Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 176

Funny fanny?

Ok, let’s be clear about this. In the USA, ‘fanny’ means bottom or backside, and is an acceptable term.

In the UK, ‘fanny’ means something else, which I had to explain a couple of times yesterday to my US chums, after I got the giggles over this innocent statement in reference to a dog that I was stroking:

‘You’ve got a friend there for life; she loves having her fanny rubbed.’

I can’t help it – I watched a lot of Carry On films – quintessential British smut 😉

Marvellous British smut :)

Marvellous British smut 🙂

Car plates in the USA

You can have pretty much anything you like on a car plate in the USA. These are aptly known as ‘vanity plates’. Spotted this one yesterday…

I didn't hang around to see if he had a moustache and hairy chest....

I didn’t hang around to see if he had a moustache and hairy chest….

There’s a guy who drives this amazing red Cadillac round our area with the plate ‘MIDLIFE’. Blatant, I like it.

Other registration plates I’ve heard about or seen….

QQQQ II (four Q two – say it fast)
02 BE ME
26E4U (Too Sexy for you)
2Q2BSTR8 (Too Cute To Be Straight)

And there are many, many more!

Maryland laws

I know not much about the laws in Maryland, and I certainly did not know this one, which was presented to me this very weekend: In Maryland, it is illegal for a wife to go through her husband’s pockets when he is asleep.

Well, the thought had never yet crossed my mind, and I don’t fancy jail time just for seeing if this law is true….

And so I chanced upon a bunch of other crazy laws for Maryland, that may or may not be true….

• Baltimore: It’s illegal to take a lion to the movies.
• You can not have a antenna exposed outside of your house yet you can have a 25′ satellite dish.
• You cannot throw a bail of hay out of a second story window in Annapolis.
• In Baltimore, it is illegal to wash or scrub sinks no matter how dirty they get.
• Eating while swimming in the ocean is prohibited.

Happy for these laws/myths to be dispelled….!

A USA perspective on the UK

In this series of interviews, we’ve heard from Brits in the USA, and Brits who love the USA, and Americans who love the UK….but what is it like to uproot from the USA and make the UK your home?

This is Danielle’s story….

My name is Danielle Leist and I am an American 22-year-old student. I’ve currently made one of the biggest moves of my life moving from Michigan, USA to Romsey, England. I’ve moved here with my boyfriend of nearly 5 years in order to achieve an MSc in Marketing Management at the University of Southampton.

I’ve left behind my family whom I adore. I have a younger brother, Drew who is 20 years old living in Michigan, an older sister, Nickelle who is 29 years old living in San Francisco, and two loving, silly parents.

I’m currently finished with my modules and exams at university, but in the process of writing my dissertation. Along with this I work part time as a nanny to three young children aged 1, 2, and 3. They are the funniest kids and keep me busy, which I love. When I find free time I enjoy improving my tennis skills, a good workout session, going for a bike ride, and spending quality time with family and friends.

Michigan, USA

Michigan, USA

What do you love about your country?

I am biased having lived there my whole life (until now). I love most things about my country and appreciate more and more the longer I am away from home.

• Variety- I love that I wouldn’t have to leave the country to take any type of vacation (holiday). We have beaches, mountains, lakes, and a dessert, what more do you need?
• The size – I love that America is BIG! Driving on the roads here in the UK is one of the most frightening things I’ve encountered. Even in the tiniest little cars, I find myself holding my breath when passing opposing traffic. And I like that in America we don’t have many roundabouts- my archenemy!
• Weather – I love the weather in America! This is something I took for granted and actually didn’t like whilst living there. However, after moving to the UK where the weather is “mild,” I don’t mind having cold and snow knowing that I’ll have hot sunny weather all summer long.

What are your favorite USA areas/memories/traditions?

I have so many memories and traditions. However, one of my favorites is the 4th of July, the American independence day. In Michigan it is a tradition that the majority of people go “Up North” (northern Michigan) and go on the lakes. The weather is usually always hot and sunny and everyone is just simply happy, which could be a result of a few too many beers. Everyone is wearing their red, white, blue, stars and stripes. The sandbar is packed with boats and people. The floating band usually makes an appearance as well getting everyone dancing and singing along.

One of my favorite places in America is one that even most Americans wouldn’t know about. Michigan isn’t usually on the top of people’s list of places to visit. However, little do people know that northern Michigan is one of the most beautiful places. I had the privilege of living in Traverse City for 8 months last year. I would consider this to be one of my favorite places. It is directly on two bays, which are separately by a small peninsula. This peninsula has wineries on it, which is always a fun thing to do/see. There are (manmade) mountains nearby to snowboard or ski in the winter, and of course boating, swimming in the bay, and enjoying the beach in the summertime.

Danielle sailboating in Traverse City

Danielle sailboating in Traverse City

What differences do you think really exist between the UK and USA cultures?

