Early Spring Cleaning

So almost a year in this beautiful part of England and the weather is grey at this time of year. Not sure I like that much and it’s cold right now, so I’ve decided to get on with some spring cleaning to cheer myself.

I’ve contacted Horsham Carpet Cleaners and they’ll be along next week to sort out the carpets. They come highly recommended by our neighbours so I’m optimistic they’ll do a great job.

So meanwhile I have a lot of cleaning to do, since carpets are the last thing to be cleaned in my regime.

First are the walls and skirtings. I use old-fashioned sugar soap like my Grandma did back in the day. It’s great at removing all the grease and marks without leaving any residue. Strange they still haven’t come up with anything better.

Then once they’re sparkling and smelling nice, I tackle the furniture. I’ve got a lot of wood in this house and it all gets a good polish with good quality old-fashioned furniture wax. There’s a theme here with all this traditional treatment! I don’t reckon central heating does a lot for wood so it’s good to treat it a couple of times a year to stop it drying out and shrinking.

Then I go over the upholstered chairs and sofas. After searching down the sides to look for money and hidden treasures (like my tweezers), I vacuum thoroughly. It’ll all get cleaned along with the carpets, but it’s nice to get the worst off.

The biggest culprit is the cat. He leaves hair and bits all over everything and likes to sit just about everywhere – just to spread the love!  One of his favourite places to lie is on the backs of the light grey chairs. You can imagine how it discolours over time. But hopefully those cleaning guys will bring it all up like spanking new. It’s strange the way he avoids any areas that have been covered with lovely soft cloths to catch his mess!

So once all that’s done and the whole place has been thoroughly vacuumed, we’ll be ready for the carpet cleaners. They also do mattresses so I’m thinking of having that done too.  Problem is we’ve had the same bed and mattress for over 30 years – simply because it’s so comfortable that I’d never part with it. But it’s never been cleaned – is that a horrible admission?  I never even knew you could clean mattresses until just recently. Now I’m probably too embarassed to have it done – imagine the colour of the water!

These guys are supposed to be super-efficient and leave the place almost dry.  I’ve heard that cheaper outfits don’t use such powerful machines, so they leave your carpets pretty wet. I’m not keen to have damp carpets overnight in this weather!  They’d probably be frozen solid by the morning.  So hopefully they’ll dry out fast and leave us nice and cosy once they heating has been on full speed for a few hours.

While I’m in the spring cleaning mood, I’m off to start on the kitchen cupboards. They all need a complete turn-out, cleaning and putting back neat and tidy – without all that gooey stuff down some of the jars. And while I’m at it I’ll do the tops of the cupboards, which must be one of my most unfavourite jobs.

A good tip is to place newspaper on top of every cupboard. Then when you clean you simply throw away the paper and there’s not too much muck up there. I learned that one from my good old mom!


Autumn Arrives

We’ve been in Horsham for six months now and I’ve been through an entire English summer. And I have to say I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the weather. Some of our building work was delayed back in June when it rained non-stop, but since then it’s been pretty good and warm much of the time. So perhaps all those tales I heard about foul weather were exaggerated – but wait – winter approaches so let’s see.

So I’m mighty impressed!  We’ve had local builders in for the last couple of months, building an extension on the back of the house. It’s almost finished and will make so much more room for us. When that’s all complete, we’ll get painting and decorating and then it’ll be time for a party!

It’ll probably be a Christmas do since that’s always a good excuse for a get-together. We’d like to ask some of the neighbours who’ve been so kind and we have relatives in Worthing and Brighton who’d love to come. I’d like to get an enormous Christmas tree like we have at home. It’ll just about fit in the extension as we have an orangery-style roof that gives a lot more room than a regular roof.

Then I’ll spend days buying decorations for the tree and the rest of the house. It’s my favourite time of the year and I’m really hoping it’ll snow to make it feel more authentic. Somehow I can’t imagine living south of the equator and having summer during the festive season!  It would seem totally alien to me, although Sonoma County isn’t the chilliest of places of course, but at least we have winter from November to March.

Jacob and Eva have settled in well and both have loads of friends. Of course they have playmates over, but to have them all with their parents for a proper party will be wonderful. That way we can make new friends ourselves, which would be awesome. It’s wonderful having the kids around, but sometimes grown up company is what fits the bill.

As well as the extension, the Worthing builders will be completing the decking we started a while back.  It should be another great addition to the house and the garden and will mean that the children can play outside i,n the winter without bringing in oodles of mud. That’s another thing I find strange in England – mud!  Perhaps it’s because it’s Sussex clay, but it’s a lot more than I’m used to and clings to everything.

But we all have wellies which we wear when we go out walking in the local forests, so that’s all ok. Mind I don’t consider them forests – there are no bears or many wild animals at all!  You see the odd fox and a few birds, but it’s not what I’m used to in the wilds of California!

Strange how quickly you adapt to a new country though. I’m loving it in Horsham and consider myself lucky that we’ve managed to settle in such a lovely part of England. We could have ended up somewhere like Croydon, which wouldn’t have suited me nearly so well.

