Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Advent Adventure

I remember the good old days when the only way you knew it was getting close to Christmas was when the advent calendar came out.  I don’t think my mum was cheap, (sorry mum) but I had the same one every single year and it wasn’t one of those fancy calendars with chocolate.  Oh no, I had the one with a little nativity picture behind every door.

The excitement grew throughout the month as every morning you ran to find the door of the day and open it before school.  I got to know that calendar so well that I pretty much knew what each picture was going to be. But somehow, it didn’t take any of the thrill out of it.   The day of the 24th was always the best because there was a double door! [*squee*]  I already knew there would be a picture of baby Jesus in his manger, but I didn’t care because the next day the big man himself would be here.
This is how I remember it
It really was a brilliant Christmas that first year the calendars came with Cadbury chocolate behind each door. Of course, I was too old by then to have one, but my children benefited nicely.  I’m not sure exactly how healthy it was to have a lump of chocolate before school every day for a month, but it did get them out of bed quicker, I must say.

It all changed when we got to America. It seems like nobody knew what an advent calendar was. My poor kiddies had to wait for some kind relative to send one to us each year, which invariably did not arrive until the middle of December.  This was actually fine by them as they got to eat two weeks worth of chocolate in one day.

It was like an actual Christmas miracle that first year I found an advent calendar here.  I was probably in one of those swanky “European” shops which sometimes sell PG Tips and Christmas Crackers. But there they were, up on the shelf, just glowing and calling out to me.  Of course I had to buy two and those flippin’ things were expensive.  (Now I know why I had the same one every year).

Over the years, they have become more available, but obviously still not as popular as in England. On a recent shopping trip, I noticed that America, apparently, still doesn’t entirely understand the advent calendar concept.  These things are everywhere – can you spot the problem?  You’ve got to put your own “stuff” in each day.  Where’s the excitement about that?  No, just no.  Sorry America, please go back to the drawing board.
I don’t have any children living at home anymore, so really, the Advent Calendar days are behind me…. Or so I thought.  Then I found this little beauty.  It's a Gin calendar... GIN!!  Please, please can someone buy one for me. And no, I don't care that it will be half way through the month.  I'm sure I can handle it.  Thank you. And Happy Christmas!!  [to me]

Gin - Don't mind if I do!!
Oh, and for all those US born peeps who still don't understand what I'm talking about - and I know you're out there because I've asked many of you, this is from Wikipedia:
An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. Since the date of the first Sunday of Advent varies, falling between November 27 and December 3 inclusive, the Advent calendar usually begins on December 1, although many include the previous few days that are part of the season. The Advent calendar was first used by German Lutherans in the 19th and 20th centuries but is now ubiquitous among adherents of many Christian denominations.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The San Bernardino Shooting

This was not the blog post I was going to write today, but circumstances changed.  
I’m not going to get into the gun control debate because there’s enough of that already.  
This is just what happened to me yesterday.

Well yesterday was a bit out of the ordinary for an English girl.  Unfortunately not so much for many Americans though.  I work in San Bernardino, just around the corner from the building where the so called "mass shooting" took place.  

At around 11 a.m. an email was sent to us saying 'active shooting' and stay in the building. Obviously no more work was accomplished that morning (or the remainder of the day actually).  People began watching news reports on their computer so we could see exactly where it was happening and we were quite shocked when we saw just how close it was.  

Reports kept coming through of how many people had been killed and then we got another email which said 'Meeting in conference room immediately'. [A bit ominous]  We were told the 'situation' was being monitored and we were welcome to go home if we wanted to - however, they would not advise it as the building was on lockdown and the shooters had not been apprehended.  We could leave AT OUR OWN RISK.  Well, what a choice... Sit at your desk all day wondering if you would ever get to go home or take your life into your hands and try and get to your car!  Very reassuring, I must say.

I lasted a couple more hours before I decided to go home - because quite frankly being at home on the sofa is better than even the best day at work really.  

Walking from the building to my car had my heart beating quite fast.  I could see my little Mini from the door, but it felt like it was a mile away.  The car park was deserted and there was not a security guard in sight - I think they had all bolted at the first sign of trouble to be honest.

