You’re still searching: British Men In Bed

Hi there Readers,

There’s something us three gals have been meaning to talk you about. We’re loving our chats. You make us laugh, you make us think, and you ask the best questions! But there is a bit of an elephant in the room isn’t there?

I mean, there is something you still want to know. Don’t be shy. We know you’ve been searching for it, ’cause we see it in our Google analytic stats:

British men in bed.

There. I said it.

In fact, we did actually mention this once before.  But we’re not really experts in the topic. You know, monogamy and all…

So we kinda need your help here. Otherwise we may have to resort to posting links to ridiculous Daily Mail surveys ranking men in bed by nationality. Desperate indeed.

So…. who wants to go first?

Oh, and thanks in advance for keeping it classy when it comes to comments. You’re the best.

PS. I’m still the same PacificYorkshireBird, I just fancied a new picture. Hope you don’t mind.

Red Plastic Dixie Cups and Other Secret American Icons

pacificyorkshirebird

I thought I’d heard it all. Every single perception lovingly held by British folks about America had been brought to my attention for critical assessment.

Why is it called the the World Series when it is only American teams?

Why are there so many fat people in America? How come you’re not fat?

Why do you say “bay-zil” instead of “baah-zil”

What on earth is a fraternity or sorority and why do they use Greek letters for their names?

Is your fridge the size of my flat?

Why do you talk about distances in minutes instead of miles?

Yes, I had heard it all. Until today.

Red plastic dixie cups have been called an icon of American culture. Who knew? Not a single British person has ever asked me about red dixie cups. Suddenly they show up in the comments of this blog post from The Guardian about looking for American tv cliches in real life America.

Yes, I have had many a drink from a red dixie cup. We use them at picnics. We used too many in college, usually paired with some scary form of jungle juice or a keg. Of course, the cups also make an appearance in the occasional game of beer pong. I wouldn’t be surprised if some American families even use them on a daily basis in their homes. We even used them at the outdoor rehearsal dinner for our wedding. Oh yeah, rehearsal dinners – another topic that puzzled my British in-laws.

But, it had never occurred to me that these cups were absent from my life in Britain. Nor had I considered that anyone outside of America may have picked up on their presence by watching American tv shows.

I can think of plenty of American icons: Barbie, Coca Cola, Elvis, pick up trucks, McDonald’s, Michael Jackson etc… But red dixie cups? I can’t believe that is the item causing me to rethink whether I fully immersed myself in British culture during my time there. There must still be hundreds of other things about America boggling the minds of our transatlantic friends.  Perhaps I will ponder these while I sip my Cherry Coke Zero from a shiny red plastic dixie cup FULL of ice.

Immitation is the Sincerest Flattery

pacificyorkshirebird

It wouldn’t be an authentic experience of living in Britain without the inevitable friendly jabs about the way Americans seem to have made up our own version of the English language. Once I had someone tell me ‘I love how Americans just seem to make up words and still claim they speak English’. One of the most embarrassing terms was ‘bachelorette party’. Although I couldn’t bring myself to say ‘hen do’ either. Even now when I hear that term I imagine drunk chickens dressed up in matching outfits and tiaras clucking through the streets of some city in Spain or maybe Newcastle or York.

Anyways, it is hard not to notice how many places in America and Canada copied British names. I’ve been known to wake up in the middle of the night panicked that perhaps I just bought a plane ticket to Manchester, New Hampshire or London, Ontario on accident.  There are many places all over North America named after British places which is no surprise given our history.

The really funny times though, are when we find things for which we copy a British name, but mean different things.  A classic example is the word ‘fanny’ of course. Last summer, I discovered another example  that left me feeling very unobservant having never noticed this difference in Britain:

British In-Law visiting PacificNW: ‘What are them birds called? The really big ones that look a bit like a robin?’

Me: ‘Hmm, really big birds?  I’m not sure. What did they look like?’

