Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Not Quite English

Last weekend, my daughter and I went on another brunch quest looking for a little bit of England in California.  This time, we tried Lucky Baldwins, a ‘British Pub & CafĂ©’ in Pasadena.  They have three locations and apparently have been there some 18 years, so it should be great, right?

First of all, we got there a bit late for breakfast and/or brunch.  It was around noon, which in theory should still be time for brunch, but whatever.  The actual menu was very patriotic, Union Jacks all over it, but that’s pretty much where it ended.  The only two items of a British nature that I could see were a bacon and egg breakfast sandwich (American bacon, Irish bacon for an extra charge) and a full English (an extra charge for crumpets instead of toast).   Oh, I could have had a cup of PG Tips too.

Very patriotic
Of course, we ordered one of each (with Irish bacon and crumpets).  Hannah had the breakfast sandwich which had a lovely runny egg and a couple of bits of bacon.  This would have been a great breakfast if you had made it at home, but in a restaurant you would expect a little bit more on the plate – even a bit of dead cabbage for garnish would have made it look a bit fancier.  But she said it was lovely, even though she thought she could have eaten another one!

That's it?
I had the full English - bacon, sausage, two eggs over easy, (I still can't figure out what I am supposed to ask for here, but over easy seemed to be okay this time), baked beans (Heinz), mushrooms, fried tomato - Mmmm, lovely jubbly.... but then there was also that potato/pepper/onion mixture that seems to be a standard in American breakfasts - FAIL! Gentlemen, this is most definitely NOT an English breakfast requirement!

What is that potato stuff??  Definitely not English!
The sausage was lovely, as were the mushrooms and beans.  The eggs were runny enough and the (tiny bit of) bacon was nice.  But then there were the crumpets.  The waiter (who was new on the job, he said), didn't know what a crumpet was, but I assured him they were on the menu and I could have them instead of toast,  Well, when I got them, they looked (and tasted) like they had been heated up in a microwave.  They were rubbery like they had just come out of the packet, no crispy bits on the bottom and not only that, I didn't get any bloomin' butter, just a little pot of lemon curd.  In all my years, I have never eaten crumpets with lemon curd (and no butter), but there's a first time for everything, as they say, and I tried.  But quite frankly, it was pretty blah.

Hmmm....a bit bland
I'm not saying I'm Egon Ronay or that I work for the Michelin Guide, but I was just a little, well, disappointed with the food.

But, I'm sure if we had got there earlier when the Premier League football was on, the place would have been bursting at the seams with all the Chelsea fans watching Frank Lampard put a goal past his old club, much to his dismay.   It probably would have felt a lot more "British."

Unfortunately, by the time we got there they were showing American Football and we were sitting at a table next to the most annoyingly loud and obnoxious person ever (yes, really loud and really obnoxious). But I'm sure he might have said the same thing had he been there for the 'real' football and sat among a load of boisterous and, some would say also obnoxious, English footie supporters.

I might be being a bit harsh, the waiter was new and we were surrounded by Yanks watching American Football.  Not exactly a definitive British experience.  We were on the patio also - maybe inside it was decorated extremely English.  I am not ruling out ever going there again, so who knows. Watch this space (as they say)..... *smile*

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thanks for Staying Scotland!

IT'S A NO!!  

In my last post, I said I didn't think men in kilts were at all sexy and they should wear trousers in Scotland from now on.  However, doing a bit of a Google search, my attitude may have changed just a tad when I found these pictures.  (Men, you might want to look away now)


So, I would emphatically like to say THANKS FOR STAYING SCOTLAND  *swoon*

Unfortunately, in my experience, when you actually meet a man in a kilt, he tends to look like this:

Oh, and I'm also glad we don't have to change the flag.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Scotland, Are You Really Leaving?

What with all the talk of Scotland's independence going around at the moment, I thought I would put in my tuppence…. I am not at all politically interested in anything (true story) so I’ve really only been reading the headlines.  But as with anything there are pro’s and con’s and I thought I would make my list.  So here goes


I know there are a lot of people out there who absolutely love them, but to me, the bagpipes sound like someone trying to strangle a cat.  It’s like nails on a blackboard to me – makes me cringe.  So maybe England can ban them?  Please.....?
Oh look - bagpipes!
Trafalgar Square
When England play Scotland at Wembley, the English would be able to sing and dance in the fountains at Trafalgar Square.  Up until now, the Scottish take over and you can’t get anywhere near the bloody things.  Mind you, it’s not that England supporters ever have anything to sing and dance about.
Can we have a go please?
Men in Skirts
I don’t know about you, but to me a man in a skirt is just not sexy and it seems that those bloomin’ Scots always want to show you what’s underneath and it’s usually nothing!! Please, please don’t do that….. Good old English trousers please!
I don't really need to see this, thank you.


You might have to show a passport to get into Scotland from England.  I’m not sure this is actually a con for me, seeing as I’ve never actually been to Scotland – the furthest north I’ve been is Newcastle and although they talk incredibly funny there, I don’t think it’s actually Scotland.

