Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Value of Money

Now that we're back, we've been required to get back to the hustle and bustle of normal life. Unfortunately, that usually means spending money. In todays current economic climate and as the US economy recovers, many are worried about hyper-inflation because of the recent increases in government deficit spending. Some of my faithful blog readers are Economists and know exactly what is going on with the US economy and how a Public Option for health care will fix our budget problems (sorry to get politcal, it just slipped). For the rest of my reading audience I have put together this post in hopes of helping you, the reader, understand what your money will really buy. Because I like cars, and we've made several recent automotive related purchases, I'm going to use cars.

1. A mid-grade Michelin windshield wiper will cost you $7.
2. A recent oil and filter change will run you $18 (with coupon).
3. Replacing a cracked engine mount will cost $72. You'll pay an additional $23 for overnight shipping because some autoparts store workers don't read numbers so well and already went ahead and pulled the engine our of your car and put the new mount in only to discover that it doesn't fit and no one in town can get the real one in for at least 4 business days...I've heard of it happening.
4. It will cost you $180 to drive to Lake Superior in MN from our house in Ohio.
5. It will cost you $550 to replace your old sketchy set of low profile tires that hydroplanes as soon as it looks like it's going to rain with some sweet Yoko's. (They were only $40 more than the cheapest set and have a much better warranty.)

6. And finally, for the cost of only two sets of tires, you can get this beauty:

It's a 1987 Nissan Frontier with 114K miles. It's ugly, but it's a truck, so it doens't need to be pretty. It runs like a champ. All of the other cars we looked at in this price range were in serious need of repair, this one didn't need anything. So, anyway, for the cost of 1,666 Snickers bars or two sets of tires, you can get a truck--not your dream truck, but one that will still move a couch or some dirt.

We're back

So this is my first of two back-to-back posts. We're officially in the States again (as of a month ago). I'm now working full-time and Nicole starts tomorrow. I love my job, and Nicole is excited for hers.

As we got towards the end of our time in England, I was glad to come home. And while I loved England, I have decided that I won't miss...

...streets that are too small and narrow and raise your heart rate like you were runnning wind sprints because whenever you drive you are worried about plowing into another car, a building built literally right next to the road, a kid on a bike, or possibly all three depending on fate's sense of humor.

...street signs that are hard to find and make no sense when you do.

...British sinks. Besides an overuse of plumbing hardware, it really leaves you with two options, be miserable with an ice-cold handwashing, or be miserable in the ER waiting room with second-degree burns on your hands.

...beaches in July that are 'just for looking' because it is still only 65 degrees and colder in the water. (They are still pretty though.)

...our rental car. May the next Avis customer enjoy it as much as I did...and may they also get the insurance.

I'm really glad we could go. It was a great time! I'm really glad we're back though too. Life is great.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Free money!

I'm doing it. I'm posting more about our trip to England; I was a slacker, and a procrastinator, but no more. (And if you didn't know already, we are now residents of OHIO.)

So, London was incredible, but Matt had to go back to work so I went back to touring. This is the new cottage we moved into in Brackley.

One night Matthew and I went into a small little town where I had my first English fish n' chips experience, although I hear pub style is a little different than the wrap-it-up-in-newspaper style. Notice the random combination of food.

On the way back we stopped to see an enormous manor, but it was closed to visitors, so we conveniently missed the sign that said no visitors on the path that walked through the African pride lands. Or it felt like it. There were different types of deer grazing all across this huge field, which was actually the property of this manor. It was incredible. You could walk right through them.

The next day my wonderful friend Kris took me to a couple of towns in the Cotswolds. I was told before I left that I had to go to the Cotswolds and I had to eat scones and clotted cream there. The Cotswolds are as English as it gets.


Isn't she wonderful?

Scones and clotted cream, my favorite English treat.
That, and Sticky Toffee Pudding.


Bibury is the most famous of the Cotswold villages and it's incredible!

I went to the Stowe Landscape Gardens later in the week, which was a few miles from our cottage, by walking the whole way. It was kind of like a park that had monuments scattered all over and it was beautiful!

I spent another day in Oxford, because I love it, and went to Christ's Church.
Harry Potter anyone?

My final stop for this post is Waddesdon Manor, on top of a large hill, that I walked up with an English lady and learned about Queen Elizabeth; it's crazy to think that one person could own something this incredible. They say he didn't even live there, he just built it to host parties at. I was invited.
This was near the aviary.

Watching kids steal the English pennies from the fountain.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

More of Britain

After we stayed with Miles and Kris (thank you again and again and again), we moved into a cute little cottage of our own.

English right?

One of the days I took a bus into the city of Banbury for the morning and watched the little boats go up and down the canal.

Then I took a train up to a little place of heavenly shopping at Stratford-Upon-Avon. I also visited a friend of mine.

This is his home. Do you know him?

Paddington Station

My friend Kris took me in to London that Friday and we went saw this
I didn't know what to expect but it is huge. It's also attached to Parliament, didn't know that either, and it's enormous!

Westminster Abbey

The biggest mall ever, complete with a memorial for Princess Diana.

Then Matt and I went back to London on Saturday.
This is the back of Parliament, it just keeps going.

This was pretty much what we saw of the changing of the guard. It was more frustrating than anything else. I still don't know what the heck changing of the guards looks like. Everyone just shoves and pushes and I was quite done with it so we just left.

Tower of London, which is really the London Castle

View from the ride on our river cruise