Ta da! Here I am . . . the last to show up at the party! Heather and Liz have already started posting, whilst (England is rubbing off on me already) I’ve been conspicuous by my absence. In fact, the only reason that you’re getting this little missive from me at all is because I happily remembered to grab my laptop before we ran out on some errands, and I’m typing in the car. (I’m not the one driving by the way. You can feel safe in the knowledge that I would never attempt to type and drive on the left at the same time. On the right however . . . . well that’s another story. ) If I can manage to snaffle a passing wireless network as we cruise along then this might actually get posted.


We’ve just moved into our house, and I’ve been unpacking for the last few days. I should add that “unpacking” here is being used in a very loose sense . . . . we arrived at an unfurnished house with only what we could carry with us on the airplane. Of course, with seven people’s maxed-out limit of luggage, that actually amounted to a mountain of stuff which, when piled up together in the airport, was so enormous that you half expected to see King Kong standing at the top, swatting at bi-planes. But divide that pile by seven people, and then spread that through an entire house, and it turns out to be not quite as massive as it seemed at first. What I’m trying to say is that when I speak of unpacking my kitchen, that basically amounts to one pot, one spatula, one wire whisk, and a set of drop-dead gorgeous dishes that I couldn’t bear to leave behind. Not a real unpacking challenge if you see what I mean. The clothes however . . . . that’s a different story. This is one of those houses that has no closets whatsoever, and even if it did, we don’t have any hangers yet, and since we don’t have a single stick of furniture either, this presents a dilemma when it comes time to put away the clothes. We’re in makeshift central at the moment, living out of suitcases obviously . . . and trying to solve the question of the beds.


After one night sleeping on the floor, Ben and I realized that a mattress had to be priority number one – lest I lose my sanctification and my back alignment in one fell swoop. So an entire day was spent slugging it out through all of the least charming parts of the great city of Oxford, looking for a mattress – any mattress – that we could take home the same day. But no. We were asking too much of these sleep shop specialists. Every mattress in every place was an eight-day wait. Correction: Every mattress less than $1,200 was an eight-day wait. If we opted for the expensive version, then we were looking at a two-day wait. And even two days looks an eternity when you’re eyeball to eyeball with a raspberry colored carpet that may or may not have been properly cleaned ,and you’re using a rolled up something or other pulled from a suitcase as a pillow. When we told our friend at the sleep shop that we really needed something that we could Take Home Today, he took us over to a mattress that comes to the customer shrink wrapped and rolled up in a tube. No – I didn’t think it a very promising start either – especially as this particular wonder-mattress was also $400. But since that was the absolute rock-bottom cheapest thing we’d seen all day, and since we were sick of looking at mattresses, and since we could actually fit this sucker in the car and take it home with us, that’s the one we purchased. We got it home and cut off the shrink wrap and over the next few hours it slowly expanded to become what is now a double-bed-sized piece of foam. Sort of like those magic washcloths . . . . but thankfully we didn’t have to add water to the mattress. But man oh man, am I living it up now that I have a cozy piece of foam to sleep on. Life is definitely looking up. Now that I have an actual coffee pot and a piece of foam (which I cleverly set atop a flotilla of Rubbermaid bins to get it just that much further away from the raspberry carpet) I am able to face the problems ahead with all the intrepid spirit of a Pioneer. Well okay, maybe that should be the intrepid spirit of a modern American who thinks that life is tough when you can’t get the internet for a week and the phone won’t work for some reason and you have to sit on the floor for meals.


The kids incidentally are living it up. Ben and I weren’t actually being selfish to get ourselves a mattress first. On the contrary, we had very selflessly given all the cushions that we borrowed from our friends to the kids for them to sleep on – that’s why the two of us were on the blank floor the first night. But a big empty room with cushions on the floor to sleep on is definitely the kids’ idea of heaven. Plush, cozy, and you don’t have to make your beds in the morning.


Our house is fantastic. Charming, stone English farmhouse on a working farm with exposed beam ceilings and huge paddocks (complete with stream) for the kids to play in . . . . and so close to Oxford that Ben can walk to class if he wants. Our house even has a name – there’s a plaque on the side of the house (where we Americans would put a number) that says Lower Farm House and has a cow on it. And speaking of cows, the landlord told us that he was going to have to put a grill over the living room window sill as the cows come and chew on it when they’re in that pasture.


So now that I’ve given the world at large a blow-by-blow of the doings in the Lower Farm House, I’m going to sign off.


