All posts by gryffinkat

I currently live in Nottingham, England, where I am working on a doctoral degree in Old English language and literature. I grew up in southeastern Idaho (USA), where my family have been settled for four generations.

A Primer on the Geo-Political and Religious History of the British Isles

As an avid Anglophile and current resident of England, it irks me to no end when I hear otherwise intelligent, well-read, astute people fumble their way through British political history, religious history, and geography, and the current political and religious climate in the region.

If you have ever wondered what the difference is between Ireland and Scotland, or what the heck Wales is, or what religion is most prevalent in England—or if you have ever talked (or thought) about a “British” accent, then this post is for you!

Continue reading A Primer on the Geo-Political and Religious History of the British Isles


British Veg

This post is all about the different words for vegetables in the US and UK. Many of these plants have the same name in both places, but quite a few have different names, for various reasons.

First, I should start by saying that vegetables are not commonly termed ‘veggies’ in the UK, as they so often are in the States. Here, ‘veggie’ usually is short for ‘vegetarian’, as in a person who eats a vegetarian diet. Rather, the plants themselves are affectionately and collectively called ‘veg’. Which, frankly, I like much better. It’s shorter, it makes a better counterpart to ‘fruit’ in the phrase ‘fruit and veg’. I really think we need to make this a thing in the States.

On to the veg themselves! Continue reading British Veg

9 Fantastic Biscuits and Where to Find Them

Biscuits. In America, the word conjures up memories of fluffy, homemade savory things with a light, crumbly texture, dripping with butter and honey, or maybe slathered with sausage and gravy.

In Britain, it’s a different story altogether. The word “biscuit,” to an Englishman, refers to a small, crispy, lightly sweet treat, somewhat akin to a cookie. (Though the American influence on the culture means that “cookies” are now their own thing in England, too. But that’s a story for another post.)

Most biscuits are not only terribly tasty, but also incredibly cheap so they’re an easy and inexpensive treat suitable for any day of the year. They’re best eaten with your afternoon tea, in which they should be (quickly!) dunked. Don’t have any tea? Well, that’s all right, too—you can just eat them as-is.

But don’t—I repeat, do not eat them with milk. That’s just gross.

Continue reading 9 Fantastic Biscuits and Where to Find Them

Visiting the Churchill War Rooms in London

I visited the War Rooms a few months back and sadly did not take the time to write up a full review at that time. It’s been long enough now that I remember very little of it. So I will simply say …

If you are interested in Winston Churchill or World War II, or if you are detail-driven and studious, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time here. The Churchill Museum, an installation about the life of Winston Churchill that’s located inside the War Rooms, is thoroughly fascinating. It is highly detailed, interactive, and enthralling, and an interested person could easily spend 2–3 hours on that alone, let alone the War Rooms.

Nottingham Sightseeing Photos

Rachael came to visit from London this week, and we did some sightseeing in Nottingham. It was great fun to see the Castle and eat at The Old Trip to Jerusalem—things I’d been wanting to do for a long time but haven’t gotten around to yet—as well as to walk around looking like tourists, taking pictures of everything we came across. These are my photos of  Nottingham sights. Continue reading Nottingham Sightseeing Photos

Early Medieval Derbyshire

One of the primary reasons I decided to come to England for my PhD was so that I could live in the country where the people I study lived. As a student of Anglo-Saxon language and literature, I’m thrilled anytime I can find a remnant of that society still in this country, as are my fellow students and our supervising faculty members. Last summer (around July 2015), some of them got together to plan a trip around Derbyshire to look at Anglo-Saxon artifacts still extant. Other than manuscripts (which you don’t normally find by the side of the road), these mainly consist of stone carvings and are often preserved in or near churches. This gallery, then, is a collection of photos I took during that trip—though not all of them are of specifically Anglo-Saxon items.

12 Songs You Will Hear Every Christmas in Britain

The Brits love their Christmas music. Since the 1970s (according to my ad hoc online research), there has been particular emphasis placed on the Christmas Number One: the song that is at number one in the charts during the week in which Christmas Day falls. In an effort to snag this much-coveted title, some artists shamelessly release Christmas-themed songs (which is the framing plot-line for the movie Love Actually, the part with Bill Nighy). Several of these have become perennially beloved Christmas songs, many of them ones that Americans have never heard.

Here are 12 songs—some Christmas number ones, some not—that I can guarantee you will hear every year at Christmas-time in the UK.

Continue reading 12 Songs You Will Hear Every Christmas in Britain