Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 509

Pumpkin carving

This is a big deal in America. I shan’t show you my poor effort. It’s just sad. I won’t be entering any competitions, put it that way.

But look at these! Amazeballs!

Genius

Genius

Ace

Ace

Wowsers

Wowsers

Love!

Love!

My fave!

My fave!

Reflections on the UK, part 3

Here  is the penultimate installment of American blog reader Rebecca’s visit to the UK.

You can catch up on parts 1 & 2 previously if you missed out!

Part 3

I set off for Hyde Park, which I have always wanted to visit.  It is much bigger than I realized and very beautiful.  I wander around for a few hours, and come across the 7/7 memorial to the victims of the 2005 terrorist attacks on the London subway (tube).  It is simple and solemn.  I feel a pang of sadness—especially as British lives lost are like the loss of family—and take a moment of silence and say a prayer that Britain will be safe and happy and at peace, and throw in the same prayer for America too.  I continue walking, end up in Kensington Gardens, and accidentally discover the Albert Memorial, which is amazingly beautiful and huge.  I search around but cannot find any inscription explaining who Albert is or why he gets such a cool memorial.  Later that night, I ask my friend’s husband and he tells me Albert was Queen Victoria’s husband, which makes him a prince and not a king, for reasons which are unclear to me.  (Some time ago I gave up any real attempt to understand the differences between the different titles (Earl, Duke, Lord, etc.) and the rules of royal succession in Britain.  At some point we all must learn to accept our limitations.)

Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens

My friend decides to cook a special dinner and the three of us sit down to eat together.  We begin talking about our work.  She periodically meets immigrants from places like Portugal  who were doctors in their own country, but have to take menial jobs in England because they don’t speak English well enough.  Having lived in Japan, I can sympathize —my Japanese is advanced but not fluent, and had I not been teaching English my job prospects would have been much more limited.  “I remember how humiliating it was when I had to go down to the immigration office in Tokyo once and couldn’t understand all of what was said to me; it made me feel stupid.  But it gave me a greater empathy for people who come to America and can’t speak English well.”  Here, my friend’s husband breaks in with an almost incredulous grin:  “People in America who can’t speak English well? Those are called Americans!”

Ah yes, there it is.  As far as I can tell, in order to maintain British citizenship, it is a requirement that you must mock Americans’ English on a regular basis.  While studying at a Japanese university for a year, I had a British professor for a history course taught in English to a mixture of Japanese and foreign students.  Very nice guy, who scarcely let a class go by without finding some way to get a dig in about Americans’ language skills.  The day before a big test, he announced to the class: “For my Japanese students, you can bring your English dictionaries to the test, in case there are any words you don’t know.  And my American students, you may bring your dictionaries as well, since I know you have difficulty with English.”  Later that year, by complete coincidence, I met Jeremy Bulloch, the British actor who plays Boba Fett, my near-favorite character in the original Star Wars trilogy (after Vader, of course).  Naturally this excited me, and we got into a conversation.  He was incredibly nice, down-to-earth, and talked to me for about 20 minutes.  At the end, I thanked him, and he said, “Good luck studying Japanese, that’s a challenging language.  And good luck studying English, I know that’s hard for Americans.”  Et tu, Boba Fett?

Much as I would like to prove him wrong, I don’t end up making my case very well.  We get into a discussion about parking tickets.  He detests the parking attendants who give them.  “They’re evil,” he says, “right up there with Peter Files and terrorists.”  “Who is Peter Files?” I ask, wondering who could have done something so terrible as to be lumped together with terrorists (and apparently, parking attendants).  Moments after the words leave my mouth, I realize too late that he was saying, with his delightful British accent, ‘pedophiles.’

They ask about my plans for tomorrow, and I tell them I’m planning to go to Leicester, prompting some raised eyebrows.  “Leicester?  What’s in Leicester?  Nobody goes there.”

I’m actually going there to meet an officer in the British army.  The Imperial army, that is.  He’s a historical re-enactor who runs a group which does battle re-enactment and living history events of the Revolutionary War (or American War of Independence/AWI as it’s called in Britain).

