I got ICE in England and I made a Fabulous Frenchmen fall over

This might have to be my last post about the ICE issue because I actually got some. This is certainly my first story about making fun of a Fabulous Frenchie.

So I was at a pizza place the other day for lunch and, as usual, my kids and I made fools of ourselves. We were eating foods and quizzing each other on times tables and then I knocked Little Stormbringer’s drink over and we all got wet. Good times.

We like to play a little game when we go to restaurants. It is called “How Many Euro-Cubes Will We Get”. So when they deliver our drinks we shout: ‘Two Euro-cubes! One Euro-cube! No Euro-cubes!’ depending on what we have. Usually the inefficient Brit that has brought us our drinks has wandered off by this point.

This time the Brit was still near by. He was confused. I explained about the ice issue. (see here, and here if you haven’t already)

“Oh, you see, in America, they fill the glass with ICE first, then put the drink on top. We always count our euro-cubes because it is funny that there is no ICE here. ha.ha.”(I’m not socially awkward at all. nope.)

Then he smiled and said ” I will get you some ICE!” I have heard this before, people.  This never ends with ICE. It ends with four euro-cubes of ICE. I let the silly Brit go and get me some ‘ICE’. The kids and I laughed, knowingly. Then this motherfucker got me some GOT’DAM ICE. I could not believe my eyes! A whole glass! A whole glass filled to the top with Euro-cubes! It was unbelievable! I took a fucking picture of the glass and then one of the Brit next to the glass of ICE. He was a bit confused, I think, but maybe hoping for the first tip of his life from the silly Americans. (he got one)

I was overjoyed, but now I am a bit sad that I can no longer say that there is no ICE here. Oh well. We got ICE in England. It only took me five years.

When I was on holiday in The North we went to a french restaurant. Our waiter was very French and pretty Fabulous. Terrific. We are going to get some super service here, right? (no, i did not get a single euro-cube, but who puts euro-cubes in champagne? Oh, just me? OK. )

Manboy got an ‘A’ in french and I did some in high-school. Oh wait, I slept through that. Manboy, however, can speak it and did all of the ordering. I do not attempt to pronounce ‘fougasse a l’ail’ or ‘moules mariniers’ and do not get me started on the ‘frites’. Frenchie became all snooty and sniffy about Manboy’s pronunciation. I do believe he came to regret this.

‘Shambolic’ does not come close to describing the experience that we had that evening. If this meal had happened in America, not only would it have been ‘comped’ (free for my UK boos) but we would have had vouchers for our next meal, a massage and at least one bottle of champagne sprinkled lightly with unicorn tears. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Frenchie only managed to order some of our food, so the first course was a mix of one drink, one starter, a bit of one main and something we did not even order. None of it was cooked properly. None of it came with the right sauce, no one got a complete meal and I think the salt was in the pepper grinder.

Frenchie-Fabulous was beside himself. He was flapping his fabulous hands and being all french and wailing about how ‘zis is no szupposed to be like zis! I will get yoo a free bev-er-aj! Please wait a momenz!’

Then on his seventh trip to the kitchens on his useless mission to actually bring us the food that we had ordered, in the right order, and OMG actually bring us beverages, he had his literal downfall.

We had done the unthinkable and brought our souvenir shopping with us to dinner and placed it neatly at out feet while dining. Flapping Fabulous Frenchie managed to hook one of his feet around one of our bags and launched himself into the air and onto the ground. I would like to say that we didn’t laugh at him. I would like to say that my kids totally did not snort into their milk and shout ‘Sacre Bleu! LOL!’

The sound that came out of Manboy at this point made me laugh so hard that I pulled several muscles. I think that it was the most evil, malevolent laugh that I have ever heard. It was at an almost comic-book-villain level. Totally a well deserved laugh on our part. I think our waiter went out-the-back and had a quiet, private cry.

So when we turned up for dinner again two days later, Frenchie-boo spotted us and singled us out. He wanted to redeem himself. He wanted to give us decent food and service. He wanted us to have a Dining Experience.  He did actually manage that last one. A Dining Experience was had.

We had booked the kids in for an activity that evening. (Centerparcs, I love you,man!) I was going to have dinner, alone with my husband, for the first time in almost a year. So Excited! Ordered a bottle of champagne. Happy days!

