Monterey, California

Monterey California

I stumbled on these photos from Monterey, California and found myself feeling nostalgic for the California coast. Thought I would post them here and bring a little west coast sunshine to the day. Hope you enjoy these photos.

Our day trip to Monterey from Palo Alto started with walking along the pier and harbor on our way towards the aquarium…

Monterey California
Monterey Harbor

And at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we enjoyed learning all about the history of Monterey and the aquarium’s conservation efforts while we explored their exhibits…

Monterey Bay Aquarium Fish

And waving at the divers!

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The open ocean exhibit was our fave. And trying to spot the different aquatic life from the viewing platforms of the aquarium…

At the end of the day, we caught the sunset in nearby Carmel-by-the-Sea…

Carmel Sunset

I love watching the sun set over the ocean.

Have a good week~

kate

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Cotswolds Day Hike: Chipping Campden

Dover's Hill Sheep

I think we are finding a new routine: weekend day hikes. Last weekend we walked from Bradford-on-Avon to Avoncliff, the weekend before that was Chew Valley, and this weekend we headed up to Chipping Campden for another Cotswolds day hike to check out the views from Dover’s Hill.

We picked this 4.5 mile walk because reviews said it was “great if you like sheep” – sign me up.

And we did see lots of sheep!

Cotswolds day hike with sheep sightings

We started in Chipping Camden and took some public footpaths through some fields…

Part of our route took through a wooded segment – all of a sudden we were surrounded by trees that were so tall!

england forest as part of a Cotwolds day hike

We followed along a bridleway through the wooded area, marked with horse tracks of travelers who came before us.

And coming out of the woods, we crossed the street to this gate. It’s at the bottom of Dover’s Hill, and we headed through the gate to walk up….

Cotswolds Day Hike: Bottom of Dover's Hill at field entry gate

We made it to the top of Dover’s Hill a bit before sunset. The light was changing rapidly up here, cloudy one minute….

Dover's Hill View from Cotwolds Day Hike
Dover's Hill View with tree

… and full of that golden hour light the next…

Dover's Hill Sheep

After taking in the view, we finished up by walking back down into Chipping Camden.

Chipping Camden
Chipping Camden

I’m loving the fresh air each weekend.

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Walking from Bradford-on-Avon to Avoncliff

Tithe Barn

Last weekend, we went walking around Chew Valley Lake and had such a nice time that we decided to venture out a little further and walk a bit farther this weekend. We walked in the Cotswolds from Bradford-on-Avon to Avoncliff following this trail linked here.

Near the beginning of the walk, we explored the Bradford-on-Avon Tithe Barn, which was originally built in the 14th century…

Bradford-on-Avon Tithe Barn

We walked around the historic farm complex a bit, imagining all the people who would have walked around these grounds for 700 years…

After milling around a little while, we rejoined the path and walked on towards Avoncliff to see the aqueduct and grab a bite to eat. The path is a nice, easy walk that follows along the canal.

Here’s a view from the Avoncliff Aqueduct of the picnic tables below….

Avoncliff

… and a photo back up of the Aqueduct from our table! It was built in the early 19th century and the canal passes along the top. Great spot to relax by the river, and everything is well spread-out for social distancing.

Avoncliff Cross Guns

A few more photos around Avoncliff:

Cotswolds Avoncliff

And on the trail back towards Bradford-on-Avon…

Cotswolds Road in Avoncliff

Love the dappled light through the trees.

Have a good week!

kate

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The Moving Abroad Packing Plan

USA to UK Move Map
USA to UK Move Map

Spoiler alert: Moving house is stressful. It might even be one of the most stressful life events. And moving house internationally? That probably also means starting a new job/moving to a new office, or starting school, or any other big change that is prompting the move. So when it comes to moving abroad, the stress can really pile on. For us, getting organized and making a plan helped us minimize the stress and handle our moving abroad packing process in smaller, more manageable pieces.

