Over the weekend, the British hubby and I headed out for dinner, not because it was “date night” or anything like that but just because I declared war on any more cooking and dish-washing for the day. People here in the UK seem to generally dress-up more when going out for dinner compared to Americans. It’s most likely because eating out here is for the most part luxury (at the very least it is not cheaper than eating at home) rather than for convenience — meaning bone-tired, no desire to wash or cook, let’s head out to the local restaurant. So when in Rome, bring out the toga. I made sure I had on killer heels despite the cold, put on a stylish coat and my make up was right. I have yet to purchase those furry, fake eyelashes British women would have you believe they are born into, but on the whole I was spruced-up and decently ready for a beautiful night out with the hubby. Shortly after we get on the road, I begin to notice an odd stink in the car. I began to sniff and look around — trying to figure the source of this funk. Did the hubby leave yesterday’s lunchbox overnight at the backseat? Did a rat find it’s way into the car and died? The hubby noticed my fuss around the car and asked what was going on.
Me : There is a strange stink in this car and I am trying to find the culprit.
Hubby (very calmly) : That’s probably the smell of manure fertilizing Farmer’s Geoff’s farm at the back of the house.
Me (with that flash of enlightenment): Oh yeah. Manure and a farm. I forgot about those.
And so the process of reorienting myself to the change in geography and lifestyle continues. :)
It snowed nonstop for a whole day here in our little village outside Manchester 2 days ago. It didn’t take long for our front and backyards to be covered in a thick, puffy quilt of white.
For all that it felt so cold during those days, I find that the temps were at its worst just below 30*F (-4.0C), — quite a ways away from the sub-zero (Fahrenheit) windchilled winters of Chicago. And yet — why did it feel so cold? Why did the snow fall accumulation seem even more extreme? I was griping about the cold until the Hubby reminded me that it is nothing compared to our winters in Chicago. True, I probably complain less about the cold there than here.
Simple explanation. The cold is more challenging here because the UK is largely unequipped or unprepared to tackle extreme weather of this sort. On a grocery run for instance, I was surprised to find that SALT had run out, in Tesco, Sainsbury and in the neighborhood co-op. I was later told that many had to resort to using table salt to dust their icy front door to prevent elderly from slipping; — which gives you a clue that the roads are totally ungritted. The council took a while to send trucks to plough the snow off the streets, and if they did, it would only be the main thoroughfares. Most houses are not amply insulated for harsh winters (and of course, let’s not forget the prohibitive cost of heating). And the government services all seem to come to a halt. The garbage bin (“wheelie bins”) were not collected. Mail was not delivered. Schools are out. Parents cannot go to work because schools closed. The roads to the supermarkets are superclogged. Cars are stalled and abandoned. Power is cut off in some places…. yadah yadah yadah. I’m sorry if this sounds like a gripe sheet, but in some way it probably is. It’s crazy how life almost comes to a stand still, and daily living just seems helpless to go forwards for those few days. It makes me realize how much I miss the efficiency and readiness of Chicago for wintry elements which make for what appears to be hardier, keep-going, can-do city. Remember this comment of Pres. Obama regarding a snow day in D.C. same time last year?
We call it baked potatoes here. In Jolly England it’s “jacket potato”. I love this one from Sainsbury, its prawn mayo. However the same thing got me sick at a mall in Manchester. :)
“May I inquire your name, madam,” said I to my prospective landlady.
“My name is Mrs. ‘awkins, sir.”
“Mrs. ‘enery ‘awkins?” said I, jokingly.
“No sir — not ‘enry, sir — Hedward.”
-George W Hills, “The Noble Landlady”