Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 615

Bye Bye Blog Party
Well, folks, it’s back to afternoon teas, going ‘to the loo’, driving on the left and making innuendos without having to a) apologise or b) explain them as I depart the wonderful haven that is Howard County after three magical years to return to Jolly Old England in just 10 weeks’ time.
Englishness!

Englishness!

Oh, how I’ve loved the spirit of Columbia and Ellicott City! How I’ve adored the people I’ve met who have enriched my life! And particularly, how I’ve enjoyed being part of this illustrious, witty, caring, and intelligent blogging community. It’s been a privilege to be part of something so special. Without my blog and the blogging community’s receptiveness to it much of my fulfilling and amusing, wonderful and bemusing life would not have taken place, so I want to use this blog post to thank them from the bottom of my British heart (yes, we Brits do have them – it’s just the stiff upper lip that masks it!). These folks helped make my experience here truly the best of my life yet.
Me and Bill, we're happy bloggers

Me and Bill, we’re happy bloggers

To mark the end of my blogging ‘career’ in Howard County, I’m teaming up with some other fierce, feisty and fun women whom I very much respect in the community and blogging scene and we’re having a party! Hosted by HoCo bloggers the UK Desperate Housewife USA (that’s me!), Howard County Moms (Kris Schneider), Life & How to Live It (Mickey Gomez) and Is This Thing On? (Candace Dodson Reed), we are women who love Howard County and we’ve have come together to host a summer celebration of HoCo at Portalli’s in Ellicott City. This will also be my chance to thank them all!
Bye bye #hocomd!

Bye bye #hocomd!

Fun times in Howard County!

Fun times in Howard County!

I take away so many memories and encounters that will shape me for the next part of my journey. Don’t forget I’ll be blogging back in the UK about what life is like returning as an expat from the USA, so keep in touch with me via my new British twitter handle @ClaireBMcGill, or via my From America to England Facebook page  and at my new blog From America to England.

In the meantime, let’s make these last 10 weeks rock! #somuchtodo!;)

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 614

A Desperate Desperate Housewife in Washington

This morning I got up at 515am to go down to DC to appear on the Good Morning Washington show, presenting a segment about insomnia and all the fabulous new products out there to promote healthy sleep. It’s slightly ironic that I did this, since I am a terrible sleeper and probably only got about 4 hours sleep prior to the show.

Anyway, it went super well and I even got to say the name of this very blog on the show, which is awesomeballs! You can view the segment here (tho it’s not great sound for some reason!)

Claire Bolden McGill IMG_1341 IMG_1342But as usual, when I go down to DC, it all got a bit desperate as I tried to find my way out of the city. I always get effing lost and at one point I really was a desperate Desperate Housewife in Washington! How come I take one way into the city and another way out? I can never figure it out, and neither can my frigging Sat Nav! But, I made it back to Columbia – hoorah!

My fave mailbox

I don’t think this USA mailbox needs any words except one – ‘kitsch’. I love this amazing thing in Howard County, MD!

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My mother will probably be blushing as she reads this, but it has to be told! When my parents came to stay the other week, my mum had to go and post and letter in a USA mailbox and could she find the handle to pull down the opening and post in the letter? Could she heck! It’s not like putting a letter through the British red post box, let it be known! (FYI, she managed it in the end! ;) )

Having my parents here in America is always an interesting and fascinating juxtaposition of Britishness in America-land.

Kent Island, MD

There is an idyllic place in Maryland that we had not frequented before. To get there, though, you have to go over the ruddy Bay Bridge which I hate, but it’s worth it!

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Mrs Doubtfire or me?!

I got told an interesting tale at the weekend by a couple of lovely #hocohomos whom I’ve been very good friends with for a couple of years now here in Howard County (read about when we met up here!)

When I first got invited out by one of the group who had been reading my blog, apparently the other guys were not too keen to spend time with a dull ‘British housewife’. They told me they were expecting some boring old Mrs Doubtfire character and up popped me, much to their relief!

