Monday, July 13, 2015


I love most things about America-land, I really do.  But without beating around the bush, I absolutely LOATHE the sandwiches here.  This is what many 'normal' American sandwiches look like:
Loaded, I say, loaded with meat - way too much bloody meat!!!  How much meat do you need, and why bother with the bread at all?  Have you seen some of the sandwiches that Adam Richman eats on Man vs Food?  They're not sandwiches at all, they're just huge piles of meat!  American sandwich bread is usually sweet and slightly floppy - everybody in America should immediately travel to the UK and try a delicious, crusty, filled baguette or sandwich from the local baker on any High Street, I promise you that your mind will be blown.  Even Marks and Spencer sandwiches are better than most of the deli sandwiches over here.  Oh the joy of fresh, granary bread, filled with whatever takes your fancy, that doesn't involve a massive pile of meat.  Yes, we too can make large sandwiches, but not the colossal size that is so normal over here.  If the filling is tasty and the bread decent, you don't have to!

Perhaps the meat quantity in the US is to disguise the taste of the bread.  Brits want to taste the bread, it's equally as important as the filling.  A favorite sandwich back home is prawn cocktail, either on bread or in a baguette.   Prawns in America are called shrimp and a shrimp cocktail sauce here is bright red and slightly spicy.  It's pretty good, but it's not British prawn cocktail, which is prawns mixed in a creamy, tangy sauce.  Baguettes are not and should never be soft, America.  You should never, ever be able to bend a baguette.  If you can, you should stop what you're doing and immediately run for the hills. 

I miss British sandwich menus too.  It's mostly the same old, same old here - reuben, turkey, ham, blah blah blah.  ALL PILED HIGH WITH MEAT.  I would love to be able to order a chicken tikka sandwich, a coronation chicken sandwich, any variation of flavorful British cheese with pickle, or even some tasty meat - just not in a huge pile (don't mention mad cow please)! 

Anyway, as always people, this blog is written mostly tongue in cheek, so please don't be offended!  I do have a favorite sandwich place here called Jimmy Johns which has just the right amount of meat and tastes delicious, so it's not all bad :)  Our Scottish vacation date is drawing closer, and it's safe to say that we will be out and about a lot, sampling delicious sandwiches all over the Highlands.  I really can't wait!  Prepare to be bored to tears with millions of food photos when we return :)   Till next time...! 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Anyone for Tennis?

ESPN, you are killing me.  It's Wimbledon time, but for some reason you don't think it's necessary to show games in their entirety.  You cut without notice to other matches and play commercials at ridiculous times - I can't bear it!  Don't you realize that my heart literally stops beating when Andy Murray is playing?  For God's sake ESPN, I'm Scottish, we rarely win anything, but Mr Murray has a good chance this year so PLEASE let me watch a whole game!  Your commentary is also extremely dull, a good commentary team can add so much to the whole experience and yours is sadly lacking.  It was the same for last year's World Cup - your commentators had little to no enthusiasm and commercials were way too frequent, I miss the UK so much at times like these.  At home, I'd get to see the whole match plus the pre-match build up, post-match commentary, interviews and even get to see what Kim (Andy's wife) is wearing!!  I also like to see who's in the Royal Box, who the Beckhams are sitting next to, and what other celebrities are in the audience.  No such luck on TV over here.  Bah humbug!
C'mon Andy!!!

One of my favorite American holidays has just taken place, the 4th of July.  I'm happy to report that it was Molly's least stressful Independence Day ever.  Usually, the 2 weeks preceding the day itself are full of fireworks going off at all times of the day and night and Molly will be found pacing our closet, shaking and panting like she's going to die.  It's equally as distressing for us as it is for her, as there's not much you can do to help her.   We've tried prescription tranquilizers in the past, and also her thundershirt - which actually works pretty well for thunderstorms, but fireworks not so much.  Anyway, I took her to the vet here a few weeks ago, and she prescribed our fur baby some human Xanax.  I gave her one the day before the fireworks, another the day of, and she was pretty calm even during the noisiest part of the night which was unbelievable!  I stayed with her in the one air conditioned room of the house most of the night, played some loud Taylor Swift music and it all really worked.  She got up the next morning, right as rain and no more fireworks have been heard since.  I'd definitely recommend asking your vet for Xanax if your dog suffers during fireworks or storms.

It's been bloody well roasting here recently!  So much so that we had to buy a portable air conditioning unit because we were all sweating and whining profusely.  I know, first world problems and all that...  When somebody tells you it rains all the time in Seattle, believe me, they are lying.  We're off to Scotland on our hols soon, I know there's not a chance of the weather being this nice there and it's going to be tough dragging out all our long sleeved shirts and trousers to pack.  But this time next week, I'll be in my beautiful homeland for the first time in 3 years, and I'm more than excited, regardless of the weather.

Life here continues to be very good, the kiddos have done a variety of summer camps already and we've done a few outdoor activities as a family.  We recently hiked to Annette Lake on a hot Saturday.  It's a 4 mile climb to get there, but once you reach the top you are greeted with this view:

Even my youngest who didn't enjoy the last mile or so of climbing agreed that it was worth the effort.  We spent the day chilling on one of the small beaches, swimming and chatting to other hikers before the return hike down.  We are so lucky to live this close to such beautiful destinations like this, and we intend returning to Annette Lake to camp out overnight towards the end of the summer. 

Anyway, that's my quick catch up for now, blogging has definitely taken a backseat recently!  I'm sure I'll have lots to report after our Scotland trip though, so till then folks, have a great summer! 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Shoes, Soccer & Outlander

It's safe to say that blogging has been on the back burner since we moved to WA.  Perhaps it's because I've been in the States for so long that I'm finally used to most things over here, or maybe it's just because we're now living somewhere that I could actually see us staying for a very long time.  Regardless, we've definitely settled in here and got in our groove! 

Of course, most days I still say things that are prone to confusion.  I was speaking with an American friend the other day discussing what she should wear to an interview.  We got the outfit sorted, then I told her just to finish it off with a nice pair of court shoes.  There was a silence so I realized that I'd said something not quite right.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you UK style court shoes:

And the US version of court shoes:

I guess I should have known, given what country I'm in, and it definitely wouldn't be a good idea to wear court shoes to an interview in the US.  Lesson learned...

