Friday, December 7, 2007

Boxing Day Holiday

Have you ever heard of a national holiday called "Boxing Day"? I certainly had not ever heard of it!
December 26 is known as Boxing Day in the U.K. and in most of the other commonwealth countries. Most people are off work----except nowdays the stores are open for the after-Christmas sales! (Sales in England are not nearly as good as ones in the U.S.--mostly because prices start out at least double the prices here!)

There are many theories as to how Boxing Day got started. Here are some of the better known theories:

1. It is a day when, in years past, people gave Christmas presents, or boxes, to those who had worked for them throughout the year (such as postmen, newspaper boys, etc.). (Today such gifts are given before Christmas.)

2. Traditionally, the day after Christmas the lords of estates would give practical gifts to the serfs. Each serf family would get a box full of goods.

3. Many years ago it was common for servants to carry boxes to their employers when they arrived for work on Dec. 26. The employers would put coins in the boxes----sort of like Christmas bonuses.

4. Churches opened their donation boxes on Christmas Day, and then, the next day, the 26th, the money was distributed to the poor. Through the years, the poor began to beg and cause problems in the streets for several weeks after Christmas, so the churches put real limits on the money being distributed and let the people know that "Boxing Day" was only one day, the 26th of December.
(This explanation is the most widespread of the theories of the beginning of Boxing Day.)

5. Servants had to work on Christmas Day. The leftover food would be boxed up and eaten by the servants on Dec. 26, which was their day off.

6. An old story tells about Dec 26 being the day when the wren, the king of the birds, was captured and put in a box. He was then taken around to each household, where he would be asked for a successful year and good harvest.

You can take your pick of which story you like--that seems to be what the English do! I think that they really don't care how the day got started------they just like the holiday!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Restaurants and Signs

This resturant is on the way from Martock to Bristol.

Many pubs and resturants put signs outside on the sidewalks. These are in Martock.
A Sunday carvery is a buffet, usually with roast beef, yorkshire pudding, and vegetables (but not as good as food from home!).
The price on the next sign is in English pounds. You have to double that to see what it is in dollars.

This is a pub/resturant that we saw one day while we were out driving. We had to take a photo of the name!

One restaurant has a sign advertising "Bangers and Mash". I am sure that you knew right away that this would be sausage and mashed potatoes! That is a very common meal in England.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Interesting Town Names

As we were driving one day we came to a town called Lothian. Guess what the next town was......Middle Lothian. Does that sound like a Texas town?
It is very common in England for there to be a town name, such as Hamdon, then other towns near it named East Hamdon, West Hamdon, North Hamdon, and Middle Hamdon. That makes for some confusion for visitors!

Some of the other interesting town names that we have seen lately are------
Queen Camel (I wonder if there is a King Camel.....), Henlade, Cricket St. Thomas, and Ugborough.

Lots of the towns have the word "stoke" in them, such as Stoke SubHamdon or Bassingstoke, etc. The word "stoke" means place or farm or field. In old times the word stoke was commonly used, and then when a community developed, the people added more of a description to the word "stoke", which then became the name of the town. Sometimes the name of a river or stream was added to "stoke".

I guess if someone were driving through Texas, especially for the first time, he would see many interesting town names, too!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Weather Report phrases, part 2

These are a few more of the unusual phrases that I have heard on the weather forecasts on the "telly":

"It's a cloudy, dull affair today."
"murky with spots of brightness"
"wee bit colder"
"odd spot of rain"
"smashing day"

and my favorite, but not used often enough -----"glorious sunshine" !

I thought that I would have more odd weather phrases to write about now that the cold weather has come---but these are the only new ones that I have noticed. Do you think that maybe the "odd" phrases are sounding normal to me now??

Monday, December 3, 2007

More Pictures of Thatched Roofs

As a lot of you already know, I have had to return home because my 6-month visitor status in England was up. Ron is scheduled to come home for the Christmas holidays in a couple of weeks. When I left England, it looked like Ron and I would be returning there after Christmas.....but Bell Helicopter has made some plan changes, and now we will be going to Maryland in January for a month or two. I had a few England blogs that I had not posted, so I will post them over the next couple of days.
Today's post is just more pictures of thatched roofs. I think that they are really pretty----but I wouldn't want to have one!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Pelican Crossing"----and more

There are some interesting road crossing signs in England! I wish I had pictures of all of them.

1. "Zebra Crossing"-----This is a pedestrian crossing with black and white painted stripes across the road.

2. "Pelican Crossing"-----This one is the common name for "Pedestrian Light Controlled Crossing", which is a pedestrian crossing with a push button on a pole that controls the walk or don't walk signal (green man or red man).

3. "Toucan Crossing"-----This is for cyclists and pedestrians. There is a green cyclist symbol as well as a green man symbol for crossing.

