A Travellerspoint blog

Finally got to London!

rain 14 °C

I can't believe its been almost 3 weeks since I last posted, life has become crazy busy in the last little while. I'm working finally!! I'm temping for a large UK company at the moment. I'm enjoying it, mostly because I've never worked so close to home! It's literally a 5 minute bus ride from my house, right near Southampton Airport. At the same time I'm preparing for a couple interviews this week for marketing jobs. So I can say things are looking up!!

This past weekend Rich and I went to London. We almost didn't make it because the night before, after making our lunches and planning what we were doing we ended up falling asleep late and we forgot to set the alarm! We woke up basically when we were supposed to leave top get to town for the bus to London. I panicked and was running around like a headless chicken and Rich just got dressed and got things together and called a cab. Good thing he's level headed!

We made it to the bus depot on time and nabbed a good seat. The bus wasn't very full, it was only 8:30am on a Saturday! The bus stopped off briefly at Heathrow and we got into central London just in time for a morning rain. of course. We had been pretty ambitous th what we wanted to do for the day so e took off for the tube quickly and headed to Camden Market. I was so looking forward to that!!

Camden was awesome. The streets were lined with stores spilling out onto the sidewalks and there was a market area with stalls and stalls of clothes,jewellery, purses, trinkets and of course tons of yummy food. As we munched on some chinese dumplings and chicken sticks I wondered around the markets checking out the goods. It was hard because so much of what I saw was obviously imported form like Thailand and China and completely marked up. Since I've been there and shopped and know what the prices can be originally it's difficult to justify spending like £30 on a purse that I know was bought for like £2, not to mention the exchange to Canadian!!
Nevertheless, Camden market is definatly amazing for unique items that aren't sold in the high street stores.

After Camden we hopped on the tube again and headed for the Tower of London. As we got out of the station I could hear music playing quite loudly. We headed to the Tower and saw that part of it was covered with a plastic sheet and we were restrcited from walking down to the front area. People were milling about and peeking through the covers. We joined in and soon realized it was The Princes Trust Gala. Well it was the sound check and live on stage doing their check were the Bee Gee's. I'll admit I've never really been a fan or anything, I know who they are though lol. I never would have recognized them, but Rich is a music buff and his mom loves them. Next up was a UK pop group called McFly, man the girls were screaming. I had only heard of them through reading the gossip mags over here and haven't heard their music but apparently they are a big thing for the teeny boppers. man i feel old saying that!! After they palyed a song it was raining pretty heavily so we decided to head to the other side and check out London bridge.

London Bridge was definatly a cool site to see. Especially since I had just watched the UK Apprentice that finished last week and they had done their final big task in the London Bridge. (I'll admit I like Sir Alan Sugar better then the Donald thats for sure!!)

It was raining pretty hard so we decided to keep walking and head to Big Ben, the houses of Parliament and Westminister Abbey, which are all within the same area. We didn't go inside again to see anything, we had decided that Saturday was just going to be a tour of sorts and later on when we have more time we can do things bit by bit. It was difficult trying to cram it all into one day, but I really just wanted to see all the sites rather then just explore 1 or 2 that day.

What I really wanted to see was Buckingham Palace. As chessy as it sounds or as touristy as it is, I grew up watching the royals and their waves from the balcony. It was definatly smaller looking then on tv and the balcony is much closer to the ground and the front gate then I would have thought. Whats interesting is that they have a ramp inside the front gate that apparently is to stop anyone from ramming through the gates with their car! Rich said some guy trie it a few years back and broke the gate! It was quite cool though just standing there looking in and watching the guard stand there looking so official and rigid. The changing of the guard was at 11am so we missed it by hours.

Across the road from Buckingham Palace there's a gate to St James's Park. The gate is called Canada Gate and it has plaques with some provincial flags, no Ontario though! But I had my first Canadian sighting since arriving here exactly 2 months today! A Canadian couple checking out the gate as well, it was nice to hear their accents.

We walked through the park and jumped on the tube again to go to Covent Garden where I wanted to check out the Maple Leaf pub and the Canada shop. When we came out of the station it was manic with tons of people, turned out to be Malaysia festival going on complete with stalls of food, garments, and a fashion show. I love the diversity of London, it reminded me of home a little.

We found the Canada shop which was a combo of Australia, New Zealand and Canada food items that aren't sold in the UK. I got a box of orignal cheerios!! The cheerios they have here, hich they've always had are the multi grain ones at home. weird. Rich hadn't even ever seen the yellow box and plain cheerios! We also got some Swiss Chalet sauce and Denteyne gum. It's funny how you don't really think about some things that aren't available other places.

