Around the World in 180 Days

A journey across the Atlantic and into matrimony

Summer Highlights October 1, 2010

Filed under: daily life,food,travel — rhet @ 2:30 pm

I know it’s been a while folks, I kind of lost my zeal as is wont to happen to us mercurial Geminis, but as my 1 year anniversary of being in the UK approaches, I thought I’d pop back in and update!

I’ve definitely feel like I’m becoming more British over the last few months. I went from really hating Indian food and completely baffled by the Brit’s love affair with it to being able to enjoy a good curry every now and then! I absolutely love a few Hobnobs with a cup of tea on a rainy day, lemon curd on toast and a steamy steak and ale pie.

turquois!

It’s not all about the food though, I’ve also acquired a sexy pair of Hunter wellies since Glasgow’s last winter destroyed a total of 3 pairs of shoes not including all the feet soakings I got. Not this year! As of next week I’ll be working at Greggs and am praying I’ve gotten the accent down and can make change with those funny little coins fast enough!

Despite my best efforts at Britishization and to the disappointment of my friends and family, when I came home to visit over the summer, I had no noticeable accent myself. Ah well, maybe next year!

We had a great time in the States though, getting the most out of the trip by spending the first week of our trip in NYC with the hubby’s family and the last 2 weeks at my parents house in Pennsylvania. It worked out really well because in NYC we were all go go go, visiting as many museums, art galleries, cocktail bars and restaraunts as we physically could and when we got to PA, we got to lounge by the pool, do some reading and just generally visit and hang out! Glorious.

my parents pool, or paradise as I call it

wii bowling outside on the deck!

We also had a wedding reception for all my friends and family who couldn’t make it to our ‘real’ wedding in Glasgow. I wore my dress and all the accoutrements and T dressed up all schnazzy (wearing his full suit would have killed him in the July heat so a nice linen outfit was chosen instead). I knew I too would die if I kept my dress on the whole day so a couple days before the party I suggested that when we’d both had enough of the heat, we’d jump into the pool with our clothes on which would be 1. AWESOME and 2. give us an excuse to go change. T was skeptical of this idea. But when it came time for us to cut the cake during the party,  T bravely smashed a huge slice allllll over my face. And so to get him back I decide we would indeed be jumping into the pool. What a blast that was! I wish we had a picture of us holding hands, jumping in together but it was pretty spontaneous so no one really had their cameras ready in time. I’ll certainly remember that moment forever though!

I’m so glad I got to spend so much time with my family! Spending 3 weeks in the US during the height of summer also made it easier to deal with Glasgow’s almost complete lack of summer. Now it’s starting to get dark early again, but at least I can look back at my sunny pics with my family and look forward to dry feet with my wellies!

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Get Sprung April 7, 2010

Filed under: daily life — rhet @ 12:21 pm
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window box and teacup flowers

After enduring my first dreary winter in Glasgow, I’m definitely ready for spring. To help get our flat feeling more cheery, T and I took a trip to Home Base (the UK equivalent to Home Depot or Lowes) for some window boxes and lots of pretty things to fill them with. Neither of us have ever really grown anything on our own so when deciding on how many plants we’d need to fill the boxes, we totally overestimated leaving us with nearly 2 dozen extra flowers. Whoops! So with no more windows to put a box in, we scrounged around for anything to stick them in and came up with mason jars and teacups to a pretty lovely result if I do say so myself! I love being able to make use of all the charity shop teacups we bought for the wedding, instead of having them packed away in a box. Now let’s hope I have my mother’s green thumb!

In other domestic news, our rogue washing machine which was broken for about 3 weeks, and holding most of my favorite clothes hostage (thanks to it being a front loading machine with the handy feature of auto-locking the door) has finally been restored to working order! It only took more than a dozen phone calls to the letting agency’s maintenance department..

oooh shiny

And we’ve finally acquired a toaster! Color me easily amused but as a person who really loves toast (or pretty much any sort of carb that can be shoved in a toaster) using the grill built into the oven just doesn’t cut it. Not only does it take forever, but by the time you pull the slices out to butter ’em up, they’re cold and the butter won’t melt.  Certainly a flaw for any supposed toasting device in my opinion.  Our new toaster, however, has all the bells n whistles including variable browning control as the box describes it, which cracks me up every time I think about it.

 

TXT March 28, 2010

Filed under: daily life — rhet @ 12:13 pm

Brits are text crazy. I noticed this first when I moved here and all of the plans the hubby made with friends were via text. Obviously, Americans text a lot too. For example, one of my friends from high school sent enough messages to win $10,000 from AT&T in a texting contest.

But here, even my dentist sends me reminders about my appointments via text as has the UK Border Agency just now***. The hubby and I signed up for our phone plans via text. A couple of days ago, I bought tickets to see a band via text. Every other commercial (or advert as theyd call it here) on TV is promoting some service you can sign up for with a few quick taps.

