Category Archives: UK Life

Travel Tips with Kids – Getting Around London (from a Non-Londoner)

It can take a bit of adjustment, but the London public transport system is fantastic. (Okay, so I’m comparing it to some cities where we did not have positive impressions of their undergrounds, but still – it’s relatively clean, well organized, and you can find attendants!) 🙂

There are options for visitor passes (Travelcards), but we’ve always found the Oyster card to be a better deal for us. Here are some links to see all they have to offer: Continue reading

Travel Tips with Kids – London for Kids by Emy: Museums

Disclaimer, E was asked what she wanted to share about London and she said LONDON FOR KIDS but she wants you to know that she’s a “strange child” (her words, not mine!) so take her advice with a grain of salt. 😀

Whenever I’m in London I like to go to museums. Some of my favorites are: the V&A (Victoria and Albert), the Natural History, the Science Museum, and the National Art Gallery.

The V&A has lots and lots of art to appeal to everyone. They have paintings from the medieval era, the renaissance, and Georgian miniatures. They also had lots of Roman and Greek statues. There was a hallway filled with ironwork, custom made banisters, window frames, and balconies.

The Natural History has lots of cool stuff, but if you have little kids who are a bit squeamish you shouldn’t take them. It’s full of stuffed animals, not the kind you can cuddle, it gave me nightmares.

The Science Museum has all kinds of hands on stuff for kids, sometimes they have new exhibit. In the basement they have a little kids play area.

(Heidi insert – the V&A, Natural History, and Science museums are all literally across the street from each other, but each one you could spend an entire day in separately. So good luck picking! Back to Emy…)

The National Art Gallery had some Van Gogh, that’s the most memorable part for me. Continue reading

Best Foods Thus Far

* Heidi says the croissants from this bakery in Paris, which were like a toffee/nut/chocolate something? They were AMAZING, like I ate one and immediately walked back to the shop for a second one and we’re already planning to go there for breakfast every morning when we visit Paris again.

* And also H, curry. I’ve eaten some of the most fantastic, spicy, amazing, delicious curries here. I had curry before, but the variety here has me hooked. Continue reading

UK vs. US Questions Part One

I asked friends for questions about the UK for my kids to answer as part of their writing work. When they were shouting out responses in rapid fire I typed those, but then I had the kids take over writing for themselves. 🙂

* Popular dishes? Are the stereotypical British foods that we hear about here (in the US) actually popular?

The oldest two are on campus down in city centre and go out for lunch with friends most days. They say NOT fish and chips. It’s offered at places everywhere, but the teens don’t all like it. (Disclaimer – they love the chips! Not the fish so much.) Their friends often pick up convenience foods from the little shops and grocers, like ready made sandwiches. KFC & McDonalds are BIG here, as are Subway and Burger King. Jacket potatoes from the cafeteria or there are jacket potato food trucks. Sausage rolls from the bakeries are big – something like an american breakfast sausage but bigger, like a bratwurst, wrapped in puff pastry. Adult insert – curries are huge for take away. There are several “tortilla” restaurants down in the city, but they call them wraps instead of tortillas and are varying degrees of good. There are also Greek, Thai, ramen shops, Jamaican, Chinese but not as many as the curry places. Continue reading

SPRING!!

Okay… the sun is back, I walked around without a coat today, the flowers are blooming (though that started in January. I do love that the bulbs start popping up so early, this tantalizing reminder that spring is coming.) I can feel my brain recovering from the winter hibernation.

Over the winter I was gone four weeks, two in Nov/Dec and two in February, to help my sister with her newborn twins in Colorado. Having the back and forth, stateside to UK, made the contrast more apparent… that the US doesn’t feel like “home” in the same way. I think it made returning to England feel different, more settled, less like a guest in a foreign country. Continue reading

Family Photos 2018

Oh, the story behind trying to find a photographer here has been long and challenging… but worth it, because we found & fell in love with Magda’s work and love every photo she captured for us. Kit picked the spot (Newstead Abbey) as our family has spent many days happily exploring up there, and it’s gorgeous anytime of year. Here you go… my sweet people. (Click on thumbnails to see the larger images.) If you’re local here’s our delightful photographer, MagdaK.

Some Observations, 18 Months In!

I know… I may have set a record for most belated update.

* In Texas I would eat Tex-mex of some variety at least weekly. (I probably still do here, just minus the corn tortillas.) But here I eat curry at least weekly. The Pakistani and Indian community centre luncheons are my favorite, but I’ve also been fortunate to learn how to make some dishes from friends sharing their culinary expertise.

