Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Having a wonderfully perfect day thanks to my darling DH!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas traditions

For many years after I first came to the United States, I was often a guest in someone else's home at Christmas. When I eventually got married it was really nice to finally be able to celebrate Christmas in my own home and start creating some of our own traditions as a family.

Some things we do a little differently to when I was growing up. We leave the stockings downstairs, but Santa always delivers one present upstairs to each of the kids. Breakfast on Christmas morning is cinnamon rolls. (Although this year it may be banana blueberry muffins as they are already made!) Lunch is never turkey, as we have turkey at Thanksgiving and for some reason DH thinks it's too soon only a month later to have another turkey. Not really - we just choose to have something different. As DH had to work until the end of the day this Christmas Eve, he is not making beef Wellington as he did last year. There will still be beef though, and salmon for those of us who don't like beef very much. No Christmas pudding or Christmas cake. After my recent attempt at making mince pies, I'm thinking I should try making a real English Christmas cake next year and am hoping my mother still has the recipe she used when we were little. I do make a 'kid's trifle' - with jelly/jello instead of sherry, but mostly I'm the only one who eats it. (Trifle makes for a yummy breakfast on Boxing Day!) DH surprised me this evening by producing a box of English Christmas crackers - the kind that go bang and have silly paper hats in them.

I got the following via email from friends a couple of days ago:

1st Annual Christmas Day Open House
Friday December 25th, 12:00 noon -10PM

For Kids & Childish Adults ▪ Dress Exceedingly Casual ▪ Light Fare Served All-Day
Leave your present-opening mess at home & come mess up our house, instead!

Although we've always considered Christmas Day a family day, I think we will take them up on their invitation. There's room in the routine for a new tradition!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Where is Mr Kipling when I need him?

Mince pies are not easy to find here in the US, and when you do find them they are often quite expensive. Most Christmases I just go without, although occasionally I do find some imports and decide to indulge in a box. This year, inspired by Karen, I decided to try making some.

I'm not sure when the last time was that I made mince pies, if ever. I think I need to practice. The store-bought mincemeat was acceptable, but the pastry left something to be desired. They did look quite nice though:

Maybe if I master making mince pies, another year I'll try making a real Christmas cake.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Search terms

Here are some more of the search terms people have used that brought them to my blog in the last few weeks. Some are fairly obvious. It's gratifying to see at least one person (probably my mother) was clearly specifically looking for my blog.
  • almost american blog
There was the usual handful who appear to have an agenda they are looking to reinforce:
  • why americans shouldn't travel
  • americans should only speak english
  • no one is more american than anyone else
  • americans only speak english
Others who appeared to be looking for the answer to a specific question
  • my license photo does not look like me, should I get it retaken?
  • why americans only speak one language
  • why do americans only speak one language?
  • how to know what turkey to shoot
  • why is there february vacation
I didn't understand what some of them were after or why Google would have brought them to my blog in search of it:
  • Wednesday in hat
  • tornado american hat
  • out of office humping-mania
I don't believe I have ever mentioned humping on this blog before, let alone any kind of humping mania!! (DH wants to know "Is there an in-office humping mania?")
  • m&ms vs smarties
was back, along with
  • m&ms vs smarties vs skippers
Never heard of skippers, but I assume it must be another kind of candy.
Apparently at least one Russian-speaker was in search of information about Doctor Who:
  • доктор кто
This one I thought was somewhat scary:
  • shooting my own thanksgiving turkey in supermarket
I hope this person found out that it is NOT OK to shoot your own turkey in the supermarket. Indeed, there should never be any need to shoot the turkeys in the supermarket as they are always dead already!

I wonder if this one was an American living in the UK:
  • britain has too many rules
So do a lot of places. Some of the ones without rules aren't places I would want to live!

Monday, December 07, 2009

All true!

When I got home from work today, I found a message on our answering machine from President Bill Clinton. Yes, the man himself! Of course, it could have been someone impersonating him, but I very much doubt it. We also got a Christmas card from President Jimmy Carter and his wife today! Less impressively, I just hung up the phone on Governor Dukakis. (Hey, it was bedtime for the kids and reading a story to the kids was more important!)