What didn't help was as soon as I walked out the door and was out in the open police sirens broke the silence with screeching and revving engines very close by.  Needless to say I nearly wee'd myself.  I didn't want to run to my car as that would make me look silly, [also I didn't want to draw attention to myself] so I speed(?) walked and jumped in, locked the door and took a deep breath.  Phew.

As I drove to the entrance driveway the sirens got closer and police cars flew past on the freeway.  A Twitter alert came in saying there was now a car chase with shots fired.  Oh bloody hell, I thought, I should have stayed at my desk!

The town was pretty much deserted and I got home in record time, which was nice.  

What really amazed me (but probably shouldn't) was the amount of rumour and paranoia during the day. Work colleagues were freaking out in case we “were next”, there were said to be gunmen running amok in all directions, some were posting on Facebook that they could see it all happening outside the window which they clearly couldn’t – the building is 1.1 miles away and unless you’ve got super x-ray vision and can see through buildings and around corners, there’s no way.  Yes, we could hear the police and see all the helicopters, but that’s about it.  I work on the sixth floor and as I wandered around, even going to the fifth floor, all doors were closed and locked tight.  Some had notes saying if you wanted to get in, you should phone them.  Never mind the fact that the main doors to the building were locked and nobody could get in, let alone up in the lift to a random floor in the building.  I know I probably sound like a right uncompassionate cow, but I will admit it was a bit scary, to be sure.

It did make me reminisce for the good old days growing up just outside London when the only thing we had to be worried about, terrorist wise, was the IRA.  Granted you never knew when a bomb would go off, but when they did, at least there weren’t nutters running around with guns shooting at everyone.  They were already back in Ireland.
The IRA blew up the pub round the corner from my Nan's house
The world has become a very crazy place and this was just a bit too close for my liking!

Seychelles Mama

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Letter to England.... I'm Sorry

I’m sorry England.  I’ve tried, I really have, but in the last 20 years of being here I have defended English cuisine until I am blue in the face, but I have to admit there are a lot of English foods I really can’t stand.  I know, I know, you’ve had to live with the terrible assertion by all Americans that English food is bland and well, unpalatable and I’m so sorry, I actually have to agree on some things.

Here’s a list of my terribly unBritishness

Jellied Eels

Oh good grief, I have no idea how anyone decided that these needed to be eaten.  Just the thought of them makes me a bit watery mouthed.  Who was it that first thought “Oh, that wiggly snake like creature in that river should be cut into tiny pieces and boiled in stock and left to cool so it sets into jelly and then eaten with a wooden stick.”  Um, no thank you.

Spotted Dick

Sure, when this was on the menu for school dinners it got a snicker all around.  Only thing is, you had to actually eat the awful stuff.  I don’t care how much [lumpy] custard  it was floated in, the boiled sponge is a thing of my nightmares.  A suet pastry and dried fruit concoction just sounds disgusting. And really, it doesn’t float in the custard, it basically sinks to the bottom because it’s so dense and heavy.

I do have that one friend though, who keeps giving me a tin of it every flippin’ Christmas.

Treacle Pudding

This was another one of those school “treats” that was regularly in rotation on the menu.  Again, and this is probably just me, but it was horrible.  A sticky, stodgy mess, in my opinion.  And treacle, just no.
Mushy Peas

While growing up, I absolutely detested peas with a passion.  I would sit at the table for ages before I could get down because I had to finish those little green horrors.  Eventually, as I grew up, I just basically gave up fighting and ate them.  I can’t say I actually ‘enjoy’ them now, but I do eat them. However, mushy peas are a whole other kettle of fish.  I just don’t understand why you would want to smash them to bits and dollop them on chips.  They used to be a purely “northern” menu item, but last time I was in London, they seem to have taken over.  Everywhere serves them… it’s like that old film The Blob, but now its a great big green blob of peas.  And they try to disguise it by adding mint! I think it’s the fact that marrow peas are used instead of normal peas – they have a whole flavour of their own.

