How to have the best day in Bath, England – EVER.

I spent the most awesome day ever in Bath with my brother, Leonard and his wife Ella who were visiting from Chicago.  We had such a good time, that I though I should write about our itinerary in case anyone else is going to a pilgrimage to the beautiful Bath sometime soon.

Step 1 – Cream Tea at the Pump Rooms

You won’t regret hanging out in this gigantic, gorgeous, chandelier-y spot.  The cream tea is delish (two scones – one fruit and one plain – strawberry jam and clotted cream) and I can also happily recommend the Welsh Rarebit if you’re looking for something savoury.  It’s worth it for the atmosphere alone – there was a piano player tickling the ivories when we were there.  He did what we came to call The Moon Mash-up – he played Moon River, Fly Me to the Moon and Paper Moon in a single glorious medley.  Excellent.

(check out the Pump Rooms website for directions, menus, or just to oggle)

Step 2 – The Roman Baths

Ok.  I’m being serious.  Go here.  Shut down your computer, iPad, or smart phone.  Get your coat.  Finish reading this later.

The level of history is something that me and my American family-peeps were completely unprepared for.  I’ve never said the word ‘awesome’ so many times in 90 minutes.

It’s beautiful, fascinating, and comes with a top-notch free audio tour.  Legendary expat, Bill Bryson, has even done a set of audio segments that are priceless – not to be missed.

(check out the Roman Baths website – that is, if you haven’t stopped reading already as per my instructions)

Step 3 – Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

Leonard, Ella and I are all carnivorous readers and so we couldn’t resist a trip to this gem in Bath’s crown.  The shop itself is lovely and has an outstanding selection of books (with all purtiest book covers, too) – but what makes it stand apart is the staff.  No question is too small and they make glorious recommendations.  They are SO FREAKING LOVELY there.

It’s worth mentioning that their gift wrap is also completely adorbs.

(check out Mr. B’s lovely website – it’s cute-patoot)

Step 4 – The Royal Crescent

We found our way to the Royal Crescent by asking a passing stranger where it was.  The exchange went something like this:

Me:  ”Excuse me.  I’ve heard there a big pretty row of houses somewhere that we should go and look at – do you know what that is?”

Friendly man: “You must mean the Royal Crescent… [insert directions and laughter here]

You’ll be shocked to know that ‘big pretty row of houses’ doesn’t quite do it justice.  It’s definitely worth a look!

(learn more about the Royal Crescent on your best-interweb-friend and mine, Wikipedia)

Step 5 – Thermae Bath Spa

Ok.  You have to go here, too.  Don’t go to Bath without coming here, just don’t.  It’s thermal.  It’s a bath.  It’s a spa.  For the love of God, what else do you want?

We opted to get in for ‘last orders’ at 7pm and spend two hours watching the sun set from the thermal roof-top pool.  We also frequented the scented steam rooms a couple of times (Sandalwood was our fave).  But most of our time was spent floating in perfectly heated mineral pools and looking at gorgeous views across Bath.

NICE.

(Fancy a warm floaty sunset-y Bath extravaganza?  What a dumb question, of course you do – here’s the Thermae Bath Spa website)

Step 6 – Eat food and drink wine

This last step is optional, but I highly recommend it.  We ended up in Carluccio’s where the happiest waiter on earth served us the tastiest garlic bread I’ve ever laid taste-buds on.

But there are far too many awesome restaurants in Bath to count – if anyone has any suggestions, bring it on!


And that’s the end of the recommended ‘Best day in Bath – EVER’ guide.  I’m sure that I’m missing things, but this list made for an awesome, but not too busy day out.

It’s going to be one of those days that ages in my head like a warm tasty whiskey – it’s going to get better and better the more I remember it.  And THAT is the sign of a good day.  A very good day, indeed.

How did you celebrate the Royal Wedding? Come on… confess.