My husband and I are both project managers, so we tackled this the only way we know: we created The Moving Abroad Packing Plan Phased System (TM), haha. We decided the broad categories of what we needed to tackle, and sequenced them according to the amount of time we predicted we would need for each category. The first phase was expected to take the longest, and the last phase was anticipated to be shortest.

Here we go!

PHASE 1: CLOTHING + SHOES

Wow, did we have a lot of clothes to go through. On my side, I tend to hang on to clothes for as long as possible, so my wardrobe is filled with things I’ve added to it for 15+ years. On my husband’s side, he’d lost weight the year before we moved abroad and due to that process he owned clothes in several different sizes.

DONATE/SELL UNNEEDED WARDROBE ITEMS

For us, we tried on all our clothes. Our first goal was to only move abroad with clothes that actually fit. Our second goal was to have the clothes necessary for the climate of our new home.

Questions to ask yourself: What is the year-round weather going to be like in your home? Will I need to bring clothes appropriate for warm-weather vacations? Ski vacations? Both?

Since this is packing for a move, and not a holiday, it helps to imagine what you’ll need for both day-to-day (work, gym, life) as well as what you’ll need for the ways you like to spend your leisure time.

PACKING YOUR ESSENTIAL WARDROBE

Once we had trimmed down to our essential moving abroad wardrobe, we used vacuum seal bags to lightly compress everything into the luggage we planned to check on our flights. Be careful with this method, as vacuum-sealed bags can lead to heavier luggage and unexpected weight fees when checked for your flight. If you are able and willing, weigh your heaviest luggage after packing.

PHASE 2: ELECTRONICS

Electronics is another pretty big category and can mean dealing with some of your most expensive items. The good news is, most electronics are small enough to pack into your carry on luggage so you can keep track of things. For bigger electronics (like a TV), it’s probably best to sell and repurchase at your new home.

ELECTRONICS TO PACK

  • Power Adapters
  • Phones
  • Cameras
  • Computers/Tablets
  • Gaming Consoles

Come up with a plan for chargers for all your devices. Bring extra outlet converters – it’s a good idea to have a couple extras to make sure you can keep phones charged during your first week abroad even if you lose or break a converter.

Moving Abroad Packing Collection of Outlet Converters

While you are ordering outlet converters, also consider voltage converters or transformers. Most of North and South American power systems operate at 120V, while most everywhere else uses a 230V standard.

Many modern electronics (computers, phones, gaming consoles) are equipped to handle both sets of standards. If you’re unsure, look on the power cord or battery for something like “100 – 240V ~ 50-60Hz” which means it should work anywhere. Items like hairdryers and electric shavers are only designed to work at one particular voltage, and you will need converter in order to safely use it in your new home.

In some cases, you may be able to order a power cord appropriate for your new home before the big move. For us, we ordered and packed UK power bricks and cords for our gaming consoles like the Xbox and Nintendo Switch – they were ready to plug in and play as soon as we arrived! Sometimes it’s the little things that make the whole process feel easier.

What worked for us: Selling our desktop computers and replacing them with laptops. Easier to bring with us abroad, and space-saving once we unpacked.

PHASE 3: TOILETRIES + MEDICINES

Taking care of medicines when handling your moving abroad packing could be an entire post and conversation alone. Here are the key things I would keep in mind:

1. Tell your doctor you are moving abroad.

Your doctor can help make sure you have the medicine you need to last until you can see a new provider in your new home. Just like you might do before an extended trip, you may be able to get a few months’ worth of your prescriptions in advance. Be sure to see about continuing your health care as quickly as possible once you arrive. For some countries, you may even be able to book a doctor’s appointment in the future before you arrive in country.

2. Keep a detailed list of your prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines to give your new doctor.

Having the precise information (generic name and brand name) and dosage on all your current medications will be invaluable to your new doctor. Not all meds are available in every country, but your doctor can recommend alternatives that you’ll be able to have prescribed in your new home.

3. Bring your over-the-counter medications with you

Additionally, you may find yourself needing a prescription for something that was OTC at home, or vice versa. For example, melatonin is prescription only, not over-the-counter in the UK. Bring your OTC medicines with you, and keep them on your detailed list of medications to go over with your doctor. It will really help ease the transition.

