What can I say...
so much we have learned 
and so much we will miss

Thank you for joining my journey!




I am so thankful you have read and commented on my blog
which in turn encouraged me to keep documenting our time here in words and images

As I start to look at England from a rear-view mirror perspective,
here's some of my thoughts about this wonderful country
we have been lucky to call 'home'...

THE WEATHER

Enabling green grass and lush landscapes year around,
rain is an important fiber of the English culture




Providing not only a conversation starter,
rain has created a hearty crew who holds events rain or shine
and 'just gets on with it'

Molding fashion,
you find adorable wellies and umbrellas at the ready for rain
and the sweater-scarf-leggings-boots combo is put to work 
at least 9 months of the year

With rain comes rainbows and
the probable cloud cover provides soft lighting for photos
The mild weather is predictable with occasional 'sunny spells'

Fog has been infrequent
but always a treat
as it drops a totally different lens to a wintry landscape




Wintertime is short but very dark,
and later we're rewarded by insanely long hours of daylight in summertime

In general
the clouds and rain are like a cozy blanket
It makes me say, 'Ahhh, that's my England'

THE OUTDOORS

With all that rain and mild temperatures,
this island has the most wonderful conditions for growing things




Dancing wildflowers are left to grow along the roadside
and walls of greenery guide you down the lanes 
in the form of hedgerows and tree tunnels

Picture-perfect crop fields are just as beautiful
as the countless public gardens that dot this verdant country

Garden nurseries sell not only flowers and plants
but pots of tea, lunch and dessert

With public footpaths zig-zagging the country,
there is no shortage of local hikes
and dogs can frolic off-leash to their waggy-heart's content




Without the danger of bears, mountain lions, or poisonous snakes
children can run around more carefree than we are accustomed to
(there are venomous adders, but rare)

Oh, how we will miss... 

being woken up at 5 o'clock by birdsong
old car horn sound of a pheasant call
bike pump sound made by the Great Tit
skinny little legs on the sweet and revered English Robin

wandering solitary fox
spinning tail of a newborn lamb
gorgeous haze of bluebells in Spring
shocking acid-yellow rapeseed




rich blue of a British summer sky
fairytale-like toadstools in autumn
magical hoar frost in winter

THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Like many Americans,
I am quite smitten by the English accent
and surprised how it varies greatly
depending on class, education, and location




I've started to notice which type of accent is spoken in radio commercials
which provides a whole different level of information to the listener
as to what the advertiser wants to convey

While the English are not boastful,
they'll remind you of their original ownership of the English language

And yet
they have pronunciation inconsistencies that make me look like a real heel
such as Cliveden - should be Clive-den but is pronounced Cliv'den -
and other pronunciation rule derailments such as Thames and Leicester

I imagine the English use a larger percentage of their dictionary than Americans
and they have an impressively extensive vocabulary for landscapes such as
moor, tor, fen, fell, dale, vale, copse, lea, common, green, heath, and beck

There is even a wordsmith game show on BBC radio

I love that the public will correct grammatically incorrect signage

How I wish I had taken a photo of a notice placed in an elevator/lift I saw a few years ago
Someone had used a pen to make about 4 grammatical corrections on the sign
It was taken down that night

But I did get a photo of this one at my local post office...


Someone attempted to scratch out the 's'


On a side note,
I find it fascinating that the French has an official authority (Académie française)
determining the usages, vocabulary, grammar, and dictionary of the French language

FOOD & DRINK

Let's cut the the chase:
man, how we will miss our country pubs




Imagine a 17th-century pub with a warming fire in the fireplace
and board games stacked nearby just waiting to be played
Perfection!

