I've been pondering what to post first on my new blog. John has a blog as well. His is a great outlet for his writing abilities. He has a terrific (and seemingly easy) way with words that I admire but just don't have myself.
Then I remembered that John had suggested that perhaps "Lord Celery" could be an outlet for some of my observations about life here in the UK. Maybe others would enjoy hearing my thoughts, too. You know, John gets bombarded all the time with all my comments about the differences between life in America and life in England. Perhaps he'd like to feel that others are sharing the listening burden! Poor thing! He's so very patient with me. It really must be love!
Anyway, this line of thinking led me to the conclusion that a good way to begin this exercise is to simply talk about the things I miss about living in the US...counter-balanced with those things I especially love about living here. Then, as time passes, I can chat about more of my observations as they come up in day-to-day life.
British people often marvel at how little I seem to get homesick. That's true for the most part, I suppose, and it has surprised me as well. But what do I miss the most? Well...
1. Being closer to my family and friends. You all know who you are. But a special mention goes to Melissa and Jennifer. I miss you two like crazy, all of the time!
2. Watching American sports on TV over the weekend. I'm craving baseball and basketball especially. There are games shown during the middle of the night on Britain's Channel 5, but I usually forget to record them. There was so much choice of sports on TV during the weekend in the US, and I took it for granted.
3. Being able to easily get good Tex-Mex/Mexican food. John makes killer chicken fajitas and quesadillas, but I still miss going to Pico's in Houston for their seafood enchiladas and other specialities. Yum. And Mama Ninfa's for almost anything!
4. The Jim Lehrer News Hour. CBS Sunday Morning. Austin City Limits. HBO. The Sunday morning news programs. Nova. 60 Minutes. Anything with Bill Moyers. Katie and Matt on The Today Show in the morning.
5. Carpets of bluebonnets on hillsides in Texas in the spring.
6. Big Bend National Park in Texas.
7. Listening to "oldies" on US radio stations -- all the time -- anywhere in the country that you go!
8. Being able to get to the Tunnel Vista on Highway 82 in New Mexico without making a long transatlantic flight first. That's my favorite spot in the entire world. (If you'd like, you can see some of John's photos from our last trip there at: http://www.jmnolan.btinternet.co.uk/)
9. Community New Orleans coffee. Wolf Brand Chili. American peanut butter...it can sometimes be gotten here, but it costs a small fortune. Canned biscuits. North American cantaloupe. Gulf Coast seafood...especially shrimp and soft-shelled crabs. New Mexico green chiles...especially in the form of green chile cheeseburgers from Johnny's Outpost (Carrizozo) or from The Owl Bar (San Antonio). The buttermilk pie at Luby's Cafeteria.
OK, then. In contrast, let's talk about what I love about living in Britain...
1. First and foremost on the list is being near John. It's the reason I'm here, and it's been the best decision I ever made!
2. British radio. It's truly wonderful! Especially BBC 5 Live in the morning, and BBC Radio 2 almost any time. And I should add here that digital radio is very cool.
3. Jonathan Ross. Anything he does!
4. Little Britain. Funniest two people on the planet...even though I would have to agree with a friend here who describes them as "disturbing"!
5. Bob Harris. He's just incredible. (Bob, if by chance you're reading this, I probably have almost as many CD's and records in my collection as you do! Would you please consider giving me a job?)
6. Have I Got News For You, A Question of Sport, watching EastEnders on a timely basis four nights/week, Horizon, Panorama, Little Britain, Top Gear, Nighty Night, Countryfile, BBC documentaries, the presenters on BBC South Today on weeknights, reruns of Inspector Morse, etc. etc....the list goes on and on. Of course there's crap on British TV, too, but the proportion is smaller than on TV in the States.
7. The countryside. It's so beautiful and so good for the soul. I have the same feeling, driving in the British countryside, that I do driving in the Texas Hill Country...except for that annoying problem of being on the other side of the road!
8. English village life. I'm so very lucky to be able to work from an office in the beautiful city of Oxford (it really does have "Dreaming Spires") and yet live in such a picturesque, friendly, historic village in north Oxfordshire. I realize how lucky I am every single day.
9. British humor...or humour, as it would be written here. It's everywhere, sometimes in very unexpected places. I'm especially developing an appreciation for Liverpool's distinctive brand.
10. Public transportation. It's easily available from almost anywhere, and sometimes it's actually on time!
11. Ginger beer. Branston pickle. Lemon curd. Eggs...they just taste better here, and the yolks are such a bright yellow. All of those different types of creams and yogurts. Smoky bacon crisps...although I try not to eat them too often. All the varieties of sausages. Leeks. Parsnips. Scottish beef.
Undoubtedly there are more items for both lists, but I'm running out of thoughts and might as well stop at some point and just post this. I'm sure I'll share more over time. But at least that's a start!