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.

The WORST fake English accents: Why don’t they just hire British actors to play British characters??

I’m at the stage at my stay here in the UK that I don’t really hear the British accent anymore.  Unless it’s a strong local-y sounding one (Yorkshire, Bristol, Scouse, Geordie), it washes right over me.

But when they hire an American, an Irish person or an Australian to play a Brit – OH! – Mine ears, they do tremble.  Why don’t they just hire Brits??  Especially since they’re cheap labour

I’ve been doing some Googling to find some evidence, and I’ve come up with the following 3 heinous examples:

Anne Hathaway in One Day

Bless her heart, I love Anne Hathaway in almost everything she ever touches (yes, this includes the Princess Diaries 2).  But how can I keep track of what’s going on in a film with this strange Ameri-cockney-yorkshire accent beast staring me down?

Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta

I’m also a huge lover of Natalie Portman – she’s a freaking genius and most things she touches turn to golden box office successes.  But her ACCENT!  Ohmygee, her accent.  That’ll be ten Pledge of Allegiances and a whole cheese pizza as penance, Nat-Port.

Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins

No list of crappest-Brit-accents would be complete without Dickie-boo!

I love this movie.  MY GOD, I love this movie.   I live in eternal hope that one day I’ll find a handbag big enough to keep a floor lamp in.  But Dick Van Dyke really set the bar in terms of heinous accents.  It doesn’t ruin the over all movie for me, though – probably because it’s all so cartoony and his accent is, too.


Part of me gets it.  Directors have a specific actor in mind and they bring them in regardless of their stubborn American twang.  It’s distracting, though – there’s nowt to be done about it!

I know it isn’t a one-way train.  There are plenty of Brits doing heinous American accents out there (except for Hugh Laurie, of course.  He sounds more American than I do), but for some reason I don’t tend to find bad American accents as distracting.  Now that I mention it, I should give a shout out Gweneth Paltrow who throws a seriously excellent English accent in my opinion.

What about you guys?  Can you stand it?  Have I missed any obvious ‘worst English accent ever’ candidates?  Or what about bad American accents?  I can’t think of any off the top of my head…

 

How do the British celebrate Halloween? One hairdresser gives her opinion

peacefulyorkshire

peacefulyorkshire

So tell our lovely readers a bit about yourself?

Ok… my name is Libby, I am 26 years old, grew up in Haxby and have been cutting hair now for 4 years, like. I trained in London at ‘Toni&Guy’ but am glad to be back in Yorkshire where me family is.

Any plans for Halloween, then?

Oh yeah, me mates and I are going down the pubs and whatnot– since its on a Saturday this year York will be busy. Lots of me mates are having fancy dress parties but I told them all that I was going down to York to be with everyone else who is out. Everyone should be out.

And will you wear a costume?

Yeah we are going as Zombie Nurses– me mate Sarah already gots our costume. We will use fish net stockings that are ripped with fake blood. A nurses apron and a hat and I am frizzin my hair out big style.

Wow, that is creative, are all your mates going as Zombie nurses also hairdressers by day?

No, in me crowd we have a solicitor, a driving instructor, oh and me sister is pregnant, did I tell you?! But I don’t tell people I am a hairdresser when I am out, like because everyone wants me to tell them what to do with their hair, I get tired of it. Last week we were out and this bloke wanted to know how to bleach his chest hair. It was right nasty!

Yeah, I can imagine!!

Umm. In your opinion how do you think that the Brits celebrate Halloween?

Well, its gottin more over the years but it used to be more for kids. But now I think that adults are gettin more into it though. Last year I went as a witch and we got loads of attention, like. I wore this huge black hat and yellow neon suit underneath my cape. It was smashing, like. I met me current boyfriend, Charlie, on Halloween, he’s such a sweetie.

And what was he dressed as?

A baby. He had a dummy and all kinds.

Awww…

——

The part where your Shamerican self feels spooked on Halloween? Click here

For more in our ‘Interview Series’ with informative Brits ( pub managers to tennis coaches to Scotsmen!) click here

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?

Me and Crocodile Dundee… two of a kind.

yankeebeanI’m sitting in front of Crocodile Dundee right now (yes, on a Friday night, but it’s been a bastard of a week and I’m knackered) – and I’m feeling the strangest of emotions…

Empathy.

I am EMPATHISING with Mick the man from Walkabout Creek – how bizarre…

I musta been about 8 years old when I first saw this movie and I remember thinking that it was HILARIOUS.  I’m sure you all remember the line:

That’s not a knife… THIS is knife…

(And if you don’t, get thee to your aging VHS collection and dust that shizzle off!)

But one of the key ingredients of this flick is that Mick keeps saying Aussie / bush things and New Yorkers laugh in his face.  The darker side of 80′s film making ;)

Now, as an expat (or ‘shamerican’ – more on that all-star term later), living in a strange-and-foreign land (kidding, kidding, chill out peeps) – I’m finding new depths to the bloody movie Crocodile Dundee…

Strewth, you learn something new every day…

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.

Tori Amos on Something for the Weekend

avt_kapyork_large115 Good Afternoon Ladies,

Part of my Sunday ritual usually includes watching Something for the Weekend on BBC2.  This morning, Tori Amos was a guest on the show.  She was my teenage hero in the 90′s (along with Sarah McLachlan) but I had no idea I would connect with her again in my late 20′s.