Mrs Doubtfire I ain’t! ;)

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 613

Nashville and Memphis

Second up – Memphis

It was hard for Memphis to live up to Nashville. Many people expressed preference for one over the other. Nashville is cool and funky and I liked keeping it country. Memphis is emotional; so much history and diversity and soul. Don’t ask me which I prefer; I love ’em both in different ways.

Anyhoo, Beale St is a place! What the heckythump?! It’s a crazy place, with spontaneous street dancing, blues and soul booming out of the bars, and an explosion of drinking folk up and down the pedestrianised road. It got a bit much even for me (I know – duh?!). Thank Gawd for the MOJO bus tour which took us around Memphis and shared the musical history and sights and sounds of the blues city.

Beale St

Beale St

Drinkiepoos in Beale St

Drinkiepoos in Beale St

Now, Elvis. I think I first came across Elvis one Saturday or Sunday afternoon when I was about 9 or 10 years old and probably supposed to be doing something else at home, but turned on the TV instead, and Elvis in Blue Hawaii was on, and I was like ‘Who the hell is he? He’s gorgeous!’ Not having Google then, I must have found out about him somehow by asking someone. Anyway, much of Elvis’s mainstream hits dotted in and out of my life, until one day I heard him laughing during a recording of Are You Lonesome Tonight and I thought to myself that there was something far deeper than the Fat Elvis images in all his jewels that was presented during the Vegas years and the totally Gorgeous Elvis that was on screen from the early years. I mean, before that I thought The Fine Young Cannibals had had the first hit with Suspicous Minds. Oh the shame!

I heart Elvis!

I heart Elvis!

But……I didn’t know the half of it until I toured Graceland (which had no Fat Elvis pictures on show btw!). What a talented, lovely, happy, generous, fun, dude. I get why people love him so much. And Graceland – it’s no bigger than some of the McMansions here in Columbia, MD. But inside?! Wowsers!

Glorious Graceland

The music room

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The pool room

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The Jungle Room

There is much to do and see in Memphis, including the world-famous Sun Studios. How many famous peeps have walked through that place?! My favourite quote of the tour is from producer Sam Phillips: ‘Without the cooperation of total resentment on the part of the parents, Rock ‘n’ Roll would have had a rougher time makin’ it.’ Love that quote! I’m sure I would have been a screaming rock’n’roll gal back in the day :).

Rockin'!

Rockin’!

Being so near to both Arkansas and Mississippi it seemed rude not to take a quick visit to both states. To be honest, they felt pretty much the same as Tennessee! My issue with Arkansas is the frigging spelling. I mean, honestly, it’s an S – it should be a W!!!! I understand British places like Loughborough are tough to pronounce, but when I say Arkansas out loud the right way, I’ll say it the wrong way in my head with a pronounced S at the end ;). I even wrote out a W to put at the end of a state line sign along the road had we seen one.

We had fried chicken in Mississippi and went to a Waffle House in ArkansaW (don’t arrest me!) Yes, that’s right folks, allegedly if you mispronounce Arkansas (Ar-kan-saw) you’re in for a fine or jail time. Anyway, a Waffle House?! Why? you might ask! Well, some of my American friends couldn’t believe I hadn’t been to one yet in my three years here. For the record, it will be my last time!

Finally, Memphis is a place of history and proud champion of civil rights, and being right there at the Lorraine Motel where Dr Martin Luther King was shot outside Room 306 was both thought-provoking and hauntingly moving. I am so very glad we went there, as well as to the Slave Haven based in the Memphis suburbs. They are visitor must-sees.

Thought provoking

Thought provoking

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Room 307, connected to Room 306 where MLK stayed

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Room 306 from James Earl Ray’s viewpoint

This trip was about learning stuff. American stuff. American music and American history, and this UK expat has learned a whole lot of stuff she never knew before. Rock on, Nashville and Memphis.

