Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Letter from America Number 2

6472 Crystal Springs Drive
San Jose
California 95120
Phone: 408 323 9624
April 3rd 2000

Dear all,
Well we have survived our first three months here in San Jose, despite the inclement weather that we have been suffering from. When we arrived rainfall was below seasonal average, now its above it! We must have brought it over from England.
The area in which we are living, the Almaden Valley is very pleasant. It nestles under the Cinnabar Hills and in may respects is similar to English suburbia except that most of the houses are ranch style! The area is fairly historical (by American standards). As you will know from the name of the hills (Cinnabar is the name of the ore that quicksilver comes from) you will probably guess that it is named after the Almaden which is the famous Spanish Quicksilver Mine. Quicksilver is used in extracting gold and so the quicksilver mine which was developed in the 1850s became very profitable due to the high demand for quicksilver during the great Californian Gold Rush. You will probably gather that I have been reading about the area as I didn’t have a clue about any of this before we came over. About a mile from our house is Quicksilver County Park which contains the remains of the mines and township that grew up around it. We were going to visit last weekend for a ramble but once again the weather intervened - more of that later. 
We have been fairly active in getting out and about. We went to go whale watching and were all set, Helena and friend were in the car and I was locking the door with Julia when the phone went - it was the boat company - the trip was off due to high winds. As we were all set for the off we went instead to the John Muir Woods just north of San Francisco the on to Point Reyes which is a lighthouse on the National Seashore Park. It was very spectacular but windy, gusting up to 58 mph so we were glad not to be in a boat. We went out two weeks later to see the whales - we had a very nice boat trip but no whales, third time lucky we hope.
Helena had her 13th birthday on march 27th. We celebrated as a family by going out for a very nice brunch the day before. She has yet to have her party. This will probably be on the 16th April. This coming weekend we are going to Monterey to stay with friends which should be good fun. Pat is a friend I met through scouting and he and his wife Laura are a lovely couple. We will drive down to Big Sur which is very spectacular, its rather like the Cornish Coastline. I have been down there but this will be a first for Julia and Helena. Monterey also has a fascinating aquarium, its the best I have ever been to and you can easily spend a day in there. 
Over Easter we are planning to drive to the Lava National Monument which is in the north of California. There is also the National Redwood Park which should be beautiful walking country.
As I mentioned at the top we did plan to go walking in Quicksilver County Park but the weather beat us again. The temperature soared to the high eighties and even I thought that there were better things to do than go walking in that heat. So after Mass it was brunch on the decking by the pool  and the rest of the day was spent reading the paper with the odd swim to keep cool. It can be really  tough but someone has to do it. No doubt we will get used to the heat but it was about 15 degrees hotter than normal (and was lovely!). Even Julia put her swimming costume on and went for a paddle on an air bed (she didn’t go in and I’m not brave enough to push her).
On Saturday we learnt what a rain check really is and have one to prove it! We went to buy some sun loungers but they only had one that we liked. So we were given a slip labeled “Rain check” and when more come in, the shop will mail us and we present the rain check and will be able to buy the other loungers, still at the sale price!
Helena appears to be doing well at school, it isn't easy for her as she is so young but she is more than holding her own. Some of the work is easy, but some of the project work is very advanced, she has to do proper footnotes, bibliographies, indexes etc.
I took part in a 10 km race the other week, I ran a personal worst - 45mins 47 seconds but I am starting to lose a bit of weight and get faster. I am due to run another one in a couple of weeks so I can measure the improvement, if any!
As you can gather we are enjoying life here, we miss the boys and our families and friends but there are compensations and it should be a great couple of years.
We hope that everything is going well for you and yours.
Take care
Barry, Julia and Helena.