As a British expat in America I was not a happy bunny when I read that Hershey’s had blocked British-made chocolate (like the oh so creamy and delicious Cadbury’s) from entering the U.S. This chocolate loving Brit needed her stash of Cadbury’s, especially when the other stuff on offer over here is mostly made by Hershey’s and I’m sorry America, but I just can’t seem to teach myself to love that stuff.
Whilst back in Blighty the other week I indulged in something stereotypically British…a spot of afternoon tea. I don’t think you can get anymore British than this, it is the epitome of British-ness and seems to be making a comeback lately – a lot of my friends back home are posting pictures on Facebook of them having afternoon tea somewhere.
I wanted to get in on the act, so, after less than 24 hours in the country and with the help of Ma Cook, I went to get my fill of it here:
Betty’s Café Tea Rooms in York. This is THE place to go for some afternoon tea. It’s a traditional British tea room where you’re transported back in time with old-fashioned shop fittings and employees dressed in long skirts, high collared shirts with a brooch in the middle and an apron. You really do feel like you’re in a special place – people come from all over just to visit these tea rooms and partake in some afternoon tea. There’s always a queue around the block to get into Betty’s but believe me, it is definitely worth the wait!
Afternoon tea was originally popular among the wealthy people in England and eaten between 4pm and 6pm. Nowadays though everyone eats it and at anytime of the day – Ma Cook and I tucked into it at around 2pm, we were hungry! We rocked up to Betty’s, took our seats and ordered our afternoon tea for 2.
First came the tea:
Now, we’re not talking any old tea here, oh no, no. This isn’t just dumping a tea bag in some hot water, squeezing it out and sploshing in a glug of milk. Nope. At Betty’s we’re talking actual tea leaves that have to be strained into your cup. Here’s a demonstration from Ma Cook:
Beautifully done there and let me tell you it tasted lovely. A proper brew, with proper tea leaves and even sugar cubes! Who gives you sugar cubes anymore? Then, after a few sips of tea came the main event – the food, and we all know how much this blog seems to revolve around food! Once again I wasn’t disappointed. Afternoon tea is traditionally served on a three tier plate stand and looks a little bit like this:
Fancy pants! Our faces lit up when these were placed on the table and we eagerly looked at what was on offer. Sandwiches, a scone, cakes – we were in heaven! When it comes to eating this delight you start at the bottom and make your way to the top, that meant the sandwiches were the first to be demolished. We tucked into ham, chicken, egg and smoked salmon sandwiches and were quickly ready to move onto the next level…a scone. (I need to point out now that I pronounce it sc-own. There’s an argument as to whether it is sc-own like I say or sc-on. I’m sticking with sc-own!) Of course it came with jam and cream and before we know it our scones were piled high and heading into our mouths:
It was one of the nicest scones I’ve ever tasted! By now we were over halfway through our delights and possibly starting to feel a little full but we definitely didn’t have any plans to stop there. The top tier was covered in miniature cakes that, like everything else in the café were handmade and they had our names on them.
First I tucked into the raspberry tart in a little pastry case that had custard underneath the fruit – so tasty! Then I moved onto the chocolate cake, it was very rich so the miniature piece was just enough. My taste buds were very happy but they were about to get even happier! I definitely saved the best for last when I sunk my teeth into the lemon macaroon – it was full of flavour and had just the right amount of crunch and chewy-ness (if that’s even a word!) that left me wanting another 10 of them! Sadly though, my three tiers were now empty – I’d polished off the lot, definitely not good for the wedding diet but the best bit of cheating ever!
We finished off our tea and headed out of the store, but before we left we couldn’t resist buying a few of Betty’s famous fat rascals for Pa Cook, and my bro and sister-in-law and of course some more of those tasty macaroons. We ended up with a gift box of 6 which soon disappeared once we got home…whoops!
With our bellies full and feeling very British indeed we waved goodbye to Betty’s and carried on our merry way through the streets of York. Afternoon tea was ticked off the list and I was one very happy lady!
