Mismatched Mess

of life, love, fashion, & forgetting to update


5 Comments

Dover Travel Video…and Bloopers

image

I have begun making travel videos for our adventures abroad.  I love these videos and wrote about my basic plan for them last week.

Our trip to Dover last weekend was so fun.  After I made the initial ‘pretty’ travel video,  I decided to make a blooper reel as well.  In the videos I show you serene scenes of landscapes and buildings set to lovely music,  but in reality my husband and I are two dorks and our commentary is so contradictory to the lovely scenes you see.  Have a look!  And check out my YouTube channel for more #TexansAbroad funny and lovely videos!

Advertisements


5 Comments

#TexansAbroad | Dover, England

Dover Castle Grounds

This past weekend me and Taylor took a 40 minute train ride to the coast to visit the town of Dover. Hopping off the train, we made our way through town in search of a map of Dover and breakfast.

There was nothing remarkable about the particular breakfast place we chose. It called itself The Mean Bean. It served strong coffee and cold pastries. It was rather early so the place was empty when we sat down. As we sipped our lattes and made a loose plan for our day, the coffee shop slowly began to fill up. Each and every customer greeted the owner with conversation and camaraderie. They spread themselves out amongst a few tables, but the conversation never stopped. A few patrons table-swapped to have more personal catch-ups with their friends. The place filled with laughter, British slang, and the smell of coffee. We had stumbled into a local establishment.

This was actually a major find for us. We love Canterbury so much, but between all of the universities and its only industry–tourism, you can’t just walk into any given place and be met with locals. This place was the real deal. It was wonderful and amusing and refreshing.

Dover was refreshing.

Dover, Kent Ocean

Dover still has quite the tourist draw, with its famous white cliffs, a major castle, and its lovely seaside location. But there was such a difference between it and Canterbury. We were thrilled to step away from the hustle of tourists in Canterbury to the slower paced Dover.

We had an amazing time hiking the cliffs, visiting the castle and eating like locals.

Dover, Kent white cliffs of Dover

Dover_Kent_2015 (185)

Dover_Kent_2015 (181)


1 Comment

Canterbury Festival

IMG_6619

Last Saturday marked the start of the annual Canterbury Festival and we decided to visit the city centre to discover how it would unfold.

Basically the festival seems to be a wonderful way to highlight and feature all the fun art events, plays and performances that will be going on from now until November 1st—and beyond. From plays, comedy, choirs, concerts, art galleries—it’s all featured all around the city and brings quite the crowd.

The festival began with the Espression Arts Parade, which was an adorable crafty ‘parade’ of children and families followed by a school band and people dressed in renaissance clothing. Before we moved, Taylor and I passed by the Espression Arts cafe everyday on our way to the city centre where we gathered it was a coffee shop and art studio for families. We could see mothers and children painting or reading through the windows.

IMG_6629

IMG_6640

We spent the rest of the day exploring the area more and finding a few more shops we knew we would frequent. We plan on heading to some of the many events featured by the festival, starting with a comedy act on Thursday.

However one reason we’ll be skipping out on some of the events is to make a day trip to London to visit a close high school friend and her husband!! They are enjoying the London sights as we speak and I’m so excited to take a short trip to visit some familiar faces!

A quick update: Our new flat is great! We’re slowly acquiring a few necessities, since the flat was essentially empty except for furniture. Taylor had to take a quick trip to a shop last night in the middle of cooking just to buy us a skillet! We’re still using paper plates and cups–early on I jumped at the opportunity to buy some cheap coffee cups and silverware, but haven’t found any plates, bowls and cups I like within our price range. Other than the bareness of our cupboards, we’re settling in quite comfortably. I (finally!) found an art store and bought some paints and large paper. My practical mind knows we can’t afford to outright buy every single thing we need (or want) for this flat immediately, so decoration comes last–(oh how our livingroom needs a rug and plant! That’s all I ask for!) But that won’t stop me from doing my best to make art on my own with which to decorate!

IMG_6654


4 Comments

We Got the New Flat!

I’m so excited that we were able to get this lovely flat! There have been quite a few hurdles, but we got the keys and had a look around today!