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 612

Nashville & Memphis

First up – Nashville

Where’s a Daisy Duke-wearing, cowboy boot-wearing UK Desperate Housewife going to go when there is a child-free long weekend on offer? Only Nashville of course! And Memphis, second of course!

Essential packing

Essential packing

Woohoo! Roadtrip!

Woohoo! Roadtrip!

I like a bit of Johnny Cash. In fact, I used to listen to San Quentin in my boarding school common room, circa 1987. That’s how far-reaching The Man in Black is.

Nashville meant these things to me: music, Honky Tonk Row and, er, wearing my beloved UK Desperate Housewife boots which are from none other than Nashville its very self.

If you want to listen to country music and bluegrass and to visit Music City’s Grand Ole Opry in hope of catching The Next Big Thing or an old country celeb, then this place is for you.

Behind legendary Tootsies!

Behind legendary Tootsies!

Being a Brit in Nashville, I chanced upon a lot of other Brits, cos there are a lot of British country fans out there. You could generally hear them first because after a song they would shout ‘lovely’ or ‘very good’ and clap enthusiastically, but not necessarily whoop or cheer like the other [American folk].

I wanted to learn stuff in Nashville. I did. I learned a lot about Johnny Cash, whom I now respect even more. I learned stuff about Kenny Rogers, and now see him as more than a beard and chickens and Islands in the Stream with Dolly. The Country Music Hall of Fame is totally brillopads! I feel utterly ‘countrified’ ;)

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I wanted to see some bluegrass being performed. I did. I don’t know who the band was, but they were super popular and I loved them as much as everyone else. It made me want to watch Oh Brother Where Art Thou again.

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I wanted to be part of the Grand Ole Opry. I was (not on stage tho!) It was amazeballs, and I totally love a bit of fiddling! Watch out for this name: Ashley Clark. He’s wicked with a fiddle (and the gals love him!). And there was some dude called Charles Esten from the TV show Nashville, who everyone was was very excited about, but I don’t watch it so I had no idea, but he was very talented and charming nonetheless!

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Ashley Clark!

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I wanted to get on down at one of the honky tonks. I did just that! Live music bars are easy to find on Broadway, Printers Alley and 2nd Avenue. Some top venue picks include The Bluebird Cafe, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and Robert’s Western World. Dancing on the bar? Yes sireeeee!

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Printer’s Alley

I was rather too excited about the Dukes of Hazzard museum at Cooter’s Place. I was right to be so! Ah, Daisy Duke, my heroine in short shorts :) .

Woohoo! My childhood fave!

Woohoo! My childhood fave!

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Check those Daisy Dukes out!

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Daisy’s cart

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My heroine!

BB King died on the day we were there, so it felt only natural to go hang out with King’s house band for lunch. I’m glad we did.

In honour of the legendary BB King

In honour of the legendary BB King

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Next up: Memphis, blues, soul and Beale St.

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 611

Desperate Housewife-y stuff

As I am writing this blog there is a chap outside cutting my grass and pruning my bushes. Our landlord sorts this out for us, and I am thinking of having serious words with this landlord because the chaps who come and do this are NOTHING like the gardener in the Desperate Housewives series, and I truly think I am being diddled with this whole experience ;)

This is what I signed up for :)

This is what I signed up for :)

British chocolate from Chocolate Mailbox

Anyway, to keep me from my Desperate Housewife sorrows, I’ve been indulging in REAL chocolate on a daily basis, and by that I naturally mean Cadbury’s chocolate. I got a lovely little package (addressed to the UK Desperate Housewife USA!) through from delightfully-cheeky-in-a-British-way company Chocolate Mailbox.

Oooh this!

Oooh this!

I got the ‘Cadbury’s Collection’ box, and let me tell you, there are some old delights in there! Double Decker! What? I haven’t had one of them since 1989 when I used to be allowed into town on a Wednesday afternoon from boarding school to get one of them and my Smash Hits magazine. Love it!