We have a mason jar. On the coffee table. With various flavours of Hershey’s Kisses inside…
We only have the good flavours inside – we’re talking cherry, candy cane, hugs and mint truffle – and not the plain milk chocolate ones, those things are nasty! Also, we only have them in the jar because I forgot to take them back to Europe at Christmas…whoops!
This is beside the point, the point is that this jar keeps falling over. In the middle of the night. It keeps falling over on a completely flat surface. It’s a jar, it’s sturdy, there’s nothing to suggest that it can just topple over….
This started happening when we went back to Europe for Christmas, we came home and the jar was on its side. I noticed it and thought it might have been the maintenance men when they came to turn the heating on during the freezing temperatures. Case solved.
Or so I thought…
This jar falling over thing is still going on. The German thought he’d solved it by closing the chimney, thinking that an animal might be popping in for a couple of chocolates and then disappearing back up there again. Before we go any further can we just have a moment for the fact that an animal might actually be able to make it down a chimney, into our apartment and back up again! Argh!!
It stopped for a couple of nights but the other morning we woke up and it had fallen over again. Cue the emergence of Inspector Richter. The German was then determined to work out what it was, so, before going to bed he left a light on and set up his iPad to record the scene. We woke up the following morning and the jar was still upright, typical. The German seems to think it had moved slightly but the iPad only records 3 hours before it decides to stop. Not helpful when you’re trying to track down the culprit responsible for knocking down a mason jar in the middle of the night!
We woke up the other morning and the jar was on its side again. What the hell is it?! If this thing is an animal, it’s living in our house with us!! ARGH!!! And why have we not seen it? Does it only come out at night? The German came home looking for holes in the walls the other day – he also had the idea that one of us might be sleepwalking but, it’s so dark in our house at night we’d either walk into something or have to turn a light on and wake the other one up, plus we weren’t in the country when it first started happening so sleepwalking has been ruled out!
To try to catch this beast I’ve set up a trap…well it’s not really a trap but it might help! As you know we’re out of the country and back in Europe doing wedding stuff and getting drunk to celebrate our impending marriage. So, I’ve filled up this mason jar with chocolates, when the German comes back (he’s back before me!) he needs to check if this thing is upright and how many chocolates are missing. That way we know there is definitely something in this house pinching our chocolates!!
Any ideas of what it might be? If there is some sort of creature living here it needs to be gone…and fast! I’ll keep you updated on the progress!
Lets face it – America rocks when it comes to Halloween! Like seriously rocks! There’s no half-hearted effort in this country, no sir-ee! They go all out and more! And tonight is the night when it all comes to a head! Yay! Lets take a look at some of the differences between an American Halloween and a UK one…
American’s like to decorate their homes for everything! If there’s a celebrating there’s decorations – 4th of July, Easter, Fall, Christmas and of course Halloween! Houses everywhere have pumpkins on their porches, some are carved, some are literally just there to look pretty! Then there’s the Halloween based decorations, they are amazing!! Spider webs are hanging from porches and in bushes, ghosts and skeletons pop up in windows, zombies and witches sit on porch swings, gravestones are placed in gardens and dead looking people lurk at every corner!! Check out my neighbours decorations:
Then there are the people who go one step too far! We spotted this house whilst up in the mountains the other week! Every inch of the garden was covered in some sort of blow up Halloween decoration:
And the grandma who was driving away from the gym the other day with these beauts hanging out of the boot (or as they say here in the States, trunk) of her car:
Apparently she tells her grandkids that if they don’t behave they’ll end up in grandma’s trunk too! Oh and we obviously got involved in the Halloween decorations trend:
American’s go all out with their Halloween costumes! Shops are full of different things to dress up as for weeks before Halloween and they’re not just witches, ghosts, vampires and zombies. Oh no, no, no! People go out dressed as anything on Halloween – clowns, Presidents, doctors, teachers,, celebrities and even random things like sweets and a neighborhood! (My friend told me about this one yesterday – a group of them did it together, he was the church, others were houses, kids, parents, shops etc! Sounds amazing if you ask me!!) There’s no kids whacking on a scream mask, knocking on your door and expecting you to give them money over here! For once I won’t be pretending I’m not home!! I can’t wait to see what characters turn up at my door later!!
