Things I have learned in England

1. Tea is also another word for dinner. How do I know this? One night Jay got home later than usual from soccer. I asked what the occasion was and he replied, “My ride made his wife tea tonight so he was able to stay out later.” I was seriously confused. If it only took a cup of tea for an Englishman to make his wife happy, they must think America is full of… Jay quickly explained that “making tea” is the same as “making dinner”.

2. It’s not “Mom”, it’s “Mum”. I’m not sure what they call the flower. I suppose they use the proper English term, Chrysanthemum.

3. I feel like a complete and utter slob when I eat around English people. They are masters with their forks and knives. I tried to imitate them once, but after a few dropped utensils and the pile of food in my lap I gave up; it’s quite clear that my left hand is worthless.

4. An example of how they use “whack” in a sentence: “We’ll just whack it in the oven.” No, they are not referring to hitting a baseball into the oven (they were actually talking about mozzarella sticks).

5. Last night we got wankered, not hammered, at the Christmas party.

6. English breakfast is literally a heart attack on a plate: eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, and a tomato (thrown in for good measure).

7. Everything is called pudding: All desserts are called puddings (yes, even cheesecakes and brownies and ice cream). Yet, they also have black pudding (so not a dessert), white pudding and Yorkshire pudding.

Black pudding = a hockey puck of dried animal blood

White pudding = a hockey puck of dried animal fat

Yorkshire pudding = they say it’s pancake batter in a muffin tin, but it don’t taste like my Momma’s pancake batter (it tastes more like a Pillsbury roll). Either way, this is the best of the three.

8. They expect you to walk on the left side, drive on the left side, but stand on the right side when you are on an escalator. WTF.

9. Boxing Day is the December 26 in England. It’s a bank holiday (as in everyone gets the day off), but nobody actually knows what the holiday is about…

10. A Christmas cracker is not a cracker at all. It’s actual a candy-shaped cardboard container that has a small bit of explosives in it (hence the “cracker”), as well as a tissue paper crown and a Cracker Jack toy.

Notice how using the oven is not on here?

See you all soon! xo

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It’s Time

1. I had a minor meltdown a few days ago. It started with kale:

Kale chips have been on my list of to-try’s for awhile now. Even though I knew I would hear some moaning and groaning from Jay, I had decided that last night was the night. Mostly because of the “best by” date on the package, not because I couldn’t put off the excitement of trying salad chips and hearing Jay complain that “real” chips taste better.

I followed the simple instructions and stuck them in the oven, then busied myself with the BBQ chicken. After about 10 minutes something didn’t smell right, so I checked the “chips”. Yep, you guessed it, they were burnt. No, apparently I still haven’t figured out how to work the oven. Instead of getting upset about it, I just turned off the oven and shut the door on them. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Then I tried to improvise and create a kale salad, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the oven. I wasn’t mad (it’s not like I burnt chocolate chip cookies); I was annoyed.  I gave up on the salad and threw it in the trash. My heart wasn’t in it.

As I was hastily putting the ingredients away, the blueberries fell out of the fridge. The day before, the grated parmesan had fallen out of the fridge. Both spilled all over the floor. That was it. It’s one thing to spill cheese, but the blueberries put me over the edge. I LOVE blueberries.

I wasn’t a crying kind of meltdown, but I said some bad words…

“#$&**@ *#%%$ &@$#”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

“%^$@”

“I need to go home.”

“I need an oven — 0ne I can work.” (You don’t really need subtext on this one…)

“I need a normal sized fridge. This fridge is stupid.” (Subtext: If you put the fridge temperature up too high it leaves a nice 3″ thick coating of frost on the back, but turn the fridge down and nothing stays cold. Leave it somewhere in the middle, and the stuff in the back freezes. AKA both the parmesan and the blueberries were near the front to avoid the freezing and too close to the edge).

“I need a dishwasher.” (Subtext: Not just a normal-sized dishwasher, but a working one. Our dishwasher hasn’t work for over three weeks.)

“I just need to go hooooooome.”

2. I’ve been wearing the same clothes for three days now. Sort of. I’m trying to avoid laundry. Now you are probably thinking to yourself, “who doesn’t avoid laundry?” But I feel like I’m starting to smell like the people at the gym…

3. On another high note, I’ve resorted to stealing body wash from the gym. I am soooo not buying another bottle of Dove.

4. I just ate noodles, frozen (it was too close to the back) shredded cheese, and tuna for dinner. Our food supply is quickly dwindling and I refuse to eat take-out every night.

