and free samples afterwards. Cheddar Gorge is a beautiful yet very touristy area that reminded me of Wisconsin Dells. We returned to Wells in the evening and ate takeaway fish and chips (Judy and Chris) and pizza (Dave and Erin) at a picnic table facing the cathedral. They even surprised me with a cake! The best gift will be when we finally move into our flat....

of henges and windy roads

sorry title is backwards ... the rant is first ...i'm rather tired of amazingly narrow roads on which large lauries pass you going the opposite direction while on your left (the wrong side for a car to be on) is a stone wall that would just love to remove the paint from side of the car. we recently figured out what it means when the center white line disapeers -- 'the road is too narrow for two cars, so we stopped painting the line' or how about this road sign 'oncoming traffic in middle of road [say your prayers]' ok rant off ... i feel better now :)

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chris took this groovy picture of stonehenge. however, it not the largest such structure. the one in avebury is much larger. plus you can get up close and commune with the stones:

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nor is stonehenge the oldest ... before the stone age (as in with a modern stone age family) there was woodhenge .... alas the wood is all gone, but there is this sign and some concrete markers!
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judy or chris also found us this great old hill fort that has having a medieval day.
while judy checked out the ruins (including yac (yet another cathedral) and erin was drawing in the sun (or the shade, but i think this was a cold day), chris was busy wooping his old man in an old game!

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the next day we arrived in wells and first things first ...
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well judy laughed at as all having computers out first thing.

ok back to work ... next up a note from the birthday girl!

back on the net again (hum 'back on the road again' while reading

spent a lovely night a farm house b&b. had a proper breakfast and even learned some dutch. only serious drawback ... yea you guessed it - no wireless. next day we made it to wells (amy i'll send a picture of the town's coat or arms) and then cheddar (the town that 'invented' cheddaring). wells has a great cathedral that judy has only been to twice. i'll have hew followup when she is awake :) ... pictures when erin wakes up as i forgot how to use photobucket :(

the return to the east begins later today...