If you've ever travelled or moved overseas, you are sure to have found some things a little different and strange. The following is a humorous compilation of the thoughts, feelings and observations of two couples who have swapped countries.
A visitor from Cornwall
There is some debate over how one should prepare their cream tea (Devonshire Tea to us Aussies). We learnt this upon the arrival of Pete’s distant relative Sam, who is staying with us for a week to do some work experience at Pete’s work, and happens to be from the scone capital of England itself.
According to those from Devon the clotted cream should be spread on the scone first and then topped with the jam. The bordering Cornish however disagree and believe that the jam should be spread on the scone first and then topped with the clotted cream. Sam was lovely enough to bring us some home made scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream. Being born in Cornwall he decided that we’d have them cream on top and yes they were delicious
It’s fair to say that I’ve suffered a fair amount of ‘cabin fever’ since moving to the UK. Although I wouldn’t say I am outdoorsy, I do enjoy being outside on occasion and have missed having a back yard. Unfortunately, we are one floor up and look down on the rubbish storage area. Now this isn’t altogether boring. The communal rubbish area has been an area of controversy in the past few weeks.
We previously had dumpmaster bins that unfortunately became a dumping ground for any man and his dog’s rubbish. After 2 rubbish removal trucks came along to clear up the mess, and a few men in suits milled around, we were issued with wheelie bins instead. This somewhat improved the predicament for a few weeks, but it seems people in our block of flats are either just plain lazy/gross or people who don’t live here keep dumping their rubbish in and or on our bin. Last week this resulted in our bin becoming completely inaccessible and adorned by pooey nappies…..nice!
According to my font of knowledge of all things British (my friend Gary), an anorak is someone who bird watches, or train spots, or does a bit of a nerdy hobby almost obsessively, generally requiring an anorak due to the weather conditions. Well this weekend, we found ourselves amongst the anoraks (in our anoraks) on the Bluebell Railway.
A former rail route, the Bluebell rail line was closed down in the 60's and then reopened when a group of volunteers created the Bluebell train society, bought a heap of steam carriages and set to create a scenic railway. Run mostly by volunteers, we didn't begrudge the 17 pound train fair, and set off in a 1800's carriage for the 45 minute ride.
Brussels sprout trees
In the UK, Brussels sprout trees are a ‘thing’. Essentially the stalk of the plant with the sprouts still attached; shops here are selling them for around $5 a tree. Now, I’m not sure where you stand on the sprout debate, but personally I am a fan. For the vast majority who aren’t, I’m not sure how this makes sprouts more appealing, and for those of us who like sprouts, it makes them about 3 times the price. Give me more sprouts for my money I say! Whilst Googling ‘sprout trees’ its also become apparent to me, that some people even adorn their sprout tree with a golden star and use it as a Christmas tree. And I thought I had scaled back this year with a $12 potted fir tree sprinkled with glitter.
Trapped in the UK
I am currently a serf and the UK Home Office is my Feudal Overlord. Pete thinks I am a being a bit dramatic, but it is beginning to feel like it. The UK Home Office have had my passport to reissue my VISA for 2 months now and without it I’m stuck tending my little plot, bonded for lack of an updated VISA. Travel plans for Christmas have been downgraded to a trip somewhere in the UK and I’m wondering if I’ll get to see some snow in Europe….
Fingers crossed it arrives shortly as being a serf doesn’t suit me!
When it comes to finding your way around, it can be a little tricky at times. When you are overseas the places, things and systems that you are used to are all slightly different, or non existent and at times it can leave you a little bewildered or confused. This has been particularly true of my school experience in the UK so far. I thought I had asked enough questions, and done the right research, however, not being able to see the ‘bigger picture’ until I arrived here, I couldn’t have realised that I was going into one of the worst performing and behaving schools in East Sussex.
On the 30th of June, Pete and I will celebrate our 6 month anniversary of being expats. Unlike most people who go to live in the UK, we are not neck deep in other Aussies and Kiwis on the same adventure. Out here in East Sussex, we are something of an anomaly. Just the other day a waitress at our local restaurant asked if we knew Olivia, because she was also Australian. Apparently being few and far between also means you stick together. Unfortunately in our case, no.
It's February. The days are longer, the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds and if you're lucky you can go out with just a coat, minus the gloves and beanie that January dictates.
30 minutes to Battle
Sometimes smart phones are smarter than you and sometimes they are just ironic. Knowing I like history and knowing the area I was going to live in, my British pal Gary had told me that to see the site of the battle of Hastings, I'd need to visit the town of Battle and not the town of Hastings. Thinking this would be fun, I Googled Battle to work out which trains I might need to catch to get there. Holding this search dear, my phone keeps telling me '30 Minutes to Battle' every morning when I leave to work. I thought it was quite fitting, as settling in in a new country can seem like a bit of a battle sometimes!