After we grabbed our stuf we walked a few doors down and I saw the Maple Leaf pub. ahh what a sight for sore eyes...the Canadian flag outside and something I haven't been able to find anywhere since arriving..a Canada paper. Not that I mind too much since I just rea online what's going on anyways. Turns out that the staff in the pub are all Canadian as well! We nibbled on some poutine and chicken fingers and Rich had a Molson Canadian. One thing that wasn't very Canadian was the fact the place was so damn smokey!! I never realized how inconvenient it really is for non smokers to be around smoke.

Belive it or not by the time we finished up at the pub it was about an hour until we caught our bus back, so we head to Oxford street to check out the shopping. I found love standing there outside the station and trying to decide which street to head down first. Shopping....beautiful architecture...no malls....wicked stores!!
Oxford street will definatly get an afternoon out of me in the near future!!

So alas, our day came to an end as we dragged our knackered bodies back to Victoria station to catch the coach home. I stared out the window and admired the tall houses on small streets with tiny little parks in between. London was fantantastic. It rivaled the way I felt about Bangkok before I left Thailand. It made me realze that I truly am just a city girl at heart.

Sorry no pics on this post..uploads take forever and I just wanted to get something down! Click on the link for all the pics on my msn space tinyurl.com/nj2td


And Happy Victoria Day!

Posted by ashleym66 12:21 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)

Much ado about nothing

sunny 25 °C

Sorry I haven't written in awhile, I haven't done much lately thats very interesting! Well travel wise anyways. Although I have 2 day trips to London planned this month. One to visit my stepmom when she does a layover the first weekend of June. I'm excited for that cuz I'm a little homesick and am looking forward to seeing someone in my family! Plus i get to stock up on some kraft peanut butter and maple syrup! Rich couldn't get the day off work so I'll be heading by myself to London. I was a little nervous about that because I haven't been there yet since my arrival in England. I know thats horrible, but hey..life happens. So anyways, Rich and I are going to head there in 2 weeks so that I can get familiar with the tube and where I'm going. I don't really fancy spending a couple hours getting lost, my sense of direction is horrible sometimes..many of you that have driven with me can attest to that! If it's not downtown TO, I have no idea where I'm going!!

Lately I've been having awful headaches and blurred vision so I went to get my eyes checked, something I haven't done in years. Turned out i'm long sighted and need glasses to take the strain off my eyes. So I've now acquired a pair of glasses, mind you I only have to wear them for reading and the computer..which is alot these days. I guess this is what getting old feels like..things starting to deteriorate!! Heres some pics of my 2 new pairs.

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Getting little more serious about the flat hunting these days as we don't have that much time left. Or so it seems that way! I'm sure people that have been renting for years are use to the need to find a place quickly and move. I'm not a fan and don't plan on renting for a long time thats for sure.

The weather here has been absolutely amazing! It's been sunny and hot all week, yesterday was the hottest day this year thus far. I like the weather here because your not walking around sweating all day all of a sudden like at home after freezing your butt off for months in the winter. It's gradually gotten warmer each week. And it hasn't rained in ages!! In fact it hasn't rained all that much since I got here, watch now it will since I said that. Bravo to me.

Posted by ashleym66 10:26 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

One fine sunny day!

overcast 17 °C

I haven't written in awhile beacause I haven't been doing much as of late. Lotsa boring stuff like Job hunting, National insurance number getting, and registering with the surgery. No worries there, that's what the brits call the doctors office lol. I came across a weird scenario today when I filled a perscription out. When I got back I read the information leaflet inside the meds and saw that that I couldn't actually take it because I'm lactose intolerant. I called the surgery and spoke with the nurse who said the doctor would get back to me with another perscription. I went to the chemists (the pharmacy!) and gave back my medication only to find out they can't refund my money!(or exchange it for another perscription)It's some law that prohibits them from refunding perscribed medication?!? I had never heard of that, and now i'm out £7 ($14)!! Mind you, at home I had never tried to return a perscription so it could be the same?!?

When the weekend rolls around Rich and I are feeling so cooped up here with all the housemates we try to get out for the day and sightsee somewhere even if its just the next town, so thats just what we did on Saturday. It was a gorgous sunny day here, which doesn't happen very often! It felt like the first day of summer at home and everyone is out with convertible tops off and shorts on. What is with that premature summer stuff?!? wishful thinking I suppose because the next day was rainy and blah again.

Winchester is about a 10 minute train ride away from Southampton. It was formerly the capital of England, during the 10th and early 11th centuries. It is best known for the Great Hall, which was built in the 12th century and is the only surviving portion of Winchester Castle. The Great Hall was rebuilt, sometime around 1230 and still exists today. It's also known for King Arthur's Round Table, which has hung in the hall from at least 1463. Unfortunately we arrived at the great hall about a 1/2 hour after it closed so weren't able to check it out.

