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!