My son has not yet discovered these delights, which are being kept in the big ole American fridge way up top out of reach of him because it’s baking blimmin’ hot at the mo! So I scoffed his Crunchie yesterday and I might just have to do the Boost bar today (remember that advert from the 80s UK kids?!), but I’ll let him have the Twirl (his fave), Flake and Cadbury Buttons, cos I am kinda generous. ;)

That box wsa only 10.49GBP – what a Brucey bargain! I know a few Brits here in the USA who would go mad for the ‘Cadbury Crazy’ box! Delivery is swift and the chocs are in fine fettle so get ordering – we all need a treat now and then, don’t we?!

This UK Cadbury chocolate tasted so very different from the crap that is presented to us out here in the USA, so rock on Chocolate Mailbox, thank you for a little bit of creamy heaven!

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 610

Brit gals in the Bahamas, part 4

Three Teeth Tony and Snorkelling

Lovely cheery chappy on the beach, Three Teeth Tony (not his actual name), was drumming up some business and us Brit gals looked like likely candidates for a bit of snorkelling. After all, you can’t do that in Croydon (not that either of us are from Croydon, but you know what I’m saying).

So, when he offered us a boat ride and the chance to see some fishes and turtles, we jumped at it. We needed cash, though, and the only way to access that was on a jet ski to the hotel with a cashpoint across the bay. Off my lovely chum George (aka ‘Boss Lady’) went, debit card stuck firmly in her bikini top.

Off they go to the cashpoint / ATM!

Off they go to the cashpoint / ATM!

The snorkelling was amazing. Hoorah for turtles and fishies in the ocean.

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Ah, that’s living the dream!

Cup of tea on the beach for Princess Charlotte

Back on dry land a British celebration was in order. A nice cup of tea to celebrate the royal baby! We managed to get a proper tea pot, but sadly only Styrofoam/polystyrene cups, and half and half cream/milk, not proper milk in a jug, but still we made an effort for Her Royal Littleness.

We managed to get the Union Flag in!

We managed to get the Union Flag in!

Blagging our way into the World Relay Athletic Championships

We British gals had really mastered the art of blagging our way into things in the Bahamas, and the International Association of Athletic’s Federation World Relays being held in Nassau were no exception.

We realised that when you ask one Bahamian something, you also have to ask another five Bahamaians the same question because you will get different answers every time. It’s like a quiz. You have to work out which is the right answer….. or are you going to just make a decision on your own?!

With the World Relays we got told 1) you can get in free with your hotel wristband; 2) you have to pay $12; 3) it’s sold out; 4) it’s $40.

With all this info in mind, we took a risk on a fine gentleman in our hotel lobby who was in a very dapper officials suit and asked him what the deal was. ‘Oh yes,’ he told us. ‘You can get in to the arena. Come along with me now, I’m on my way there.’

So we grabbed our stuff (straight from the beach!) and headed off in Alepheus A. Finlayson’s car, along with his wife Dawn, who must have wondered what the hell was going on. It turns out he’s like a Bahamas judge, official athletics person and wot not, who just this morning had taken brunch with Usain Bolt’s parents. Coolsome.

Having dropped us off, Alpheus went on his merry official’s way and we blagged some cut price tickets, getting some amazing seats right near the entrance onto the track.

At Thomas Robinson Stadium, Nassau

At Thomas Robinson Stadium, Nassau

I can pretty much guarantee that we were the only Brits there in a sea of green and yellow Jamaican shirts and blue and yellow Bahamiam shirts. We had no flags and no t-shirts – just our British fishwife lungs! How we yelled for Team GB as our girls came home with Bronze, much to the amusement of the Caribbean crowd. In the end they helped us along a bit – as long as their teams weren’t running ;)

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Team USA wooped everyone’s asses in the races, apart from in the 4×200 when Jamaica nailed it, although disappointingly Usain Bolt didn’t make an appearance, despite the hype that he would. I was v sad :( No matter, cos Team USA gave me a new hero in hippy runner from the ’70s, Ben Blankenship. He looks like he should be in an indie band, but he runs like the wind!