What followed was chaotic, disorganized, and mismanaged. I actually had to point to my empty glass and then gesture to the bar where our beverages were waiting. I ordered a rare steak and got one well done. (Gross!! you know that shit got sent right back to kitchen for reals) We ordered food that never came. We ordered drinks that never came. I had to have Manboy steal a salt grinder from another table. All of this is true and I cannot type all of the things that went wrong because there is not enough blog space in all of the world to hold the tale of how genuinely fucked-up-the-eyeball this meal was.

We ordered in the standard way:

1) Order drinks then read menu

2) Order starters and mains (appetizers and entrees in American)

3) Drink drinks and wait for first course

So what do you think should happen when you follow these three simple steps? Would you expect to get drinks, then starters, then more drinks perhaps, then your main course? That is kind of what I expected to happen. After all, our-man-Frenchie was on the job and ‘determainez to gets zis rvight!’ Nope. None of that happened.

The good news is that we were having so much fun on holiday that none of this made us even slightly annoyed. Had this happened to me at any other time or place I would have set fire to the tablecloth and shot a hole through the bill. However, this was somehow entertaining and made us just giggle and shake our heads in amusement. And poor Flappy-Frenchie even got a tip. Hilarious. Maybe we should drink champagne more often.

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This is super silly now England part II (with wasp bears)

You guys, I cannot any more with this horseshit. You need to cool yourself off for realz. I did not move to the UK to be hot. I came for the clouds and I want them back.

This is the drawing that I made when it was hot for THREE DAYS one time in the UK

I posted about it here. And that when it was only a few days. I have done weeks of your hot weather and I am DONE. I am fighting the air.

For those of you in the US, let me just tell you a couple of things.

THERE IS NO A/C here. There is no air conditioning. None. Nope. This is an old and backward country and there is no a/c anywhere. Unless you are in a Tesco, you are going to roast and there is no reprieve.

THERE IS NO ICE HERE. Even in a Tesco, you are not going to get ice.

THERE ARE NO WINDOW SCREENS. I’m usually upset with this, but it is so freakishly hot here now that I am all…meh. let them all in. Who cares.

The UK can not handle weather of any kind. I am OK with this because there is usually no weather here. But our roads are melting, our train tracks are buckling and there are fucking wild-fires and people are dying of heat and NO JUST NO.

It is like the sun never goes down. It starts at 3 AM and just keeps on giving until Ten PM. This is just stupid.

I have been so angry these last few weeks. I am melting and I am pissed off and I want to kill people and I have yelled at every member of my family because SO HOT.

I hear the south-west might get a break a minute this weekend then back up into the nighties (30C or what-fucking-ever) for the rest of the month.

I am done with this and you need to stop England. I even told Manboy that we need to move to Scotland or Finland or Iceland or something because I was not made to do sun and heat.

He has been mostly staying out of my damn way because I am just hot and angry like a  bear shitting wasps. Not a single stitch of house work gets done after 10 am because fuck all of the things it is hot.

I went to make Manboy a coffee before work, and grabbed the milk and it was SOLID. Everything that I own that is food has gone off. This can not continue.

Please England…can we have some rain? A cloud perhaps? Maybe can it stay normal and not freakishly weird for a minute?

I’ll just hang in here with the rest of you suffering Brits. Just do NOT ask me if I am ‘enjoying the nice weather’.

Two Things that I find Hilarious about the British

You guys. There are so many things that I laugh about here. The Brits are Funny. In ways that they can not seem to see. Here is a short list.

They Love A Sing-Song.

America might have a bit of karaoke, but they have NOTHING on the Brits. These folks love a sing-song like the sun loves the morning. Get a few of them together, and they will *sing for all of the life*!  Really these folks will sing for anything, and when they do they are hilarious. Wanna sing Happy Birthday? Fine. Wanna sing ancient pirate songs? Fine.  Wanna sing England/Wales/Scotland hymns? Yep. Would you like to sing a negro spiritual?  OH WAIT that is your national anthem for ‘football’?

“swing LOW sweet CHARIOT comin’ for to carry ME HOME!”