Well the builders are asking for another “cuppa” so I’ll have to oblige and furnish them with the obligatory shortbread biscuit I guess. These guys need to be treated with kid gloves if they’re to do their best work!

Exploring the countryside

I’m a country girl at heart and wherever in the world I am I just gotta get out into the country.

Sunday we found a great place in Barns Green, a little village just outside Horsham. It has a farm where they have camping and lakes and we all thought it was glorious.  The sun helped I dare say.

Sumners Ponds is a working farm with a few cattle. Didn’t see any sheep or other beasts but maybe they were further afield. They have some great camping facilities and it was packed with caravans. Those are real cute, not much like Winnibegos which are much bigger. Can’t see one of those fitting on these little Sussex roads.

They have some little camping pods too, just like little tents but made of wood. I’ve seen something similar up in Tahoe, but maybe a bit bigger. They also have a couple of great lakeside lodges to rent too.

Sumners obviously attracts a lot of fishing enthusiasts as they have competition lakes. We walked all round the farm, with its wooded walks and open fields. It’s a charming place and we’ll be back real soon.

The lakes are beautiful and the cafe is situated right on the shore of the main lake. Here you can sit on a deck right over the water and the food is pretty damn good.  Only downside was the amount of people there but maybe they just came out because it was a sunny Sunday for a change.

We all had burgers, plenty to eat and nice fries (or chips as I have to learn to call them!) Then we had another stroll around before we left. Dan took us for drive around some of the local lanes and there are a few that are only as wide as the car. Surprising what you find when you venture off the highway.

We’re going to do more of this sort of stuff, getting out and about in the villages, but I’ve also been exploring Horsham town so next blog will tell you what I found.

I’m enjoying this new life and am hoping the summer brings some nice warm weather so we can all relax with some heat.

My first month in Horsham

Phew, breathe right?

It’s been a hectic time, moving in, getting the kids started in school, finding a job and settling down in this cute town of Horsham.

I got the freelance job as a bookkeeper, so that’s great news and I’m just gonna do 15-20 hours a week, most of it at home. So that fits in with the kids being at school, but still leaves me enough time to explore my new home and make a few friends.

Had a great time at the weekend when we discovered Fishers Farm, not far outside the town. Why do I find it so difficult to avoid calling Horsham a city?

Fishers Farm is awesome for the kids, with all sorts of petting creatures. Eva totally fell in love with the shetland ponies and is now bugging us for horse riding lessons. Jacob loved the climbing wall, even though he couldn’t get very far up it. It was a great day and the weather was pretty good.

The weather is one thing I don’t care for in England. I guess it’s because it’s an island and attracts a lot of wet air and wind. Horsham is 20 miles inland so it’s not like being on the coast where the wind comes off the sea. We were down in Worthing last week and boy does that wind blow. Not in a hurricane sort of way, just gusting around non-stop. I’m not sure I’d like that on a daily basis because it makes a nice sunny day feel cold.

And they do seem to have an awful lot of rain over here. Dan says they’re April showers (even though we arrived in March) and this year is wetter than normal. All I can say is that our grass is muddy and the kids need to be put in the tub all too frequently for my liking.  I’m hoping the summer will be here soon so we get a bit more warmth.

Right now though it’s spring and I have to say the bluebells and primroses in the countryside are simply gorgeous, so we’re enjoying a few rides out because apparently they don’t last long.


Looking for a job

It’s been a hectic time since we moved in, but finding a job is pretty much a priority for me right now.  I went to an interview at Sussex Bookkeepers and liked the guys there. They’re based in Horsham, so that’s awesome. Don’t wanna work full-time, just about 20 hours a week is good.

I’d like to do some freelance work for them, maybe even self-employed so I can work just when I want. Jacob and Eva will be in school most of the time, so I plan to have quite a bit of time to myself so I can work and play.

Still waiting to hear back from the bookkeeping guys but keeping my fingers crossed. I gave them several options, but I really prefer the flexible freelance option.

Otherwise we’re settling in good and the kids have just started school in time for the new term. Jacob hasn’t been to school before, but I’ve been home tutoring him so think he’ll be ahead of the other kids. At least that’s what I’m hoping.

Eva has made a new friend and already been to tea. Kids do that don’t they? They just talk to everyone. We were in Horsham Park when she started playing with a little girl called Kayleigh. Of course we moms struck up a conversation too and really got on good. So it ended up in tea for us all.

Turns out Kayleigh is at the same Horsham school as Eva is starting, so it’ll be great for her to have a buddy right at the start. Don’t know whether they’ll end up in the same class but I hope so.

Jacob is a little shy so he’s not quite so looking forward to school, but I’m sure he’ll be fine once he gets started.

Personally I’m looking forward to some time for myself, and maybe a new job too.

Hello Horsham!

I just moved to Horsham, West Sussex in the UK.

I’ll be blogging about my experiences in my new home so please stop by soon to find out how the kids and I adapt to England and what we find to do and explore in our new hometown of Horsham.