I became exposed to the concept of historical re-enactments this summer when various nearby American towns which experienced battles or occupations during the War of 1812 marked the bicentennial.  Re-enactors portrayed various battles between the American and British forces, and many towns also used the occasion to celebrate 200 years of peace and friendship between America and Britain (including DC, though happily they didn’t re-enact burning the White House).  At first I found the idea of re-enacting a war a bit strange, even worried it might be trivializing a real-life tragedy where many lost their lives.  However, through witnessing it firsthand and talking to the ‘soldiers’ who painstakingly research the history in order to accurately portray and share it with the public, I realized it can be a valuable way of preserving history and educating others about it.  In researching some of the events, I came across this group in Britain which re-enacts AWI battles, portraying both the ‘Redcoats’ and the Revolutionaries.  Intrigued, because I understand the Revolutionary War to be not a very big deal in Britain, I contacted one of the group leaders, and he’s invited me to meet.

I’m excited to get to see somewhere in England outside of London and Oxford (the only two places I’ve been on previous trips), though when I ask my British friend in DC whether he’d recommend Leicester as somewhere to visit, the answer is an emphatic NO.  But I take the train about an hour from London anyway, and am greeted at the Leicester station by the re-enactor, who takes me on a short walking tour of the city as we talk.  (Awfully nice of a Redcoat to be so welcoming and courteous to a traitorous Yank.)

I quickly fall in love with Leicester.  It has beautiful, historical-looking buildings, cobblestone-ish streets, and a very ‘English’ feel to it (or at least what I imagine one to be) which instantly brings forth my affection.  After stopping to see the Jewry Wall, which is apparently the tallest surviving Roman structure in the UK, and dates from the first century AD, we go to a coffee shop to continue our chat.

I’m interested in how the Revolutionary War is thought of in Britain.  It’s not thought of much, he tells me, as Brits don’t learn about it in school.  But he became interested in it because of his interest in 18th-century history and started to study it on his own.  The re-enactors in his group portray both the British and the American forces, speak to the visiting public about the war from each perspective, and work to create an immersive experience, sometimes even camping out at the battle sites with their ‘regiments.’  There are also online chat forums where re-enactors from both America and Britain discuss the war and means of re-enacting it, down to the minutest detail of the uniforms.  They generally don’t bring politics or ideology into it, he says, but just want to better understand and preserve history.

He poses the question of how the Revolutionary War has influenced current politics.  “I think it’s influenced current identity and views about the other, at least in America,” I say.  “Of course the Revolutionary War was a critical factor in giving birth to America and shaping its identity.  I think it has shaped our values still today, in that we’re proud of our independence, love freedom, and still sort of have a sense of rebelliousness and rooting for the underdog.  But despite having fought for independence I think a lot of Americans today do have some sense of special affection for Britain, and some see it as our family or parent in a way.”  (At least that’s my impression.  The most touching way I’ve heard this expressed was by an American reader commenting on a British article on the US-UK relationship, who said: “Let’s remember you (Britain) are our mother, speaking as an older American.  We’ve died for you and we’d do it again if necessary.”)  “And my perception is that some Americans still seem to sort of ‘look up’ to Britain in a way, like sort of seeing it as a symbol of culture and sophistication…The American public broadcasting stations, for example, show almost nothing but British shows, like they see it as a higher form of TV….And of course, in many American movies the most intelligent people have a British accent ;) …Maybe in some ways that’s the dual legacy of the colonial history in America—treasuring our independence but still feeling linked to Britain.”  We talk about the current popularity in the States of British shows like Sherlock, Dr. Who, and Downton Abbey.

Ugh.

Ugh.

On the flip side, he tells me about the popularity of American culture (TV, food, etc.) in Britain, particularly among younger people like us.  In his view, British and American culture have become ‘integrated’ in a way.  (As if to illustrate this point, as I look up I see a Maryland Chicken shop across the street, with a big American flag on its sign.)  “Do people resent that?” I ask shyly.  I’ve read about some Brits lamenting the ‘Americanization’ of British culture.  “No, not at all,” he says.  We begin talking about the TV shows we like, and he mentions he’s currently hooked on the new House of Cards.  A British show popular enough in America to inspire an American version which is now being watched in Britain.  Perhaps our cultures really are becoming integrated.  (Any lingering doubts about this are somewhat erased later in the trip when, as I’m watching the season-opening episode of Downton Abbey (don’t hate me, fellow Americans!), a commercial for Virgin Trains comes on whose new slogan is centered around what I always thought was the most quintessentially American slang: “Arrive Awesome.”  Which is rather awesome.)

