Thursday, February 27, 2014

Beans Means Heinz

Last night I had a wonderful tea.  I had baked beans on toast.  Not just any old baked beans – curried baked beans.  Heinz Curry Beanz!  Who could ask for more?  It took me right back to my childhood.

Now, I had never had Heinz curried beans before so this was a treat.  I had recently found them in a local shop and I was so excited.

I poured them into the saucepan and they looked kind of funky… very dark, not at all like the Heinz baked beans I remembered.  Obviously I had to lick the spoon and they were, yes I’m going to say it – Awful.  I felt like a traitor.  How can I not like curried baked beans?  They are Heinz Baked Beans, and they are curried – who could ask for more?  I felt as though I was losing all that is British within me.  *sigh*

Oh, and they had raisins in.  It took me right back to those awful school dinners when it was curry day and you had to pick the raisins out of that slop they said was curry, but clearly wasn’t.
A very English tea

But, I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away, after all they were Heinz Baked Beans.  The more I ate, the more I realized they weren’t so bad.  I did, in fact, eat the lot, even mopping up the sauce with my toast.   By the time I was finished, I think I had convinced myself that I liked them. I probably won’t buy them again, but I was an experience (to say the least).


Did you ever find something you had craved since moving from England only to find you don’t actually like it?


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Beside the Seaside

Photo Courtesy: Tony Ray-Jones
When I was growing up, to go to the seaside was a major adventure.  Although it was only about 40 miles or so, it would seem to take hours to get there.  We would pack sandwiches and a flask of coffee for the journey.  And on a Bank Holiday, forget it - it would feel like days of sitting in traffic.  When you got there, it was cold!! 

We always had to look for that one particular parking space which was close to the beach, close to the shops and of course close to the funfair or the pier.  We were so excited to get onto the beach.  The wonderful beach – ahh those perfectly formed round pebbles in every size, some big enough to stand on, while others were just the right size to get into your shoe or between your toes to create the most pain.

Get to the Water Dance!
Children learn to run to the water and into the waves to find that illusive bit of sand so you can actually stand still for a while.  Everyone else does the “Get to the Water Dance”… arms out to the side, elbows pumping, knees jerking up and down, eeks and ahhs squealed.  Hilarious to watch, but we all do it! You get to the water and stand for just a moment before your legs go numb from the cold… and then the dance begins again, back to your spot (if you can find it).  And you shiver, wrapped in a towel behind your windbreak, on your rented deck chair, eating cheese sandwiches which somehow manage to have sand in – although you couldn’t find any sand on the beach if you tried.  Where does it come from?

IF you can find your spot!

Every trip ends with a walk along the pier and a stick of rock – or my favourite, a seashell full of sweets in the shape of pebbles. Oh those were the days…..

And now, here I am living in sunny California. To go to the beach is a spur of the moment thing. Grab a towel, jump in the car and head west for about 40 minutes (or less). When you get there you sink your feet into the golden sand and “walk” to the water, which is warm! Pure bliss!!

I just wish I could find a stick of rock!

Seychelles Mama

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gor Blimey Guv'nor

I’ve been here quite a long time now and I am still managing to keep my English accent – kind of.  According to relatives back home, I sound like a “bloody Yank!” 

During the first few years it was a struggle – especially on the phone.  While working my first job, I’m not sure I should have been the receptionist.  Typical telephone conversations would sound like this:
How do you do?
            “Hello, Law Office…”
                        “Hi, Can I get your address”
            “Certainly, It’s  (blah, blah) Road, Suite K”
            “Suite K”
            “No, K”
                        “What did you say?
            “K, for Kettle”
            “K.. for Kettle….. Oh never mind, hold on…”

I also try to avoid drive-throughs, ordering over the phone or putting my name on the list in a restaurant.  Something definitely gets lost in the translation.  I stopped giving my name as I would get Sherry, Shary, Sean, Karen … nope – it’s none of those!  So I tried Dave… easy, you would think.  Um.. not so much – now its DIVE… even when I spell it out.   Oh dear…

But it seems everyone in America, no matter who or where, loves the English accent.  Even though there’s quite a lot of them who have absolutely no idea where I come from.  Over the years, I have been asked if I was from “the South,” Texas, Scotland (close, but not really), South Africa, France (wait, what?) and of course…. Australia!  Everybody thinks I’m Australian!  *rolls eyes*

Now don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against Australia – but it gets really annoying to be mistaken for an Australian all…the…time.

And the worst thing ever (and it happens on an extremely regular basis) – talking to someone and having them mimic your accent in the most god awful Dick van Dyke-ish London accent. 
Stop it!  Stop it now!!! Please……



Saturday, February 8, 2014

Nice Weather for Ducks

Rain… it’s piddling down, it’s raining cats and dogs, it’s drizzling, pouring, bucketing down, pissing down, spitting… I think us English have about the same amount of words for rain as Eskimos have for snow.  But then we are used to the rain, it’s a way of life for us.  It could be lovely when you leave home, but you better take your brolly as it could tip down any minute.  Arrange a BBQ?  Better make alternative plans – just in case.

