Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 560

Back in the USA

So, I’ve had 10 days in the UK. It was a strange experience being back. It’s almost like I’ve been having a love affair for nearly three years with a glamorous, crazy, amusing and confusing, challenging and embracing place that is the US, and that I’ve just spent 10 days with my ex, who appeared to me as slightly old-fashioned, charming, very familiar, full of both humour and cynicism, much smaller, and who, honestly, has left me feeling nervous about how we go about rekindling our relationship. But it will happen, cos it has to happen. It will be a new chapter.

What did I make of the UK after spending so much time in the USA?

1. The countryside was rolling and lovely. I spent much time in a new village where my parents live that made me feel like I was somewhere in between a Joanna Trollope novel, an episode of the Vicar of Dibley, and the movie Hot Fuzz. There’s nowhere in the USA that has that, that’s for sure! It was soooo lush to be able to walk to places, and use public transport to get from town to town – a novelty!

This almost happened!

This almost happened!

2. I realised that in the USA I look UP a lot. And when I am in the UK I look DOWN a lot. It may be to do with the fact that I am used to the UK and don’t feel the need to look up at new stuff, or it may be that many of the pavements in the UK are so treacherous I have to look down for my own safety ;)

3. I really and truly appreciated for the first time the safe and clean environment of Columbia, MD. I’ve been slightly cynical (in a way only the British can be) about it before, but as I looked at some of the higgledy-piggledyness of the UK high streets, all the shop fronts with their own branding and colours, I realised how the eye gets used to the uniformity that Columbia offers. It was interesting to feel this reaction.

Uniformity in Columbia

Uniformity in Columbia

4. Teenagers are more prevalent with their presence in the UK, and not always in a good way. They’re still hanging around on the shop corner looking shifty. And boy, there are some chavs (are we still allowed to use that word?!!!) around. Gawd luv ‘em!

5. Harry spent a lot of time wondering why there were so many old people in England, until it was explained to him that all the British kids were at school.

6. I watched a small amount of British TV and most of it sucks. I don’t miss it. I watch the good British stuff online when I can, so I get to see that and that’s good enough for me! But there again, I don’t watch American TV, so I won’t miss that when I get back!

7. In the UK, people were keen to meet up, so they used the phrase ‘ let’s hook up’ and that now makes me smile…..

I used to use that phrase all the time in the USA when I first arrived, until one day an American friend said to me ‘do you know that we use hook up to refer to when people make out on a date?!’

I was slightly mortified when I recollected how many people I had suggested to in the States that we ‘hook up’!!!

These were my observations during my time in the UK as a British expat from the USA (Confused?! I was!)…..

You know you’re in England when…

a) you keep pressing ‘shift 2′ on the keyboard for an @ sign and it does this ” instead (confusing);
b) you get called ‘my love’ a lot (lovely West Country thing);
c) there is Jeremy Kyle on TV (what a load of pants – why, England, why?!)

You know you’re in England when…

a) you can ask for tea without having to preface the request with the word ‘hot';
b) people know how to use roundabouts;
c) no one gives a toss that you have an English accent ;)

You know you’re in England when…..

a) you go for a country Vicar of Dibley style walk in the mud and puddles;
b) you actually get tempted by a sausage roll in Gregg’s as a mid-morning snack (mad at myself!);
c) your husband spends the afternoon watching footie on the TV in the lounge.

Greggs is now a British tradition...

Greggs is now a British tradition…

In addition, I only drove on the wrong side of the road once!

A British reader of my blog commented thus when I mentioned that it was a confusing time being back in the UK: ‘All you have to do is watch the telly, go and have a full English at a proper cafe, visit Greggs and get some sausage rolls, then take a walk down a nice local village high st – you’ll never want to leave (yes, walk, you wont need a car).’

This is an interesting comment for me, because I only really miss the walking aspect. I don’t miss the telly or the breakfasts or Greggs at all. In fact,I never really liked them when I lived in the UK and if I never had those things in my life ever again, I’d cope! They are just some of the British aspects of life that I would quite happily do without.

And now I’m back in the USA for a final 6 months, and boy are we going to make the most of it!

Posted in American, expat, Travel, UK | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 559

The Cadbury’s Creme Egg Diplomatic Issue

I think America and England are going to break up over an egg. But it’s not any old egg; it’s the iconic Cadbury’s Creme Egg wot we ate when we wos kids in England.

My British friends are outraged, shocked, seeking therapy because Hershey — the company that produces Cadbury products in the U.S. — wants to change the chocolate egg-shell recipe. Stateside the original Cadbury Creme Eggs recipe will remain the same. The new formula only impacts Cadbury Creme Eggs in the U.K. So why do it?!

The company is now using a “standard cocoa mix chocolate” in its recipe, according to The Sun.