As we get up to leave, I think about how if America and Britain could go from being bitter enemies to such close friends, surely there is similar hope for other countries currently in a state of animosity or war.  Perhaps that’s reason enough to preserve the memory of the Revolutionary War.

He leaves me off at the Globe, a pub dating back to 1720, where Redcoats used to recruit in the 18th century.  Naturally I can’t resist eating lunch there.  Since I generally don’t drink alcohol, I wasn’t sure how well I’d fit in in a pub, but the food is good, and the people are friendly.  As I go to pay, the bartender compliments my Nintendo T-shirt, and we get into a great discussion about gaming.  While washing my hands in the toilet, a woman comes in and begins chatting to me about the nose piercing she’s just gotten.  It makes me feel like I’m back in America, where I’ve had many a friendly conversation with random strangers in public bathrooms. Where are all the surly people the Brits keep warning about?  It’s just like back home, except they have cooler accents.

leicester

I spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around Leicester, which I find beautiful and endearing because it seems like more of a ‘regular’ English city, not a tourist attraction—the kind of place I’ve been wanting to get out of London to find.  I visit Leicester Cathedral and see the new place they are building at the altar to inter the recently-discovered remains of King Richard III.  I visit the Town Hall and the remains of Leicester Castle.  I wander clear off the map of the city I’ve gotten and struggle to find my way back.  I love every moment.  I can’t fathom why Brits seem to be so down on visiting Leicester.  As I head back to the train station I get a wicked craving for ice cream.  Remembering the food at the previous pub, I pop into the next pub I see to see if they have any.  The bartender looks at me sort of pityingly at the apparent absurdity of this question and says with a grin, “How long have you been in England?”

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 508

Today in America

I realised that I can’t get used to calling ‘kitchen roll‘ paper towel.

I learned that whilst we Brits call this thing -1 ‘minus 1′, Americans call it ‘negative 1′.

I learned that American Fall can be 80 degrees (today) or it can be 45 degrees with snow flurries (Saturday).

I realised that very few Americans have heard of Boxing Day.

I assured an American that, yes, we do have Christmas Eve.

I also explained that we don’t have Thanksgiving in the UK.

:)

Reflections on visiting the UK

Part 2

This is the second installment from American blog reader Rebecca Cataldi, who took a recent trip to Britain. (Read the first part here.)

I am a little shy about my American accent. I like the American accent. But like many Americans, I adore the British accent. Yes, I know there are in fact many different British accents. But it really doesn’t matter to us—from the most elite to the most uneducated, most all British accents sound so cool, so intelligent, cultured, sophisticated. I think a British accent is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. (Eventually, this will likely get me in trouble. ‘Hmmm, that guy beckoning me into that dark alley is holding a bloody knife. But he has a British accent, so he must be trustworthy.’ But I will enjoy the melodiousness in the meantime.) I’m not sure what an American accent sounds like to the average Brit, but somehow I’m guessing it doesn’t have quite the same effect. My friend in London says it was really hard for her to get a job here at first because of her American accent, and that while she now has a job she loves and most of the people are wonderful, there are still a few elite clientele who talk down to her or treat her as less intelligent when they find out she’s American. On the other hand, a British friend in the States has gotten out of speeding tickets when he was clearly in the wrong at least three times, as the cop became enchanted upon hearing his British accent. (Brits in the States, you possess a superpower when you open your mouth—use it wisely!)

;)

;)

The next morning, I go to wash up (oops, scratch that, in Britain washing up means to wash dishes, not wash your face), and discover that there really is a separate spigot in the sink for hot water and one for cold, so that you may choose between freezing or scalding yourself. I’m not sure what the reason for this is, but since the Brits sound so intelligent when they talk there must be a good one.