She married a British man and they, along with their daughter, split their time between Cornwall and East Coast USA.  She gave a fantastic interview on the show – mostly about being an American in Britain and she has clearly settled amongst those who strive to hold on to their “Americaness” and even referred to herself as a guest in Britain.  Her new single is even about a American woman who moves to London and loses too much of herself trying to fit in.  Sound familiar?

You can see the interview here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAsWSWWjMoY

And, watch out for her new video on youtube,  called “Welcome to England”.  I’ll post a link when I find it.

Charlie bit me…

yankeebean

yankeebean

In order to understand this post you have to watch this 56-second video:

Did you watch it?  Good… now I have a couple of questions:

How many times did you watch it?

Did you rewind it and watch it bunch of times?  Or Just once?  Do you want to watch it again right now instead of reading my (titillating!) blog-ness?  Go on, you’re only young once ;)

How hard did you laugh?

Chuckle?  Chortle?  Laugh?  Guffaw?  Rolling around on the floor?  Choked on your own saliva?  Sorry… I took that too far…

The reason I ask is that my brother first sent me this link (he lives State-side).  I watched it the first time and chuckled (especially at :23 and :38).  Then I watched about 5 more times and I was laughing out loud by the end.

Brother-o-mine asked what I thought we he called me yesterday.  I said ,”yeah, it was funny” in a chilled-out observational kind of way.

“What??”, he said…

He was STYMIED that I didn’t think it was the single funniest thing I’d ever seen.  He said that Mom and his fiance both almost died the first time they watched it – they were crying with laughter.

I do think it’s funny… really funny.  I’ve watched it a lot more and it gets better and better – but I think one of the things that makes the video really funny is that fact that the kids have English accents.  I realised when I was talking to Bro that I hardly hear the accent anymore, it’s just a regular thing.  I could see my two rambunctious nephews do something just like Charlie and Henry up there.  In fact, I probably have…

I told him that and he grinned down the phone, “I think it’s funny because it’s one of the funniest things I’ve EVER SEEN!”  Then he quoted (in an English accent) “That really hurt and it’s still… hurting”.

The penny dropped… I think it proved my point.

So I end this blog with a hypothesis:

Kids with accents are cute and funny

(but check out the remix – AWESOME!)

An American girl in England survives the Credit Crunch by going back to Topshop

avt_kapyork_large115Ladies – Topshop is a must for any American woman visiting the UK.  Great clothes beyond just the classics for pretty good prices (especially with the exchange rate making the pound a little cheaper these days).  But after you live here for a while Topshop (and similar shops H&M, Next, River Island, & Primark) start to give way to calmer and more grown-up shopping experiences.  This calm will cost you though!  I have returned to the chaotic shopping to try to save a few pennies.

So I thought during this credit crunch, you ladies might like a little advice for surviving the madness of these high street favorites

Rule 1: Divide and conquer.  It sucks to shop without a friend, but trust me… if you try to shop together you will lose your friend, start panicking and you will be more likely to pick up the first hideous dress you find.  Split up and pick a time to meet so you can browse comfortably.

Rule 2: Dress for shopping.  I don’t mean impressing the shop assistants with your exquisite sense of fashion.  I’m talking PRACTICAL dressing.  A few light layers that you can easily remove and stuff in your bag are a must.  These high street shops are jam packed with sweaty people all hoping to find a bargain before anyone else grabs it and it is boiling hot in these places.  Also, keep accessories to a minimum.  Your oversized jewel-toned faux ring is sure to catch on every mohair-inspired acrylic sweater.

Rule 3: Bring a flashlight.  These dressing rooms are dark and there will be no switching to another room if the one you are assigned doesn’t have any lighting as they are all full.  Yes, I said assigned – you must wait in line then have the shop assistant count your items before they let you in the unlit body odor trap.  If you can’t bring a flashlight, wear cute underwear so at least you can open the curtain a little to at least see what you are trying on next.

Rule 4: Leave you credit card at home.  Once you enter Topshop you it might be hours before you leave again.  It is dangerous.

Rule 5: Spot the acid washed jeans section.  This is the area you can go for a little peace and quiet to compare the purple trench with the teal peacoat.  The acid washed jeans section is pretty much empty of shoppers – this is your haven.

That’s it – Happy budget shopping!

Kraft – Its the Cheesiest! And other care package desirables

avt_kapyork_large115I received a care package yesterday!  My Mom sent 9 boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and 2 bags of Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chips!!  That’s right Ladies, semi-sweet morsels!!  :)

Care packages are just automatic ways to lift spirits and be reminded of favourite treats from home.  Any of the yucky feelings left over from a rough day at work yesterday suddenly lifted.   Note to self: bring small baggies of morsels to work every day. 

It got me thinking – what things will I want in a care package from the UK when I’m back in America?

Here’s a quick list:

Cheese and onion pasties or veg pasties if from Thomas the Bakers (not suitable for overseas travel, sigh)

Cadbury’s Dairy Milk

Lemsip – Flu strength

Yorkshire Tea

Any number of vegetable curries (also not a good shipping contestant)

Louie Theroux documentaries

Episodes of Never Mind the Buzzcocks with Simon Amstel

Umm, this one is embarrassing but… I really like all the reruns of Murder, She Wrote that you can get everyday if you have Sky.  I don’t think you can still get that show in America anymore. 

What would you put in your care packages Ladies?