Although, I will say, my other half really, really likes them – not that he’s ever going to eat them in my house.
Black Pudding

I know, it wouldn’t be a ‘real’ full English without lack pudding (or blood sausage as its called in the US), but in my opinion, you can keep it.  Really, how appetizing does pork blood and oatmeal shaped into a sausage sound?   Be honest here.  I have nothing else to say about this, except maybe YUCK!

England, there are other things which I just cannot eat, you know like Scotch eggs, Marmalade and of course Marzipan (why oh why do you have to spoil a perfectly good Christmas cake with a layer of the stuff under that wonderful icing?)  

I’m sorry and I feel like I’ve let you down.  I promise I have not handed in my British card and don’t ever intend to, so please be nice and send me some pork pies.  Everything will be forgotten and I promise I will never speak of my faux pas again.

Thank you

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The American Bath

Yesterday I had a little time to myself so I thought I would give myself a bit of a pamper.  It had been a while so I thought I would have a nice soak in the bath and do a facepack and all the girly stuff I don't usually do.

So I ran the bath got everything ready jumped in ... and then out again because it was too hot [isn't it always?] After running another couple of gallons of cold water, I sat myself down stretched out and this happened:

I have one question for America, the land of bigger is better. What the bloody hell happened to your baths?? Really?  I'm only 5 feet 2 and I can't lie down without my knees touching my chin!!  

To add insult to injury I turned around and saw this: 

The bath is so low, I thought Spencer was about to join me.  So much for my hour of pampering.  Its worse than having kids - at least you can tell them to bugger off out and close the door.

Yes, I did have my phone with me because as anyone knows, the minute you step in the bath the phone rings.

Also, it was not easy to get my hair washed in that tiny little tub so I gave up and went in the shower!

Oh, how I miss my English bath that was so long I practically had to drown myself to put my feet on the end and it was so deep I could barely rest my elbows on the edges without looking like I was trying to fly.  Ahhh... 

But then I remembered how flipping cold it was when you got out and tried to get dry and dressed before frost bite set in, especially in October.  That's when I decided I would stick with the American shower.

It's not like this was the first time I had ever been in an American bath, but it's been such a long time and it looked all neglected and lonely sitting in the corner.  I had just forgotten just how flaming small they were.  

Apparently countries have different priorities.  In England its all about depth with long, skinny and deep baths and in America its about width with short, wide and shallow baths.  [I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere]

Still have no idea why those things are so small though.

This is what it felt like.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

6 Sneaky American Words that have fallen into my vocabulary

Good – instead of nice.  I was once asked by a co-worker why I always said food was 'nice' instead of good. I’d never really thought about it before because everything was either nice or horrible. Somehow it’s stuck in my head and now every time, every flippin' time I think food is lovely I say “Ooh, this is good!”  Grrr…..

Dude - A terrible word, but I will admit that I only ever use it in a derogatory manner, usually while driving. i.e. Dude, move your F*cking arse!  or Dude, you drive like an idiot!  [Yes, terribly British]
Cute -  Yes, I know we use this in England, but usually for a puppy or a baby.  In America, it's for just about everything.  "Oh you look cute" people say... what, do I look like a puppy?  "Oh, what a cute car" they say... when you know they really mean wow, your car is tiny, how do you actually get in it??   But again, this one is stuck in my vocabulary.  I try really hard to use a different word but then there's a pause while I'm thinking, which tends to make it sound like "Oh you" which really is not a compliment, to be honest.
Son of a Gun - Okay, I will admit I hardly ever say this because it's so awful. (And it's more a phrase than a word).  The reason I put it in is because I actually said it, out loud, today!  I was trying to get a packet of crisps out of the vending machine and they got stuck (*sad face*). Of course, my first thought was an expletive but I realized a boss was in the room so obviously I couldn't say what I wanted and went with "Arghh - Son of a Gun!"  I kind of surprised myself and I'm sure my face was a picture when I realized what I'd actually said!
Ladybug - I’m not sure why it’s called a bug, although I suppose technically it is a bug, but that just sounds like it would be a nasty creepy crawly… Ladybird sounds so much nicer, doesn’t it?  But to be honest, it’s not really a bird either is it?

