Thursday, May 29, 2014


I want to get something off my chest.  Something that bothers me and something that really frustrates me sometimes.  It's something most of us do several times a day without thinking about it - but oh no, not me, not here in The Land of the Free.  Today people, I'm going to rant about the simple act of switching on a lamp or a light!  

The common household lamp.  You want to just press a switch and on it comes, right?  Not so simple over here.  Most lamp switches are not what you'd imagine a lamp switch to be.  By the time you realize that you don't just press it to turn it on, you're already getting frustrated.  Why is something so simple actually so complicated?  Some of the lamps over here have little dial type switches.  They are all different though.  Some of them have to be turned one click, some two, some even three.  And although sometimes they click in one direction, nothing will happen, this is just to trick you.  You have to be going in the right direction and that is not always the same way.  It's a lamp!  Why so many ways of turning it on and off?!  When I'm in a hotel, it takes me forever to get the bloody lamps working.  Sometimes they are controlled by switches on the wall - sometimes these switches are on the opposite end of the room from the lamp itself, just to confuse me even further!

When we first moved here, it took me ages to realize that sometimes the first switch on the wall when you enter a room, actually controls a lamp on the other side of the room.  But ha, if said lamp isn't switched on at the lamp itself, then it won't actually go on when you flick what you think is the light switch.  You then spend a few minutes walking back and forward between the wall switch and the lamps in the room before finding out what lamp is actually controlled by the switch and checking if it's switched on or not.  Too much unnecessary work for me I'm afraid!

To make matters worse, some rooms in the US only have a ceiling fan and a lamp instead of an overhead light.  It drives me crazy when I'm running between lamps and switches, sometimes in the dark.  I often wonder if I'm being recorded by some secret camera to give people a good laugh at my conundrum!

So there you have it, if you're reading this and are in the UK, please think yourself lucky that you don't have to waste as much energy as I do, trying to solve the eternal mystery of lamps and light switches on a daily basis ;)   

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Tennessee Camping Weekend

This past weekend we headed to Ragland Bottom Campground,  situated on the shore of Center Hill Lake.  It was a scenic drive out there and only took about an hour.  We didn't really know what to expect as it was our first visit, but we were in awe as we drove into the campground and saw our home for the weekend.  

Beautiful view!
The campground is grassy, wooded and slopes gently down toward the lake.  Each campsite has a level area for the tent, complete with water, electric outlet, bbq grill and a fire pit with an amazing lake view.  It even has it's own 2 mile hiking trail and a swimming beach.  You can't park close to your site so it was a bit of hard work dragging all our stuff down the hill (the kiddos earned their pocket money), but so worth it once we were set up and chilling with a beer in hand, campfire blazing.

The view from our camping deck

It was pretty chilly on our first night.  Poor Molly was freezing so I put her front legs in the arms of my down jacket and she wore that till morning.  She didn't struggle to get out of it, so I think it helped!  We had a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs cooked by the husband, accompanied by honey buns and copious amounts of tea seeing as it was still pretty cold. 

The Chef

Anyone for tea?

It started raining so we ducked inside the tent and played Old Maid and Heads Up until the rain stopped.  Middle child has just learned the word 'penis'.  He can't pronounce it properly, so had us in stitches when he announced that penis is a compound word - pen and is.  Hopefully he won't feel the need to share that with his teacher at school any time soon!

The rain quickly cleared and we headed down to the beach to gather firewood.  There was loads lying around and it was mostly dry so we had a huge pile to burn.  For free too, can't beat that!

We passed the rest of the day messing around on the beach and hanging out by the campfire.  The husband and the hund had a wee nap and the kiddos planked on the wooden ledge around the site, thankfully, nobody fell off! 

Planking with a view

Snoozing by the fire
It was another chilly night but it was lovely sitting round the fire watching the stars and listening to fish jumping out of the lake.  When we were getting ready for bed, I felt a lump on my stomach.  Yep, a tick had decided to dig in and was firmly embedded.  The husband got it out with tweezers and thankfully there's no bulls eye rash so hopefully I didn't get Lymes Disease from the nasty bloodsucker.

It was such a great experience to camp right next to beautiful Center Hill Lake.  Coming out of your tent in the morning to such a fantastic view was so relaxing.  We spent our last morning watching fish jumping and muskrats swimming along the shore.  We'll definitely bring the fishing rods next time if we can squeeze anything else in the van. 