Another historical building is the Winchester Cathedral, which is one of the largest in England. It was built nearly 1,000 years ago in 1079 and developed over centuries. The cathedral was pretty impressive with its different architectural styles meshed together. It has seen the likes of four royal coronations and three royal weddings. When I walked in a saw the nave and the impressive high ceilings and windows it was quite an experience. Even though I'm not religous at all, I could definately appreciate the history and spirituality of it. What fascinated me were the tombstones and plaques commemorating all the people that were buried in the walls and under the concrete. Everywhere you walked you were stepping on stones marking people all the way back to the 15th century. There were alot of war memorials, Rich said that Winchester was a large military community at one point. Another thing were the tombs where former bishops of Winchester were buried. They were eerie because they looked like mummies in a way, in gold lol. Some dated back to the 12th century. We spent a better part of two hours just looking at everything. The intricate detailing that had been restored over the years, the 13th century tiling and even trunks that were high atop a wall that had former kings and queens skeletal remains!





In true old cathedral fashion there was a creepy crypt in the basement. We were able to go down and peer in but unfortunately there weren't any tours that day. The tours go deep into the bottom of the cathedral, that by the map look like winding pathways, where tomstones lay. Another day indeed!



As we were leaving, I was again reading the gravestones on the walls and I surprisingly came across novelist Jane Austen's stone! I wasn't aware that she was buried there. There were the plaques on the wall, and floor that were put up when she was buried there in 1817. I didn't realize at first that it was the Jane Austen because there was no mention of her writing. On a second glance I noticed another small plaque that spoke of her literary fame. The story is that she wasn't known outside her own family for her novels until well after her death. Her nephew later had the plaque placed there to make note of it. Random things you come across!

I really loved Winchester it was so quaint and relaxed. Since it was a beautiful day on Saturday people were milling about on the lawns by the cathedral having lunch or just chilling out. It was very old school England in our modern society. Rich and I walked around the streets, and the banks of the River Itchen lazily. I could definatly get used to work weeks ending with the weekends of exploring! Another mention are the yummy pasties here in the shops. Pasties are like steak and potatoes with gravy wrapped up in a pastry. The jamaican patty but english and better lol. Although I still do crave a good patty on a cocobun!

Oh another mention is that the movie Da Vinci Code was shot at Winchester Cathedral! Coincidentally I've been meaning to read this book for ages and didn't realize until we got there and read about it. I picked up the book today and started to read it! lol

Take a gander to my msn space (link in oxford entry) for more pics. I will be posting most of my pictures there for now on.

Posted by ashleym66 08:48 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Oxford, The City of Dreaming Spires

sunny 15 °C

On Thursday we were feeling a little bored so we decided to take a daytrip somewhere. We couldn't decide between Brighton or Oxford so I suggested that we use the magic 8 ball to make the decision for us. No im not crazy, but we had just watched Good Will Hunting and they had used it, and well it was sitting right there!! So we asked it about going to Brighton and it said absolutely not and then Oxford and it said yes..so off to Oxford we were! We packed a lunch for the day and took a bus to the Southampton Airport train station to take the next Virgin train to Edinburgh. Edinburgh you ask?? well thats where the train was ending, thought that was cool! Hopefully someday soon will we! Although Rich said there's no way we'l take the train, its an 8 hour train journey to Scotland and the flights are like £20 and much quicker.

Anyways, the Virgin trains are really comfy although a little busy for the easter holiday. We managed to get two seats together and I got a window seat thank god! The trip took about an hour and 15 mins and I just sat there and watched the english countryside go by. It was quite beautiful, very green and lotsa rolling fields of crops with old thatched cottages every mile or so in between. When you think of "cottage" an image of a couple bedrooms, small kitchen with a nice view of the lake if your lucky. These are not those type of cottages! I wonder why they call them that really because to my eyes they don't look like that at all! They're rather large houses that I guess could be dubbed "country homes" but most likely lived in full time.

We arrived in Oxford around noon and I was well excited! I mean it's such a historical place having been a home to royalty and scholars for 800 years. It has the oldest university in the English-speaking world! Famous authors such as J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Oscar Wilde studied there.

It is known as the "city of dreaming spires", a term coined by Matthew Arnold in reference to the harmonious architecture of the university buildings.

We started walking from the station, which is really centrally located. Right outside the station the building are rather new-ish, theres the Oxford Uni Business school which is a pretty modern, but a rather cool looking building. Onwards we went walking into the main area of Oxford City. The buildings were amazing, exactly what I had pictured England to look like. Where I live it's more suburban so it's not quite the same. The buildings were all high and narrow looking and the street winding so you can see the wonderful structures on the next street before you've even got to the corners. I walked in awe as Rich smiled at me. He'd been to Oxford some years ago, and although he loves the city he was just enjoying my north american perspective of it.

