Sunday, September 28, 2008

Brits on Tour

A while ago, Pam at asked how a couple of Brits from northern England ended up in Oklahoma. I did tell her I would post about it one day, so here it is. I warn you though, this is a long, and rambling story, so do yourself a favor and stop reading right now.

It all started back in 1994 when we went to stay with an old friend of ours in the San Fernando Valley, just outside of LA. Towards the end of our vacation, Mick was offered a job at the company our friend worked for, and we told them we’d give the offer some thought when we got home.

Arriving home, and staring at the prospect of another miserable English winter, all that California sunshine was very tempting. But we both had good jobs, nice cars, and our own home, so we had a lot to lose, did we want to throw it all away on a whim? I think the thing that really swung it for us was, we were both of an age where we thought if we don’t do it now, we never will. In the end, we decided I would take a two year leave of absence from work, we would rent out our house, and come over for a year, thereby minimizing our risks.

We lived in the SF Valley for a year, and though we enjoyed it, the pace of life was a bit hectic for a couple from a small rural village in England. So, when Mick was offered a job in northern California, in a lovely little main street town called Benicia, forty miles outside San Francisco, we decided to give it a whirl. We lived there for 4 years, and absolutely loved it. While we were there, just before my leave of absence was coming to an end, the Civil Service (luckily for me), decided to jettison some staff, and as they don't make people redundant, I ended up getting early retirement.

Then Mick was offered a job back in southern California, at a place called Oxnard, which is right on the Pacific Coast. We had both always wanted to live by the ocean, so we moved again. The company Mick worked for sponsored Mick for his green card, and eventually we both became permanent residents here.

After that we decided to sell our house back in England, and buy something in California. But house prices were so high there that we couldn’t bring ourselves to take out a massive mortgage on a property we didn’t even like. That’s when we started looking into relocating. We spent a long time researching a lot of different states, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma. But something kept steering us towards Oklahoma, and we moved here in May 2004.

We took a monumental risk moving here, we neither of us had a job, we had no home to go to, and we didn’t know a soul here. Anyway, it all worked out well in the end, and we are both so glad we moved. Sure, there are disadvantages to living out in the sticks, but in my opinion the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

So that’s it in a nutshell.

Toodle pip ‘til next time.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

British Telly

I don’t watch much TV here as we don’t have cable, and on the two channels we can pick up choices of programming are very limited. I usually tell people that we are too tight to pay for cable, but the truth is, we coughed up the cash for cable for years when we lived in California, and still hardly ever found anything worth watching. When we moved to Oklahoma, we decided we wouldn’t bother with cable, and I must say, I haven’t missed it one bit.

Now with this digital TV thingy coming into play next year, we got one of those converter boxes and discovered we couldn’t get any channels at all. So that idea has been cast aside like a squeezed lemon.

Anyway, as luck would have it, Mick made a great discovery on an ex-pats forum. He found out about a couple of sites where you can download British telly programs for free. From what I can gather, it works a bit like shareware. People in the UK upload progs to the site, and when you download a program onto your computer, you leave it there for a while to "seed," meaning other people can access it and download it from you. Seeding scores you points, and the more points you have the more programs you can download.

I know it all sounds a bit complicated, and I confess I’m not totally au fait with how it works, but Mick assures me that if a technosaurus like him can do it, anybody can. Full instructions are available at both sites. You can find them at: this is the better of the two sites as they have far more choice of programs.

There are literally thousands of programs to choose from, dramas, comedies, soaps, sports, documentaries, wildlife/nature, all sorts of stuff. Mick says that ex-pats from all over the world are using this system.

And, after you’ve downloaded a prog, you can transfer it onto a video memory stick, plug it into the front of your DVD player and watch it on your telly. So I’ve been watching British telly this week, and it’s been lovely. Jo at: was talking about a new series "Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and I said I couldn’t comment as although I’d read the book I couldn’t get the series. Well now I can. How kewl is that?

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I usually steer well clear of politics on this blog, not being a citizen I am not allowed to vote. But I am a permanent resident here, and I pay my taxes, so I think that qualifies me to have an opinion. And, truth be told, I find it hard to keep my mouth shut about the latest debacle that is sweeping the nation, namely, Sarah Palin. I ask you, what is so special about this woman that it’s causing voters to regard John McCain with new eyes? After watching Charles Gibson’s interview with her last week I confess I’m totally mystified.

Palin managed to confuse, obfuscate, and generally waffle her way around every question she was asked. Questions about her experience in foreign policy were answered with her stance on energy issues, the proximity of Alaska to Russia, or the fact that she had met international trade delegates in her role as governor. She didn’t even appear to understand the question when Gibson asked her what she thought of the Bush doctrine.

Also, she seemed to think there was one rule for the USA and quite another for Russia, or any other country for that matter. She thought it was acceptable for American troops to cross borders into Pakistan (without authority from that government) in their quest to root out terrorists. She said, "In order to stop Islamic extremists, those terrorists who would seek to destroy America and our allies, we must do whatever it takes and we must not blink, Charlie, in making those tough decisions of where we go and even who we target."

Yet it was totally unacceptable for to Russia cross borders into neighboring Georgia. She said, "And we've got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable."

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. What about the US invasion of Iraq? They may not have been a democratic country, but there are other non-democratic countries in the world that we aren’t invading. My question is, what was the provocation in Iraq? And who decided that Russia wasn’t provoked?

The only question she answered directly was on the issue of abortion. Gibson asked her, "John McCain would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest. Do you believe in it only in the case where the life of the mother is in danger?"

Palin replied, "My personal opinion is that abortion allowed if the life of the mother is endangered. Please understand me on this. I do understand McCain's position on this. I do understand others who are very passionate about this issue who have a differing." (Any errors here are not mine but are in the ABC transcript of the interview).