Walker’s Shortbread, who doesn't love it?  I love the stuff dipped in a nice cuppa.  Every Christmas I buy a big tin of Walkers. I won't be able to live without it.  (Well, I probably could, but I don't want to).  Will Scotland stop us being able to buy some?
I'm going to miss this
The Union Jack
This has got to be the biggest 'con' of the lot.. what will happen to our wonderful flag?  Am I going to have to throw away all my union jack emblazoned items.  Do I need to take my flag off my car?  It will look really odd (and a bit anaemic) without the blue.  And yes, I have just managed to make the Scottish independence debate all about myself.

Stay with us Scotland... we need your blue bit!
But I suppose we will all have to wait until tomorrow to find out what happens.  I'm a bit of a traditionalist and although Scotland already have their own Parliament, their own money and their own flippin' language, I just don't want them to go.  It will be like having your upstairs neighbours move out and although you've never actually talked to them, you're used to them because they were always there.  It's all a bit sad really.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The County Fair Experience

Something we don't have in England, which apparently happens all over America is the County Fair.  I think there are even State Fairs, but I'm not sure what the difference is - can anyone tell me?

Our local County Fair always opens on Labor Day weekend and we always manage to go that first weekend.

Now these Fairs are nothing like any fair ever in England.  They are massive and while ‘fair’ in England usually means a few rides (the Waltzer, Octopus and Big Wheel to recall a few) and some sideshows (darts, goldfish and ducks on hooks come to mind) on a muddy common in the summer, in America it means a total over indulgence of everything.  As we know, they like to do everything BIGGER here, including the Fair.
From the moment you walk through the gate your senses are assaulted from all side with smells, colours, noise….. Buildings are chockablock with people selling anything from Shamwow’s and sewing machines to solar panels and shower heads.  You name it, you can probably find it for sale here.  (In our experience some good, some, well… not so good)

It's hard to describe what it actually is - is it a market or shopping experience?

Maybe it's a circus

Maybe it's a funfair as we know it
Oh, no thank you!
And again I say, No thank you!
Or whatever the heck this is:
What the??
But after all that, you get to the main event, the part which everyone, apparently, is here for.  It’s a non-stop party of alcohol and food.  Yes you can walk around drinking beer and cocktails (and who wouldn’t, quite honestly).  But the biggest and some say best part of the fair is the gastronomical delight of fried food.  Absolutely anything you can think of can be, and will be, deep fried.  I heard a rumour there would be deep fried Doritos this year, but I didn’t find any.  Deep fried fried foods… wow! 
Drinkies - don't mind if I do!
Start off slowly - vegetables first (ignore the cheescake)
Bacon and more bacon - I sense a theme...
If you can leave the Fair without being sick in a bin, then you are a brilliantly fantastic person, with a stomach of iron.  I'm not saying I've ever been sick in a bin, (well not at the Fair anyway) but I have gone home with my jeans undone once or twice.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Marmite - Love It (or hate it)

Marmite, as the tag line goes, you either love it or hate it.  Well, I bloody love it!!

In fact, I love it so much I have a Saturday morning ritual of a bit of a lay in, while watching Eastenders and having a few slices of Marmite on toast and a cup of tea.  Every. Blooming. Week!!  Heaven.  It’s my one morning of total Englishness.

I rely on family visiting from Blighty to supply me with my Marmite rations.  You can buy it here in the US, but it is extremely expensive and you can’t get the mahoosive jar, only the small ones.  So obviously, when I was back in England last month I found the biggest jar I could to bring back with me.   Yes – 500g of lovely, yeasty goodness.
Who wants the weenie one?  Much too small
That was all very well and good until I started to pack my suitcase to come back.  How do you fit all the clothes your brought with you, the souvenirs you're taking back, 7 Double Decker bars, 10 Curlywurlys, 5 Fudge bars, 12 penguins (not the bird), a packet of Club bars, 2 packs of choccie bickies, Chewits, two six packs of Crisps, a jar of Picallilli, various other food items which you just cannot live without - AND your massive Marmite - in your case.  Well, that was a problem and I made a terrible, terrible (in hindsight) decision to put my Marmite in my carry on luggage.  *sad face*

No sooner had I got to security at Heathrow and put my bag through the scanner thingy than the bells went off.  This huge wailing sound as my case was unceremoniously pushed to one side and I was asked to step around… Oh dear, I’m British you know, please, please don’t single me out, especially in front of strangers.  Oh the horror, oh the embarrassment.  But, that was nothing compared to what happened next.

Oh no, not content to point me out to about 1000 people, (it was probably more like 50, but felt like 1000) I was then made to undo my bag (which was pretty much packed to the gills with more food items) and I had to watch in utter despair as every single item was taken out, held up as if he was showing it to the crowd, and then put back down again.  But then he got to my Marmite.  I saw his face, and knew instantly he was a hater, not a lover.  He held the jar up with a kind of screwed up nose and then let it go, dropping it into a bin – a metal bin, no less – and I still hear that clanging sound as it hit the bottom and rolled around a bit.  He even made eye contact with me as he was doing it - the bugger!!  My heart dropped and I worried all the way back to America that someone was going to take it out of the bin and take it home!  How very dare they.
But then there's this:

Ha, so there M. airport security man, you didn't get all my Marmite goodies.  My yummy crisps were still in (bascially) one piece by the time I got home!  And you can bet I will enjoy every crumb!