Yesterday I had every intention of rolling out of bed and casually sipping my coffee while watching the Royal Wedding.  I had firm plans to relax and ‘have it on in the background’ while I did some day-off-admin.

teal fascinator

Kind of like the fascinator I was wearing…

But come 11am British-Royal-Wedding time, I was sitting entranced on my couch wearing a party dress and a fascinator (a bit like the one pictured), bouncing up and down on the sofa and occasionally squealing like a little kid.

PeacefulYorkshire (who was also wearing a party dress) and I were Skyping so we could watch it together and talk about it.  ’It’ ended up being mostly talking about people’s wedding hats – I think the British could teach the world a thing or two about how to rock a fantastic hat.  (For the record, the ones that caused us to make the most noise were Princess Beatrice’s, Victoria Beckham’s and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson’s – opinions on a postcard, please…)

Anyway, I was completely swept up in the excitement and I think it was an awesome thing to be a part of.  A fine day to be British!  (Even though I’m still technically not British…)

It was AWESOME to see so many people gathered in London to celebrate.  It seemed like there were some seriously good vibes flowing and everyone was having a royally excellent time.

How did you guys celebrate??  Did anyone go to London to take part in the big-style-party-atmosphere?  Did anyone actually witness the balcony kiss first hand??  I’m still excited and I want to hear all about it…

The Royal Wedding!!! Have you ever SEEN so many crazy-mazing hats??

I literally feel exhausted after watching the royal wedding.  I was soooooo freakin’ excited!!  Far more excited, in fact, than I ever thought I’d be.

PeacefulYorkshire and I were Skyping each other while watching the prep on the BBC.  It was awesome watching Wills ride to the Westminster Abby (not a shabby place to tie the knot, I must say…).  Kate’s dress was insanely gorgeous – she looked completely perfect.  I think she did an awesome job of masking the outright terror she must have felt because of the pressure and attention.  I walked down the aisle with 35 people watching at it almost ended me… 2 billion and I would’ve needed to be air-lifted down the aisle with a special lacey bridal oxygen tank for good measure.

But my favourite part (aside from the ceremony, my Brit-lovin’-darlings) was the HATS.  Have you ever seen such outstanding hats in your life???  I couldn’t get enough of it.  I still can’t get enough of it… I’m going to have to Google some pictures after I write this.

I want one… a HUGE one.  A hat so big that the person next to me has to move down a chair because my swirly bits of fabric are waggling too close for comfort.

Have any of you lovely ladies bought giant hats or fascinators for weddings or the races?  I’ve yet to join that club… but I think I’m caving fast…

Congrats Wills and Kate!  You’re both gorgeous, lovely and surfing on a giant wave of wonga – the ladies of She’s Not From Yorkshire wish you the royal best! :)

What did you American ladies get from your British men on Valentine’s Day?

We got this comment today about Valentine’s Day gifts and I actually shook my fist at my laptop screen when I read it!!

my husband bought me a cd . . . that he wanted. : ((((((((

yankeebean

Noooooooo!  What ever happened to flowers?  Candles?  CHOCOLATE, for God’s sake!  You can never EVER go wrong with chocolate…

To our sassy commenter, I hope you got him a massage for you for his present…

It made me wonder what all you lovely expat American ladies are getting from your British hunka-hunkas this Valentine’s Day.  Mr Nice Guy and I are making a super fancy dinner together as our present to each other.  Including gin and tonics (our fave) and tiramasu for pudding.  Mmmmm… I’m hungry…

So what did you guys get??  I’m ready to celebrate and/or commiserate with you as required…

She is definitely not from Yorkshire: Easter Anybody?

Dearest Readers and fellow ‘Shamericans’, may I introduce the radiant ‘Ms. Forensic Spice’. She is a new guest blogger this week that has only moved to Yorkshire from California.

I was in the supermarket today after a good workout and as I was checking out, an interested checker began to chat me up.

“Where are you from? Why did you come to God awful Huddersfield? What are you doing for the Holidays?”

