Here's a quick look at where Rachel and I live these days. Obviously this post is mostly for family, so I'd ask the regulars to be on their best behaviour when commenting...
This is a quick photo tour of our new house. Simply click on a picture if you want to see it bigger.
Here's our new home in Cardiff. Having lived here for just shy of a month, I can say that I am really happy with where we ended up. I suppose a lot of the credit for that goes to my friend, Rhys, who is a fellow Welsh-language blogger. Several months ago, Rhys was kind enough to do the actual footwork of checking out this house for us.
This is the front of our house. Our neighbours are very nice people.
To the left of this picture live Kevin and Judy, who are often so quiet that I am surprised when I step out into the garden and see them sitting there.
To the right are Debbie, Tony, Chris and Matt. Chris and Matt are Debbie and Tony's teenage sons who are far too well-behaved to be actual teenagers. The most noise you'll get out of either of them comes when Matt will drill his soccer ball against the house.
Here's the other side of the front door. You'll note the mail slot; it took us several days to get used to the sound of the postman delivering mail in the morning. We kept thinking someone was trying to get into the house.
That's unlikely (to calm the nerves of our parents) both our doors have five points of contact when they lock, and our neighbourhood is pretty safe.
Here's Rachel sitting on the couch. It's important to point out that this house was furnished -- Rachel and I are not the sort of people who would purchase a white leather couch. And Rachel especially wants you to know that she is not a fan of the throw pillows, nor the curtains with matching print.
Just above Rachel, you can see one of the more disturbing elements of our new home...
The landlord left us with an enormous oil painting of roosters fighting. Nothing says "God Bless This House" like a cock fight. But it gets even more disturbing...
If you look closely at the rooster on the left, you can see that it has two faces. It's like one of those weird things they would show you in circus side tents in the 1950s. Most of the people who come to the house find the picture too unnerving to look at. Rachel and I have plans to replace the painting with, well, anything, but there is a part of me that wants to keep it for its garishness.
Here's a look at our dining area, with the doorway to the kitchen just ahead. To the left of me is the couch, to the right is the front door and stairway (I'll show you that in a bit). Further on, through the kitchen, you can see the garden.
Here's the other side of the doorway, and a good look at our tiny fridge. It's not all that tiny, actually, but the section for frozen foods is larger than in a U.S. fridge, so we have to be good at fitting all the cooled items in.
Also you can see Rachel's Kitchen Aid. It had strangely arrived before we did, despite the fact that the post office had told us it would take six weeks.
Here's the other side of the kitchen. On the lower left, you can just barely see that we have a clothes washer. The loads it will take are comically small by U.S. standards, but is still better than any other washing machine Rachel and I have had, which suffered from being nonexistent.
This is our garden, which is still overgrown despite my buying shears. Apparently just buying the shears doesn't trim back the hedges.
The thing I like most about our garden is that it has a shed. Welsh author Dylan Thomas was frequently locked in his shed by his wife in an attempt to get him to stop drinking and start writing something so they could pay the bills. This is why I keep the shed key with me.
Presently the shed is being used to house our bikes, a brand new pair of hedge shears and a few large spiders.
Here's a few of the garden and the back of the house from our shed. Behind our garden is another house where there lives a girl of about 8 years old who loves to sing. One night she spent a full hour going through every song she knew, and when she ran out of actual songs she started making up her own. My favourite was: "I'm singing/ Very loudly/ And you're telling me to be quiet/ But I won't stop singing."
Here are the steps leading upstairs. At the very top you can see the bathroom.
I wouldn't normally take a picture of a toilet, but I figured that the different shape of it might be amusing to people who have never been to Great Britain. Sadly, no one here (by "here" I mean Cardiff) calls it a "loo."
Here's our bedroom. The bed also came with the house and is too small for me and Rachel. We plan on buying a new one when we've got the money, although it may not last that long -- already we have managed to break two of the frame slats.
Here's the study, where I will be holing myself up for most of the time. It's important to note that we didn't pick these curtains, either. My "desk" we did buy. It is, in fact, a table; the cheapest one they sold at IKEA.
And that's our house. As I say, we like it quite a bit. In American terms it is a town house, and a very small one at that. Its size and the fact that our street is much quieter than I expected often make me feel as if we have moved to some sort of Thomas Kinkade vacation village in northern Wisconsin. I'm not sure what I mean by that -- I think I may still be suffering jetlag.