Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lunching with Americans

Recently, Mike and a few other Americans met  up for lunch in beautiful Saffron Walden. Here's his hilarious take on things:




Recently, I had the opportunity to meet up with a group of expat bloggers in the charming town of Saffron Walden. Mid-Atlantic English, Nappy Valley Housewife, Not From Around Here and 3-Bedroom Bungalow gathered at the Ask restaurant—along with my wife and myself—for drinks, pasta, pizza, calzone and some lively conversation.

As the UK correspondent for Pond Parleys, I had gone with the intention of asking them individually for interviews but then, somewhere around my third glass of Peroni, the idea of a mass, simultaneous interview occurred to me,

This is vaguely how it went:



Do you like living here?

(A chorus of voices, all enthusiastically in the affirmative.)

It’s great that I’m here because I choose to be here, and if I didn’t really want to be here I would go back to the US.

I love the culture and the history.

I miss Cheez-Its!

That’s how we met; I’m her Cheez-Its connection. We get American food on the base.

Yes, Kat’s my supplier. I’ve also had other bloggers in the US send me American crackers by mail, twice.

I miss the proximity of family.

Customer service!

(Another chorus of agreement)

I don’t really think about it until I go back to the States, but then I realize how bad it is here.

I do like living here, but “Have a nice day,” I miss that.

Mike had his friend bring him A1 Sauce when he came for a visit a few years ago.

I asked him to bring a bottle, but he brought over a six pack. I still have a bottle left, but it’s past the sell by date.

So is the Corn meal.

I know where to get corn meal now, but that’s what I would have people bring over for me if I couldn’t get it.

What I can’t get here is Chick-fil-A! I always have my mom bring me one when she picks me up at the airport.

We have a Subway in town, and I actually like it better than the American version.

They have sweet corn!

What I’d really like is a Wendy’s

My husband would sell one of our children for a Wendy Burger.

I miss the clean streets.

Yes, it’s really cluttered here.

After a Saturday night the whole town is littered.

In Minnesota we have the Adopt a highway Programme, which keeps the streets clean.

When I first came here I was shocked by the amount of litter at the sides of the roads.

And in the parks. Especially after a sunny picnic-type day.

I was brought up to have some sort of civic pride; we don’t litter the way they do here.

The Americans do seem to be a bit cleaner.

And they break windows less frequently.

They're also more modest; the way the young girls dress here!

My 20year old son was scandalized at the way the young people dressed when he came to visit. He wasn’t used to girls-

…having so much exposed? And they don’t mind the weather, I remember waiting for a bus in the winter, all bundled up, cold as could be and seeing young girls walking by wearing nothing but halter tops and skirts that were-

…about as wide as a belt?

Yes.

And, oddly, it’s only here. In the other European countries I travel to, the young girls don’t dress like prostitutes.

We have a friend who’s a lorry driver-

“Lorry?” Have you found yourself speaking British already?

Sometimes I say a word the British way just so I can get on with it and not have to stop and explain myself to people.

I would do that, but I think it might sound funny if I tried to say it as the British do, so I’ll say A-LUM-in-um and then say, yes I know I said that as an American.

I still speak American but my kids speak British—Mummy, can we have a ta-MAH-to sandwich. I say, Yeah, here’s your tom-A-to.

I still write in American, especially on my blog.

It’s an American blog, after all.

How long have you been at it?

Only a few months.

Two years, for me.

About a year.

Three years.

Fifteen years.

Really?

Yeah, I’m a dinosaur. It’s changed a lot since I started out.

I think being part of the blogging community has been amazing. It’s one of the only markets I can think of where you find success by helping others. I think that’s great.

15 comments:

  1. There used to be several Wendy's in the UK but the restaurants failed miserably. The reason? The square burgers--Britons didn't like them, apparently. We moved from London to Columbus Ohio (Wendys HQ) and met a couple who lived in the UK in the 90s and worked on the expansion attempt.

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  2. Actually, I used to work near one of the Wendy's on Oxford Street and I have to say they did the best ever bean burger.

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  3. I had such a great time at this meet-up. We will have to do it again once the summer settles down.

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  4. It was a great time and I'm looking forward to doing it again.

    There was a Wendy's on Oxford Street?!!?

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  5. Expat mum--I agree/remember that restaurant. I think most became McDonalnds. For more info:
    http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2000/07/23/28286/Wendy39s-UK-pull-out-nets-1631.5m.htm

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  6. It was a really fun lunch! I was amazed at the time when I finally even thought to look at my watch--we spent HOURS chatting about everything. Looking forward to the next one...

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  7. I love the summary Mike - much more of a fun read than an interview! Thanks for posting this.

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  8. Pamela: You're welcome; and thanks! I just wish I had remembered more.

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  9. I know exactly who it is that missed cheez-its! I sent her a big box for of crackers last year.

    You have an amazing memory Mike.

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  10. Great group interview and interesting to hear what you all miss, like we do lol!

    But where is the piccie???!!

    And btw I bet you all loved Saffron Walden.

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  11. Brit Gal: We took pictures, but some of the bloggers wish to maintain their anonymity.

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  12. I can't argue with the litter, New York is so clean!

    Almost no one here says, "Have a nice day", though, I had to wait three months to hear my first. It's all, "You're all set" which I take to mean, "You can leave now".

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  13. Oh you touched on the two things I miss most about living in the States....Wendys and Customer Service. I'm English but the Customer Service here is beyond horrific....I miss WalMart Greeters!!!!!

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  14. Iteresting to hear an American's take on living in the UK, I would have love to be a fly on the wall there. I do enjoy lunching at the ASK London branches, I've never tried one outside of the ring road. Wendy's and Taco bell are the 2 american franchises I'd most like to try out.

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  15. Wow, FKidd, great SPAM! Personalized, relevant, blends in well. I admire your ingenuity. I usually remove SPAM but I do like the ASK restaurants, so I'll leave it. I had the best calzone of my life in the one in Burgess Hill.

    FYI: Wendy's already tried breaking into the UK but I understand they didn't do well due to the square burgers, and Taco Bell...puh LEEZE! What a crap joint!

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