Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Things I've had to Explain to my US Raised Son

So, the youngest (now 14, almost 6 feet and henceforth the new "Man-Child)" has been coming to England since he was born. He feels very comfortable here and it was because of his enthusiasm for our move that we actually made it. He is, however, a Yank when all is said and done. There is much work ahead for me - 

Doctor's "surgery" - Phoning around last week, desperately searching for an NHS doctor that would take us, I used "surgery" several times in my conversations. I couldn't figure out why the Man Child looked so alarmed until I put the phone down and he asked who needed surgery. In the US it's called the doctor's "office" and surgery is strictly reserved for the operating room. 

Cling film - This was a doubler so to speak. In the US the plastic wrapping for left over food is called "Saran wrap" or "plastic wrap". (I've just looked it up and the term "cling film" is included but I never heard that and we never said it.) The Man Child cottoned on to the new name pretty quickly, until I realised he was saying "Clean film". That would be because his dad (the Ball & Chain) has a sightly southern US accent and that's how "cling film" comes out. 

Bin sorting - Like many Brits, we have several bins for what used to be "trash". A smaller receptacle for food waste, a larger one for recycling and another for anything that doesn't go in those two. We have written, strict instructions about what goes in which bin and what happens if you get it wrong. (It looks like we don't get fined, but the bins don't get touched either.) I spent the first two weeks diving into bins to retrieve misplaced items. Plastic containers go in the recycling but not any plastic film, which must be removed and placed in the regular rubbish bin. No wet paper in the recycling - ("Yes, I know it will dry out but it clearly says No Wet Paper".) Impressing upon the Man-Child (and his father, I have to say) that just because you don't see the reason for a particular recycling classification, doesn't mean you can flout it. 

Wear clean socks & wash your feet - As I mentioned in my previous post (see below), it appears that the UK has gone shoe-less. The Man-Child is now instructed to take note of the state of his hosts' feet upon entering a house and offer to remove shoes if need be. If you've ever had a teenage son you'll know that socks on feet are not necessarily clean on, no matter what happens to be available in the sock drawer. Two more things come into play in our house - the fact that the MC is wearing sandals and no socks (thank goodness) at the moment, and his shower is so small that he can't physically bend down to wash his feet. The chances of a complete pong-out when he removes said sandals are very high. Everyone is on notice. 

You could write a book about all this stuff. Oh wait..............

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Back in Blighty - Some Vexing Questions

So we've been back in the UK for almost a month already. Where did the time go? Most of our "Stuff" still hasn't arrived, so it's difficult to make the new house feel like home. I don't want to go out and buy anything until I see how our things look and fit here. 

Meanwhile, I have been noticing a few things that have changed since I've been gone. I wrote about one at the Huffington Post, and I'd really like your own thoughts on it, as people seem to be clear on what they do. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Happy Homemaker

Anyone who knows me would not peg me as someone overly bothered about house and home. Yes, I like things clean and relatively organized but it’s not something I obsess about. Until now, it would appear. See, last time I moved into a new house I had a ten year old, a seven year old and a five month old baby. Oh, and a brand new publishing contract with a big publisher and six months to finish my book. Things were flung into any old cupboard just to get them out of boxes, and we spent the next thirteen years wandering around, trying to figure out where things were and why they were housed there. And no, I never could muster the energy to rearrange anything.

This time however, it’s a different story. This kitchen will be organized, damn it. We’re having all the plates, cups, glasses etc on one side, all the dry goods on the other, and sundries (otherwise known as “the messy drawer”) away from the stove, dishwasher and fridge. Those drawers and cabinets are valuable real estate in any kitchen and shouldn’t be housing tape measures and hammers. Actually, I’m going to have to have a word with the Ball & Chain as there are screw drivers in one drawer which is not on, given that the garage is a mere ten feet from the kitchen. No excuse at all. (See, I’m so into it, I’m getting positively unpleasant.)

The fact that we only have four plates, four mugs, four knives, forks etc. doesn’t matter. I’ve left room for the mugs that will be arriving in 6-8 weeks and we are banning ourselves from buying anything till the container arrives. We’ll just look at the nice, organized empty spaces (allocations) in the kitchen cabinets, till that day (and hope that everything fits).

Ditto the shelves above the washer and dryer, which I have allocated for laundry supplies (at this point just one small bottle of Persil) and dog stuff. I may have to re-think the dog stuff as I ordered a giant bag of dry food which is causing visible strain to the shelf on which it sits. Sigh. At this point, the garage is going to be the go-to place for everything, including the twenty five boxes we have coming in a month or so. Where we are going to put everything I just don’t know.

So far we have spent the time waiting for the Virgin Media guy to come and fix the duff equipment we were sent, then waiting for him to come back a few hours later as the new stuff also wasn’t working(more on that later); waiting for the Argos delivery man to bring patio chair cushions that actually match (three days of random cushions being delivered); and going back and forth to Vodaphone having been rejected initially because our UK bank account (for which we had jumped through hoops) was tied to our US address and not our UK one.

The weather is lovely though, and we’ve been eating out most nights, making the best of it and pretending we’re on holiday. My gym membership kicks in next week, which is a good thing…….. 

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