Greetings everyone, and apologies for the silence. Let's just say moving house has been the least tumultuous thing of the last few months! I hope everyone is well (or as well as can be, given the circumstances). As a little gift for you this festive season, I want to tell you about a lovely 3-part podcast by a good (virtual) friend, Ron Gletherow. Ron and I met through the … [Read more...] about Operation Pied Piper – A story with music about British Evacuees
A Brit Back Home
Following on from my last, post the American-at-UK-college sagas continue, and they’ve caused some mirth I have to say. The thing that makes me laugh most is that my Yankee son is now the go-to translator for the Geordie boy in their block. In case you don’t know about Geordies – they’re what we call people from Tyneside, in the north-east of England, (named for the Tyne … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Pots & Pans and Geordie Lads – More tales from a UK college
I’m about to be an empty nester after 28 years of parenting! This week we’re taking my youngest to college in a medium-sized city in England and boy, has it been an experience. Photo; courtesy Pixabay Having put his two sibs through college in the States and written a book on the subject, I’m well-versed in all things States-side. There’s not a lot you can tell me about the … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: College Confusion in the UK – The UK University System
I’m not quite sure why I’m thinking of English summer memories because believe me, the English weather at the moment is anything but summery. As I write, the Met Office’s five day forecast for the UK is ‘heavy showers and thunderstorms today, especially in the south.' Not that much different from a lot of places in the US you might be thinking? Factor the 16-20 Celsius temps in … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: English Summer Memories; Not All Golden
Every few years, the subject of crisp sandwiches is topical in the UK. (Readers are reminded that ‘crisps’ in the UK are what Americans call ‘chips.’ Our ‘chips’ (as in fish & chips) are French fries.) A recent poll taken by Walkers Crisps looked at whether Brits prefer a sandwich with crisps on the side or with crisps in the sandwich. And yes, there were hashtags - … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: When it comes to the crunch, it’s all about the flavo(u)r
Recently I’ve noticed quite a few Americans saying something “ticks all the boxes.” As with “gobsmacked,” I sometimes wonder if Americans know exactly what they’re saying when they use British phrases. For example, I know they realize that being “gobsmacked” means to be shocked or left speechless, but I’m not sure everyone knows that a “gob” is slang for “mouth.” (And let’s … [Read more...] about A Brit Back Home: Ticking All The Boxes or Ticking Someone Off?
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?
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