walls, tumbling (quietly though)

construction Since well before we moved in to our current flat, there has been a derelict building (a large one) on the corner of the road.  Surrounded by a frighteningly spiky fencing and well-established bramble bush that hid most of the building from view in a very Sleeping Beauty sort of way, it had been steadily crumbling at its own pace (occasionally helped along, I think, by squatters and various animals).  Recently, we’d noticed that the trees were being torn out and the bramble flattened.  Suddenly, a few days ago, the building was gone and only piles of bricks remained.

The scary fence is still there (hence the vaguely surreptitious photos), but it has been amazing to watch this building being taken down so quickly and efficiently.  One day: building. Next day: bricks.  And all without us hearing any noise at all.  We’re only about half a block away–we regularly hear people driving by on the main road  (and experienced a mini-earthquake when a neglected church collapsed across the way)–but this building came down without a sound. There wasn’t even any beeping or equipment noise–let alone, you know, bricks falling down and crashing to the ground.

The building was definitely a hazard, and I’m glad it’s down.  I hope that whatever is put in its place is functional and not terrible looking. The plot of land it stood on is really quite large–the building used to be a medium sized hotel (a fact we discovered when the brambles had been torn up, and we could see the sign), and there was still room for grounds around it.  We have no idea what will go up–although odds are that it will be a block of flats (or just sit there empty for awhile) or some other sort of housing.  Either way though, I’ll always be impressed with the speed and skill with which this one was taken down to make some room.

watch out, learner driver on the road

Well, I didn’t get the job I wanted–which is frustrating–but I’m getting much better at revising my CV and filling out applications.  I’m now looking around at a few teaching positions and some secretarial/admin.  Really, I just want to feel more independent.

On that front, though, I’m taking driving lessons! My husband and I thought that, since my manual transmission skills were nearly nil anyway and driving on the right was going to be nerve-wracking, I should take some lessons before I try and take the test for my UK license.  I’ve suprised myself in a few ways.  The first is that I actually enjoy driving stick.  I will admit that at stoplights it’s still strange to take my foot off the brake, but I like the control that the clutch and the stick give me.  Plus, obviously, it feels much cooler.

The second way I’ve surprised myself was both how nervous AND how brave I feel like I’m being.  I will admit to nearly being ill about ten minutes before my first lesson.  But, I’ve really been suprisingly comfortable.  As long as I’m not turning right across extremely busy Manchester traffic.  But, really, comfortable and happy to be driving.  I think driving will make me feel more independent and like I can contribute.  Even if what it really means is that I can now find more places to ride!

intermittent clouds and interesting neighbours

From Manchester

Things I’ve learned since November:

  • Calling potato chips “crisps” is going to take a few more months of residence.  It still feels silly to say.
  • Next-door neighbour lady is getting a little weirder each day. Yesterday, she began the morning by yelling at the plants outside. Last night? 12am hammering.  This morning? When we asked her not to hammer (nicely!)? She told us she was “holding the walls up.”
  • Sometimes it’s good to have crazy neighbours, at least it’s fun to talk about.
  • It’s not going to be easy to get another job.
  • It pays to be brave.  In my previous not-married, not-in-England, and not-without-work life, I would never have emailed the bookgeeks and asked if I could review for them. And I would totally have been missing out since I’ve ended up with copies of this book and this book (and other just as lovely ones!). (Plus, it turns out I really enjoy having the chance to write about books).
  • And, writing reviews means I have been thankedtwice…by authors for…writing the reviews.  Trust me, it felt like I should have sent them emails/comments back that were more like “no..thank you for writing such great books” if I hadn’t been afraid it would come off as a) weird and b) one of those comedy routines where people say thank you back and forth forever.
  • The weather here is never boring; and I may be allergic to the entire concept of a country that has seasons.
  • Arrested Development is genius. (But, I already knew that.)