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We came up to Corn Market Street which is a pedestrian only road lined with tons of shops and restaurants. At the end in the horizon was a part of Oxford uni. Just to clarify for eveyone, there are 39 self-governing colleges related to the university in a type of federal system. They call them colleges individually which confused me since at home uni's and colleges are two different things. Here college is also the last 2 years of highschool (which isnt mandatory!) but in this case college is basically a campus. In Oxford City there are two different Uni's, theres the University of Oxford which everyone is familiar with and then theres Oxford Brooks which use to be a polytechnical university. The history of Oxford university is one that is very long and interesting, a battle between "town and gown" as they say. Also, women have only been students since 1920 and since 1974 all but one of Oxford's colleges have turned unisex. Theres only one all women college left called St. Hilda's which apparently the women voted to keep exclusive.

Corn Market Street
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The first campus that we came upon was called Christ Church and St. Aldate's which is where 13 of the 25 British prime ministers that attended Oxford went. This a very elite college. All students that attend school here are called senior members as opposed to all other students at the 38 other colleges which are called junior members. It was humungous and ancient looking, almost like a castle! The grounds surrounding were massive, of course included a cricket field and various student halls and smaller cottages that I can only assume are classrooms. (of course I was as nosy as can be and peeped lol) I can't imagine what it would be like to attend this college with such a long history and so many damn tourists around snappig pictures of the place your studying!! I would think it would be fairly annoying. Thats the reason why alot of the colleges are closed to the public or only open between certain times. Oh and also the first Harry Potter movie was filmed at Christ Church college.

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As we were wondering the streets we came upon a plak on a wall that said Macdonald Hotels and then I looked up and saw a pretty impressive old building that's a hotel. That was pretty cool, hopefully a long lost rich or royal relative!!

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I found Oxford to be such a lovely city with surprises around every corner. From cobble stoned streets with pink and blue houses, to walking into an outdoor market and lastly, coming upon a wonderful inside market with cute little shops, food stalls and a wonderful little cafe called Chocology!! (The Covered Market as its called) I was in heaven! We visited Blackwell's Bookstore on Broad street which is quite famous! It's 127 years old and has been visited by the likes of Bill Clinton, Muhammed Ali, Stephen King, Mikhail Gorbachov, Maragret Thatcher and many more. They hold an impressive collection of books that are dated back to the 1700's! We went to look and they are all in cases and they also have on show some first edition books with the massive prices they fetch these days. Any book lover would be impressed with a visit to Blackwell's. It's in an old victorian house and must have like 6 floors. Apparently they excavated under the neighboring Trinity College Gardens and now lay claim to the largest single room devoted to book sales in Europe. The room is named the Norrington Room and its an impressive 10,000 Sq feet. The basement in Blackwell's is a academnic bookshop for Oxford University and has a very large collection of any subject you can conjure up.

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Rich also got word that there was a Krispy Kreme within Oxford somewhere. We ended up on a hunt for donuts lol. Since they don't have many Krispy Kreme stores over here and its fairly new it's still a fat novelty lol. I was even in awe when we happened up on it and found it be within a castle!! Only in England would that happen! The castle was only remnants I would guess from being bombed during some war (like so many things over here!) and had been built upon to house a restaurant and the krispy kreme shop.

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We had packed a lunch and so we found a cute little parkette beside a church and sat down on the benches and ate our lunch. It was nice to sit there and just watch the hustle and bustle of tourists snapping pics and students scurrying to classes. I tried to imagine what it must have been like a 100 years ago or even 300 years ago. Hard for me to do without veiwing pictures or a film since my generation is so far removed form that era! But I could still feel the vibe of the history and the wonderful buildings that surrounded me.

Today was the first time since coming to England that I really felt in awe of it. Canada is such a new country in comparison to so many other countries around the world that we miss out on such rich history. For instance, on the train we passed a WW2 pill box. Rich explained to me that during the war the soldiers would use it as shelter while in the field. It was old, rusty looking and smaller then I would have thought. But I sat there thinking wow thats pretty cool. We're on this train, passing through this feild that battles were fought on.

Of course I say all this because I haven't yet visited London. Which I'm sure will leave me speechless!! I flew into it but we haven't gone to sightsee there just yet. I'm waiting until I get a job and then we can go and celebrate. I'm looking forward to that immensely!!

So I will leave this entry with random photos of our trip to Oxford. I really loved the city. It's quite wonderful with so many beautiful old buildings that have such intricate detailing. It also gave me a bit of the travel bug to get out there and tour around the rest of England. I really want to see a massive castle!!! That I hope will be next on the list!

Here is a link to my msn space which has all the photos I took. This site gives me a limit for uploading pics which I've almost passed for this month.


