Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Burns Night

Apparently "Robbie Burns Day" is a celebration of all things Scottish. It is a big enough holiday that it is considered a Bank Holiday. They were having a party in the Village hall and looking for people to help cook some haggis. How could I refuse a chance to do that? Luckily it is just pulled out of the bag and boiled for 90 minutes.
So it goes that Robert Burns was a poet in Scotland that died in 1796 who wrote poetry to things such as haggis, and is credited with writing "Auld lang syne". The way it is celebrated is with all things Scottish. Scotch whiskey, mashed swedes (a.k.a. neeps, think giant turnips), mashed potatoes (tatties) and of course haggis.
The haggis ended up being pretty tasty. Basically it tastes like a spicy but not hot spicy Mexican chorizo. (Not to surprising when you realize it is heart, liver, and lungs of a sheep blended up with some spices then stuffed into the stomach and boiled for an hour and a half.) The mashed swedes tasted very similar to mashed potatoes but a little less starchy.

I know that I am defiantly becoming assimilated because when they first told me about what they were doing for the party it didn't even phase me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fancy Dress Parties

At first I thought it was just a way to say costumes for Halloween. But no, the British love their fancy dress parties. There are multiple clubs where each week there is a different theme to dress up for. Almost all the Christmas and New Years parties were costume parties as well, each having their own theme.
To top it off, I had a few friends that had their birthday on the same day and decided to throw a joint birthday party. In it they asked people to dress as something that started with "A" or "K" (their names). I wasn't sure how many people were going to show up in costume so I didn't know how elaborate to make mine. (not to mention time or money) I finally went with being a King when I found a Burger King and got a crown. I bought a sword that I could blow bubbles with and a "Santa's bag" on clearance that I cut open and glued a white scarf around the fringe for my robes. (For a total of £2.50 from the pound store). About half the people were dressed up so I spent about the right amount of work.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Living with Royalty

One of the first things that you are taught as a child in the U.S. is that royalty is tyranny. There is no voice of the people when there is royalty. Now I'm aware that the U.K. is a constitutional monarchy but having a Royal family still costs British tax payers a lot of money. When I was here five years ago there was a news article about how each British Citizen had to pay £0.70 to support the Royal family. I've asked friends about this, and their answer is that it is good for tourism. You can't get rid of a Royal family and then bring them back if you decided you liked having them around. So the U.K. has one of the few Royal families left and use it as tourist attraction. (I just know that any museums or sites owned by the royal family, like castles are the ones that have the outrageous admission prices.)
As far as the government side, I understand that having the royal family around to entertain visiting heads of state. (The U.S. doesn't have this department so the President pulls double duty.) But it was also explained to me that royalty thinks long term since they want to see their children be in power after them, where as a politician will say and do anything to get re-elected the next term. The thinking for the House of Lords, that appointed instead of voted in, is that since they see after trades, if they are appointed then they do not have favors owed to any companies.
But I still think it is weird that I will be getting the day off for the wedding in April when the prince gets married.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sports

I don't really follow any sports in the U.S. as it is. It's even worse here since I don't even know the sports. They were talking about Football (Soccer) and started going on about the different positions. I mean I at least know all the Baseball, Basketball, and Football positions from playing the game. The last time I played soccer was in Middle School.
The British are crazy about any sports that are done in a pub. (darts, pool, competitive drinking...)To give you an idea, while in the store I heard two kids run over to the sports section and have one say to the other: "Cool, the new year's darts are here.
There is a big rival Cricket competition that happens every two years happening right now between Australia and the U.K. Since I have no idea about Cricket rules watching it as I walk by any TV's is like a parade in weirdness. I'm sure someone that never had seen a Baseball game would thing the same thing.
I realized that rugby and football area pretty much in the same class of sport. I know that a lot of people find that sacrilege but there are also "Irish rugby", and "Australian rugby" and they are as different from each other about as much as football is from rugby so I guess they are all in the same family.
Net ball: At first it is what I thought they called basketball. As it turns out, it's similar to basketball except there is no backboard, and you can't move when you have the ball. It looks pretty fun but it looks like it is the equivalent of softball is to baseball so only women play it.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Assimilation

It is kind of scary but I think I am becoming assimilated into British Culture. Now don't get me wrong I won't be drinking tea anytime soon, but there are little things.
L. noticed that I have started looking left before right when I cross the road. I was watching a movie and it literally took me two seconds of thinking "What does him driving on the wrong side of the road" have to do with the plot before I realized he was driving on the right, because it was in Italy. I feel like I have started to pick up the British Cadence when I speak. Not the accent (L. agrees) but the rhythm of my speech has changed. (Except how I say American, somehow that has become Amuricun because I say it so often.) I think in Celcius for tempreture, I only know my weight in stones (because that is what the scale at the gym tells me) and I used the term "flat" to refer to my apartment for the first time without thinking about it first.