I think I’ve been away from the States long enough that very few things make me homesick anymore – leagues less than the numerous things that did in the past, anyway. However, everything that does make me homesick happens right around this time of year. Autumn comes and I miss the riotous change of leaves in Ohio, the buzzing fun of Halloween, followed by the gorging and relaxing and extra long weekend that comes with Thanksgiving in November.
And of course there’s loads of American stuff I can’t get here, even if I want it. Nothing that it’s impossible to live without (I stock up on Annie’s Mac and Cheese on every visit Stateside, and eat my weight in vegetarian corn dogs, for an example of my frivolous tastes). And some of the things that can be found in the UK are wildly different in taste and flavor than their American counterparts, due to rules and regulations about those tasty tasty additives that American companies are so fond of! Compare British Doritos and American Doritos if you don’t believe me. It’s a THING.
With all that said, I was pleased as punch when Kingdom of Sweets got in touch with me to ask if it would be okay if they sent me a box of American sweets to help me feel a little less homesick this season. I said yes, with gusto, because mama didn’t raise no fool.
My box arrived last week and it was full of stuff I hadn’t seen in ages! Cookie dough bites (these were my childhood treat at the movie theater, and if my mom was feeling extra generous I’d get them with Sour Patch Kids and popcorn because I love to eat). I didn’t even know they still made them!
Nerds, Warheads, Gobstoppers, dum dums, a Butterfinger – I am currently up to my eyeballs in sweet treats and sugary goodness, and I am looking forward to tucking in! If I am able, maybe I’ll save a bunch of it for Halloween eve and pretend I’ve just gone to a rockin’ costume party and/or gone trick or treating. But that’s several weeks away so let’s not kid ourselves. If you’re also a moderately homesick American – do yourself a solid and get some candy coming your way to combat the mountains of Mister Kiplings and Cadburys going around this time of year 😉
Thank the tiny baby Jesus for long weekends. The four day Easter weekend always sneaks up on me, and always make me extra grateful to live in a country that is so legally Christian that it throws out days off for the whole place for Good Friday and Easter Monday, no worshipping required. How nice is that? Especially nice when it means that after all the sleeping late and chocolate bunnies and drinks with friends that there is still time to actually deep clean the house and watch tons of Netflix and old movies AND take a long walk along the river. This just proves I need at least a quarterly four day weekend (three day weekends, while nice, are still just not quite enough to fit everything in).
Yesterday we took advantage of the sunniest day-warm with a cool wind-and took a long walk along the river, followed by a refreshing drink at the pub afterwards with a very muddy Bruce in tow. It seemed like all of Shoreham had the same idea, which is no surprise. But with this first long weekend comes the start of festival season! A new music festival is happening in June at the airport, which is mind-blowingly ridiculous because this is 1) Shoreham, and 2) the line-up includes Sam Smith and Wu Tang Clan. Wu. Tang. Clan. Seriously. It’s sold out, and I am pumped.
But first! With the May bank holiday (the first one anyway) comes the Foodies Festival, and once again, I will be there, sipping on bubbles and eating a variety of tasty treats. And also just like last year, I have some tickets to give away! The Festival will take place on Saturday 2 May-Monday 4 May, back on Hove Lawns. This year they are introducing a new champagne and wine tent…so you know where you can find me. I’m also excited to check out the new “tasting theatre”…Japanese Soul, raw food, and vegan food are the ones that sound the most intriguing to my tiny little taste buds. And and and, there will be a wild herb + foraging master class which I hope I can sneak into. Looking like another great lineup this year-more of which you can see here http://www.foodiesfestival.com/brighton-hove-lawns/
So, how to get in on the fun? Leave a comment below with your email address, and like or share this post on Facebook or Twitter. The more the merrier! I’ll announce the winner of a pair of tickets the week before the festival, on April 20th. See you there!
(And you can see my visit to Foodies Festival in 2014 and 2013 if you want to whet your appetite)
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m a creature of habit, but it is fair to say that I am a lover of traditions, those both old and new. Anyone who has been reading since I began visiting (and then moved to) England, will know that Jon and I do a lot of the same stuff every holiday season, one of those things being a day in London where we indulge our voyeuristic need to “lick windows”, as the French say. Meaning, we go do a bit of window shopping in the decadent halls of Harrods. And we go to Winter Wonderland just around the corner in Hyde Park. And we drink mulled wine in the coldish weather (it’s never yet snowed when we’ve been at Winter Wonderland, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for next year). And we just have a nice seasonally appropriate time together!
