On Friday, Sam turned two years old. He is very interested in transportation as he regularly exclaims “bus! BUS! Bus!” and points to vehicles passing by on the street. My guess is that this is an indirect critique of the fact that we do not have a car. Therefore, unlike other children at his nursery, he is still getting around with a pushchair. Sam has also been interested in the Thomas the Tank Engine books, so I thought he and I would go on adventure to Ruddington to ride on a steam train.

It helps that the Ruddington station is on a bus line, the Trent Barton company’s Ruddington Connection, which operates Monday through Saturdays. Saturday has reduced hours, but I can work with that. I planned on taking the 3:00 pm train route. Therefore, we left on the 2:00 pm bus. It was just about the right amount of time, as we arrived by 2:30 pm at the end of the bus line.

It turns out that Ruddington Fields Business Park is not just a Business Park. There is actually a very lovely park there. It’s a park that I plan to return to and explore. It looks like there is a lake and endless hiking trails and a café that is marked as being open on the first and third Sunday of every month. And, yes, I was lost in that park trying to find the heritage train station for about 20 minutes. While lost, I could hear the old trains chugging nearby. So I relied on my sound localization skills (and by asking someone for help) and found the station just in time.

The train was pretty cool. The people running the heritage train are all volunteers. They explained that on that particular Saturday there were not enough volunteers to run the steam engine, so we were on a 1950s diesel. The buffet car was panelled in wood with red upholstered seats. The diesel was still really interesting and we had lovely views of the countryside. The ride was 1 hour and fifteen minutes. Sam eventually became very fidgety and I took him walking around the train and then, finally, gave in and let him eat a significant portion of a small can of Pringles that I bought from the train’s junk food window. He enjoyed that immensely.

Thereafter, we had a great time walking around the GCRN heritage station. There were a number of people who seemed to be tinkering about with a huge mass of train parts trying to get them to work. So, it appeared to be a real life Junkyard Wars experience. Around the back is a ride-on miniature train that had already closed for the day (Note to self: come earlier in the day in order to get to ride on the miniature train too!). And the playground for GCRN is extraordinarily clean and just perfect for younger children. (The enormous playground in the park next door specializes in older children, so this makes sense!)

In the end, Sam most enjoyed the bus ride back to the city centre. He sang “Wheels on the Bus” for a small, smiling audience. I look forward to the next time when we bring Dan and other people along. I am sure to bring family and friends visiting Notts to the GCRN, and I hope Sam and I will get to ride on the steam engine the next time!


On a few occasions, we have received a gift cheque from one of my husband’s US family members. Of course there’s a downside to a cheque… because… dunh DUNH dunh… one must deposit it.

Now, for some blessed reason or other, one bank that we have an account in back in the U.S. accepts scanned cheques. Great. Except that bank’s internet system is so persnickety about how the scan is done that, at some point in the process, I inevitably find myself yelling at the computer with my middle finger towards the screen. Take that customer service! %$&”! Only when my blood pressure has reached a new all-time high will the system accept said item.

This is not to mention the other human made foibles that complicate the process. First among these, my husband’s family loves to write cheques directly in our infant son’s name. This would be cute—and probably the right thing to do—in 1950s America.  What does the 21st century bank think? Why doesn’t your toddler have his signature on file? (Imagine a handprint done in finger paint on my scanner, with a Cheerio topper, please.) What do we think: for a post-modern couple living in a new-ish country with a new-ish kid, this cheque in the kid’s name is SO overwhelming. It establishes more questions than answers: Sure, we should get the kid a bank account. Where (what country/bank in said country) should we get said account? What does establishing this account, wherever that happens, mean for the kid and national identity? If we open the account in one country, can we ever really close it and move to another country?

And then, of course, there’s the other human foible side. You know, like someone thinks they are being celebratory when they fill out a cheque in red ink. But, you know that the internet system is thinking? Red ink means it’s a bill to be paid.

My own family rarely sends moola (I forgive you people, today). So they seem less like troublemakers.

Kris: My tomato plants are not doing so well. I think it is the cold.

Nice person: You can put little fleece jumpers on them to keep them warm.

Kris: Sounds like my tomatoes are doomed.

Me: Hey Ross! I am so excited about the Lowdham Book Festival!

Ross: Yes. It should go well. I put a lot of work into it.

Me: I went once before, and it was lovely. There were so many books and so many resources on local authors and artists. Lowdham is such a lovely community. It is really a highlight of Nottingham’s summer.

Ross: Thanks. It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy all the different types of events. Five Leaves Press will have a few tables and some of our authors will speak.

Me: Yes! I just got tickets for an event!

Ross: That’s great! There are some excellent authors and musicians speaking. What did you choose?

Me: Uh, the wine and cheese event?


I see Ross Bradshaw, one of the event’s organizers a few times a week usually. He’s usually sorting through piles of account papers, and I am sitting at the other side of the Nottingham Writers’ Studio working on the manuscript. It’s a quiet place. So, luckily, my big mouth did not actually go here.  But, I keep thinking about that wine and cheese…


Cab driver: Well, Duck, I suppose the economy is such that no one can afford to just take courses on Beach and Sand Management.


American Inspired All in Cookies

 Whoah. Whoah… whoah… whoah whoah whoah. It’s a VERY strange day when–in the very substantial biscuit ailse of the grocery–something here is advertised as inspired by America. (Deep down, I think they mean California. The mix of all those elements sounds like California, no? Not all of America. Probably not. No.)

I keep looking at the packaging. I’m not ready to try them yet.

Film Studies Student: I love your office, it is so austere.

Kris: Uh, thanks.

Film Studies Student: Thank you for letting me film my project in it. I really loved the blank walls and the way echoes project across the room. It has a really hollow effect.

Kris: Well, the good news is that I’m moving offices today… into the glass fishbowl over there. It’s sort of smelly because it was part of an old shoe factory, but it looks a lot nicer. I’ll be able to hang up some of my framed Cuban posters and get a lot more sunlight.

Film Studies Student: Oh, I’m sorry. That’s sad.

Kris: Hmm… Yes. Thanks.