“It’s no longer Dairy Milk. It’s similar, but not exactly Dairy Milk. We tested the new one with consumers,” a chocolate-egg spokesperson said. “It was found to be the best one for the Creme Egg, which is why we’ve used it this year. The Creme Egg has never been called the Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Creme Egg. We have never played on the fact that Dairy Milk chocolate was used.”

Hands off our eggs!

Hands off our eggs!

The company has also changed its packaging size — from six to five Easter eggs in a box — without reducing the price.

Oh dear, anarchy in the UK resumes.

Next time someone in the USA asks me how I like my eggs, I’m going to reply ‘The Cadbury’s way.’ ;)

The Life of an Expat Wife

The life of an expat wife is an odd one. (Same applies to expat husbands, of which there are many, but for this I’m just going to focus on what I know cos I am a lady and therefore a wifey.)

I met an expat wife yesterday who was feeling blue. It’s hard sometimes in your expat place without your friends around. It’s hard when cultures collide, and they do. It’s hard when the weather is shitty and there are endless school snow delays. It’s hard when your husband just pops off to his job with his British mates and has banter and stories to tell when he gets home, and you have….none. It’s hard when you had a fulfilled life back in the UK and sometimes you feel very, very alone.

I get it. It is hard. And then you feel guilty for not feeling grateful and making the most of it. I do all I can to make my life out here have meaning and purpose, but some days, yep, it ain’t always easy.

Easier said than done sometimes

Easier said than done sometimes

Snow Delay No. 3

I can’t say I’m thrilled at school snow delay #3. Oh, whilst I would hate to have the responsibility of that job where you call the shots based on weather reports as to whether schools close or not, and I totally respect that person and that they have to make a decision, it still sucks.

They made some good calls last week, but today the snow but sprinkled a layer of icing sugar. Damn that snow: it’s more unpredictable in its behaviour than a teenage girl, and I should know because I was one. ;)

Anyway, this is what it looked like this morning:

#hocomd #snowjoke

#hocomd #snowjoke

I can confirm that, as a working mother, it’s a pain in the arse to have snow delays.

My American blogging chum who lives in Austria was telling me how kids in Austria just get on out there and ski to school and that ‘the term “snow day” does not exist. In fact, our daughter is thrilled when there is snow, because it means recess will be outdoors. American students need “Big Girl” panties.’

I agree. Get them out there, stop mollycoddling them kids and prepare them for something other than a morning of video games. I even heard a mother tell her child in the playground at pick up the other day: ‘Don’t make snowballs…..don’t throw snowballs….just don’t touch the snow.’ Sigh.

British at heart

Someone is very happy to be going back to England this week for a visit. In fact, Harry even asked if he could stay there with my parents and we just come and get him and take him to our UK house when it’s time for school to start.

I get the impression with Harry that, whilst he’s enjoyed the USA, it hasn’t stuck in his soul. It will be interesting to see how America resonates with him when he is back in the UK.

When I asked him ‘What are you looking forward to most about going to England, Harry?’, he replied, without hesitation: ‘Speaking English.’

Harry is British at heart

Harry is British at heart

That boy speaks American at school and English at home and won’t speak American in front of me. He says that at school people don’t understand him if he speaks in an English accent. :(

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 558

Letter boxes UK stylie

When the weather is as gawd-awful as it currently is in Maryland, USA I miss one thing very much: my UK letterbox that is in my door.

It’s a very American First World problem that I have when it snows and ices over. What a palaver it is going out of my door and walking across the road to get to my mail box and collect my mail. Oh, how I miss my postie having to undertake the slipping and the sliding and make the journey TO MY DOOR to deliver my post and have it land on the warm cosy mat inside my house.

Put my mail through here please :)

Put my mail through here please :)

Yes, that’s what I miss ;)

Netball

A week today I will be in the UK, and I will holding a ball in my hands that I haven’t held for a long time: a netball.

My efforts at playing netball in the USA have been sporadic. Netball does exist, and I played in the USA Netball Championships in 2013 in Atlanta, but it’s still alien to most Americans. Aussies play it, New Zealand folk, and a lot of the Afro-Caribbean community and Commonwealth countries too. Just not enough Americans!

Netball Championships in the USA

Netball Championships in the USA

In my humble opinion, it’s THE BEST sport EVER and I can’t wait to play it again back in the UK :)

Britain is Brillopads

Apparently so, says a British expat in the USA who went back for a visit recently.

British countryside

British countryside

Have a read of the piece which is on my other blog Desperate Housewife: From America to England, which, if you aren’t following, I ask ‘why the flippin’ heck not?!’

Posted in British customs, netball, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 557

Cards Against Humanity

Last night I played my virgin game of Cards Against Humanity. This American game is the crack of after-dinner card games. I am addicted after just one session.

So, what is this?