• Family Relationships – One thing I’ve noticed about the UK is the family relationship. This does not apply to everyone, and this is just my perception, but once kids reach roughly 16 years old, they are treated as an adult. The parents tend to think they are old enough to have a job, pay for most things, and sort things out for themselves. Whereas in America, I feel as though parents support their kids longer. More parents pay for cars, education, clothes, help them figure out plans for big and small decisions.

• Personalities – I find that Americans are a bit more open than the British. You could strike up a conversation with just about anyone in the supermarket, on a bus, etc. Where as when I lived in London for a summer and riding on the tube, you weren’t to make eye contact with anyone or even dare start a conversation.

• Holiday time – The British value their holidays and holiday time off work. We work too hard in America. My dad owns a business in Michigan and his employees can enjoy a total of three paid days off. That might be a bit extreme, but most people do not get many days off. In the UK, the majority of people have 20-30 days off. I believe that’s how it should be. Have more time off to enjoy life.

• Food – The UK is very traditional – a meat of some sort, veggies, and starch. When cooking for the family here in England I always have to make sure to have the three parts. In America, we do a lot more protein and not so much carbs. A normal day in England consists of toast or some sort of bread (with butter) for breakfast, then a sandwich for lunch (with butter), then potatoes with dinner and a variety of cakes throughout the day with tea. A girl can only consume so many carbs in one day!!

Meat and two veg ;)

Meat and two veg 😉

About the USA: which myths, stereotypes and preconceptions about the USA and its citizens do you think really exist or are just a load of nonsense?!

Prior to traveling out of North America on my own, I didn’t know of many stereotypes of Americans or how much people believed it. I was of course aware of the stereotype that people think all Americans are fat, but I wasn’t sure to what extent people believed it to be true.

Traveling abroad as an American has completely opened my eyes to what people really think about Americans, and to be honest, it wasn’t a pleasant discovery.

• Fat Americans – First stereotype I’ll tackle is the “fat Americans.” People truly believe all Americans are fat. Yes, we have a lot of large people in America, however, we have more people in general therefore we will have more big people, but that also means we have more skinny people 😉

• Stupidity – I’m not entirely sure how people have made this preconception of Americans? For example, I was in Convent Gardens enjoying the street entertainment when the entertainer asked his volunteer to keep track of the time on her watch. He said, “it shouldn’t be hard, it’s only two minutes, unless your American then you might find it challenging.” In the same day, another entertainer made another comment about American stupidity. As an American, I was embarrassed and didn’t care to continue watching their shows.

• Knowledge of other countries – Lastly, there is a stereotype that American’s don’t know of or where any other countries are other than America. I would say this is one stereotype that is close to being true. Being in Europe and then going home, I am aware that as Americans, we are not educated on “the rest of the world” as much as we should be. Of course we know of other countries, but not as many as we should. I’ve only just learnt that Azerbaijan is a country and the girl in my class wasn’t just mumbling.



Being in Europe, I have felt that people always have something to say about the Americans, and it isn’t always particularly a nice thing. At times I have even felt embarrassed to tell people I am American because I immediately know what is running through their mind.

However, now that I have stepped off my soapbox and finished venting, I realize as an American, I may get defensive about my country (as if you couldn’t tell) but it has made me grow thick skin and view my country in new perspectives.

What amuses or frustrates you about the UK?

I would say I am both amused and frustrated by the weather in the UK. I thought I knew how the weather was here having visited three times prior, but I was proved wrong. Being from Michigan, I experience winters, which are filled with constant snowfall and freezing cold temperatures. Because of this, I appreciate the winters here in the UK. The temperature isn’t as cold and seeing snow collect on the ground is a rarity.

However, the summers haven’t been the same. I think I only hung up my North Face fleece last month (June)!! At home I know that even though we have freezing weather and snow, we can always expect sun and heat in the summer months.

What amuses me about the weather is the way the English react to it. In the winter, when there is snow the country does not know what to do. I had final exams in January and on the Friday it snowed. There were only a couple of inches but no one went to work, school was closed, and my exam was canceled. Not only was the country basically at a standstill, but I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw people using brooms, cardboard, and other items to try and clear the snow from their drive ways.

At the moment, England is experiencing its “longest period of heat in seven years,” a quote from the newspaper. While that statement alone makes me giggle, the people here make me laugh when defending it. I’ve been told numerous times that they normally have warm sunny weathers and they didn’t know why this summer took so long to heat up. I’ll make that decision over the next couple of years when I can see for myself.

UK summer heatwave!

UK summer heatwave!

In general, the English people talk about the weather more than any other topic I know. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “wow, it’s a hot one today,” or “it’s sizzling today!”. When it’s raining, every person you talk to has to tell you it’s raining even though your soaking wet clothes could tell you that. I find great humor in the weather here and makes me smile to observe all the commotion around it.

That's hot in the UK!

That’s hot in the UK!

What experiences have you had in the UK that you think you would not have had in the US?

Living in the UK has allowed me to have so many great experiences that I would not have in the US.

• International perceptions – Firstly I’ve been able to have an international experience. This has allowed me to open my eyes and learn what else is in the world. Learning new ways to look at things and having an open mind. I’ve had the opportunity to understand different cultures.