I start off my day in London by taking care of a top priority—getting a pasty. Oh, how l love the taste of British pasties. Before the week is over, I will try many new delightful British foods for the first time as well—steak and ale pie, poacher’s pie, Lancashire hotpot, Sunday roast, Lancashire toad (for some reason this is a name for something with sausage in it), and a Whitby (Yorkshire) pudding (a most confusing term to an American whose mental image of pudding is a chocolate mousse-like substance eaten from a plastic Jello container). And a favorite, the sausage rolls. (These are amazingly wonderful. Why don’t I ever see these in the States? I resolve that this must be rectified somehow.) Also, a dessert called Eaton Mess, which gives me a wickedly wonderful sugar high. I will probably have to hyper-exercise for the rest of my natural life to make up for whatever weight I’m gaining, but it’s totally worth it.

Good old British pasty!

Good old British pasty!

On previous visits to London, I have gotten to see many cool famous places, like the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and Trafalgar Square. (Trafalgar Square still brings forth two age-old questions which I have not yet been able to find the answers to: (1) Why is there a statue of a giant blue chicken? And (2) Why is there a statue of George Washington? Of course, I think he’s a pretty great guy, but I just didn’t think he’d be someone the Brits would give a place of honor to. I remarked on this once to a British friend in the States, and he suggested that maybe there should be a statue of King George III put up next to the White House. Wonder how the Tea Party would react to that…)

Anyway, this time I’m ready for something different, so I set off for the London Dungeon. It is close to the London Eye — the big Ferris Wheel by the river — so I set off in that direction. Along the way, I try my best to practice using proper British English. I ask for lifts instead of elevators, look for car parks instead of parking lots. I even fight the temptation to seek out a garbage can and ask for a rubbish bin instead (though that term sounds sooo odd in an American accent). However, my valiant attempts at linguistic savy-ness are thwarted when I arrive at the Dungeon and ask the creepily-dressed staff person, “Is this the line here?” “Yes, that’s the London Eye,” she says politely, pointing across the walkway. Oops, guess I was supposed to ask for the queue (which, by the way, is pronounced “Q” and not “kway”, as I used to think.)

London, innit

London, innit

In American terms, the London Dungeon is something like a cross between a Disney World attraction and a Halloween haunted house, except that it’s designed to let you experience London’s history at its creepy best. Upon entering, we are all declared traitors to King Henry the 8th and taken through the site of Guy Fawkes’s execution, a medieval torture chamber, a hospital where Plague patients are treated, Sweeney Todd’s barbershop, the site of one of Jack the Ripper’s murders, and a few other places, culminating in a courtroom where we are all sentenced to death and ‘hanged’ via a freefall ride. Being someone who both loves the creepiness of Halloween and is interested in history, I absolutely love it. The one thing that impresses me most that I haven’t generally come across in similar attractions in the States is that they have somehow managed to infuse parts of the dungeon with the smell of decaying rat carcasses. It is the kind of smell that gets up into your nostrils and is actually a little stomach turning. Well played, London Dungeon.

When I get out, I find myself by the river’s edge, staring up at Big Ben and Parliament and the bridge and the Union Jack overlooking them all, to me the quintessential symbols of Britain, looking so grand and majestic, and think, “Great” Britain indeed.

Part 3 to follow!

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 507

Explaining The Sun’s Page 3 to Americans

I can’t really remember how this conversation came about, but when you start explaining (not condoning, just explaining) The Sun’s Page 3 to Americans, which lands on a soft-porn daily basis on the breakfast tables of many British homes, it all seems quite bizarre and outdated.

‘So, it’s a picture of a woman with her boobs out in a newspaper?’
‘Er, yes.’
‘And people just read this and look at the picture?’
‘Er, yes.’
‘And it’s sold in shops?’
‘Er, yes.’
“Top shelf, though?’
‘Er, no.’
‘How very European.’

;)

This is how The Sun looks on page 2 & 3 - boobs aren't usually blocked out tho! ;)

This is how The Sun looks on page 2 & 3 – boobs aren’t usually blocked out tho! ;)

Trick or Treat

Americans keep asking me if Halloween is the same back in the UK as it is out here.

My answer is ‘nope, not in the slightest’.

And these fabulous British gents confirm it. :)

Fun and sexy Halloween style

It is that time of year again when the kids get excited at the idea of Trick or Treating and adults have a chance to dress up in outfits they would not normally consider during the rest of the year. Yes, it’s Halloween.