Of course they all wanted something - our votes, our money . . . I will be glad when both the primary election and the seasonal fund-raising are over!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Birthday party food

A while ago Parent Hacks website posted a 'wonderful' idea one of their readers had come up with: serving jello (jelly) in individual serving sized paper cups. Hmm - we were doing that years ago in the UK for birthday parties. I've never seen jelly (jello) served at a birthday party in the US. Over here, the food at kids' birthday parties is usually pizza followed by cake served with ice cream.

When I was a kid in the UK, we had sandwiches (cut into little triangles), jelly in little paper cups with whipped cream on top , and 'fairy cakes':
(Picture from citybumpkin's blog.)

I remember chocolate blancmange rabbits on lime jelly grass too. I don't think they sell blancmage in the US, not that I've ever looked for it. (No Angel Delight either, which I remember we often had for dessert - I loved the butterscotch flavour!) Here's a picture of a blancmange rabbit, though the red jelly looks weird to me - it really should have been green!

(Photo from howarew's photostream at Flickr.)

The actual birthday cake might or might not have been eaten at the party, but guests were usually sent home with a slice wrapped up in a paper serviette. Americans I've mentioned this too all think that is really weird!

What do you remember about the food served at children's birthday parties when you were growing up? Has kids' birthday party food in the UK changed?

Thursday, November 26, 2009


. . . is nearly ready. And , yes, it includes green bean casserole (as discussed in the comments over at Pond Parleys) because my father-in-law likes it! DD has already announced her intention not to eat it! I'd like it better without the fried onions on top. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving tradition

A housemate of mine introduced me to this many years ago - the New England Thanksgiving tradition of listening to Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Catchphrases (2)

  1. "Ooh, Betty!" - Frank Spencer (Michael Crawford) in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em
  2. "I didn't get where I am today by . . . " - The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin
  3. "Get down Shep!" - John Noakes on Blue Peter
  4. "You're gonna like this - not a lot, but you're gonna like it! " - Paul Daniels, magician
  5. "Good game, good game", "Nice to see you, to see you nice", "Didn't they do well?", and when memory fails say "Cuddly toy!" - Bruce Forsyth on the Generation Game
  6. "Ooh, you are awful! But I like you!" - Dick Emery
  7. "Boom boom!" - Basil Brush
  8. "Rassen-frassen" - Muttley in the cartoon Wacky Races
  9. "Can you tell what it is yet?" - Rolf Harris
  10. "What do you think of it so far?" - Morecombe and Wise (I think their answer was always "Rubbish!")
  11. "You dancin'?" "You askin'?" "I'm askin''" "I'm dancin'" - The Liver Birds
  12. "And now for something completely different..." "I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!" "This is an ex-parrot!" - Monty Python's Flying Circus

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Some more phrases from my TV watching past.
  1. "I didn't get where I am today by . . . "
  2. "Ooh, Betty!"
  3. "Get down Shep!"
  4. "You're gonna like this - not a lot, but you're gonna like it! "
  5. "Good game, good game", "Nice to see you, to see you nice", "Didn't they do well?", and when memory fails say "Cuddly toy!"
  6. "Ooh, you are awful! But I like you!"
  7. "Boom boom!"
  8. "Rassen-frassen"
  9. "Can you tell what it is yet?"
  10. "What do you think of it so far?"
  11. "You dancin'?" "You askin'?" "I'm askin''" "I'm dancin'"
  12. "And now for something completely different..." "I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!" "This is an ex-parrot!"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Phrases remembered (2)

  1. "Stupid boy!" - Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army
  2. "It's good night from me" " And it's goodnight from him" - The Two Ronnies
  3. "Que?" ("He's from Barcelona") and "Don't mention the war!" - Fawlty Towers
  4. ''You've all done very well'' (in a quavery voice), “It’ll ride up with wear”, "Are you free?" "I'm free!" - Are You Being Served?
  5. "May your God go with you" - Dave Allen
  6. "I've started so I'll finish" - Magnus Magnussen on Mastermind (Did you know he wasn't British? Lived in Britain most of his life but never took British citizenship.)
  7. "Evening all!" - Dixon of Dock Green
  8. "Exterminate!", "It’s bigger on the inside!" - Dr Who
  9. "Shut that door!" - Larry Grayson
  10. “Just like that” - Tommy Cooper
  11. “Gissa job” - Yosser Hughes in Alan Beasdale's Boys from the Black Stuff
  12. “42″ - is the answer to the ultimate question in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was a radio show before it became a book, computer game, comic book and TV show.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Phrases remembered . . .