Speaking of sports, we've become diehard Seattle Sounders fans and have already applied for season tickets for 2016.  We've been to a few games recently, and have tickets for a few more before the end of this season.  All we need to do now is learn some of the songs/chants!  To be honest, I think I've been to more soccer games here than I ever went to in the UK.  The atmosphere here is amazing.  It's also very family friendly so we can take the littles without worrying about the football hooligans or casuals that you sometimes get back home.  Shame really.  Although we did find a pie and sausage roll stand in the stadium that serves delicious, authentic Brit food - albeit for a small fortune.  But it's well worth it for a taste of home and the Scotch pies were AMAZING!  The beer selection isn't lacking at the stadium either.  You can't beat watching a game, beer and pie in hand with the sun shining.  Go Sounders, fight and win!!! 

We've been to see the Mariners play (baseball) too, it was definitely a fun experience but not nearly as exciting as soccer.  Sorry baseball fans, but the most exciting part for me is what celebrity gets to throw the first pitch!  I love the patriotism before the games though, (both soccer and baseball) hats off and standing for the National Anthem.  It gets me every time.  I really feel lucky and proud to be both a British and an American citizen, and I love how Americans celebrate their country.  'MERICA!!! 

Another huge bonus of living here are the many local breweries and wineries - and they're all fantastic!  But man, I'm going to weigh 200lbs soon if I don't refrain.  My favorites are too numerous to mention, but it's so cool to be able to visit the actual brewery of your favorite tipple whenever you're out and about, or just go and try a new one someplace you haven't been before.  Oregon beers and wines are plentiful here too, and just as tasty.  I think I'm slowly turning into a beer snob - although I still wouldn't say no to a good ol' mass produced Shocktop :)  

Our neighborhood is also pretty fantastic.  There's never a shortage of kids outside playing.  Friday afternoons/evenings have turned into Fun Friday for kids and grownups alike, we enjoy our adult beverages, chuck some food on the BBQ, order pizza for the kiddos and everybody just hangs out.  If this is the American dream, then I like it a lot :) 

Has anybody else been watching Outlander on TV?  I read the books last year after being pestered by a few friends for years.  I had no interest because it sounded so cheesy - time traveling back to Scotland - umm, no thank you.  But, I gave it a go and ended up absolutely loving them.  In fact, I cried when I read the last one and I wish Diana Gabaldon would hurry her ass up and write book number 9!!!  Anyway, there's been a TV series made from the first one and it totally did the book justice.  My friend DD, who coincidentally is also a genuine Sassenach, lives close to where they're filming Season 2.  She's been down taking photos and spying on the handsomeness that is Sam Heughan and some of the other characters.  I'm more than jealous!  Funny thing is, it's given me a renewed interest in Scottish history.  It's not that I've never been into Scottish history, I have, but I will definitely be looking at places differently when we go home in the summer.  Culloden Battlefield (which features heavily in Outlander) is not far from my parents' home at all, and I want my kids to know about my homeland's colorful and tragic history, so we will be visiting there for sure, amongst other places.  I consider myself very lucky to come from such a small but beautiful country with such a huge history - and as patriotic as I am about America, Scotland will always have the number one place in my heart. 
Sam Heughan as Jamie in Outlander.  Phwoarrr!!

Anyway, that's it for now, life is fantastic in WA and it just keeps getting better.  I'm going to try to be more consistent with the blogging now too, so be warned :)  Till next time from sunny Washington, folks!     


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Happy stuff

Let's talk poo for a moment.  As a Mum to 3 kiddos and 1 fur baby, I've changed countless diapers and cleaned up many messes that have caused me to gag over the years, but that's all part of being a parent of course!  Recently though, I've had to deal with way too many poo situations of toilet blocking proportions.  Is it because American toilets are different from British toilets?  I don't remember the toilet ever blocking this much in the UK, or is it that my kiddos are doing something they shouldn't?  Regardless, after spending 45 minutes trying to unblock the downstairs toilet from one of the kiddos this morning, the feeling of elation I had when I was finally successful, led me to shriek with happiness.  Today's tools included the obligatory wire coathanger, baking soda, vinegar, washing up liquid and finally, the plunger.  I hate even touching the plunger because of it's history.  To me, it's in the same category as raw meat.  Shudder.  But in the end, it came through and finally sent the poo of epic proportions on it's merry little way to the Pacific Ocean.  Strange the things that make you happy huh?

Lots of other things have made me happy this week!  Middle son did great at the soccer tryouts and made the team, we are so proud and excited for him.  One of his friends from down the street also made the same team, and they're now thick as thieves which is great.  There are a lot of kids in the neighborhood so there's always someone for my kids to play with.  It was the same in Tennessee, but I was worried there would be nobody for them to play with here - happily I was wrong!

We took a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island and drove from there out to Poulsbo at the weekend, the dog came too.
Riding the ferry
It was a beautiful day and the scenery was amazing.  We considered living out there when we first moved here, but the daily ferry commute for the husband was a bit daunting so we ended up by the mountains instead, which definitely isn't a bad thing.  Bainbridge was gorgeous as was Poulsbo.  We walked on the pebbly beach, found tons of crabs and had lunch outside in the sun at JJ's - Molly too.  It's just a shame that it's taken her till she's 14 to calm down enough to be able to do that with her!  Poulsbo reminded me of Scotland and Cornwall, and we had a wonderful, relaxing day. 
Beautiful Poulsbo

Instead of taking the ferry home, we drove down to Gig Harbor to check it out too.  Another gorgeous waterside town with incredible views of Mount Rainier.  Seeing Mount Rainer as many times as I do also makes me very happy.  It's bleedin' massive.  It doesn't look real, but there it is, sticking way up into the sky.  It's hard to take your eyes off it when you can see it, I'm so lucky to live in this amazing place!

I met up with a friend from Korea for lunch at (of course) a Korean Restaurant in Redmond.   It was so good to hook up again after all these years!  The conversation, the food and the sides were fabulous and I'll definitely take the family back for dinner. 

This past week wasn't all rainbows and unicorns though.  I had the misfortune to meet who could only be described as the most miserable and rude man in Washington in the parking lot of my daughter's martial arts center.  Parking spaces there are pretty tight, and my parking on that day wasn't exactly stellar, BUT, there was still some space between me and the line as you can see in this pic (my van is on the left).
I am not parked on the line!!!!

