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20 Days in England

September 20, 2011

What I like so far:

1.  The food.  I never would have believed it, but almost everything I’ve tried here is fan-freakin’-tastic.

  • The bacon.  You think you like bacon?  You’ve never HAD bacon until you come here.  This is American/Canadian bacon multiplied by a thousand.  I’m considering turning some into a sheet and quilt set.  You can do that with British bacon.
  •  The curry that Eileen made.  I get all watery-eyed just thinking about it.  I can’t WAIT for more.
  • The glazed goat cheese salad from The Settle restaurant in Frome.  No kidding, I damn near had a Meg Ryan moment.  It was THAT good.
  • The fish that Eileen made.  Simple salmon filets that were to die for, literally made my mouth water after the very first bite.
  • The Cornish pasties that Eileen and Duncan brought home from Cornwall.  (I have to confess something embarrassing here.  My mother- and father-in-law never actually SAID that they were going to spend a coupla days in Cornwall.  They said they were going someplace which sounded to me like ‘Nookie.’  For a week I went around singing Makin’ Whoopie to myself, until I realised that they were saying that they’d visited ‘Newquay,’ a coastal town in Cornwall.  I’m such a fool.)
  • The fish and chips from the local place, Codswallop.  Going in the little shop was amazing – all kinds of freshly fried foods that warmed the cockles of my little Texan heart.  They also actually serve cockles.  I have no idea what they are, but I thought that was hilarious.  I don’t think the other patrons thought it was nearly as amusing as I did when I just started pointing and giggling.
  • The rice pudding that Eileen made.  Okay, so…we had egg fried rice for dinner, and the leftover rice became A DESSERT.  It was nothing short of a miracle, as far as I was concerned.  I rarely eat dessert and I had two bowls of it.
  • The hot buttered crumpets.  There’s really nothing more that needs to be said here.  Let me find a picture of one, then you’ll understand.

From BBC Good Food

  • The cheese.  This really deserves its own category.  It is my afternoon snack. (I remember when Tweet first joined me in Canada and she saw the yellow cheeses marked ‘cheddar’ in our refrigerator.  It was one of the few times that her spine straightened and she got this British-ly disgusted look on her face as she said, “That is not cheddar.”  How was I supposed to know that The Town of Cheddar That Invented the Cheese is 15 miles from her hometown?)

3.  The weather.  I don’t care if it gets a little wet and drizzly occasionally – it isn’t miserably hot.  ‘Nuff said.

4.  The television presenters.  Listening to them, it’s easy to believe that everyone is either Scots or Liverpudlian (or Liverputian, which I prefer) in much the same way that it’s easy to believe that every American is blonde, rich and tan by watching Entertainment Tonight.

5.  My in-laws-to-be.  It’s the first time that Tweet and I have had the chance to spend significant amounts of time around other couples who are also totally, completely and head-over-heels in love with each other.  Plus, it’s incredibly interesting to see the origin of her sense of humor, her quirks, her good nature and her cleverness.  (I dunno where the shyness comes from – her brother constantly sings karaoke at the top of his lungs, her mother is THE most popular person I’ve ever known and we have to actively stop her father from wandering about buck naked after his showers.)

What I don’t like so far:

1.  The chips.  Sorry, the ‘crisps.’  Itty bitty bags of less-than-salty crunchiness.  What do you MEAN I can’t just run out and grab a bag of Lays?!  That’s it, I’m eating another plate of cheese.

2.  The prices of fuel and electricity.  Good lord, it’s horrible here – no kidding.  I feel properly humbled after complaining about American taxes and costs for so many years.

3.  Pimms.  I saw the devil drinking Pimms!  As I tasted it for the first time, I could feel my face curling into the exact same expression my cat used to use as he was coughing up a hairball.  (I apologise profusely, Pete, but it’s true.  I am on track to try those ciders, however.)

4.   The alarm clock in our room (the one which Tweet is insisting that I mention that I picked out).  It’s a little cordless digital thing but when we first turned it on, it wouldn’t stop talking.  It kept announcing the hour, every hour – all night long.  And when the alarm goes off, it’s a digital rooster crow.  It’s the single most horrifying piece of technology that I’ve seen since the digital rectal thermometer.

5.   No free refills on sodas, even at the fast food restaurants.  I have to admit that it kinda does make me want to throw a spoiled-child tantrum, which, I suppose, is exactly what some Brits might expect of an American, so I’m alright.  (They even charge for the little ketchup packets, which is high treason as far as I’m concerned.  I bought those fries – they COME WITH ketchup, dammit!  And get away with that bottle of vinegar – what are you, French?!)

22 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2011 3:44 pm

    Hahaha!! “Codswallop”! I remember having a fish and chip shop called that around the corner from my friends house years ago, I think it’ shut down now, maybe it’s some kind of franchise?!

