Tuesday, October 2, 2007

My English Cottage

Here we finally see a picture on my blog, and yes, it is where we are living. Don't get too jealous, though; Our flat only encompasses the top floor, and thus the top three windows (as well as the small side window in the picture, which is on the stairs leading up to the top floor, but is nominally in our flat, and a kitchen window, which is in the back of the house and not seen in the picture). Our next door neighbor, as I previously mentioned, and as is shown in the left of the picture, is St. Bartholomew's Parish Church.

We have a one bedroom apartment, with rustic wooden beams running through the top of the bedroom and living room. Unlike American houses, these ones actually serve a structural purpose, and not just a decorative one. Also, being a converted attic, the ceilings slope a lot, like in the bathroom, where even my head hits the ceiling if I stand up in the bath. We don't have a shower, just a bath, so it's not really a problem. The kitchen ceiling slopes a lot too, and so there are only bottom cupboards, and none on top. This results in Lydia foraging into the cupboards, and taking food or dishes out and playing with them on the kitchen floor.

The whole apartment is heated by radiators, which us being dumb Americans couldn't figure out how to turn on for the life of us, and so spent the first two days here very cold. On Sunday Avram tried to follow the directions in the service manual on how to start the heating, which led to the water gushing out of the cottage, because unbeknownst to him the pressure was set to high. Luckily, in a way, the downstairs neighbors called Maintenance because of the water, and this led on Sunday to our heat being turned on, which we've been very grateful for, although not in the method we would have preferred. There was no permanent damage, though.

Our flat is clearly just a normal shared flat, and not meant for a married couple; there are two desks in the living room, a table with two chairs, two armchairs, and two lamps. In the kitchen there is a table with two chairs, and most telling of all, in our bedroom were two twin beds, with two twin comforters, although they had pushed them together for us. The first night we tried to sleep crosswise on the beds, so that we could feel more like we had a marriage bed, and less like two illicit roommates. Unfortunately the beds are on wheels, and so slowly throughout the night the beds separated, until at the end they were four or five inches apart, with our middles sinking into the crack. We couldn't just hop out of bed and push them back together either, because Lydia was in bed with us, and we didn't want to wake her up. So now we've resigned ourselves to the two twin beds, although still pushed together. The Centre does have a crib, or cot, as they call them, but it's actually a pack 'n play, which mean it's a glorified playpen. And Lydia hates to be locked into anything, and so after we got it yesterday, and the bedding today, I took the mattress out of the playpen, and made a bed for Lydia on the floor. It seems to work well so far.

Tonight we're learning another new aspect to our home; at 8:15 pm the bell next door began ringing very loudly and repeatedly. After ten minutes, we went outside to investigate, and could vaguely see someone ringing the bell through the old wavy windows, but this didn't tell us anything. Then I walked around the front of the estate, and there were several cars parked by the church, so it wasn't announcing a fire, or anything, because then people wouldn't know to be there. I guessed maybe the Queen was dead (by this point it was fifteen minutes), because I didn't know what else would cause such prolonged ringing. So we went back inside and checked all the news on the Internet, but nothing had happened, except that today was the ten year anniversary of the inquest into Princess Diana's death. Kind of a stretch, but this was her ancestral family chapel, so it's possible, I suppose. Meanwhile, the bell kept tolling, the only thing changing being the bell changed to a lower note.

So I had Avram checked the liturgical calendar of the Anglican Church; maybe today is a high holy day of some sort, but it turns out today is nothing at all, so that was a loss. Finally, a half hour in (now mind you, this is a very loud bell, and we are about fifteen feet away from church, so it sounded as if the bell tower were in our kitchen) I looked on the Internet for reasons why the Anglican church rings bells. This didn't turn up anything specific, but I did find FAQs about becoming a bell ringer, wherein I learned several new facts, like you actually could be carried up to the ceiling like all the movies show in bell ringing, but that bell ringers are carefully taught when to let go of the rope, so that doesn't happen. Or that the bells on the continent ring in a random peal of bells, and carillon bells are struck, and so are "dainty" (that's what he said), but that the Anglican bells are the only bells that are rung in a full circle, free hanging, while still being able to be played in tunes, scales, etc, etc. (US, New Zealand, and other places that inherited versions of the Anglican church also have these bells).

Finally near the bottom I found out that associations of bell ringers usually practice on a weeknight for Sunday services, which finally answered our question...of course, it also means that this will be a weekly occurrence. Around this time the bells started ringing up and down the scale, which confirmed my hunch.

I shall write more about the actual Yarnton Manor and estate another time, but this serves as a brief introduction into our life.