I’ve already had one Halloween party, and three more to go this year! Yes, really! So, what will I wear?

Have fun with costumes

There are two types of costumes for Halloween – those that have to do with horror and those that have nothing to do with it. With the former type, Halloween outfits have become a challenge, with party guests trying to outdo each other in the sophistication of their costumes. In the latter, partygoers simply have a choice to dress up in the costumes they have always wanted to wear, whether it is in homage to a favorite actor or musician, or in outfits that show off their wild side.

Celebrating Halloween is a great reason for having a party, especially as no one expects such an event to be a formal affair. Forget the little black dress that gets rolled out for other functions. If you are going to a Halloween party, you are going to have to put some thought into what you are going to wear; and for many, this is the most fun part of holding or going to a Halloween party – but where do you look for inspiration?

Hunger Games stylie

Hunger Games stylie

Movies can provide you with plenty of ideas for costumes. Sci-fi films will have some great and unusual costumes such as those worn in The Fifth Element or The Hunger Games. Think retro and go back to the 70s and 80s by dressing up as Wonder Woman or Supergirl. Always wanted to be a princess? Watch Disney animated films for costume ideas such as Ariel from The Little Mermaid or Rapunzel. Alternatively, come up with your own creation. You can be a phoenix or a peacock with the application of feathers, and a fairy or pixie with the addition of wings. Beautiful!

Is the party a fun time for adults? If so, then you should see it as a chance to go sexy (I’ve seen a lot of this so far this Halloween season! It is now common for women to dress up as sexy versions of police officers, nurses, firefighters, and even, if you can believe it, sexy zombies. Is there such a thing? Sexy Halloween costumes all seem to have one thing in common – short skirts, bustiers and knee-high boots. You can browse club dresses and sexy clothes and find the one that suits you best.

The Halloween bunny costume (adults only!)

The Halloween bunny costume (adults only!)

Is the party a homage to the supernatural? If so, a bed sheet for a ghost costume is not going to cut it. Instead, dig out some old clothes and distress them to look even older; suggest dust and decay by sprinkling them with talcum powder. This also works for an undead or zombie costume. If you are planning to wear makeup to complete your costume, ensure that you buy brands that are suitable for the face, as you do not want to be paying for buying cheap face paint by a breakout that lasts for days.

You may be demure the rest of the year, but a Halloween party is a chance to show off your fun and sexy side, so make sure you make the most of it with a sexy Halloween-inspired costume. Fact.

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 506

Dates USA style

Oh, I can’t do this month/day/year thing that Americans do. I can’t. It just feels muddled in my British head.

Harry has been taught at school to write the date this way, and when I told him that in the UK next year when he returns he’ll have to write it as day/month/year he rolled his eyes. ‘Why is it different?’ he asked, exasperated.

Um, I don’t know.

But, to make sure I don’t get it wrong, I write the date like this: 27 October 2014.

date

Reflections on visiting the UK

One of my American blog readers Rebecca Cataldi, took a recent trip to Britain and I asked her to document her visit, as I wanted to find out her view of the UK through her American eyes.

This is the first installment of Rebecca’s visit:

Musings of an American on Visiting the UK

Since I first visited Britain at age 15 (18 years ago), I’ve felt a special affection for the country.  It’s not anything specific really; it’s more like, as an American, I feel like Britain is our family in a way because of our history.  I don’t have any British blood (in fact, some of my ancestors were Native Americans who did not fare particularly well under British colonization), but British colonialism, and eventual American rebellion against it, played a critical role in our formation as a nation.  So I feel like Britain is our parent in a way, or at least a cool older brother who lives far away but lets you visit occasionally.

That old war thing....

That old war thing….

As I prepare to go to Britain for my first real visit in nine years, I wonder what the Brits think of America.  Do they feel any kind of familial connection as well?  Because I enjoy reading British blogs and web posts, I’ve seen a gamut of opinions expressed by Brits about Americans, ranging from affection to…well, some not-as-nice things.  They do seem to love making fun of us, but in Britain this can be a form of affection (and I’m not always astute enough to be able to tell the difference).  At any rate, I am really really excited to have a chance to go back to Britain for a whole week (yes, this is a long vacation for an American) and hopefully get to understand this place I love a little better.

