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Cambridge Ghost Tours

I was very lucky to be able to go on a tour with Cambridge Ghost Tours.

Cambridge is a medieval city with great stories about ghosts and the place to hear them is with Cambridge Ghost Tours. Our tour guides, Fenella and Tom had really great personalities which made this tour so enjoyable.

I have been on previous ghost tours in Cambridge. In my opinion, this was much more exciting. They were not just giving you a tour of places, pointing out places that ghosts had been reported about anyone can do that. Instead they tell in such a way that you don't want the tour to end.

This is child friendly and they can curtail the information to suit the youngest person. The youngest on our tour was 8 years old. But of course that is a decision that you will have to make.

Also, as an American I find some tours presume you know who or what they are talking about. This was not the case with Cambridge Ghost Tours. I would be confident to say that even if you do not know who they are talking about, they explain it so you will.

I would hands down recommend Cambridge Ghost Tours as a different way to see the city (and the best ghost tour in town!). They also have special Halloween events- if you are brave enough!

The tour happens rain or shine so dress appropriately! It rained during our tour but it added to the ambiance.

Byron- Proper Hamburgers

We were going into town to go on a Cambridge Ghost Tour, so we thought we would eat before hand. A new restaurant has popped up on Bridge Street in Cambridge. If you are looking for the American burger in the United Kingdom, Byron Burger is the place to go!
It feels like an American diner, as you see in the picture below. It serves American sodas and beers. You can get a root beer float from here! I had a cream soda (proper American cream soda high fructose corn syrup and everything! Okay actually I had two- that ruined my no caffeine rule!) and my hubby have a Brooklyn beer now that he has had a taste while we were in New York City. They serve a range of hamburgers, the American way with American style sides. It was great! Jon is a lover of burgers as it is and I usually eat them when out due to my allergy so we were happy.

They had plenty of staff so you were never waiting too long to be served or get another drink. They were super friendly and attentive. It was a comfortable place to go to. It was also affordable. Not a dinner that will break the bank, just the way I like it!
The sign says Byron- Proper Hamburgers and it is 100% correct! I feel as an American I have the qualifications to make this judgement :) I have a place to go when I am home sick and just need a proper hamburger.

Philippa Gregory

If you have been following my Facebook page, you know that I am a fan of Philippa Gregory. I have not read all of her books yet. That is on my list to do when I am finished with my degree (only 3 more classes but who is counting!).

Last night I was able to attend a sold out event held by Topping & Company in Ely where Philippa Gregory talked about her new book, The King's Curse, which is about the curse placed on Henry VIII and his failure to produce a male heir. Philippa is a historian that brings it to life. So I was so excited to meet her and get her to sign a copy for myself and one of my sisters-in-law for Christmas. Don't worry she doesn't read my blog.

I was thinking last night and I think that it was a mix of Philippa's books and living in England that got me interested in history. I have always been an avid reader, well not so much since I started school again, but I just cannot get enough of a good story or finding out something new. I have a dresser full of books that I will start to read at the end of November and I can't wait.

The first book that I read of Philippa's was The Other Boleyn Girl, which was later made into the film which was also filmed in Ely Cathedral. It is the story of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, from the perspective of Mary Boleyn, her older sister and the king's mistress. What I loved so much about this book and all of the other ones I have read was that Philippa takes the historical facts that we know and fills it in with how things happened in a believable story. So you are learning about the events but feel like you know these historical people personally.

Reading her books have made me such an expert on Henry VIII at pub quiz it is my area of expertise.

I think that lead me to love England and its history so much that I wanted to do a degree in history and hopefully will improve my blog. I promise to pay it more attention after it is all said and done, I have a lot of ideas that I am writing down.

If you find history books boring but want to still learn about it, I definitely recommend reading her books, she make history delicious!


Yesterday I caught up on the Misfits series on Netflix awaiting our storm that did not come. I remember when I first started watching it. My husband used to go to pub quiz on Thursdays and he would come home and all I could talk about how great this show was. He was not sure he would like it because it was based on young delinquents in London. Once he started watching it, he was hooked.

