Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Adventures in England, Part 04

Friday, October 02, 2009
Getting Settled

We woke up to a very cold apartment, turned on a space heater to warm it up some, and slept until past 10:00. For breakfast, we had hot tea (brought from Richmond) and coffee and chunks of bread ripped off the loaf, spread with butter. We don’t even have a butter dish; the slab of butter sits on a paper place. We don’t have any jam or jelly or honey, either. We do have some spoons and forks and dinner knives, brought from Richmond. But breakfast was delicious because it was the first meal in our new home.

I’m happy to report that both mattresses are very comfortable, nice and firm.

Our major accomplishment today was to furnish our kitchen with various needed gadgets. We had to go all the way to Southport to do it, but we found there a home store called Dunelm, which is something like Bed, Bath and Beyond. So we bought things such as: a potato masher, garlic press, spatula, sharp knives (including a bread knife!), skillet, covered saucepan, set of 4 tumblers, set of 4 wine glasses, vegetable peeler, a slotted serving spoon and a solid one, canisters for: tea, coffee, sugar, flour, and rice; and a kitchen dustbin.

That, combined with the things Mrs. Williams gave us, plus the things I brought from Richmond, leaves only about 6 items (plus groceries) on our shopping list.

“Pack the bags about evenly as to weight,” Demetrios told the young lady at the check-out, “because we have no car and we must carry these all the way to the bus stop on the other side of Lord Street.” That’s a distance of about three quarters of a mile.

She laughed, glancing out the door at the rain and said, “I think yer crazy.”

There was no plausible way, just then, to dispute that.

We toted our heavy loads to the bus stop in a misty rain, the kind that umbrellas don’t help, because the drops float up or blow up under them anyway. Met a pair of jolly drunks at the stop, who talked merrily with us for a few minutes, we understanding little of what they said. People in this country do speak English, but with a foreign accent.

We came home with our treasures and were greeted by two fat, calico cats, running up to us, asking to be petted. Demetrios thinks that’s marvelous, for a cat to run up to greet you. He laughed and said, “So our new home comes complete with cats!”

“But not cat litter boxes!”

“Right. Someone else takes the responsibility, we get the fun.”

“A little like grandchildren…”

We left our purchases in their bags and went out to get a bite at Five Ways, a large restaurant very near us. They have a so-called Diamond Club for people older than 50; if you join it, you get discounts on meals. So we did and we did.

I had my first Yorkshire Pudding. Do you know what this famous thing is? Again, not pudding at all, as Americans think of it. It’s a large dollop of dough that appears to have been deep-fried. And it’s perfectly tasteless. So why has Yorkshire Pudding been a British favorite for centuries? My guess is, because it’s a perfect sponge for sopping up gravy and other sauces. 

[14 Oct. 09 - I've just read in the Wikipedia that Yorkshire Pudding is supposed to be cooked either underneath your roast, so it catches all the drippings, or in the same pan as the roast, after the meat has been removed to a serving platter.  Now that does sound tasty.  What we ate, however, was not.]

When Demetrios asked our waiter where he was from, the young man smiled and said, “Liverpool. Been in Ormskirk 15 years now, though. Feel like a born-and-bred.” Then he added, “Support Everton.” He nodded and disappeared.

Demetrios was laughing.

“What’s Everton?” I asked.

“A soccer team. For years and years, the best soccer team in the UK always used to be Liverpool or Everton.”

Telling which team you support is evidently an important piece of an introduction around here.

I teased the fellow later and told him the tip would’ve been a pound more had he not supported Everton.

Back home, we had a great time unpacking our purchases and putting them away. Of course that added to our trash situation… in the morning, in the morning we shall figure out the acceptable method of disposing of things.

Tonight we pulled out the notebook Mrs. Williams left us, containing instructions for almost every gadget in the house. Time to learn to use the heaters. Like the water heater, the radiators only store electricity during the night, when the rates are lower, and then radiate heat all day (and night) long. But you have to know how to set the knobs or dials or whatever.

In the process of reading up, we found several pages of printout Mrs. Williams had left us about various brands of combination washer-dryer machines. She even listed the technical specs and prices and pictures. Yes, some day we will replace the washer with a washer-dryer. But not soon.

Hint from Jane: Read the instructions!


123 said...

My family supports Liverpool. My Granddad grew up with a bunch of the old bigwigs in the LFC glory days. he used to bring cases of Guinness Export to the 'boot room' in exchange for allowing the team he owned to use Anfield facilities. My Granddad was also on the Council, which was never a bad thing to have.

My aunts Sandra and Lynn came from an Everton supporting families.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Well, now I have an essential bit of info about you and your family. Thanks for sharing it!

I have yet to decide whom to support.

elizabeth said...

I do love reading about England; thanks for this post!

margaret said...

Ahhhhhh, I have many fond memories of trying to describe pudding to Americans. First relating all the various things we call pudding and then explaining that any sweet eaten at the end of a meal be it gateau, apple pie or trifle is also pudding :) I'm sure they thought I was making it all up. And Yorkshire pud is yummy, even the vegetarian version, you must have just had some bad luck - it had probably been frozen for three years or something. It's one of those things like Scottish 'stovies' (sliced potato layered with beef dripping and onions cooked very slowly) that was devised in poverty and is now comfort food. Mazl tov on getting kitchenware and on the calico moggies - a home needs a cat more than a butter dish, imo :)

Julia and David said...

Hi Anastasia

We are really enjoying reading your tales of the purchase of your flat.

I make Yorkshire Pudding by mixing flour, an agg and 50% milk/50% water, then baking it in the oven in really hot fat, preferably from the meat being roasted at the same time. It should turn out light and fluffy if all goes well. The boys like it very much but David doesn't find it too exciting and agrees with the previous comment that its only use is to soak up the gravy.
James is a big Liverpool supporter by the way.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Julia and David, welcome to my blog! Glad you enjoy the accounts of our trip. Stay tuned, as your family appears a bit later on.

We had such a wonderful time with you. Thank you! We're greatly looking forward to seeing more of all of you. And Nick.

Thank you for the Yorkshire Pudding recipe. Maybe some day I'll try making it myself. Or at least perhaps I'll get to experience how it really should taste.

It's so good we're all back in touch!

So James supports Liverpool. How about you? How about David? Nicky?