Before I go, a British friend who now lives near me in the Washington DC area gives me a tutorial on how to properly pronounce British place names that commonly lead Americans to embarrass ourselves when we try to say them.  This is more for his own entertainment than to help me, but I accept the offer because I don’t want to sound like a clueless tourist.  “Glosster”, not “Glowchester”, I repeat obediently, as he sounds out “Gloucester” for me.  Leicester is pronounced “Lesster”, not “Laysesster”—understood.  It’s the River “Tems”, not “Thaymes” (Thames)—fine.  And Southwark has a silent “w”.  Okay—wait, huh?

Gloucester - hard to pronounce!

Gloucester – hard to pronounce!

Having traveled widely abroad, including places like Pakistan and Yemen, I understand the importance of culturally-appropriate dress.  Just to be sure, I ask him, “Is it okay to dress in Britain the way we would here?”  “Sloppy?” he asks, without missing a beat.  Hmmph.

I’ll be staying with a friend in London for the first half (though mainly going around by myself since she has to work), and then later meeting up with my British friend from DC who will be coming to visit family in the UK.  Upon arriving I feel a kind of euphoric joy to be back in Britain, and so the 50 or so Union Jack flags adorning the ceiling of Victoria Station make me smile.  I like the sight of this flag because it symbolizes a country that I love, almost as much as I love my own country’s flag.  I like patriotism.  Not to be confused with nationalism, where you think your country is superior and that its interests are more important than the needs of others.  The world could do without this thinking.  But patriotism is based on love—love for something beyond oneself, love for your country and the values it aspires to, which includes celebrating all that’s beautiful about it and working to improve what’s not.  When I protested the Iraq War in college, it was motivated not only by concern for the impact on the Iraqi people but by patriotism—by the desire for the America I love to act morally and to be a good global citizen and neighbor.  So British expressions of patriotism—though said to be rarer here—make me happy, and the fact that the first thing I see on arriving in London is the Union Jack fills me with delight.

Union Flag

Union Flag

Before attempting to find my friend’s apartment (which I will call a flat for the rest of the week as I want to try, however feebly, to use the proper British words for things while I’m here), there is a more important matter to be taken care of.  I locate the bathroom (sorry, toilet) in the station and am amused to discover that you really do have to pay money for a public toilet.  In America this would likely lead to outrage.  I thought Britain had higher taxes and a larger welfare state than we do.  Why does this not extend to providing free access to public toilet facilities (especially given the potential alternative)?  Oh well, I need to start figuring out what each of the different British coins are worth anyway.

Upon entering, I also discover that, as Brits who come to the US often point out, unlike American toilets the stalls do not have gaping spaces between their walls and the walls extend almost to the ground.  From the standpoint of providing greater privacy, this is admirable and appreciated.  However, if, like me, you are prone to irretrievably locking yourself in toilet stalls when you travel abroad, the lack of room for a ‘crawlspace’ at the bottom can be problematic.  I have done this on several occasions, most recently in Egypt, where I could neither get the stall door unlocked when it was time to exit nor crawl out underneath the too-low wall.  I eventually escaped by climbing on top of the toilet bowl, hoisting myself on top of the stall wall, and flinging myself over the side into the next stall (narrowly missing landing in the squat toilet there).  Happily though, this door opens when it’s time to unlock it.  Bless you, Britain, with your escapable toilets.

Gappy doors USA-style

Gappy doors USA-style

When I finally get to her flat, my friend and I have a happy reunion, and stay up talking til the wee hours of the night.  She married a Brit and has lived in London for the past six years.  I ask if there is any ‘etiquette’ I should be aware of here; anything Americans might normally do that’s considered impolite here, for example.  “Don’t talk to strangers,” she says immediately.  “They will find it rude or annoying.  People don’t like to be approached by someone they don’t know.”  Actually I’ve seen numerous Brits write about this as well, saying that they find Americans sometimes “too friendly” with our tendency to smile at strangers in the street and strike up random conversations with people we don’t know.  Brits, they write, almost take pride in being surlier.  I imagine this may be hard to get used to, as I often enjoy having random conversations with strangers, but I don’t want to irritate my British cousins so I will try to be on my best behavior.

