A Love Letter to America

Here’s a truth: my three months repatriating back in Britain-land has been tough. I’ve not really connected with my home country and I couldn’t really put my finger on why that was. And then it clicked – I hadn’t really taken my own advice as Desperate English Housewife in Washington and I hadn’t really opened my eyes and mind and appreciated it. More fool me.

For the first couple of months I felt trapped, suffocated and very out of place, like I don’t really belong and also like I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to belong. That’s the repatriation / reverse culture shock way for some, apparently. I didn’t even feel I had much to blog about, because I wasn’t doing anything special or unusual. It just felt mundane, and I couldn’t summon the energy or enthusiasm to write anything.

But that’s no way to live! So I made a conscious decision to get involved in my community in Cheltenham, The Cotswolds, England, and have gone about making some changes to ensure I can inject some life into my life!

Today I am having a Very British Day. I went for a walk in the rain (I had my umbrella in my bag, naturally, as all prepared Brits do) and had a lovely cup of tea out of a teapot whilst reading The Times. Totes British!

So British!

So British!

And later today I’m chatting on BBC Radio Gloucestershire about British things like words of the year chosen by the Oxford English Dictionary and the now annual new John Lewis advert (yes, I cried!).

So, with all this in mind, I have written this breaking up/love letter to America…

Dear, darling America-land

America, I love you very, very much. It’s a love I didn’t know was possible. But I’ve decided that, since it’s been three months that we’ve been separated, and whilst you will have a large, warm, slightly drunken place in my heart forever, and I can’t stop thinking about my amazing life and travels in Columbia, Maryland, Nashville, Memphis, California, NYC, Galtinburg, the Smokies, Savannah, Charleston and New Orleans, I have to focus on rekindling my love for your cousin over the pond, Britain.

Britain keeps trying to pull me in and whilst I have resisted thus far, I cannot get on with my life if I keep hankering back to my Americana days of fun and frivolity. I need to make things happen here and I intend to use all that I learned whilst I was with you about life, spirit and joy. You gave me that and I shall be forever grateful.

So, let’s keep in touch (like EVERY DAY!) and I will be visiting really/real soon. We can make sure that special thing we had happens again when we’re together. It’s a thing like no other. And look after everyone I love there, and make sure they still call me in an inebriated fashion at 4am my time because it does make me smile.

You captured my heart and my mind, but I have to move on.

America, it’s not you, it’s me.

Yours with love forever,


PS. Don’t even think about electing that Trump guy! Honestly, I would be very disappointed with you! 😉

Size isn’t everything….

My little British house

When I first went into my little British house last week I was shocked by how small it was. Small and narrow. After a few days it just felt totally normal. And actually rather nice. It was the one bit of coming back to the UK that I was not really looking forward to and now it makes me smile.

But, of course, everything is pretty good in our little house. Our small loo, our small sitting room, our small bedrooms. We managed before and we’ll manage again. And it made me realise that, whilst everything is much bigger in the USA, size really isn’t everything (and many previous boyfriends had told me that in the past…).

Typical British house!

Typical British house!

Admittedly we’re on suitcase rations at the moment, since our shipping has yet to arrive, and I’m sure when I encounter frustrating storage issues I’ll be thinking entirely differently, but right now I’m at peace with my little British house.

Our American house was almost too big. We had to yell to each other to communicate in the house, I could never close a door downstairs and have some space to myself, and it was a frigging nightmare to clean (so I basically didn’t – I know, dirty British housewife!!).

With smaller British roads, I’m re-learning driving etiquette and the courtesy of ‘giving way’. How cute – everyone gives that ‘thanks’ wave!

Cheering enthusiastically

That heading should read NOT cheering enthusiastically. It’s become very apparent that the wooping and cheering between Brits and Americans extends to many things. Like Americans do it for everything and Brits do it for bugger all.

Like at Zumba class: ‘How are you all?’ says the British instructor to the British Zumba class. No one replies or they stare at their feet and hands or they just mumble and hope she doesn’t ask them directly. The awkwardness of it all!

However, if this question was asked by an American instructor to an American Zumba group, it would actually be kind of shouted with an expectation of a response, like this: “Woooooooo! How y’all doing’?!? Yeah!’ And then the enthusiastic group of folks would woop and cheer back and perhaps hug or high five one another in a frenzy of anticipation.

