October 22, 2008
A friend of mine from Tucson/Brooklyn/Highland Park had warned me of the deliciousness of the substance known as clotted cream. Since there’s nothing delicious-sounding about the intersection between the words “clotted” and “cream,” I wasn’t too interested. Then I saw the product in question at the supermarket, tucked in to the left of the double cream, which is to the left of the single cream. (The creaminess index increases in a leftward direction, and apparently single cream is what we call heavy cream, or whipping cream… sooo… where does that leave double cream?!?! AND CLOTTED CREAM?!?!)
I bought a tiny container of this crazy substance and discovered that, fortunately, “clotted” does in no way describe its consistency, which is smooth and buttery, somewhere between heavy cream and heaven. After a first taste, I looked at the nutritional content and discovered that it consists of 67% fat. So as not to give myself a sudden heart attack, I limited myself to a roughly 1/8 teaspoon taste every couple of days.
Now, you say, surely the English don’t eat their clotted cream out of a spoon? Surely they spread it on a scone, with some jam? Well, yes, they do… but I say, why put distractions in the path of this buttery goodness?
October 15, 2008
It’s a shame that so many tourists come to London and pay 22 pounds to ride one of those big red sightseeing buses. For 90 pence, you can just get on the city bus, sit in the top level at the front, and enjoy fabulous views while riding all around town. And it’s red, to boot!
October 5, 2008
I haven’t done much complaining yet in this blog, nor have I ventured much into issues of grammar, and I feel that the time has come for both. So here’s my first gripe about British grammar: the use of a singular verb with a collective noun; for example, “His family plan to sue.” The first few times I noticed this in the newspapers, I chalked it up to poor proofreading; it has now become apparent, however, that England think this construction is perfectly acceptable.
October 1, 2008
A little comic relief for those of us with our minds in the gutter; courtesy of a friend who came to visit last month (by the way, happy birthday, friend!).
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!”
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!
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 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!”
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. Michael's Church through the drinking glass
August 29, 2008
For those wondering about the street featured in the picture at the head of this blog, it is a mews. It isn’t our street, but it’s just a few blocks from our house. A mews, for the uninitiated, is an old style street, very common in London, which used to serve as the back alley for fancy houses to keep their stables and servants. Now, of course, these quiet, stone streets are some of the most desirable areas in town.
The arched entryway to the mews pictured above.
The cat who tried to adopt me during my stroll. No wonder they call it a mews...