Aspiring Kennedy: diary of a Texan living in the UK

Iced tea

Growing up in Texas, we have a certain opinion of how to make the perfect cup of tea: unsweetened over ice in a large tumbler with a lemon wedge (porch swing optional). Iced tea is more than just a drink back home. It’s a part of life. Upon arrival to England, I was a bit dismayed to see that in this land of great tea culture, iced tea isn’t acknowledged. I, eventually, chalked it up to a loss but found myself enthused at the Oxford-Cambridge boat race last year when I fell into a crowd of people meandering along the Thames drinking giant cups of iced tea. Glory be! The South has risen! Iced tea has come to England! However, upon my first drink, I realized my mistake.  I didn’t know what it was. Haven’t you ever had Pimms? My friend laughed. While iced tea probably won’t make it to England summertime anytime soon, take heart, there is Pimms! Where there is the sun in England, there will be Pimms by the gallon. Whether you are at Wimbledon, at a garden party, or a wedding cocktail reception – England toasts to summer with this classic drink. Whenever it’s summer in Britain, it’s always Pimms O’Clock!

Olympics

It’s impossible to ignore that the 2012 Olympics are approaching! The weather is warming up, stores in London are stocked with trinkets, restaurants are starting to advertise Olympic – themed food like Onion Rings, and long-forgotten friends appear at a record-breaking frequency in hopes of qualifying to earn a spot in your guest room. The chance to watch some of these events in person offers me the opportunity of a lifetime. And, hopefully, some consolation as the incredible talent of these young athletes reminds me that I have completely passed my physical peak.

Summer barbecues

American ExPAT Public Service Announcement, Please Read: Are you headed to a friends house for this summer? To avoid confusion (and dare I say, is a disappointment), here are something you might want to know before setting out for a day of sticky BBQ in the sunshine: there isn’t any barbecue. In British-English refers to the grill used rather than the type of food. Instead of sticky ribs & hotlinks, envision grilled burgers. In fact, just switch out the term completely for the American term out. Beyond that small-but-totally-befuddling factor, you are in for a treat. While you won’t find any brisket or hot links, you are going to discover a new realm of delicacies like meat-flavored crisps & Eton mess.

English country walks

To fully experience the splendor of an English summer, you need to get out to the country. Until you’ve tromped through a field with fluffy sheep, watched the clouds suspend like clumps of wool over the hills, and felt like Elizabeth Bennet wandering to Netherfield, you haven’t lived. Pack a lunch for the day out (or plan your route in the direction of a village pub) and head out the country for a rustic adventure. (Americans: This is an example of an appropriate time to wear your rain boots/wellies.) Not only will you be indulging yourself in one of Britain’s favorite pastimes, but you’ll experience England at its best.

Sunshine

With all the talent sparking within this tiny country, it’s a privilege to live in such a place. However, there’s one problem; it’s got the worst weather in the world. After working for about eight months of gray skies & rain, the lack of sun almost starts to feel personal. It’s very one-sided relationship, too. Even though good weather consistently ignores this corner of the earth, Britain couldn’t love the sun more. When it sporadically appears, the day’s plans go out the window. Upon the sun’s arrival, the only thing anyone seems to care about is getting somewhere, immediately, that maximizes exposure to the golden skies. While most people find themselves launching on patios or hauling out the grill, others satisfy the craving for Vitamin D a little different. And for these people, who appear dotted along grassy fields & public spaces missing key articles of clothing, we wish you the catnap in the sun you crave, some aloe vera for the burn.

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