England - The First Year Abroad
The past 12 months have passed by so quickly. It has been just enough time to get a sense of the surroundings and absorb some of the unique differences between the United States and Jolly ol’ England. The island is steeped in lovely tradition, brilliant history, delightful charm and amusing idioms. It’s frankly, the bee’s knees. These are just some of the observations made in this short time abroad.
This is a very common greeting in England, and one that seems to cut out several unnecessary words. Why mess about with, “Hi, how are you doing today?", when you can combine this sentence into an efficient “hiya”. The Brits just want to get on with it.
Cheers, Take Care, Seeya, Bye
Now, if their greeting seems short and to the point, the goodbyes have a tendency to linger. I always feel like I’m in a high school romance where you keep saying, “no, you hang up, no, you hang up, no, you!” This is just another example of the English charm. It’s like the other person just doesn’t want to leave the conversation.
Dads With Strollers
Never has there been so many blokes pushing buggies. Maybe this is a chance to escape for a few hours with their mates, but they are only allowed to go if they take the baby. There are men in the park, men in suits strolling through the city, men having a chat over coffee, men going for their daily run, and even men in pubs. And yes, all of these men are happily looking after their offspring. I’m pretty certain that my female friends back in the states will find this to be an enduring trait. Good on you!
During my travels to Latin countries, I’ve witnessed women teetering in high heels, at death defying heights, on cobblestone streets, all in the name of fashion. The Brits have no time for that and pride themselves on their sensible footwear. In this past year, I have purchased more non-gym going tennis shoes, ahem, trainers, than ever before. With so many designer sneakers to choose from, I will be adopting this practical and stylish option moving forward. I know my feet with thank me.
Something you never do in England is ask a landowner or farmer how much land they actually own. You will be met with a displeasing look, followed by a deafening silence. Much like asking a lady how old she is, this is a very big no-no. Brits take great pride in their acquired land, and yet do not feel the need to discuss it openly.
Death Comes From The Right
Learning to drive on the left-hand side of the road should be enough of a challenge on its own. Now, throw in centuries-old construction, lanes barely wide enough for one vehicle, let alone two, curves, potholes, the absence of a shoulder, and a legal speed limit of 60mph on back roads, and you’ve got yourself an adventure. Oh, and don’t forget to throw in over 25k roundabouts in the U.K., just to make things more fun!
When the call of nature hits, you will be delighted to know that the English have thought of your every comfort whilst in the water closet. Whether you’re in the poshest of hotels or the simplest of local pubs, the loos are lovely. Adorned with fashionable wallpaper, fancy toiletries, and the softest of bog rolls, they make a trip to “the library” so enjoyable.
Please Sir, I Want Some More
The English will never be accused of a heavy pour. In the states, a sly wink and a nod toward your glass, can often earn you a double shot. In England, you haven’t got a chance. Order a whiskey and watch as the barman or barmaid produces a jigger, something I have not seen in many years, and treats you to a meticulously measured pour. The same is true if you order wine. There are lines etched on the stemware with the corresponding ml. Thus, you have the choice of a small, medium, or large glassful.
Masculine Street Signs
The English certainly possess a keen sense of humor. This seems to be reflected in their street signs. I’ll assume that the majority of these must have been designed by the more rugged sex. While easy to discern, they do encourage a good chuckle now and again. Which brings me to my final observation…….
The Spotted Dick
Get your minds out of the gutter! This is a decadent dessert that is widely seen on menus around the holiday season. The Spotted Dick is a traditional British pudding made with suet or butter, raisins or other dried fruit and the most amazing custard. It’s our version of the pound cake served with cream, only better in my opinion. The word “spotted” refers to the dried fruit, while “dick” or “dog” were dialectal terms used for pudding. It’s absolutely scrummy! A side note, if you can order this dessert without giggling like a school kid, you’ve graduated to a certain level of English sophistication. It is very apparent indeed, that I am still a 3rd Grader.
It has been a blessing to be welcomed with such hospitality and warmth. The English are fun-loving, friendly, utilize their gift of gab, possess a wicked sense of humor and charm, and dish out just the right amount of cheeky. Let’s see what Her Majesty’s land has in store as this adventure abroad continues. Cheers!