Introducing Jethro

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For a few months well-intentioned, kindly people have been asking me when they can expect to read my next blog. These people do wonders for my morale. They foster a naïve belief that somewhere out there a bevy of avid blog followers are pining to read my latest drivel, rather than just my family who have to read it or risk me telling all, like the time my brother…

But I digress.

There is a simple reason why I have not written for a few months. There is a simple reason for my messy house, my inability to have a normal conversation, my untrimmed hair, my aching back and my recently acquired stoop. That reason has a name, and his name is Jethro. Continue reading

Giving Thanks

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“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold rather a large amount of Gratitude.” ~ A.A. Milne

My favourite American holiday has always been Thanksgiving. When I was a child I looked forward to the dining table groaning with roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy and pumpkin pie, as well as the fact that my birthday sometimes coincided with the fourth Thursday of November. When I became an adult and entered the workforce the four day weekend shone as a beacon in the midst of the short, dreary days of driving to and from work in the darkness of late autumn. As time marched on and I experienced my share of the griefs and joys that make up a life, the actual meaning of the day began to take on greater significance. It may be hokey, but I actually do like to take time to think about all I have to be thankful for on this day. Continue reading

People Drink This Stuff?

The Education of a Reluctant Whisky Drinker

“The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learned to like it.” ~ Winston Churchill

 

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Tasting room at Penderyn Distillery

In Latin it is aqua vitae. In Gaelic it is uisge beatha. Both have the same meaning: the water of life. Over the centuries the mispronunciation of uisge beatha  (oosh’-ge ba’) gradually morphed into the word now known the world over as whisky, specifically, Scotch whisky. Continue reading

So, We’ll No More Go a Roaming

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This morning I took myself off on one of our favourite walks in the neighbourhood, down the road through a nearby hamlet, then back around across the rolling farm fields. It is a walk we’ve done countless times since moving here, one we’ve enjoyed in all seasons except when the mud is at its worst. Today, for the first time, I had to take the walk on my own, without my faithful little companion at my side. Our sweet little corgi died on the 20th of April this year after a sudden, heart-breaking decline. A scan revealed a mass throughout his liver and we had to make the decision to give him a gentle, pain free end. Continue reading

A Genuine Subsiding Relationship

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As soon as you become engaged to a British person, or perhaps even before, you begin researching the process you will need to go through in order to move to the UK to live with your beloved. A key phrase that soon crops up and begins to invade your every waking moment is “a genuine subsisting relationship”. Unfortunately, because we live on the top of a ridge with a steep, winding road that we have to drive down in order to get to the M4, I often pass by a sign which reads: Road liable to subsidence. As a result, my brain has come to twist the visa term into one with a very different meaning. I have to keep reminding myself that we need to demonstrate a genuine subsisting relationship, not a genuine subsiding relationship. Continue reading

The Queen of Teas

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“Afternoon tea should be provided, fresh supplies, with thin bread-and-butter, fancy pastries, cakes, etc., being brought in as other guests arrive.”  ~ Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management

Several years ago, when I was still toiling away every working day in an office, chained to a desk and a telephone by a headset cord and staring at a computer screen with dry, unblinking eyes, I was delighted to learn that the office space next door to ours was being turned into a tea room. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Scones

It was the best of teas; it was the creamiest of teas…

In America, when we think of tea in the sense of it being a meal rather than just a beverage, what we think of is the elegant repast known as afternoon tea. Images of the grand afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC spring to mind. We think of liveried waiters winding through a sea of chinDSC05114tz fabric and polished wood, bearing aloft silver serving trays laden with delectable pastries, exquisite miniature sandwiches and pots of steaming hot tea. That, for us, is tea. And so it is slightly baffling when we first arrive in this country to see signs hanging outside tea shops in nearly every village and town advertising something mysteriously called a cream tea.

What, exactly, is a cream tea? We know that most British people take milk in their tea, something that is still not as common in America. Is that what they mean by a cream tea? Does it just mean tea with some cream in it instead of plain milk? Is it the tea version of that naughty but delicious American invention, the Caffe Breve? No, it is not. A cream tea, sometimes also called a Devonshire cream tea, refers to a cup, or a pot of tea served with scones, cream and jam. As simple as that.

Or is it?

Continue reading