The next installment will be in the next blog! ;)

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 505

Halloween!

Oh my, Americans love Halloween and they totally know how to make it a celebration! It’s the dressing up bit that the adults seem to love even more so than the kids.

And they rock it :)

This.

This.

And these folks.

And these folks.

And all these peeps. Such effort!

And all these peeps. Such effort!

Dudes.

Dudes.

An eclectic mix. From Game of Thrones to Robert Palmer's girls!

An eclectic mix. From Game of Thrones to Robert Palmer’s girls!

That's me in the middle!

That’s me in the middle!

:)

:)

Smashing!

Smashing!

What amazes me is the creativity and extremes people go to here for their Halloween costume.

This is my friend Justin as Britney Spears in her breakdown phase.

Justin as Britney

Justin as Britney. No cars were actually damaged in this recreation.

He even shaved his legs and bought a green umbrella specifically to recreate this image! Amazeballs!

Is that the real Britney?

The real Britney breakdown

Halloween is not all about trick or treating here. And it’s not all about the kids.

It’s about another excuse to party and to dress up. And why not?! I’m all up for that! :)

I hope to bring the extensive fun of Halloween that the USA embraces back to the UK next year, so I hope y’all ready to PARTY!

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 504

American school date

This week I went into Harry’s USA school to read my children’s book ‘The Adventures of Gumdrop Rally‘ to his class.

My kids' book!

My kids’ book!

Gumdrop Rally, the hero

Gumdrop Rally, the hero

You can find my book here. (And top marks to the folks who buy it on either Kindle or Paperback and spot the four typos! Grrrrrrrrr. ;) )

Anyway, they learned stuff, and I learned stuff too, which is always a bonus!

They learned about the RSPCA, the floods in Gloucestershire of 2007, how long it takes to write a book, and what the word ‘pregnant’ means. (They giggled a lot at this :) ).

I learned these things:

Hedgehogs

A hedgehog called Slow Poke features in my book. Interestingly, I had to explain about hedgehogs since there are no living species of hedgehogs species native to the Americas.

Ain't he cute?!

Ain’t he cute?!

Gooseberries

The kiddos hadn’t heard of gooseberries (Slow Poke lives under a gooseberry bush, naturally), even though (as I found out later) they are native to northeastern and north-central United States and adjacent parts of Canada.

Gooseberry Fool

Gooseberry Fool

I told them I would bring some back and make Gooseberry Fool for them from England.

Questions

This was an interesting question ‘How many dollars have you made?’ I told them so far I’d made £1.26, and that was from me and my mum and dad buying copies. :)

Pat or patch?

The music teacher in the class that I sat in on was asking the teaching to ‘patch’ their knees (tap/pat on them). Is this an American thing? I had not heard of this before. Always learning, see?!

What are you doing?

Listen to this accent change! Excellent work!

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 503

Confusion about undertaking!

In my last post I ranted about ‘undertaking’ on the USA roads. Some people thought I was talking about funeral homes (WTF?!), or they thought undertaking was just like overtaking. Mais non!

Undertaking is this: To overtake a vehicle on the wrong side. Dangerous, and illegal in many countries, especially Germany where Autobahn (motorway/freeway) laws are extremely strict. It is the favourite activity of Audi man, usually at dangerous speed. Audi man will also cut you up afterwards.

In the UK, where one drives on the left and overtakes on the right, passing on the left is undertaking. So, in the USA, undertaking happens on the right of the car and it DOES MY HEAD IN!

(But……. I confess that I do do it sometimes when needs must – much to the shock of my parents when they came to stay!)

The End.

Insight into Elementary School

Harry tells me that the girls at school mostly fart at lunch.

He says he doesn’t know when English girls fart, though.

Well, I guess he’ll find out next year. :)

I think she probably just let one slip....

I think she probably just let one slip….

Halloween is almost here

These are some of my favourite Halloween house decorations so far this year!

Americans sure know how to rock this Halloween thing!

Genius

Genius

Freaky!

Freaky! 

:)

:)

Arty!

Arty!

Amazeballs

Amazeballs

Love this!

Love this!

Whoa!

Whoa!

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