Kenz and I had a wonderful time in the land of milk and honey over the holiday trip. We got off the plane and were picked up by McKenzie's mother, Patti, at the airport. I declined the offer to drive the car back to the house because I was scared I'd not assimilate to the right side of the road. Our first impressions were "these cars are huge! and they're moving so fast!"
Before we got back to the house, Kenz and I had Patti take us to Petro's for some much needed Knoxville cuisine.
The dogs were happy to see us. Kenz didn't waste any time getting nestled among a few:
|Kenz with Murphy and Apollo|
|Whitney's new puppy.|
I got out to get the last few xmas gifts. I was astounded at the size of the mall. I'd forgotten just how much bigger everything is in America. I made sure to snap a few photos on the American things I saw in West Town Mall:
|A Tennessee vs. Alabama chess set|
|Brass knuckles with blades. Seems like a good idea, right?|
|A mini train for kids riding around the mall. The best seasonal job?|
|Kenz's mom finds the biggest Fuji apples for me.|
We stayed in Knoxville through Christmas Eve. It was nice to be with the dogs, get to see the in-laws, Dad and Mel, Kara and Jerry, Aunt Camille and Uncle Ronnie, friends, etc.
Our tradition is to do the Eve with her family and the Day with my Mom and Step-Dad. This time I was renting a car for the drive down because we don't have one anymore; I got a Crown Victoria. It was glorious - like riding on a cloud the whole time. I had borrowed my friend, Craig's, CDs for the ride down; his CD case was like an old high school yearbook.
The day after Christmas, we all went down to a beach house on Kiawah because there was a lot more family coming in to spend a week together.
|MOMA gnawing on a chicken bone, as per usual.|
|Left to right: Me, MOMA, Morgan, MacKenzie, Leanne, Maggie, Tommy, and Tom. Not pictured: Kara, Jerry, McKenzie|
It was too cold to "lay out" on the beach, but not too cold to ride bikes everywhere. We spent most of the time riding, playing poker, board games, pool, and ping pong. Tom is the master of ping pong. I won a bunch of MOMA's money in poker.
I stayed a few more days back at Mom and Tom's after the beach week was over. They are in an "Active Adult Community" which is really just year-round summer camp for old people. I followed them around for the week as they did the various activities they usually do: Pickle Ball, bridge, poker, scrabble, and watching NCAA basketball.
We also took down the Christmas decorations.
|3,000 lights just for the tree. Reasonable?|
Tom kept commenting, "Well, only 46 weeks till I have to put all this stuff back up." MOMA didn't think he was funny.
All in all, we had a great trip.
Then it was back to London where we knew our time in this flat was nearing an end. To keep a long story short: our landlord and real estate company are both ineffective at providing lackluster service. They aren't even good at being bad. They are sub-bad. They are sub-what-I-just-said.
So, the first few days back have been spent looking for a new place to live. In the process, we've gotten to see several different flats, many of them still being lived in. The best thing I saw was at the flat of a woman who works for the BBC. She had been invited to some event at Buckingham Palace:
|She saved some of the toilet paper and made a little memory out of it.|
We found a place two days ago. It's better than our current place and even has a second bedroom and bathroom! So, for those of you who waited to come visit - you've lucked out! Now you won't have to sleep on a couch in our kitchen.
We went to a movie last night (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) in the world's smallest theatre:
|The gray haired man smuggled vodka in and started snoring halfway through the film.|
It's good to be back. We both felt like we were returning "home" when we got here, which was a huge relief. Of course, we miss America and all our friends and family, but it's nice to be home here in London.
I'm back to posting every Friday, barring any extenuating circumstances (we may go a few days without Internet after our move on February 2nd).