4. Most (but not all) toiletries are available everywhere

No one knows your hair + skincare regime better than you. If there’s a particular product you can’t live without, do some research ahead of time to check if it will be available. For example, toothpaste with novamin is available in the UK but not in the USA. You can count on soaps, shampoos, and makeup to be available – I’d recommend bringing a small amount to help your freshen up for your first couple of days before you restock your new home.

PHASE 4: DOCUMENTS

Pack these in your carry on luggage:

  • Marriage license
  • Birth Certificates
  • Visas
  • Passports
  • Insurance policies/cards

I’d recommend having copies of all your important documents that you pack separately from the originals while moving. This way, if you need to handle something like a lost passport, you’ll still have all your information readily available.

Bonus: Having all your documents organized and accessible will make setting up bank accounts/leases/mortgages/etc much easier during your first week abroad.

PHASE 5: OTHER/MISCELLANEOUS

Last but not least, a catch-all category for the odds and ends still worthing packing. Keep in mind that in the midst of trying to downsize and move abroad, some small things to remind you of home or help maintain some pieces of your regular routine can still be worth the space. For example, if you have important hobbies like crafting or playing guitar, you’ll want to keep those habits up in your new home even if it means the extra effort to pack or ship.

Examples of miscellaneous things to consider packing:

  • Hobbies (musical instrument, crafting, a favorite book)
  • Family photos
  • Favorite kitchen tools (like a chef’s knife set)
  • Furniture as needed

What worked for us: packing a small set of favorite art supplies and embroidery materials to stay in touch with a couple of favorite pastimes.

As a final thought… Overall, we wanted to keep our move minimal but ended up needing to hang on to enough heirloom furniture that made renting a storage locker worth it. We’ll be back for all that stuff someday!

That’s our list! This moving abroad packing process helped us stay organized and keep a positive attitude. I hope it is helpful for others, too. Cheers to moving, and good luck!

Shop moving abroad supplies

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Weekend Walk in Chew Valley

Chew Valley Cows

This weekend, we went for a walk/hike around Chew Valley Lake, a reservoir nearby in North Somerset. It was a nice way to stay socially distanced and get some fresh air.

Grebe Trail Grasses in Chew Valley

The Grebe Trail has been marked into a one-way traffic hike as part of the COVID-19 precautions….

Here are some of my favorite photos:

Grebe Trail Walkway
Walkway over the Stream along Grebe Trail

Grebe Trail Bridge

On our way home, we passed these cows…

Chew Valley Cows
Somerset Cows in Chew Valley

A nice day spent outside clearing our heads.

Here is a link to the trail map and guide from Bristol Water.

xo Kate

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What I Read in May + June

Stack of Books Read May June
Stack of Books Read May June
Photo of Books Read May June

Here’s what I’ve read in May + June:

All links below will take you to IndieBound.org – a site that will help you order a book from either your local bookseller or via Bookshop.org, where your purchase will help independent booksellers.

Evicted by Matthew Desmond

Desmond’s Pulitzer Prize winning nonfiction work follows the lives of several families in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as they struggle with rent, landlords, and evictions around the time of the 2008 financial crisis. This book is on many reading lists going around lately, and I’d also recommend it to anyone. The book will fill you with every emotion as you work through it, and it’s a great place to start conversations with friends about the housing crisis and poverty in America.

New Selected Poems by Carol Ann Duffy

I love working some poems into my days wherever possible – a leftover habit from college, I think. This collection of poems has been filling that need for me lately. I picked this up after our visit to Scotland last year when I was looking around for more Scottish literature to read.

It’s Not About the Burqa, edited by Mariam Khan

This is a collection of essays by Muslim women in their own voices. The themes covered by the essays are broad and nuanced: faith, feminism, love, family, community, immigration, education. Truthfully, this is one of my favorite things I’ve read this year. So many of these essays resonated with me, and I keep coming back to them in my mind long after I have put the book down.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah has been on my “to read” list for what feels like ages. I finally started reading it and am partway through – so far, I love it. I’m really enjoying the strong writing style combined with such a compelling narrative. I’m hoping to finish this up soon!

