20 Things After Living 4 Years in England

If my husband’s job didn’t extend our stay, we’d be back in America by January 22nd. But he got extended and we have four more fabulous years to go!

After settling in and got used to living here, we took advantage of living in England. We made sure we make lots of British friends. We made sure we go to every village/town/city event that looked (vaguely) interesting. We made sure we live somewhat British while still loving our s’mores, ice tea, and eating birthday cakes at the birthday party. And we made sure we traveled. In and outside of England. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we’re for sure not going to waste it!

We’ve learned so much and created so many memories and want to highlight a few things:

1. Rain or shine, hot or cold, I drink hot tea. I honestly believe that ce tea only exist inside an American family’s home. It was blazing hot that day and there’s me with my cuppa tea.

Tea

2. Still weather related (and I’m almost sure it’s very British to talk about the weather often), 75 degrees (or 23-ish) is HOT! If at all possible, everybody would be outside and oven related cooking would be way too warm. While I am too Asian to swim in the ocean (too cold still for my blood), some people do!

Beach3. You cannot easily find a home with air conditioning. Even in posh homes. The last four years I’ve only seen one home that we can afford to rent with AC in it. You just open up your windows and let nature blow (hot) 75 degree air inside your home.

4. The hot weather I’ve been talking about? It can go from lovely sunny weather to pouring rain within an hour. I got cold once. I wore a skirt and t-shirt once — because it was bloody sunny and warm outside — and regretted it an hour later because the weather changed just like that. So ever since then, I always layer and/or bring leggings. Only if it’s 80 (happened but not often) will I go out confident in a summery outfit.

5. Bless. It’s not only for sneezes or used by religious people. If a child falls down: Oh, bless. If a puppy poo on the carpet: Bless. If a sweet little girl hugs her mommy so tenderly: Aww, bless. When Jovie’s sleeping and people say: Oh, bless her. I think it’s used in lieu of “poor thing” or “oooh, how sweet” but I haven’t really confirmed with anybody.

6. I learned not to ask for pants when I wanted were trousers. HUGE difference walking around in just pants or trousers in public!

7. Tea. A few weeks after we arrived, I was invited to tea. Great I thought! And when I got there, there was what I would call dinner. Tea can mean three things. First, is a cup of tea. Second, a light meal which I believe is also referred to afternoon tea. Third it’s the main meal of the evening, and I think this is what they refer to as high tea.

Thai Fried Rice

8. There are really good food in England! Before moving here, I heard many comments about bland food and how nothing’s tasty in England besides fish and chips but while there may be some out there, and some people do prefer bland dishes, we’ve not encountered many! Maybe because I always go to places with good reviews but really, there are LOTS of great food in England! From simple sandwiches to really fancy dishes.

Fish and Chips

9. Driving four hours is a loooooooooong drive! We used to drive from Missouri to Mississippi for holidays. Ten hours of driving and a couple hours of stops — toilet and lunch. It was always exhausting but never stressful. But here, unless you’re on the A1 going up to Scotland (with normal traffic), driving four hours can be so tiring and sometimes stressful. You’re not always guaranteed a highway kind of road – the two roads on each side kind of roads. And even when you are on a highway, you may have to slow down every few miles for a roundabout. Or merge into a two lane road because it has to go through a town or forested area. I am not complaining about the preservation of old fabulous towns or trees, btw. I think that bit’s great. But it’s still an obstacle when driving long distance. So, when you see a town that is five miles away from you, don’t think it’s your GPS that’s broken when it says it’s 20 minutes away. It may just be!

10. I am now a kick ass reverse car parker. Oh yeah! Parking bays are small here. Often times you’re better off going reverse so that you won’t have to do a three point turn coming in and out.

11. Being middle class is more complicated here than the US. And this blog post describes it perfectly. Here’s a snippet:

…in Britain, one can be working class or upper class or, indeed, upper-middle or lower-middle class, or even middle-middle. I suppose that’s what I am. In Britain, in sum, we have a fully functioning class system and we’re not afraid to use the stereotypes it throws up. But in America, to be middle class seems to me to be… any American at all.

In America, I am middle class. In England, I think I have always been middle-middle class but my husband may just have moved from working class to middle-middle class. Complicated!

downton-abbey-animated-gif-defeatist

12. Online grocery delivers to us village people! In the US, big cities only. And not every grocery store delivers. Here, every grocery store delivers!!

13. School drop-off and pick-up. There is no school bus for the girls. I am the school bus driver! Hubby and I still wonder how some families manage with both of them working because not every school has a before and after school program.

14. It gets really dark at around 4 p.m. in December!

15. $100 and a short drive can bring the whole family to another country. I LOVE this part of living in Europe! There are so many things to see in England and leaving the island is not too expensive or difficult. You can find deals if you really want to, like £9 bus ticket to Paris from London. We’ve done many trips the last four years and we look forward to more our next four years!

16. Cath Kidston, PaperChaseJoules and John Lewis. Adore these UK shops!

17. Brits, or maybe it’s just my friend Tash — hmmm, but Brits love bunting. Bunting at parties, tents, rooms, ornaments, carboot sales, etc and pretty much year round.

Sophie's Christmas Fair

18. Car boot sales! Garage/yard sales are rare. Mostly the Americans do it around here but car boot (the boot being the trunk), is a very common thing. You basically fill up your car and drive it to a field where the sale will be happening and hundreds of people will come to try and find a bargain. I actually haven’t been to one but hubby and the girls have been to a couple. They’re too early for me {::WINK}.

19. Living in a village is like living in a subdivision but with your own school, shop and pub (although some village don’t always have a school or pub etc). It may also be like living in a small town in America but small towns in America are usually in the middle of nowhere where a UK village can be small and feel isolated but still 10 minutes drive from a city or bigger town.

20. Great friends. Oddly, despite living in a small village, we have met some really fabulous people. And while the experiences we’ve had have been great, the travels have been wonderful and the food not at all shabby, it’s the friendship that we’ve made here that we will cherish most. Great friends don’t come by everyday and we’re lucky to have been surrounded by many the last four years!

 

One thought on “20 Things After Living 4 Years in England

  1. Congrats on the extension…although when you do move back to the states, I hope you ponder the pacific northwest. Loved this post and I want to go to a Car Boot Sale!

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