This picture encapulates my love of doorways (started in thailand! lol) and historical buildings
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Funny design eh?
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Inside a courtyard at one of the colleges, I was in awe of the structure
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Walking down the cobbled stone road
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Library known as The Radcliffe or Oxford Camera - 1737
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Posted by ashleym66 03:31 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Things Looking Up

overcast 15 °C

My last post was discouraging to say the least. After that another crappy thing happen to me. Last sunday I was enjoying the most yummy Indian curry i've ever had, while having a lazy relaxing day. After I finished eating I went to floss my teeth (don't laugh, it's a little obsession of mine lol) and I looked in the mirror and was in shock. Somewhere between the Chicken Calabar and the Chicken Tikka Masala I had managed to chip a tooth!! I called Rich upstairs and was literally bawling my eyes out. I mean I had barely unpacked let alone find a dentist! And lets face it, England is not reknown for the dentistry!!

After a tearful call to my mom (a girl always needs to call her mom in a moment of despair, even if shes 5000Km's away!)and Rich trying to convince me I didn't look like a Pikey, I calmed down. The next day I got on the Canadian Expats website (which is my england bible these days)and got some good advice about fees and where to find a dentist. I called around I kid you not about 20 places all across Southampton. You definatly take for granted how easy it is to do things in your own country, thats for sure. I got such a varying amount of feedback and prices, my head was reeling. It looked like it was going to cost me between £60- £75 just for a consultation with the dentist, not to mention the costs of fixing the tooth. In addition, I was looking at about 2-3 weeks away for the earliest appointment! I had come to the conclusion it was my veneer that was chipped (yes I know im vain, got the massive gap filled years ago lol) During my research I had figured out that to replace it could cost me upwards of £200!! In a last ditch effort I tried a place up the road that to me looked a little dodgy being above a food market and all. I called and they told me it would only cost £20 for the consultation, and they gave me an appointmet the next day which made me even more leery because it was such a low price in comparison to the other places and they had something free so soon.

The next day I went early because I wanted to have time to scope the place out. I know it sounds silly, but I have a vivid imagination and a huge skepticism of any business that isn't trying to gouge you. I arrived and the place looked really clean and professional. check one. I was put in an exam room, clean again, nice un-dodgy people working. check two. They did leave me waiting like 20 minutes, but they are a verrrry small office and only have one dentist so I'll give them that. check three. The dentist arrived, and I explained my situation and showed him my chipped tooth. He's from France and immediatly asked if I speak french, being from canada. I replied very little even after taking it for years in school. He laughed and told me that he really respects Canadian dentistry practices and work and that he'd been to Montreal and Toronto many times. Gawd, people looove telling me where they've been in Canada like all the time. Hard to explain that they've probably been to more places then me in my own country!

Anyways back to my tooth. He confirmed it was my veneer that had chipped. He was honest and told me it would be extremely expensive to replace and that he would try to mend it instead. He looked at my teeth and was in complete awe of my "great Canadian teeth", he even called his hygenist in and pointed out things and said, "this is a fine example, look at this" I felt like an animal on display that just won first prize in a show! But it was nice. He seemed nervous to work on my teeth, which was kinda cute but not really! After everything was done he ended up doing a great job, you can't even tell there was a chip there. He ended up not charging me for it at all, just for the consult. Yay for being Canadian and getting free dental repairs!! At least all the money I spent on them at home paid off for once!!

You know it's funny how when things go wrong it's always a few things in a row and then as if the world is balancing itself out things start to get better. Im a huge believer in karma and I really believe that whatever you put out comes back to you eventually.

Another big announcement is that today I managed to get a bank account! I went to HSBC bascially because it's the only bank I recognized and its up the street from my house. I thought that because they have branches in canada it might be easier to get an account there. I had prepared myself for it being a difficult task after reading the expat forum and everyone's difficult experiences. I went in with just my passport, a visa bill with my england address and my Canadian drivers licence and they started off by doing a credit check on my Canadian address. The guy I was dealing with was thoroughly shocked when it came back that they could offer me a full account with a checking, savings and even overdraft! He told me that this rarely happens, and that I must have great credit at home, of course!! So I was really happy with that. It's so odd how little things, or sorry, things you have always thought are mundane and easy to come by can become things that bring you such independance and happiness in an unfamiliar environment.

Another great thing is when you get mail or packages! My mom sent Rich and I an easter package that contained lotsa yummy goodies and much needed Canadian kraft stuff. Got my wellies now so i'm well prepared!! My dad and Michelle sent my luggage and it arrived finally on monday from the clearing agent we hired. Very dusty and worse for wear, but damn I was glad to get them! All my drew barrymore and sex in the city dvds are back in my hands!! I was missing them sorely. We downloaded a program that allows me to watch them on the pc (since they are region 1 dvds and the uk is region 2) and we don't have a multi-region dvd player yet. So Rich gets the great honour of watching Pretty Woman for the first time and sitting through 50 First Dates and about 10 other Drew movies after that. I'm sure he can't wait.