. . . from TV shows:
  1. "Stupid boy!"
  2. "It's good night from me" " And it's goodnight from him"
  3. "Que?" ("He's from Barcelona") and "Don't mention the war!"
  4. ''You've all done very well'' (in a quavery voice), “It’ll ride up with wear”, "Are you free?" "I'm free!"
  5. "May your God go with you"
  6. "I've started so I'll finish"
  7. "Evening all!"
  8. "Exterminate!", "It’s bigger on the inside!"
  9. "Shut that door!"
  10. “Just like that”
  11. “Gissa job”
  12. “42″
More to come . . .

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bill and Ben and Little Weed

Answers to Saturday's questions:

1. "Little weeed!" - Bill and Ben, the flowerpot men (1950's and 60's)

2. The Woodentops and their Spotty Dog. While Daddy Woodentop was busy doing 'men’s work', Mummy Woodentop was busy in the kitchen with assistance from Mrs Scrubbit. (1950's and 60's)

3. This (American) one from the 1960's was in color - but I mostly remember Stingray in black and white.

4. "Hugh, Pugh, Barney, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub!" The firemen in Trumpton.

5. "A house. With a door. One. Two. Three. Four." Playschool.

6. The Clangers.
(No soup dragon in this episode though.)

"Making good use of the things that we find, things that the everyday folks leave behind." The Wombles - who went big time with a hit record and a movie!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Vision On!

One of my favourite TV shows as a kid:

Tony Hart and Rolf "Can you see what it is yet?" Harris both made art look so easy!

"Jim fixed it for me!" - another cultural reference that DH doesn't get!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The real Magic Roundabout

Lynneguist posted about Sesame Street and other kids' TV shows this week and started me thinking. She commented that "From the Flower Pot Men to Clangers to the Teletubbies, there are many British children's television characters who don't speak in discernible language." Hmm - I'd not really thought of that as a cultural difference before, but I suppose perhaps it is. I'm sure American kids like Trixie's "Aggle flaggle" in the book Knuffle Bunny though*, and incomprehensible language does provide parents with the opportunity to discuss the philosophy of language with their children. Yeah, right! [sarcasm] Of course I used Teletubbies as an opportunity to introduce my kids to the philosophy of language! [/sarcasm]

One of the things about living other than where I grew up is not being able to use catch phrases from TV shows or share memories of the strange shows I grew up with. I remember Listen With Mother ("Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin!") on the radio in the afternoons, and Watch With Mother which was a time slot rather than a specific show on TV.

The Magic Roundabout
was on right before the 6 o'clock news. In our house (when I was little at least) as soon as it ended, it was time to go and get ready for bed.

This appears to be an entire episode, except where's Zebedee saying "Goodnight! Time for bed!" Was that not in every show after all? And what is with that awful music?

I can't imagine why as a kid I thought this was interesting. Looking through the videos on YouTube, I'm amazed how bad so many of the the kids' TV shows were! I remember bits and pieces of a few of them.

Can you name the shows that go with these memories?
  1. "Little weeeeed!"
  2. Spotty Dog (who walked in a really weird way).
  3. "Anything can happen in the next half hour!"
  4. "Hugh, Pugh, Barney, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub!"
  5. "A house. With a door. One. Two. Three. Four."
  6. The soup dragon
  7. "Making good use of the things that we find, things that the everyday folks leave behind."
I think I've arranged them in roughly chronological order, though my memory may very well be faulty. 1 & 2 are the definitely the oldest - I think they debuted even before my time, in the 1950's. (Answers in a couple of days.)

*My favorite phrase from Mo Willems' Knuffle Bunny is not "aggle flaggle" but "going boneless" to describe a toddler who does not want to be picked up!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Plugs (and cobblers)

When I was growing up in the UK, pretty much everything that needed to be plugged in to work was sold without a plug on the end of the cord. This was because there were different plugs used in different parts of the country. At 11 or 12 years old we were taught in science class how to rewire a plug safely. Even when I went to university in the early '80s, the hall of residence where I lived had round-pin plugs rather than the flat-pin ones which are now the standard. There was a thriving trade by the Junior Common Room in reselling plugs from the previous year's graduates to the first years. Nowadays I think it is much more common to buy things with plugs attached. I got very good at rewiring those plugs every time I moved back and forth from home to uni!

