Live like a local.
It has been awhile since I’ve sat down with my own thoughts. I hate to use the word “busy” because that might be misconstrued to mean “doing something of importance” when really, I would not go as far as saying that.
I would have labeled myself as a person that never acquired enough sleep. Now, I’m a person that sleeps until I naturally wake (No alarm or pressing schedule) and I lazily read a bit, have a relaxing latte by my bedside (thank you David), and then I begin my day.
I have focused on trying to get back into shape. I want to “feel” stronger and more “capable” in hopes that someday soon we will be free to travel again, and I will be joyfully able to do whatever I want to do. OK, within reasonable limitations. Lifestyle changes resulting in good health are unbelievably time consuming and, without immediate results, quite discouraging. So, I have given myself permission to take a day off. Today, I am focusing on a different struggle.
I think everyone realizes that two countries where people speak the same language can be quite different. Here in the UK, partly because I find myself only catching a portion of most sentences due to strong dialect differences and the more comfortable people are the faster they speak and the fewer words I catch, my brain is on overdrive. I must appear daft since I cannot hide my delayed processing and then the sudden realization of what they are saying. My reaction resembles an Ahh Ha moment, and it must be hard for them to stifle their snicker.
So, let us get back to differences! Do I start with the “real” ones or the “really dumb” ones? Silly question. Of course, I think the dumbest one first! It is not called “to go” it’s called “take away”. I thought that simple difference was not worth mentioning except that every time I slip and say the words “to go” someone corrects me in a form of a question, “did you mean, take away?” Is it really THAT confusing? I resent answering, feeling like I am giving credence to the question.
Pizza. Pizza is an easy COVID take away meal. It was delivered and we opened the box and they “forgot” to slice it. No big deal, I am sure they were extremely busy. It was not until we ordered from a different pizza joint, and it was delivered, and again, it was not sliced that we realized… they are NEVER going to slice our Pizza. This is not something they do to Pizza. I have no insight on this. I do have an opinion though; one I am keeping to myself.
I cannot place judgement on these differences. OK that is not true, I can place judgement on the inability to slice Pizza! But my other observations are just that. It is like walking a loop you have done 100 times before. You tend to walk in the same direction out of habit. You do it because you always do it that way and it feels right. I usually choose clockwise, but the other day I decided to turn it around. It was mind-blowing how I literally saw things differently. Sights I had missed. Maybe it was that I always turn my head a certain direction so obviously I miss the view on the other side? Or maybe I was complacent since I have done the walk 100 times? The mere directional change was enough to give me a fresh perspective. I strongly urge you to try it to see what you have been missing.
Of course, I have tried with no success, to use this positive spin regarding my hygiene. I refuse to take responsibility, entirely, for my inability to do laundry well. Between the craziness of hard water: its foil on cleaning, and the spin cycle being so aggressively vigorous, my baggy white clothes now fit barbie and take on a grey hue. My only solution to the current situation is to buy all future clothing two sizes larger than required and preferably in dark colors. The fact that my laundry machine is squeezed into my already too small of kitchen, and my drying racks are strewn throughout the hallways, seem to have little impact on my laundry results. Can I stress again, the challenge I have with hard water? Hard water seems to be the bane of my existence. TMI warning: hard water mixed with shampoo forms a salt which leaves a residue on the surface of your hair and scalp. This film blocks conditioners from absorbing, leaving your hair dry, full of tangles and prone to breakage. So now I have shared a mental image you will not be able to shake. I wear skin tight clothing (no fault of my own) that seem to be dingy grey and my hair, no matter how much time I spend on it, has a general course frizz that isn’t a look I ever imagined sporting.
This leads me into the next difference: packaging. It is all how you look at it. I am sure you all know the refrigerator space is at a premium with smaller fridges in the UK. This is an easy equation: less is more. Buy only what you are planning to eat within 48 hours. But it is the packaging of the foods that impresses me most.
Eggs. Eggs in the UK do not need to be refrigerated. You can imagine how easy it is to spot an American searching for eggs in a grocery store: you conclude they do not sell eggs, or you are reduced to ask a clerk. Either option makes you the butt of their dinner party jokes. In the UK, eggs are not washed before they hit the shelves. When eggs are washed, it makes it easier for bacteria such as salmonella to seep in, which is why cool refrigerator temperatures are necessary for US eggs.
Yogurt. I have found amazingly delicious yogurt that comes in a jar with a twist lid and labels that “peel” off. After I have an empty jar, it goes into the dishwasher, and viola. I have an empty container for which I store dried goods or leftovers. 100% reusable.
Grocery bags. The US is starting to charge customers that need bags to carry out their groceries. In the UK, it is commonplace to use a trolley. It looks very much what I would have called an old lady large bag on wheels. I also, shamefully, admit I would never have thought to use one in the states. However, I have changed my mind. It helps that all ages use one: fashionable young people of both genders to the anticipated frumpy old lady. The large wheels carry the heaviness with ease and the needless use of bags must considerably reduce waste. If you saw me now, you would regard it as an extra appendage. There is no doubt, I will be bringing my trolley home when I return to the U.S.
I mentioned in a previous blog post about the 220 V. plugs and the inability to dry one’s hair IN the bathroom due to the lack of plugs. This might be something to which I will never acclimate. However, I have come to love the high voltage. Why? Because it charges your devices in lightening speed. It is crazy fast. I will have a low cellphone battery. I will plug in and tend to the laundry or empty the dishwasher. I return in 30+ mins to practically a fully charged battery. How awesome is that? AND speaking of charging devices… Before COVID shut down life as we all know it, I was in a department store that had this wall of charging lockers. I had to really take a double take. They look like small lockers, inside are cables that you match to your charging needs, then shut the locker and remove the key and continue shopping. These charging lockers are free of charge and is a convenience for the customer. Let us hope all stores in the US adopt this practice, it was wonderful to retrieve a fully charged phone.
Fire doors. In the US – do not quote me – but I think we are required to have fire doors if they are external doors or leading into a garage. Here in the UK, all doors are heavy and of substance acting as fire doors. As you learn more about the city of London, there is frequent reference to the Great Fire of London. It had such a devastating effect upon the city, to this day, city codes reflect anything to help slow the spread of fire. (maybe they should reconsider the use of 220 volts?) What does this really mean to you or me? It means that every door needs a door stop. They are heavy and they will shut. I am not in the habit of keeping my internal doors shut, so when you come visit, you will remember my mention of why we have door stoppers at every door.
In fear of boring you anymore than I already have, suffice it to say that there are many differences that are quite refreshing to experience. Just when you think you are too old to learn a new trick, you are made aware that there are many ways to skin a cat. Remember, I highly recommend you search out ways you can view your world differently, try approaching everything counterclockwise, it might just surprise you.
Don't take life so seriously.
I'm Jody. I love to travel. I love to take pictures. I love to meet people and find interesting places. I also love to write about and post pix of what I've found. But, I've been told that I write like I talk - in streams of consciousness. So, if proper grammar and well composed sentences are a must for you - my posts will make you crazy. If you want to follow my journey as I learn about really cool places and offer some great tips about living abroad, read on!