So when it comes to rain anywhere else, it’s quite funny to see the reaction, especially in sunny southern California.  Oh dear – it’s a disaster – Storm Watch 2014!!

I’m driving on the freeway, well not actually driving, just basically sitting because it’s raining.  No, not pouring, not piddling, not even spitting, it’s just a little bit of hazy, drizzling rain and the freeway has ground to a halt!  I know California is the land of never ending sunshine, but really.  The tiniest little drop of rain and every head automatically goes up a bum.  There are two classes of people – the “Oh no, I must drive really, really slowly in case I have an accident” and then there’s the “Oh, I better drive really, really fast because I’m a California speed racer and I know how to drive in the rain.”  WRONG!  And accidents abound.

Tsk, tsk California.  I would really like to see how all these people would cope having to stand at a bus stop for 30 minutes in the rain, getting soaked to the skin.  We do it, we have to and we all complain about the weather, we are English after all – it’s a national pastime.  But of course we do have that stiff upper lip which prevents us from being too outspoken.  We just mumble “bloody weather” and get on with it.

But I do have one question.  When did rain change it’s name?  Why is it that every weather forecaster now calls rain “precipitation?”  “There’s a bit of precipitation coming in the next few days…”  Is it supposed to make us feel better, give us a sense of security that actually, you don’t have to be an idiot on the freeway because it’s precipitation and not the dreaded R word…. R-A-I-N!

Where I come from, rain is rain!  No fancy names, just Rain!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

What Happened to 'U'?

How do you attempt to get a job in a new country?  That was my dilemma.  I knew I could do it, but it was so incredibly frightening.  What if I can’t?  What if they don’t like me?  What if I screw up so badly that I will never get a job?  Can I go home…. Please??  (*sad face*)  After a fruitless couple of months looking, one thing was becoming exceedingly clear to me – Americans LOVE the English accent!  Every person I spoke to, every interview I went to, everyone - without fail - said “I just love your accent”…. Oh joy!   

So, I was finally able to convince someone to give me a job.  And then a whole new frustration started.  New country, new job, new …. Language?  What the?  American English is not English English.  I had to learn to spell all over again.  It seemed like every single word had a different spelling than I was used to.  We all know the “U” is missing from almost every word in the US.  In fact, the American keyboard only has 61 keys instead of the 62 on a UK one.  I presume it’s because the U is hardly ever used. 

‘Our” becomes ‘or’; “re” becomes “er”; “ogue” becomes “og”; double “L” becomes single; or then again single “L” becomes double; “ise” becomes “ize”; “ce” sometimes becomes “se”….good grief.  And on top of all that, the bloody keyboard is arranged differently.  What is a girl to do? 

SPELL CHECK – Spell Check is Your Friend.
That was my mantra for at least a couple of years.

I think I’ve got it now, although for my own purposes I still use all the “U’s” I can.  I refuse to conform. I will not write American English.  So there Noah Webster, you and your silly new fangled American spelling dictionary!  Trying to get us all to change because you were too lazy to write the whole word!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hello New World

August 12, 1994…. That fateful day when we (the family) boarded a plane at Heathrow Airport and started on our journey to our new life in California, where the streets were paved in gold…. Or so we had heard. It’s been nearly 20 years and I still haven’t found those pavements, but I’m still looking!
It was weird, that first year. Moving from a fairly busy town in South London to, basically, the middle of the desert. For a while we were living in the 'high desert,' on a two mile dirt road with no television and just, well dirt…. What a culture shock! It didn’t take long for us to look for the nearest civilization and get the heck out of that dust basin. We moved down the hill –that’s it, not far, but you wouldn’t believe the difference – oh joy, actual grass, no horses, no dust!
I could have done with this for the first two years!
The biggest hurdle? Trying to remember to drive on the wrong side of the road. Now, I’m not saying I’m a brilliant driver (I am), but I do have a problem with my right and left. Tell me to go right and I will invariably go left – I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem, but try getting into a car and driving on the “other” side of the road, especially when there are no lines down the middle. A couple of near misses didn’t even phase me, I still managed to get it wrong. I think over time I’ve been quite successful.
However, there are still times I get in the wrong side of the car… try driving off when you realize you’re sitting in the passenger seat.

And I would like to ask WHY? Why America do you need to drive on the wrong side – this isn’t Europe. There’s no need to be fancy. I can understand the French wanting to confuse us, but aren’t England and the US supposed to be related, cousins or something… now that’s a dysfunctional family - stop being mean to us.
Oh well, I’m here and it looks like it’s for the long haul, so I had better just get used to it. Oh if only I could….