This year we decided to try to beat the crowds at the ridiculously popular Winter Wonderland by going on a weekday, and with both of us having a few days off left in our work banks, we were happily able to spend last Friday doing our Christmas thang and oh man, it is SO MUCH BETTER when you can avert the shoulder to shoulder crowds and actually shuffle around because you’re looking at everything and taking it all in, rather than shuffle around because you can’t move or breathe in the name of Christmas.
We did not ice skate, again, because Jon hates it, but it looked like everyone was having so much fun and I do enjoy watching people who are really bad at things but are having a wonderful time doing them anyway, if that makes sense. We split a bratwurst, that traditional Christmas treat (ha), and also split a trio of mini burgers, which were not good, in any way. Oh well.
There are many places to go in London that evoke that Christmassy spirit, but Borough Market in December is definitely one of the best places to head to if you want to stuff your face with anything from chai tea and mulled cider to paella, freshly caught fish, a world of obscure sauces and condiments, and fancy french cheese samples. It’s a place I would recommend to anyone visiting London at any time of year, but it moves up the list to the top three come holiday season, particularly with its location just off and under London Bridge, and right next to a beautiful old church that looms over the whole market itself, the church bells chiming every hour. And to think that the market has existed here in some form since the 11th century? Come on. Magic.
On this day in particular we stocked up on an amazing hard cheese that is soaked in red wine that Jon is crazy about, some blue corn tortillas, a tasty mushroom pate, and we also decided to split a ridiculous salt beef bagel that neither of us really needed. But it was worth it. Also, I had a lovely chai tea that I’d bought from an even lovelier chatty chai tea selling lady!
This morning I woke, brain fuzzy and hair very large, from indulging in too much wine and steak and general middle class debauchery last night. Jon and I celebrated our three years of wedded life by indulging in a stupidly expensive meal at a place in Brighton called The Coal Shed. We ordered a sharing steak (T-bone!), truffle mac and cheese, and garlic mushrooms that tasted like Jesus himself had made them in heaven and then put them in a little ceramic pot just for us. We drank red wine and got a bit drunk and held hands and talked about stuff.
I know that people say, over and over and over again, that marriage is hard, but knock on wood, I am fucking happy with my partner and it’s really not that hard to be happy. Maybe some day it will be, and that’s okay. But not now, not yet. And yeah, we’re both assholes sometimes, but two assholes can be super happy together, let me tell you. I’m coming to believe that people who talk about how hard marriage and relationships are, how they’re the hardest thing ever, are either 1)liars, or 2) in terrible relationships but just don’t know it. A marriage should not be like some sort of degree or qualification, something you have to study for and think really hard about and get marks on. Shouldn’t it be so much more natural than that?
The hardest things for us happened before we were married, when we were living in different countries and had no idea what the future held. And the hardest parts since we got married have never really been around our relationship, but more about finding work and making money and living with in-laws and transatlanticism and other such things that care nothing for love. We moved across the world and found each other and five years later (three of them legally bound) that still seems like a really really good decision.
Thank God for love. My man is a gem.
Pre dinner pub drinks:
And the main event in a fuzzy picture that Jon sent to his dude friends to brag about meat:
This guy. He’s good. Here’s to three good years so far, and three plus give or take a lifetime more.
Most Sundays I do the same thing. Sleep late, make a nice breakfast, spend hours reading and hanging out on the internet while sipping coffee. I usually get a workout in, but even that is a slowish day on the ol’ elliptical. Sundays are lazy, for us.
This Sunday though, Jon and I met friends at the beach. I tried a standup paddle board for the first time (finally) and we drove out to a pub in Hangleton which had a gorgeous garden and served mini cherry pies! It was a great day. A busy, different than usual Sunday.
In the evening a massive thunderstorm blew in. It was gone as quick as it came, churning up the river and forcing us to close all the windows.
It was beautiful, and everything slowed down again.