Tag Archives: UK

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!

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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.

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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.

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UK House Hunting 101, Lesson 3: Glossary

When searching for a place to live in the UK, you may find yourself somewhat baffled by the terminology used in listings. “DDS”? “GCH”? “Grade II listed”? Never fear, that’s what this glossary is for! I have conveniently listed British-isms and house-hunting terms below, in alphabetical order, for your use in decoding house listings.

Did I miss any? What terms confound you when reading property listings from the UK? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best to include them here.

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Visiting Wollaton Hall

Wollaton Hall stands in the center of Wollaton Park, the remnant of the estate of Sir Francis Willoughby. It was originally built in 1580–1588, Sir Francis’ reaction to Queen Elizabeth I’s disapproval of his former house. Sir Francis was the younger son of the family and had therefore not been educated to take on the position he inherited, and he eagerness to show the world that he really did know what he was doing is evident in every part of the house that still stands. The hall underwent major renovations in the 19th century by Henry Willoughy, 6th Baron Middleton (and yes, Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, is related). It now houses a museum with a collection of fine art, which is open to the public for free. The grounds are also open to the public and are a popular destination for picnics in Nottingham. Continue reading Visiting Wollaton Hall

Nottingham’s City of Caves

For centuries, residents and newcomers to Nottingham would carve caves out of the soft sandstone the city is founded on, using them for all kinds of purposes, from wine cellars to secret meeting-spaces to homes to tanneries. During World War II, when Nottingham was heavily bombed by the Germans, the caves were even used as bomb shelters, protecting around 800,000 of the city’s residents.

While most of these caves have been abandoned and disused for about a century, there are a few places where they are still used (local pubs) and where they can be accessed by the public. The most easily-accessible is the City of Caves exhibit, beneath the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre.

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