I had a summer job here in the US one year where we put new plugs on lamps for college dorm rooms. (The previous year's students having vandalized the lamps.) Each packet with a new plug carried the warning "Only to be installed by a licensed electrician!" It really wasn't that difficult attaching the new plugs!

I recently needed a new plug for my iron. The cord near the plug was getting rather hot, and obviously the wires inside were damaged and a fire hazard. I couldn't simply remove the plug, shorten the wire and reattach the plug because the plug was (by design) fused to the cord. This is common over here. So I needed to buy a new plug, but couldn't find one anywhere. Fortunately, we do have in our town a man who will do small repairs like this. I think it cost me about $8 - far better than replacing my $90 Rowenta iron! Right next door to the electrical repair shop is an actual, honest-to-goodness, cobbler's. The cobbler's is not quite so cheap. $20 to resole a $20 pair of shoes is not worth it to me, though I will happily pay that to get another season out of a $100+ pair of boots. Sadly, both are run by older gentlemen and it looks as though when they finally decide they're ready to retire both will close for good. (The cobbler's store is run by an immigrant from eastern Europe who must now be in his 80's and his son who's in his 60's. The electrician commented that some of the materials he needs for repairs are simply no longer available!)

One of the advantages of the American plugs is that they are a lot smaller than the British ones. Some even only have two prongs instead of three. If you are travelling with a British device that needs to be plugged in, the plug itself is pretty bulky. The plug below is brilliant! I hope they manage to bring it to market!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Shoot your own turkey

It must be nearly Thanksgiving! Apparently the turkey shooting is more organized than I thought - I had visions of people just wandering out into the woods to look for turkeys.

Friday, October 30, 2009

I like Uncle Jay

"Uncle Jay" has a weekly show to "help small minds understand big news." This week's show:
Swine flu? That's NOTHING compared to America's seasonal plague of political ads. They infect every TV, radio, billboard, mailbox, lawn and trick-or-treat bag. There's no vaccine. But at least Uncle Jay can explain how to understand them!
Elections happen on Tuesday next week and even though there is very little difference between the two candidates for mayor of our town, (other than the fact that one is the incumbent and the other isn't,) I will be voting. Because I can, when for so many years I couldn't. Because it's the right thing to do - even though I think in the long run it probably won't make much difference in this particular local race :-(

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Nappy Valley Girl's excellent blog post about Halloween has prompted me to write about it yet again, even though I wrote about it in 2006, 2007 and 2008!

The kids have been looking forward to Halloween for weeks now. The costume planning started back at the beginning of September. We live in a neighborhood that is a great place to go trick-or-treating. There are lots of kids around the same age as ours and they all like to get together and do the rounds of the houses together. This year they have been trying to coordinate their costumes on a theme. It's working, kind of. My two are going to be a hot dog and a bottle of ketchup. (One costume borrowed and the other bought at a tag sale.) The neighbors' kids are going to be containers of popcorn, candy, and 'a movie'.

It will be a two-day celebration this year as we have been invited to a friend's house on Friday for a 'pumpkin carving party'. (We get pumpkins a couple of weeks or more in advance and leave them out on the doorstep, but never carve them until a night or two before as they start to rot if the weather is warm.) Then on Saturday, one of the neighbors is hosting a party for the kids from 4 to 6, before they all go out trick-or-treating at 6.

Although we really enjoy Halloween, we keep it much lower key than many people. No inflatable lawn decorations for example!

Nor do I decorate the the house inside and out the way some people do. This year I did learn about a new tradition, which I'm wishing I'd heard of earlier because it's probably too late to implement it now. Apparently some people have their children leave the Halloween candy in front of the fireplace when they go to bed. Overnight a witch removes the candy and leaves gifts for the children instead. Of course, the witch must end up very fat from eating all the candy, and that would definitely be a bad thing, but I suppose she could take the candy to work to share. Or not.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Special days

In a recent blog post, Iota was commenting on the variety of festivals here in the US. I loved her comment about how the 'seasonal' aisles in the stores seem to exist in a time zone of their own. Christmas things are in the stores already and we haven't even had Halloween yet. In fact, in one store I was in this afternoon, there was a distinct lack of Halloween items, and what was there was already 50% off! I give it another week or so till the New Year's Eve decorations are on the shelves!