Anyway, there I was, sitting in the van with the boys, waiting to go in and collect my daughter, when my new friend pulled up in the space on my right.  He opened his door and it banged loudly on my van.  He just looked at me and walked off.  I was a bit disconcerted of course, so got out for a look, and asked him if he'd just dented my van.  He kept walking so I said it a bit louder but with a polite excuse me.  He turned round and started yelling at me, saying he hadn't touched my van, it was just my mirror and that I had no right to accuse him of anything because of my parking.  I was speechless, he'd obviously had a very bad day, but there was absolutely no reason for him to start screeching!  He refused to acknowledge that he'd banged my van,  yelled a bit more, then turned round and stomped right into my daughter's martial arts place.  Not one to remain silent - especially when I'm in the right - I called after him that he was the rudest man I've ever met and that he obviously has a problem.  A lady in the parking lot was concerned about me (bless her) and she too agreed that he was indeed crazy.  I then had to run the gauntlet of walking inside the building to pick up my daughter while he was there waiting for his son.  Ha!  I can't wait to see him twice every week as we pick up our children at the same time and place...

So apart from the miserable b****** mentioned above, it was a mostly happy week!  There are so many things to do around here that we will certainly never get bored, although it could get pretty boring being yelled at in the parking lot every week!      

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Elk, Cherry Pie & Soccer

This place amazes me every day.  On the way home last week this happened:

Right next to the road.  Yes, I pulled over like a tourist and took a photo, but wow, who gets to see an elk herd this close up?   They might look like gentle giants but somebody's dog was actually attacked by one of them at a nearby lake yesterday, so I'll be keeping our Molly on a short leash when I'm up there!

We had family visiting over the weekend and it was so much fun being tourists.  We hiked locally to Teneriffe Falls on Saturday.  The trail was pretty challenging for the kiddos towards the top, but it was so worth it to see the Falls.

So steep!

We rewarded ourselves afterwards at Twede's Cafe in North Bend, famous for being on Twin Peaks and for having the most awesome cherry pie.  I can confirm that it was indeed the best cherry pie I've ever eaten - crust and all - which is really something because I usually don't like pie crust! 

After we cleaned up from hiking, we drove to Seattle to drop a small fortune on buy shirts and scarves for the Sounders soccer game that we were going to the next day.  Mission accomplished, we took a walk around the waterfront for some people watching, a scenery fix and a Rachel's Ginger Beer to go.  I'm still getting used to all these imaginative ways to park downtown and get around.  We used Zirx for our parking.  You tell them your whereabouts, some nice man shows up and takes your car away and then keeps it someplace safe until you're ready for it later on.  No matter where you happen to end up later on, they will deliver it back to you!  It's pretty cheap too!
Daughter in crow pose with a view :)

We decided we wanted to eat Korean BBQ, so we uber'd it out to Shoreline where the only Korean restaurant in Seattle with grills at the tables is situated.  It was well worth the trip out there.  The taste of bulgogi, kimchi and mandu transported us back to Korea, minus the nasty smells of Songtan of course.  OB beers were consumed and a bottle of soju purchased to take home.  Only the husband partook in the soju though, I'm still scarred from drinking one too many soju slushies when we lived there!   The staff were lovely, helpful and we will definitely return in the future.  If you fancy giving it a try, here's the link: Old Village Korean BBQ
Korean BBQ

Sunday was game day.  We arrived pretty early at the stadium, but there was already tons of people milling around.  The Seattle Sounders/Portland Timbers rivalry is serious, some drunken 'lady' was yelling swear words at our kids while we were looking for our friends.  Normally Americans are so nice that it was a bit of a shock to be honest!  The atmosphere in the stadium and the game itself were FANTASTIC!!!  We ate authentic Scotch pies, rather expensive, but they were the real deal.  The stall also had sausage rolls which I will definitely try at our next game.  We yelled ourselves hoarse, learned some of the team chants and watched the Sounders win.  We also met up with 2 friends that we haven't seen since our wedding, many years ago!  They were supporting the opposition, but still hung out with us for a while even though we were decked in Seattle shades of green and grey :)  Middle son was in heaven seeing two of his soccer idols, Dempsey and Martins and it was so exciting when Dempsey scored. 

Rocking our Sounders scarves :)

Speaking of soccer, this week middle son started tryouts for select soccer.  It's a whole different ball game up here (pardon the pun) from how it was in Tennessee.  The pressure on the boys here is enormous.  My son is 9 years old and awesome at soccer, but there is a good chance that he might not get selected.  I can't even imagine how rejection would feel for a kid his age - not good obviously, and probably very spirit crushing.  There were a lot of boys there for the first session and to me, it looked like not enough coaches taking notes on the boys trying out (but that's probably just an over anxious Mum thing)!  All the kids out there were awesome, the competition is high and this isn't even premier - a whole other level higher than select.  I don't want my son to be mollycoddled at all, but I also think he's kinda young for all this pressure.  One more session to go and then we find out who  made it.  Please cross your fingers for my wee lad! 

Otherwise, things are going great here.  There are so many things to do, see and eat.  I miss our friends from Tennessee of course, but we're starting to make new ones here in WA.  I've even seen the sun A LOT contrary to popular belief!  I'm also happy to report that I haven't bumped into any bears yet, let's hope that streak of luck lasts.  And of course, you can be sure I'll tell you all about it, were it ever to happen! 

Friday, April 17, 2015

7 things

I would like to share some new (to me) things this week. 

Number 1:

My Washington license plates!  No more Scottish flag on the front of my car (sniff), but I guess I won't be so easily recognized on the road any more, which probably isn't a bad thing when I may be having a bad driving day. 

Number 2:

A bunch of reusable shopping bags.  Recycling rules here and I'm getting used to it already.  I used to reuse my plastic grocery bags for poop patrol, but they weren't always reliable, if you know what I mean.  I now buy proper poop bags and don't have to worry about getting poop in my fingernails ever again (true story).   

Number 3:

Bear Spray!!!  Yes, yes, I know I'll probably never need it, but we plan on taking a lot of hikes around here with the kiddos, and you just never know.  Better safe than sorry! 

Number 4:

My brand spanking new bear proof trash can with a locking lid!  Because it's been a warm spring, bear activity has been pretty high around our neighborhood and the surrounding area.  Do I want to get arrested for feeding bears from my trash can?  No sir.  I would rather pay the extra $4 a month for a locking lid to keep my furry friends away. 

Number 5:

Strange (to us) snacks.  I'm in the healthy mecca of America, so I may as well jump on the bandwagon!  I even made raw brownies last week, strange tasting at first, but the whole pan was gone in a day so they were actually pretty good.   No photo of those because they were eaten so quickly!

Number 6:

Every time I look out the window and see this in the yard, I jump because I think it's a bloody bear or something.  It's the husband's shiny new smoker/bbq/thingy and it's absolutely massive.  I have absolutely no idea how it works or what it does.  I only know that it eats wood pellets that look kinda like gerbil food.  The husband assures me I will be enjoying delicious smoked meats soon, perhaps if I'm lucky, it will also do the laundry or help the kids with their homework.