The storyline is that there are five delinquents who have been sentenced to community service. There was a huge storm and it gave nearly everyone a super power. I think it was whoever was outside when the lightning struck. This quite clever because any new person that comes in show can almost have any power such as going into the past, bringing people back from the dead (but you have to kill them as they become zombies of course!), hearing what people think, seeing through walls, etc.

I think that this is a great example of British tv. This show is a dark comedy. It has a lot of violence, sex and shocking vulgar language ( and I worked on the flightline so hard to shock me) but it is fantastically written. It is not intelligent humor like most of the shows have but it is not slapstick either. Every show keeps you wanting more. Despite some of the characters being violent, you like them because they crack you up.

I would say it is more of a lad's show but the women are just as tough as they are! I enjoy it!

I can't wait to see the rest of the series as I am caught up to Series 4.

Observing your faith in the UK

I think about this a lot because people ask where a good church is. I write this after returning from mass and listening to the church bells ring from the village church.

Where a good church is subjective and this is a chance that people can get a chance to see how your faith is observed overseas. I am Caholic and when I was in I went to mass onbase for a while but tried out the local church in Newmarket and loved it. I am an early riser and so the early mass at Kirtling Catholic Church suited me (lovely churhc built in 1886). They had tea and coffee afterwards and I joined in and that lead me to be accepted in a group of people. In fact, one attended my wedding ceremony. 

What the point is of this post is I suggest you google churchs of your faith and attend them yourelves. You make the decision. I think it is probably better for you to attend a church in your village if they have your denomination and your children go to the local school because it builds bridges and that can help you integrate more. You will then see them out and about and it gives you a base to get to know the British. They like their clubs and faith and you will become a member like them. You have to attend a few times to get the feel and stay for the coffee, this allows people (the British) to be able to come to talk to you (or you them!). You can get involved in the events there and become part of their community.

Some faiths might find it harder to find a local church, I often joke with my husband that I will convert to  become an Anglican just so I can go to church in the village. Catholics might not have as many options because of the historical conflict all beginning with Henry VIII but in bigger towns like Ely, Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge have them. There are also some in villages where there are pockets of Catholics like in Newmarket with the Irish and Polish for the racing and Mildenhall. But if you google you should be able to locate them.

The reason why I think it is worth trying every church out because we all have different expectations. I go to a church that was 5 mintues walk from my house but now a 15 minute drive. There is a colleague at work that went to the same mass but now prefers the on in Cherry Hinton (a suburb of Cambridge) and there are a few Catholic Churches in Cambridge and one has a reputation of being "very academic" despite all Catholic Churches read the same liturgy every day.

There are a lot of the other demoninations of Christian churches because the English were more toleratant of other types as long as it wasn't catholic.

People who are Jewish will probably find fewer places of worship but Norwich and Cambridge have synagogues. 

Also it gives you a break to not be anything military and be a normal person. I used to really like the break because the military defines you as a person and that is why when people retire or seperate they struggle (I did). Experiencing my faith here has helped me be part of the community I live in and thought you might find that too.

Flu Vaccines

Yesterday the question was raised in one of the Facebook groups if someone should get both the US and UK flu vaccines. It is a valid question if you do not know anything about flu vaccines. I worked in the Swine Flu Incident room in 2009 in the East of England Strategic Health Authority which is part of the NHS. I am no expert but this has given me a bit of an insight to how things work in response to emergencies.

First off the vaccines are the same. The World Health Organization predicts which three strains of flu will be prevalent during the flu season in the North Hemisphere and the manufacturers make them. So getting a flu shot on base and off base is not going to provide you with more protection and dangerous double dosing on vaccines. Also if you think about in this way, service members get the flu shot annually but they do not get another one when they reach their deployment base because they are covered.

There are different approaches between the US and Europe on to how to distribute the flu vaccine. In America and Canada, anyone over six months old can get a flu shot. In Europe, nursing home residents, people with chronic medical conditions like asthma, the elderly, pregnant women, health care workers, and children from ages 6 months to 2 years,  because they are more susceptible to the symptoms of the flu get the vaccine. America gives to everyone because if they look at the group that is suggested in Europe then about 75% of the population would meet the criteria and the patient pays for the vaccine.

