Saturday, October 17, 2009

Adventures in England, Part 07

Monday, October 05, 2009

Today we received our very first piece of Royal Mail. (Doesn’t that sound grand?) It was a tax bill from the local council office.

That constituted the proof of residency the bank needs to set up a checking account for us. (Our existing account is a savings account only.)  So we went to Southport to do that. It took us a full hour at the bank to accomplish this. And it still isn’t completely finished; we won’t even know our new account number until the final paperwork is sent to us in Richmond. It’s all because we’re still not British residents, since we won’t be living here at least 6 months of the year. (Or will we?)

The terrorists have already won, in so many ways.

While we were awaiting various faxes, approvals, and investigations, the banker, Vicky, told us a hilarious story about how her 3-year-old nephew discovered how to flood the bathroom, using toilet paper rolls and turning on all the taps. Now he thinks it’s a wonderful game, and has repeated it in nursery school. Her boyfriend’s comment was, “What a genius! I didn’t learn that until I was six!”

The only other thing we managed to do was buy some crockery. We wanted something really pretty, but we could only find one store that had pretty things, and each place setting there cost about $100. There doesn’t seem to be anything between cheap and very expensive. So we skipped that and for now just bought four place settings of the cheapest stuff we could find. At least, this way, we have some sort of china for the tea we’re having tomorrow. And we’ll use it the next several days, too, as we’re running out of paper plates.

Of course, we still don’t have a tablecloth or a butter dish. We haven’t yet found a tablecloth that fits our table, although we looked in three stores. We shall try, tomorrow morning, to remedy at least the butter dish problem.

OH – today we got to see the rising bollards in action. A car drove up to Southport’s Town Hall while we were sitting on a bench outside it; the driver waved a card in front of a device, and the bollards sank into the ground. When he had passed through, the bollards rose again. “Pedestrians beware rising bollards.”

And another news flash: The keys with the orange labels unlock the BACK door into the communal hallway. Different lock from the front door. Still don’t know what the pull-cord in the bathroom does.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009
In Which We Attempt a High Tea

Demetrios has discovered another item in the house we cannot identify. It’s a large, red button on the wall beside the bed in the smaller bedroom. There’s one identical to it beside the front door, too. We’re assuming these are emergency call devices, given that a very old lady (Mrs. Williams’ mother) lived here before us. However, we aren’t going to push that button to find out.

We met some of our neighbors today in the common hallway. Young woman’s name is Carrie or Keri, and the woman with her, Pat, was “my partner Graham’s mother.” No time to chat; their arms were full of groceries and we were getting ready for tea. I’m hoping Graham is a man.

And how did today’s tea with Jacqui go? Well…

We never did find a butter dish or a tablecloth, so we ate on the bare table and put the butter on a dessert plate. We had an extra dessert plate only because Ray didn’t come, Jacqui’s husband.

Another glitch was that somehow we came home yesterday without the saucers we had intended to buy. In the store, they were the first items we set aside, but apparently we never even got them as far as the checkout counter, because they do not appear on our receipt.

Hints from Jane:

Make tea much stronger than Americans usually do when you plan to serve it English style, with milk and sugar. Otherwise, although it looks fine in the pot, when poured into a teacup containing milk, it will turn a nauseating color of greenish gray.

Never put the crumpets in the oven to warm until after your guests arrive. This is because you want to time the warming so as to serve them piping hot, but not overcooked and crunchy.

If you send your husband to the supermarket, make your shopping list very explicit. Do not simply write “bread” but instead, write what sort of bread. That way you don’t end up trying to make tea sandwiches from baguettes.

Sharp kitchen knives are best washed individually, rather than put in the sink or dishpan with everything else.

Sharp knives are best stored separately from other implements, too.

Always test an unfamiliar oven a time or two before using it to bake for company.

Notes to Self:

Need one of those triangular thingies on a handle. Cake/pie server.

Also need one of those serving plates with two or preferably three tiers.  But be sure you have a place big enough to put it before buying one!

It’s easy to find a 4’ by 6’ oval tablecloth in the States.

Buy a set of sharp knives for your kitchen in Richmond! You seem to have forgotten what one is.
The main thing is, we enjoyed Jacqui’s company very much, and hope she had a good time, too. We got to know one another better, and Demetrios was especially delighted that she had known some of the people he used to work with, in particular, Mr. Burgess, a doctor who actually hired Demetrios for his first job. Demetrios has looked up to him as a great physician, mentor, and father figure all these many years.

Jacqui’s husband, we learned without asking, supports Manchester United (soccer team). So does her son. They’re rebels, she added, nonconformists here, where most people apparently are for Liverpool.

We had tea and crumpets, cucumber sandwiches, tomato ham sandwiches, egg salad with watercress sandwiches, crunchy scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, an apple pie, and some of what the Azerbijani man at the outdoor market called baklava, but the Greeks call it finikia, that cylindrical shaped sweet that looks like it's coated with shredded wheat.

In spite of the blunders, we passed a perfectly delightful afternoon with Jacqui, and once the washing up was done, an equally delightful evening, just the two of us, still unable to comprehend our great good fortune/blessing in having a little home here. And the even greater wonder of getting to share it with each other.


elizabeth said...


I had forgottn that Graham is such a British name! A guy's name for sure; Canada is really a mix of lots of cultures, esp. English and Graham is a very common name here.

I dream of having a three tiered tea plate someday for high tea!

Jacqui said...

The company and afternoon tea was just perfect. I had the most memorable afternoon. I hope to return the compliment when both of you next visit.........and you really must meet Ray (he is looking forward to it)

I will look out for a three tiered tea plate.

Jacqui x

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Jacqui, So sweet of you, but better not. May not fit in my cupboards!

We enjoyed every moment with you, and look forward to meeting Ray.