Number 7:

Homework.  In Tennessee, the kids' school had a no homework policy which I absolutely loved.  The kids had lots of time to play outside with their friends and time to do their after school activities.  Here, however, my youngest especially seems to have quite a lot.  I have always had an aversion to maths (sorry America, still can't call it math), so let me tell you people, I've nearly been brought to tears this week by 2nd Grade geometry.  Thankfully my kids are cleverer than me, but I'm glad it's the weekend tomorrow and NO HOMEWORK!!!

So that's it from beautiful Washington for now.  The weather is going to be nice all weekend - it really doesn't rain here all the time - and we're going to go hiking with my bear spray :)  We did a fantastic trail last weekend at Mailbox Peak, which is a mere 20 minutes from the house.  Here are a couple of photos for you.

I am truly astounded by the beauty of this place every time I leave the house and I really can't believe we live somewhere so beautiful!  Livin' the dream baby... well, apart from the homework! 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What's going on

So, we've been in the Pacific NW for over a week now.  The movers came on Wednesday and Thursday, then we moved in to our new house on Saturday after a final breakfast in Seattle at the Portage Bay Cafe.  Man, that place is the bomb.  I had bananas foster french toast, smothered in caramelized bananas, sauce, fresh strawberries and coconut.  I could eat it every day and never get bored.  Perhaps that's why when I weighed myself this morning for the first time since all this moving house business began, I saw that I've gained a massive 10lbs!!!  Eeeek!  My excuse is that we've been eating out for every meal, every day, over the last 2+ weeks, but I don't have an excuse any more, so it's time to get back on the healthy train.

The kids started school on Friday, just to get a feel for it before Spring Break.  I'm happy to say that they loved it and are really excited to go back!  Middle son is doing a UK Elite Soccer Camp all this week, and it's rained quite a bit.  If we were still in Tennessee, the camp would for sure have been cancelled, but here, it's business as usual!  It's the same at their school.  If it rains, the kids still have outside recess.  The only time they don't, is if there is thunder and lightning. Just like back home in Scotland really.  Monday marked the husband's first day of commuting.  He left pretty early and his drive was only 30 minutes, which is pretty good for driving into Seattle. 

The funny thing is, although we've downsized quite substantially from our Tennessee McMansion, we still have to buy new furniture for our rental house.  I thought we'd have way too much stuff, but turns out not so.  Our house is lovely and has amazing views.  There is a golf course out back, we can see Mount Si from the front, and beautiful tree covered hills to the side.  Like the bananas foster french toast, I don't think I'll ever tire of such spectacular views!  Another difference from Tennessee is that there is no air conditioning in most houses here and our rental doesn't even have ceiling fans.  I can't complain yet because it's not summer, but we'll see how that goes...

I'm loving being able to buy beer AND wine in the grocery store, and even better, you don't get asked for your ID every time you do so!  It's the small things!   My freak magnet is still drawing them in though and I did have an encounter in the Safeway bathroom yesterday.  I was waiting for my son and trying to avoid eye contact with some lady who was literally just staring at herself in the mirror and poking her forehead.  She then asked me if I shopped at Safeway or QFC the most.  I said Safeway to be polite, she then launched into an angry tirade about how people at the other grocery store are so much nicer.  As soon as my son was done, we were out of there at top speed.  I guess being approached by strange people isn't just a Tennessee phenomenon. Otherwise though, I'm happy to say that everybody I've met so far has been really friendly! 

Anyway, sorry this was very mixed up and random, but I've been too busy to sit down and think about writing a proper blog post!  Hopefully normal service will be resumed once the kiddos are back at school next week.  Till then! 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

So Far In Seattle

It's been a busy week!  We drove 2400 miles, settled into our temporary apartment downtown, applied for driver licenses and WA vehicle registration, set up our utilities and registered the kids in their new school.   When we registered for school in Tennessee there was a permission form regarding your children being paddled.  Although I myself was hit with a ruler and a belt on my hand at school, it's not the practice to hit a child nowadays right?!  I was shocked to read the form and I thought it was a joke, but as I looked around the classroom filled with other parents scribbling away, I realized that it was for real!  Needless to say, I declined to sign my kids up for paddling in Tennessee.  It was nice to see, when doing the paperwork here,  that paddling is not an option and in fact, isn't even mentioned.

This place is pretty similar to back home in the UK in many ways.  You can buy wine in grocery stores for starters - yippee!!!  No more dragging the kids into the liquor store if I'm picking up a bottle of vino for dinner, and getting frowned at for doing so.  This is life changing, people!  When you're grocery shopping, if you don't bring your own bags with you, you are charged 5c per bag, which isn't a bad thing at all and will encourage me to try and remember my own bags next time.  It definitely costs more for groceries here though.  It also doesn't rain here all the time contrary to popular belief.  The weather has been lovely, t-shirt weather in fact, and it's only rained once so far.  

Gas is 70c per gallon more expensive than it was in Tennessee.  That's going to be a shock to the system.  We've already experienced Seattle traffic at its worst, but because it's still new to us, we were quite content to sit in the van, and admire the scenery.  I'm sure that'll get old soon enough though.  The husband will be the one dealing with city traffic while the kids and I spend our days in and around our new abode close to the mountains. 

We now live 25 minutes from a ski resort!  Granted, the snow season hasn't been great, but we're that close to stunning, craggy mountains that we can enjoy year round which is pretty cool!  The view from the kids' new school is Mount Si, which is pretty spectacular.  They can also see  Mount Si from their bedrooms.  I don't think we've ever lived anywhere with such amazing views.

Recycling wasn't really a big thing in Tennessee.  Here, however, it's highly encouraged and even compulsory, which is great.  I'm still learning though, it took me an embarrassingly long time to sort out our lunch trays at Panera after we'd eaten.   Hopefully I'll get used to that quickly!

So that's it for now, just a quick blog until I have more time.  Our stuff arrives tomorrow so chaos will ensue for a few days, but it's one step closer to being settled.  We're really looking forward to our new life here and so far, so good.  Molly has had a few walks around the city and has even visited her first Starbucks.  She did so well traveling in the van for 4 days to get here, and now has yet another trip under her collar, making her a very well traveled dog indeed.  I'll blog about our mega road trip soon!

Monday, March 23, 2015

My Robin Is Cuter Than Yours, But Your Badger Is Scarier Than Mine...