As an American, i can only be confused at this. That is putting it nicely. REALLY? SWEETCHAROIT? oh, just wow. Lawd.

They Do Pantomime

If you are like me, you have no idea that this is a thing at all. I had never even heard the word ‘pantomime’ before i moved to the UK. They love this stuff. I am, even 5 years in, unable to find the words to even tell folks in the US what this is.  I guess it is where b-listers dress in drag and the audience participation is a bit ‘rocky-horror’

Little StormBringer had a school assembly the other day and we were encouraged to BOO the ‘baddie’ and CHEER for the other side. It is all so insane. But fun and also funny. I might one day see a proper Panto. I might one day get Cricket as well. (not gonna happen)

The Brits are hilarious. Every day, all of the time. I love it here. I may not get everything that they do, (no, do NOT look up dogging y’all) but I get to have a chuckle once in a while at their foolishness.

Did I miss anything? What do you find funny about Brits or Americans?

How to make nice and be Friends with the British

I had an email from a reader expressing her frustration at being an American expat. I was thrilled and touched, of course, so I emailed her back. She had questions. She was also a bit confused about not having made any friends in the UK yet.

But she is from the Midwest like me, and, like me,  she Is So Friendly.

Brits, are you seeing the huge problem here?

I didn’t when I moved here. I was Super Fantastic and Friendly All Of The Time! Why didn’t they want to talk to me? Why did they seem to visibly shrink when I greeted them? Why didn’t they want a hug for Christ’s sake!

Now, clearly this girl isn’t as bad as I was. I was bad.

I would go on the dreaded school run and try and..ya know…talk to people. Introduce myself, ask them about their kids, ask about their lives, tell them about mine. This is how I had spent my entire life in the US interacting with other humans.

This is not how you interact as an American ‘Off the Boat’ and trying to make friends in the UK. Not if you want friends, that is.

Over several years of reading Expat blogs from both sides of the pond, experimenting with British-life-forms and talking to my husband and his circle of friends, I came up with the following fool-proof method of ‘cracking the ice’ in the UK.

Mind, this takes 6-8 months not minutes. (in the US it might not be even that many minutes!)

Here’s the tip:
The first six months of ‘knowing’ someone, The Weather is the only acceptable subject for you to talk about. 
Pro Tip: The Brits LURVE hearing about how awesome we (Americans) find the weather here. 
example: 
Scene: School Run/Bus Stop/Neighbours/delivery guy
“Wow, it is a bit rainy/sunny/cloudy/windy today! (smile)”
Then the brit grumbles or agrees
“sure was better/worse/same yesterday! Hope it is better/same tomorrow!” (smile)
Brit grumbles or agrees
 
 After you have known them for a bit,  add on the following;
 
“But, I  think the UK has the best weather in the world! I love it here! Really, I would never leave! “(grin)
They will then stare at you, trying to decide if an American is smart enough to be taking the piss. They might even raise an Eyebrow and say…Really?
Then you say
“yeah my mum has 3 feet of snow/tornadoes/hail/heatwave/mosquitoes/sharp shower of frogs!” (basic midwest suck-weather)
 
 
then just shrug and say, yeah, best weather in the world. (no exclamation. this is important.) (smile)
You may find that they even talk to YOU next time!
The thing is, the British ARE friendly. You won’t find better friends. They are extremely loyal, forgiving, funny and inclusive. Once you find yourself inside their bubble and under their wing, you will not be disappointed. You will feel included in ways that you never thought that you could.
Don’t give up if you are an Expat anywhere. Just keep trying, but get as much advice as you can. After 5 years here I have found my best-est friend evar and I am truly blessed.
As always, feel free to leave your experiences in the comments, or just to me. Ask me anything.  I get it, I really do.

I Blog Because… I am an embarrassment, a spokes-person and a goodenough mum.

God I love the emails from folks saying ‘wow, awesome, I hear your voice, it speaks to me’.

I should do stand-up. But I don’t. I blog. So lemme tell you a funny story.

So the other night, I put the kids to bed. Manboy makes dinner. I am playing the Sims 3. I do this most nights. Look, if your choice is Coast, or playing PC games…what would you choose?

I choose Sims. Now, I have been playing The Sims since 1997. OK? So I know my sims. I know Sims, also sims 2, 3 and (thank the gods above) the new sims 4.

