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?


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.


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.


  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.

  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.

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

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

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

  5. Expat mum--I agree/remember that restaurant. I think most became McDonalnds. For more info:

  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...

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

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

  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.

  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.

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

  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".

  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!!!!!

  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.

  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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