Things in America still surprise me on a daily basis.  As a lover of the outdoors, I used to think I was pretty good with my nature recognition - until I moved here.  When I saw my first American Robin, I was surprised.  Yes, it has a reddish breast, but it's kind of scraggly and big.

Now THIS is a proper robin, all cute, plump, and heavily featured on British Christmas cards.

Call me shallow for judging things based on their appearance, but the British robin is very much prettier than its American counterpart :)

Even a simple thing like the oak leaf is completely different over here.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the British oak leaf, all round edges, cute (for a leaf anyway), and instantly recognizable:

The American oak leaf, however, looks like this.

What the heck!  It's all spiky!  I would have no clue what tree this belonged too, were it not for all the acorns on the ground below.

I bang on a lot about all the scary animals over here in America-land, bears, mountain lions, snakes and the like.  But one animal that is supremely more scary over here in comparison to it's British relative, is the badger.  Just look at this beast, it's pretty bloody terrifying if you ask me.

In comparison, here is the bonnie British badger, aw, just look at his cute lil' face...

I did try to get a fierce photo of a British badger, but this is as scary as it gets, which isn't very scary at all really, compared to his American counterpart.

Anyway, I know what badger I'd rather encounter when out hiking in the woods, so yes America, you win the battle of the badgers.  But us Brits definitely win the battle of the birds, the cute ones anyway!   

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cream Cakes and Brussel Sprouts

I spend way too much time at the grocery store.  Luckily our local store is pretty awesome.  Free cookies for the kids, lots of food samples, great bakery & food choices, a British section, and lots of lovely people who work there - two of whom are now my friends.  Because I go there a lot, I'm now so used to the American way that I'll probably be a hot mess when I go to the supermarket (UK speak for grocery store) in the summer.  See, even the name of the place is different!  In fact, the whole grocery shopping experience here is completely different from back home.  While at home I'd say "I'm going to get my messages", here it's "I'm going grocery shopping". 

A good thing about American stores is that you never have to search your handbag for a coin or token in order to unlock a cart (known as a trolley in the UK).  Here, carts are plentiful and easy to access. I'm a bit stressed right now due to our impending move, and believe me, I would KILL for a proper cream cake.  Brits, can you believe there's no such thing here?  How can people live without cream cakes?  We have shelves of the things at home, all light and fluffy, with delicious fresh cream fillings and toppings.  The cream here is overly sweet and just not really used very often in cakes for some reason.  If you asked for a meringue at the bakery here, they would laugh.  Meringues here are tiny little processed powdery things in a plastic container.  At home, they are huge, fresh, crunchy, chewy and filled with delicious fresh cream.  I've been dreaming about fresh cream doughnuts for the last few weeks too.  No such thing here.

It took me a while to get used to the different names used in the USA for everyday grocery items too.  Coriander is cilantro, aubergines are eggplant, rocket is arugula, courgettes are zucchini and spring onions are green onions.  To this day, I still find it embarrassing to say "URBS" instead of the British "HERBS".  If I said that at home, I'd be laughed out of the shop.  I've said this before, but I also can't get used to is calling pasta "noodles".  Noodles are in the Chinese section for goodness' sake!  Pasta is Italian, and it's called PASTA!  Our syrups are totally different too.  When you say syrup here, it's assumed you mean Mrs Butterworth's or Aunt Jemima's, a dark concoction found in a plastic jug that you pour on your pancakes or waffles.  Ha, we have potato waffles at home, I'm pretty sure Americans would gag at the thought of those!  Anyway, syrup to me is golden syrup.  It comes in a beautiful, heavy, silver and green can with a lid that is permanently sticky once opened.  It's golden, it's heaven on earth and mostly used for baking and making puddings, or if you're feeling really decadent, on a sandwich with butter.  But maybe that's just me!

Tate & Lyle golden syrup.  A British icon!

America isn't big on roast potatoes either.  We have them in the frozen cabinet at home, and they are almost as good as freshly made.  I'm not the best of cooks, so I would probably cry with joy if I saw frozen roast potatoes in the freezer here.   Squash?  If I asked for that here, I would be given a large orange fruit.  At home, squash is what we make drinks with, it's a juice concentrate we add water to.  I grew up drinking the stuff and sometimes I wish my kids could too.  Instant coffee?  That's considered slightly ghetto here.  It's either filter, Keurig or it's crap.  There's only a tiny space on the shelf for instant coffee, I almost feel like I'm being judged for buying it!   

The best thing about grocery shopping in the US is the lovely packer who will happily pack your groceries into bags and do a fantastic job.  No tip required.  They will even offer to bring your cart to your car and help you unload.  This makes me feel like a princess, even though I rarely do it because I'd rather struggle by myself than have to make small talk and watch somebody else do something I'm more than capable of! 

Anyway, we move out of the house next week so we're currently struggling to make meals with what's left in our pantry and refrigerator, making my grocery store trips less frequent.  Recent 'gourmet' meals in the LeBlanc household have included quesadillas with brussel sprouts, cereal for dinner, olives on toast, tuna from the can, shake n bake chicken with brussel sprouts, and rice with brussel sprouts - there sure were a lot of brussel sprouts in the freezer and my poor children are probably scarred for life.   To all my readers, whatever you're eating, I'm pretty sure it's way better than what's for dinner over here.  Anyone for brussel sprouts?   




Thursday, March 12, 2015

Letters From The Heart

Warning, this is an overly sentimental blog post, so continue at your own risk! 

I've begun many posts over the last couple of weeks, but there is so much going on that it all sounded very disjointed.  So instead, I decided to write small letters to my family, so that we can remember in the future, how this move felt to us all!

