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!

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10 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 560

  1. Lesley Allen says:

    When I recently returned from a 4 month stint in the UK last Fall what really stood out to me on my return, was the positive attitude of folk in the USA. In the UK it was statements of “we have to cut-back here”, “NHS can no longer cope and is underfunded”, “too many people are on benefits we can’t afford”, it was sooo depressing. There never seemed anything uplifting to talk about. On a positive, I did have a fantastic hot Summer there, so it wasn’t all bad!!!!!

  2. Maryjenmary says:

    This is fascinating to me. I’ve been on a twenty year love affair with England–the oldness, the greenery and flowers, the history, the food (yes, I’ve eaten better in London than in Paris), the quality literature, and even the TV ( admittedly, not the newer TV, but the constant availability of older series and all the fabulous documentaries). For the past four years my daughter has worked ever so hard to be allowed to continue working in London, and she truly loves it, plus the easy accessibility to Europe and Asia during many more vacation days than she could ever have in the States. Do you think that it is a case of the grass always seeming greener on the other side and that the differences thrill us? It all goes to show, in my humble opinion, that the two countries should have closer ties with easier mobility (and easier trade) between the two. We began together and we need to get back together, like we’ve gotten over our sibling rivalry. I don’t want to leave the nice things in the U.S., but I do want the freedom to experience more of what Britain does best.

    • A woman after my own heart! I don’t think I’d want to live there permanently – too many US conveniences here!- but I do love it there & could happily spend 6 months out of the year every year for the rest of my life – if I could afford it! (Which I can’t. 😦 ) Any nice single British man out there that would like a part time relationship with a Southern Belle? That might be the way! 😉

    • It’s going to take me some time to adjust. Culture shock alert!

  3. Mindy Helms says:

    I must agree with the walking bit. England and the rest of Europe do walking and squares (or centers) much better than America does. I do miss walking most places.

  4. Pam LeBlanc says:

    LOL on the sausage roll! I’m the same when I go home, eat all sorts of food that I wouldn’t normally. Cream meringues, pasties and that must-have Tesco caterpillar cake – WHY??!!

  5. Iota says:

    This was a really fascinating read. Yes, walking down a High Street.I used to miss that terribly in the US.

  6. Pat and Pam says:

    You will probably have a couple of episodes of being on the wrong side of the road — even in the USA! When I was back and forth a lot a few years ago, I would find myself doing that — on BOTH sides of the pond. Luckily, I never came to grief because of it but quickly corrected myself….

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