Mufti Day

16 Mar

It’s been a week — heck several months — of daily new discoveries.  I’m starting to recognize some things without needing extensive recourse to wikipedia or google.  Like mufti day.  (An out of uniform day, in our case for the kids at school, where everyone donates a small amount to raise money for a charity.)  After months of blue uniforms, a day of green or spots is like a freaking miracle.  Mufti day!  Huzzah!

The other morning, I saw a woman cycling in to work in a full-on professional skirt suit.  She had hiked up that dry-clean-only skirt, put her helmet over her business-like hair, and was cycling to work in her hose and heels with her briefcase strapped behind her.   I see this all the time: men and women in professional dress cycling to work, and have almost forgotten that I used to find the look of this very strange.  Why not wear something to cycle, and then change at work?  Is that just not done?  I also wonder why everyone seems to bike with the gears set so low — they move soooooo slooooooowly, but their feet are whizzing around and around and around.  Is this a little discussed British exercise program?

I’ve figured out how to get our fireplace to work.  Since this mostly involved opening a panel and turning a button, don’t congratulate me too much.  The bigger excitement is that I have unpacked all but two boxes, and removed all the random junk that was previously sitting on the fireplace hearth — which allowed me to find the panel and thus the button.  Huzzah!

Another random discovery: if you bake a bundt cake in a savarin pan, it will look like a giant doughnut.  More on this tomorrow.

Seagulls are nasty, vicious creatures that eat baby ducks.  Unfortunately we know this first hand from watching the small island in the center of our community pond.  The poor mama ducks found a place safe from foxes, but not safe from seagulls.  The Herring Gulls we see around here are a protected species, so they cannot be interfered with.  The seagulls have been staying out of our yard since the cats arrived, but that’s nowhere near close enough to the pond to protect the ducklings.  Death-by-seagull: sad but true.

I don’t even think twice anymore before flashing my lights to signal someone to turn in front of me; stopping at zebra crossings; driving on to the curb to go around someone hogging a lane; or passing buses when they are stopped in the middle of the street.  But I still don’t understand people who park in the middle of the street and go shopping or to the pub or whatever.  In the middle of the street, really?  C’mon, England: if there’s not a place to park then don’t park there.  How is it reasonable to just stop driving and leave your car anyoldwhere?  Deep breath … deep cleansing breath … okay.

Metal theft is a huge problem in the UK.  If you have a metal roof, watch out: churches, schools, and houses can be stripped of their roofs in less than 10 minutes.  I’m not making this up, it’s even become a concern for the London Olympics.  Still not sure I’m serious?  Tiles worth over a thousand pounds were stolen from a church in our area just a few days ago.

ABCs.  Not the alphabet — the Alien Big Cat, which roams England in the same way Bigfoot roams the US.  I thought I was following a serious news story about big cat sightings in Gloucestershire, until I came across the British big cat entry in wikipedia.  To be fair, there really have been big cats who have escaped from zoos or private ‘collections’ which have been found roaming the countryside.  Still, this story seems to have more of fairy tale than fact.

Another new discovery: we’ve found that it is polite/expected to offer tea or coffee to anyone coming in to work on the house — small repairs, inspections, whatever — so I brought home a box of Yorkshire Gold, hoping to be able to offer a “proper brew” — and now I’ll just as often have some Yorkshire Gold myself, rather than my long-time favorite, Earl Grey.

And: it really does make a difference if you warm the teapot before you brew the tea. The daffodils are optional.

Gammon steak?  Yes please.  Gammon steak is like an American ham steak, but dialed up to maximum eleven.  With a side of fried mushrooms and leeks, and a broiled tomato … it may be enough food for the entire day, and one more step in the journey to atherosclerosis, but it is good.

Roof thefts, interesting biking habits, a proper brew, excellent ham, mythical cats and aggressive birds, the outrageous joy of wearing anything but blue to school: all things I learned in England.  No wonder I’m exhausted.  Think I’ll go sit in front of that fire and have a slice of cake …


7 Responses to “Mufti Day”

  1. satnavandcider March 16, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    Now in search of proper mushy peas AND gammon steak. Sigh.

    • Monique March 16, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

      Add ’em to the list. The delicious list.

  2. Living Life as an Expat Parent March 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    Glad you see the ways in which you are becoming more and more of a cultural insider. 🙂 I’m sure you have many willing to help, but please do feel that you can get in touch anytime you have a question. Even if it’s about that roaming cat.

    • Monique March 16, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

      Oh, that cat! It’s probably a funny looking dog. Thanks so much for reaching out, too. I’m learning a lot from generous expat bloggers like you who have been here, done that, and written about it. 😀


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