Sunday, July 10, 2011

I Will Miss British: Landscapes

It has been an extremely busy week.  I officially finished class, possibly for the last time ever; strange.  My guess is that I have other classrooms in my future, though, so I'm not overly concerned.  My family arrived mid-week and I spent Friday and Saturday with them in London.  We were in Cambridge today, and will do one more whirlwind day tomorrow before flying home on Tuesday (wow). I would post stunning family pictures (and there are some mighty good ones), except that my mother's camera's memory card is too small for the slot in my computer [Who on earth invented memory cards of varying sizes?  I disagree wholeheartedly].  I would post pictures from my camera, except that it decided to continue to tour London on the top floor of a red, double-decker bus, and I haven't seen it since.  It has seen the various landscapes of ten different countries but it chose London (of all places) as its final dwelling place.  I hope it's happy.   

Thus the family vacation photo-doc will have to happen later.  Tonight I will be content to post my final "Miss" post, as it is my last Sunday in England.  Today's post is about the visual memories of England, something that for me is so caught up in place nostalgia.  I will miss the English landscape, in all its glory.

Rolling Green Hills: with hedgerow dividers.  Reading on the train between Cambridge and King's Cross is always futile.  Gazing out the windows as the scenery chugs by always takes precedent.

Wildflowers: on the side of the road, in parks, in gardens, in fields, in pastures.

House and Storefront Architecture: Stone and Brick

Cross-Hatched with Steep Roof

Thatched Roof and Climbing Vines

Steepled and Spired Stone Skylines: make me remember I am someplace seeped with history.

Confusing Masses of Meandering Roads: Roads that run straight or in cardinal directions are terribly dull.
Village Churches: At least one old stone church in every village, no matter how small, each with its own mossy gravestone yard.  

Tall Shops All Connected

Cobblestone Walkways: Bad for heels and painful on feet until accustomed to it, but much more interesting and charming than pavement.

Pubs: with flower pots lining the windows and old fashioned lighting shining in the windows.  Often the most beautiful  storefronts on the street.

Pub Signs: never get old and often provide amusement.

Cows in the Pastures and Public Commons: People and cows, living in harmony.  Something about it makes me feel like Wordsworth and Longfellow are chatting over tea just around the corner...

Red Telephone Booths: on every corner in every village.  

Monday, July 4, 2011

The 3rd of July: Celebrating the Last Day of American Colonisation in the Motherland

I am so grateful for the generosity of English people like this:

who combed the country searching for all things 
American so that I could have a 4th of July party. 

I am grateful for the amazingly bonafide American barbeque we enjoyed (complete with A&W Root Beer, Bar-S hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad, chocolate chip cookies and Heinz ketchup) and for the slightly-sketchy Chinese fireworks that we shot into the sky from the back garden.  I am grateful for the Lamb and Mint burgers and apricot puddings that were laid out alongside the American dishes, giving us the chance to savour one final taste of England. I am grateful for the "My Country 'Tis of Thee"/"God Save the Queen" duet duel, for the British flags posted in flower pots around the yard to commemorate the final day of American colonisation, and the beautiful gathering of diverse people from England, America, Australia, Brasil, Colombia, Korea and Tanzania (every continent represented).  I am grateful for the great friendship that has developed between the colonised and the colonisers, the once enemies in battle.  Though part of me longs to be back in America today with my family - celebrating in all the usual, trusted and nostalgic ways - I realised last night that this gathering of American and British friends here in the ancestral homeland, celebrating America's independence and, in a way, the coming forth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, would be an occasion worth tender remembrance for my entire life.


Happy Independence Day everyone, wherever you are!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Will Miss British: Food

Yes, amazing as it sounds, I will miss British food, or at least the things listed below:

Millionaire Bars:  Shortbread base, caramel center and chocolate top.  Amazing.  

Elderflower Cordial:  The best alcohol substitute I have ever enjoyed.  It has a beautiful floral taste and feels sophisticated, even though you can pick up a bottle for £1.50 at the supermarket...

Fish and Chips:  grew on me.   I'm not a huge fish person, but I had the most delectable fish and chips at a gorgeous pub on the Thames river one sunny afternoon, while watching the boats row by and the tide lap up towards the sidewalk.  I have been craving that meal every few days ever since.  Best with a rigorous squeeze of fresh lemon...

Granary Bread:  I'm sure I have eaten full loaves of this baguette-style  bread at a time.  I have never experienced such a delicious, nutty taste in a bread before.  

Thick, Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream:  or any flavour ice cream, for that matter.  I don't know what is in the grass in Cornwall, but the cows that graze there make the thickest, creamiest textured ice cream I have ever experienced.  The cheapest tubs of plain vanilla ice cream are better than any vanilla ice cream I have ever eaten in the States.  
Greek-Style Yogurt with Honey:  tastes more like ice cream than yogurt.  Oh, I will miss this stuff!

British Puddings:  I have never been a cake fan.  Cake in America is so dry!  It is only tolerable when gobbed with large dollops of ice cream.  The Brits have got cake figured out, except that here it is called "pudding" - cake drenched with sweet, fruity syrups or jams.  Moist, flavourful, delicious.

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagels:  Again, not much of a fish fan, but the Cambridge University Jewish Society doesn't serve anything else at their monthly Lunch and Learns.  Once tried, forever converted.  Baked salmon cannot compare to the rich flavour of Scottish smoked salmon, and whoever invented the combination of salmon, cream cheese and bagel is a hero in my book.  It has become my lunch staple.  

Walnut and Gorgonzola Pre-Made Tortellini:  or any of Sainsbury's filled pastas.  Easy, fast and absolutely delicious.  Added to an assortment of steamed veggies, this tortellini has become one of my dinner staples...

And of course:

Scones with Clotted Cream and Jam:  So very British.  So very tasty.  I have already googled "clotted cream in America" and I already know the location of the only cafe in the greater Phoenix area that serves British-style scones with clotted cream and jam.  I will be visiting soon. 

Nine days, one more Sunday.  Two suitcases packed already.  Oh. my. goodness.