Diary Entry: January 26, 2016

I have bought Mint Chocolate Cocoa, and am drinking it while crunching some toast. Have I mentioned that English bread is like bread on steroids? The slices are huge. If I laid one of these on top of the ones in America, it would jeer at the puny contender. It becomes obvious why the English laugh when they tell us they are just going to have some tea & toast for lunch and we wonder if they will be hungry later.

My friend, M, buys the bread that has been discounted (day old bread) down to 10 p and freezes it. If only they had this type of thing in the US. Nobody would ever go hungry. They would have bread in some form as an alternative. Here they have the sell by date, and the good by date. They drastically reduce the cost so that it sells before the good by date. The way we do it in the US is by marking things down about half price..but in the UK it is more like 90%. It keeps a lot of people from starving, in my humble opinion.

The way that towns and villages are laid out here is much more sensible than that used by Americans as well. Since space is at a premium, the UK has very small refrigerators. This means, of course, shopping more than once a week. It sounds bothersome, but as a result of this need, the stores are never more than a quick walk away. As I type this, I can name 4 stores within walking distance. All reasonably priced. All of the towns and villages are structured this way. Even the gas stations feature grocery store products at the same prices as that of the grocery store. Mostly, because the grocery stores own the gas station (Tesco anyone?) No jacked up prices for the “Convenience”here! By the way, they call convenience stores “Garages” here.

I need not use a car ever in the UK. If I cannot afford it, I am not jeered at or told I need to get a car. In fact, the bus system in this area is pretty darn good compared to back home. The buses run around every 10-15 min. There are sidewalks everywhere. Where there is no sidewalk there is a public right-of-way, which gives travellers on foot the right to cross over farmland and such so long as they do not disturb the farm.

I am not knocking the US, there are plenty of cool things we have that I’d love to see used in the UK, but the thing is..the UK treats the residents like the centre of their universe, and not the businesses. They set up plans and prices to encourage people to interact and get out of the house. I see more Senior Citizens out chatting and drinking tea, then any in the US. The casual nature of drinking tea and having a chat is part of the culture here, and it shows in the connections that exist within the towns and villages. I love that people dress up to be seen here. They would not be caught dead in a ratty t-shirt and dirty sweats. I am sure there are the odd person who does this, of course, but mostly it is quite fashionable. I like that they take pains to be dressy. This is probably something to do with it being grey and stormy a lot. Dressing up to please oneself is very stressed here.

I do find people to have a certain nature that you have to learn the secret about. See, the English appear standoffish, but the truth is, they are just polite. They do not invite themselves into your space. If you engage someone, you will find them surprisingly animated and open to conversation. An Englishperson will never offer advice, until he/she is certain he/she is the one with the most knowledge of the topic, then they will venture their opinion, never before. It is all about politeness and respecting personal space. Once you realise this England becomes a very lovely place indeed.

One thing I could do without however, is how obvious it is that I am not English. I might as well stamp the word “American” on my forehead. Not to say that the English dislike Americans, quite the contrary, they adore it! A little too much sometimes. It’s like being the exhibit in any room.”Look! It’s an American, lets observe her behaviour and mannerisms. How interesting.”

I fell asleep during the plants talk Anne and Hannah took me to see. I was really just there because I wanted to spend time with them and that is where they were going. You cannot begin to imagine how much teasing I got from nodding off a bit. You would think there was a spotlight over my head. It was made aware that every single person noticed and found me amusing. Every. Single. Person. OY!

I like England. I find their way of economising extremely proactive and really well done in comparison to our own. I would enjoy, very much, seeing something like this happen in the US. The way people are struggling to pay bills, this country has a lot it could share. England is not a rich country, so they, honestly, would be the ones to ask for advice on living simply and still thriving as people. I am in awe of their ability to save and economise and still have a very fulfilled lifestyle.