If you missed why we’re so excited about this place, you can read about our experience with the first flat here.

apt1

The first flat was not what we saw online and about five times smaller than we thought it was going to be. It was just a small, narrow room with a bed in one corner, a couch in the other and a counter with all the necessary kitchen appliances, and a small bathroom with sliding door. I don’t want to complain about it–it’s a nice looking place and ideal for a student or single professional on a budget. However they advertise it for two people because the bed is a double bed, so technically large enough for two. We have been living decently here; only unpacking the essentials and limiting what we attempted to cook. But when it comes down to it, there would be no way we could each work full time out of it.

Admittedly we felt like true stereotypical Texans when we discussed the issues with the landlady. Of course the Texans would want everything bigger. But, for us to comfortably work, live and research, we needed space and made the decision to search for a larger place. We just got SUPER lucky to find a place as large as the new flat is in our price range.   

These first photos are horrible. Perhaps I was cold from walking in the mist, or maybe I was too excited to actually focus the camera!

This flat is a short and pleasant 9 minute walk to the city centre, compared to the 15 minute walk on a major road from the first flat. It is a nice 15 minute walk through a pedestrian-only walkway to the University of Kent, compared to the 30 minute walk uphill on a major road.

I feel like we’ve just moved up in the world because of this upgraded flat. Yes, we’ve had bigger apartments in America, but it’s really been like starting our lives over in the UK (relearning money, reading Universal time, learning which side of the road to be on—I mean, we haven’t had to think about these things since elementary school!) , so this flat is a giant step for us. This is why I’m so excited to share this little place! And we’ll be moved in tomorrow!


1 Comment

UK Update | Two Weeks Down

 

The remains of Canterbury Castle

The remains of Canterbury Castle

Our life in the UK has become much easier as we’ve settled into a semi-routine, discovered our favorite cafes and met a couple people. While we have become more comfortable, there are still quite a few issues we are working to sort out, so there is still a feeling of restlessness between us.

Canterbury is a gorgeous city with lovely parks and historical buildings at every turn. We are still in awe that we live here! Canterbury is actually a very tourist/university-driven location, so us being Americans don’t cause us to stick out at all. Taylor has met Canadian, French, German and Bohemian students and teachers. Go to any cafe and the possibility of hearing at least two or three different languages around you is quite high.

Of course living in a tourist and college town does have its downfalls we will need to acclimate ourselves to, such as having droves of people visit the city centre each weekend and the normally peaceful evenings turning into loud nights each Saturday due to students.

We are currently continuing to live in our tiny flat, however we reserved a flat that will hopefully be ours very soon. Waiting on hearing back from the realtor is making us even more restless, but the flat currently has people living in it that aren’t due to leave until the 16th of October so we just need to be patient.

Thankfully our money situation has improved, as well.  We were able to sign up for a UK bank and received a debit card recently, although we’re being sparse with our money as we  want to have as much as possible in the bank ready to be delivered to the new flat if we are able to obtain it.

We have slowed down on being ‘touristy’ to save money, although we did visit the Canterbury Castle recently. We plan on visiting the gorgeous Canterbury Cathedral that I love snagging photos of, we just haven’t been able to make time to visit.

The Fun Stuff:

We’ve started drinking A LOT more tea. At cafes you get an entire pot of tea for half the price of a coffee, and tea bags are much cheaper. I love tea!

Though some groceries offer an ‘American’ section, we’ve yet to find one, although Uncle Ben’s ready-made rice meals are very popular over here.

Eating at restaurants is very different. We have had several meals where our waiter wouldn’t come back to our table! We would sit there not eating for 5,10,15 minutes to no avail. At first it was surprising and confusing until we realized that, unlike in America, waiters are not supposed to bring the check (or bill) until they are waved over. We are quite used to being handed the bill without asking for it, but it is considered rude to do that over here.

Slang and Phrases
‘You’re having a laugh’ -meaning – ‘You must be joking’
‘That’s not bad’ -meaning- ‘That’s good’
‘Quite good’ -meaning- ‘A bit disappointing’
‘Takeaway’-meaning-‘Take out’, ‘to go’, or ‘delivered’
‘Go to hospital’ – a normal phrase used instead saying ‘go to THE hospital’
‘Watch the football’ – as opposed to ‘watch football’ (without ‘the’)–and of course football is soccer
‘Redneck’ – they think it means anyone from the South!


