Archive for September, 2008

Speaking vegetable

September 30, 2008

Before I arrived here, several people warned me that I would find aubergines in the supermarket instead of eggplant. (Not being a big eggplant fan, I didn’t pay much attention anyway.) But I didn’t know that the zucchinis would instead be known as courgettes, or that if you’re looking for raisins, you must ask for sultanas.

This last one came to us over breakfast several weeks ago, as we examined our granola label.

“I wonder what sultanas are…”

“Yeah, I don’t know… also, it’s weird that with all the raisins in this granola, there’s no mention of them on the package!”

“Ohhhhhh……..”

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Cheers to the safety dorks

September 21, 2008

Americans are known for a certain level of dorkiness when it comes to safety, what with our seatbelts, guardrails, and allergy warnings. But all those naysayers who poke fun at our safeguarding ought to come to London to see the cyclists. Not only do they use their helmets and headlights, but the majority also wear reflective vests that are so official-looking that I spent my first few days here marveling at the number of bicycle cops around town. Bravo, cyclists!

Musn’t there be some order to things?!?

September 3, 2008

For a group of people who seem to be so particular, the British are remarkably open as to the issue of how to properly divide a phone number in writing or orally. Whereas in the United States, the format is unquestionably 012 345 6789, Britons divide their numbers in no fewer than five distinct ways:

012 3456 7890

0123 456 7890

01234 567890

01234 567 890

012 34 56 78 90

Then, of course, you are also permitted to spew out your number all in one breath: “You can ring me at 01234567890, thankssomuch, bye!”

The British Countryside

September 1, 2008

On Saturday we wanted to take a good, long walk. But we had grown tired of city life, so we decided to take our walk to the country. After a late start and a leisurely breakfast, we took a stroll to the bookstore and bought a book on country walks outside London. An hour later, we were on a train to Boxhill & Westhumble. The five-hour walk that ensued was one of the most delightful that we can remember. Our little book guided us over stone steps across a river, up a staired slope with views of the valley below, alongside a vineyard, through forestry, inside a church, through gates and under bridges, along country roads, and finally, to a little town where we were to catch our return train to London. It’s amazing that an area so beautiful and varied could be so accessible by regional rail!

Under a railway bridge

The view over Dorking (no, I didn't make up the name).

St. Michaels Church through the drinking glass

St. Michael's Church through the drinking glass