    Don’t worry Pimms is an acquired taste, I’ve drank copious amounts so Im immune, but those ciders are pretty sweet and will make you want to drink more, although Toffee Apple Brothers can become sickly if you have too many.

    And don’t get me started on the prices you mentioned, I worked as a salesman for Gas and Electric, who are you with and how do you pay? I’ll be able to tell you if you’re paying a decent price, petrol however, absolutely disgusting I’m sure it was only 80p a litre on a few years ago.

    McCoys crisps are the best, Lays is owned by Walkers though =/

    Oh and Crumpets are the best thing ever invented.

    • September 21, 2011 12:37 pm

      Ya know, I actually think that Codswallop might be a franchise… My fiancée worked at this one several years ago and I *think* it’s the original, but I do seem to remember her mentioning that it had become so popular that they opened other branches. That would have been less than 10 years ago. Man, it’s GOOD. We had it again last night.

      The Toffee Apple Brothers sounds fantastic – I am definitely going to sample it extensively. (You can’t always tell after the first glass, can you? Sometimes it takes me two or three to decide whether or not something is worth drinking. Then again, I’m Irish.)

      My in-laws own the house, so they run the gas & electric stuff. I’ll have to ask which company we use, but it’s a meter out in the garage that gets money added to it every three or four days. It’s a serious expense; I was genuinely shocked. It *looks* like we’re going through 20 quid every two or three days. Is that normal?

      McCoys! I have made a note. Thank you! I’ve been missing good crisps. 🙂 Thanks a ton for all of your help!!

      • September 21, 2011 4:24 pm

        20 quid every few days is not good, especially on a pre-pay meter. Either you’re on a crappy deal or you use electric and gas… alot!

        If it’s pre-pay meters for both I definitely know what the cheapest ones are. But yeah let me know at some point and I’ll try and find out!

        Most people I’ve spoken to spend around 40 on each every month

      • September 21, 2011 6:43 pm

        This is…interesting information. I’ll have to find a delicate way to broach the subject with my in-laws, because there is NO WAY we go through that kind of gas and power.

        Hrm, alright I’ve just spoken to Mum about it. I was overestimating, apparently. We go through about 3 quid a day, so it ends up being about 90 a months, give or take. That’s not *too* too bad, I don’t think. Gosh, it’s really made me hyper-aware of when I leave things on, though. Which, now that I think about it, is probably a good thing. We’re also tied into a contract and are getting fitted for solar panels soon – hopefully that’ll help a great deal. 🙂 Either way, thanks for the encouragement – it was fascinating to ask about it and find out how things work here.

      • September 22, 2011 9:37 am

        Haha it’s all good, just make sure you’re not getting screwed when it comes time to end the contract. Solar panels are a waste of time in England, no Sun lol! It is a good idea though, the energy you store up you can apparently sell back to the energy provider, though I still live with my parents so I don’t have to worry about any of that stuff really.

        Hurry up and get your 22 days in England posted! I’m at work and need something to read 😛

      • September 22, 2011 10:43 am

        Lemme see what I can do for ya…

      • September 22, 2011 10:47 am

        There ya go. 🙂

  2. Tracey permalink
    September 20, 2011 5:17 pm

    I love reading about what newbies think of the UK. I laughed my head off. You were so on the nail. I’m from the UK now living in Australia. When I travelled here before in 2006, I house sat in Sydney for a great gal called Annie. Guess what? she lives in Frome now. She has 2 cafes and a catering business. Don’t know the name, sorry, but if you come across her, please give her a big hug from Tracey. I blog too in Oz let’s be friends! Good luck with your life in the UK

    • September 21, 2011 12:39 pm

      LOL I absolutely am a UK newbie. Hrm…Frome is incredibly small; I betcha I could track Annie down. Do you have any idea what the names of her cafes are? I’m trying to sample everything around here anyway, so I’d love to have a recommendation. And of course, I’d be more than pleased to pass along your message. YAY! Another blogger friend! Thanks for taking the time to stop by – I’ll go check yours out right away. 🙂

    • September 23, 2011 9:10 pm

      All these Frome connections! I had relatives there for years. Nice part of the country, but/and unspectacular.

      You seem to like our food! Well, on my one trip to the U.S. I had a fantastic meal in Savannah. I did, though, pine for real ale and decent tea.

      The local cider in Somerset is NOT sweet – what we call scrumpy – but beware, it’s very strong.

      I really liked your picture of interactions with your new family – little tricks and quirks.

      • September 24, 2011 8:04 am

        I gotta say, as an American seeing the area for the first time – it looks pretty spectacular to me. LOL I’d never seen an operational building SO old that all of the sides are bowed out. Seriously, there is a pub in Frome that looks like a pear. I have NO idea how all of those doors and windows close properly, but it’s one of the neatest things I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to get around some more and see the rest! I’m sure that such things aren’t endemic to this area, but I’m so glad to have seen them.