This varies for many reasons such as the lack of sick time in the US, whereas in Europe they have it. In Europe only doctors can give it out. I think that they often give it out in schools in the UK but this has to do with the NHS and the schools being part of the government's responsibility and saves the parents a trip!

Well if you ever thought about this, I hope I cleared it up!

When did I become an expat?

I asked the question on my Facebook Page, "what did people consider an expat?" It was a provocative question because I already knew what I thought was the answer. Most people confirmed my personal thought but one person did chime in agreement with a military spouse blog that I read that morning. Right now, I cannot remember for the life of me whose blog it is but in her description about herself she stated she was a military spouse and an expat again.

It was weird how I personally responded to that statement. I have lived overseas since 2005. First I was stationed at Osan AB, Korea and then RAF Mildenhall but for me, I did not become an expat until I was on my own in strange country. After serving my country for 10 years, I had no support from the US government not even during my time while I was unemployed but I am crafty and planned ahead so I had enough to carry myself until I did find work. Also I had the amazing support from my husband!

The reason why I do not consider military and US Embassy personnel and their dependents not to be expats is because they do not really live in the country on their own not the way expats do. If you have to live on the economy with only the same resources as the locals have, then I consider that person an expat. That includes people that move overseas with their companies. Most of the time they have little support in living in the other country and most certainily are not exempt from paying the same taxes, fees and prices that locals have to.

This doesn't belittle the experience of those stationed overseas at all but I personally don't think that being stationed overseas considers one to be an expat. You are very fortunate to live outside of the US and experience life overseas but it is very different to what the expats are experiencing. But I think that the real thing is, I have been on both sides so I know what it is like living both ways.

Nonetheless enjoy it!

Whittlebury Spa

I spent yesterday at the spa with my friend Laura for her 30th birthday. We went up to The Day Spa at Whittlebury Hall. It was about 1.5 hours drive from my house in Cambridge. I had never been there before but Laura had been there for a work do.

The Whittlesbury Hall is a purpose built spa place. You can stay overnight and they also golfing so perfect for a couple with different interests!

We each paid £99 for our day there which included: Two Course Buffet Lunch, full use of the Heat & Ice Experiences (hot tubs and saunas) and Leisure Club and we each had two 50 minute treatments (you choose from a selection). There were rooms that you could rest in on sun loungers, the whispering room with waterbeds and quiet area to read and a cafe to chat with your friends.

You are given a time to arrive and they will tell you when your treatments and lunch is scheduled for. You will be given a wristband for you locker where you will find your robe. I really liked this because only women could get into the ladies changing room and you knew your things were secure.

We spent time wandering all of the room and testing them out. We never got a chance to try out the swimming pool in the leisure centre bit but we would have also been able to workout if we wanted to or taken a fitness class (you have to pay more for that).

The food was served as a buffet and they were willing to make me something not on the buffet to accommodate my allergies. I made Laura a cake and they brought it out and even sang her "Happy Birthday!" So that was really nice of them!

My foot is on the right in sandals I wore in Laura's wedding :)
We also got pedicures (not included). You can book additional treatments on the day or beforehand. They were very professional and we were very happy with the results!

So initially when you think about all that you get for £99, it is quite a bargain. I love the Aqua Sauna at Centre Parcs but you pay £69 for access to their rooms and lunch but it does not include any treatments, it is worth the drive and the money to go to Whittlebury Hall for special occasion such as an anniversary (yes men can go too), hen night or a big birthday!

At the end of the day we were so relaxed we were not sure we should drive home :)

Bridge the Gap Walk

The Bridge the Gap Walk is an annual fund raising event that takes place in Cambridge.

If you are looking for an easy way to take part in an charity event, this is for you.

It is a 5 mile walk that goes through Cambridge and over 10 of the colleges.

It is also a great way to see the colleges for a small price. It has a lovely atmosphere and is something I will take part in year after year.

See you next year!