Iota noted the colours associated with various holidays here in the US:
Valentine’s Day: red and pink
St Patrick’s Day: green
Easter: yellow (and pastel shades generally)
Memorial Day and Fourth of July: red, white and blue
Hallowe’en: orange, black and purple
Christmas: green and red.
I'd add blue and silver for Hannukah and red, green and black for Kwanzaa and that the holidays each have specific shapes associated with them too:
Valentine’s Day: hearts
St Patrick’s Day: shamrocks
Easter: easter eggs, bunnies and chicks
Memorial Day and Fourth of July: stars and stripes (of course)
Hallowe’en: pumpkins and ghosts
Thanksgiving: turkeys
Hannukah: Menorahs and dreidels
Christmas: Christmas trees, holly and candy canes
Kwanzaa: kinara (candelabras)
Winter (if one is decorating for the season but avoiding specific holidays to be politically correct): snowmen and snowflakes
There are lots of other 'special days' that don't necessarily involve decorations that the kids learn about in school:
Arbor Day
Chinese New Year
Cinco de Mayo
Earth Day
Father's Day
Flag Day
Grandparents Day
Groundhog Day
Labor Day
Lincoln's Birthday
Mardi Gras
Martin Luther King Day
Mother's Day
Patriots Day
Presidents Day
Rosh Hashanah
Veteran's Day
Yom Kippur
Given the shortage of school holidays over here, they do help mark the passing of the year, even though most of them are not actually days off school. I would love to have the kids follow a 190 day English school year with regular holidays instead of the 180 days of school with most of the holidays in the summer. DD was horrified to hear that in the UK the kids are still in school till the middle of July or later. I bet she'd love to have a 2 week holiday at Christmas though! This year she'll be in school until 3 p.m. on December 23rd - what do you think of that, Auntie England?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fall foliage

Thanks to my brother for sending me the link to this cartoon:

From the webcomic xkcd (whose author has allowed the reuse of this image here.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Americans only speak English

We went out for dinner tonight to a local bar that has a good deal on beer and a burger so long as you eat before 5:30 p.m. It was a little early for dinner, but it was easier than cooking.

It was a family-friendly establishment with a kids menu, but still definitely a bar-ish kind of place. As we were waiting for our food to arrive, DS commented on how loud the group of people at the bar were. I said, "Well, that's because they're Americans and Americans are loud."
DS: "We're not loud!"
DH and AA: "Oh yes you are!"
DS: "Well mommy's not loud and she's half American."
DD: "Mommy's not American!"
DH: "Right, she's Almost American!"
AA: "Why am I not American?"
DD: "You were born in England."
DS: "But you've been to other countries and speak other languages."
AA: [to DD] "How about you sweetheart? Are you American or British?"
DS: "She's half Chinese."
AA and DH: "Huh?!!!"
DD: "No, I'm not!"
DS: "Yes, you are, you're learning to speak Chinese!"
AA: [to DS] "Well are you half Chinese then, 'cos you're learning Chinese too?"
DS: "Yes."
AA: "So if you speak another language you're not American?"
DS: "That's right!"
AA: "And if you speak English you're American?"
DS: "Yes."
AA: "Well they speak English in England don't they?"
DD: "No they don't. It's a different language. Cookies are biscuits over there."

At bedtime, DS was still insisting that real Americans don't speak other languages. Sadly, how right he is! I had an email conversation this week with someone (who should know better) who commented on my "impressive array of language learning experiences." I had only told her about my French and (not even really minimal) Chinese, and had not mentioned German and Spanish at all! Hmm - I'm thinking maybe the kids need Muzzy for Christmas!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Columbus Day Weekend

Another beautiful Columbus Day weekend, although it was a lot colder than this time last year.

The trees aren't quite at their peak colour yet, but still pretty.

What are these? Anyone know? Very pretty (but the fruit does make a mess on the ground!)

Lots of good food. The fries were even served with salt and vinegar :-) DH went on to have a kielbasa grinder (hot sandwich) after this.

