Another World

Well we finally did it!  We have moved from Texas to North Carolina. And we could not be any happier with our new home – both the house and the state!

The Yorkshireman and I have been dreaming, plotting and scheming for years now to make this change.  We knew pretty quickly that Texas was not our dream, but it took us a while to figure out our next step.  We even started planning a move back to the UK but the collapse of the housing market and the double-dip recession put that dream on hold.  So we figured that if we were going to stay in the US we should try to find someplace that made us happy.  After 3 visits over the last 4 or 5 years we were convinced that this is the place. 

The Yorkshireman says the rolling green hills and trees remind him a lot of Berkshire.  I can see that.  There are of course some major differences, but we are just so happy to be out of “refinery land” that it seems like heaven to us here.  And of course the house itself is so different to what we were living in before that it seems like we’re living in a rented holiday cabin – just so peaceful and natural feeling!

Our new home!

We could not be happier.  We are settling in, unpacking the last of the boxes and finding our way around.  We are continually impressed with how nice everyone is – I’m not sure if it is because we are happy ourselves and don’t see any negativity or if people in this area are just incredibly friendly.  Either way, we are thrilled.

Meanwhile, the Yorkshireman’s parents have come to stay with us for the next few weeks.  This is their first visit to North Carolina and they seem suitably impressed thus far. 

There’s much more to catch up on, but I wanted to finally get this up and share our happy news.  We are so looking forward to what the future brings us.  For the first time in a really long time, we are just happy to be where we are living the life we have and not thinking about “someday!”

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Off The Telly

I’ve never been one to watch a lot of television.  I haven’t followed a show on US TV in years.  I remember shortly before I moved to England the show Lost was just starting and everyone I knew was obsessed.  My roommate would schedule social events so they wouldn’t interfere with her catching the show.  If by some reason she did miss it, she DVR’d it and would avoid anyone until she saw it.  I found it a bit weird. (yes, she show, but I’m actually referring to the fact that she was so obsessed with it)

When I was a kid, there were shows I watched faithfully. I was addicted to Dynasty (so glamorous!) And I did watch General Hospital every day when I got home from school.  But other than that, I didn’t really care if there was anything on the television to watch.

Dynasty 

Of course, when I moved to England things were a bit different.  Firstly, most of the programs were completely new to me.  It was actually a bit overwhelming.  As my fiancée visa did not allow me to work, I spent the first few months puttering around the house.  If I were cleaning or doing laundry, I’d put the telly on.  That was my first introduction to Phil & Kirsty, Sarah Beeny, and the revolving door of hosts on Place in the Sun.  I was intrigued.  I never watched Trisha or Jeremy Kyle, but the lifestyle programs interested me.  And it taught me all about the property market in the UK – something quite useful as we were selling our house for the big move.

Actually, the whole way that TV works over there is interesting.  I was so used to the US formula – On the hour the show starts, then 5 mins of adverts; the program continues being broken up every 10-15 minutes for more adverts.  Then at either 30 past or on the hour, the next program starts. And so it goes. 

But not British TV…no, you have weird start times like 7:20.  Some of your channels don’t even have adverts! What??? And then, just to complicate matters more, your soap operas are on in the evenings?  Weird.

I think part of my fascination was that I felt watching TV gave me a better understanding of the country I was living in.  I learned to recognize the different dialects.  I picked up terminology that I wasn’t familiar with.  Plus it just gave me an overall feeling of belonging – by watching what everyone else was watching I felt like I had something in common with my new neighbors.  Yes, I did see that show last night; No, I can’t believe Jonathan Ross said that….

Anyway, the Yorkshireman introduced me to Eastenders.  Nearly every night during the week we would eat dinner in front of the inhabitants of Walford Square.  I was obsessed.  Not just with that show, but with British TV as a whole. I really, really, enjoyed the documentaries and undercover exposes.  BBC journalism, even with its current crisis, is vastly superior to anything that American news channels have to offer.  It was refreshing to hear news presented without an opinion being foisted upon me. 