Posted by ashleym66 06:36 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Real nice

sunny 13 °C

I had a humiliating experience yesterday in a shop. Rich just started a new job so I decided to venture into town on my own for the first time. I went primarily to do a little grocery shopping so I headed to ASDA(owned by Wal-Mart).

Since England is so damn difficult in their backwards ways sometimes, its really difficult for me to open a bank account. I need to have all kinds of things, and basically the luck of the draw. In any case, since I'm waiting for bank statements from home to arrive, Ive been using an account of Richard's that he doesnt use. I put all my Travellers cheques in there and I have the card. Ive been with Richard everytime I go to the shops and use it so I havent come across a situation where Id get into a jam with the fact it has his name on it.

On with the story, I was in ASDA and did some shopping and went to the checkout. The woman behind the cash was nice enough and asked how I was etc. I guess she heard my accent, and little did I know she'd be so devious. I went to pay with the card, mostly out of Interac habit at home. She took it and immediatly inspected the card as if she was looking for something wrong.

She says to me, "this the right card??" and without thinking i replied "yes". then as she says, "Your not MR Richard Read are you?" with empahsis on Mr and a slighltly sneering look at me. I looked up and was like "oh sorry thats my boyfriend's card, here il pay by cash" of course she couldn't leave it there right. She says to me in a hauty voice, "I don't know what it's like in other countries, but here you cannot use your Boyfriends card" I just looked at her, as she spoke loudly and my face went beet red. I was so insulted. She acted as if I was some illegal alien or something. She then calls over the manager and says to him even louder,"We're not allowed to use our boyfriends bank cards here are we?" The manager took the card and said that this was fraud and that they had to confiscate the card!!!

I was so damn pissed. Most people that know me, know my temper, I was fuming!! I convinced the manager to hold it for the evening instead of mailing it back to the bank, because of course it would have taken weeks to get another one! I told him Richard would come in after work and get it. He was adamant about him bringing in ID, passport, the works. I was just so humiliated I couldn't even make a snide remark about him actually being english, I just wanted to get out of there!!

So home I went basically in tears, Richard came home and then went down to the shop and got back his card. Telling them that they had no right to make me feel like a criminal, fact is, I had the pin number so obviously I had consent! They could have just warned me or something. Rich said they were quite surprised he had showed up, as if theyd already pegged me or something. They ended up apologizing to him and one manager told him to tell me to just use it at the bank machines to withdrawl cash instead to cause less problems! I find it insulting that they can offer that advice, but then be so stringent on embaressing me in public.

This has defianlty increased my desire to push forward for a bank account, as I got my statements coincidentally today. Thank God!!

Nothing much else new. Rich has been working, so I finished my CV and am going to start with the job stuff. My other luggage is arriving tomorrow so we'l have to take a trip to Heathrow Airport on Monday night to get it (theyre closed on the weekend!). I'm glad cuz im missing some clothing I packed in there!! lol.

Shock horror, one of the housemates asked if i could help him clean today! OK!! Hes having friends over tonight so he realized it needed to be done. But man when I start, I can't stop!! Needless to say the place is looking pretty spanking clean today. We'll see how long it lasts!!

I'm meeting Rich after work to have dinner at the pub down the road since the housemate is having friends over. Im craving some Yorkshire pudding. man that stuff is good. Im hoping they do roast dinners during the week, not just on sunday!!

On another note, we went and did some flat hunting the other day. Checked out a few places, some pretty dingy and small, one pretty damn nice. We're going to stay in Southampton for now I think, its easier then looking for jobs and a flat in London! We filled out some applications, so we'll see what happens. Not moving until the end of June, but it doesn't hurt to get start looking early! Im crossing my fingers anyways!

Beautiful day today, hasn't rained in like 2 days, so Im expecting a downpour at any moment. I know it seems like im obsessed with the weather here. But its so damn inconsistant it's hard not to mention it all the time! Doesn't matter, I never leave the house without my umbrealla now!

Posted by ashleym66 07:29 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)


sunny 15 °C

Well Ive not been up to much the past few days. I went to see the film "Failure to Launch" with Sarah Jessica Parker. It was alright, not great but of course since she was in it I can't be too negative lol. Went and did a big shop at the grocer's. note to self and others, do not shop on a saturday. especially in england since all the shops close at like 5pm during the week. Of course everywhere in most western countries are busy on saturdays at the shops, but not like here. And yes that bit above is true! Most stores close at 5pm during the week! Even the mall! Shocking to me it was. I mean if you work, and most people do lol, then how do you get anythign done?? well apprently thursday nights the mall, and I'm assuming the shops, are open till like 8pm. So I suppose it's liek a sturday...on thursday night. Following me? lol. Thank god I'm an unemployed bum atm or I wouldn't get anything done!

