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Monday, May 30, 2011

English Escapades 2011: vol. 2 (Pros & Cons)

Over the last week I have been making a list of pros and cons about England in my head... Before I begin, let me re-iterate that I LOVE it over here! I also LOVE back home... So as one of my students said this year, "Don't get your panties in a wad!" (actually, he asked me what that phrase meant, which is possibly the best question I have ever been asked by a student)-- my lists are not meant to offend peoples from either nation, I just thought this would be a fun exercise. Please feel free to add your own ideas to the list! (Mine are in no particular order)

Pros about England
1. Public transportation-- be it the Underground in London, or trains, taxis, and buses all over the country, it certainly makes travel- long or short distances- much easier for those of us that cannot drive a manual car on the right side of the car while on the left side of the road. (BRAIN OVERLOAD!)

Waiting for the bus

2. Fish & Chips-- To Americans this is the most British meal there is. (I think to people of England, a nice curry is as British as it gets...) I have just this past year been able to eat fish-- certain kinds anyway... So I decided to give this meal a shot the other day. I am proud to report I ate the entire piece-- while Maddie took care of the mushy peas! (Sorry British Buds-- I just can bring myself to eat THOSE just yet!)

3. Accents-- Yes yes, let's just get this one out of the way. Any normal American will tell you that we DO love a good British accent. I will say, I've been a bit irked on this trip because a huge deal has been made about the firing of Cheryl Cole on the US X Factor because Americans could not understand her. While I have never watched this show, I have heard clips of Ms. Cole speaking, and I can honestly say I have NO trouble understanding her, nor do I think would most Americans. I believe there is a deeper issue here. I almost called a radio station here that was going ON AND ON about this, and essentially bashing Americans for their inability to recognize different dialects among the British accents. I wanted to challenge this fool ass announcer to tell me what region of the US I am from. While I can certainly turn on an amazingly southern accent, my normal dialect is not that strong. I think Americans do realize (sorry, realise) there are different sounding English accents, and yes, they would be hard pressed to tell you where specific ones are from... but I think this goes both ways.

Off my soap box now.

4. Pubs-- they just have a different feeling about them than our bars and restaurants back home. Matt would add that the real ale here is much better than most of what we can get back home. In many cases, I agree. While I do love my Coors Light on a hot day, it is awesome to get a pint of a nice stout (with a 6.5% AV I might add)... Not to mention, the drunken old men in pubs are way less obnoxious and creepy than our drunken men in bars back home.

5. TV Programmes-- Again, most English people will cringe and roll their eyes when I say that I love a good episode of The Jeremy Kyle Show and Midsomer Murders. And yes, both are a bit cheesy and ridiculous (how can ANYONE be left alive in Midsomer anyway?), but I like them--so there! I did notice while reading through my mother-in-law's TV guide that a LOT of the shows here are American shows (House, CSI, Glee...) Aside from a brief viewing of CSI Miami last night (which, coincidentally I do not even watch back home) I try to steer clear of US TV shows while here. Long live Graham Norton! VIVA Are you Being Served! Bring on Have I Got News for You! Go Gavin & Stacey! I could go on and on...

6. Cadbury's-- Yes, we have Cadbury's back home, but it is NOT the same. Ours is made by Hershey and thus tastes differently. And while I do love Cadbury's back home also, it is SOOOOOOOO much better here! Plus you have different varieties and more selection in England.

7. Cheese & Onion sandwiches-- MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm! I had a great one at the BCA yesterday. Best C&O I have had was probably at the Crooked House. The Black Country Museum does a good one too!

8. Walker's Crisps-- very similar to our Lay's brand back home-- but with some crazy flavours here. My favs are perhaps a bit boring: salt & vinegar and cheese& onion (are you sensing a theme?) Matt likes the prawn ones-- no thanks!

9. 80s Fashion-- While I do not feel that I could pull off a lot of the outfits I see here (both on people and in the shops), I do have a deep appreciation for the retro-feel of the clothing.

10. FUN hair colours-- Lots of bright reds, blue, purple, and pink... on men and women. It really brightens ones day.

11. Students in school uniforms-- I LOVE to watch the kids walk to school (Yes, I said WALK to school) in their uniforms. I think it just looks classier. Of course, when you see them walking home in the afternoon, ties are askew, shirts unbuttoned, pants sagging... but still...

12. Houses with names-- I love how, while walking down the street, you notice that some houses have names. And I don't mean big, posh, fancy houses... Some look rather dumpy, but when given names like Elm Cottage or Daffodil Manor it seems to spruce it up a bit.

13. Roses-- Seems like the roses, and most other flowers really, are bigger, more vivid, and just better here.

14. Liberalism-- Americans may claim to be a fairly liberal country, but to this I say PISH POSH! England is MUCH more laid back about most things. Cursing on TV... nudity on TV.... the way people speak to each other in general. And, as I have discovered in both Pelsall and Wales, with their toilet seats! You heard me! A couple of years ago I encountered a shiny, sparkly, glittery toilet seat in Wales. Well, not to be outdone, the Pelsall Labour Club ladies room has some pretty shiny, mirror-esque seats. (I just happened to have my camera in my pocket today-- I didn't specifically take it in there, but since I had it, thought What the hell?!)

1. No Diet Dr. Pepper-- I cannot understand this one! England has diet drinks, and they have Dr. Pepper-- so why not my beverage of choice? Seriously people of England, you need to get on this one!

2. Wind and Cold temps-- in late May/ early June! Actually, I have been here many times during this part of the season, and often it is much cooler than home, which really, I am fine with! (I much prefer the 60s to the 90s)... but this trip has been REALLY chilly-- mainly due to the crazy wind I think. It wouldn't be so bad except for Maddie. She doesn't really have clothes that fit appropriate for this weather-- and the last thing I want is for her to get sick while here. And ironically, we can't seem to find long sleeve things for her-- stores all have summer stuff out! We did manage to get her a fantastic hat-- maybe not Royal Wedding attire, but she certainly likes it!

3. Tiny Showers-- I've run into this issue at many hotels here too. We are staying with our buddy Pete who recently had his bathroom made over. It looks great! And really, I don't have a problem with the shower or it's size except when trying to shave. Have you ever tried to shave your legs in Dr. Who's time machine?

4. Beans-- why must they be poured on everything? Well, that is perhaps a BIT of an exaggeration-- but I am not a fan of them period, and especially do not want them on my breakfast, or my bangers & mash. ICK!

5. Coke products in the UK-- just don't taste the same, especially Diet Coke. And, as mentioned before, Diet Dr. Pepper is not an option.

6. Different electric current-- within 5 minutes of being at Pete's house this trip, my adapter broke off in his socket. Matt had to ultimately replace the entire socket, and I had to find a new adapter. It's just a pain in the ass. Of course, as Phil pointed out to me today, it is the same for them when they travel.

7. No cell phone-- Not that I like TALKING to people, but I do miss my text conversations and funny pictures. Plus, I like to have the OPTION of calling someone if I wanted.

8. No Soccer Taco/ mexican food-- it's my fav! I miss my chips, salsa, margaritas, and of course, Uncle Erick!

OK, that is all I can think of/ remember at the moment. I may update this one if more spring to mind.
Again, feel free to chime in with your comments, thoughts, opinions....


Mary said...

Do you think the "old drunks" there are less obnoxious because of the accent? Hmmmm....just a thought!

S. Dub said...

No... They are honestly just sweeter... One came up to Maddie and said, "No, I'm not Father Christmas!" and just laughed. It was funny, because yes, he did have a beard, but he really had more of a homeless Jesus vibe going....