• Independence – Being so far from my parents has also allowed me to grow up and “cut the ties” from my parents. I know if I were still back in America, even though I thought I was not relying on my parents anymore, there would still be something that they were still supporting me on. I’ve been allowed to grow up and become independent.

• Travel – Traveling to Europe is very expensive from America. So living in the UK has given me opportunities to travel for cheaper. I went to Barcelona with Matt’s family which I would have been able to do if I did not live in the UK. It was crazy that I flew 2 hours (which wouldn’t get me too far in America) and arrived in Spain, a place I’ve been wanting to go for years!

• Learning to drive a manual car – I would have never learnt to drive a “stick-shift” car had I not moved to the UK. Of course learning to drive a manual car on the other side of the road was frightening, not to mention hill starts!! I never thought I would get the hang of it! But I now own my own car here in the UK and feel completely confident driving. Being able to say I can drive a manual car when I’m in America is quite a cool feeling 🙂

• Masters – Getting a masters degree in America is much more expensive and usually takes a couple of years minimum. I do not believe I would have pursued my masters degree had I not moved to the UK where it didn’t cost me as much and is only going to take one year.

Danielle wraps up warm

Danielle wraps up warm in Traverse City

What’s it like growing up in the US?

I’m not entirely sure what growing up in another country would be like and how much it varies. But I had such an amazing childhood with so many memories made. As a child I was always busy with a variety of sports, camps, and clubs. Most children take part in more than one sport and as they get older slowly narrow it down to one that they like the most. For me, it was gymnastics. I belonged to a club and was there until I reached high school and then competed for the school.

When we had breaks from school (Thanksgiving, spring break, mid-winter break, etc.) my parents would take my siblings and I on vacation. We were blessed to be able to take so many family trips. My family and I love to travel and experience new places. We traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina often as my grandparents have a condo on the beach. We also traveled abroad several times.

Lush: Myrtle Beach

Lush: Myrtle Beach

One frustrating thing about growing up in the US was reaching your teenage years. Parents tend to be much more protective and keep track of your every move. Once I finally turned 16 and was driving on my own, my mom would call me every 15 minutes to make sure I was okay and ask where I was.

The drinking age was also a challenge. Although the drinking age is 21, it does not stop kids drinking at a younger age. Rather than going to pubs, bars, and clubs, house parties took place all the time. The police are very strict about drinking and have no tolerance for under age drinking. So having a few with friends was always a risk. Parents had mixed views on it as well. Parents don’t want to allow underage drinking, but they sympathize that we are old enough to have a couple of drinks. However, since parents know we drank young, they were even more protective and interested in where we were and if we were safe.

What’s it like hanging out with a UK family?

I’ll be honest, the thought of moving to England and living with my boyfriend’s family was slightly frightening. However, I don’t think I would have had the experience I’ve had without this family. I’m very close with my family and I was heartbroken having to leave them. So moving in with a family made me feel 10 times better! They have been so amazing and really made an effort to give me a great experience while I’m here.

I’ve learnt a lot about the English culture through them. I’ve even been taught the proper etiquette of hanging clothes on a line for drying because apparently I wasn’t doing it the correct way- who knew!? I love being part of their English traditions such as Sunday roast every Sunday, going for long walks on the countryside, and enjoying a cream tea.

That's how it's done in the UK!

That’s how it’s done in the UK!

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13 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 176

  1. Great post! You did a nice job of addressing the stereotypes about Americans.

    “Variety- I love that I wouldn’t have to leave the country to take any type of vacation (holiday). We have beaches, mountains, lakes, and a dessert, what more do you need?”

    Reason #2 for why a majority of Americans don’t have passports.

  2. Graham says:

    To this day, I still can’t say “Fanny Pack” – and I can’t resist the giggles when I hear someone else saying it. The term I grew up with was “bum-bag” which sounds like something a homeless person would carry to American ears!

  3. sharon says:

    First read of the blog Claire – very funny! Its a shame about the american stereotype stuff, but it should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt – “us” Brits are strange folk too!!! basically, we’re all the same!! Keep up the good work CB-McG!!

    LOVE SHAZ (Foxie-Woxie)

  4. ThatOtherGuy says:

    When I was younger I used to write down clever vanity tags. Some of the ones I remember: WASHIS on a very expensive european sedan. IML8 on a white VW Rabbit. RUD14ME on a jeep with a single lady inside. My all time favorite: JKMNO. Used to see it in the parking lot at my office and couldn’t figure it out. I finally asked the driver one day. Her name was Noelle.

  5. Joan says:

    I owned one of the last American “station wagons,” a bright red 1991 Chevrolet Caprice that was perfect for hauling around three kids and their friends. It was huge. My husband said if I was going to drive a car that big I had to let everyone know that I knew that I was driving a boat. My vanity plate said “Momboat.” People still remember that car and ask me about it.

  6. Pingback: Annapolis Maryland <> Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 176

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