Eastenders

And as I appreciated good British humour, I thoroughly enjoyed the shows on offer at the time: Little Britain, Catherine Tate show.  And the quiz shows! I’d never seen anything like them here.  No over-the-top music, production and screaming people competing for 10 MILLION DOLLARS!!!!  No, just clever quips and interesting banter.  Buzzcocks, 8 out of10 Cats – yes, more please!!

And let’s not forget the quality British dramas.  Well acted, with clever writing and expert delivery.  No wonder PBS pilfers anything it can – Downton Abbey is just the latest in a long line of British dramas that captivate the world. 

Downton-Abbey

I knew we would miss British telly when we moved here, but I totally underestimated how badly. 

When we first moved here, we tried to watch regular television.  We had difficulties, as the Yorkshireman really hated all the adverts.  We subscribed to cable, but that didn’t solve that issue.  And it seemed like we were paying for 168 channels that we never watched.  He would get fascinated by a random program for a while (Swamp People, Moonshiners – basically anything that had to have subtitles for the redneck English these people were speaking) but then the novelty would wear off and he would lose interest.  There’s been a few things that he has watched since before he came here (Simpsons, Family Guy) but not much. 

I still remember when he finally realized that King of the Hill was not the fantasy he thought it was; there are hundreds of people like that roaming around Texas (and indeed most of the country.)  Poor guy.

We were having a very difficult time.  Then his parents sent us a DVD from Comic Relief.  It stoked the fire. We missed British TV so badly! 

BritTelly

We have found some services online that have allowed us to watch certain British programs.  It was been our salvation.  A little bit of home that has kept us sane.  We’ve even been able to keep the Yorkshireman’s parents updated on their Emmerdale and Corrie when they come to visit.  Oh, and the Christmas specials – I love telly this time of year!

There’s been some changes afoot, and it’s getting harder to find programs online.  It seems people who are worried about illegal downloads on movies are also squashing people who download TV programs.  It looks like early next year it may become just about impossible for us to watch our favorite shows.  This makes me so sad.  The Yorkshireman and I have repeatedly joked that we would gladly pay for a TV license if it meant we could continue to get the programs we love here.  And it’s really not a joke – we value it that much. 

TV Licensing

It has allowed us to have a connection to the UK.  We listen to satellite radio BBC and it keeps us in touch with current trends in music and news.  We read the online news sites and tabloids (God help us, we were never Daily Mail readers when we lived there, but they have a free, non-subscription website so we end up reading it now)  We watch the TV programs and feel like we are still a part of UK life.  I hope that can continue – I can’t imagine how isolated we will feel if we don’t have that anymore. 

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Family Ties

Last month was my birthday.  Thankfully it fell on a weekend this year. The Yorkshireman and I had a nice quiet day; went out shopping and to dinner but nothing big.  It was lovely.

The next day I received a phone call from my Aunt.  My great-aunt Leila had passed away – on my birthday.  She had waited to tell me because she didn’t want to ruin my birthday.  I’m incredibly sad about my great Aunt, she was a really lovely lady.  I am thankful though that her passing was very sudden and she was not in pain.  And I’m thankful she had a very good life; she was 95.

I am also incredibly thankful that the Yorkshireman had a chance to meet her a year and a half ago.  She lived in Ohio (where she was born and raised) and I hadn’t been to Ohio in 20 years.  The Yorkshireman had never met any of my extended family before, or been to Ohio.  So we had a trip to meet my mother’s sister and her husband as well as my great Aunt.  My great Aunt was from the same side of the family.  I have cousins scattered throughout the country, and my two brothers as well; but this was all that was left of my elders.  I wanted the Yorkshireman to meet them while he could.  It was a lovely visit and gave him a peek into my family; a chance to see what type of family my mother had.  I’m incredibly sad that he will never have the chance to meet my mother, but this was the next best thing. 

It took us 4 years of living in the US to make a trip to Ohio to see them. 

At least we did make the trip, but it shouldn’t have taken that long.  Hopefully there is a lesson learned here.

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Cornish Pasty in Texas?

The Yorkshireman and I have been playing around in the kitchen lately.  There are certain items which you just simply cannot find for sale locally.  And rather than paying extortionate amounts for mail-order substitutes which usually end up disappointing, we have decided to roll our sleeves up and just make whatever we want ourselves!