The hubby and I were even able to donate to the British charity Sport Relief with a quick text after watching the inspiring story of Eddie Izzard. (He ran 43 some marathons in 51 days from London, up to Glasgow and back! The documentary “Marathon Man” is definitely with watching, check it out here on the BBC iPlayer)

*** My interview with the Border Agency for my next visa (the one that will let me stay for another 2 years) is tomorrow! Wish me luck!

 

Class Culture March 17, 2010

Filed under: daily life — rhet @ 5:23 am

Years ago, when T tried to explain the class culture of the UK, I stubbornly didn’t believe him. I thought, surely in these modern times, class isn’t that big of a deal and that the UK couldn’t be all that different from the US when it came to class. Well, it turns out I was wrong and the guy who is native to the country actually knew what he was talking about! Go figure.

It dawned on me the other day when I was thinking about how something as simple as a haircut could demonstrate ones class here. With certain styles, sporting X cut means you are of X class. I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule, but generally if you wear a chavy hairsyle, people will assume you are a chav*.  And unless my memories of the homeland are slipping away faster than I thought, I can’t come up with one single haircut that would so clearly define a person in the US.

Now, I’m just using haircuts as an example here, as the same goes for a persons clothes among other things. Obviously in the US (and pretty much anywhere in the world really), you can get a pretty good idea about someone by how they’re dressed and how they present themselves but it’s becoming more and more apparent to me how distinguished and obvious the class structure tends to be here.

T says it’s gotten a lot better over the last 20 years but I still find the whole thing a bit odd and judgemental to my laid back American sensibilities. It’s hard to deny the stereotypes though when you see a group of teens dressed in sweat pants or track suits, loitering on the street accosting passersby with rude comments as the group who have taken over our local Subway have been doing. I can’t help but  avert my eyes and walk by quickly when I see them.

*Chav is a term applied to certain young people in the United Kingdom. The stereotypical “chav” is an aggressive teenager, typically unemployed or of white working class background  who repeatedly engages in anti-social behaviour, such as street drinking, drug abuse and rowdiness, or other forms of juvenile delinquency.

 

Familiar Faces February 27, 2010

Filed under: daily life — rhet @ 7:29 pm

No matter how far away I move, I always seem to find strangers that look exactly like someone I know from home. Sometimes when I get a  closer look, they turn out to look nothing like the person I thought they did, but sometimes I could swear they were twins! Maybe its my mind looking for familiarity in a crowd of strangers or maybe people just don’t look that different.  It seems that at least once while I’m out in town my heart will skip a beat thinking I’ve seen my Dad, a friend I used to work with, a cousin, etc.

Any other expats (or even someone with nomadic tendencies) found this? No? Just me?

 

Shrove Tuesday February 25, 2010

Filed under: daily life — rhet @ 12:20 pm
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British style pancakes, usually eaten for dessert! Image courtesy of BBC's Good Food

In New Orleans they call it Fat Tuesday and do the whole Mardi Gras thing, in Pennsylvania we call it Fastnacht Day and eat lots of donuts-like pastries with no hole in the center. Here in the UK, it’s traditional to eat pancakes.  Excellent! I love pancakes and what better an excuse to eat them.

So for Shrove Tuesday we  had some friends over and I made a big batch of American style cinnamon raison pancakes. (I have yet to try the the British version of pancakes which are halfway between crepes and the American fluffy version). It was my first time making pancakes from scratch (normally we’d just buy the box mix and add milk and an egg) but they turned out fabulously if I do say so myself! I never remember to take pictures of these things so you’ll just have to imagine it. Plus my food tends to taste a whole lot better than it looks!

Despite moaning about how much of a pain it is to measure and find ingredients in the UK sometimes, I have really gotten into cooking lately. It’s definitely a hobby I never really saw myself taking up! So far my favorites have been Peanut Pad Thai, eggplant (or aubergine) parmesan, mango ginger frozen yogurt, honey-balsamic grilled chicken, peanut satay chicken..now I just need to find a recipe box!

I get most of my ideas and recipes off AllRecipes.co.uk and tweak them to my own tastes and what we have in the fridge..where do you get your cooking inspiration?

 

Spring February 11, 2010

Filed under: daily life — rhet @ 11:22 am

While my hometown in the US is getting hammered with snow, we’re beginning to see the first signs if spring here in Glasgow! It hasn’t been any warmer really but the sun’s been shining and on my way to the gym yesterday (round 4:30pm) it was still light out!! Usually it’s pitch dark by that time and the last I paid attention, the sun was setting at 3:30.

When it is a bit warmer, I really want to try lawn bowling, which is apparently an old person thing to do but it sounds fun! Spending an afternoon with some drinks, friends, snacks in the sun! I’ll also be visiting my family this summer and can’t wait to take full advantage of my parents swimming pool!