What I read in March + April is posted here.

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Yosemite National Park Photos

Yosemite Waterfall

I’ve got parks and hikes and outdoor activities on my mind lately. (I think it is because it is an activity you can do while maintaining social distancing.) I’ve been researching some good hikes in our area in Southwest England and hoping to explore more of those soon. But in the meantime, I’m thinking back to this time last year when we took a trip to Yosemite. Talk about some beautiful hikes and views. So, here are some of my favorite Yosemite National Park photos from our visit.

First things first – (my favorite) – I totally love all the waterfalls in Yosemite. This one is Yosemite Falls, which is a very easy walk from the Visitor Center…

Yosemite Waterfall

After checking out these falls, we hiked a portion of the Valley Floor Loop Trail in the morning when the air was coolest….

Yosemite Valley Floor Trail beneath the Trees
Yosemite Valley Floor

It includes a great view of El Capitan as you make your way through the valley….

Of course, the Valley Loop Trail gets really hot in the sun on a summer day! So once the day started to heat up, we switched gears to a shady hike out to Mirror Lake.

The water there is nice and cool, perfect as a midday chance to take a break and feel refreshed.

Yosemite National Park Photos Mirror Lake

And near the end of our day, we found a sea of rock cairns….

Yosemite National Park Photos

A nice conclusion to our visit.

You can see the latest information on Yosemite’s re-opening plan and availability on their website here.

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Photos of Bristol in Lockdown

Bristol City Hall

I was reflecting back on 2020’s Spring season and decided to put together some of my photos of Bristol in lockdown. (This is our first Spring in England since moving here last fall.) I did not venture out much as my husband was the designated person from our family to do the grocery shopping, so most of these photos come from late May or early June.

Lots of empty streets….

Even the busiest roads in Bristol were quiet…

Bristol in Lockdown with Quiet Streets

And space to queue outside before entering grocery stores. Someone handling the queue and managing the number of shoppers by counting how many people go in or come out….

Sainsbury's Bristol

In June, some of our local restaurants that had been closed began to open up back up for take-away orders. These places, too, had space to queue outside and barriers to keep employees separate from anyone picking up an order…

We tried to pick up something from a restaurant that wasn’t delivering on days we went out for errands or groceries, hoping to support these business owners.

And of course, always seeing lots of rainbows in windows as signs that, while Bristol is in lockdown, there is lots of support for the NHS…

Bristol City Hall
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The Work is Where We Are

I’ve been sharing in other places online, but not on my blog – and I mean to rectify that now.

I stand in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Any Google search will return resources for ways to help – donations, petitions, protests, vigils, voter registration, reading lists, watching lists, listening lists. Whoever we are, whatever our resources – there is a path for everyone to do the work. To be the change.

Here is a link I’ve seen going around the internet that compiles many action items: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” -Dr. Angela Davis

The job of working for equality is a marathon, not a sprint. And I plan to run the course.

Thank you for reading.

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Spring 2020 Style Favorites

Style Spring 2020 Favorites
Style Spring 2020 Favorites

Truth telling time. We’ve been spending most of our days inside (and probably will for a while longer), so I am usually in leggings and a sweatshirt. I haven’t worn jeans in ages. And yet I have spent a ton of time scrolling through the online stores during quarantine. It’s like window shopping from home, and there were only so many hours spent on jigsaw puzzles I could manage. 🙂

So here are a few of my favorite things I’ve come across. The dress from Marimekko x Uniqlo collection is top of my list – it actually gets me out of my leggings while still feeling like I’m in pajamas. Plus, those big dots totally spark joy. And a little joy wherever you can find it can go a long way these days.

1. Floral Crochet Sleeveless Top, J. Crew

2. Armor Necklace, Shashi

3. Perfect Jean Short, Madewell

4. V Neck Dress, Uniqlo x Marimekko

5. Slide Sandals, Soludos

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