And it’s goodbye from me…..

Watcha folks!

It’s been 11 months since we returned to the UK. You can call me a math/maths genius if you like, but I figure that’s nearly a whole year. And repatriation is complete (apart from calling a ‘take-away’ a ‘take-out’ today, but these things will crop up every now and then….. 😉 ).

It’s been a while since my last post, and stuff sure has happened, like British politics went into meltdown, I went back to America-land for a week, Andy Murray won the tennis, I got annoyed about the small UK parking spaces, we encountered half term M5 traffic to Cornwall, the England football team confirmed they were shite, we watched outdoor Shakespeare covered in blankets, and it rained quite a bit.

So, yes, I took a trip back to America-land. I wanted to do it before that looney-toon Trump got his hands on it and I had to give a stool/hair/saliva sample before I entered the country to prove I was not a terrorist or related to one or about to give birth to one or whatever.

Anyway, the whole week was hot, fun and American. That’s how I’ll remember a lot of my experience in the USofA. The travel, the people, the endless cultural experiences, turning right on red, and tipping extortionately 😉 . America captured my heart and there is so much of it yet unseen; so many roadtrips and experiences for us still to have in the States – I’m not done with you get, Uncle Sam! Mark my words!

And back in the UK, life moves on with pace and Britishness. I remember thinking when I left America I wouldn’t be able to capture the essence of all that I had done and achieved out there. But, I was wrong. America taught me many things, and one of those was to not be afraid, to chase that dream, to make it happen, to open your eyes and your heart to new experiences, and to bloody well get on with it. Nuff said.

And are there things that still baffle me about being back in England?

Of course. Things like this…..

  • The M5. Why does everyone go on it at the same time? Annoying.
  • Pasties. Cornwall or Devon?
  • Sunday closing for shops. 4pm. Is that still church rules?
  • England football team. Why?
  • British politics. WTF?
  • Trains to London from the West Country take forever. Rubbish.

And there are things I love about the UK like this…..

  • The NHS
  • British schooling
  • Eavesdropping in Waitrose
  • Wimbledon (the only reason I will ever sit inside on a sunny day)
  • British humour
  • Tea. Tea. Tea

And there are things I miss from the USA like this……

  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Thanksgiving dinner/piss up
  • Eating out with your kids in the evening and not being frowned at
  • The pools
  • The big roads
  • Turning right on red
  • The heat
  • People commenting on how much they love my accent
  • My Americana buddies!

But, the repatriation is complete. When there is no more culture shock, no more truly comparing and contrasting the cultural differences, then you know you’re back in it. And really that’s all this UK Desperate Housewife from the USA to the UK has to say about that!

It’s been a joy to share my journey there and back again. Thanks for reading.

Peace out peeps. peace



When does the ‘homesickness’ end….?

So, it’s been a while dear reader……

You might not care one way or the other that my reparation from America to England musings ceased to exist for a few months. The reason behind my lack of musings is kind of a good thing (I’ve been really busy with work) and kind of a bad thing (normality has set in).

A recent returned expat who we spent a lot of time with in the States asked me this week ‘when does the homesickness end?’. And, to be honest, I don’t think it ever does. (Note the use of ‘home’….. interesting.)

The thing is, you can immerse yourself in it all back here, (I am doing just that), and some kind of normal gradually takes over, but every day a wave of memory sweeps over me, and I think ‘Gawd, it was good…..’ It was effing good.

But, what’s been a-diddling in the land of Eng that’s worth noting?

It’s been three months folks since the cold February blog and apparently there’s a heat wave coming (about flippin’ time!), folks.

Right, in no particular order…….

  • May Bank Holiday was wet. Of course it was. What was I expecting?! It was made slightly more annoying by Facebook’s constant reminders that I was in the Bahamas with my lush chum Georgina this time last year.
  • We had the races in Cheltenham. Again. I don’t really do the races in Cheltenham. To be fair, this goes against my mantra of not knocking anything until you’ve tried it, but I’ve seen it, and it has a) crowds; b) drunk people in the crowds; and c) drunk people in crowds betting on horses. The only reason I would go is to buy HihoSilver jewellery, cos its lush.
  • I interviewed Jordan/Katie Price. She’s one of the most famous British Page 3 girls (ie, she has big knockers/tits). She was actually really nice, feisty and a good sport. And her tits were a bit disappointing, to be honest. (She had them reduced, I was later told.)