Dear L,
You have perhaps grown up the most since we've lived here.  You started Kindergarten here and went from being a baby to being a boy.  You are such a homebody and would be happy for us all to stay home together every day and snuggle on the sofa watching TV.  You are so happy being with our family and your brother is really your best friend.   Our neighbors' girls have also been a huge part of your life here (and all of ours).  I love seeing you play with them and treating them so nicely and respectfully, I truly think they have made a mark on you that will last for your lifetime.  You are not really a fan of the outdoors, but these girls always make you want to actually go outside and play, which is fabulous!  You tried some sports, but are more interested in the snacks than in actually playing!  But L, you are truly AMAZING at building lego and solving puzzles.  Age recommendations are meaningless when it comes to you.  Your concentration levels are incredible and you will sit down for as many hours as it takes to build something.  You excelled at Robotic Lego Camp which you absolutely loved, your attention to detail is so much more than I could ever give.  You are devoted to your big brother, as he is to you.  When he cries, you cry.  When he is upset, you are equally as upset, if not more.  Your commitment to each other always makes me emotional, and again, I'm sure it will last for your lifetime.  At 7 years old, you are already talking about when you and C will live together both during and after college!  Although you have grown up a lot, you are still incomplete without your 'blankie' from Korea.  That brown, furry thing grosses me out, but you are seldom without it.  I love seeing you first thing in the morning, said blankie wrapped around your shoulders.  It has traveled to so many different places with us, probably more places than the average person!  And even though you're not too excited about outdoor activities, you like nothing more than to go camping as a family, and hang out by the campsite all weekend.  It will be tough for you leaving your friends and your teacher here, and I know there will be tears shed, but L, I know that ultimately you will be fine because of your love of us all being together. xxx

Dear C,
My tender hearted boy!  I think it's going to be the most difficult for you when we leave Tennessee.  You have loved and enjoyed all our experiences here and have become a thoughtful, clever and sporty boy.  You are so kind and considerate to everybody.  When your brother hurts, you hurt more because you care about him so much.  You are so concerned about the well being of others and you are equally as happy with your boy friends as you are with your girl friends - especially our neighbors' girls who you love like sisters.  You are the sporty one of the family.  It's true that you can fall over fresh air and are a wee bit clumsy sometimes, but when you're participating in any kind of sport, a change comes over you and you are one with whatever it is you are doing!   Basketball, gymnastics, you name it.  You excelled at soccer as soon as you started playing.  So much so that we signed you up for Strikers last year, something that you love passionately and are totally committed to.  You watch the Premier League on TV, you memorize the pages of the Match books and comics that Granny and Papa send to you, and you can answer any question about soccer players and teams worldwide.  You practice constantly in the yard.  You get so anxious before your games which kills me, as I know how much you actually love playing, but hopefully you will grow out of that!  You absorb everything at school and I rarely have to help you with your homework.  So much so, that your teacher wants to have you tested for being gifted.  You are already sad that you will be leaving your friends, your teacher, your beloved Strikers and your amazing coaches, but I know you will quickly get used to life in Seattle.  Your heart will break saying goodbye C, but you know that at least, you are moving with your best friend - your brother.  I have thoroughly enjoyed watching every one of your soccer practices and games and look forward to more at our new home! xxx,

Dear A,
You have grown up so much since we moved to Tennessee, but thankfully, you are also still my little girl.  You are sweet, helpful and always happy to help around the house.  You love nothing more than to make everyone's beds and make us all breakfast.  You took over responsibility for the dog here - feeding her and taking her outside - not once have you complained, even when it's raining!  Although you do like to wind your brothers up sometimes, I know you love them and always look out for them. They don't know it yet but they're extremely lucky to have you as a big sister.  I love watching you with our neighbors' little girls, you love them like sisters and are always happy to play with them, despite the age difference, which matters not a jot to you!  You would play outside every minute of the day if you could and you just love hanging out with your friends.  In fact, you experienced your first big girl sleepover here with another of our neighbors who you are also going to miss!  We feel blessed that you are such a "go with the flow" girl.  You admit that you're going to be sad leaving here, but you are also truly excited for our next adventure.  You've matured so much since we've been here.  You're very responsible and you actually love going to school - I sure hope that lasts!   Your confidence has also grown here, firstly through gymnastics, and then you discovered something you are very passionate about and excel at - karate!  I'm so proud when I watch you execute your katas and moves, and you pay such close attention to your sensei (unlike your brother)!  You were selected for the Demonstration Team and loved performing your moves at various venues around town.  We so enjoyed coming to watch you!  You also began yoga classes which brought you to a love of yoga, just like your Mummy.  You are definitely a rule follower and everyone you come in contact with, comments on your beautiful manners, your good behavior and your sweet nature.  Daddy has been gone for most of this move and you've helped me out so much.  I will be forever grateful for you A, thank you for everything you do, every day xxx

Dear J,
I'm not going to lie, I was very skeptical about moving here when you retired from the military and took a job with Amazon.  I'd never even heard of Murfreesboro and didn't really know much about Tennessee apart from country music and Nashville!  It was kind of scary that we were going to be miles away from the nearest base and there would be no more shopping at the commissary or the BX.  But...  I can't even begin to say how proud I am of you and how grateful and happy I am with our life together.  You sucked up several months on night shift which was hard on all of us, but we managed and made the most of it.  Daytime dates were actually fun!  We had fantastic weekends exploring the countryside in and around Murfreesboro and took the kids on several hiking, boating, camping and mountain biking adventures.  You would always surprise us with some new place you wanted us to visit, and we have had so much fun being tourists and exploring.  You have worked your ass off (as usual) and you were promoted after your first year with Amazon.  You then went on to be promoted again just before Christmas last year which led us to this move to Seattle.  You are so committed to us, your family, that it still amazes me.  We are truly a team and I love that our best friends are each other.  Although I'm sad to be leaving our friends and our life here in Tennessee, I am also excited for our new adventure - and we have already been amazingly lucky to have had so many adventures in our life together!  I've missed you over the last month and I'm so excited for us all to be together again and begin our new chapter.  Love always xxx

So my friends, there you have it for this week.  Yes, I'm an emotional wreck!   Tennessee friends, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the amazing friendships and experiences we've had with you all.  Not only have you made this place one of our most favorite places we've lived in, you also made our transition to life in the civilian world so very easy, thank you so much!  We love you all and hope to see many of you again in the future.  Till next time... xxx

Monday, March 2, 2015

Bears and Angry Birds

Regardless of where you live, when you move house, you take into consideration all the usual things like schools, location, walkability etc.  But when you move anywhere in America, it's a good idea to research the local wildlife too.  The scariest things here in TN are without doubt, the snakes, and unfortunately I've seen too many of those!  Apparently in Washington we won't have to worry about venomous snakes.  They do however, have bears and mountain lions.  Shitballs!  Do you play dead or act big and loud when you see a black bear?  I have no idea, time to do some research I guess.  Apparently we have to use special garbage cans in our new neighborhood to stop the bears foraging for food in your trash.  Yikes!  But truly, this is part of why I love living over here, there's definitely never a dull moment!