British In-Law: ‘Like a robbin, but really big. With bits of red on the fronts’.

Me: ‘I can’t think of anything bigger than a robbin that looks like a robin. How big do you mean, like a crow?’

British In-Law: ‘Smaller than a crow and smaller than magpie. But quite big.’

Me: ‘Are you sure it isn’t a robin?’

British In-Law: ‘How big are your robins then?’

Me: ‘Well, not that big. Smaller than a magpie for sure. I think you saw a robin.’

British In-Law #2: ‘Are you talking about them big robins we was looking at this morning? Your robins are massive. It is true that everything is bigger in America. I’ve never seen a robin that size before.’

In 4 years in Britain, how did I never notice that the European Robin was completely different than the North American Robin? They are not even related – we all looked it up on Wikipedia together. :) Who knew?

Am I supposed to pay taxes?

pacificyorkshirebird

Dreamer had a great question on her comment to Yankeebean’s post about the how to go about bringing up the fiance visa question. She writes:

Is it true that if you are an american citizen working in the UK you pay both UK and US taxes? and vice versa?

I went for three years kinda wondering that question and hoping it would just go away like when Hypercolor t-shirts just disappeared after 1992.

Of course, the minute I wanted to import my British guy through US immigration, my history as a taxpayer became very important. With my application, I had to submit tax returns from the last three years, two of which I had to go back and file late as I hadn’t been filing at all since I moved to the UK.  And as it turned out, I needed to be earning over $80,000 a year (or something) in order to have to pay Uncle Sam, so I was off the hook. But I needed help from a smartypants tax accountant. Never in gazillion years would I have known how to file my returns without their help.

Keep in mind that I was earning $0 income in the United States at that point, nor was I employed by a US company and transferred to the UK. And in the past, the hardest part about doing my taxes was subtracting the standard deduction and asking my parents whether I was still being claimed as a dependent.

Oh yeah, and I’m no tax expert so make sure you look into your own situation before you decide what to do. Here’s a link you might find helpful to the IRS FAQ’s.

To make it even more confusion, it turns out I may not have had to go through filing past returns anyways. Because the income part of my visa application was rejected because the income I claimed wasn’t earned in the US!

Anyways, compare that to the UK system where they actually PAID me tax back after leaving the UK because I happened to leave before I paid in the minimum amount for the tax year. HM Revenue & Customs has some helpful information on their website too. Check out the sections on Information on Double Taxation and Social Security Treaties and International Aspects of Personal Tax.

Readers – tell us your tax stories!

Where do you start when you want to move to America?

pacificyorkshirebird

Happy 2010! This post is inspired by a comment from Lisa B on this post about BigApplePie’s recent move back home after living in Britain for 5 years. Lisa’s goal for 2010 is to move back to America with her British husband. I too just took the plunge and arrived back in my hometown last summer. It is a big decision to move across the pond in either direction. But the question here is: Once you have decided, where do you start? Here are some of my thoughts on the practical aspects of initiating the move.

There are two places you could start.

  1. Find a job and let that determine where you move.
  2. Pick a place and let that determine where you begin your job search.

Mr. Charismatic and I chose option #2. There were several factors that influenced our decision.

  • We saved our pence for a year in preparation for the move and subsequent unknown period of unemployment.
  • We don’t have any debt or dependents.
  • We bought short term health insurance to cover us in catastrophes. Using ehealthinsurance.com we found decent policies to cover the both of us for $65/month for up to six months.
  • We knew if we chose option #1, I would have to travel first and we’d be apart for some unknown amount of time. It also meant that we would be dealing with the Visa process apart and we were really glad to have each other to lean on for the ups and downs that came. By the way, it might be helpful for you marrieds out there to know that you may be able to apply for your British partner’s visa through the London Embassy thus avoiding the long(er) waiting periods you have to face if you apply through the normal US visa agency.
  • We also had a lot of support from friends and family in all sorts of ways. We stayed with family to save on rent before we left Britain and we stayed with family again when we arrived in America. Without this, we would have been saving our pence in Britain for a second year before we would have been brave enough to quit our jobs and move.