That’s Katie/Jordan on the left 🙂

  • This week is Chelteham Jazz Festival when all the good people who adore Radio 2 come and listen to doo-wop and Jamie Cullum. It was pretty coolio. I’d never done the festival before, and I was impressed. Sign me up for next year. (PS If anyone knows why this bullet point is over there on the right, let me know – it’s doing me head in!!)
  • I’ve been playing a lot of netball. Don’t make me explain that again, America 😉
  • I saw the Dixie Chicks in Birmingham. I wore a cowboy hat cos it’s supposed to be like country music, innit (though give me Johnny Cash any day). No one else wore a cowboy hat. It was the first time that I really noticed the difference between Americans and the British. Americans aren’t afraid to express themselves. In America, I would have been in the majority dressed like that and we’d have been rocking it. In England, I just looked like a bit of a dick in fancy dress. I also noticed, not for the first time, that British people are really uncomfortable wooping. And even if they do woop, they apologise for it.
  • Victoria Wood, my very queen of British comedy died. I used to use her Bikini Danfruff monologue as my audition speech for drama school. Amazing, she was.
  • The Queen turned 90. I was very disappointed. Wot no party, queenie? #shameonyoubuckinghampalace
  • Game of Thrones is shown here on a Monday night, unlike the USA’s Sunday night featurette. Lucky buggers. I now have to avoid all my American friend’s posts on Facebook for a whole like 16 hours or something ike that. Anyway, do not do SPOILERS, chums – it’s rude!
  • The Rolling Stones exhibition in London is amazeballs. It was like a litlte piece of heaven for me. I love these British boys. Slightly even more obsessed now, and worried that they’ll die before I get to see them live.


    Rock chick at heart!

  • I’m doing a lot of BBC chat here in Gloucestershire. Recently we talked about what vegetables you keep in your fridge. Fascinating stuff!
  • People I meet in the UK think Donald Trump is a total looney toon. Of course they do! We Brits don’t tolerate his shenanigans.
  • We have local elections here soon. People are very concerned about potholes in the roads, apparently. Serious stuff.
  • I am going to play Mrs Robinson in The Graduate in August. I hope to do it in an American accent. Although I do tend to sound a bit like a drunk southern belle at times, so my American chumbelees told me….
  • My American friends often call me early morning UK time. That’s like 2am their time. Love them.
  • My friend Simon Sheridan, who is like a top banana film writer and director, made a film called Respectable: The Mary Millington Story and I went to the London premiere in Soho, which was like the most exciting thing I’ve done since I’ve been back. And the film is incredible. And it’s available on Netflix in the UK and the USA, so if you want to learn about the British national treasure and the 70s porn industry, you know what to watch. I highly recommend it.


    Simon and me with David Sullivan, who is the West Ham dude and top bloke 🙂

  • Harry loves pasties. Yes, this great British food from the county of Cornwall (or Devon, depending on who you ask). It’s a fave!
  • I was in the Boots magazine, and got advice about how not to be tired at weekends. Don’t go out so much, I suspect my mother would say!

    What a dreadful skirt!

    That’s all folks! I won’t leave it as long next time, promise! x




Who are the great Great British public?

Well, certainly not the grumpy bloke at Cheltenham railway station who should so not be in customer service, that’s for sure. Or the old dude who thought that it was okay to tell me that anyone young/not white/has tattoos/ etc is not fit to be part of the British community, and that all Americans are fat and stupid, whilst in the Waitrose coffee line…..argh!

But, reassuringly, this week I’ve found some of the great Great British peeps who don’t use passive aggressiveness or rudeness as a communications tool. Yes, that really is a Very British Thing. 😉



The top banana peeps

I met a taxi driver in London who was so funny and friendly, I wanted to do another 40 minute trip in rush hour London traffic. Yes, really.

I met a bunch of women who didn’t care about material things and were bored to tears by Black Friday nonsense. Hallelujah to that!

I met a gentleman who was a poet, leukemia sufferer and all-round go-getter of life. He struck up conversation with me, which, let’s face it, Brits, is v v v unusual! It rather took me pleasantly by surprise 🙂

I met working women who are strong and fierce and work hard and want to do different things with their lives. They rock.

I met people who laughed and smiled and joked in the great British way I remember. We need more of that!

And I work with truly inspiring British people who love all things British and are as supportive and innovative as it gets. That’s a huge bonus 🙂

Talking repat language

I also met a British expat who had lived in the States for 8 years and was now back in the Cotswolds and was having a hard time adjusting to the British way of life again.

She spoke a language I understood. We spoke of the ‘grieving process’ of repatriating, the difficulty with friends whose lives have just gone on, the British reserve, the way kids are NOT accepted in social situations / restaurants, and how the mindset and lifestyle is totally different when you’re living in the USA.