Yet again the roars and cheers and excitement of the crowd made this an awesomeballs event. I can’t begin to describe the atmosphere. Okay, I will: it rocked the flippin’ house!!!!

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Lord Sebastian Coe was dishing out medals, and we cheered his British suited-ness at the ceremony. BUT – best of all, my knees nearly gave way when we spotted him behind us at the airport the next day. We went over and talked to him about what a great event it had been, how well Team GB did, and what a character Alpehus was. What a smashing chap that Seb Coe is!

With Lord Coe!

With Lord Coe!

And then, blow me down, if we didn’t see hot Team USA chick Molly Beckwith-Ludlow who had a lovely natter and post-natter tweet-fest with us!

Hoorah for Team USA (our second faves!)

Hoorah for Team USA (our second faves!)

We were proper made up! It was the icing on our Bahamas cake!

And here ends the Brit gals in the Bahamas blog. :) Didn’t we do well?!

It’s back to reality in the USA and it’s only three months till I go home to the UK. In that time you can expect blogs about trips to Nashville, Memphis, Canada and Jamaica, and I’ve been working on a complete blog post about a UK vs USA face-off! It’s all about everything I’ve encountered here in my three years and it will be super fun. I bet y’all will have a lot to say about it! ;)

Posted in American, Bahamas, blogging, Britain, British American differences, celebrations, culture, expat, Travel, UK, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 609

Blagging our way into Miss Teen Bahamas International 2015

Brit gals in the Bahamas, part 3

So one evening us inquisitive Brit gals (read as: nosey) watched a load of very glamourous, high-heeled young Bahamian girls and their colourful entourages take the stairs to a conference room above our hotel.

Having made a judgement on the hotel entertainment and agreeing that we were not nearly middle aged nor drunk enough to participate in the Macarena or the Conga, we decided to find out what was happening up the stairs.

‘Hello, what’s happening here?’ we ask fabulous woman with fabulous weave and nails.

‘It’s Miss Teen Bahamas International Talent and Couture evening,’ replies she.

‘Oh, that sounds lovely, could we peek in?’

‘Sure, take a seat.’ (Cost price of $30 a ticket we had been informed by someones’s mother earlier).

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We took our free seats for a ‘peek’ and spent the next two hours entranced by the event that took place not only on stage, but within the audience too. Let me tell you, our British reserve is certainly noticeable when in a room of hyped up, super charged, very excited Bahamian mothers and their families. I’ve never heard anything like it! It was amazeballs!

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The contestants this year were Benielle Ferguson, Britney Wells, Cassidy Deveaux, Jamie-lee Hepburn, Jasmine Lundy, Kaniesha Davis, Laquisha Young, Madihah Lockhart, Arlenis Mota, Simone LaRoda, Tatianna Deveaux, Tiskeia Wright and Tyeisha Rodgers.

Love ’em – they sang (sort of), danced and recited meaningful rap lyrics to the appreciative audience. And then they came out in ‘couture’, which the compere said was the bit everyone got most excited about, and he wasn’t wrong! Much wooping and ‘yeah baby-girl’ stuff going on!

My version of couture is not the same as the Bahamian version of couture, but, you know what, theirs is much more interesting and reflective of their culture. Sarah Jessica Parker would be proud of these elaborate costumes made, we realised, by mother, auntie, her down the road, and Grandma, all of whom were high fiving each other for their efforts. And damn straight, there were no crappy Blue Peter efforts there (alright, there was one! ;) ).

I can’t even tell you who won that round cos I got v v v confused at the end about who’d won what, but Gawd Bless ’em, those gals worked it for the crowd!

And at the end we scuttled our British bums away, having witnessed something far more entertaining and cultural than random drunk Americans and Brits making out to Lionel Ritchie on the dancefloor ;)

Next up: Three Teeth Tony, snorkelling, and we gatecrash the World Relays!

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