If option #1 is best for you, I’m afraid my experience is a little lacking here. I suppose it really depends on what kind of job you are looking for. One thing that has changed in the last few years is the importance of networking. I conducted several informational interviews, one of which led to a second one and that led to me hearing about the job that I now have. Many people are using LinkedIn – a social networking site for career minded folks and job seekers. Contact anyone you know in the US and let them know you are looking. And don’t get discouraged by those who want to tell you how bad things are in America. It really varies depending on where you go. In fact, it may be helpful to know which places are thriving or struggling. Here’s a list from the housing market perspective and from the job perspective.

If option #2 is best for you then there are several factors to consider. Take a good look at a map, your lifestyle, airports, weather, cost of living, schools, and narrow down a place or region. For us, our decision came down to experience and family. Mr. Charismatic has already spent plenty of time in the Pacific NW and we bought our plane ticket to my hometown where most of my family still live. When we started our job search with two cities in mind, and we later decided to stay in my hometown because one of us got a job worth staying for.

We’d both recommend you visit any place before you move there. If you can, narrow down a region and then spend a week or two exploring it on holiday before you commit. But remember that your holiday may be very different from your experience when you do eventually live there.

Finally, consider this process a wonderful adventure. You’ll need the same set of coping skills you needed when you moved to Britain – flexibility, open-mindedness, endurance, a sense of humor, and willingness to take some risks… to name a few.

In my own move, I’ve experience a lot of nostalgia for my first few months in Britain. I get to witness Mr. Charismatic’s adventures and frustrations. It all takes me back to mine. So, be prepared for a little of that. It has also changed our relationship in some ways. Be prepared for that too. I’ll post another blog on some of the more emotional aspects of moving soon.

Readers – what other practical advice do you have for heading West?

Lisa B and others, keep us up to date on how it goes!

American Advertising: my British man and I love to laugh at ridiculous fitness ads

pacific bird This one is for those of you who have been away from the US for some time and haven’t seen American television for a while.  Mr. Charismatic and I saw this ad when we first arrived in America and we still laugh for ages every time it comes on.   Hope it makes you laugh too…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OH1DGd5T7c

PS. We watch a lot less tv now and we are REALLY missing British tv.  Who knew?

Ameri-Brit children and awkward situations

pacific birdThis one is for those of you who might be raising kids with American and British families.  I’ve been spending a lot of time with my 14 month old nephew lately.  His parents are both American but Mr. Charismatic and I have given him a few books from Britain featuring iconic British characters, Noddy for example.  Today we were discussing Thomas the Tank characters.  My sister mentioned Sir Topham Hatt and Mr. Charismatic didn’t have a clue who that was.  So, she describes the nicely dressed man wearing a top hat.  “Oh!  You mean the Fat Contoller!” said Mr. C.  We all had a really good laugh about this.  Can you imagine a child going to an American school, playing with the train set and calling this toy “The Fat Controller”.  The American teachers would be horrified at such an un-PC name.

The British Best Man: one of many perks of being and American woman in love with British man

avt_kapyork_large115Mr. Charismatic has the best group of friends.  They are all spread around the UK and get together a couple of times a year but it is always as if they see each other every day.  When it came to choosing a best man, he had such a hard time deciding.  No matter which one he chose, I knew it would be a great choice because when you have a British man as your Best Man you get a whole lot of perks:

1. Cheeky digs at the groom about settling down, no more single life, gaining in-laws etc with a really loving undertone because he really is so happy for his friend.

2. Charm and flattering anecdotes for you, the bride, because he wants you to know that the cheeky digs are just a right of passage for the groom and not something to take too seriously. 

3. The comfort of knowing that your groom is getting a bachelor party that will exceed all of his expectations and never leave him feeling like he didn’t get a proper send off – but that his British best man has the taste and discretion to keep it classy.