I began to drone the usual answers but then — Wait…What? What Holiday? I suppose I have been so far removed from any remnants of family that I had completely overlooked that Easter is here? Nope, it’s just a dumb checker. PHEW! It’s only “May Day”.

So join me, all ye transplants from afar, in welcoming this strength building exercise – because if you are alone in Yorkshire during this “May Day” weekend, trust me, you are definitely NOT alone!

Why do British women wear hats to weddings and what is their secret for looking so stylish in them?

peacefulyorkshire

One of our long time blog readers (who calls herself ‘I love this blog)’ wrote us last week. She asks us a question which I am hoping our smart-as -a-whip readers, (like you, my lovely!) will help answer:

I’ve just clicked through a friend’s photo album where she attended a wedding in the Welsh countryside… What’s the deal with women and hats? They look fantastic!

Kraft bought Cadbury – now everyone is telling me how shite American chocolate is…

Lordy!!  You’d think that I was the CEO of Kraft and that I’d just negotiated the take over of Cadbury.  I didn’t do it, I swear… Kraft didn’t even ask me first…

Here’s the news, in case you’ve been buried under a mountain of Cadbury Creme Eggs (you lucky lucky sod).  Today Cadbury (UK-all-the-way)  agreed to a takeover bid from Kraft (USA-a-ok).  This means, in a chocolate-covered nutshell, that the Americans have bought an English institution.  Cadbury is about to become Yankee-fied…

Does this worry me?  Yeah, a little… mostly because it will mean job-losses in the UK and that’s the last thing we need.

But the most recent development is that it’s causing people to tell me about how SHITE American chocolate is.  Sigh…

The thing is, I GET that Cadbury’s is probably technically better and I like Cadbury’s chocolate.  But then, I like most chocolate that I come across.  My favourite kind is the kind that’s about to be inserted into my face.

What I don’t like is people telling me the things they hate about America – let’s face it, it’s not exactly the friendliest conversation starter.  Hershey’s chocolate isn’t for everyone, I get it, I get it… but neither are Marmite, breakfast beans, or monarchies and I’m not going to bring up my strong opinions about them the first time I meet someone.  At least not unless they tell me their feelings about chocolate first ;)

Here’s hoping Kraft don’t change the recipe for Cadbury’s chocolate or I’ll really be in for it… :D

Christmas pudding in England is freakin’ weird

I love it here – England is awesome in so many ways – but desserts at Christmas is NOT one of them.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard about Christmas Pudding… Made ages in advance, CHOCK full of dried fruit and nuts (like every English dessert on earth), full of booze, left to sit for weeks, steamed for hours ‘on the day’, LIT ON FIRE and then eaten with brandy butter (or, as I like to call it, booze cream)

After the description of Christmas Pudding was delivered, in monologue, by Mr Nice Guy – the silence of disbelief descended.

Was I curious about it?  Hell yeah.
Did I want to try it?  Abso-freakin’-lutely
Did I enjoy it? *shudder*

Dude, I have freakin’ FLASHBACKS about that action.  And after making the effort to adapt to Marmite, I really don’t feel the need to try and force the Christmas Pudding issue.

A Christmas Pudding being flamed after brandy has been poured over it - Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

A Christmas Pudding being flamed after brandy has been poured over it – Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of lots of dried fruit, and peel makes me wanna gag.  I like traditional American desserts which involve a lot of sugar and, sometimes, not much else.  Christmas cookies, baby!  Sugar and E numbers – what more could you freakin’ want?? :D  Or pie, in any formation… with ice cream (or custard if you want a little ‘English’ on the side).

But don’t worry – if you’re at your in-laws for Christmas, you don’t have to ’cause a scene’ – there’s a way out without anyone getting hurt.

For anyone struggling with the lack of Christmas cookies and pie – repeat after me “Could you please pass the chocolate log?”