I'd definitely recommend this campsite to anyone who enjoys tent camping.  We've stayed at Fall Creek Falls Campground before and although it was in a great location, the campsite itself was crowded and noisy.  Ragland Bottom was way more beautiful, spacious and peaceful.  We'll definitely return when we can.  Tennessee has so many beautiful places to visit, we're very lucky to live here!
Chillin' by the campfire

Monday, May 19, 2014

Say what?

Following on from my recent blog post on word differences between the UK/US, I'd like to talk about some phrases and words that have gotten me into trouble in the past and most likely will again in the future.  Considering both countries speak the same language, there are still a LOT of differences in our use of words.  Here are a few examples for you. 

"Are you having a fag?" or "Don't step on the fag!"  I say the latter to my kids when we're out and about in town.  I probably shouldn't, because fag over here is a not so complimentary term for a gay man and should my kids use this word at school, they'd be in for a whole world of trouble thanks to their Mummy.  I do try not to say it, but I've been saying it for years and it takes a while for new habits to sink in! 

"Got a strop on"  At home, we routinely use this phrase when somebody is getting a wee bit mad or having a tantrum at something or other.  Again, I say this to the kids regularly because kids being kids, they do have rather a lot of strop ons!  Over here however, people look at me in horror thinking I'm talking about a sex toy instead of a tantrum.  I'm not!  Honest!!   

"Pissed"  Now this word occurred a lot when I was younger, mostly during my RAF days.  But when you say it over here, it means you're mad or angry at something or someone.  I often wonder if I've scared people away by telling them I'm pissed, when in fact, I just mean I'm a little bit tipsy. 

"I'm going to sit on my bum"  One of my favorites and I do say this just for fun sometimes.  I love seeing people's faces when they think I just told them I'm going to go and sit on top of a down and out.

"Dustbin Men"  You know, I don't even know what they call dustbin men over here.  Trash guys?  Dustbin men sounds way nicer!  When I say this phrase, people look at me like I just told them I'd been abducted by aliens.

So, although I do have to explain myself quite a lot, it can also be fun using some of these phrases on purpose.  American people can be very politically correct sometimes, so I'll end this by saying I'd better get back in the kitchen where I belong.  Just kidding people, just kidding! 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

When I first met the husband, I didn't get the American obsession with peanut butter or understand why they liked it with jelly, chocolate or ice cream.  The only time I ever ate peanut butter was on toast, with a sprinkling of salt.  I just couldn't get my head around combining it with something sweet - blegh. But I have since then, changed my mind and peanut butter combos are definitely something I've adapted to.  

The delicious Reese's Peanut Butter Cup

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (peanut butter smothered in chocolate) are to die for.  I admit when I first tasted one, I spat it out in disgust, but I became accustomed to them and now LOVE them!  They're even better when used in s'mores.  Yes, yes, not so healthy, but pretty bloody delicious!  Peanut Butter and jelly sandwiches?  Yes please, another food combo  I used to scorn, but now absolutely love.  My absolute favorite peanut butter combo though, has to be the husband's homemade pancakes, spread with peanut butter then doused in syrup.  Yes please. 

Thinking about it though, there are probably a few British food combos (mostly with chips for some reason) that sound strange to my American friends.  Without further ado, here's a few of them:

Chips and Curry Sauce

You get this combo from any Chinese Restaurant/Take Away in Britain.  I mostly used to eat it on the way home from a night out, and my shirt would always be covered in it the next morning.  Usually served in white polystyrene containers, the chips are smothered in a brownish, yellowish Chinese curry sauce.  Sounds gross I know, but it really is the perfect combination - don't knock it till you try it!  This must be eaten with a plastic fork to get the full experience :)  Chinese curry is not to be confused with Indian curry however.  You should most definitely not ask for this at an Indian Restaurant.

Beans on Toast

I have mentioned this combo many times before.  When making beans on toast, you should ensure that the toast is smothered in butter before you dump the beans on top.  You should then proceed to eat it with a knife and fork.  I don't know any American that would eat beans in this manner :)

Fish, Chips & Mushy Peas

A delicious combo that goes perfectly together :)  Mushy peas are marrowfat peas that are then cooked to make them mushy.  Even better with loads of salt and vinegar.