It is everywhere right now and I mean everywhere! You go in the supermarket and there are boxes upon boxes of Halloween based candy and man it is amazing!! For a start there’s Candy Corn (that stuff is addictive!) followed by Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kisses (again addictive!) not forgetting the usual suspects like Reese’s, Hershey’s, Twix, Milky Way and the rest of those chocolate treats we all love! I made the fatal mistake of buying ours early and opening it:
Let’s just say it doesn’t look like this now and I’m hoping I have enough for the kids that come to the door tonight! Whoops! It turns out they have a Halloween candy top 5 list too (it was just on the TV) and I might pass as a good house to visit! Woo! Number 1 is Reese’s, tick! Number 2 is M&M’s, cross, although I do have some in the cupboard that I could bring out in an emergency! Number 3 is Snickers, tick! Number 4 is Hershey’s, sort of tick – I have the pumpkin spice ones! And Number 5 is Kit Kat, cross! 3 out of 5 ain’t bad!
Yep there are rules for Halloween over here! We had an email the other day from our apartment complex people asking if we want to get involved and will we be giving out candy to the kids! We obviously replied with yes! (Had we been in England the answer would more than likely have been no!) The kids then get a list of apartments they can go to – a good idea if you ask me! Also you have to leave your porch/outdoor light on indicating to the Trick or Treaters that you’re happy for them to knock on your door! Apparently this rule applies everywhere, no light on, no knocking! Works a treat if you ask me! Good job they sent the email though or I would have been really upset – our porch light is never on and I wouldn’t have known that it needed to be lit so I would have been sitting here with a sad face because nobody had knocked on the door!
So my first US Halloween is here and it’s started with my friend sending me a message saying ‘Happy Halloween!’ you don’t get that in England!! Next up is pumpkin carving (the one that the German bought and failed to carve!) and then I’ll be waiting for the knocks on the door later on! I am so excited!! I can’t wait to see the costumes and the cute kids all dressed up shouting ‘Happy Halloween! Trick or Treat!’ I did, however, ask one of my friends how much candy I should give them – I don’t want them to be that lady in apartment 7K who doesn’t give out enough candy!
I’m a guest blogger again! Yay!!! This time it’s for Explore Georgia – an organisation that tells you all about Georgia, the best places to go, the best things to see, special events and everything else amazing about this peachy state that I live in! After spotting my blog they asked me to be part of their blogging team – woooo! So this is my first post for them and fitting with the time of year it’s all about ghosts!
Meet the ghost hunters:
Yep the German and I enlisted our friends Mandy and Carson for this one – we were about to take a Halloween Tour around Atlanta’s oldest cemetery, Oakland Cemetery. These things are famous in this city and this little expat wanted to know why! Want to know what happened, in the dark, in the cemetery, close to Halloween? Check out Explore Georgia’s blog to find out more by clicking here!
Yep it was just like that well-known song (or maybe not so well-known song if you don’t work in radio) by J-Lo here on Sunday – our container finally arrived and in a Tonka truck that backed up towards the apartment! You couldn’t make it up! And before we go any further I’ll let those who don’t know what the hell I’m on about check this out…You need to listen up until about 47 seconds in for that famous line!
Aaaanyway – back to Sunday! So here’s the evidence of our stuff – that I waved goodbye to back in January – finally arriving at our new apartment…
And yes that’s the German watching the Tonka truck after having to go out in his car to find the stricken delivery drivers who had got lost on our apartment complex…I kid you not!
So it arrived and I have never, ever, ever been so excited to see so many brown cardboard boxes in my life! To be precise there was 52 items to be delivered and unpacked – something that would probably strike the fear of God in some people but I actually couldn’t wait! No longer would we have to suffer with 4 plates, 4 knives and forks and 2 glasses, no longer would I have to drink wine from a mug or wash cups and cutlery before every meal – a mahoosive supply of cutlery, plates, glasses, mugs and everything else you might need for your kitchen was arriving at my house – last seen in Leeds all those months ago!!