Sigh, I can’t waffle on about this for too much longer, but it’s true, and there it is. The repatriation is still tough to get to grips with and it’s hard to always be positive, but I refuse to miss Uncle Sam and my life there too much!

Very British Christmas

Some friends in the States have asked me to share very British Christmas things.

So, here you go……


To be clear – none of the above is happening now! It’s basically just raining now. Grey skies and all that! But, British people are looking forward to this, and yes, it does look charming and idyllic, but if you followed my Desperate English Housewife in Washington blog you’ll know that snow totally messes with my head, so I’ll stick with the incessant rain for now!

Cheerio !


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! 😉

British banter in a very British office

So, four days back and I’m in my very British PR office, drinking very British tea and listening to very British conversations.

And they sound like this:

‘Oooh, Peter Andre’s been confirmed for the Strictly line up. I’m not sure I can watch it now….I really disliked him in the jungle programme.’

‘I hate going in lifts because you never know if you should talk to the people in them and I don’t want them to talk to me.’

‘Cilla’s funeral is happening now. Cliff sang at it. Isn’t he under investigation?’

‘It’s raining again. I didn’t bring my brolly.’

‘Did you watch the Great British Bake Off?’

Back on British telly soon!

Back on British telly soon!

I’ve also been observing how British people call each other by their surnames (that’s LAST names to you Americans 😉 ).

Like this:

‘Barrett’s getting married next month.’

‘Sweetman’s off sick.’

I don’t recall hearing this surname calling much at all in the USofA.

This is my very British PR office, which reminds me that I am British working in Britain.

british clocks journey office

Other noteworthy thingymabobs about being back in the UK.

  • Everyone drinks tea!
  • It’s been raining a lot. 😦
  • I had to buy some legging things to wear to work because I have dresses and it is too effing cold to wear them on their own. I mean, I am resorting to LEGGINGS, (which, by the way, if not bought and used properly as workout leggings, are on par with tights as being the most hideous items ever to wear and should be banned from all good retailers.) It really is much colder than I remember in England and it’s AUGUST FFS!
  • I keep spotting many people that used to be present in my life or pass me by in my daily routines. Like the young man who goes down the road at 8am in his electric wheelchair, and the over-enthusiastic lady with the bleached blonde beehive who is still at the till in Next, and the grumpy chap who works in the pharmacy, and the girls netball teams whom I play against, and my neighbours who are still doing everything they ever did.

It’s been interesting to see them all just getting on with their lives and it feels like three years never happened. They’re just all doing the same thing, though I am sure other things have changed. But when I see them I feel like I’m in a timewarp; like I never had my time in the USA and it was all a dream. A very wonderful dream.

Seeing England With Different Eyes….

What’s it going to feel like…?

Many of us Brits out here venture back for a visit after a time, and things do look and feel different, and sometimes it’s like you’ve never been away – you just slot back in and life is normal for 10 days/2 weeks, and then you get back to the USA and mull it all over.

I asked my friend, Sarah, who is a British expat in Columbia, MD, and who has been here for almost a year now, what she made of her pre-Christmas visit back to the South West of England.

This is Sarah’s tale of Seeing England With Different Eyes….

It was with mixed feelings that I returned home to the UK a couple of months ago for a brief visit, after living for nine months in the US. I was returning on my own, primarily to see my mum, who is reluctant to fly now she is older. Life in Maryland had taken on a rhythm of its own and settled into ‘normaI’. On my return home, I knew that I wouldn’t have my children and husband around me as a buffer to any emotions I might feel. Yet, I was excited to be going back to all that was familiar. But how strange would it feel? The answer: despite noticing differences and similarities, it felt overwhelmingly normal!

Sarah (far right) and I hang out with chums in the USA

Sarah (far right) and I hang out with chums in the USA

Catching up with friends and family was amazing. The gift of technology and social media has made the world a much smaller place and we know what is going on in each others’ lives, so whilst we were sitting and chatting, it was like I had never been away. It was a relief to talk with people face to face that you have a history with, not explain word choices, mannerisms or be in fear of making some politically incorrect faux pas!

My visits into the school where I used to work made me appreciate how wonderful the British education system is. Working in US schools has been a real eye opener for me. It was lovely seeing the whole school out to play at one time, teachers having time to bond together in the staffroom at break and lunchtime, the creativity of the curriculum, being utilised in the classroom as soon as you walked through the door. However, I caught elements of stress in the air – new initiatives for marking and assessment and a new curriculum. I was relieved to have temporarily left that behind.

Back in the UK

Back in the UK

There were many things that I had forgotten that were different. Trying to buy some Costa coffees at a service station on my way back home from the airport, much to my friend’s amusement, I was temporarily flummoxed about to use my debit card in the machine. There was no place to swipe it! Whilst shopping, I felt awkward walking around town with a take away coffee, when in the US it is so natural to see people with a coffee cup in their hand, EVERYWHERE!