Fried dough with maple cream - a tradition not to be missed, despite how unhealthy it is! Still, sharing makes it a little less bad for you!

Lots of other food offerings too. It was a bit cold as far as I was concerned for sno-cones or ice cream, but the blueberry cobbler was outstanding!

Reminders that we really were out in the country!

There were lots of wonderful craft stalls. These glass pumpkins are sold at this festival every year and I always think about buying one and then never do. Maybe next year! Without a lot of restraint, it could have been a very expensive day. It was nice to see how many of the crafters were people we know.

As always, it was a good day out.

How quickly they forget!

Was woken this morning by shouts from DS:

"Mommy, mommy, it snowed!"

Funny - that wasn't in the forecast! They predicted clear skies overnight, and sunshine today - perfect for going to the Fall Festival! Ah yes, clear skies overnight - our first frost of the season! Not even a heavy frost either! How he mistook this for snow, I have no idea!

Just wishful thinking I suppose.

He's going to be SO excited when we finally DO get snow. He was talking yesterday about how he's really looking forward to it. Not because he wants to go sledding or make a snowman, but because he wants to shovel the driveway!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Spot the spam

I get very little junk email in any of my email inboxes. Really! All of my accounts seem to have pretty good spam filters set up and the occasional spam message that actually makes it through to my inbox is usually very obvious. More of a problem is finding the messages I actually want that get put in the junk mailbox. I have one friend whose messages more often than not end up tagged as spam. Messages from one mailing list occasionally end up there, as do all the messages from one specific business whose mailing list I asked to be added to.

About once every couple of weeks, I go through the junk mail checking to see if there's anything there that I really want before I hit delete. I can usually tell from the sender's address if it's a message I want to keep. This is a good thing, because if I had to rely on the subject line it might not be so easy!

See if you can figure out which of the following email messages in my 'junk' mailbox turned out NOT to be spam!
  • Invite to my presentation
  • Who called me?
  • Apply for your diploma
  • Win in Fiesta
  • With our watches boring time will go faster
  • Do it tomorrow
  • Losing wieht [sic] does not have to be tough
  • For humping-mania
  • Need a diploma? Call us.
  • Your social status will grow with a more serious watch
  • Book a room and you could WIN a weekend away plus spending money!
  • Please think about it
  • Did you vomit?
  • I'll kill you, I promise
  • Nothing can amaze your special person more than a cute watch
Oh, and did anyone else from the UK have battered & deep-fried 'spam' on their school lunch menu? (I remember it was round, not rectangular like real Spam which must have been more expensive!!) I remember not only eating it and enjoying it but putting salt on it! It's amazing I'm not dead of a heart attack already!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The UK explained

My DH forwarded this graphic to me. No idea where it came from originally.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Barely British

UK citizenship test

I failed.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The country fair

When I was growing up, the fair visited town once a year in June. They set up in the town car park and Thursday night was 'trial night'. All the rides were half price. Supposedly this was because they were checking that they were all correctly set up. (I was never allowed/never wanted to go on trial night!) The fair had all the usual fair things - a merry-go-round, waltzers, bumper cars, a big wheel, fishing for ducks, candy floss . . . It was loud and fun and we looked forward to it. Apparently the future of the annual fair is now in doubt because the car park where it was held is about to be lost to a Sainsbury's supermarket.

Around here there is not just one but several fairs within easy driving distance each year. All of them are held at dedicated fairgrounds that are used for a variety of gatherings over the year. The one we went to last weekend is the traditional end of summer event for our family, and many others, as it is always held the weekend before school starts. It is, of course (this IS America after all!) bigger than the fair in my hometown. Perhaps not so much in the number of rides, but certainly with the sheer quantity of other activities! It's a sort of cross between a funfair, Women's Institute show, and Young Farmer's Club event.

I would have said that there was nothing like our local New England fairs in the UK but I bet if we visited the Cheshire County Show nowadays we would find it very similar to the show we went to last weekend. The Cheshire County Show was in somewhat of a decline when I was growing up and we never went to it but it has changed significantly in the past few years. It's just another reminder to me of how long I've been away from the UK and how careful I have to be when speaking about it. So much has changed over there in the last 24 years! The UK I left does not exist any more.

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