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Sunday, 22 June 2014

Newsletter from over the Pond

I have now been settled in our tiny apartment for seven weeks. Liz has made a wonderful job of furnishing it on a shoestring. She found me a Lazyboy recliner - 2nd-hand but very functional and extremely comfortable. A couple of weeks ago we went to a barn just outside Lancaster - a barn full of every conceivable kind of bric-a-brac from saddles and harness, books, vinyls, tools and countless household items. We picked up a rocking chair and footrest (also rocking) for Liz, a practically new Black and Decker cordless drill/driver, and a new turntable/tuner (which we will need once my vinyls arrive) each for just $20.

We were very fortunate to get this apartment, although it is far too small for my liking and the stairs to the upper floor are too steep. We are going to know it when our 105 boxes arrive from Cape Town in 4 or 5 weeks time. We do, however, have a small patch of garden in which I have planted potatoes, onions and scarlet runners, and which already has a mass of strawberries growing - we shared the first one yesterday. Although the smallest of the 4 apartments here, we have the largest wooden deck - 12' x 45' and facing South, so it gets the sun all afternoon until it dips below the tree tops, which rise some 300' immediately to the West.

We are visited each morning by a chipmunk, that runs across the deck from one end to the other, returning with its cheeks swollen with birdseed. It has stolen them from the adjacent apartment deck, where a black bear knocked down the bird feeder a couple of nights ago. Yesterday it actually came in through our open front door, looked around and then left again. We were also visited yesterday by a friendly squirrel, which sat on the deck,s balustrade eating peanuts (left there by Liz accidentally on purpose). There are also bats in the attic, and we have seen a marmont and white tailed deer close by.

Julie has gone down to Maine with the kids - Gracie, who won 5 medals at the State Gymnastics Championships, is attending a Gym Camp there for the week. We will look after their animals while they are away, and Julie will get a well earned break, to be joined mid-week by Jake.

As I compose this I am sitting on the deck, surrounded by the forests and green meadows of the North Country. In the far distance I can see Mounts Washington, Lafayette, Lincoln and Osceola.We are taking a coffee break. A robin is perched on a tree trunk, staring at me. At this time of year the weather is almost identical to the UK, so I will be well acclimatized when I fly to see my sister in a few weeks time. I guess that's why this region is called New England. It will be different when winter arrives. During this past one the temperature remained well below freezing, night and day, for three months. Even the Ammonoosuc, a usually swift flowing river, was frozen over.

I recently spent a little over $640 on a new laptop to replace the one lost by Emirates during my journey over here. I have had to send it back to Dell as the operating system was not seeing the camera - an essential piece of equipment in this day and age. It was delivered in Texas overnight, so I'm hoping it will not be long before it gets back to me. In the meantime I will continue using Liz's machine,