Cards Against Humanity is a party game for ‘horrible people’. Unlike most of the party games you’ve played before, Cards Against Humanity is as despicable and awkward as you and your friends.

The game is simple. Each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card. Do not read the examples below if you ever get mortally offended by anything…..

Examples are:

An example of the game :)

An example of the game :)

Oh there are far worse ones than these!

Oh there are far worse ones than these!

Anyway, there is now a British version of Cards Against Humanity. So the dilemma is: do I get the British version or the American version? I think the American version might be slightly superior because it’s the original and very raw and just basically funny, but there are some names of people on the cards that I like: ‘Who? Never heard of them?!’ But the British one might resonate more with my chums for when I return back home and play it endlessly with them after dinner…..

What’s your verdict, dear readers: British or American?

Posted in expat, games | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 556

British art in DC

Ever wondered what Americans make of the word ‘rubber’ really?! My British chum, Caroline McCatty is an amazing artist here in the DC area and recently gave a talk to a group of American artists called ‘When is a rubber not a rubber? Making art in a slightly different English language.’ 

How cool is that?! We all know and love the British vs American rubber joke!

Caroline is one of those inspirational expats who just gets on with life. She’s used her artistic talent to forge a career in DC, Baltimore and NYC as an artist, and she spends her time both working on her art and discussing different cultural approaches to art in the American community.

I interviewed her for the new year issue of Global Living Magazine.

This is that piece.

Click on this to enlarge :)

Click on this to enlarge :)

Enjoy :)

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 555

‘In the Club’

There’s a radio commercial I keep hearing at the moment for a wholesale store called Sam’s Club and it makes me chortle every time because the British meaning of the phrase that they keep repeating is interpreted muchly differently from the American way.

It goes: ‘Sam’s Club: life is better when you’re in the club.’

In the UK, ‘in the club’ is British slang for ‘pregnant’, so obviously this commercial takes on a whole different meaning when interpreted by us Brits from that of being able to access discount goods ;)

Life is better when you're pregnant ;)

Life is better when you’re pregnant ;)

Non-Americans, what American customs seem outrageous/pointless to you?

See that headline above? This question was asked on Reddit by a random person three days ago and almost 40,000 people have commented on this thread which asked non-Americans to talk about US customs they find strange, pointless or even outrageous.

And people are still adding to it!

Such answers include the way prices are marked in US shops and tax is not included, large numbers of lawyers  and litigation, gaps in toilet doors, using the same knife and fork for starter and main course (entrée), tipping massively, the Pledge of Allegiance, why healthcare is for the people with money.

Side by side, honest!

Side by side, honest!

Watch this round-up of American-jabbing, it’s  interesting! And then, on the reverse side, if you’re tired of all the discussion threads poking fun at Americans, watch this to find out what baffles people about the British.

The saying ‘alright’ thing cracks me up about us Brits – I do that ALL the time and my poor American friends are like ‘Yeah, I’m fine, really’. :)

Aren’t we just all crackers?!

Posted in American, American customs, British, British American differences, British customs, culture, Reddit, tipping, Travel, UK, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 554

Daytime TV for the UK Desperate Housewife USA

Well, it’s a talk show – Dr Oz – that I made it on to, not Days of our Lives or The Young and the Restless, which will be my next mission!

When you take a look you’ll see they totally Americanised me for this segment on the show…. I mean TOTALLY!

UK Desperate Housewife and her pussy!

UK Desperate Housewife and her pussy!

The nice sleep chap who I nodded at, but can't remember what he said ;)

The nice sleep chap who I nodded at, but can’t remember what he said ;)

The Dr Oz man himself

The Dr Oz man himself

We talk about my bedtime routine - ahem....

We talk about my bedtime routine – ahem….

As my dear British friend Wendy said upon seeing me on this today: ‘Only for opening your gob you’d have passed as an American!’

Oh, hair and make up and wardrobe TV people, you totally Americanised me for daytime TV with your hairspray and lipgloss and jackets.  I stood there as an all-American middle class suburban desperate housewife on TV. Oh how very odd and amusing!

Anyway, here’s the clip for you to chortle at. (NB: I nod. A lot. Even though I have no idea what they’re saying to me ;) )

It’s interesting because the Brits who’ve seen this are really tickled by this transformation and video, as I am.

Let me share the post-viewing chinwag with my Brit chum Chris (aka @thatbritguynyc):

Chris: You were great in the video, love it! And if I may be so bold.. classically ‘Carry On‘…….You on national ‘murican TV stroking your pussy on video.. and talk of musical beds… *Sid James laugh*

Me: Hahaha! It was so hard not to say something funny or rude and I had on the tip of my tongue to say ‘Well, I do like a quick one before bed’ and wondered if they would know I was referring to drink or not….!

Yep, that’s how we Brits roll!

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