British Summer

As I mentioned in my last post (which was written an unacceptable number of days ago), it’s been hot here in Oxford. Temperatures approaching the 90s. Sorry, international readers, but I’ll never learn celsius.

Yesterday, I went on a mission to find shorts. I suppose I can’t call it a mission if I just went into one (crowded, full of whiny children) store, but I basically lost the will to live after a good 30 minutes. Or at least the will to shop. Anyway, they don’t seem to make shorts here that can’t be mistaken for underwear, and the few my-size hangers were actually holding not-my-size shorts, so I left empty-handed.

I didn’t bring much in the way of summer clothing, simply because I didn’t think I’d need it. I suppose I should be enjoying it, though, not complaining that I have nothing to wear.

About a week ago, I fell off my bike. (Transitions, who needs ’em?)

I was a good 3 minutes away from work, and there was probably a sign or two warning me about “skid danger” due to repaving the street with a mixture of tar and little rocks. My office manager later identified the substance as tarmac, a term I previously associated solely with airports. But here’s the official (Google) definition:

  1. Material used for surfacing roads or other outdoor areas, consisting of broken stone mixed with tar.

Some of that broken stone found its way into my knee, chin, and under the delicate skin beneath my fingers and palms. I still wonder if those little black spots on my hands will ever come out, as I sit here, picking at them.

Anyway, I went to the office and asked for a first aid kit, and our office manager decided it’d probably be better to take me to the ER. A good 2 hours later, I left with 3 stitches in my skin and went back to work. After all, we had a client meeting, and I wasn’t about to miss out on a free lunch and dinner (especially the dinner, at The Fishes in Hinksey– lamb and mash board was absolutely worth the trouble of chewing with a bandage on my chin).

The stitches came out on Thursday, and now you’d hardly suspect I had more than a bug bite. Once again, hats off to the NHS– people here complain about it, but the level of service I’ve received here is far better than the insurance I used to pay for back home. And it’s not just about cost; the “system” here is still largely impersonal and rushed, but at least your appointments are kept to their scheduled times and you don’t need to pull out your credit card before you leave.

John and I decided to do a little experiment, actually, and go to the dentist. I figured I’d already been to the ER that week, and seeing a dentist would round out the healthcare analysis. We were worried, because we heard it was “expensive,” and also that it’d be difficult to find a dentist. But we found one and made appointments within 10 minutes or so (to be fair, this part actually took weeks, because we were too lazy to actually pick up the phone after locating our local dentist).

They zapped John’s teeth clean and gave him a clean bill of health for about $30, arguably cheaper since he’d need to pay around $200 just for dental coverage in the US. I had to get a broken filling repaired, which still didn’t cost too much, and the dentist (an Eastern European middle-aged man with a grumpy tone but occasional sense of humor that won me over) ended up recommending these little “interdental” brushes that I’d never seen. It’s basically the equivalent of shoving tiny pipe cleaners between your teeth, and makes my already-annoying (seriously, I get so bored cleaning my teeth) ritual a bit longer and slightly more painful. He also suggested this hippie aloe vera mouthwash from the health food store, so of course I decided to make my own . So far, so good!

We’re going punting in a bit, so I’d better wrap this up. No, not American football punting…this kind.

Off to be touristy!

The Bare Necessities

Does anyone else have the song from Disney’s Jungle Book stuck in their head now? You’re welcome.

Another package arrived at my doorstep after my run today (where John kicked my butt), and I couldn’t remembered what I ordered. That’s a bad sign, right? It’s far too easy to click the “add to cart” button, especially the week after payday.

In my defense, it’s things we needed:

An electronic toothbrush. Ours finally fizzled out. I’m still not sure whether you’re supposed to use an adapter or converter with that kind of gadget, so we just alternated. The charging light on our American toothbrush took on a sort of strobe light effect that never turned off, like a 24-hour dance club or something. And the sound it’d make would frequently turn from a soothing “I’m cleaning your teeth” hum to an “I’m….dying….Heeeeey back to normal….HE- E -E -LP” screech. Anyway, we are now the proud owners of a British Oral B. Its technology leaves much to be desired, like all electronics I’ve used here so far (seriously, vacuums here are just glorified brooms). But it does the job.

Cat harnesses and leads. That’s the term for leash. We may be trying to compromise with Zora and Icarus’s yearning for the great outdoors and being overly protective about our babies. However, the cars zoom down our street like they’re in a police chase, and our neighbor’s cat died from being an idiot who ran into the road. Our babies are idiots, too. Adorable idiots, but idiots nonetheless. Zora doesn’t mind it, and Icarus hides under the bed when he sees his collar. That leaves us at about a net zero in terms of success. I’ll take it.

Organic apple cider vinegar. 5 litres of it, to be exact. With “the mother.” I try not to buy into folksy pseudoscience; the Braggs’ website looks like Geocities vomit, but you do have to give them credit for enthusiasm. And unfortunately there isn’t a lot of scientific research extolling the virtues of the “contains active enymes” stuff. But I prefer to cook/clean with the most natural stuff, so that’s why I now have 5 litres of Biona ACV on my windowsill. Sorry in advance for smelling like old apple cider, John!

I’m saving the best for last: a little Honeywell fan. My previous employer would be proud. Anyway, it’s not to combat the stifling British heat. It’s to help us sleep through the night– a distracting, meditative sound to combat the tickticktick ta-ta-tickticktick of our temperamental boiler that’s displayed openly in the bedroom. We finally sleep through the entire night!


Now that I’v wasted a half hour rambling about cats, vinegar, and dental hygiene, I should get back to my freelance stuff that’s, as always, due tomorrow.