Thursday, May 31, 2007

Homecoming for the Ramiri
Our good friends Rebecca and Armando are coming to visit! Forced to move apart by jobs a year ago, our former neighbors are currently living in Philadelphia and are coming back to Houston to catch up with us and get a bit of home. A&R are both native Texans and the comforts of home like Mexican food either don't exist in Philly or aren't worth trying. So some time here with us and a meal at Teotihuacan are long overdue. Not to mention that they're our Dynamo partners and tailgating just hasn't been the same since they left. With Armando manning the grill and Robert handling the beers all will be good in the world once again on Sunday when the Houston Dynamo face off against rivals FC Dallas.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Jim's World, Photoblog
For those of you who don't venture over to the links on the right side of the page, you're missing out on some good stuff. Namely Jim's World, a photoblog of Swansea and the surrounding area full of great pictures. Jim has a great eye for photography and posts some fantastic pictures that we'll be checking out for years to come as they bring back such good memories of Wales. The photo above, posted today, is of a sign along the Coastal Pathway between Caswell Bay and Brandy Cove that Robert knows very well.
So when you get a chance, check in on Jim's World and see Swansea from a different perspective.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Home Again
After much restless traveling, we are settling in at home again. The piles of mail have been sifted through, the lawn has been mowed, the pets are all together again and happiness just might be setting in now. Angie is back to work again and Robert is off working on his new business venture, Good Neighbor Pet Sitting.
The week that was started last weekend in Miami with Angie's family and continued in Baton Rouge with our friends Keith, Holly and their daughter Sydney (3) and son Jack (1) in between legs of the long drive from South Florida to Houston. Memorial Day, although rainy and nasty, was spent here at home eating Americana with our friend Bertha and her daughter Melissa who just loves Pinky (pictured with brother Paddington).
Today we accepted delivery of the personal effects we took with us to and accumulated in Wales. Many, many so many boxes; its a wonder how we managed to fit all of it in the tiny flat in Swansea.

Friday, May 18, 2007

"The heart is a bloom, shoots up through the stony ground."
-U2, Beautiful Day

Our heart is in Wales. To some extent we feel as if we've set roots down here. The mere thought of Wales engenders a deep feeling of belonging for us. And just as flowers that emerge from stony ground also set roots in a place they don't necessarily belong, it still hurts to leave - like being pulled from the place you've made home before you can truly blossom.
We leave Wales behind, full of hope and anticipation for starting a new and exciting chapter of our lives in the States.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Things to Remember
We'll remember growing closer together, literally and figuratively. Not only did we live in very close quarters for 5 months, but we reached a new closeness and level of understanding with one another. We've taken this opportunity to live abroad and used it to learn more about different cultures, to travel and see what some of the rest of the world is like, and learned more about each other in the process. We found new interests and hobbies, made new friends, and found a country that is so rich in beauty and culture that we couldn't resist falling in love with it along the way.
Things to Remember
We'll remember living in a city with a castle in the middle of the city centre. Swansea Castle is located at the top of Wind Street in Castle Square and is a daily sight for us here, so much so that we've taken for granted that a castle built in the 12th century sits almost right outside our door.
One of the Lower Points of My Life
I knew it would be hard with Angie gone to leave me to my own devices here in Swansea, but to encounter what I did tonight was not in my most imaginative dreams. This may be the first political post I've ever made, and probably the last. As I went out for a pint tonight at The Pumphouse I unfortunately became the soundboard for anti-Americanism. I cannot describe my feelings about this moment in time, other than to say that it broke my heart. I know that being an American in this day and age has it caveats, but to be at the end of a verbal thrashing as I was tonight had different meaning. I am not ashamed to be an American by any means, but to know that even I can be placed in the same sentence as George W. Bush in the way that I was is a cancer on the human condition. It was a unique and regretful experience, I feel sorry for America.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lush Lands in Swansea
Nothing is quite as good as the smell of a Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics shop. While in London 4 years ago we were lured into the shop in Covent Garden by the scents of their soaps and bath bombs and have been using them ever since. Just a limited number of shops dotted the map at the time, mostly in Europe. A few years ago the first shop in the US was opened in San Francisco and since then shops have been opening at a steady rate all over the world. Now, one has landed right here in Swansea-just as we leave. Good thing too, we can put some serious money down in Lush.
It's a good thing for Swansea to have one, and at the opening day today it was packed full of customers. The smells surely proving their best marketing tool yet again.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Last Train to London
We spent Angie's last full day in the UK in rainy London. We started with a nice breakfast that would have been nicer if we were still in smoke-free Wales, but England is a bit behind when it comes to consumer comforts and we ate amongst some of those who prefer a cigarette to eggs at 8am. I digress. After breakfast we went to the British Museum (pictured above from the Great Hall) to see the new exhibit A New World: England's First View of America, featuring the works of John White. White was an Elizabethan artist who accompanied 5 expeditions to the New World and whose watercolors gave the English a glimpse of life on the other side of the pond; it made for a very interesting look at American history. After the museum we went to our first 'show' in London, Spamalot. A colorful rendition of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot gave us a good laugh and a different look at one of our favorite movies. After the show it was off to Paddington Station where Angie went to Gatwick to catch her flight and I went back to Swansea. We'll meet back in London next weekend and fly together to Miami to visit Angie's family and leave the UK behind.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Things to Remember
We'll remember attending 20 football matches while we were here. We're pictured above at a match at Wigan's JJB Stadium in Greater Manchester in February. From matches at the Liberty Stadium here in Swansea to the Camp Nou in Barcelona, we made a point to see football in Europe. Without question, the highlight of the whole experience was the match in Paris that changed our perspective about the game; the French teams played beautifully and the supporters were the best we've ever seen. Unforgettable.
Angie's Last Day
Today marks the end of Angie's work assignment in Llanelli. The friends we have made throughout this trip can mostly all be traced back to the group Angie works with. They're some of the most kind-hearted and welcoming people we have ever met. It's hard to say goodbye, but we know we'll be back.
Tomorrow, Angie will say goodbye to Swansea as she heads off to Asia on Saturday for one last business trip before we head home. We'll spend a couple of days in London together before we meet there again in a week's time to fly home.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Things to Remember
We'll remember the Mumbles Mile and our friend Jeffray's passion and drive to complete the feat. 10 pints in 10 pubs isn't as hard as it sounds, it's harder. It was especially difficult since Mumbles has seen its pub count steadily diminish in the last decade. It may have taken a can of Carling at a Chinese take away, but Jeffray valiantly finished and we were there every step of the way. Angie is pictured above curing a case of the the hiccups of course.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

