Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Stonehenge and Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice
Summer Solstice (June in the Northern Hemisphere – occurs in December in the Southern Hemisphere) is traditionally, the longest day of the year – or the day with the longest period of daylight, since technically it still has the same amount of hours and minutes and isn't really any longer than any other day. (FYI: Solstice is a Latin word meaning the "sun stands still.")

Southern England
For us here in Southern England, it also means the time when the pagans and druids come en masse to watch the sunrise at Stonehenge. So many people attend that English Heritage, the organization that watches over and maintains Stonehenge, has to close normal tourist admission to the site.

This Morning
This morning, June 21, 2011 there were 18,000 people attending. Here are some links to the Facebook page of English Heritage with a picture of this morning's ritual:

Crowds at Stonehenge
Druids at Sunrise Ceremony

Monday, 13 June 2011

Why the British L.O.V.E. their kettles.

Even though we don't drink coffee or tea, we still own a kettle.

When I first moved to England, I didn't understand this philosophy. Why would we need a kettle? The most we do is make cup-a-soup. In America, if I wanted hot soup I would put water and soup mix in a big mug, and put it in the microwave. Job done.

But my husband insisted we would need a good quality kettle.

So, we got a kettle, an electric one. We use it for making soup. I even started boiling the water for pasta before putting it in the pot on the stove to hurry up the cooking time.

It wasn't until this week, though, that I finally understood the true importance of owning a kettle.

We had some builders in to add two new radiators to our heating system. Many people in England have a boiler for heat. The hot water circulates throughout the house in copper pipes into radiators. In our house, it is a noisy system, but it warms the place on a cold day.

The boiler also heats the water for the shower, and kitchen and bathroom sinks. So if you have a problem with your boiler, life can become . . . difficult.

Our troubles began when the TIMER stopped working on the boiler.

Day 1:
Builder (A) tries to replace TIMER on boiler. Wire (a) is cut. Circuit board (a) is fried. No hot water.
Day 2:
Builder (B) replaces circuit board (a). Replaces TIMER. Cuts wire (b). Doesn't have the right part to replace wire (a). No hot water.
Day 3:
Builder (A) replaces wire (b). Still no wire (a). No hot water.
Day: 4:
Builder (C) replaces wire (a). Cuts wire (c) Circuit board (b) is fried. Replaces circuit board (b). Replaces wire (c). Hot water restored!

TIMER stops working.

No joke. After four days of heating water for the bath and dishes IN A KETTLE, the TIMER is still not working. I'm afraid to call them back!!

The moral to the story: If you own a boiler, you'll need a kettle.