Running into people I know has always been a common occurrence for me since I tend to live in big small towns – basically suburbs of big cities where you can’t help but know people eventually. Usually after I move somewhere (which I’ve done a lot), this happens, and I mark it off as the point where I finally fit into my new town. As I’ve complained previously, this point of fitting in has never taken so long before; now that it has I feel a bit more relaxed about living here.
This made me start thinking about all the things I do now in the UK (that are almost second nature) that 10 months ago would have seemed so foreign to me. Because I know these things interest you to no end, I thought I’d list them off here.
#1: INSTANT COFFEE
I would never consider myself a coffee snob. In the States I bought my coffee from the Coffee Bean because they were good and they were convenient to buy beans for home since I was always in there for my daily fix during work hours. I did think Folgers was crap - because it is – same for Maxwell House for that matter – but I would drink a cup of it if someone offered it to me. I always drank the generic stuff pouring out of the machine at work. One thing I refused to do was buy instant coffee. I’ve owned a coffee maker consistently since I was 16 years old. I’ve owned a grinder since I was 28. There is no excuse for not taking the extra two minutes to brew a pot of fresh coffee….
…or so I thought until I moved here. It all started due to finances. We had a kettle that Andy’s mum donated to us. We figured we could live without a coffee maker until we were more flush. I begrudgingly bought some instant coffee and that is what I’ve been drinking since our time abroad. While at this point I’m sure I could convince Andy to get me a coffee maker, there almost seems no point anymore. Truthfully, I get a proper cup of drip coffee from Costa every now and again but it still doesn’t seem the same without the creamy goodness of half and half. Truthfully, instant coffee isn’t so bad if you add a scoop of Horlicks in there with it.
#2 SAYING ‘CHEERS’ INSTEAD OF ‘THANK YOU’
This happened almost immediately after I set foot in England. I think I had heard it so often from Andy that it snuck in the minute I was surrounded by ‘the accent of Andy’. ‘Cheers’ is primarily used when shopping. If you go to the newsagent and bought some chocolate, the transaction would be as such:
“That’s 65 p.”
“Here you go…cheers.”
I still don’t understand why we thank people or say ‘cheers’ to them in either country when purchasing items. What are we really saying? “Thank you for taking my money. You could have refused and gave it to me for free.” Perhaps we are thanking them for their cash register skills – that seems more of a “well done” then a “thanks” though. Perhaps in the UK, we are simply “cheers”-ing them for having their shop open. Since most shops are open for approximately 45 minutes every other Thursday, this would be legitimate appreciation.
I walk a lot. I might have mentioned previously that I don’t really care for walking but I think since it has become my main means of transport, I don’t mind it so much anymore. There used to be a time when I was living in the States (recently) that Andy and I would drive to the pub. If we got too drunk, we’d walk home. If we got really REALLY drunk, we would take a cab back home (only happened twice)(honestly). It embarrasses me to say that the pub in mention was 5 blocks from our house. They were long blocks, but we always took a short cut so it was less than that. I could argue that the US isn’t built for pedestrians (which is true), but it really is no excuse.
I now walk the same distance to get to the grocery store 4-5 times a week. I walk a mile further to feed the fucking ducks in the park – something I do for Henry’s benefit though he typically falls asleep on me before we get there. A mile! I walk from one end of Liverpool City Centre to the other AND BACK AGAIN because of the shops I’m going to and the spot where I catch the bus. I walk blocks and blocks and more blocks, pushing the damn stroller hoping to god that Henry will FALL THE FUCK ASLEEP (I should just take him to the ducks, shouldn’t I?). You get it right? I walk a lot. It’s not so bad.
A pigeon could land on his nose right now and he wouldn't wake up.
#4: CELSIUS TO FAHRENHEIT CONVERSIONS
OK, I’m not an expert on this but a few things have helped me along:
0 C = 32 F
10 C = 50 F
20 C = 68 F (England never gets warmer than this, so you can stop here)
200 C = 400 F (For cooking purposes, not gauging the temperature of hell while in the company of an European)
If you know those four conversions by heart, you can usually work out the rest. I could tell you that for every 5 degrees C, it works out to 9 degrees F (thus, if you know 10 C = 50 F, 30 C would be 86 F), but that’s all sorts of boring and math-like and I won’t have such nonsense on my blog.
#5: BECOMING TOO RELIANT ON THE PLUS 1 CHANNELS
This one is going to bite me in the ass one day if we ever move back to the States. Imagine this – it’s Thursday night. As usual, all the networks have decided to put all the good shows on the same night in the same time slot. You haven’t had anything decent to watch since ‘Dr. Who’ was on on Saturday, but now you have to decide which two programs are more important to you to record on the DVR. You could watch the third, less important show live – but that goes against all your principles of never watching a commercial again. What do you do?
In the States you suck it up. In the UK, you record your 3rd and 4th less important shows (but still good enough that you must record them) and hour later on the plus one channels.
The plus one channels, you might not know, are the same channels that repeat the same program schedule and hour after it appeared on the regular channel. Here, it’s like this:
BBC One is showing ‘Frozen Planet’ at 8 PM, followed by ‘Case Histories’ at 9 PM
BBC One +1 is showing ‘Frozen Planet at 9 PM, followed by ‘Case Histories’ at 10 PM
When we first got our cable package, I was a bit put off that we had all these channels that were basically repeats of another channel, just an hour later. Now, I can’t live without it. Let’s say the baby is crying and won’t go to sleep. By the time you check the channel listings, you’ve missed the first half of some show that looks interesting (though not interesting enough to record). You simply wait a half hour, and blam, you can watch the entire show in its entirety. Brilliant – and also very useful for Thursdays.
I have more but I think this post has gone on far enough. I’ll come back to this topic later. I will let you know that I will probably be absent next week as my sister is in town to help me celebrate Thanksgiving UK style. In my absence, why don’t you check out a new blog – but obviously come back to me in two weeks like a faithful reader that I know you are. I have paid you to be a faithful reader, right?