There’s a huge legal battle going on in the UK retail world at the moment. Marks & Spencer, that bastion of British High Street shopping (that’s Main Street to Americans) has filed a lawsuit against big-box supermarket Aldi for allegedly ripping off its iconic Colin the Caterpillar cake. Not only are they ticked off that Aldi is copying their 30-year-old cake design, but … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: The Great Caterpillar Cake Row – Colin or Cuthbert – Where Do You Stand?
A Brit Back Home
March 23 marked one year since the United Kingdom went into lockdown or restricted movement. We’ve seen a lot of changes, and I’m not just talking about waistlines and alcohol consumption. They say language changes slowly, but the past twelve months have seen some fairly rapid developments here. Today’s commonplace words or phrases would have stumped most of us in January … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Lockdown Lingo – This Year’s New Words & Phrases in the UK
So, the turkey situation here in England is “interesting” to say the least. Because of the ever-changing COVID rules, our turkey farmers haven’t known whether they were coming or going, with regard to Christmas. Originally we were allowed to have 6 people in our homes, then the rules were tightened up and then relaxed for five days over Christmas where up to three households … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Toni’s British Christmas Turkey Tales
Not to brag, but I’ve actually converted my Americans to Brussels sprouts - only if they’re not boiled into submission, Brit-style though. These days the way to go with them (the sprouts, that is) is tossed in olive oil, sprinkled with a good pepper and roasted or sautéed to perfection. If you want really posh, you can’t go wrong with the BBC’s pistachios and pomegranate … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Christmas in Britain – A Brussels Sprout Bonanza
I’m not big on showers really. My son would drain an ocean if I didn’t chivvy him along in the mornings, but I’ve never been one for long, steamy showers. I’m all business; most of the time, I shampoo first and then wash myself with the suds before rinsing. I know, right? Just get the job done! (Can you tell I had toddlers in the house over a long period of time? Long showers … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: British winters – moisturizer optional!
Now you know what us Brits are like for our tea? We can be very set in our ways when it comes to making a cuppa. Some people warm the pot by swirling hot water around before putting the tea or teabag in; others won’t use the water if it’s been off the boil for more than a few seconds, and many people won’t re-boil water in the kettle. (I’m none of these by the way.) When it … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: The Tea Travesty on Twitter
Watching this promotional Video for Britbox brought to mind a conversation I’ve had countless times with Brits in America. Them: I’m going to make my kids say “mummy”. None of that American “mom” stuff. Me: Why are you choosing to raise them in the USA but insisting they speak British English? (I realize some people don’t choose, but most do.) Although I brought my kids up to … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Un-Guessable British Words – British Slang
The other day I settled down to read Jonathan’s new book “Adventures in Anglotopia”. (I hear it’s doing very well in sales, by the way. Congrats boss!) I had to stop at page ten though, which is only the second page of the first chapter – my head was already full of reflections on Jonathan’s maiden voyage to England. As their flight lands early into Heathrow, Jonathan and his … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Reading “Adventures in Anglotopia” – Thoughts on British Hotels
So our Prime Minister (who resides at number 10 Downing Street) has just become a proud father again, for the sixth – or maybe seventh – time. Boris is being a bit coy about that exact number. The new baby boy is to be called Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson, after his great-grandfathers and the doctors who cared for Johnson while in hospital recently. Just look at all that … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: The New Baby at Number Ten and British Baby Names
For those who may not know, Sunday, March 8 marks this year’s International Women’s Day. For those already in the know, were you also aware that this day was first celebrated in 1911? No, me neither. International Women's Day was first observed by Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland in 1911 on March 19th and by Russia in 1913 on the last Sunday of February. March 8th … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: International Women’s Day, London Style
Since my son attends an American school in the UK, I can’t seem to get away from the annual tradition that is the school fund-raiser. With three kids’ worth of nursery through high schools, I have been soliciting donations and putting silent auction items together for almost twenty-five years. (Yes, I know). The whole idea of asking people and businesses to donate isn’t as big … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Silent Auctions and London Cabbies
So I’ve just spent the holiday season with my family in Colorado, and as usual, a few things hit me about the US versus the UK. It’s funny isn’t it? Almost thirty years as a dual resident or citizen and I’m still picking up on these things. This time it was – “On Christmas” – I grew up saying “at Christmas” when talking about anything to do with Christmas. “We usually go to … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: My Annual US-UK Comparison
Although Thanksgiving was never my favorite holiday in the States, I have written before about missing it on some level now that I’m back in the UK. Almost as soon as the kids went back to school after their half-term break in October, Christmas advertising and “stuff” has been seeping into our lives. (Have to say, not always a bad thing since the TV ads are usually very good … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Come Back Thanksgiving, All Is Forgiven