4. When you make your entrance and begin to walk down the aisle – if your groom starts to get a little emotional – the British best man won’t be afraid to put his arm around his friend, give him a knowing look and help him keep it together.

5. Your American wedding guests will find the best man (and the other British groomsmen for that matter) so charming and you will be eternally grateful to him for helping your guests be comfortable and entertained while you and your groom do your best to connect with everybody there.

6. When it is time for the toasts, the British best man will appear just nervous enough but be prepared with a thoughtful, hilarious, and tastefully appropriate speech.  He will manage to take the mick just enough so that everyone finds the groom even more charming and interesting than ever before. 

7. And after the wedding is over, the best man will still be the same great friend he was before you got married even though he might be just a little freaked out that his best friend got married. 

Ladies – just think you should know what your getting if you decide YOUR British man is the one for you.  :)

My English Man attends Non-profit Networking and meets a Pet Psychic

avt_kapyork_large115I’m guessing most of you ladies already know this: When you bring your British man to America, his accent attracts attention from all kinds of interesting people. 

I brought my lovely British husband to Non-Profit Networking night as part of our job search.  Immediately, I got stuck talking to an angry lady who wanted to discuss the health care system in America.  Meanwhile Mr. Charismatic was talking to someone else and I was convinced he’d found a dynamic and interesting career professional with great connections.  Turns out, no – this woman is  pet pyschic trying to promote her business.  Pet psychic… really? 

Back in Britain, I remember being asked about the perception that Americans are crazy for their pets.  Me?  Not so much.  But a typical card shop does tend to carry gretting cards from the dog, for the dog, for the loss of a pet etc… so perhaps we are a little.  What do you think?

That reminds me – in a  great little place called Friday Harbor located in the San Juan Islands there is a doggy daycare that actually takes dogs on field trips using their Downtown Dog bus.  It is pretty cute to see the bus driving around town with all the doggies in the windows.  Click on the link to see what I mean.

Tanning in America now costs $49 a go, say what?

avt_kapyork_large115Hello lovely readers!  Not to be a total bridezilla but I did get married to my fabulous English bloke a month ago and I’ve been saving up stories to share with you. 

A little bit of background:

1) Mr. Charismatic and I moved back to my home city in America about a month before our wedding.

2) I wear SPF 15 or better every day and was so sad when all the Friends stars started appearing super tan circa 1997 because I knew a crazy perma-tan culture was about to take hold and I would be thrust into a vanity vs. sensability battle over my skin. 

3) My tanning experience is limited to about 4 sessions right before my junior prom in 1998, maybe 2 sessions in college, and two weeks of regular tanning during my second year in Yorkshire which I justified with the typical British tanning excuse: I’m going on holiday and I don’t want to burn on the first day. 

So, Mr. Charismatic and I planned to do about 3-4 tanning sessions each before our wedding just to have a light tan color and I promised myself that this would be my last ever time in a tanning bed.  Well, let me tell you – I will keep that promise to myself for sure because in the 4 years I was in Britain, the cost of tanning in America spiraled into total insanity!

Did you know that there are crazy new systems of tanning that somehow use high pressure bulbs to increase the ratio of UVA to UVB rays?  This is how the ridiculous sales person explained it to us: “When it comes to tanning, what is more important to you – safety or cost?  Safety you say?  Then all you need to know is that the B in UVB stands for Bad.  So, the higher the concentration of UVA’s the better the tan and I promise you won’t burn at all.  It starts at $49 per session.”

So what did we do?  Ignored our instincts to run away and went for the cheaper option (which was still like $13 a session) AND completely got burnt even though we only tanned for 8 minutes.  Do you remember when tanning was about $5 and all you had to do was go use the one normal bed at the local gym?  Apparently, this is not how it works anymore. 

Me and tanning?  No longer friends – and my skin thanks me for that.