Category Archives: England

Doctor, Doctor!!

Like the picture says, I love the UK’s National Health Service. In my opinion it is far superior compared to the healthcare system in America. It’s not perfect, but very few things in this world are. “The NHS was created from ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth. It has at its heart three core principles:
• That it meet the needs of everyone
• That it be free at the point of delivery
• That it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay.”

Those principles just seem so obvious to me.

Access to healthcare, at least in my experience, has been very easy. My doctor’s office is a five minute walk from my house, there is a walk-in clinic 10 minutes away by tube from my office and a hospital that is a 20 minute bus ride from my house. I can visit any of them without paying a dime. Nothing, zilch, nada! In fact, I can even get reimbursed for some of my transportation costs if I wanted. The only things that I have to pay for are my prescriptions. No matter what drug I might be picking up it will only cost me £7.60. Nothing more.

Both Charles and I have had a fair amount of dealings with the NHS over the four + years that we having been living in London. In most cases, we have had very positive experiences. We can normally get in to see our doctor the same or next day. Emergency room waits have usually been minimal and almost every member of NHS staff that we have dealt with has been kind and helpful.

Like I said above, it’s not perfect. A lot of the facilities are dated and badly in need of refurbishing. If you want to see a specialist you have to get a referral from your GP and the specialist appointments usually have a bit of a waiting list. But again, all this treatment is free at the point of delivery. We have private health insurance through my work, but we have found that it’s just easier to use the NHS (even though we hardly go private I greatly appreciate my employer providing it for us).

I could go on and on extolling the many virtues of a National Health Service, but I would probably bore you and I certainly don’t want to do that. I think you probably get it by now that I think it’s pretty great. To be honest, this blog post is kind of a set-up for one that I will be posting in the next few days. Charles and I will be receiving almost daily benefits from the NHS in the next few weeks and I thought it might be interesting to some people so… stay tuned!

*Disclaimer: I am only expressing my opinions and experiences. I realize that not everyone shares those opinions nor have they had great experiences with the NHS. My aim is merely to share my experiences with the hope that they are interesting and helpful to others.

photo via here

Huddle Collaboration

Royal Ascot

Ever since we moved to London I have been wanting to go to Royal Ascot. This year I finally had the opportunity to attend. I went with three good friends and we had such a great time! We started the day with brunch at Canteen at the Royal Festival Hall and then hopped on a train at Waterloo Station to make the 50 minute journey to Ascot. The train was packed with race-goers all very excited to get to the track.

When we arrived at Ascot station we followed the crowds making their way to the track. After a bit of a ticket dilemma (read: I somehow lost my tickets en route) we entered the gates to Royal Ascot. The scene was so overwhelming I didn’t know where to look first. The track facilities themselves are quite nice, but what had my attention jumping all over the place were the all the amazing hats and outfits of the race-goers. People put a lot of attention and detail into the outfits they wear to Ascot. Our little foursome was pretty conservative when it came to our outfits (as seen below), but I’d say we were the exception, not the rule.

Before the races started we got a little glimpse of the Queen and her Guards.

There were so many great outfits to chose from, I probably took about 100 photos of hats alone! Below I’ve picked out a few of my favorites.

Mid-way through the races we had a nice little afternoon tea that we had pre-ordered. I’m not sure why it was called afternoon tea because there was no tea to be had, only champagne.

We were very lucky to have such beautiful weather the day we went.

Three of us pooled our resources and placed a few bets on several of the races. I get overly excited if I win anything no matter how small, but we actually walked away with about £100 in winnings. Not bad.

After the races were over everybody moved out to the parade ring for a group sing-along.

The atmosphere for the day was very festive and happy. Everyone seemed to be having such a good time, enjoying the races and the beautiful weather. Even though it was a really long day the actual races seemed to go by so quickly. I wasn’t ready for it to end.

I have now been to four of the six “English” sporting events that I have on my list. Rugby, football, Henley Royal Regatta and Royal Ascot horse races. Next up: cricket and polo!

No Expedia Change or Cancel Fees on Hotels

Country Bumpkins

This weekend was my company retreat which we spent at one of my bosses cottage in the little village of Great Wishford, about 1.5 hours by train South West of London. We did this a few years ago which you can read about over here. Tom (my boss) and his wife Jacqui moved to a new cottage a few months back called Staddlestone. Most of the cottages in the village have names, usually relating to what the building used to be used for or because of a defining feature of the property. There are about six staddle stones (each about 3 ft tall) lining the driveway to the cottage, thus the name.

Shortly after arriving we settled down for afternoon tea. I had been looking forward to this part all week. Jacqui is an excellent host and cook and she made the yummiest scones and a cake and served it with clotted cream and homemade jam. So good!

After we had tea we took a walk around the village and surrounding farm land. Great Wishford is what I consider to be a storybook English countryside village. It is so charming. I was quite obviously a tourist as I walked around snapping pictures of every other cottage, church, pub and cow that we passed by. I love the thatched roofs and the plants covering the walls and front gardens.

Tom took us for a walk along the River Wylie pointing out graylings and trout. As you can see we didn’t do a very good job or blending into our surroundings.

Why Charles and I are standing in the river, I don’t know. Maybe it was because he wanted to see if he could make me fall in by tickling me.

Love the street signs.

On our way home we stopped by the village pub for a quick pint. It’s just as sweet inside as it is outside and Tom was greeted by name by all the patrons when we walked in. That would never happen in London.

Back at the cottage we picked the vegetables to be cooked for our dinner, enjoyed some pre-dinner snacks and an aperitif and then a great dinner of pork belly with crackling (a new thing for me) and all the trimmings. Several bottles of wine and a few hours later we all crashed for the night.

The next day a few of us went for a ride on Hovis, Jacqui’s horse, and a nice walk through the hills surrounding the village. I felt like an impostor riding a horse and I’m pretty sure Hovis thought so too. Even though I grew up in the Sierras I probably have only rode a horse three other times in my life.

The terrain changed constantly as we were on our walk.

This was my favorite part. I felt like I was riding toward Tara in ‘Gone With The Wind’. The trees were HUGE.

When we got back from our walk we went back to the pub for a really good Sunday lunch. I think I gained about 10 lbs., but it was so worth it. I really need to get out of London more often. Thank you so much Tom and Jacqui for hosting us this past weekend. I’m already looking forward to next year!