Thursday, 26 August 2010

Home thoughts, not quite from abroad

Oh to be in England, now that August's here. Well, naturally that would be in driving rain and temperatures just about in double figures (celsius), which is what we have been sitting in for the past two days.

But aside from the typically British weather, it has been a very successful trip so far. The past week has been spent catching up with family, old friends (and their children, who seem to have multiplied in the last 15 months) and new friends too (we met up with PantswithNames, HomeOfficeMum and their boys for a pub lunch, and great fun was had by all). We braved drizzle for lunch outside with my old friend FourDownMumtoGo and her brood, although the sun luckily shone when we had a party for 20 people at the weekend.

So before we head off to Bristol and then Wales for the second leg of our UK tour, just a few observations on the UK after a year in the States....

1. Everything seems tiny. The cars and car parking spaces, the narrow country lanes, even the supermarket aisles. Littleboy1 has named our rental car, a perfectly normal four door car, 'the teeny car'. And we don't even drive a particularly large car in the US.....

2. I have missed the UK media. OK, I can pretend I am fine with the New York Times and NPR radio, but there is nothing quite like sitting down with the Saturday Times or a copy of Grazia, or waking up to John Humphreys savaging some politician. And I love how the whole nation can get behind a totally silly story (eg. the woman who put the cat in the wheelie bin, a saga which is currently gripping the UK).

3. There is nothing quite as grim as a British canteen style restaurant in the rain, full of gloomy looking pensioners gritting their teeth as they pour tea and get served by spotty teenagers. Where's the nearest Ruby Tuesday when you need one?

4. A cup of tea by the fire in damp socks is something that can only be savoured in Britain. In August......

5. Customer service? What's that? Never heard of it, judging by the people who work at Avis in Heathrow. After a night on the plane with no sleep, none of us was in the mood for filling out the same paperwork twice only to be told the car we had ordered wasn't available. I thought The Doctor was going to explode when he was asked for his ID yet a third time in order to leave the carpark (naturally, it was in a bag in the boot. Which we didn't know how to open yet...)

6. People, places and things don't change very much in 15 months. But being back in a place where I was when the boys were a year younger is a little weird, like being in some kind of strange child timewarp where toys and videos somehow seem a bit young for them. Still, the presenters on CBeebies still look the same (which makes me feel a little sad for them - surely they should have done a Jeremy Irons and moved on to the RSC by now?) and the boys were delighted to see In the Night Garden again.

That's all for now. Places to go, people to see. A quick visit to John Lewis is in order. Catch up again when I'm back in New York.....

13 comments:

Dumdad said...

"Everything seems tiny . . . even the supermarket aisles".

That's the reverse for me when I go back to England. I luxuriate in the wideness of the supermarket checkouts and all that room to put one's stuff. In Paris, supermarkets are mostly squashed and tiny.

Iota said...

Lovely to hear news of you. I would echo all the things you say. It's fun to see it through new eyes, isn't it?

Hope it feels like home when you return to New York.

PantsWithNames said...

It was such fun to meet you - and the setting could not have been more English. Hope you have a great rest of trip, you get to see a bit of sunshine and have a stress free return flight to the US. x

Expat mum said...

Grrr, I have had quite a few hissy fits in my time with various car rental people at Heathrow. Despite phoning the day before, you get off a long overnight flight (in my case) to find that the car you've had booked for 4 months isn't ready. Again - grrr.

Almost American said...

I think I need to blog about our experience with Avis at Heathrow . . . Sorry to hear your vacation got off to the same kind of start as ours, and that the weather has not improved! Looking forward to hearing how the rest of the holiday goes.

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

Heathrow is not the best place to experience customer service it's true. I must admit I wa sin the UK from June 21st to Aug 23rd & had a really good, warm, sunny summer. Even frequented an outdoor pool. 1st time in 3 yrs! Shame, I wd have loved to meet up, but maybe we had already gone back to Albania. Hope the rest of yr trip goes really well.

Tanya (Bump2Basics) said...

It's interesting how your perspective on home changes after living abroad.

I think the cooler weather of late is just the UK trying to make you feel at home (since the weather has actually been a bit warmer this year!)

Ahhh that story about the cat - I too was outraged - I've joined the English ranks!

Hope you have a fantastic rest of holiday x

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rosiescribble said...

You've summed the UK up brilliantly! Hope the bad weather isn't getting you down too much.

Calif Lorna said...

Why are our car rental places so bad? They always seem to be tucked away in awkward places. We had to deal with hours of paperwork in April and we were all so tired we just wanted to cry.

I love your description of everything, it's spot on. Love that you pick up a copy of Grazia with your Times!

nmaha said...

Glad that you're having a good time back home. It is odd to go back after a year when your kids have grown-up a bit.

Knackered Mother said...

Lovely to read your take on it. I get to the US once a year with work and everything IS SO BIG. Except everyone goes to be really early and nobody drinks. Not like we do, anyway. Safe trip home x

Deer Baby said...

Good to read your take on it. It must be quite strange seeing it through different eyes once you have been away a while. I would have to get Grazia shipped out to me if I lived abroad.