After shopping we came home and all of us in the house went down to the pub for a drink. Pretty much everyone is within walking distance to a pub around here. I felt like such a girl, an odd one at that, since they all ordered beer and I ordered a Pepsi. lol. It was like 4pm and I wasn't in the mood for wine, and, are you ready?.... I DO NOT DRINK BEER. Shock Horror. How can I be in England and not enjoy a nice Pint at the pub?? well I think I'll manage. lol. check this pic out, the mantra was awesome and I loved it.

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Religions Change: Beer and Wine Remain

(for those of you who can't see. hahahaha)

only I would have a camera on me while mid-afternoon in a pub, AND take a picture lol.

2nd note to self and others. don't live with anyone you don't know ever. At this moment one of the housemates, which will remain nameless (male of course lol) is downstairs making the largest mess in the kitchen I have ever seen. dear lord. and no clean up on the horizon. poor rich comes up and says, "brace yourself ashley please" as I come down to get a bite to eat. nearly died I swear. All my parents would be proud of me and my cleaning craziness. I now realize what it was like to live with kids that don't clean up after themselves. lol.

here's a random picture of my street.

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Will write soon with more interesting adventures and tidbits!

p.s..today is the first day it didn't rain allll day! wow!

Posted by ashleym66 12:31 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

A day in Portsmouth

overcast 10 °C

The other day Richard and I took a train ride about 45 minutes out of southampton to a town called Portsmouth. Situated on the southern coast of England, it has been a significant naval port for centuries. Although it has declined as a military port in recent years, it still remains a major dockyard and base for the Royal Navy. An interesting fact about Portsmouth is that the city was bombed extensively during WW2 and while most of the city has since been rebuilt, developers still occasionally find unexploded bombs! Also, Portsmouth is the birthplace of Charles Dickens. See reading my blog is both entertaining and educational!

Our intent in visitng portsmouth was to visit a shopping centre called Gunwharf Quays that we heard had some great outlets stores. We were right!! It was very picture-esque situated right beside the train station and right at the ocean's edge. It was an outside complex that although was built in 2003, still has a old look to it as most everything in England does! They are developing the area into a very modern condo area that would be a dream to live by...shopping at your fingertips, oceans edge, and of course I haven't mentioned the best part...theres a cadbury factory store there!

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This is the Spinaker Tower. It was built in 2005 and is 165 m tall. It features viewing decks and a panoramic view from the top. It was really rainy and cloudy that day so we didn't venture up, but we will when we go back!

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After we spent a few hours shopping and having lunch, we ventured out to check out the naval base area. Unfortunalty we were about 10 minutes too late as they closed just before we got there! So we didn't get to see the HMS Visctory behind the walls, but we were able to take pics of the HMS Warrior that was docked in the harbour.

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Lastnight we had a craving for Thai food, and luckily theres a thai restaurant just in town called Sara's. Rich had been there before with his housemate and raved about it. It is actually run by a thai woman and her english husband. I can;t tell you how fantastic the food was except to just say that it tasted as if we were in a restaurant in thailand. Absolutely amazing.

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So anyways, we've been just relaxing a little bit as of late. I'm fiddling with my resume and thinking about starting to look for work. Although I am enjoying my little time off, I realize that the real world beckons me. Oh and the other night, I was finally prepared for this damn english weather. I brought my umbrella althought there was no inclination that there was rain in the forecast. And..yup you guessed it, it rained! I was actaully happy lol.

Posted by ashleym66 01:04 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

Exploring My New Home

rain 15 °C

I have spent the past few days getting over my jet lag. It's surprising how the time difference can really take a toll on you. In between sleeping late (ohh ya be jealous!) and organizing my stuff, Rich has been taking me around Southampton. We've been to town a few times, and although I say "been to town" as if I'm living in a small village, it's really not. It's quite urban in fact, more so then I thought originally. Town is only a 15 minute bus ride away, and yes the buses are all double deckers! The bus and train systems here are really fantastic. We went to downtown southmapton and checked out the mall. It was pretty much the same as home, even went to Aldo and Levi'.

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Right outside the West Quay Mall theres an old Bargate from the medieval era. It's currently being restored so we couldn't go through it, but it's cool to see so much history even in a modern areas.

