Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 328

The Christmas Break

So, what has the UK Desperate Housewife UK been up to over Christmas week?

Taking in a lot of American history, don’t ya know. And pondering about what makes American people American, and what made them not want to be English anymore and what defines the American population. Interesting thoughts, let me tell you.

Yup, I’ve been to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown and Yorktown and Norfolk and I learned a whole lot of stuff about The War of Independence and wotnot. πŸ™‚

Colonial it is

Colonial it is

Looks a lot like England

Looks a lot like England

Lots of folk in costume, of course

Lots of folk in costume, of course

So, what about Williamsburg?

1. It rained, so as we walked in to the town high street with its MASSIVE puddles and everyone had their brollies up, yes, it felt a lot like England.

2. Harry asked if we were actually in England. Bradford on Avon, to be exact – where his grandparents live. ‘It’s just like Bradford on Avon in the olden days,’ he declared. ‘They haven’t got a McDonalds there either.’ πŸ˜‰

3. You can find the ‘am dram actors’ dressed in their colonial paraphernalia of the time either a charming addition to the town, or you can find them a bit disconcerting and/or annoying. To be fair, some of them do it really well and share some fascinating history with you, but some of them are trying a little too hard.

Things like this:

‘Oh, look, that lady is pointing an odd-shaped box at us, how strange…’ (My camera). I sort of laughed, feeling embarrassed for them and for me and pottered on over the cobbles as fast as I could.

My favourite thing, however, was to allow (encourage) the costumed characters to interact with my husband who had not a clue how to react and generally mumbled something back incoherently, finding it all very awkward and embarrassing.

For example:

‘Good day, sir! How art thou?’
‘Um, alright mate, how’s it going?’ (He’s kind of Cockney.)
‘That’s a fine and sturdy lad you have there, sir.’ (Man in costume points at Harry.)
‘What? Yeah, thanks very much. Cheers….See ya.’

Oh how we (I) laughed!

Anyhow, yes, Williamsburg is super lovely and I would like to go back again when it’s NOT raining quite so much (I’m not that homesick!!) πŸ™‚

I pointed my odd-shaped box at these fellas

I pointed my odd-shaped box at these fellas

The Red Lion Pub

The Red Lion Pub

The Governor's Palace (this day it was not raining)

The Governor’s Palace (this day it was not raining)

Visiting Virginia Beach

We also visited Virginia Beach, but I don’t really have much to say about that, except that every seaside town is a bit bloody miserable in the winter time. Beaches are made for summer and sunbathing, wherever they are.

Chocolate milk

That stuff is everywhere. I don’t get the fascination. Even the gas station I stopped off at on the way home to get some milk had not real milk from cows, but chocolate milk in full supply. It is truly an American phenomenon.

Norfolk, but not as we know it

I rather liked Norfolk, especially the handsome cop in the Police and Fire Museum, whom I kept approaching with yet another question or funny/amusing comment. πŸ˜‰

Harry’s view of Norfolk? ‘This looks just like England!’ He kept asking when we would be in America again. He is very confused, poor child.

Oh yes, and there is a big old ship there and a mermaid.

See - a very big ship

See – a very big ship

See - a mermaid

See – a mermaid

Jamestown and Yorktown

I liked both of these places a lot. They got my British head a-thinking about what happened back in those days that changed the colonies in the New World from British to American. I love the history, but it always makes me think about the people.

Native American Indian settlement

Native American Indian settlement

Isn't that the spookiest picture?!

Isn’t that the spookiest picture?!

Authentic colonial settlement, innit

Authentic colonial settlement, innit

I’m interested in what made them go: ‘Hang on a minute, I don’t want to be bloody well English anymore and told what to do by that nutter King George with his rules and wotnot, I want to create my own independent rules and speak with a different accent and do some exploring and be a bit different, but the same in some ways, and create my own super power and have chocolate milk and drive on the other side…Hey, let’s have Revolution!’ (etc).

I’m guessing it was the type of people who came to the colonies – a bit adventurous, challenging the times, looking for a new way of life. Anyway, that’s the bit that fascinates me.

I did learn this: Jamestown was America’s first permanent English colony in Virginia in 1607 – 13 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in Massachusetts, and it sparked a series of cultural encounters that helped shape the nation and the world. The government, language, customs, beliefs and aspirations of these early Virginians are all part of the United States’ heritage today.

Yorktown was all military stuff with the battlefield where allied American and French forces won the decisive battle of the American Revolution in 1781. The Yorktown Victory Center chronicles the entire Revolutionary period, from colonial unrest to the formation of the new nation. I learned a great deal about the Declaration of Independence and how people from many different cultures shaped a new society and the development of a new government with the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Wow, my head was exploding with information. Ace.

Yorktown Victory Center

Yorktown Victory Center

And now back to normality. Or as normal as it gets in this adventure πŸ™‚

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11 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 328

  1. salpal1 says:

    sounds like a fun time, except for the rain. I totally agree with you about seaside resort towns. Just dreary off season. Yet I love a winter beach. Go figure. I was in W’burg many years ago, and loved it, made me wish I had gone to William and Mary for college, but have not yet been to Yorktown or Jamestown.

    I am curious to hear what you did learn about the people and why we broke away from England, from your frame of reference. I am also curious to know how the Brits felt about George the 3rd. Over here it is generally understood that he was mad and unreasonable in his dealings with us, but I suspect there is another side. πŸ™‚

    As I understand it, the differences between the Virginians and the folks from Pennsylvania and Massachusetts were pretty substantial (and we eventually fought a civil war to resolve some of the issues). If you ever get a chance to travel north, it is well worth a visit to Plimouth Plantation and Sturbridge village, to see how things were going up in Massachusetts early on.

    I hope Harry is sorted out again and back in America. πŸ™‚

    • The link between the north and south personalities and the Civil War is very interesting. I want to read more about the impact of colonization and English rule and the consequential revolution from the viewpoint of the real people and not just the political recorded history. I think that would give me a greater insight.
      Thanks for your thoughts πŸ™‚

      • salpal1 says:

        David McCullough wrote a great book, John Adams, which does a great job of showing the conflict from the viewpoint of the Adams household. NOT a typical American family as he spent a good deal of time in Paris and London, but a well researched and written book about the times.

        There is also a book by Cokie Roberts, called Founding Mothers. A completely differnet viewpoint, of course, the women suppporting and egging on those founding fathers. πŸ™‚

  2. Josh says:

    The website Mental Floss has two articles about some of the things you mentioned.
    1. When Did Americans Lose Their British Accents?

    2. How Do Countries Choose Which Side They Drive On?

    Certain acts by the King imposed on the Colonists made them believe that their “Rights As Englishmen” were violated. Who knows what would have happened if the Stamp Act was never imposed on the Colonists?

  3. Emily Dame says:

    Re: chocolate milk not being real milk. Just a bit of clarification–the milk IS real milk, from real cows. It’s got chocolate powder or syrup added to it. Now I agree it’s not the healthiest form of milk but it is real milk.

  4. Sarah says:

    There was a very good TV series about John Adams and the early founding of the US. Youtube trailer gives a flavour. I learnt a lot

  5. ThatOtherGuy says:

    I’m going to add my $.02 here. I’d recommend a movie called Gods and Generals for some history (and a bit of a different perspective) on the Civil War. Also Ken Burns did a massive 13 part miniseries on it also. As for books, you may want to read Founding Brothers which shows them as a team of rivals who didn’t always get along and somehow pulled the whole thing off.

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