Category Archives: Expat Experience

This Week in England

It’s been a funny week here in the Expatrimummy household, and by funny I mostly mean looong. The littlest Expatrimummy had his tonsils removed last Saturday and there has been much fetching and making and worrying. He’s fine, though still a way off from a full recovery and is looking forward to the day when he can talk without worrying that “my throat is going to die” from pain.

Adding to the funny-ness of the week is that great culinary delight known to Americans as jello. It’s been a popular food item here this week, along with ice cream, and in the nation itself.
Jelly—as they call it here—with ice cream is a popular dessert for children’s parties, and I decided to mix up a batch of jello, er, jelly, for my youngest. I’ve never made it here before but at least knew to expect that jelly comes as a cube, not a powder, like in America. (Envision my teenager shrieking, “It’s wrong! That’s not jello! Jello is meant to be a powder not a cube!”)

This, my American friends, is the start of English jello. Jelly. (Not to be confused with the American jam/jelly that you spread on your toast.)  Look at this massive cube of gelatinous, um, gelatin, and you will understand why Brits think a peanut butter and jelly sandwich sounds disgusting. You can actually eat this cube on its own, but if you want to make jello, you get a whole little pack of cubes, about 12 in all, that you break up and pour hot water over, then stir to dissolve. Top it up with cold water, stick it in the fridge, and, ta-da! Jello. Jelly. Whatever.

In other oddities, how about this:


Yep, that’s a bit of ivy that has grown up the outer wall of the house, into the roof, and through a crack between the roughly 350-year-old oak beam that supports our ceiling and our living room wall. Now, if we could just get some holly growing indoors too, the Christmas decorating would be finished.

Four Years

I would like to have grown these poppies, but sadly, I didn't.

I would like to have grown these poppies, but sadly, I didn’t.

It’s hard to believe, but we moved here four years ago—as of last Monday, August 3rd (when we were enjoying a family holiday on the island of Crete—more on that another time). I feel the need to mark the milestone here, but I’m not really sure what to say. It’s been a tough year—and I know, I say that a lot, but it has. Nothing about moving here has been easy; this move has kicked our backsides in ways we just weren’t prepared for—and hindsight is 20/20, as they say. This year has seen some major milestones: the (finally) selling of our house in Ohio (though I’d move back into it in a heartbeat) and my British citizenship coming through. We’re thinking about buying a house here next year, and though we want a home of our own again, I honestly don’t want to move house ever again. The mere thought of it is exhausting, so if anyone wants to find us the perfect house, pack up all of our things, move them, and then unpack for us, feel free.

So things are going to change again in the coming year with another house move and (cross your fingers) me entering into a serious job search. It’s time. I’ve come to accept that I am probably never going to feel truly “at home” here—home will always be somewhere else, but that’s part of the price you pay for an international marriage. Someone is always homesick.

Life is a journey, as they say, and what a journey it is. Thank you, dear readers, for being part of mine.

Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most*

P1030337We’re at the tail end of spring, I know, longing for summer to arrive—at least I am, though summer here is not the summer I know from home. Yet I’m waiting for the summer I’m used to—crazy hot, long days at the swimming pool, ice cream and picnics. All things I can have here—though maybe not so much the outdoor swimming pool or the hotter-than-Hades days. This time of year my thoughts always turn back toward home, toward what I miss and the nostalgia rolls over me in waves.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day back in the States, a day to remember all those who fought and died for our freedoms. I want nothing more than to be there, to attend the town parade that starts just around the corner from our house, listen to the marching band and wave at the firefighters, see the library ladies pushing their library trollies down the street in fun costumes and with banners encouraging everyone to read (they were always a highlight), see the kids cycle and march past, representing their various activities and clubs. I want to catch the first rays of a sunburn, head over to the public pool for opening day, wear shorts and eat hamburgers on the back patio. I feel like the school year should be winding down in just a couple of weeks, instead of the 8 more we have to go here. Tomorrow is a “bank holiday” here—a public holiday we have here every May, and the kids are off on their last term break from school this week—and I can’t help but feel it’s time for summer to start. In a few more weeks my son would’ve “clapped out” of his elementary school and prepared to head to middle school in the fall—and I would’ve cried just as much for him as I would’ve for our daughter when she when through the same rite 4 years ago, months before we left for good.

Being an expat, my family has learned, means that someone is always homesick. That someone is usually me. Though while England is ostensibly “home” for my husband, there’s some truth in the old line “You can’t go home again.” You can, physically, go home again, but as he’s found, it’s no longer really home—and maybe nowhere will ever be home again for either of us, not really. It’s something we’ve been aware of for a long time, balancing between two countries and two cultures, both familiar but neither one providing quite the right fit for us all. And maybe it’s harder for me this year because we’re not traveling back to the States this summer, and I’m not going to get a dose of my favorite time of year there.

I’m wishing for time to slow down, for my children to slow their mad dash to adulthood, wanting to go back and relive the things that were. Nothing unusual for anyone who sometimes wants life to slow, or who regrets the missed opportunities to hang on a little longer to the ordinary moments that turn out to mean everything in the grand scheme of things. Lately we’ve been wishing for things we can no longer have. Some of that’s just life and some of that’s just acknowledging that moving here has felt like nothing but a rollercoaster for far too long.

So, dear America, if you see the sun, please send it here. Send my mother’s chocolate chip cookies and applesauce, send the dear friends and family we’ve left behind. Just for a little while, I could use some of the comforts of home.

*”Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most” is a song written by Fran Landesman and Tommy Wolf, based on the first line of T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land: “April is the cruelest month” If you want to hear the song, I recommend the versions by either Ella Fitzgerald or Bette Midler.

Hey Look! I’ve Been Interviewed!

It’s all about those 15 minutes of fame, right? I was recently interviewed over on the expatriate blogging community about my transition from life in the States to the UK. If you’re interested in learning more about me, check it out here. And thanks!