But Ladybug has come into my vocabulary somehow and without thinking, that’s what I always say, but I mostly correct my self straight away.  And I wouldn’t even dream of singing “Ladybug, Ladybug fly away home..”  It’s just not right!
Soccer - I think this is the word that annoys me the most… Ugh… soccer [Actually pronounced in the US as Saaakkkerrr!!]  Pretty much most of the time, when I use this one, I follow up by saying “You know, real football.”  (*grins*)

Does anyone else have a problem with this?  What words annoy you that you can't help saying? Discuss.....

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sophisticated Shenanigans

When I was young and anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, without hesitation and without fail I answered “A Primadonna Ballerina.”  Not any old ballerina for me, oh no, I wanted to be the primadonna. [I know I was saying it wrong and it’s technically a prima ballerina, but what did my 7 year old self know?  In fact, I still say primadonna]  Here’s the thing though, I have never, in my entire life, taken a ballet lesson!  I wasn’t even particularly much of a girlie girl either.  But there you go…

Obviously then, a few months ago when I saw tickets for Swan Lake and the event happened to be 20 minutes from my house, I jumped at the chance.  I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t know Swan Lake and the fabulous dying scene at the end (although some people have told me they don’t, which I totally do not believe)  Surprisingly (or maybe not), I wasn’t able to get anyone to say they would come with me so, obviously, I roped in my daughter.  [*smile*]

So this weekend we had a very sophisticated night on the town, dressing up and going to the ballet.  Very posh it was.    Until we realized we had absolutely no idea what was going on… About five minutes into the first Act Hannah whispered to me “What’s happening?” and I had to admit I had no clue.  Oopsie.  But the dancing was pretty.  

There was a short intermission and the lights came on which is when we realized that the little brochure they had given us as we entered was, in fact, a short synopsis of the story.  Ahh…problem solved.  That made it much easier to follow, I must say.  It’s quite hard to understand that when the hero holds up a crossbow, he’s actually supposed to be shooting swans, for goodness sake.  [We are so uncultured].

To add to our uncouthness I decided to take a few sneaky photographs (as you do).

All went well until it got to the end and they lived happily ever after.  What??  Yes, that’s right, they lived happily ever after!!  What happened to the dying swan dance, probably the most famous bit of ballet in the world???  I was gutted!  What the flippin’ heck?  As I grumpily walked down the stairs I heard someone a little more knowledgeable than I telling her friend that “there are two endings and the Russians always use the happy ending.”  Well, I don’t care – it wasn’t a happy ending for me.  [*sob*]

Let’s go to the ballet, I said, it will be fun, I said, Swan Lake is a lovely story, I said, but a bit sad at the end.  

So what did I learn from my first trip to the ballet:

  1. You can actually hear the pointes tapping the floor as the ballerinas walk and dance, which is kind of cool;
  2. There's a lot of hopping in ballet (which made me think I wouldn’t be so bad at it, but it was just a quick thought);
  3. You cannot get drunk, or even tipsy, at the theatre.  Drinks were $12 for a tiny little cup, although to be honest, that’s not technically sophisticated, is it?;
  4. When there’s an intermission every single person in the theatre takes out their phone and checks it!
  5. I think I was the only person there who hummed along to the Swan Lake theme and expected Madness to come onto the stage and perform it.  [They are not well known in America for anything except Our House, which in my opinion is not one of their best]  
Approximately 9 different versions of Swan Lake have been performed over the years.  I found this on Wikipedia, which apparently that other lady had read too:
In 1950, Konstantin Sergeyev staged a new Swan Lake for the Mariinsky Ballet (then the Kirov) after Petipa and Ivanov, but included some bits of Vaganova and Gorsky. Under the Soviet regime, the tragic ending was substituted with a happy one, so that in the Mariinsky and Bolshoi versions, Odette and Siegfried lived happily ever after.
So now you know.  My sophistication level has just gone up a notch because next time I can be the knowledgeable one.  Or at least try to..... 

