30 March 2012

Pubs: The Plough

14 March 2012 - The Plough, Redhill, Surrey

After my afternoon at The Jolly Brickmakers I went to The Plough in Redhill for a pub quiz night.  Two pubs in one day... don't judge me!


I was concerned that British pub quiz would be totally over my head, and I wasn't entirely wrong.  I didn't know any of the sports stuff or British movie/TV references and my geography was pretty rusty.  My big contribution was solving the anagram and identifying some of the celebrities.  But it was a good time overall.  The pub was cute and quaint and the crowd was very enthusiastic.


I had a London Pride.  Not bad.


29 March 2012

Accents and Britspeak

People back home keep asking me if I've developed an English accent yet. I laugh and say no, of course not. And of course I haven't, but I recently met an American who has been in the UK for several years who has definitely developed a mild British accent. It's interesting that some people are just more susceptible to picking up accents. I don't believe I'm one of those people, but maybe I'll find out that I am in a few years.

I do find myself using more British terminology on a day-to-day basis. And it's not really a function of trying to blend in, but rather an effort to have people understand me more easily and to draw less attention to myself. For example, today I was planning to drop off a note at a neighbor's house (the neighbor signed for a package of ours). I wrote it out once in American English, and then rewrote it in British English. This involved replacing "neighbor" with "neighbour," "package" with "parcel," "call me at" with "ring me on," and "pick up" with "collect." Four substitutions in a three sentence note! I'm sure I would have been fine with the American version, but I figured it was less conspicuous to just try and write it in Britspeak.

My husband is from a commonwealth country, and so it's also interesting to hear him dropping his American English and reverting back to Britspeak. It's happening pretty fast! By the time I'm next in the US (several months away), maybe I'll be amusing/annoying my friends and family with my talk of "loos," "flats," "hiring cars," etc.

28 March 2012

Pubs: The Jolly Brickmakers

14 March 2012 - The Jolly Brickmakers, Redhill, Surrey


I stopped at The Jolly Brickmakers to meet up with an acquaintance for an afternoon pint.  I arrived quite early, and so I was flying solo for about half an hour.  The afternoon crowd was definitely all regulars who knew each other, and as such, I got a few curious, but not unfriendly, glances.  I think I had a half pint of a guest ale.  But I don't remember which one, and I felt too conspicuous to take a picture of the label like I usually do.  Here it is in the glass:


My guest arrived and we had a nice chat.  Not a bad afternoon at the pub.

24 March 2012

Pubs: The Camden Head

6 March 2012 - The Camden Head, Islington, London

I visited the Camden Head in London on a Tuesday evening.  I intended to visit The York, but due to my ill-timed train trip into London, I found The York to be completely packed by the time I arrived around 5:00pm.  There was nary an empty table or bar stool in the joint, so I did a quick 180 and scampered back out onto the cobblestones.  I figured if I continued to walk down the alley in the same direction I was bound to run into another pub.  You know, since they are everywhere.

Down the alley I went.  It was a charming alley that had a pretty neat Diagon Alley-esque quality.  


I soon ran into The Camden Head.  It wasn't nearly as crowded as The York, but it was still pretty busy.  It took a hot minute to get served at the bar, even though there were only a couple of people in front of me.  I looked around for a food menu or menu board and didn't spot one, so no food for me.  I ended up ordering an Old Speckled Hen. 

The only seats available downstairs were at the bar, and I actually had a bit of writing to do, so I went upstairs to find a table.   Upstairs it was pretty much me and my beer, and a couple who were having a heated discussion at a low volume in the opposite corner.


I nursed the hell out of that beer.  It took me forever to make progress on it, I don't know why.  In the meantime, the couple in the corner made up, and then proceeded to silently hug for a good 5 minutes.  It was bizarre.  I'm pretty sure they would have been making out if I hadn't been there.  Sorry y'all.


My husband eventually met up with me and helped me finish my beer.  Then we headed off into the lamplight.


05 March 2012

Making Friends, UK Style

Ahh friends.  I miss having friends.  Things have been fairly slow in the friend-making department.  I moved here from the US not knowing anyone but my husband and my dogs... and my social circle still pretty much consists of my husband and my dogs.  I've been here less than two months though, so I know that I'm still very new, and I can't expect to just instantly have a group of girlfriends.  But, not gonna lie, it would be nice.  I do miss having friends you can call up at the last minute to join you for a margarita or glass of wine and/or other silly stuff like at-home manicures and reality TV.

In the past few years in the US, we moved around a lot.  I think I've become fairly adept at meeting people and making new friends.  I know that it takes time.  Making friends is a lot like dating.  You don't want to come on too strong, or be too pushy and freak the other person out.  But you still have to show interest and put forth effort.

As an adult, it can be hard to meet people who are open to new friendships.  The easiest avenues for friend-making, school and work, aren't happening here either.  My formal school days are long over, and I'm not working here yet (a subject for a future post).  But I'm doing what I can.  I'm joining Meetup groups, taking an adult education class, and volunteering.  Meetup.com has been very good to me in the past.  I've met some really wonderful people through that site, and hopefully that will hold true here as well.  I've joined some American expat Meetup groups in London, and I've started a couple of local Meetups, so we'll see what happens with that.

Hanging out with Americans has been nice, but I don't want to only have American friends here.  That would kind of defeat the purpose of moving to another country.  Plus, there aren't very many Americans here in my small town, and I really would love to have some local friends.  So I'm trying to factor British reservedness into my friend-making approach.  Don't want to freak them out with my eagerness and my super friendly Texan-ness.  That's kind of a joke, because back home I'm considered pretty quiet and reserved.  I usually have to consciously make myself more open and assertive when I'm meeting new people.  Hopefully I'll figure out how to strike the right balance here.

04 March 2012

Pubs: The Good Yarn

1 March 2012 - The Good Yarn, Uxbridge, Middlesex


My husband had a business meeting up in Uxbridge, so I took a late morning train up to meet him.  I'd never been to that area, so I had a wander up Uxbridge's High Street and stopped at The Good Yarn for a late lunch.  The place was completely packed when I arrived.  I attribute this to the "Thursday Curry Club" and the fact that it was St. David's Day, which meant there were some specials.  The crowd was quite mixed, ranging from kids in their late teens or early twenties, to some very old folks.  I found the only empty table and claimed it with my jacket before going up to the bar to order my food (no table service at most pubs).  I'm ashamed to say that this was the first time I have ordered my own food or drinks at a pub since arriving in the UK.  On my other pub trips, I've been with my husband, so I'm the table claimer, while he's the orderer/payer.  The informal system of waiting at the bar is interesting.  It's kind of just an honor system for whoever is supposed to be served next.  I must say, even in this packed pub, it worked pretty well.  I ordered a sweet potato, spinach, and chickpea curry and a Tuborg.  Not too shabby for £5.59.  It was all quite good actually.  I was amused by the mango chutney that came in its own pre-packaged little tub.



This pub is another J D Wetherspoon pub (like The Sun in Redhill), and so it has the same crazy drinks menu I described in my Sun review.  I took some pics this time, though.  :)




Eventually my husband joined me and partook of some naan and poppadoms.  By the time our leisurely lunch came to an end, the pub had emptied out considerably.  I don't know if we'll be back, but I had a nice time.