(Or you can fake a nut allergy) :D

The differences between America and England

yankeebean

yankeebean

My grandma is English – she’s a British war bride that fell for a strapping American soldier.  She moved to America back in the day and knew that it was going to be forever – basically she had metaphorical cojones…

I asked her once how long it took her to feel like she was American rather than English…

“Ten years,” she said.

And back in 2004, when I took to the skies, that seemed like a freakin’ LOOOOOONG time – BAD long, y’know?  Impossible long.  But now, five years in, it doesn’t seem so bad any more.

I think a big part of that is because I don’t compare America to England as much.  Aside from a small number of niche cravings (Chicago pizza, automatic transmissions, yadayadayada), America is America and England is England – bada bing bada boom (I feel like I’m in the mob whenever I use that phrase, my kingdom for a Brooklyn accent!)

I don’t crave tea as much when I’m in America, I hop in the car without inner-moaning about how nothing is walkable, I LOVE STARBUCKS and unabashedly go there for a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious skinny latte without feeling guilty.

When I’m in England I make all my coffee at home and love it, I walk to the store and merrily (well, not exactly merrily) haul my groceries back to the flat up a big hill and then up 4 flights of stairs, I hang my washing out to dry without lamenting about our lack-o-tumble-dryer.

According to my awesome-Gram’s calculations, I’m half-way to feeling British.  I wonder if I’m on schedule…

I definitely feel like something has clicked in my head that helps me deal with being an expat shamerican.  My progress can be summed up by the quote of a wise sage, “Where ever you are, there you are.”

Causing A Scene: The ultimate weapon

yankeebeanAs Americans in Britain we have the ultimate weapon at our disposal…  the ability to cause a scene.  Grown men fear it, children run in terror.

I am, obviously, exaggerating wildly (one of my favourite things!) – but there’s definitely something to be said for this.  Many English people I know will put up with discomfort, incorrect orders, and social awkwardness to avoid causing a scene.  I’ve heard mums say in a hushed whisper to their kids, “Be quite this INSTANT, you’re causing a scene”.  I’ve heard people utter it as an intense threat or warning (yes, seriously), “You’d better do as I ask or I’ll cause a scene”

I’ve had this blog rolling around in my head for aaaaaages, now, but it’s never become fully formed enough to write.  That is, until this weekend (cue suspenseful music).

Let me set the scene for you:

I was in Oxford with Mr Nice Guy, we were visiting some friends and staying with them in their gorgeous mid-terrace just outside of Oxford city centre.  We’d just had an awesome dinner and were standing around in the kitchen, leaning on the counter tops,  sipping wine and chatting.  This kitchen is bee-YOO-tiful (I mean movie-style-instant-tourist-making European perfection).  Antique wood furnishings with large cracked ceramic handles, double french doors that open into the perfect wild garden, exposed wood floors that look ancient in-a-good-way.  You get the idea…

Anyway, so we’re all standing around and I notice Mr Nice Guy is shuffling his feet around.  Not in a way anyone would notice, it wasn’t like James Brown or anything, just a little shuffle…

I glance down at his feet and see what looks like a fried onion on top of his right foot.

I look at him and smile cos I thought he’d dropped some onion on his sock during dinner and didn’t know what to do about it – but I was met by his alarming expression.  As if he was trying to wordlessly say to me, ‘Oh my God, what should I do??’

The conversation goes on as normal for a few seconds while I’m glancing at Mr Nice Guys foot and trying to figure out what the hell is going on.  Mr NG still continues to chat with us all, but glances back at me again with the same wordless appeal for help.

No one else has noticed this mini-silent-exchange…

So I bend down mid-chat (no big deal) to take the onion of his foot, intending to throw it in the bin – when the onion moved…

It was a slug!  A SLUG!!

I

died

laughing

Mr Nice Guy had had a slug on his foot for God knows how long and had just continued to chat.

Why, you ask?

When I asked him later before we went to bed he said that he “didn’t want to cause a scene”. :D

Bless him…