Monday, 19 November 2012

Immigrant Districts of London

With thanks to the Telegraph, here is a visual tour of London's so-called Immigrant Districts.

The "habit" of immigrants moving to areas with a large population of their own nationality is not at all unique to the UK, but interesting nonetheless. 

Does the habit of immigrants living in "immigrant areas" bother anyone other than me? 

Would you want to live in a Little America or {insert your own country here}Town? 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Every Country Needs an Excuse for Fireworks...

... and in Britain, its Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night (or day). 

The story goes that on 5 November 1605, a man named Guy Fawkes (and his cronies) tried to blow up the House of Lords in an attempt to assassinate King James I.  Fawkes had 36 barrels of gunpowder that would have surely done the job, but someone tipped off one of the Lords and the men were caught in the act. The people of England were apparently so happy that the King had not been killed, they lit bonfires in celebration.  A few months later, the 'Observance of the 5th of November 1605' act was passed in Parliament and November 5th became an annual public holiday.

And what happened to Guy Fawkes? Eight members of the Gunpowder Plot were captured and eventually sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.  Ouch.

In modern Britain, Bonfire Night is often celebrated with fireworks instead of a bonfire (likely due to health and safety concerns). Some towns and villages will host a public bonfire (and sometimes they will burn a lifesize Guy Fawkes doll thingie) and you do still get the odd person thinking they can manage their own bonfire in their garden or something, but this is usually a pretty bad idea. It likely won't come as a surprise that the London Fire Brigade responded to a call for an out of control bonfire every 10 minutes on last year's bonfire night.  Leave it to the experts folks.

'Guy' burning
Sadly, the tradition of Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night is being pushed aside by the growing popularity of Halloween.  When I moved here even just three years ago, you could hardly find a pumpkin in a store, much less costumes and cookies and pumpkin shaped cakes and now Halloween is a £300 million business in the UK.

Do your part to keep UK traditions alive - do a search here to see if there are any celebrations around you.  Many will have taken place last weekend, but there are still some to come.

Oh and if you have pets, Bonfire Night (just like Forth of July) can be a scary time - keep them safe and happy!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Me, Me, Me

Am I the only one who hates blogs that read like diaries?

Sadly, I'm starting to think I am which is why I've gone off blogging for awhile.  I only tell you this because I had an amusing comment left a few weeks ago that said  "Your blog is pretty good, but you suck because you can't be bothered to write more than every now and again. I won't be reading again."  I'm taking it as a compliment because frankly I'm desperate for compliments.

I've done some traveling, I've been to a few Olympic events, had some drinks with a few Royals, got a fancy invite to the exclusive-ish Ivy Club, but really, no one wants to read about me.  Why can't other bloggers figure this out?  Every other blog I "follow" at the moment is so self-absorbed rather than informational, inspirational or even humorous that I really can't be bothered.

Examples?  Here are the two most common.  Surely, you all know blogs like these: 

Dear Diary, 

Today Fred and I woke up at 5:00am to go somewhere. We went there and ate some lunch. {insert detail after mind-numbing detail of your day here}.  Tomorrow we'll go somewhere else. We're so interesting!

Love, Me. 

OR ...

Dear Diary, 

My baby pooped again.  He's so cute.  Here's another photo.

Love, Me

So, to the man who will never read my 'pretty good' blog again because I can't be bothered to write often enough, I do apologise. Maybe you're an awkward sod like me and will understand my backwards protest. I'll try better, but will not resort to writing about my daily activities.  That's what facebook is for. (duh).

Monday, 9 July 2012

The Chap Olympiad

Just a quickie to say that I am saddened beyond measure that I have missed the Chap Olympiad. With events such as umbrella jousting and butler racing, and a dress code that requests attendees wear "elegant finery, military wear, formal wear or dandy wear", encourages against any sportswear other than cricket whites and strictly bans demin, I have definetly missed the best event of the social season.

Check out these photos and try to tell me that you don't understand my devestation. Unless, of course, you did attend the Chap Olympiad - then I really want to hear from you!  Tell me all about it!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Fried Green Grits and other American "favourites"

Those journalistic geniuses at recently published an article titled 'Favourite foods in the US and why they havent taken off around the world'.  I saw it on a "friend's" Facebook page and refused to click on the basis that anytime anyone makes generalizations about things Americans like, they always get it wrong. Always.  Then another "friend" shared it, then another and I finally took a look.  Turns out, I can answer their question really easily - these "favourite" foods havent taken off outside America because they have hardly taken off IN America. Oh, and they are gross.

What are these American favourites?  

1. Grits. Seriously?!  Who outside a handful of  Southern states actually eats (and enjoys) grits?  I tried them once at an IHOP in Tunica, Mississippi and even after some coaching from a very nice waitress on how to best enjoy them, I couldn't manage it. Yuck!
Grit in Mississippi
2. Root Beer. Yeah, ok. Everyone should probably have a root beer float at least once in their lives, but do people really guzzle cans of root beer anywhere in America? I can't say I've ever known a real fan of root beer.  Maybe I've just been hanging out with the wrong crowd.

3. Scrapple.  Huh? 29 years of life in America, and I've never heard of it. A "favourite" it is not.

4.Cornbread. This is the one exception. Yahoo got something right.  Cornbread is delicious and people are indeed missing out if they haven't tried it.  Luckily for everyone in the UK, you can order it here.  And remember people, cornbread is not just for Thanksgiving and Christmas!

5. Fried Green Tomatoes. Again, unless you are a Southerner (or a major fan of Jessica Tandy) most Americans have probably never tried this "favourite" dish. I ate some in New Orleans once and they were alright, but nothing to write across the pond about. I think the fried Mars Bar has a better chance of making its way out of Scotand and around the world than the fried green tomato.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

All that talk about the weather...

If you're new to this "living in the UK" thing (like within the past 6 weeks), you may think that A) it rains every day and the sun never shines and that B) the fact that it's been the wettest spring on record is the only reason British people talk about the weather all.the.time.

Allow me to clear up a few things (and lazily recycle a post from ages ago):

A)  It really doesn't rain all the time - see this old, but popular, post for "proof"

B) Unfortunately, the unusual weather pattern and persistant rain or even the previous drought conditions aren't the reason British people insist on talking about the weather at any opportunity.  This happens all the time, no matter the weather.  My suggestion - learn some meteorology phrases then learn to exhale deeply and say "it's so lovely out there" when the sun shines and roll with the punches.

Oh, and if you are feeling a bit of springtime SAD, the Telegraph has put together a slideshow thingie that basically tells that if you want sunnier days, move to the South. Duh.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Guest Post: How to eat a Full English Breakfast

Absolutely brilliant article which appeared in the Guardian today.  It's long, so I wont copy and paste - just go here and read it.  Well done, Tony Naylor.

 I agree on all points except the following:

  • Drink of choice should be coffee.  As this blog has already determined - tea is gross, with or without a delicious breakfast. 
  • Black Pudding should be banned from all future Full English Breakfasts (and every other meal for that matter).  

Full English for dinner tonight anyone?