These sims I made? They were the most racist, horny fuckers I have ever encountered. And I have partied in New Orleans, Alabama, Ohio, New York and England.

These Sims? just wanted to ..uh…’make love’ and also be as racist as possible. One of their ‘uncle toms’ died and they just Buried him out back. SIGH.They steadfastly refused to have any housekeepers that weren’t black, and if I left them alone for 10 seconds they were all DOGGING lets DO IT …OUTSIDE!

This is very disturbing to me.

Manboy asked me what was wrong,. as I continued to sigh at this foolishness. I said “it is like Gone With The Sims” up in here!

I actually thought he was going to break his back laughing.

This is why I do not do stand up.

The top ten things I miss about living in America (England bashing again)

I love the UK. I never want to leave. No, really, I am never leaving Devon. If I need a passport, then no.

BUT, there are some things that I would love to have here. My top Ten list starts with:

1. A dryer. look, my man is buying me a new washer-dryer thingy. cause he loves me. But it will still be a euro washer-dryer thingy, powered by wind and sadness. See my illustration on why USA  has better appliances. COAL and NUKES. just give me dry clothes. *sob*

2. A refrigerator. Could I please have a fridge that holds food and keeps it cold? Like, if i have food in, could it keep it cold for a day or so?  If i buy apples or meat, I would like them to stay OK for two days.

3. Ice. just ice. I have given up on ice in the UK. Ice tea would be awesome. I will never realize this dream.

4. local news. Can I have the weather for my city? Or tell me what is happening here? the BBC is great and all, but what happened today in my city? no idea.

5. sport. I am so tired of football. (soccer) Rugby is where it is at. and they put the ball backward. At least I didn’t have to live thorough March Madness. But at least, in the US, I understand the rules.

6. Police. in the US, when you call them, they come. In force. With help. Helpfulness.  I cannot overstate this.

7. school busses. Yellow, pretty busses. They pick your kids up, then drop them off. At/to your door. USA USA!

8. I am struggling here…OK, Food. massive food. when you go out for breakfast you embark on a food challenge. With 4 eggs and hash browns.

9. lack of actual fascists/communists.  you think you have them, but, i promise that you do not.

10. Patriotism. Please, can we have some of it in the UK? I miss it. I want to cheer for my side.

So, ten reasons I miss the US. I could give you as many that I would never move back, but I didn’t . Keep calm and have a well deserved seat. ❤

OK, England, you are super silly now. I humbly offer my help.

I have been home long enough to complain now. You have issues, England. I am going to help you through this difficult time.

I have written about UK weather here, here and also here, but what I have not done, is explain the basics. I shall do so now.

*deep everlasting sigh*

OK..so there is this thing called winter. In the northern hemisphere it gets cold from November through March. Occasionally, in the winter, water falls from the sky. If it is cold enough, this water might freeze on, or above the ground. This is called Ice and Snow.  It happens. Every year. In the winter. If you are from the UK, please go back and read that again because I am SURE that you don’t get this.

I understand that snow and ice in the UK is a ‘rare’ thing. In the south of the USA, snow is also rare. I understand if you are surprised and possibly stranded. This is totally fair. What is NOT fair is for the third biggest airport in the world to be closed because of a snowflake. Heathrow airport is huge and it is the only way into London, never-mind the rest of Great Britain. It is now closed .Because of a snowflake. FAIL

The BBC helpfully reported that they have 500 people on snow removal. Five HUNDRED people. Five hundred people were not enough to remove a snowflake from the main airport in the worlds best City. For shame.

(it is a wonder that JFK, La Guardia and O’Hare even operate at all. gheesh.)

*Epic sigh*

I had to walk into a store last week and return some horse burgers. Yep, you read that sentence correctly. Apparently, buying 8 hamburgers for one pound means that you have no idea what is in said ‘burgers’. As an American, I was expecting worms, lips and assholes, just like what we get in the USA in our delicious bologna and hot-dogs. NOPE. What we got was almost 30% horse. Horses. Neigh, I am not down with that. Do I look like I am French or something?

