We picked England as our first destination because we figured it would be an easy transition. Since we already speak the language, there wouldn’t be too much culture shock.
Wrong on both counts.
However, we are loving every minute of it. This past week has been fantastic, and we’re all learning a ton. Tonight JJ told us that it is better than he expected because he just thought we would walk past things, and a guide would tell us, “That’s a famous building.” But he is finding that he is really enjoying learning so much history. Missa B. thought that touring buildings would be relatively boring, but she’s finding that she’s enjoying learning about people and places more than she anticipated.
A few of the key lessons we have learned this past week:
- If a friend tells you somewhere is a good place for a “natter,” it’s not obscene. Nor should you go on an empty stomach. It’s just a good place for a chat. (Although my friend, Lisa, has actually threatened to cook something and tell Hubs it’s a “natter” just to make fun of the dumb Americans.)
- Kids tends to find other kids. We picked up these American additions to our brood on a city walk and ended up going to the park together.
- We do not spell words the same way. Although it is fun to think that our cars have tyres. Or that we wear pyjamas. And for the spelling-challenged Hubs, this has been liberating.
- Speaking of Hubs, you can take the Hubs out of the country, but you can’t take the geek out of Hubs (You Can Never Really Escape).
- This NOT laundry detergent. And, washing your clothes in fabric softener will turn white clothes blue. Which is not good when you only have a carry-on for 4.5 months. Unless you love the
colorcolour blue in which case you will rejoice (as did Missa B).
- Some things are just more fun in England. Why look for an aisle that says “laundry detergent” when you can look for one that says “washing up”? Although that didn’t work so well for us in the end (see above bullet).
- Who knew you could get world foods free from herbs, spices, and oils? (See — told you it was fun!)
- England is so good about making things interesting for kids. Scavenger hunts, kid versions of audioguides, activity packs — all of these have been successful in keeping our kids engaged for literally hours.
- England does, however, need to figure out how to keep kids engaged on car trips. Car trips that parents calculated to be 3 hours. Not knowing that there would be 2 disabled cars, 1 disabled truck, and a major highway closure/detour. So the trip would be 6 hours. Yes, mostly the detour DOUBLED the time of the trip. I guess there just aren’t that many ways to detour through England.
- And, when the above does happen, it’s ok to stop wherever you can to get food and a bathroom. Even if that stop happens to be McDonalds.
- We have potential Shakespearian actors on our hands. They even do death scenes.
- And, these actors charm the English. A few words and a smile, and they are handed free candy, “As a special today, kids from the US get to pick out one extra candy stick!” Or because she looked longingly at a plaster of Paris piece, Missa B ended up getting it wrapped up and handed to her as a gift. This is her donor; she is now sending him postcards from the trip as we go.
- Geese can be herded. Enough said.
- And lastly, don’t take too many pictures of the kids if you want good photos. They eventually can’t handle it.
- Or end up with a deer-in-the-headlights look.
- Even the gargoyles are sick of having their picture taken.