The magnificent Chip Butty

You can make these at home but they really taste so much better from the chippy (Fish and Chip Shop).  It's as easy as it sounds.  Fresh, fat chips are put into a big, buttered, soft roll.  Add salt and vinegar and bam -  a jolly tasty chip butty! 

So now my mouth is watering and I wish I could just walk to the Chinese Restaurant or the chippy.  Thanks to Publix's British food section though, I am going to go and make myself some beans on toast instead, Heinz of course.  Worth every cent of the $5 it cost for a can...kind of! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Working 9 to 5

For those of you who didn't already know, I spent 10 years in the Royal Air Force (RAF) as an Assistant Air Traffic Controller (AATC).  Those 10 years were amazing, I had so many opportunities to travel, meet fantastic people, drink lots and do things I'd never have dreamed of before.  I mostly loved my job, but looking back, some of the things we had to do in the line of work were pretty hilarious. 

On promotion to Corporal, I got to work in one of these:
The illustrious Runway Control Caravan

What the heck is that, I hear you say?  This my friends, is the Runway Control Caravan.  A big truck with a mobile control tower built in, a couple of pyrotechnic gun holes in the roof, communications, and of course a kettle so you could make a brew for yourself and the Bird Control people out and about on the airfield.  There was no loo in the Caravan, so if you had to go, it was outside on the grass, hopefully out of eyesight of the aircraft spotters usually in position around the airfield fence.  The US Air Force doesn't have these!  During flying, the van had to be parked on the side of the runway in use which meant a lot of driving this huge thing around then plugging and unplugging all the cables.  After night flying, you then had to pack up all the cables and tuck them in - mostly in the pitch dark.  Thank God The Walking Dead wasn't on in those days, it was scary enough as it was!! 

I also worked with these a lot:

LE58 portable runway lights

These big, heavy cumbersome things were the bane of our life.  When there was night flying going on, we had to line the entire runway with them so they would light the runway if the main lighting failed.  After flying was over, we had to go out in the pitch black and pick them all up again.  If it was warm weather, the lights would be covered in bugs and other nasties.  I HATED doing this job!!!!  They would sometimes leak acid too, so it wasn't a clean task.  The photo above is a recent one I took from google, the lights we worked with were OLD and not as pristine as these ones appear to be!

We also had to do a few stints at bird control.  To this day, I still can't believe I drove round an airfield playing tapes of birds in distress through a loud speaker to scare off birds from the airfield.  If there was a birdstrike on the runway, we would have to go out and scrape the remains off the runway, bag them up and take them for analysis.  Not a good job for a vegetarian!

We made and carried a lot of these:

More often than not, in mugs like these:

It wasn't uncommon to have to carry a tray of 10 cups of tea/coffee up the ladder-like stairs to local control.  Ha, can you imagine what Health and Safety would have to say about that nowadays?!

Another necessary evil in the world of ATC was the operation of this piece of equipment:

The Mu Meter

Another not so clean task, the 'lovely' mu meter had to be hitched to the back of the ATC landrover and driven up and down the runway when there was inclement weather to measure the friction.  Oh for fun!

So, I know a lot of people think of ATC people sitting on their butts or waving lollipops at planes, but there was a whole lot of other stuff going on behind the scenes back in my day.  Although I didn't really enjoy going around the airfield in the dark on my own, looking back, it was actually a lot of fun and pretty funny too really.  Now I'm going to go and sit on my sandbag and reminisce some more :) 

Monday, May 5, 2014


As I've said before, I have changed the way I say and do a lot of things since I've been living in the USA.  My friends and family back home are the first to tell me I sound like a 'Yank'.  But you know what, some things I just can't bring myself to change.  Scottish to the core I guess :)   Here's a wee list for you!