P.S Tonight I made homemade chicken noodle soup, and as I was putting the noodles in Lydia came over and started begging, so I gave her a piece of raw noodle, expecting here to spit it back out in disgust, but not only did she eat it, she also begged for more, and is currently eating a lot more with Avram. Weird.


  1. So glad to see a picture of the Manor and hear details of your life there. I'm so glad we live in the technology of these days so we can share in each other's lives this way. I really need a Shannon family portrait for Summer's book. (PLeeeeeese)

  2. i know i have told you this a million times, but please dear Thora write a book! i read your entries to cory and he agrees that you have a way with words and descriptions. You narate very well. Just think you can write a book and then cross that off your list of all the things you wanted to do when you were a little girl. I will be your bigest fan.. I will even start a website for your books and fans and get lots of people to read them so you can be a millionair! :)

    anyways i love the description of your new home. I can picture the rooms in my head and can just see Lydia having a grand old time getting into everything there! I laughed at the beds pulling apart! Maybe you could just put your mattresses on the floor too so they wont roll away.

    it seems you are always the one off having grand adventures with your boarding schools and trips across the ocean to Egypt and england...
    i shall enjoy living vicariously through you!

  3. Bork Bork!
    I love the picture it makes me think of the cottage that they used in sense and sense ablitlity although abit smaller!
    I hope that you will enjoy your time there. Ben might be coming to England for Mathias wedding in November. I would come but not only would it be a lot more money but my best friend is coming down that week. Maybe he could stop in and take some pictures or something
    I love you I hope that you will write that book! I love to read what you write. it does flow very nicely
    Love you
    Smork Smork

  4. Funny that they still practice on the tower. In other areas the Hand bell replaced the weekly practice so as to not wake up the neighborhood.
    Your house looks great and looks like you're up for a lot of fun in England.
    Weather has finally turned cold in Utah Valley, Snow/Rain on Monday and lots of wind.
    What time do you all have to get up for conference?

  5. Actually, the first session of conference doesn't start until five pm, but we're going on a tour of the Cotswolds (a series of very picturesque villages nearby here) until around five, and we're not allowed to livestream anyway, so we'll probably listen to it at around six pm, and then catch the afternoon session on Sunday morning, and so on and so forth.
    I've heard that it's cold in Utah, and even that it snowed briefly in Salt Lake. It's certainly cold here.
    Camilla; the main problem is so far I've only ever had my family tell me to write a book; maybe you're all biased. I'm glad for your very long comments; they make me happy, and make me feel like we're keeping in touch, although I'm so very far away. I've felt somewhat like Anne of Green Gables here, because she's always describing beautiful places in her life, and the country English-side definitely qualifies for that, although sometimes when I'm feeling poor (the dollar keeps on falling in comparison with the pound), or cold, or lonely I don't feel so very Anne-like anymore; she always seems to see the good in everything. I keep trying, though.
    Mary; I wish you could come to England, but I certainly do understand that it is expensive here. Where is Mathias stationed? Regardless, if it's not too out of Ben's way, we'd love to have him here.

  6. Look at me, I'm actually reading your blog!

    Oh, Thora, I feel so terrible that I didn't get to talk to you before you left!!! I know this is the lamest excuse for not answering my phone ever, but I had parent teacher conferences just before you left, and you know I'm bad at communication. So, hopefully you will find it in your heart to forgive me, dumby head that I am.

    I love the manor, by the way, we should be pen pals so that you can write with a quill in your english manor and feel very Jane Austin-y. I just hope Mr. Collins doesn't live at the church next door. :)

    I couldn't help but to think of a 50's sit com when you mentioned the twin beds. I keep thinking "I love Lucy" or something.

  7. Happy birthday, Thora!
    I hope you had as great a birthday as I did (and mine was awesome).
    October 4th is the best birthday.


  8. Happy birthday Thora! Glad to hear that you guys are starting to get settled in. We miss you.

  9. Happy Birthday. I remembered be cause the local Catholic church was blessing cats again

  10. WRITE THE BOOK! WRITE THE BOOK! Speaking as a sometime professional editor, albeit not of books, your writing is readable and quite likely to sell. If you doubt it, selectsome of your writing and send it to a publisher, with a plan of your book, and ask if they're interested. In the US, there's a reference for authors called "Writers Markets" that tells you everything you need to know about every publisher in North America: editor's name, address, WHAT THEY PAY, etc. some of it may be available online.

    About the beds: I once "solved" a similar problem by pushing the two box sprpings together, then laying the mattresses crosswise on top of them. Might work for you, if you have sufficient room. Or you can tie the bed frames together with duct tape (get Mary to send you some!)

    How I miss you!