There were many things I realise I love about being in the UK. Driving low to the ground, with a manual gear box – bliss! Shopping along a beautiful high street, looking at British fashion, going to my favourite bars and restaurants, instinctively knowing my way around, being able to jump onto a bus! I was lucky enough to be home for Remembrance Sunday and at my local church service I felt so proud to be British and extremely patriotic, to the point that I was brought to tears. The display of poppies at The Tower of London was amazing and everyone was talking about it. That’s the kind of thing, as a nation, we do so well.

What didn’t I enjoy? I hated having to take a waterproof or umbrella everywhere with me and the general sogginess of the countryside, which you don’t really get for a prolonged period in Maryland. (It rained a lot when I was home!)

Oh soggy England!

Oh soggy England!

Another emotion that I wasn’t expecting to feel was that of one of detachment from my house that we are renting out in the UK. We had spent many years doing it up and I’d loved living there. We are lucky enough to have wonderful neighbours back there, who welcomed me with such excitement on my return , that it made me realise that it’s the people who count, not the bricks and mortar. I’m now excited about what we can next do to our house on our return, with our supportive neighbours around us.

When the time arrived to return to Maryland, I felt incredibly sad to leave mum on her own, but knew home was where my immediate family and dog were and that was at present in the US. What I had learned from my trip, was that it is possible to feel ‘normal’ in two different places that you can call home, no matter how different those places are and have wonderful friends and family in both.

Thanks Sarah! I do look forward to my visit back 🙂

Back to Blighty…..

This time in two weeks, I’ll be at my parents’ house, and, since it will be 5pm in the UK, I suspect we’ll be having a bit of my mother’s homemade banana cake and a cup of tea. Or they’ll be having a G&T no doubt …. 😉

Cup of tea

Cup of tea British-stylie

Yep, I’m heading on back to Blightly for a flying 10 day visit mid-January.

The reason?

Well, there are several……I haven’t been back since August 2013, January is a really pants month here in Maryland because there are generally 12 snow days out of 20 so Harry won’t be missing any school, my mum really wants us to pop over, it will be cool to see my friends and family, I have a job interview, I want to play netball at least twice, and…..I’m curious to see what it will feel like and look like. and I really want to get Harry engaged in the English way of life a little bit more so that the changes don’t come as a great big shock to him.

Just this morning I said to him ‘Have you ever had British fish and chips?’ and he looked at me and wrinkled his freckly nose and said, ‘What?’ So I explained the phenomenon that is British fish and chips, and now I really hope that they come in some form of newspaper from wherever we get them from, because that was the bit that appealed most to him….!

Proper job!

Proper job!

I also told him that I had had a dream that I was back in the UK and that it was really raining hard and I was driving on the wrong side of the road and there were lots of cars coming towards me. Let’s face it, both those things are possibly going to happen at some point…. ;). I’m sure the former is a certainty.

My top questions upon my return are these:

1. Will England look beautiful and appealing? When I went back in August it did look gorgeous, but that’s the summer, so I’m not sure if it will feel a bit gloomy in January.

England looked gorgeous in August

England looked gorgeous in August

2. Will I just fit back in? What are my friends doing and have they changed? I’ve had such a crazy two and half years in the States, I wonder very much if it will feel just like I’ve never been away.

3. What new things will I spot in my hometown? Are there new restaurants and shops and stuff, and how will it feel?

How will it have changed?

How will it have changed?

4. Will I feel like Gulliver in Lilliput when I go to my house? Our UK house is much smaller than our USA one. Much. I often say, though, how much I miss our house in the UK because a) it was easier to clean and b) we didn’t have to YELL to each other from room to room – we could just talk. How pleasant. Here’s an anecdote from when I was six about how things appear to look bigger or smaller depending on what you’re used to. I went to Canada to stay with my aunt and uncle and they had a big Red Setter called Sunny. I was with Sunny for two weeks, and when I returned home my spaniel-lab mutts Bess and Babs looked really dinky and small because I was used to the great bigness of Sunny. Equally, when I visited Liverpool and spent some time with my great aunt’s terrier Mitzi, when I returned home Bess and Babs felt like giants. You work it out.

Our little house in Cheltenham

Our little house in Cheltenham

5. Will I feel excited at the prospect of having to come back to live in the UK, or will I feel desperately apprehensive?

Hmmmm. I’m slightly anxious, in all honesty.

Well, I’ll be charting it all here for you, folks, as part of my repatriation.

See you on the other side!