The honest reason that I had to return the horse burgers? It was not from a place of honor or of morality. Nope. It was because Manboy said..”I know you. You could keep them and feed them to the kids. But then you would get silly and be all GUESS WHAT YOU JUST ATE! BWAHAHAHA and that would be bad and then you would be sad about it and the kids would cry. Return them. ”

So yeah. Please, England, keep it to lips and assholes of animals that I normally eat.

So just to recap; snow happens, horses shouldn’t.

I love you England, stay classy.

Do you have gravy on your boobs? I am glad I live in the UK instead of the US

I know that I sometimes have a hard time adjusting to life in my new country, but it is a really super place to live. This week I have been hearing stories about how my fellow parents in the USA are getting ready for school by buying tones of specific supplies and trying to get new clothes for the fall. I do not have any of that to deal with. Here is my back-to-school shopping list:

1) pencils (optional)

2) school uniform

That is it.

Read it and weep Americans!

I must get to the gravy bit. This is only for women of a certain size. Size of boob or of body.

I need to know: Can You Eat And Not Get The Food On Your Boobs Or In Your Bra?

I mentioned in one of my earlier laundry posts that My shirts are considered clean if they do not have gravy on them. I mean this. I am unable to eat food and only hit my mouth with it. Almost every meal that I have, some of it will end up on my shirt, on one or the other boob, or IN MY ACTUAL BRA.

I found a baked bean in my bra last week. This was a refreshing treat from the crumbs. A family of ducks could feed from my bra-crumbs some days. WHY? What is wrong with me?

So hot.

Tell me that I am not alone!

In America, all I would get to do is argue. No matter what side I was on. I find this tiresome. Also, Boris Johnson is hot.

In America I would be dying of heat, but buying snow boots for the 3 feet of snow A DAY that was coming. Here? It is almost always Just Fine. 65 degrees damn-near-year-round Baby! Suck it Michigan!

In America I would be worried about my daughter who needs medicine. I do not care what you think. I get great care here in socialized-nazi-care-land.

Please tell me what you are thankful for in your country. And for the love-of-all-that-is holy…

Tell me if you  have gravy on your boobs!

New ways I am failing at parenting and being an expat

I will never get all of my laundry done. Never, ever, never ever ever. I have not yet adapted to doing laundry in the UK. Allow me to contrast the ways that laundry is done in the US vs the UK.

Let’s assume that you have two loads of laundry to do. I’ll stipulate that a washer-full is different in the US (bigger obviously) but let’s just set that aside.

USA:

9 am: put laundry in washer

9:45: Put laundry in dryer, wash a second load

10:30: take laundry from dryer, start second load drying, fold and put away clean dry clothes

11:15: fold and put away second load

DONE

UK

9am: put laundry in Euro-washer-dryer thingy

3pm: take hot wet laundry from the dryer and hang on the line. Put second load in the Euro-washer

9 am the next day: Observe that your laundry on the line has been lightly sprinkled on. It does not yet have slugs or spiders so decide to let it dry off a bit.

Noon: It rains. Your wet laundry is still on the line. Your second load is still wet in the Euro-washer-dryer.

4 pm: pray for better weather

9 am the next day. you decide that the clothes outside are ‘dry enough’ and bring them in. Lay them on the radiators to finish drying. Hang out second load.

10 am: it starts to sprinkle. The cats have lounged all over your clean laundry. The kids have knocked it to the floor. Pick up hairy, linty laundry and just fold the fucking shit.

5 pm: it sprinkles a little more.

9 am the next day. Your second laundry is mostly dry. Only has a few slugs. Bring in, hang on the banisters.

9 am the next day: fold crumpled fucking laundry and put it away.

DONE.

So the score is USA-3.5 hours, UK-5 days. USA-clean, dry, wrinkle-free clothes. UK-slightly damp, fuzzy wrinkled clothes.

What would your laundry situation be of you could only do two Euro-loads of laundry a week?

It is actually worse than this. The piles are bigger and I have not drawn the slugs.