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I had my first pub meal on Friday, at a place called Giddy Bridge Pub. I now know why English people are infamous for not tipping. You have to go to the bar and order yourself, get your own condiments and drinks and then the barstaff just come over and plop your food down for you. You even have to pay as you order so there's no waiting around for the bill. It was odd but can see the convenience of it. As well as the food was so cheap and damn good. What I got a laugh over was you can order a burger combo and have a choice of beer or wine as a drink!! Only in England I suppose. Also, you can still smoke in the pubs and most restaurants!! That was a treat, and yes I'm still going to quit I have 5 more packs of my Canadian cigarettes to finish ;-)

Giddy Bridge Pub

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The weather has been really warm, as compared to when I left Toronto. It's been around 15 degrees for the most part but of course it's been raining like mad. I expected it but my lord it's a cold rain. I totally understand the dampness everyone talked about as well, my bones have been aching in places I never felt before! I bought an umbrella and the first day I used it, It turned inside out and broke. Damn those £2 umbrellas.

Southampton is the port town that the Titanic sailed from. There are many monuments spread throughout the city honouring the crew, the engineers, the musicians, the postal workers,and of course those who perished in the disaster. It's quite interesting. Theres a walk that takes about 1.5 hours and goes around the diferent monuments. I haven't done it yet, but i did come across the engineer's monument in town the other day.


Today Rich and I and his housemates, Jodie, James and Pete took a drive about 20 minutes out of Southampton to a place called New Forest. The New Forest was created as a royal forest in 1079 by William the Conqueror for the hunting of mainly deer. It covers almost 300 square kilometres. It's a national park where people can hike, camp, picnic and ride horses. There are wild horses and deer that roam freely. There are also people that live in towns within the New Forest area. There are alot of old historic cottages, pubs, shops and beautifully restored old houses.

Although it was raining, we all just bundled up and took a hike on the path through the park. Of course, since I'm sooo not a hiker and outdoorsy person I had to borrow some hiking boots from Jodie! lol. And I havent had a chance to get a proper rain coat, but my Canada hoody kept me warm!

Me enjoying a wonderful english day!


This is an old Thatched Cottage from around the late 1800's


Jodie & James exploring the riverside


Richard on a Bridge


Restored cottage


Before we headed out to the park, we stopped in a town called Brockenhurst and had lunch in a real english pub. Since it's Sunday, a popular thing to do is to head to the nearest pub and have a Sunday roast dinner. I'm talking a big fat plate of beef, yorkshire pudding, carrots, roast potatoes and lotsa gravy. It was sooo good. That's definalty a tradition I can keep up and it also made me a little less homesick for my mom's sunday dinners. A little, but not completly!!

Foresters Arms (this is where we had the yummy roast dinner..it's very small but totally quaint)


So that's what I've been up to the past few days. Richard and I plan to head to London early this week for the day and visit Buckingham Palace, The London Tower, Big Ben and the houses of Parliament, the London eye and everything else we can fit in! Tomorrow we're headed to Portsmouth (a town about an hour away from southampton) and visit a shopping centre called Gunwarf Quays. Its basically an outlet park place. I want to find a proper rain coat and Rich hasn't been there yet. Jodie also told us that HMS Victory is there, which was the Admiral Nelson's ship in the Napoleonic wars about 200 years ago. So we're going to do a little sightseeing there as well.

Lots of little day trips around, but I'm loving it. It's definalty a little different here especially the food, and the washing machines,(yes yes laugh!) but I'm getting used to it one day at a time.

Here's a great resource for the history buffs to check out the historic sites within Southampton.


Posted by ashleym66 12:26 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)


overcast 5 °C

Well its now around noon on thursday, and ive just awoken from a jet lagged sleep. This keyboard is a little wonky, you never actaully think that keyboards in other countries are laid out differently, but they are and it takes some getting use too!!

So my flight to london, wow what a trek. I left pearson airport bound for halifax and so what i thought would be a short layover to pick up passengers (we weren't even leaving the plane). We arrived and waited, and waited and waited in our seats, noone was boarding. The captain tells us that theres a problem with the hydraulics, that there will be a delay, around an hour. An hour passes, it will be a little longer he says. Finally after 3 hours he tells us that we will have to switch planes, but of course the other plane isn't there yet so we have to wait. A total of 6 hours waiting on the plane in Halifax!!! Basically we left when we were to arrive in London!!!! I tried calling Richard from some blokes cell, but he had already left and didn't hear the phone, so of course he waited all that time too. Never fly with Zoom Airlines!!!

When I arrived in London, I was tired and needed a ciggerette something fierce!!! we ate a quick meal at McD's (no doubt lol) and hopped on a train bound for Southampton. Since it was getting dark, I didnt get to see too much. But it looked lovely from what I did see! Just before we got off the train, an english woman asked where we were coming from with all the luggage, when i said the airport she of course asked, "Are you American?" and so it begins. lol. But she was nice, wanted to know what my family thought of me moving over here, lol. She wished us best of luck, asked Richard why he didn't get me flowers! and then said something that will probably always stick with me, she said, "Welcome to England dear".

Here are some pics

At Pearson Airport in Toronto
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In London

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Posted by ashleym66 03:20 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

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