In case you now have that Madness tune in your head here's this.  And if not, you will have by the time you finish listening.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

What's in a Name?

When I was about 16 or 17 I decided that should I ever have children, one would definitely be called Chelsea….. obviously this was because I was (and still am) a massive Chelsea FC fan.  Fast forward a few years and I actually had a child which I did not name Chelsea.  By that time, I had grown up and somewhat matured and realized that to name your child after your favourite football team would have been a mistake. (Not as bad as if I had supported Arsenal or Tottenham, mind you).  I also had the idea back then that I would get married on the pitch at Stamford Bridge before a game.  Young people and their crazy ideas…! [And no, that definitely did not happen either].

I’m just glad I grew up a bit before I got around to naming children.  Obviously, there is quite some thought that goes into the process so you don’t forever saddle your offspring with a name they hate.  There is such stigma surrounding names sometimes that it makes you wonder what parents were thinking.  Back in the 80’s the joke names were Sharon and Tracey - stereotypical loudmouthed girls from Essex with black tights and white high heels.  I would like to take a moment here to thank my mother who in her absolute wisdom actually named me Sharon Tracey… a name which I have never been able to live down since this programme was aired:

To this day, I still get embarrassed saying my full name, even though absolutely nobody in American knows the reason.  

But America has their own problems with names.  I’m not talking about celebrities and their weird Apples, Buzzes and Apollos, but your typical suburban stay at home mommies who have nothing better to do than have their hair and nails done and take the littles to the park.  It seems as though they are all trying to one-up each other in crazy names.  Here are a few I’ve heard:
  • Duff - I wonder if he was named after the Simpson’s beer
  • Cash - Apparently someone likes money
  • Aristotle - More money?
  • Bear - I suppose it’s better than dog
  • Kindle - Do the parents have shares in Amazon, I wonder?
  • Zeplin - This name is just a disaster waiting to happen [*joke*]
  • Cory/Corky  -  They sound like cats.
  • Maverick - Tom Cruise/Top Gun fans?
  • Cosy - I’ve got nothing!
  • Destiny - Lots of girls have this name.  I think Beyonce has something to do with it.
  • Boden - What?
  • Hunter - My dad had a dog named Hunter 
  • Dublin and Ireland  - I bet the parents think they’re Irish because, you know, everyone does
  • Bass - A beer or a guitar?
  • Burton - I’m thinking he was named after the actor and not the clothing shop
  • Walker - Wonder if he has a brother called Luke and a sister called Sky?
  • Jace - Sounds like a lazy version of Jason that the parents couldn't be bothered to spell out.
  • Lincoln - After a president?  Or maybe that awful car

I would like to thank Rosie M for some of the names on this list and I just have to mention the conversation she related when she asked a mommie if her daughter Porsche was named after the Shakespearean heroine and the answer was "No, my in-laws have a Porsche dealership"  (Lucky it wasn't Volkswagen really!)  [Oh dear].

Sometimes, these names backfire.  Atticus, for example is a name I've also heard bandied about a few times. But these parents didn't realize what they were doing and have now changed his name.  [*slaps forehead*].
It does seem though that boys have the worse end of the deal where names are concerned.  For the first part of 2015, the top five boys names in the USA are Atticus, Asha, Ezra, Silas and Declan whereas for girls they are Charlotte, Amelia, Olivia, Isla and Ava.  It appears Anglophilia is alive and kicking in the USA as obviously Charlotte is a nod to the new Royal.

So it would seem that my plan to call my child Chelsea wouldn’t have been that bad after all.  In case you were wondering, my first child is named Liam and, oh dear, he was kind of named after a footballer (oops). But his grandparents are, in fact, Irish so I’ve got that going for me.  

If you can name the footballer, there's a prize!!  (*smile*)

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Classic Car Show

Last weekend, which was Labor (Labour) Day weekend here, we went to a car and bike show – just a small one put on by a local organization and I must say, Americans love their old cars!

The thing is, they don’t love them in the same way British car enthusiasts love ‘em.  It seems to me in Britain a lovely old (classic) car is one that has been taken care of  since new, kept in original condition and given lots of loving care.  Basically, how your granddad treats his car.