Americans love to cheer!

Americans love to cheer!

I like the frenzy. I almost shouted “Good thanks, woohoo!’ at Zumba last night, but I would just have looked like a knob, and even though I really wanted to do it in order to show them it can done, I just couldn’t do it in the end. Shame on me!

Next time, chaps!

It’s all coming back to me now….

British Bits and Bobs

Look, I promise not to bleat on about the British weather, but it’s been messing with my head.

Saturday day time: glorious! I mean totes amazeballs, folks. Hooray, England looks beautiful, says young Harry. A beer and cider festival in the day was a very British affair in my parents’ very British village (straight out of a Joanna Trollope book!) but that sunshine made it special.

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Saturday night time: heading out for a bit of open air cinema in Cheltenham to support my friend’s market and blow me down, if the heavens didn’t open as soon as we set up to watch the movie (or ‘film’ as my chum kept reminding me it was called on these shores 😉 ).

And Sunday and today? More rain.

‘Is it autumn now in England?’ asks Harry.

‘It feels like bloody winter,’ says I.

That brolly is firmly at my side every step of the way!

British summer's evening!

British summer’s evening!

Listening to the radio

This is a refreshing and happy experience for me! Songs that probably were rarely, if ever, played on the US radio stations I listened to are literally like music to my ears: The Happy Mondays, New Order, and even Take That (no shame!). Although on Radio 2 everyone is always complaining about the state of affairs in the UK. Must stop listening to Jeremy Vine’s show – bunch of grumps who are too miserable for me! I’m Mrs Positive, innit!

Everything closes early

What’s a working man or woman to do after work? Not go and get a haircut or drop their suit off for dry cleaning or other jobs, that’s for sure – cos everything bloody closes at 5pm!


This I cannot get used to. The joy of late night everything in the USA compared to the day stopping completely here at 5pm. Someone who I might be married to grumbled that it was ‘like living in the 1970s’. Except I do not have flowers in my hair, which I would have had, had I been this age circa 1970-74 🙂 Just sayin’ in a totally non-relevant way.


Realising what Britishness means

The return

Well, August is nearly upon me and that means off we trot over the Atlantic, back to reality. The return is bittersweet. I will miss so much about living in the USA, but the thought of making a new and challenging life in the UK is dawning on me with quickening realisation, albeit in the same town (it’s hard to see things with new, fresh, adventurous eyes when you return to the same place, that’s just something for me I’ll have to deal with).

I am plagued by lists and boxes and packing tape, but right now it’s a cure for taking my mind off the reality of repatriation and the sadness and the wonder of change that keep me awake at night.


Very British problems indeed

I was struck today by how different our British mentality really is from the American one, via this series of exchanges with my very British sister-in-law back in the UK.

This is how it ran:

‘Claire, I need some advice….I was going for the ombre hair look but instead of blonde the hairdresser dyed me ginger from the ears down! Its bleached, will it work if I put a ‘home dye’ light brown on?’

I replied thus:

‘No, don’t touch it. You need to go back to the hairdresser and get her to correct it. Honestly, do that as its her mistake. Putting home stuff on will kill it!’

She then responded:

‘I cant go back, it would be too awkward. It was a mobile hair dresser and obviously I had to say I loved it at the time – it’s the British way, lol!  Maybe I’ll ring another hairdresser and see what they say, lol.’

To which I replied:

‘That is totally British! You paid money and it went wrong! I’ll have to blog about that! Let me know how it goes!’

So blog about it I have. In the USA the mentality would generally be to go back and get it sorted. In the UK we Brits generally bury our [ginger] heads in the sand. ‘Oh, I couldn’t possibly….’!

It’s this all the way:


God bless us Brits, we just can’t do it! To be fair, I would be a little anxious about going back and asking for it to be rectified, but after spending time in the States, I now realise it’s not obnoxious and it’s worth the slight amount of awkwardness between you to get it sorted. By Gawd, it’s yer hair! Do it gal!

I’ll keep you posted on what happens to my Very British Sister-in-Law’s hair!

52 days to until we go back!