Monday, May 03, 2010

Spring Here in the UK

Last week was a preview of lovely weather to come; warm, sunny days in the upper 60s. I was inspired to find a bike so as to spend more time outdoors and roam the area in a more personal way. I wanted a bike like I saw in Amsterdam - sturdy, "sit up and beg" style bike. I explored all the local bike shops whose sales people told me that they don't carry that type of bicycle in Chelmsford, perhaps not even in London. One savvy bike salesman suggested that I try Cambridge, which has a huge bicycle culture. Looking online, I found just the bike I wanted at a shop called Howe's Cycles. So, one morning, I drove north to Cambridge, which is always a pleasure. I found my way to Howe's, and there, in the window, was my bike. An Electra Amsterdam Classic 3i. It's a dutch style bike, 3 speed, coaster brakes on the rear wheel and caliper brakes on the front. Fenders, skirt guard, enclosed chain (so no oiling needed) carrier on the back, dynamo to run the headlight and taillight, a bell and sturdy. It rides like a dream. Comfy seat. It's heavy. Not as heavy as some dutch bikes are, but much more so than most bikes I have owned. I love it! I started out my riding close by on streets by my house and bike paths. On the first day, I fell over twice. My brain couldn't register the coordination required for braking. So, one of my first goals was to find a park where I could ride safely and teach myself braking and maneuvering skills and build up my confidence. I thought it would require loading the bike onto a carrier and driving to a park. Fate conspired to keep me local that day and happily so. I found a lovely park just a few blocks away called Beaulieu Park (pronounced Bew-lee park). Lovely little park with ample paved paths in tight circles and long straight stretches. Just what I needed! I got the feel of my bike that day pretty quickly. I still don't venture out on to the busy roads to ride, but I am much more confident.

This weekend has been cold and very rainy. I have stayed indoors for the better part of the 3 day weekend. Today is Monday and it's a bank holiday here. Tomorrow morning, I board a train to London, then the tube, then on to Devon on business. Should be a lovely trip! I am taking trains because for the moment, my wings are clipped. I suddenly discovered that my NYS Driver's License had expired! So, until my new one arrives, I am not driving. It takes a few months to get a UK license, so renewing my license from NY is the better options right now.

I have made arrangements to come to the US for 2 weeks in July. I will be visiting with my children and my sister, who is about to move to South Carolina. So those will be 2 very busy weeks! I will likely take the train to NYC and then back to Buffalo, then drive to South Carolina. Sure will be fun! I have missed my family so much and can't wait to see them! Even the dogs!

Work has improved. I know a bit more than I did a month ago. I have more support from management than I did the first 4 months. It's still overwhelming in terms of keeping up, but at least I have a bit of a grip on the processes and procedures. I also now have a laptop and a way to connect to the secure network to do my work. That makes a big difference. Now, if I could just get my driving back, my engine will be firing on all pistons.

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