Yes, they’re everywhere in the UK at this time of year. We used to wear little red paper poppies on lapels, but now that more people are becoming environmentally conscious (and conscientious), they’ve given way to ceramic pins and crocheted poppies. Remembrance Day, (or Poppy Day) is the 11th of November every year in the UK, and it commemorates the end of World War 1 on … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Poppies, poppies, everywhere – Remembrance Day
It’s almost upon us. On October 27 the clocks will go back an hour and the UK will be plunged into what’s known at our international school as “the Hundred Days of Darkness”; other, perhaps less melodramatic people call it GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). Given the latitude of this little island, (average 55 degrees N) we don’t get a lot of sunlight in the winter months. The clocks … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Getting Used to British Winters Again – One Hundred Days of Darkness
Here’s the story, of a British lady As a child she’d watch the Brady Bunch at four Thinking everyone across the Pond had housemaids, Floating stairs and a sunken living room floor. Yes folks, it’s the 50th Anniversary of the launch of the Brady Bunch on TV. We got it here in the UK too, and I’m old enough (creak) to have watched the originals. (Might have been re-runs, cough, … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Living la Vida Brady – A Brit’s Look Back The Brady Bunch
So yes, on the political front, it’s been quite the fortnight in the UK. Without wishing to get into too much debate, I thought I’d share some of the priceless insults that have been flying around in the press and on social media. If there’s one thing we Brits do rather well, in my humble opinion, it’s a withering put down. First we had the Tweet from actor Hugh Grant which … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: There’s Nothing Quite Like an Angry Brit – Glorious British Insults
One of the lovelier summer drinks in the UK is a long glass of Pimm’s. Typically, it’s a gin-based fruity drink that’s known as a fruit cup in the US, and it’s supposed to have a nonalcoholic liquid added to it. Pimm’s was invented in London in the 1840s by one James Pimm, proprietor of a London oyster bar. He marketed the drink as a health tonic, (as were many alcoholic … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: British Summertime – Pimm’s……..With Everything, it appears!
Although we’re having a fairly lovely summer for the most part (apologies to any Brits who are experiencing grotty weather), there’s a specter that hangs over many families at this time of year. The dreaded exam results. As you may know, the education system in the UK (except Scotland) is very different from the American one. In the year of their 16th birthday (10th grade), … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: A British Summer Specter – Waiting for School Exam Results
Our man Jonathan recently posted an article on Twitter about the use of WhatsApp outside of the USA, and I have to say, the writer is spot on. I waste/spend a lot of time on social media (some might call it faffing), but I was late to the WhatsApp party, preferring good old-fashioned texting or even, heaven forbid, picking up the phone. Data packages, however, aren’t as de … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: The Wonder of WhatsApp – An Unexpected New Aspect of British Culture
One thing I'm not very good at over here (apart from remembering to keep plastic shopping bags in my car) is having an umbrella on hand. While it doesn't rain as much as in Brussels, (did you know that?), we do get the odd shower. Some times it's one of those light and wispy showers that doesn't do too much damage, and sometimes it's torrential and soaks you to the skin. … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Brits and Their Brollies
I’ve pretty much just driven the length and breadth of the country. Well, if you miss out the Devon-Cornwall jutting out part, that is. Drove north and west, to stay with a friend in Southport, just north of Liverpool; then drove right up to Northumberland through the Lake District on the M6 – a highly recommended journey if you’re interested. Breath-taking scenery. Then across … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Pebble-dash – The Horror of British Homes
In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a lot of politicky stuff going on at the moment – on both sides of the pond. Labour Party leader Jerremy Corbyn is one of many making the news every day here. He’s called many things, as you can imagine, including the classic British habit of changing the ending of his name to a “Z” – (That would be “zed”, by the way.) He’s very often … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: British Nick Names and Our Love of the “Zed”
Just like in the USA, there are a few proper nouns that have been given other uses in the UK. You’re very likely to hear someone saying they’ve just finished “hoovering” as you are to hear reports of them “vacuuming”. Although there are obviously many brands of vacuum cleaner on the market now, the verb “to hoover” is still as popular as ever here. I’m sure that’s in part … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: “It’s Marmite” – But What Does That Mean?
I spent a lovely weekend with the family up in Northumberland recently. Walking around the tiny village of Greenhead (near Hadrian’s Wall), my Yankee son noticed this sign outside the local pub and it made no sense to him. Pensioners' Pudding Club at the Greenhead Hotel Pensioners? In the UK, that’s the name we often give our senior citizens – originating from the fact … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Puddings and Pensioners or Just What Exactly Is the Pensioners Pudding Club?