The Babies Are Back

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  Click on the photos for a larger view. These pics are especially for my Dad, a retired country vet, who loved lambing time most of all.

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Saturday Snapshots

It hasn’t rained here for 2.5 days, and the sun has been shining for TWO. WHOLE. DAYS. Miracles happen. We went out for the day to Scotney Castle, about half an hour away, and yes, things are blooming. Maybe spring will arrive after all.

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Dear Mother Nature

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Mammoth puddle in our lane

Ok, ok, enough already. We get it. You’re capable of some pretty awesome displays: hurricanes, tornados, torrential downpours, high-speed winds, polar vortexes. But the thing is, we’re tired. On this side of the pond, we’ve had it up to our knees in water–some literally, some figuratively–many have lost houses, businesses, cars, animals. On the other side of the pond, my family and friends are bracing themselves for yet another frigid blast of cold and snow. California–poor California–is desperate for rain, so how about you send ours over there? After all, we had twice the normal rainfall in January, and February promises to be just as rainy. We don’t need it, they do–so how about it?

We’re done with weather extremes. So please, pretty please, can you try something new? Like–sunshine? Rain for those who need it, and clear skies for those who don’t? A lot of us just can’t take any more. I’m sure you understand.

And, if possible, could you maybe plan on giving us some nice warm weather come summer? I hope that’s not too much to ask. And thanks.

Yours,

Expatrimummy

PS: Even our cat is afraid.

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Scooter has taken to hanging out under an umbrella, even in the house.

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Further Evidence of Things I Will Never Understand

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First, I give you “Cool Flavour Snowman” shaped tortillas. What is “Cool Flavour” you ask? I don’t yet know, though I did buy a bag of them on clearance the other day. What do you think, could it be mint flavor, perhaps? I’m guessing it’s more likely “cool ranch” flavor. I’m also not sure about the “snowman” shape–they just look like oddly misshapen tortilla chips.

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Second, I give you “Maple Bacon Flavour Jingle Bell shaped Tortillas.” Again with the shape, they’re simply strangely misshapen tortilla chips. But the flavor. Maple bacon tortilla chips? Mmm… no thanks.

And, last but not least, “Honey Roast Gammon Flavour Popcorn”. That would be “honey roast ham” to you and me. No, I did not buy a bag of these, or of the maple bacon flavor tortilla chips. I’m not that crazy.

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Things I Don’t Understand About the British, Part 4

Let’s talk about snacks. You’ve got your normal potato chips (crisps, as they are called here), a variety of salted, roasted nuts, your fruits and vegetables if you want to be healthy, pretzels, popcorn. They have all those things here, but sometimes I wonder what sort of taste buds Brits have.

Jacobs Twiglets Snacks 6X24gFor example, Twiglets. These look like innocuous little pretzel sticks unless you peer closely at the packaging. They’re actually pretzel sticks flavored with Marmite. You know, Marmite? The yeast-based, sticky, foul smelling pasty spread people put on bread, crackers, toast? It’s a by-product of beer brewing and hoo-wee is it nasty. The Marmite slogan is “Love it or hate it” and I think you can figure out where I stand. But hey, what British child doesn’t want to snack on that?

Or how about what we call potato chips and Brits call crisps. How can it go wrong? Oh, let me count the ways. There are prawn flavored crisps (like Marmite, this flavor crisp is extremely odorous), roast chicken flavored crisps, bacon flavor, flamed-grilled steak flavor, chargrilled chicken flavor, pickled onion flavor (pickled onion!), something called “bacon rashers snacks” (a bacon flavor maize, rice and soy snack–huh?), roast beef flavor crisps, and worcester sauce flavor crisps. Oh, but I forgot the Peking spare rib flavor oriental crackers. And the oven roast chicken and thyme crisps, a slight variation on the regular “roast chicken” flavor crisps. But how could I forget the hoisin duck flavor crisps?

Before I am completely grossed out, two more winners: goat cheese and chili crisps and cumberland sausage and wholegrain mustard crisps. 

I think I’ve just lost my appetite.

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Merry Christmas

20131224_143431The stockings aren’t yet hung by the chimney with care, but the potatoes are peeled and ready to be cooked and mashed tomorrow, the sugar cookies are baked, cupcakes iced, and my Aunt Phoebe’s baked German potato salad ready to pop in the oven on Boxing Day to accompany the bubble and squeak. (Aunt Phoebe, Simon’s family love that recipe–it’s called out on most festive occasions.)

(Apologies for the blurred Christmas tree photo–best I could do with my camera phone.)

There won’t be snow for Christmas, and right now we’re hoping there won’t be torrential rain and wind, which is what we’ve had for the last 24 hours–we were slightly afraid the house was going to blow away last night. The weather has calmed and there’s even a hint of sun outside, all ready for Santa Claus to make his way to homes across the country tonight.

I have the non-traditional sprained ankle for Christmas (what’s black and blue and won’t fit in a shoe? My foot! Ha ha ha!) and after this morning’s preparations I’m ready to put said foot up and sleep till morning. Even so, I’m grateful to be snug in my house with my little family while also missing my family at home. Wherever you are this Christmas Eve, I am sending wishes for comfort and joy, and the love of family and friends.

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Only in England

256px-Holgate_Windmill_19_Jan_2013I could also file this post under “Why I Love the British” and “Things I Don’t Understand About the British.”

Item 1: The UK Roundabout Appreciation Society.

Do you know what I mean when I say “roundabouts”? Those terrifying (to me, though much less terrifying than when I first tried to drive around them 17 years ago) traffic circles, or rotaries, as they are better known in the States. (Is it my turn to go? Am I about to crash into that car speeding at me, or is it about to crash into me? What lane am I meant to be in? I missed my exit, now I need to go around the circle again. I’m starting to get dizzy.)

Well, only in England would you have a roundabout appreciation society, which produces a yearly calendar and gives out the title of “Best Roundabout in Britain.” (See? You could not make this up!) I heard about it on the radio while, you guessed it, in my car (I was not going around a roundabout at the time). Last year, the society named the best roundabout in the nation one that has a windmill built in the 1700s right in the middle of it.

And then there’s Item 2, which I spied today in a local community newsletter.

The “Loo of the Year Award 2013.” It seems that a local shopping area has been shortlisted for the award this year. The award has its own website, a set of inspectors, multiple award sponsors . . . All I can say is: I just didn’t need to know. And: I am so glad I am not a toilet inspector.

You cannot make this stuff up.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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