4. "Pegasus Crossing"---This signal button is mounted higher on the posts for the convenience of horse riders. The red/green symbols are horses.

5."Puffin Crossing"---This is the common name for "Pedestrian User-Friendly Intelligent". There is a curbside detector that determines when the "walk" symbol is no longer needed.

6. "Migratory Toad Crossing" ---This one is only on specific roads during February to May.

7. "Elderly People Crossing"---The sign shows a bent-over elderly man and woman using canes.

Two of my favorite signs are "Slow Race Horses" (sort of like our "Slow Children at Play") and "Cat and Duck Crossing".

Friday, November 23, 2007

Christmas Decorations at Quedam Trading Estates

Thursday afternoon Ron dropped Julie, the girls, and me off at the Quedam Trading Estates (shopping center) as he was on his way to work. We looked around in lots of shops and stayed there until dark, which is early here! We wanted to see the Christmas lights before we rode home on the bus. Here are some pictures of the shopping area.

Agusta Westland, the name on the next decoration, is the place where Ron is working.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day started out exciting for Lauren, because she pulled a tooth. The only problem is that we don't know if the Tooth Fairy comes to England, and if she does, will she leave English money or American money? We will know the answer in the morning!
Ron was working 2nd shift today, so he had to leave for work about 1:15 p.m. We had our Thanksgiving meal at noon.
Here are some photos of our England Thanksgiving. The first one shows some of the food----candied carrots, turkey,and mashed potatoes. Not in the picture are the delicious rolls that Julie and the girls made (Jo Fay's roll recipe!). You can tell that it is not quite the usual quantity or variety of our traditional Thanksgiving!
The next picture shows Lauren doing the job that she likes best---keeping the ice emptied into a bowl so there is enough for us to use. Notice the size of our one ice tray!

Next is Katelyn showing our "cranberry sauce" (cranberry and apple "conserve" made by our preacher, Trevor) and our "fruit salad" (fruit cocktail).

Notice our dining table---the coffee table in the living room. It is twice as big as our kitchen table! The girls had made some decorations, but they did not fit on the table!

You might can tell that everyone was looking at the computer screen-----no, it wasn't the Dallas Cowboy game!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Food from Home!

Here is a picture of the food that Julie brought to us from home. We sure had been missing these things-----it was like Christmas!

"Big Cook, Little Cook"

Lauren and Katelyn had a favorite T.V. show when they were here in England in July---"Big Cook, Little Cook", and they were anxious to watch it again this week. Today they finally got to watch it.
The show is about a big cook named Ben and a tiny cook named Small. They own a restaurant, and on every episode they prepare food from their cookbook for a nursery rhyme character or fairy tale character. Each time there is a missing ingredient, and Small has to ride off on his wooden cooking spoon to look for the missing ingredient, which is usually found on a farm. The show then tells how the food is grown, harvested, and processed.
Today's show told about the black and white spotted cow who jumped over the moon,
and the food Big Cook and Little Cook made was "Spotty Trifle" for the cow. It was made of sponge cake with jam between the layers. That was at the bottom of a trifle bowl, then fruit cocktail was poured over it, then jello (In England, jello is "jelly") on top of that, then a layer of sauce ( our pudding), then a final layer of whipped cream. On the very top were "chocolate buttons", which are chocolate candy pieces in the shape of little circles. The whipping cream was the missing ingredient today.

One interesting thing is that Little Cook's real name is Daniel Wright, my dad's name!
Here are photos of a Big Cook, Little Cook book, the girls lying on the couch watching the show, and photos of the show.

Here are our Big Cook and our Little Cook helping Julie make homemade rolls for tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wells Cathedral

Ron, Julie, the girls, and I went to the town of Wells on Sunday afternoon. Wells is an old town in southwest England. The name came from the 3 wells that are located within the town---one in the market place and two on the grounds of the Bishops' Palace and cathedral.
The cathedral in Wells is well-known. In fact, it is the site of one of the scenes in the new movie "Elizabeth".

There was a church on the site of the present cathedral in the 700's. A baptismal font is the oldest surviving part of that church. Foundations of a 900 a.d. cathedral still exist, but the oldest part of the cathedral that you can see today dates from the 1200's. The bishop responsible for construction in 1200 was one of the bishops at the signing of the Magna Carta.

There is a 1392 clock that still has its medieval face depicting the earth as the center of the universe. When the clock strikes the quarter hour, jousting knights move around the clock. You can't really see the knights in the following photo, but the information beside the clock says that the same knight has fallen off his horse for over 600 years!

For centuries Cathedral Swans have been trained to ring bells, using strings attached to the bells, to beg for food. There are currently two swans that ring for their lunch, but we did not see them. We only saw a "cathedral cat" named Louis!

When we were leaving Wells Cathedral, it was about 4:50 p.m., and it was dark already.