Honestly, I was gobsmacked with this reply. This woman would set women’s rights back years, nay decades. And to say that women who have been raped, or been the victims of incest ― and in most cases of incest we are talking about very young girls ― should not be allowed an abortion is appalling.

If Palin is so worried about the high abortion rate in this country shouldn’t she be advocating free birth control for women, rather than taking this Draconian stance on abortion. But we all know that's not going to happen, considering John McCain voted against measures that would have mandated health insurance companies to cover birth control.

The prospect of four years with McCain at the helm fills me with horror, but what's even more scary is John McCain is no spring chicken, and this woman could end up running the country. Now, that really is something you should give some thought to before casting your vote.

If you missed the interview you’ll find it here:

But better still, read the transcript, it’s much easier to cut through the waffle, sorry, rhetoric:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The British One Hundred

I posted this list on my cooking blog yesterday, but I thought some of you might find it fun, so here's the British One Hundred.

In response to the Omnivores One Hundred, Helen at Food Stories: has created The British One Hundred. I love lists so I couldn't resist having a go.

Here are the rules if you would like to play along:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Link back to Food Stories, if you would be so kind.

1. Grey squirrel. (Having eaten crocodile, wilderbeast, and zebra in Kenya, I think I’d give it a try).

2 Steak and kidney pie

3. Bubble and squeak

4. Spotted dick

5. Hot Cross Buns (A traditional Easter favorite)

6. Laver bread

7. Toad in the hole

8. Shepherds pie AND Cottage pie

9. Scotch egg

10. Parkin

11. Welsh rarebit

12. Jellied eels

13. Stilton

14. Marmite (I hate this stuff)

15. Ploughman’s lunch

16. Cucumber sandwiches

17. Coronation chicken

18. Gloucester old spot.

19. Cornish pasty

20. Samphire

21. Mince Pies

22. Winkles

23. Salad cream

24. Malt loaf

25. Haggis

26. Beans on toast

27. Cornish clotted cream tea

28. Pickled egg

29. Pork scratchings

30. Pork pie

31. Black pudding

32. Patum Peperium or Gentleman’s relish

33. Earl Grey tea

34. Elvers

35. HP Sauce

36. Potted shrimps

37. Stinking bishop

38. Elderflower cordial

39. Pea and ham soup

40. Aberdeen Angus Beef

41.Lemon Posset

42. Guinness

43. Cumberland sausage

44. Native oysters

45. A ‘full English’ breakfast

46. Cockles

47. Faggots

48. Eccles cake

49. Potted Cromer crab

50. Trifle

51. Stargazy pie

52. English mustard

53. Christmas pudding

54. Cullen skink

55. Liver and bacon with onions

56. Wood pigeon

57. Branston pickle

58. Oxtail soup

59. Piccalilli

60. Sorrel

62. Chicken tikka masala

63. Deep fried Mars Bar

64. Fish, chips and mushy peas

65. Pie and mash with liquor

66. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding

67. Pickled onions

68. Cock-a-leekie soup

69. Rabbit and Hare

70. Bread sauce

71. Cauliflower cheese

72. Crumpets

73. Rice pudding

74. Bread and Butter Pudding

75. Bakewell tart

76. Kendall mint cake (horribly sweet)

77. Summer pudding

78. Lancashire hot pot (I'm from Lancashire, so I was weaned on this)

79. Beef Wellington

80. Eton mess

81. Neeps and tatties

82. Pimms

83. Scampi

84. Mint sauce

85. English strawberries and cream

86. Isle of Wight garlic

87. Mutton

88. Deep fried whitebait with tartare sauce

89. Angels on horseback

90. Omelette Arnold Bennett

91. Devilled kidneys

92. Partridge and pheasant

93. Stew and Dumplings

94. Arbroath smokies

95. Oyster loaves

96. Sloe gin

97. Damson jam

98. Soda bread

99. Quince jelly

100. Afternoon tea at the Ritz

I think I would add Bangers and Mash, Kippers, Victoria Sponge, Jam Roly Poly, and Lancashire cheese.

Which ones have you tried, and are there any you would like to add?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

An Award!

This is the first award I’ve received for this blog, and I’m absolutely thrilled. The honor was bestowed on me by Denise at:
Thank you so much for thinking of me Denise. Now I have the pleasure of passing this along.

The rules that accompany this award are:
1. Put the logo on your blog;
2. Add a link to the person who has awarded you;
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs;
4. Add links to those blogs on yours and
5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

And my seven nominees are (pause for drum roll)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Autumn Light

Could this be the start of fall? It started raining here yesterday evening, and it’s chucked it down all day today. Overnight our temperatures have plummeted 25 degrees, yesterday it was 90°F, today it’s 65°F. I’m not going to get too excited about it though, as I’m sure there’s still lots more hot weather to come, but hopefully more of the low 80’s rather than 90/100’s.

I am so ready for the fall. I’m sick of the heat, I’m fed up of feeling sweaty, I want to wear a cardi (cardigan/sweater), or even a coat. I want to see the leaves changing color on the trees, and the lovely yellow early morning/evening light. I want to see an end to stinging, biting, and bothersome bugs.

I’m looking forward to the long cold nights, cozying up in front of a blazing log fire with a good book, or some knitting. I’m longing to snuggle under my comforter after pressing the snooze button on the alarm clock. Just 10 more minutes.

I’m fed up of barbecuing and salads. I’m looking forward to homemade soups, casseroles and curries, and the smell of roast meat and Yorkshire pudding filling the house. I’m longing for mashed potatoes and gravy, Halloween candy, and Thanksgiving dinner.

Yes, I’m ready for fall.