Thursday 8 September 2011

Things I love about the UK . . .

I thought it would be fun today to share with you some of the things that I just adore about this country I have adopted as my own. Had I ever in my wildest dreams thought that I would be living here, and for so long? Never in a million years. That was not the plan. However here I am and here I stay! I'm a firm believer in the saying . . . "Bloom Where You Are Planted!"

1. From the moment I first glimpsed England from the air as my plane was landing at Heathrow for the very first time, I fell in love with it’s greenness. I have never been in such a green and lush country. From the air it looks like a big fluffy quilt, with beautiful green squares, each one bordered by lovely darker green hedgerow embroideries on the edges. Every tree has a greenish hue to it’s bark, from the moss (I am assuming it is moss) which grows lushly up it’s trunk, and in many cases Ivy. All the wooden fences have this same green hue to them. England, is just green and I love it!

2. Fish and Chips with mushy peas. England has some of the best fish and chips in the world, and when you combine that with a lovely side order of mushy peas you have perfection on your plate, or, in the case of a chippy, in your little plastic tub. I can remember the first time I had fish and chips over here. It was pouring rain and Todd rode to the local chippy on his bicycle to pick them up. Two pieces of cod and a portion of chips and some mushy peas on the side. The pieces of cod were so big they were literally hanging over the edges of the plate and the chips . . . beautifully crisp and browned handcut fried pieces of potato . . . But the mushy peas . . . At first I didn’t know what to make of them. They were bright green almost and vaguely foreign looking, but I was hooked from first bite. They were lovely and reminded me of my mom’s pea soup. (except her soup isn’t bright green, it’s yellow)

3. Double Decker Buses. I had never been on a double decker bus until I came over here. I don’t even know if they exist anywhere else on earth. Even my boys were fascinated when they came over here and saw them for the first time. They look ungainly, and as if they should topple over when they round a corner, but they don’t! (fall over that is) And . . . If you are on the top deck and you go over traffic humps you get a lovely bouncing in the air, bumpy ride. Not my ride of choice actually, but my sons did love it and so I humoured them.

4. The language. You would think that English would be English right??? WRONG!!!! There are ever so many different ways of putting things over here and they are quite different than back at home. For instance pants over here are not pants! They’re men’s underwear and pants are, trousers! Fanny is not a lovely girl’s name or your backside, but another word for a female body part. You put your luggage in the boot of your car and you lift the bonnet to check the oil. We wait in queues, not lines . Cookies are biscuits, nutters are crazy, toilets are loos and a snog is a kiss. (and that’s just for starters!) I fink it’s all luverly!

5. The accent. For such a small country there are a multitude of accents, and just when you get used to one, another one pops up. When I first came over here I lived in Chester and that area had almost a Manchurian accent, which after watching Coronation Street for years, I was quite used to and could make out really well. The accent on East Enders was not quite so easy. The Liverpool accent was even harder to decipher and don’t get me started on the Birkenhead accent. There is a Jordie accent, a Devon Accent, a Cockney accent . . . In fact there are over 650 different dialects and accents to be found in the UK, and you can hear some of them HERE .

6. Uniforms. Everyone here wears a uniform. You can tell what a person does and where they work just by the uniform they wear. Every store clerk, every bank clerk, they all have uniforms, and they all match. Back home you didn’t see that so much. Bank tellers just wore their every day clothes, well a bit more dressed up than every day, but you know what I mean. I love that about England. I love seeing a guy walking down the road and being able to recognize that he works at Tesco’s by the shirt he is wearing!

7. Sandwiches. I love the sandwiches over here. At first I thought they were a bit strange, I mean . . . cheese and onion, or cheese and tomato, come on! I had never heard of such strange combinations before. (never mind that I come from the land of peanut butter and jam) It was a bit daunting at first but I finally got brave enough to taste and I fell in love with them! Never in my life had I been able to eat anyone else’s egg salad sandwiches but my mom’s but I can eat yours over here! (that took a lot of courage on my part to try for the first time, let me tell you!) You Brits love your sandwiches, and there’s a sandwich to fit just about any occasion! Chip butties (buttered slices of white bread sprinkled with a bit of vinegar and salt and loaded with hot French fries and folded over) Bacon Baps. (soft white rolls loaded with juicy grilled bacon and brown sauce) Sausage Sarnies (the same thing but with grilled sausages) Baguettes, wraps . . . There is no end to the epicurian delights that await a sandwich lover over here!

8. Sunday Lunch. Sunday lunch is a British institution and so very well done. In any pub in England on a Sunday afternoon the only food on offer in most cases will be Sunday lunch and it will be pretty much the same anywhere you eat. Lovely roasted meat with boiled new potatoes, crispy roasted potatoes, a delicious Yorkshire pudding, assorted vegetables (usually carrots, peas and cauliflower) all topped off with gravy. If you go to a carvery you can have a choice of beef, ham or turkey or even all three! Most homes go all out on Sunday’s as well and serve up a lovely roast dinner mid-day! It’s a tradition I love!