A warming drink may include 
a pot of tea
hot chocolate
(warmish) pint of beer
Winter Pimms
or mulled wine

Happiness is sitting outside on a sunny day at a pub
while the kids play on equipment or hide-and-seek

'Quiz Night' is on Fridays
Sunday Roast each week
Dog and family friendly

Pubs are the heartbeat of many villages
and there simply is no equivalent in the US
or possibly elsewhere in the world outside the UK/Ireland region

With so many cool pubs to discover,
you never have to go to the same one twice




While England gets a bad rap for food,
delicious Indian take-away is as common as Chinese take-out in the US

The London food scene is amazing, delicious and diverse
and is constantly evolving with clever new ideas

From liquid nitrogen ice cream
to Alice In Wonderland tea,
from pay-per-minute cafes
to sushi on conveyor belts,
London has it all
and we're spoiled for choice

Our sweet tooth will be missing a lot of British favorites:

millionaire shortbread bars
lemon drizzle cake
treacle tart
sticky toffee pudding
honeycomb crunch ice cream
first of the season British strawberries

And those unforgettably named dishes
Toad In The Hole, Bubble & Squeak

In place of syrup,
who knew squeezing lots of lemon juice and sprinkling sugar
all over pancakes would be a new breakfast favorite?

Tipped off by a French friend who knows her food, we found another love
good local bread
- so soft, so light, with lots of holes inside to capture the butter -
yummmmm

Aside from rain, tea also is an obvious integral part of England
Offered in homes and schools, by hairdressers, and at medical appointments
'a nice cup of tea' is another emotional cozy blanket in England
to either welcome or soothe




Interestingly
'cream tea' is more regional than I would have expected
with its clotted cream and scones
When I stumble upon one, I bring out my happy dance

THE DRIVING

As intimidating and silly the driving exam seemed at the time,
I actually am thankful I had to go through the process
or shall we call it 'a right of passage', hmm?

I definitely became a much better driver
thanks to the exam, the driving lessons,
and fellow drivers who honked at my missteps




I love the continuous driving enabled by
roundabouts and yields (no stop signs)

And I appreciate 'creative parking'
in any direction on sidewalks
made possible by low kerbs/curbs

Speed limits that change on digital signs 
are a brilliant idea on the highways/dual carriageways

You gotta love the single lane roads that call themselves a double lane
- smile if you know what I'm talking about -

And I can just hear the crowd go wild
when I totally nail one of those challenging parallel parking spaces
- that is some serious satisfaction, my friends -

TRAVEL

While we have the same number of school days as our American counterparts,
our holiday breaks are much longer


Ireland


In the US, it felt like nine months of solid school

In the UK, 
it feels like we are on break, just finished a break, or about to have a break

Consequently, English schools finish the school year in late June or July
making the summer holiday quite short

And with two magnificent international airports nearby,
many destinations are just a direct flight away

Due to our location,
many countries are in a nearby timezone
meaning jet lag often is of no concern

Travel is affordable-ish
with discounted airlines and most hotels open to some bargaining

We will definitely miss all the mental breaks from school
allowing us quality family time even when we didn't travel

Feels like healthy living

MISCELLANEOUS

A few other oddities I will miss:


For portable toilets, that slogan is priceless!


* on/off switch on wall outlets

* Panto season at Christmastime

* LBC and BBC talk radio - giving me more insight into the English mind

* contest radio winners who respond with a simple 'thank you' or 'I'm. so. happy.' 

* upcoming Scottish independence vote and UK General Election
Refreshingly, voting happens with little fanfare and no endorsements signs
I'm sorry to miss feeling the pulse!

* English synonyms for so many American words
My vocabulary has definitely expanded

* little things such as the European '7' with a line through it,
the date written in a different order,
writing in upper case letters almost exclusively,
formally beginning emails with 'dear' and ending with 'kind regards'

* the density of so much to do, see, learn, and photograph
so close to home




While the time is right on many fronts for us to leave,
we are returning to the US as new, improved 'us'

I'm definitely a lot smarter having absorbed English history and culture
and grateful to learn a different way to do life and raise a family

Would I live in another foreign country again?
Although it has its challenges, yes, definitely yes
:)

- all images my own -
 
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