Giving someone the V's (or the tongs as we say in Scotland)

So I don't do this every day and usually only when driving, but occasionally, somebody will cut me up, go through a red light or other similar thing.   Luckily for me I suppose, most people here think I've just given them the peace sign.  Ha, if you just cut me up I AM NOT GIVING YOU THE PEACE SIGN!!!  I am insulting you with my fingers in the way I am accustomed to!!!  Technically, the V sign was first used to indicate victory in World War 2 with the palm facing out, but nowadays it is mostly used in the UK as a rude gesture, palm facing in.  Less rude perhaps than a one fingured gesture - I reserve these for really special occasions :)

I can't stand Liam Gallagher but he demonstrates the V Sign perfectly :)

My name

Hi, my name is Pam.  PAM.  Not Peym or Pehm, but Pam.  I will never change the way I say my name although I probably should because it causes all kinds of confusion.  Americans do not say 'A', it's more of an 'E' sound.   When I introduce myself, I get all kinds of funny looks, but this makes me feel special in a strange kind of way :)


Over here a rubber is a durex or a johnny.  Where I come from, a rubber is an eraser.  It does make me giggle when I use this word over here in the British way.  People think I'm even madder than normal and sometimes give me sympathetic looks.  While this word would be very easy for me to change, it gives me too good a giggle when I use it not to (childish I know)!   


Road names here are confusing.  Freeway, highway, what the heck is the difference?  If it's a big road, it's a motorway and I will continue to call it a motorway!


"I'm going on my holidays".  Another sentence that gets me a lot of funny looks.  Holidays here are called vacation.  When you say holidays in America-land, it means Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's Day and that other big American 'holiday' St Patrick's Day.  If I said I'm going on vacation to somebody from the UK, they'd laugh their ass off at me and call me a Yank again :)  Not that there's anything wrong with being a Yank (I am one now!) but some things you just can't change!


Tap = faucet.  Why use 2 syllables when you can use just one?  To me, it will forever be a tap.

As an added bonus, here are 2 extra things that I reluctantly had to change.  No choice.  But I still find it difficult to do so.


When writing checks over here, the written money amount is written like so:  thirty dollars and 72/100.  
I hate writing this, it just seems so silly!  Why not just write thirty dollars and 72 cents?! C'mon America!
Incidentally, we spell checks 'cheques' at home. 


Even before kids (BK) when I worked in an office over here, I found it extremely difficult to write dates American style.  Why do our countries write these differently?  It makes no sense.  Over here they put the month first, then the date, then the year.  At home of course, we put the date first and then the month.  I've messed up so many times with things like renewing my driver's license because I thought I still had a few months left when in fact I didn't.  Lucky for me, the policeman who checked my license let me off.   My license said it expired 4/8/12 which I of course thought meant 4th of August.  Nope, it had expired in April.  My bad.  I have become vigilant at checking dates nowadays, but I still struggle when I'm writing them.

And so ends this week's observations on some of the differences between my two countries.  I hope you had a good laugh enjoyed reading them!  I guess I'll always be somewhat mixed up, but that's fine, I'm proud to be half Scottish and half American :)

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Tennessee Sunday

Another Sunday, another State Park :)  This time, we drove to Henry Horton State Park, about 45 mins drive from our house.  We didn't have the best impression when we arrived, there was a bunch of run-down looking cabins and a very old fashioned looking hotel and restaurant, not our usual place for a hike!  When we eventually found the trailhead which wasn't signposted at all, we weren't very excited, but thankfully, the trail did not disappoint.

The woods were pretty dark on the first part of the trail, but it was still really pretty.  There was nobody else around so Molly got to go off leash and run free which she loved.   The trail ran along the Duck River and there were yellow flowers everywhere which was beautiful!  

We walked about 2 miles out and then turned back because there was a forecast for strong storms starting in the afternoon and we didn't want to get caught out in the woods.  The wind picked up but there was no bad weather otherwise.  We took a time out down by the river, Molly fell into a mud puddle but soon got cleaned off in the river!

We didn't see many critters, just a bunch of huge ants, spiders and a raccoon that ran away as soon as it saw us.  Molly of course, found some dead thing and felt the need to roll in it - why do dogs love stink - she got washed off in the river thankfully.

When we returned to the van, one of the boys found a HUGE tick on his leg - it was at least half a centimeter long - YUCK!!!!  We were sure to check everybody out before we drove away, then  set off back home for some beers and Beef & Chipotle Burritos (thanks for the receipe Marla) in the yard before the rain started.  A pretty good day was had after all and I would like to return here to do some trail running.  The trail was perfect, not too challenging, but it would be a great run!
This old lady got tired and had to be carried for a while :)

There were severe storms forecast for the next few days and possibly tornadoes, so it was nice to get out and about and have some exercise before they hit.  Luckily though, the storms pretty much passed us by and we had an uneventful few days.  Till next time on a Tennessee Sunday!