* Grocery delivery is so, so wonderful. For a £1 delivery fee they bring it right to your door, and you don’t tip (I offered a few times, they always declined.) But despite this, I still hit the grocery store at least weekly – there are little shops every few blocks, three are a quick walk from our house, so it’s easy to pop in and get fresh produce or other perishables. Continue reading

Some Observations, Six Months In

* I don’t miss ice in my drinks. We really thought we would, as coming from Texas we put ice in our water all year long. Drinks from restaurants or drive throughs – half ice. (I hated that, I asked for no ice in the already cold liquid.) But at home we had an ice maker and used it constantly, and I wondered how we would handle living in a place without an ice maker and a tiny freezer. We moved in August – and even that month the water was cold from our taps! In winter the water is SO cold. No need for ice.

* I don’t miss drive through restaurants, which I’ve often heard mentioned by Americans (where basically every restaurant ever has a drive through, or a spot to park and do pick up.) Here there are places that offer “take away” but the only places with a drive through are American – McDonalds, Burger King (if they’re not in the city centre), KFC. People don’t eat in their cars here, definitely not while driving. 🙂 Which I think is great, and we didn’t often eat out in Texas anyway. (Being vegetarian in Texas meant not that many food options unless you’re cooking at home – which we did.) Though interesting, we do seem to eat out more here than in the states – there are so many incredible vegetarian foods available at places! For less money than eating drive through in the US we can sit down with curry and delicious sides for our whole family. (There are very nice, pricey restaurants here – we just don’t go there. And why, when there’s countless wonderful options to try for less? Next on my list is the Pakistani community centre, we’re already fans of the Indian community centre, both serving big vegetarian meals for under £4 ($5) Mon-Fri.

* Sometimes I miss corn tortillas, but I’ve been too lazy to try making my own. We’ve tried all their local options – nope, not the same. Maybe Chipotle down in London call tell us their supplier. They do have tortilla chips so I can make taco salad, just not enchiladas the same or soft tacos unless you use flour “wraps” as they call them.

* And I randomly missed sweet vidalia onion salad dressing this week. I need to explore their salad options more. They also don’t have ranch, but I can make my own. Continue reading

Tea Time from an Outsider’s Perspective

Whatever I write here about tea and tea time in England is going to be heavily disputed by any number of people if they read it, as tea opinions vary widely from one person to the next. It’s very, very amusing – you want to get people animated, ask them if there’s a correct way to make tea. Ha!

But here are some sweeping generalizations gleaned from the various times I did ask that question, and the conversations that followed with people from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, England, and Americans living here who have their own take on it…

* Real tea is black tea. (Not green, and not “herbal” teas.)

* Tea is served with milk, and you can offer honey or sugar (most people seem to take sugar, not honey.) It’s not served with lemon, unless it’s ice tea and in the american south and also a sweet tea. Which freaks out some brits, this super sweet american ice tea thing. 🙂

* Most everyplace does offer black tea and an herbal option. Many also offer green tea. I’ve not seen an iced tea anywhere, even in August. It’s always hot, year round. Continue reading

Random Food Post (This Got Long)

One of the questions we get most is about how our diet may have changed since we moved. Here’s some thoughts in no particular order:

* The ONE and only item we’ve not found locally is corn tortillas. The shops have multiple “corn” tortillas but they’re flour tortillas with cornmeal added. I’m honestly shocked that we’ve found every other possible food here, even ones we heard may be harder to track down. (Many people heard peanut butter is hard to find here – nope, they’ve got loads of it including bulk American types at Costco, and so many seed butters as well.)

* Produce here is so inexpensive, shops have weekly sales where at least 5 produce items are ___ price (usually £.29 to £.59) which is great to try new things, but apart from that even the stuff we eat all the time is always a good price. Berries are slightly more expensive in winter, but nothing like the huge mark ups we see in the US when stuff is out of season. I love, love, love the produce. Giant avocados, like Texas sized but less expensive! I’ve not found anything missing – oh, wait, I’ve not found fresh artichokes, but I’ve also not been looking hard.

* There are two grocers within .4 miles of our house, and 3 superstore type groceries within a mile or so. Costco is 12 miles away, it’s in the next city over. So the kids can walk to the shop to buy something, or we can drive if we’re doing a BIG stock up trip. Continue reading