9. The British Sense of Humour. People over here have a very unique sense of humour. I just love it. It’s dry and contains a lot of irony. You either get it or you don’t. I do.

10. British television. Over here you have some of the best television viewing in the world. Nobody does documentaries like the British. I love the historical dramas and when it comes to comedy, well, there is just no match for it anywhere else in the world. In fact the rest of the world often grabs their ideas from over here and then copies and adapts them for their own use. Sadly though they don’t seem to be making as many good shows as they used to and are relying heavily on reality television which just doesn’t cut it with me. Thank goodness for UKTV Gold however! We spend more time watching that channel than any other and it doesn’t seem to matter how often we have seen the same old shows, they are classic and funny and we enjoy them each and every time!

11. English Bangers. Ok, I know a lot of people don’t like them, but I adore them. The good old English sausage. Fat and juicy and full of flavour. (not the cheap nasty ones. They aren’t good in any language) My favourite is Cumberland, followed closely by a good Irish herb one. I was quite shocked the first time I ordered a hotdog on a London street and got . . . A sausage! Bangers and mash, Toad in the Hole . . . I just love sausages and the ones over here are the best!

12. The Seaside. I had never been to a seaside like the British seaside until I came over here. There is a lovely feel and a holiday air about in the British seaside. I love to walk along the piers and watch all the other people out walking and enjoying their days in the sun. It’s not even something I can truly describe and do it justice, it’s just something one has to experience. Ice creams with chocolate flakes, fish and chips, penny arcades, merry go rounds and loop de loops, rock and candy floss., and acres and acres of holiday makers baking and walking in the sun. There is just nothing like it on earth.

13. Weather. I love British weather. It’s always changing, never reliable and always gives you something to talk about in a bus queue. We are always experiencing the hottest summer on record, or the wettest autumn, the coldest winter, the driest this, the windiest that. And don’t forget the great rain of this or that year or the great storm of another. You name it, we’ve got it, or experienced it, and it usually has something to do with the weather!

So there you have it, thirteen things that I love about the UK. I hope it was as fun for you to read as it was for me to write! There's alot more things about the UK that I love, but I will save them for another time!

My very first meal over here was a Jacket Potato, eaten at Euston Station in London. It was expensive and came loaded with cheese, tons of cheese, scattered over the top. The British love their Jacket Potatoes (Baked Potatoes to you North Americans). They fill them with all sorts . . . tuna, coleslaw, cheese, baked beans, etc. My mom always made stuffed baked potatoes and we loved them. She'd remove the centre of the potato and mash it together with butter, milk, onion, salt and pepper and we thought they were positively gourmet!! I love stuffing my baked potatoes too, except I like to get a bit more inventive. I've stuffed them with lasagna fillings, chili fillings, cottage pie fillings, etc. This particular one here today is one of our favourites!

*Leek, Mustard and Parsley Stuffed Jacket Potatoes*
Makes 4
Printable Recipe

These tasty potatoes have all the flavours of a potato and leek soup, except in the lovely crisp jacket of a baked potato! It’s like all your Christmas’s have come at once!

4 large floury baking potatoes
3 TBS olive oil
1 large leek, finely chopped
2 TBS grainy mustard
4 ounces mature Cheddar Cheese, grated (1 cup)
4 TBS double cream
1 ounce butter (2 TBS)
3 TBS chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F/gas mark 6. Scrub the potatoes and dry them very well. Prick a few times with the tines of a fork and place them into the pre-heated oven, directly on the oven rack. Bake until tender, about 1 ¼ hours or so. Remove from the oven and set aside until they have cooled down enough that you can handle them comfortably.

Carefully slice a lid from off the length of each one. Scoop out the inside flesh, leaving a thin shell. Try very hard not to tear the skin. Put the insides into a bowl, and keep warm.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the leek. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft and tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cooked leek to the potato flesh along with the mustard, cheddar and cream. Mix in well. Finally mix in the parsley and the butter. Season to taste and then stuff the mixture back into the potato shells.

Rub the outside of the potato shells with butter if desired and place the stuffed shells into a baking dish. Place back into the heated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the filling is hot and bubbly, the cheese is well melted and they are beginning to get all crusty and brown on the top. Remove from the oven and serve hot.

Cooking in The English Kitchen today, a Curried Lentil Soup and some Curry Pinwheel Scones! There's also the little matter of a . . . ahem . . . giveaway!

Psst . . . There's a new print in my Etsy Shop:

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