Now as you know the brother and sister-in-law arrived on Friday – if you ask me just in time! Yep they weren’t getting away with sitting on the sofa and watching the German and I unpack – oh no no! And to sweeten them up (and celebrate Easter!) I plied them with this…
An Easter basket full of treats! Now this had quite a big dint in it by the time the container arrived at 2pm but I’m thinking the sugar rush helped them along! They were put straight to work…in the kitchen! After being packed in newspaper EVERYTHING had to be washed and I mean everything! And there was a lot of stuff!! But they did a grand job and I reckon reduced the unpacking time by a few hours easily! Mahoosive big up to them!!
So while they were beavering away in the kitchen the German and I unpacked the rest of the stuff. Now I do have a confession to make…picture the scene…52 cardboard boxes arrive with things in you haven’t seen for months…now when I say it was like Christmas it really was! Every 2 minutes either myself of the German would shout ‘Look!’ or ‘I forgot about this!’ or ‘Yay it’s finally here!’ as we re-discovered what was in the boxes! I therefore, was a little slack on the picture taking front for the blog…the Tonka truck was the only one I took! Therefore you might have to use your imagination a little bit further on in this post! I know – I’m useless! You’d think I’d have this blog lark sussed by now…it would appear not. I’ll hang my head in shame.
So we unpacked cabinets, drawers, LOTS of kitchen stuff, books, DVD’s, a stereo (that thankfully works over here despite their stupid low voltage electricity!) pictures, a bike and loads, loads more things!! It took us about 6 hours but the house is now finally looking like a home…
Yep we have pictures on the walls, cabinets and placemats in the dining room…
And somewhere to sit on the balcony and watch the world go by! The spare room has a book-case and drawers and no longer looks empty but my closet (sorry wardrobe for those of you in England!) still has room in it despite the arrival of more clothes…
This technically means I can buy more to fill it up…but that would mean spending the German’s money which I don’t think he’d be very pleased about – I seriously think he is turning into my Northern, Yorkshire dad!!
So 52 boxes later and there was a LOT of rubbish – here’s where you have to use your imagination – we technically couldn’t get out of the house…see this hallway…
The rubbish was literally piled to the ceiling – blocking the exit. MASSIVE fire risk I know but hey there wasn’t a blaze and we’re all still here! Thankfully we managed to get all the cardboard, paper and bubble wrap (yep I did want to stand and pop all the little bubbles but sadly there was too much unpacking to do!!) out of the house and to the recycling centre which is just over the road! Phew!
Most things did all arrive in one piece which is surprising considering their looooong journey but we did have a few breakages – a few champagne flutes (not that we drink champagne every night of the week!) a wine glass, a mug and a baking dish all went to that kitchen heaven in the sky and a couple of bits of furniture came with a couple of chunks missing but apart from that everything is a-ok! Woooooo!
This also means that I now have an iron. I need to check if it works properly, what with the low voltage and all, but it means my housewife duties once again include ironing…and believe me there is a MASSIVE pile to catch up on. 😦 I’m kind of putting it off by writing this blog…and stretching it out for as long as I can…
So that’s it – we’ve not officially, fully moved over here! Everything we own is here and unpacked and Atlanta is now home! There’s still some stuff to buy though – we need more pictures on the wall and decoration bits like vases and stuff (again this means spending the German’s money so I had better shut up!!) but our lovely new apartment now looks and feels more like home! It did kind of shock me for the first couple of days because I wasn’t used to the pictures being on the wall and the apartment looking fuller but I’m definitely used to it now and I LOVE it!!
Oh and in a washer/dryer update – they were fixed yesterday…a week later! BUT, yep there’s a but and it’s kind of a big one…the oven is now broken and not heating up! Last night we had to have stuffed chicken cooked in the microwave because the oven was taking so long! I wonder how long it will take them to fix it this time…