The kids and me went out for breakfast recently.   It's always a struggle to order tea over here.  Servers rarely understand that when I ask for milk on the side, it means I want it at the same time as my tea.  My tea duly arrived minus the milk.  I asked again.  And again.  15 minutes later (yes I'm sad, I timed it), my milk was brought to the table, but of course by now, my hot tea was bloody freezing.  I waited another 10 minutes for fresh, hot water, but I did eventually get my nice cuppa.  By the time our food arrived, I was kind of frustrated after the tea debacle, but looking forward to eating.  Ha!  Middle son ordered a pancake with a smiley face made out of fruit.  We were all about to get stuck in when the waitress decided to become Chatty Kathy.  She started talking about the pancake face and told my son that if he moved the apple slices, it would look like an angry bird.  I was looking like an angry bird myself by now, hungry and fed up waiting for my tea for so long.  I was about to say something when she took it upon herself to use her long, nasty fingernail to move my son's apple slices to make the angry bird face.  Ugh!  I told her we were in a hurry to eat, so she left and I removed the apple slices before I let my son eat.  Yes, worse things happen to your food while it's still in the kitchen, but I'd rather not see people touching it with their fingernails!  I wasn't feeling very generous by the time we left, so Chatty Kathy's tip wasn't very large...

This little episode reminded me of an experience we had in Korea.  The husband and me had popped in for a coffee somewhere and I ordered a latte.  The server was lovely as are most people there who work in stores, restaurants etc.  She was chatting away, we had no idea what she was saying but we nodded politely and smiled a lot.  Until... she was in the middle of making my latte when she took the spoon out of the mug, put it in her mouth, sucked it and returned it back into my mug.  For real.   She then presented it to me with a huge smile, like it was something very special.  Yes, it was indeed very special and there was no way in hell I was going to drink it.  I waited until she wasn't looking and dumped it into the trash can before slinking away silently.  She was such a nice girl that I really couldn't get angry, but man, how gross is that?! 

Anyway, eating out here is usually a good experience, so you'd think that by now I'd have learned to be more patient with the tea thing.  But nope, I still get a bit grumpy when it happens again and again.  Tea is very important to most of us Brits you know!  I did spot a Tea and Crumpets Cafe in Seattle when we visited, so I'll definitely be going there for a taste of the homeland when we live there.  Speaking of which, it's less than a month to go before our mega-drive to live in the land of bears!  Till next week folks!  

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ice, Ice Baby

Icemageddon swept through Middle Tennessee at the beginning of last week, leaving roads impassable, stores closed, power outages and a thick layer of ice everywhere.  School has been out all week and we've been pretty much stuck at home for the duration, which the kids have, of course, loved.  We did have a break mid-week when things almost returned to normal, but then the next wave of ice came.

I've spent over 4 years of my life living in the Dakotas, where we experienced massive blizzards that shut everything down for a day or two, but life always returned to normal very quickly.  This ice storm, however, was totally different to anything I've ever experienced before.   Because we generally don't get much snow or ice here at all, it takes a long time to restore roads and get things running normally again, even after a dusting of snow.  Grocery stores are chaos before anything hits - bread, milk and eggs always sell out immediately.  We knew this storm was coming so we stayed away from the stores, unlike most of the residents of Middle Tennessee.  After it hit, the ice was everywhere.  Our driveway was totally impassable and the dog refused to leave the house to go to the bathroom.  All our trees were bent over from the weight of the ice with their branches touching the ground.  Power lines were covered and trees and branches were coming down all over the place.  It was beautiful, but totally paralyzing.

The trees looked like Christmas decorations!
The dog refused to go near our icy steps of death

My poor lil' bent over tree!

When severe weather hits Britain, we're happy to stay home, have a cup of tea and eat some biscuits.  Continuing in this tradition, I'd stocked up on Hobnobs a few days before, so the kids and me happily munched through a couple of boxes during our captivity.  Chocolate biscuits make everything more bearable (of course, so does beer).  I'm so lucky that the Publix down the road has a British section where I can grab some goodies from home at extortionate prices if I feel the need, so thank you Publix!

We've already experienced a few major events as a family.  Blizzards in North and South Dakota, a typhoon in South Korea, Kim Jong Il's threats to annihilate us (again in South Korea) and an earthquake in Washington DC.  The worst event, however, was the great pumpkin shortage of 2009 at Osan AFB, I kid you not.  My fellow Osan-ites know exactly what I'm talking about.  During Thanksgiving and Christmas of that year, nary a can of pumpkin could be found on the South Korean peninsula, sending us all into a frenzy of trying to procure the goods to make our pies for the holiday season.  It got desperate people.  If rumor started that a tray of canned pumpkin was on the commissary shelves, we'd all sprint down there like crazy people to try and grab a can.  Most of us with family in the States ended up begging them to send us some cans, which my Mother in Law very kindly did.  A few months later when the shelves were finally stocked with pumpkin, every single one of us started to hoard for the future.  To this day, I always have several cans of pumpkin in my pantry for 'just in case', possibly a mild form of pumpkin PTSD, which I'm pretty sure my fellow Korea survivors suffer from too ;)   

Things are progressing on our move.  We'd planned on flying our dog to Seattle before the kids and me went, so that the husband could pick her up from the airport and take care of her in his bachelor pad in downtown Seattle until we got there.  But...  What do you do when your vet tells you your dog is in fact, too old to fly to your new home?  You plan a massive, mega, cross country driving trip of 2420 miles, so that your fur baby can still come with you of course!  I actually like this plan better anyway for selfish reasons, because I'd miss her the few weeks she'd be in Seattle.  She's my morning wake up call, my crumb cleaner-upper, my home security system and best of all, she's always makes me smile, even when I'm feeling grumpy.  It's going to take us a few days to do the drive, but it's going to be amazing showing the kids all the different states that we'll be driving through.  I'm most excited to see some of Montana, I'm not too excited at the prospect of the kids squabbling in the back of the van for all of those miles though, or at the prospect of my old lady joints freezing after sitting still for such a long time.  I'm pretty sure we'll see some crazy things to blog about though! 

So, it's safe to say that I'll be happy never to see ice again, although if we do, at least I'll always have a stock of pumpkin in the pantry for if we run out of food.  Have a good week y'all!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Recently...'s been pretty hectic around here, between selling the house, sick kiddos, husband working in Seattle, and the all usual weekly activities.  I could whine for Scotland, but instead, I'll share some things that sucked, followed by things that were fabulous to make up for it.  Here goes. 


1.  Finding out I have arthritis in 3 different places on my knee, I have lost a significant amount of cartilage, I have a misaligned knee joint, and I also have something called a popliteal cyst on the back of my knee.  A steroid injection didn't make much difference.  The doc said my running days are over, I prefer to think of it as no running for a little while, or at least until I find a new doctor in Seattle who will be more proactive in getting me back in my Mizunos...

