I've been one since I was a small child... my grandmother was Irish, and although she hated the English for the horrible things they did to her family back in, oh, the early 1800's, she was lace curtain Irish, so, she had quite a few English habits.
I went to a boarding school where my house nun was English, so, it was enforced upon us that all things English were good and true and proper. My pen of choice is a fountain pen, I still use 'u' in words that American's drop it in, such as colour and favour, I take cream in my tea, I speak English fluently. My children have always had crackers on Christmas Day. I make an amazing roast dinner on Christmas Day... yes, I am an avowed Anglophile, and I've been coming to the U of K since 1997 visiting friends.
I have a Love/Hate relationship with the country.
I love pubs. I love pub food. I think pickled onions are a culinary masterpiece, and a friend of mine, Mel (who used to live in Malmsbury), told her dad of my love of them... so, he made me some. We bonded over those. One of the upsides of our bonding, along with marvelous onions, were his stories of working for Prince Charles. His comment about Camilla? "Oh, yes, well... the photos are kind."
I do love the radiators. You can wash your clothes in the teeny tiny washing machines that hold one pair of jeans, two shirts, a pair of underwear and a small towel, then you hang them on the little drying hangerthingies that hook onto the radiators. Presto! Dry clothes in no time at all. You also put your towels there during your shower, and your pajamas at night before you go to bed... hang your clothes there during the night.... all of these things will provide warm comfy things to put on your freezing cold body, making you content for at least five minutes.
The markets. Tesco. Asda. Sainsbury's. The people in the U of K know their food. You buy ready made pizza with buffalo mozzarella cheese on it. Or smoked artichoke hearts with pecorino cheese and lonza. There is Winter Soup, which has white onion, Stilton cheese and white port in it... just there on the shelf. We have been making mince pies... I'm not a fan of mince pies, but, Loo has a recipe that is to die for. You heat them up, and pour brandy cream on them. Brandy cream you buy in the dairy case. Imagine! The cheese case goes on for miles. There are 470 different kinds of cheddar alone. Fresh breads and nice veg and the meat is great. We went to Costco, which made me laugh. Where else can you buy 47 pound bags of tea and haggis but in a UK Costco? For the record, I love haggis.
Chocolate. Real Cadbury's. Entire aisles in the market given over to chocolate. Cadbury's Flake. Bury me there, when I die.. do.
The little local markets are lovely, too. You pick up your paper, some bread or cheese or milk. Everyone stands about and gossips... they all know you. They remember me from my last visit, "Ohhh, look! It's Loo's Yank!" They know my name, I'm just called the Yank.
The Countryside. What you see in the costume dramas is true... it's rolling and pure green and dotted with sheep or some other kind of animal with four legs. I once pointed out the sheep to Loo only to be told they were ponies.
I live in the city, what do I know?
Gossip magazines... they are amazing here. I don't read them in the states, not even People, the news magazine for the illera...illir... people who can't read. Here, I consume them. I won't read a decent newspaper, only the trash ones. Great fun, really, they are...and they are full of pure, delightful over the top gossip. I'm currently reading Heat.... bliss.
I love how they don't fool about with cigarette warnings. None of this small print, with a little, "Well, smoking might hurt you, you know." No, here in the U of K, it's flat out on the front, "SMOKING KILLS YOU, YOU WANKER". Nothing subliminal about that.
People are friendly, with a deep desire to talk to me when they hear my accent. I had a following in Costco, one woman saying to her son, sotto voce, "Ohhh, look.... there's an American!" I felt as if I should do a trick or something. One came over and said, "Right, mate.. sorry about your dollar." Since I was sobbing over the exchange rate on a travel shop window:
$1000 CASH AND
$250 IN AMERICAN TRAVELERS CHEQUES
I thought that was very kind of him to say something.
My friends here are honest to a fault. When you are trying on dresses, and you walk out and they both fall on the ground laughing, telling you "Oh, dear, Quin, you look like a paeodiphile's nightmare in that one!" or, when you try on a dress you know is perfect, that you are willing to shell out precious pounds for, this conversation occurs:
Me: "I like it."
Limey, dear, sweet, kind Limey says, "No, darling, it's far too young for you."
Me: "But...you said my new haircut took years off me"
Limey: "Darling, it does... but, that dress isn't a miracle worker."
The trees sticking out of the houses, the really pathetic holiday lights, the greasy fish and chips that are still rumbling in my tummy from last night, the huge dogs I share my bed with, HB and MB who never make me feel anything but an Aunt... all of those who will be at pub on Christmas Eve, and will go over every war the US has been in since WWII with me...we will go to Loo's parents for Christmas Day and do our crackers and wear our paper crowns and play games and eat and laugh... then, Boxing Day comes about, more time with family and friends... the little shops with sweet old ladies running them, the dogs being walked everywhere, red cheeked children and the soft air and the simple knowledge there are customs and traditions that are there, things you do... this and more makes me love the UK.
I'll go to London after holiday and spend a day with another dear friend, adding more to the fun of being here.
For now, I've the fog, the light brushing of snow on the road (which run the wrong way)... the roundabouts, the doors for each room, the moss on the trees, the tiny narrow lanes that scare the crap out of me when we drive, day or night... the accents I understand so easily, the fact I drink massive amounts of tea, the idea that no matter how rattled you are, a cup of tea is just what you need.
I'm an avowed Anglophile.
Now, if only the dollar was worth something.... it would be a perfect time here.