Hey nonny nonny and a hot cha-cha!


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16 thoughts on “OK in the UK

  1. Good to hear you Merkles are alive and well and living it up with the UK cows! Thanks for your post–looking forward to many more “Merkles Go Abroad” stories!

  2. Finally had to pull myself out of “lurkage”. What a great post! I’m looking forward to hearing more from all of you.

  3. You make it sound fun! I will be emailing you shortly about The Skirty, Lord willing (gotta contact some other mothers). The website is excellent! My hubby is a computer geek (self-proclaimed) and always emphasizes the necessity of a website provoking a desire to read more. You have succeeded. Godspeed!

  4. Bekah! So glad you’re contributing so we can keep up on how things are going for you in merry olde England. (A picture or two wouldn’t come amiss, either, now that the ground has been broken in that regard.) Blessings to you all.

  5. Bekah has a website for her business, and after it is set up for shopping, I’ll post the link to it here. She still has to get a couple of kinks out and get the shopping cart up and running before it’s ready for public viewing. We’ll keep you posted!

  6. Great to hear from you. I once had visions of Oxford floating my head, but happily a wonderful man intervened. Now I’m cooking and sewing and waiting for babies (in God’s time). I look forward to hearing about life in England.

  7. P.S. I remember well the joys of an empty house with carpets to go rolling across and makeshift bedding compiled of pillows and blankets and 5 kids tumbled together like puppies. And stairs! When we moved when I was little we’d never had a house with stairs before. After we moved we’d pile the stairwell up with pillows and play in them or get an especially large pillow and go sledding down the stairs. Such fun.

  8. Mattresses. Our favorite was a futon mattress for less than one hundred dollars the experience of sleeping on which was like sinking down into a deep bed of pocket lint. Our least favorite was the airbed with pretensions to take over the world — all it needed was a monacle: it developed a sort of incline so that we had to actually ascend it and anchor ourselves to the side so that we wouldn’t fall off during the night. Foam sounds very comfortable. I enjoyed reading this.

  9. We have the same type mattress, and man oh, man lugging a king size monster-in-a-box, weighing about a ton, up stairs to our room was something I will not soon forget. But it was a real upgrade from the mattress we slept on the first few years of marriage. That one was so bad we’d start out the night on our own sides of the bed and by morning we’d be smashed in the middle. We piled pillows down the middle underneath and after a few months of squishing the pillows flat we’d do it all over again. Our next mattress was a $20.00 blow-up from Wal-Mart that we had on the floor, we thought it was heaven compared to the lumpy mess we were used to, and it was not too long before we mastered the art of turning over VERY slowly as to not wake the other thinking there was an earth quake. However heaven on earth can not last, and a few months later, we discovered we had a leak somewhere in the mattress, and began the ritual of waking at 4:30 in the morning pumping it up, so we could keep our bums off the floor. These memories are some of our fondest and make us laugh every time, so I’m glad to hear that you can still have funny mattress stories after several years of marriage, well…maybe not:)
    And what are these drop-dead gorgeous dishes?

  10. (I’m wondering if “drop-dead” and “gorgeous dishes” should really be in the same sentence. Maybe she means “drop them and you’re dead gorgeous dishes” 😀 )

    I’m going to go be mischievous elsewhere now.

  11. Wow–a farmhouse close enough to walk to Oxford? Sounds wonderful, although I would probably still opt to ride one of those glorious English bicycles )you know, the kind you can comfortably ride while you’re wearing a suit). I don’t think you need a grill for the window sill; just pour some vinegar on it every week or so.

  12. As a UK resident, really enjoyed reading your account of Shopping In The UK!! You seem remarkably positive though! Would love to know how you’re finding Oxford life. What’s your hubbie doing there anyway? My husband spent happy years at Oxford Uni, where he became a Christian, followed by working for a fantastic church there afterwards and he’s now a pastor on the east coast of England. Do let us know if you’d like more info on the Oxford church scene! We know of great places to eat too…

  13. As a former (albeit short-lived) Oxford resident, you have my sympathies on the shopping front. I had a really hard time finding anything “affordable”, and that was five years ago! You probably found the Oxfams already – they’re not as cheap as the Goodwill, but still much better than retail.

  14. I happened to see the website URL when it was briefly posted the other day, and since it was removed I have had to strive mightily against the temptation to broadcast it once it. But I did start telling people on Sunday about the skirty. Interest is piqued!

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