2.  Being told that mostly due to my age, I now need to wear bifocals every single day for the rest of my life.  I've never even worn glasses till now, apart from reading glasses - without which, I can't read menus any more.  Not that I have anything against glasses, but it'll take a bit of getting used to.  On the bright side, they're progressive lenses so don't have the old lady bifocal line on them, but I haven't mastered the art of drinking tea and managing not to steam them up yet!  And I sure as heck don't feel bloody well old, although I may look it - I don't really know, because I can't see properly in the mirror these days... 

3.  Filling in a ridiculous amount of house selling paperwork, and having to wait for all involved parties to complete their parts.  While it's great that we have a relocation company working with us, it sure does add a lot of required signatures and approvals.  Plus with the husband not being here, there's a lot of extra scanning and emailing going on. 

4.  Youngest kiddo projectile vomiting all over the bathroom.

5.  Middle kiddo being sent home from school sick.

6.  Regularly being told by people that I'm not being fair to the kids by moving to Seattle and starting them in a new school in the middle of the school year.   I personally think (hope) that moving mid school year, the kids will have time to make friends at their new school before the summer holidays, and will therefore have friends to play with when school is out.  Also, many people have reacted negatively to our news saying "Oh no, how awful" or "Oh no, the weather is awful up there".  Our family is used to moving every couple of years from our time in the military and many of our friends still move every couple of  years with no adverse effects, so I think we'll be just fine.  So there! 


1.  A fun afternoon was spent drinking champagne and eating cookies outside (in February no less) with my good friend and neighbor.  Plus, later on in the week, a fun morning of pedicures followed by lunch with the same friend.  Can't complain about that! 

2.  The fact that the projectile vomiting happened in the tiled bathroom and not on the carpet made for easy clean up!  Yippee! 

3.  The house is under contract!  Every time our lovely realtor comes out to the house, she brings a box of cookies for the kids,which of course have to be sampled by Mummy first.  I sure seem to be eating a lot of cookies these days... 

4.  So much help from my previously mentioned friend and neighbor with printing and scanning the zillions of pages of house related stuff, because my own printer keeps messing up.  I really don't know what I'd do without you JW!

5.  Middle kiddo had a soccer game at 7am on Saturday morning, which meant waking everybody up at 5.30am.  I'd normally complain about that if it wasn't for the fact that his recent games have mostly been at 9pm on a Friday evening, therefore spoiling my usual Friday afternoon beverage time.  So, 7am on a Saturday morning?  I'll take it! 

6.  Although my knee hurts like heck, I can still practice my beloved hot yoga.  I'm thankfully only limited in a few poses.

7.  Scandal and The Walking Dead.  Olivia Pope and Rick Grimes make me happy.  Yes, I do know they're not real.     

8.  We're going to Scotland in the summer on vacation!  It's been 2 years since we last visited, so this trip is long overdue. I intend to stuff my face with square sausage, proper bacon, twiglets, proper bread, massive amounts of British chocolate, every cake that Asher's Bakery has to offer and many other foods I miss from back home.  I may or may not weigh at least 10 lbs heavier at the end of this vacation...

Anyway, I hopefully managed not to whine too much, and even found a couple of extra good things to compare to the sucky ones so it's not all bad!  Hopefully, normal blogging operations will be resumed next week.  See y'all then! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Battle of the Soaps - UK/US

I'd like to start this week's blog post by asking if anybody knows what a sex funeral is.  Apparently someone, somewhere out there in cyberspace, googled "sex funeral" and ended up on this here blog of mine.  While I'm pretty sure they must have been extremely disappointed with my blog's content, it's kinda freaky that somebody would even google that in the first place - shudder.  Anyway, enough of that kind of thing, let's talk about soap operas! 

Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre in Coronation Street (a highly popular UK soap opera) recently died after a short illness.  It was all over the UK media and many people were saddened by her passing.  It got me thinking about the major differences between soap operas in the UK and the US.

RIP Anne Kirkbride aka Deirdre Barlow.  A soap icon in the UK.

Soap operas are hugely popular over here, and back home in the UK.  Soaps here in the US are shown during the day and therefore have a more limited audience, while in the UK, the main soaps are shown during prime time in the evening and therefore have a much wider audience.

American soap stars look mostly like this:

This is Susan Lucci, I have no idea what soap opera she is in because apparently American soap stars regularly switch between shows!

This is Carly from General Hospital.  I have no idea what her real name is either.  GH is actually one of the only American soaps I have ever watched. 

Jason Morgan, again from GH, and again, I have no idea what his real name is.  Just Whoarrr!!!

You get the picture.  American soap stars are glamorous, beautiful and not really similar to normal, everyday kind of people. British soap stars on the other hand, mostly look like this:

Gail from Coronation Street, real name Helen Worth.

Tyrone from Coronation Street.  Not exactly Jason Morgan...

Mo from Eastenders, definitely not American soap opera material!

Although obviously there are also some attractive people on Coronation Street and Eastenders too, British soaps are so much more realistic.  It's rare to see outside shots in American soaps, most are set in studios and have the obligatory fuzz/golden lighting to make everybody look even more beautiful.  British soaps have scenes in the street, down the market, in the garden, you name it.  It's real life baby! 

British soap stars pretty much have celebrity status throughout the UK.  Even if you don't watch the show, it's pretty likely that you'll have heard of most of the major characters in it or read about them in one of the national newspapers.  The 2 main soaps, Coronation Street and Eastenders are watched by millions and even have Christmas Day specials, usually filled with doom and gloom, that are actually a part of most families' Christmas viewing.  Not so over here.

Even the soap names are totally different.  The Young and The Restless, The Bold and The Beautiful, Days of Our Lives - compare that with Eastenders and Coronation Street.  I guess because Britain is such a small place compared to over here that it's only natural soap stars will be more widely known.  You definitely don't get actresses like Anne Kirkbride or  Helen Worth on US soaps.

Although I'm not really a fan of American soaps, I did watch General Hospital for a while when the husband was deployed to Afghanistan, and I enjoyed the little bit of escapism it offered.  But I definitely enjoy the more gritty, sometimes comical soaps from back home a lot more.  I'm sure most Americans probably wouldn't enjoy our type of soaps either, so I guess, each to his own.  But even the husband agrees that British soaps are more entertaining and realistic than those over here, and it's not very often that he even watches TV!  I'd be interested to hear my readers' thoughts on soaps too, so please feel free to comment, just as long as you're not into sex funerals...!