In America, the old car needs updating with all new paintwork, chrome, souped up engines and new interiors. Very big and brash.  Definitely not your grandparent’s car!

The photos here were taken last year in England when we went to a small village fete and there was a car show which looked like a bit of an afterthought.  It was as if a few old fellows decided to give their family car a bit of a wash and polish and drive to the village green.  They are small and compact and very “British.” Look at the little mini, for example!! [Bless]  
Bubble Car!!

And then we have the Americans…. Big, bold and very, well, American.
Is this a boat in disguise?
These things are HUGE.  They’re like bloody boats and they’re not the kind of thing you see driving down the freeway every day.  Definitely not family cars.  It was all very American Graffiti. 

They were shiny, colorful and chrome-y (not sure that’s an actual word, but it works).   It didn’t look like many of them had their original color schemes either.  
Bit ugly, to be honest

Then of course, there's a fascination with flames...
Why the duck?
Old cars with very new paint...

Even a Rolls Royce which managed to look like an American boat.  I have never seen an uglier Rolls Royce in my life.  Because, you know, I'm always travelling in style (not)..
I don't like that colour
I could not even begin to imagine how any of these cars could use the roads in England.  They are so massive and I expect the turning ratio would just not work on those narrow country roads.  

They would get stuck on a corner and end up surrounded by sheep, causing a backup of irate motorists politely shaking their fists and grumbling about the queue.  I know, an unlikely scenario but it just sounds so very British, doesn’t it?

It was nice seeing all these cars, but the weather was so hot and the car park was sweltering so the very best part of the day was going into the bar for a beer!  Obviously.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Brit Giveaway Winners

Remember how I had a giveaway and the original winner didn't contact me? [so sorry for that person].

Well, look what you all missed out on.

It's so nice to be able to share 'home' with some fellow Limeys!  I hope you ladies enjoy all your goodies and that one day soon we will be able to actually meet up for a lovely cuppa.

Until then, don't eat it all at once.  *smile*

Thank you so much for my British goodies. It was so exciting to open this up this morning. Now I need to establish some self control and not scoff them all in one ☺
Posted by Liz Mason on Saturday, 25 July 2015

DING DONG!! The delivery man just brought me the best package ever!! Thank you so much for the goodies. Can't wait to...
Posted by Rosie Makinney on Saturday, 25 July 2015

And you know what, I do, in fact ROCK!! (as is shown by the actual, very real stick of Brighton rock that I popped in each box.)

You might want to share my blog with any of your English friends as you never know, I might have another giveaway some time soon. :-)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Medieval Madness

I did something this weekend that I had vowed never, ever to do, ever again…. I went to a Renaissance Faire.  Although to be fair (hah), this was a little local fair(e) and not the super dooper, massively entertaining (read "commercial") event that is the Southern California Renaissance Festival which is held every year.

NOTE:  I bet you are reading that as Ren-ay-sance, but this is Americaland where it's pronounced Ren-er-sonse and Medi-eval is pronounced Mud-evil. I know, weird and a bit annoying.

I’ve often wondered why these are even a thing.  I mean, England lived through the Renaissance and if they don’t feel the need to celebrate, so why then, does America think they need to.  It boggles the mind… The Renaissance was a cultural movement all about a new beginning with views on philosophy, science, literature, politics, music and religion becoming more diverse and was “a bridge between the Middle Ages and Modern History” [That is your history lesson for today].  It most certainly wasn’t a commercial venture where you go to get drunk, eat massive turkey legs and dress in olden days clothes.

The main reason we ventured there this weekend was the weather.  The temperature at our house was around one billion degrees and this Faire was in the Big Bear mountains which, we hoped, would be slightly cooler than Hades.  
Ahhh... the coolness of the mountains
So with no further ado, I present for thy consideration some of the costumes (did you see what I did there?)

The Braveheart

Now don't get me wrong, he's looking a bit Scottish, what with his kilt and all, and when he turned around he did, in fact, have one side of his face painted blue, but what's up with those dreadlocks?   This was the worst impression of Mel Gibson I've seen in quite a while.