All Packed Up
The movers came today. All of our personal items and things have been packed up for shipment home. Not much to say about that, other than its a bit bittersweet. We have so many things to return home to but Swansea's lasting impressions will stick with us long after we meet back up with our boxes stateside in 2 weeks.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Things to Remember
I'll remember when, at retirement party for 3 co-workers of Angie's at Lougher Rugby Club, I was presented with a tie with the crest of the club by Brian (pictured above). Brian gave a short speech about how we'd come all the way from America and embraced Wales as our own. Brian and his wife, who baked us Welsh cakes and knitted a Welsh figurine for us, are wonderful ambassadors for Wales and a great representation of how we will always remember Wales and Welsh people.
Carew Castle, Pembrokeshire
Yesterday we met up with Nigel, a work colleague of Angie's, and his family. Nigel, his partner Claire, and their two young sons Rhys (7) and Carwyn (4) were kind enough to show us around Pembrokeshire and take us to Carew Castle. The castle dates from the 12th century and sits on Daugleddau Estuary. The village of Carew was celebrating the 500th anniversary of Sir Rhys ap Thomas' admission to the Order of the Garter. The celebrations included falconry, traditional jousting and archery exhibitions.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Clint Dempsey 1-0 Liverpool FC
Our favorite American footballer, Clint Dempsey (aka Duece), scored the winning goal against the European Cup Finalists Liverpool FC yesterday, helping lift Fulham further from the relegation zone. Dempsey, a native of Nacogdoches, Texas, is a US International and scored America's solitary goal in the 2006 World Cup. His January move from the New England Revolution of MLS to Fulham FC has been seemingly good for him, making mostly substitute appearances. We've seen him play for Fulham at Craven Cottage with the Jeff's and even said hello. We couldn't be happier for Duece, even if it comes at the expense of Liverpool.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Swansea City FC 3-6 Blackpool FC
Not without a fight. Swansea City put up a entertaining performance against Blackpool this afternoon only to come out the loser in a 9 goal thriller at Liberty Stadium. Swansea started the match off with intent and went ahead 1-0 with Izzy Iriekpen's goal in the 14th minute but faster than the home crowd could sing "To the sheep-shaggers one-nil" to the visiting English, Blackpool were up 2-1 by halftime. The team talk at the interval must have worked, and goals from Lee Trundle and another from Iriekpen put the Swans back in the lead 3-2. Blackpool equalized shortly thereafter prompting Swansea coach Roberto Martinez, knowing a victory was needed to ensure a chance at the League 1 playoffs, to pull off a defender and introduce another attacker to the match. Unfortunately the move would backfire as Blackpool scored 3 unanswered goals to put the match away. The capacity crowd was the best we've been a part of at the Liberty and in spite of the result the match was a good way to end our time supporting the Swans face-to-face. Thanks for the memories Swansea City FC.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Pressing Our Luck
5 months and counting in Swansea, a seaside city full of seagulls and pigeons. Not once have we fallen victim to the falling...oops. The odds are that over this period of time it may be possible to avoid being shat upon, but just in the last 2 days we've been mere inches from the falling mess! Angie got a bit on her shoes on both occasions but we were glad to not have been directly hit. From what we've seen, at the speed some of this stuff hits the pavement it has the potential to do some damage!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Things to Remember
Since our time in the UK is coming to an end, we wanted to share with you some of the things that we'll take away with us when we end up saying goodbye to Swansea. So consider this a start of a group of postings dedicated to things to remember.
We'll remember the Museu Picasso (Angie is pictured above outside the Museum) in Barcelona with its awe-inspiring collection of drawings, paintings and ceramics by the Spanish legend Pablo Picasso. It was an emotional journey through his life and the development of his cubist works.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Every Step of the Way
The trails of the Cliff Walk and Coastal Pathway turned into the pavement of Gowerton on May 1st, thus ending my quest to walk the entire coastline of the Gower Peninsula. With over 40 miles walked, hundreds of pictures captured and a head full of memories to take away I'm proud and reflective. I'm also thankful for the opportunity to complete this quest and for Angie's support throughout, not being able to do this with her was the only negative. A special mention to Gower Explorer bus service, without whom I could not have done it. I'll never forget this experience and I can't wait to come back and walk some of it again.
Highlights: Cliffwalk/Coastal Pathway, North Gower

Trail Head Near Castle Wood

Weobley Castle

Weobley Castle

Woodlands House, Leason

Road, Leason Wood

Red Conical Flower, Pen-yr-allt

St. Illtyd's Church, Llanrhidian

Nearing the End of the Road

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Liverpool FC 1-0 Chelsea FC (1-1 agg., 4-1 penalties)
You can't buy heart.