        Man…I am LOVING the food so far. And you had a meal in Georgia?! I bet it was good – it’s hard to beat cooking from the American South. (The ale, though…yeah. I hear ya.)

        Scrumpy, yes! This is the word I keep hearing being bandied about, and I’ve only *just* realised that they were talking about a drink. I seriously thought they were talking about a cartoon character, but I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how it was associated with dinner. (I just assumed it was one of those ‘yeah, we’re eatin’ Bessie tonight’ kind of farmer jokes.)

        Thank you for coming by, Simon – I really do appreciate the kind words. 🙂

  3. September 20, 2011 6:13 pm

    Nice experience! I also remember some of my first experience in UK rather pleasantly surprising (for example the food as I was told by a great number of people that food there was bad). It’s a really interesting read 🙂

    • September 21, 2011 12:41 pm

      Thanks a ton for the kind words! I tell ya, I was exactly the same way before I came here – I’d heard my whole life how bland the food is here, so that’s what I was expecting. Much to my surprise, that couldn’t be further from the truth! (Thank goodness!) I’ve loved every little bit of it so far. And the CHEESE…omg, the cheese… *drools*

      • September 21, 2011 5:12 pm

        I really don’t remember much of the cheese from my stay, but I’ve heard tons of good things about it. Definitely, I’ll have to try it when I come to the UK next time 😀

      • September 21, 2011 6:35 pm

        You really should, I’ve been blown away. I ordered a ham, cheese and bacon sandwich for one of my first meals here at a cafe. It looked…odd. To me, at least. Plain white bread with the meat on it and this crumbly write cheese…I thought, “Huh.” And then I was completely astonished by how good it was – as well as every other kind of cheese I’ve tried here. Five stars from me. 🙂

  4. September 22, 2011 10:10 am

    You know, after your story about the cheese, I’ve made it a point to try it by all means when I get back 😀

    • September 22, 2011 10:43 am

      AHA! Yay! I *definitely* recommend it, although be warned – it is strong cheese. If you like New York Sharp Cheddar and such, this is for you.

  5. October 5, 2011 9:59 pm

    I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard anyone say that they liked British food, and went further and wrote a blog post about it! Almost everything you wrote about does sound delicious though. Have you ever tried yule log or figgie pudding (the same ones from the Christmas carols)? They are absolutely fantastic! When I was living in China, one of my good friends who is British and a pastry chef made them for our Christmas feast, and it is by far, the most delicious desserts I’ve ever tasted, and I’m a total foodie. Enjoy your adventure!

    • October 6, 2011 6:55 am

      LOL I know *exactly* what you mean. I’m from Texas, and I’m accustomed to tasty food and plenty of it – neither of which I thought I could find here (getting my info mostly from movies and TV, admittedly). I have been really quite amazed, to be honest. I haven’t tried yule log or figgy pudding yet! Hrm….I’ll have to see if I can get a hold of it during Christmastime. Having been here for 5 weeks now, I can totally believe that they were wonderful; I’m constantly surprised. Even the simple things like scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream? DELICIOUS. And how lucky are you to have been in China! I can’t even fathom what that experience must’ve been like. My fiancée is weighing in now (she’s been to China several times) and she’s waxing eloquent on how wonderful the food is there – as a foodie, you must’ve been in heaven!

      Thanks so much for stopping by my new blog. I really do appreciate the support. 🙂

  6. October 8, 2011 3:06 pm

    Loved this! Especially the Nookie/Newquay misunderstanding, lol.

    I’m an American living in The Netherlands, and every once in awhile when driving home from an away game (teen-aged Daughter plays on a Dutch voetbal/futbol/soccer club) I’ll treat her to a swing through McDonald’s drive-thru. I jauntily order in Dutch until I’m tripped up by the question which, when translated to English, is roughly ‘would you like a sauce with your order?’ The minute I say ‘ketchup alstublieft’ (ketchup please) they start talking to me in English. Dutchies eat their fabulous fries with mayonnaise (ewww) or curried mayonnaise (slightly less eww). And yes, some places charge for ketchup, but never for the gobs of mayo they through on other orders. Go figure.

    • October 10, 2011 2:00 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I seriously went around thinking that my parents- and grandparents-in-law were either going to someplace called ‘Nookie’ or were going to get some ‘nookie.’ Either way, I kept wondering why they were sharing that information with me… *facepalms*

      You order your food in Dutch?! Well done, you! Hopefully we can change the world’s perception of traveling Americans. 😉

      Mayo on the fries?! *gags* That sounds positively foul! Curried anything doesn’t sound too bad, though… Do you write up all of your experiences in the Netherlands? If so, please send me the link, I’d love to see it!

      Thanks for stopping by and for the encouraging words! 🙂

  7. October 13, 2011 6:02 pm

    What an amazing read!!! Thank you for sharing this with us.

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