Some of these things are very straightforward; I make pretty darned good scones if I do say so myself.  I finally have mastered the Victoria Sponge (thanks Delia!) And over the last couple of years I have become fairly adept at making various curries.

This week, we have decided to tackle the Cornish Pasty!  We’ve had a couple of attempts before, but they’ve always been decidedly disappointing.  But we think we may be onto a winner this time around! 

The Yorkshireman decided to just go straight to the authority on the matter, the Cornish Pasty Association.  Their website has been extremely helpful.  And after a couple of goes, I think we have cracked the pastry itself! 

Pasties!

The filling is still a work in progress, but we are definitely on the right track!  As I am not a meat-eater, we did a cheese & onion one that turned out fantastic!

Cheese N Onion

(notice the cheese seeping out the side…yum!)

The key to the lovely brown coloring is definitely in the egg wash – the ones we did with a milk wash looked really anemic.  Anyway, I want to try a few variations (don’t like the idea of the margarine, want to try real butter) but knowing we’ve got the trickiest part within our grasp is a satisfying feeling.  Now we can play around with chicken & mushroom and a few other flavours!

Can’t wait to act as taste-tester! Yum-diddly-umpcious!

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Birthdays and Other Milestones Missed

The Yorkshireman's father celebrated his 70th birthday this past Saturday. It's a pretty big milestone. Thankfully he is still in good health and is enjoying his retirement years. I think spending time with the grandkids has really been good for them both. They are constantly taking them to parks and adventures – the activity is so much better for them than sitting at home watching telly. (Or in the case of my MIL, playing Soduko on DS but I digress…)

 

We always make sure that we send a thoughtful gift for their birthdays or anniversaries. We don't buy anything here and ship, opting instead to take advantage of the great online offers from UK companies. An added bonus is the extremely quick shipping for mainland UK deliveries. Over the past few years we've ordered an assortment of hampers, wine collections, quality cheese from Cheddar Gorge and most recently Scotch whiskey. Thank goodness we live in this digital age – I have no idea how people even 30 years ago would arrange gifts for loved ones from across the pond.

 

And truthfully we enjoy picking out the gifts. We both usually sit and ogle the websites, drooling over goodies we'd love to indulge in ourselves. The Cheddar Gorge cheese was particularly fun, as on our last trip back home we had taken the Yorkshireman's parents with us on a trip to Cheddar Gorge. We did the tour of the cheese factory, complete with the obligatory cheese tasting (yum!) We also visited the local scrumpy shop but that's another post. Anyway, looking through their website brought back memories of our visit and we were able to recall which cheeses they were particularly fond of and create a personalized hamper for them. It was a lovely way to feel connected to them even though we are so far apart.

 

Which leads me to the bittersweet side of our gift-giving. We aren't there in person to share their special day. We are lucky in that they can email us to let us know they have received their gift, and they upload photos to Facebook for us to see as well. We Skype to wish them well in real-time (6 hours difference not withstanding) We are as in-touch as we can be from 4700 miles away. But it would be really nice to take them out to dinner once in a while. Or drop by for a cup of tea and a chin wag. Of course this is all made that much more difficult by the fact that the Yorkshireman's brother lives about 10 minutes away and doesn't take advantage of his proximity. Except for utilizing them for free babysitting services, of course. But take them out for a birthday dinner? Nah, too busy. My Yorkshireman was seething with anger after our Skype call the other day when he found out that his parents had gone out to dinner by themselves. And I can't blame him. A 70th birthday is a true accomplishment and should be celebrated with kids and grandkids all around.

 

Of course we have the perspective of people who live on a different continent and aren't able to be there easily. Would we feel as strongly if we were still living in the UK? Would we make the effort to drive 4 hours to spend a day with them? I'd like to think Yes, but I am keenly aware of how life gets in the way of your best intentions and how easy it is to take loved ones for granted while they are here. Perhaps that's why we make a point of staying in touch via email and Facebook, and why we Skype every week. Perhaps we've learned something that we wouldn't have learned if we were a quick car ride away from them. At least we are certain that they know how important they are to us.

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