The Chinese/Oriental Belly Dancers

I have absolutely no idea what's happening here.  I don't know when belly dancers were part of the Renaissance, or any English history for that matter.  But at least they've got nice umbrellas.

Little Red Riding Hood

And her friend.  I have no idea....

Pirates/Wenches and Um... Captain Jack Sparrow

I know people just like to dress up (apparently), but this is the Renaissance people, the Renaissance. I don't think Captain Jack was around, or any other pirate if truth be told.

Fairies and Dragons

Although absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of Renaissance, there were fairies [or faeries as they tended to spell it] and dragons.  I think some people were confused with Dungeons and Dragons. Oopsie.  Although, in all honesty, the 'fairy' with the bubbles was quite entertaining and the dragon was animated and a bit fun.

Whatever This is...

Ummm... isn't this a Roman Centurian?  I think the costume was not chosen for its authenticity, but rather to display the steroids, fake tan and veiny muscles.(eew)  And you've just got to love the cowboy on his motorized chair.

Ahh… and the food, of course.  Nothing particularly English, but I opted for a “pig on a stick” which for only $5.00 I assumed was going to be an awful hotdog on a stick, but I was actually pleasantly surprised when I got a huge pork chop in sauce.  In fact, I was so surprised I forgot to take a photo – just trust me though, it was very nice.  The people at The Boars Head Feaste were also very nice. Spot the extra “e”, which makes everything old-English-y.  So does “Ye” before everything, even ice, apparently.

It's oldey woldey
All in all it was quite a nice day actually.  Probably because it was such a small fair(e) and there was none of that awkwardness of people talking to you in what they assume is old time Medieval language and accents (thank goodness) because the one thing that’s even worse than having an American try to do an English accent, is an American trying to do a Medieval English accent.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Blackcurrant Conspiracy

I recently read a news report which said Tesco was no longer going to carry Ribena because it had too much sugar.   Whaat?  Well, there’s my childhood memories ruined.  I loved Ribena, and in fact I still do.  Every time I go home I manage to smuggle import the biggest bottle I can in my suitcase. Looks like I will have to do my shopping elsewhere next time.

I admit I have never seen half of these
I was commenting on this to my colleagues and nobody, absolutely nobody, knew what Ribena was, obviously, but what was more surprising was they don’t even know what a blackcurrant is.  Okay, how can you possibly have never heard of a blackcurrant?
Yes, it's a blackcurrant
This got me curious so I googled did some research on why the humble blackcurrant is so illusive in the USA.  Here’s what I found out:

In 1705, Lord Weymouth shipped American ‘white pine’ seedlings to England and as the tree spread across Europe, blister rust disease began affecting them.  Unknown to the Americans who were suffering from depleted forests at that time, they began importing the seedlings back to the USA, which obviously brought the disease here, threatening the US Timber industry.  A fancy plant pathologist was called in who decided the disease did not jump from tree to tree, but instead went from tree to blackcurrant bush to the next tree.   [Talk about going around the houses!]

So they did what any reasonable person would do – they banned the farming and cultivation of blackcurrants, of course, and for over 100 years the poor little blackcurrant has been called the “forbidden fruit.”  No wonder nobody here’s ever heard of them.  

There have been a few states who have overturned the ban, but not enough of them so I can get my flippin' Ribena, unfortunately.  I think I am going to have to go on a one person crusade to get people to understand how brilliant blackcurrant is.  Or, next time I’m in Blighty, maybe I can find a bush and bring it back in my suitcase - "Nope, nothing illegal going on here officer".  I’m sure I could plant it in my garden (although I've never really had green fingers!)

Can I get them in my suitcase?
Now I’ve got myself all discombobulated, I went back to look at other news articles about the Tesco ban and it turns out they’ve actually only stopped selling the little lunchbox versions of the full sugar drink.  They will still be selling the big bottles (for adults) and "no sugar added" versions for kids. This is what happens when I get all my news from reading only the headlines…. ask anyone, I do it all the time!  

But who would have known that the blackcurrant would have been so vilified by America, bless!