We are now a month in to our new adventure in Scotland. This last week was a little harder with the rain and wind kicking up every day and Mercy getting the flu, but the rain has mostly gone and it was a beautiful day yesterday. Mercy is cranky as she gets over being sick and sometimes I wish I couldn't hear the beautiful strains of the whiny "mom" call I get at least once every ten minutes, but I'm glad she's on the mend. Calvin went back to school yesterday and got his first homework packet from Kittybrewster. Adam has been asked to write a chapter in a book and do a book review so he's excited for the new opportunities. As for our home feeling like home...let's say the house feels like our place but not home and the town is slowly becoming vaguely familiar but there is the overwhelming sense that we will never know the ins and outs of this city before we leave it. We know our neighborhood a little bit now but walking in a neighborhood and driving it are very different. The landscape immediately changes and now that I'm driving I feel like I'm starting all over. I do like having a car, though. We had to go down to Sainsbury's (grocery/department sort of store down the hill from us) and there was a bitter wind that I was glad I didn't have to subject Mercy to. I also like the car for adventuring purposes. Some other PhD families don't have cars and aren't planning on getting them but we want to get everything out of the countryside we can, as we love to drive to explore. We couldn't get to a castle this weekend because of the weather and Mercy's flu but we did get to have lunch with the pastor of High Hilton church and his family. They were very nice and it was a great experience to be so invited into a community. We find that the people at church are all just as friendly and are settling in well. I am getting homesick here and there when I think of things like Christmas but it still doesn't feel like we're living here. I suppose it takes a long time to feel that you're really here to stay for a long time because right now we're still changing pounds to dollars in our heads, calling home almost every day, and talking about our plans when we're homeward bound.
Some UK to America differences for those of you who are interested: I find I have to go to the store every two days or so because of food amounts--the fridges here are smaller, the ovens are smaller, and the freezers are normally smaller. Therefore the food comes in smaller amounts. Also, the food does not have the same preservatives we have in the US and it doesn't last as long without being frozen. Since Mercy is on a milk kick, we have to get milk almost every other day. I'm not used to the serving size of things as far as how they are packaged. For instance, I bought a bag of pre-marinated ribs and when I got it home, discovered that I had to make something else as well because there were only about 8 ribs total--not enough for a little family. But I suppose that's just a learning curve. I can't imagine what UK'ers would do for the first time when faced with US portion sizes, family size containers of food, and Costco! They have a Costco here but I'm wary of going since there isn't much room to keep things in the kitchen as it is. Our oven: we have a gas oven and you flip a switch on the wall to turn it on. Then you hold down the starter and turn on the gas and viola! Frozen foods and cooking directions for the actual oven are numbered--bake this meat at Gas mark 7. I haven't found the correlation between these numbers and the degrees from home although my rough guess is that Gas mark 6 is around 350 degrees. Anyone know for sure? Also, the stove top is called the Hob.
As far as actual food goes--the selection is pretty amazing. They have avocados, mangoes, kiwis, watermelon, and, not so shockingly, a whole aisle of potatoes. I've found pita bread, enchilada sauces (not the best but I'm spoiled by CA), and many other foods I didn't expect to see here. I haven't found a good pancake mix yet but when I looked it up online they showed it as a wet mix so maybe it's in the dairy aisle. Eggs aren't kept cold in the store--that was a funny one to me but upon reflection seemed normal. I mean, chickens don't keep them cold. Adam has gone off the deep end exploring the strange flavors of things here--especially crisps. None of them sound appealing to me although I was glad to see he didn't try the haggis flavored ones. Two things I think are popular and strange here are salad creme and brown sauce.
Well, that's enough jabber about various culinary woes and surprises on my end. Other than that, the new world marches on and we're looking forward to trick-or-treating with one of Calvin's friends from school and church. This is the first year I haven't decorated my front yard (I'm pretty sure no one does that here), and I'm not even really interested in costumes. Yikes! Where am I? Calvin is going to be a knight because he brought his beautiful knight costume that Grandma and Papa gave him a few years back, and Mercy is going to be a princess or a fairy courtesy of Aunty Grace who gave her a half dozen lovely Disney dresses for her to choose from. Thanks Aunty Grace! I didn't bring Adam's monk costume I made him so he's out of luck for that tradition, and I'm not sure I'm going to try to dress up either. I might to some face painting, which thankfully I brought. So long for now and I hope this is interesting rather than DULL. - Rachel


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