Barcelona

We had a rough start to our Barcelona trip…

Our flight was delayed and the abnormally loud noise coming from the airplane during take off was a little disconcerting. I made sure to read the emergency card from the seat pocket in front of me.

The taxi driver ripped us off by about $20; he claimed “no habla ingles” when it came time to pay the bill. How convenient.

The tapas restaurant recommended to us by the hotel charged us $10 PER scallop. I’m thinking there are some kick backs going on — send over the dumb Americans who can’t argue what the menu says (sorry Senora, my Spanish failed me) and we will give you 10%. They weren’t even that good.

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On the upside, the trip did get better. Barcelona is beautiful and surprisingly clean (cleaner than Reading), considering their steep unemployment rates. No worries, I won’t get political on you. No one wants to talk about the Eurozone crisis or the fiscal cliff or global warming on this blog.

We started our Saturday off by finding a small bakery for breakfast. This, of course, came after a 10 minute debate and four menu checks; I really just wanted oatmeal, but I had to settle for white bread, ham and cheese. I know, I know… the poor girl traipsing all over Europe is complaining… But seriously, you don’t understand, it took me a week to get right (if you know what I mean) after France. No one wants that. On a side note, I’m convinced the only reason Europeans actually stay fairly slim is because they have to walk EVERYWHERE (because they definitely don’t eat healthy). Besides the fact that cars tend to just be a hassle in the city, have you seen how people drive here? Walking is safer.

After our meal we walked to La Sagrada Familia, but just as the tourist books had said, the line was unbearably long. We just weren’t motivated enough to get up early to beat the crowd. Our bad.

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It was a monstrosity.

It was a monstrosity.

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Instead of wasting half our day in line, we walked through the park next to the church; apparently it’s the place to be on Saturday mornings for anyone over 60. The old men were so cute, I just had to take some pictures. This first game looked like a combination of horseshoes and bowling, but they also had some mean games of bocce ball going on as well.

BocceMen

We wandered down to the water after that. Jay loves the ocean. Personally, I don’t like any bodies of water in which I can’t see the bottom. It’s partly a texture thing; I’ve never been fond of stepping on slimy things. It’s also a shark thing (for oceans anyway). I blame this (somewhat irrational) fear on a memory I have from visiting my great-grandparents in Florida. I was out on the beach playing at dusk and someone said, “Don’t go into the water, the sharks come out now.” That may not sound like such a bad thing to say, but it was terrifying for my four-year old self. This fear is constantly reinforced when I hear of people getting their arms bitten off, or worse, DYING from shark attacks. I don’t care what the chances are. Yes, I know lighting kills more people. But have you seen shark teeth?

Speaking of fish, we stumbled upon a very cool (but smelly) fish and fresh food market.

I prefer my fish without their eyes... or heads... basically I don't want to be reminded they were alive.

I prefer my fish without their eyes… or heads… basically I don’t want to be reminded they were alive.

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The first night there we also had shrimp with our over-priced scallops. They had brown juice dripping out of them that smelled awful; I could barely choke the thing down. Shrimp may be one thing that I prefer bleached and processed.

The first night there we also had shrimp with our over-priced scallops. They had brown juice dripping out of them that smelled awful; I could barely choke the thing down. Shrimp may be one thing that I prefer bleached and processed.

These looked tasty.

These looked tasty.

I should have taken a picture of all the fruit. That was my favorite — the mango was a-mazing! Once we had our fill we walked back to the hotel to take a load off and shower before dinner… turns out Barcelona is kind of big… and we got a little lost… and European maps suck (because there are no grid structures, just a lot of stupid round abouts).

That evening we were ready to leave for dinner at 6:30 in hopes that we could eat in an hour and then catch the fountain show. Plans had to be altered when we walked to the restuarant and realized nothing even opens before 7-8 o’clock because no one in Spain eats that early. Damn. I was hungry and the old guys were laughing at us. After a snack at the hotel bar we decided to reverse our plans, fountains then food. Even though Jay complained the whole way down to the fountains, and I had a headache, they were definitely one of the coolest things we saw in Barcelona. Our pictures will not do it justice, but the smaller fountains line the road leading up the big fountain at the end (you can see it’s pink in this photo). Behind the large fountain there are three different sets of stairs leading up to the art museum, a wonderfully old building that looks quite grand at the top of the hill.

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I found this kind of amusing.

I found this kind of amusing. Convenient placement.

 

At the Olympic Park

At the Olympic Park

 

Olympic track stadium.

Olympic track stadium.