OMFG YOU GUYS, I will never, ever get it all done. How is everyone else dealing with this?? Why can’t I figure it out? Seriously, if anyone knows please tell me!  I have piles and piles of laundry. Some of it I might just throw out. Euro-washers do not remove stains anyway so screw it. Just keeping my kids in clean clothes is a miracle. All of my clothes that are not ‘drying’ on the line are dirty. All of them. I put on a clean shirt today for the first time in 4 days. ‘Clean’ has a new meaning to me. If one of my shirts does not have gravy on it, it is now ‘clean’. I cannot go on like this. (help me)

I have said before that my kids swear like fucking champions. I have no idea where they get this from. But Little Stormbringer surpassed herself today. The White Rose was doing a truly cringe-worthy puppet show. The kind that is great if you are two, but was extremely sub-par for her. It had a dance routine and involved me watching a pipe-cleaner tell knock-knock-jokes. I love this stuff but apparently it makes older sister’s ears bleed.

I watched as my oldest started to twitch. A bead of sweat appeared on her temple. Then she saw my face and started to giggle. I giggled. Even The White Rose started to giggle at her foolishness. Then Little Stormbringer said “OMG fuck-the-hell-off with that shit!”

Then we all collapsed with laughter. I told you that we aren’t right. I was all ‘wow. that was a mouthful of swearing even for me! Tone it down a bit child! Jesus Christ!’

I set such a good example. But then later in the day one of her projects wasn’t going as planned and she said ” Awww STICKS!”

Are you kidding me? Of course we laughed about that too. I told you that I was failing at parenting!

You want to hear something worse? My kids are so gross. So very gross. This they do NOT get from me. One comes down and says that the other is reading a book on the toilet. I can only assume that the door is open. Yuck. Manboy and I eyeballed each other. “we did NOT need to know that, thanks.”

Then the other comes down, wearing only underpants, stretches, smiles and says “ahhhh…that let a lot of junk out of the trunk!”

OMFG SO GROSS. Are you kidding me? This is a little girl. Strutting in my living room in pants and talking about her bowel movement. No one that she has ever met reads on the toilet or brags about the product. Our living room explodes with cries of ‘ NO! Gross! No way! Ewwwww. Jesus! Please stop! Yuck!’ And them hysterical laughter at the absurdity of the whole thing. I cannot be the only one whose kids are disgusting. Right? Right?

How is your laundry today? Have your kids ever done anything that gross? Tell me all about it!

I can’t tell if we are mentally or morally handicapped

“The next person to leave my refrigerator open will have to sit in the refrigerator all day. Am I Clear?”

I actually said this a few minutes ago. Out loud. Quite loud actually. And all of my windows are open. And my neighbours are outside. Sigh. I am sure that they think I am some sort of vile beast.

Ok, as I have a Euro-fridge, neither of my children would actually fit in it. But I swear, I am so tempted. How hard is it to close the door to the fridge? I mean, how do you NOT close it? Neither of my children are mentally handicapped. I think.

Morally handicapped? Well, probably. We had another of those charity pan-handlers at our door again yesterday. (The British have a great word for them. Chuggers. Short for charity muggers. Get it? Hysterical.)

So this time they were collecting for deaf children. (OMFG, what next, blind puppies?) The White Rose thought they wanted money for Dead Children. “we don’t know any dead children, but my gramma is dead.” She says helpfully. Now, a normal parent would calmly correct the errant child and apologise for the awkwardness. Not me.

No, I started to giggle and could not stop. I’m all “dead children hahahahah”. The poor bastard at my door had no idea where to go with this. This made me laugh more. “I’m so sorry” I mumble, “dead children aren’t funny. BWAHAHAHAHAH!”

In the end, I just closed the door. It was the kindest thing that I could do for the poor man.

There is something seriously wrong with us. Then I had to come back into the living room where Manboy was nervously waiting to hear the result of me opening the door. The only explanation that he got was “OMG she said…and he wanted…ahahaha! OK. I’m OK now.”

The BBC has helpfully provided a guide to Brit life in the run-up to the Olympics. Here is a snippet from their advice to tourists:

“The English are British and lots of people think the British are English but that annoys the Scottish and Welsh because although some think they’re British and some think they aren’t and some think they are but don’t want to be, they all agree that they definitely are not English.”

(link here)

OK, thanks very much for that. That was super helpful. I feel so much more confidant in my ability to handle London now. Jesus wept. The person who wrote that needs to just have a seat in my refrigerator.