4 Comments

Our Life in Canterbury | The First Four Days

planeride

We finally made it! It feels like we’ve been waiting forever to begin this part of our life.
Over a year ago I wrote this post regarding the realization of the possibility of moving far away for Taylor’s PHD.
Little did I know then that we would end up in the UK!

plane1

Day 1 | Tuesday
Our trip to Canterbury, Kent, England was actually really easy and pleasant. We spent the day at the airport with my mom, sister and father in law.
We had lunch at the Hyatt dining room then said our final goodbyes.

Once we got on the plane our last meal in America was flying over one of the great lakes nearest Canada. We then watched a movie, slept and tried to make the most of our 9 hour trip.

plane3

Day 2 | Wednesday
Arriving in London Heathrow airport was a smooth process. Thankfully we found a cart to carry our 150ish pounds of luggage. Taylor bought a simple cell phone to contact our landlady, withdrew a little more money from an ATM, then we headed out to grab a taxi.
The trip in the taxi was really nice. We didn’t get to go through London, because the traffic was too bad, so we took the road around it. It took about an hour and half to travel to Canterbury in which time we enjoyed joking with the taxi driver about American and British stereotypes and learned a lot about England history. The driver was so nice and interesting. He actually lived in Kent as well (our address is Canterbury, Kent, UK) and talked about his children. His son has his own business putting together massive (15-20,000 people) techno dance events and his daughter was a model who was actually in Toni and Guy’s London Fashion Week’s runway show that same day.

So, this is where the first day in England loses its…charm. The taxi driver brings us to the flat we put a deposit on online. After waiting 30 minutes the landlady pulls up and was in complete shock there were two of us. We walk up to the place and it’s not what we were told at all! We knew it was going to be small, but it was way smaller than we thought it was. But it wasn’t just our error–the online realtor told us this place was for two people when it clearly is not, not to mention the fact the landlady didn’t even read the agreement and Taylor’s numerous emails stating there were two people.
I won’t go into the details, but we haven’t signed the lease yet and we are looking at other flats in the area already. Hopefully we will be out of here soon.

Because of the shock of the flat, jet lag and the time difference, we just collapsed on the bed and slept for several hours. Once we woke up we walked downtown and found a Pizza Hut that offered Wifi and contacted our family.
We then went to a nearby store owned by Wal-Mart for some basic necessities.

Look how exhausted we were!

Look how exhausted we were!

Day 3 | Thursday
The third day brought a couple more issues, but we felt a little better. We found a coffee shop for the wifi–it’s very nerve-wracking being totally reliant on Wifi to contact people! We then decided to take out more money from an ATM and…it stole our card! Fear ensued when we realized there were issues with our cards and only had a little cash with us. We bought some very cheap items to make sandwiches and splurged on a portable Wifi card so that we could sort out all these issues in the apartment instead of at a restaurant.

bus1

Day 4 | Friday
Friday Taylor and his dad worked on sorting out our bank issues in America. It took most of the day, but it was finally fixed, though we still don’t feel 100% comfortable using the debit card we still have. As that was happening we walked up to the University of Kent where Taylor will be attending. The walk was not what we expected as the traffic was horribly busy and the trip was uphill. Once we got to the school we walked around for about an hour, but couldn’t accomplish anything until the following day. We didn’t want to walk back so we decided to try out a doubledecker bus for the first time. It was so simple and took us to the city centre right near our flat.

Day 5 | Saturday
Taylor walked back to the school and registered Saturday morning. We then spent the rest of the day finally fully relaxing and enjoying the fact that we were in England! We ate tacos and window shopped all around the city centre.

We’ve had so many issues, but now that we are more comfortable it’s really exciting being here! We will be tourists in our own city for a long time. The city centre is so busy with so much history. Once we get UK cell phones (smart phones) we will be much more connected. Our wifi is very limited and we’re trying to save our money until we get a UK bank and hopefully a new flat! Then we’ll be able to do much more exploring! We still can’t believe this is our life now and are so blessed to be here. The issues we are facing are annoying and stressful, but we know it will be settled soon!

We’ve had fun comparing the shops and TV stations. Everything is similar just with different names:

Stores:
ASDA – owned by Wal-Mart and looks like Wal-Mart
Big Box – Big Lots
TK Maxx – TJ Maxx

TV Shows:
Funniest Ever – You’ve Been Framed! – America’s Funniest Home Videos

Food:
Walkers Crisps – Lays Chips

Slang:
Tea (or tea time) – Lunch time
Quid – Cash
One off – One-time (example: one-time fee)