An Email from the Queen

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Note: I did not write this, I received it in an email and found it too funny not to share. I would like to give credit where credit is due though, so if you know where this is originally from please let me know.


To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your immediate failure to financially manage yourselves and also in recent years your tendency to elect incompetent Presidents of the USA and therefore not able to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated sometime next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,' 'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise.' Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ''like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u'' and the elimination of '-ize.'
3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.
5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. New Zealand beer is also acceptable, as New Zealand is pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

11. You will cease playing American football. There are only two kinds of proper football; one you call soccer, and rugby (dominated by the New Zealanders). Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the Australians (World dominators) first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

Erin x

Our 1st Wedding Anniversary Celebration

Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Luke and I celebrated our 1-year wedding anniversary on 3 January 2012. It's hard to believe it was over a year ago now, as I can remember the day as if it were yesterday! With our anniversary date being on a weekday, we decided to properly celebrate it by going to London for the weekend (7-8 January). One of the many redeaming qualities about Milton Keynes is that London is only a 35 minute train journey away. Just think 35 minutes, no stops, and you're in the middle of one of my favourite cities in the world!

We stayed at the Thistle Westminster, not the best hotel I've stayed at in London but for the price (they're having a Winter Sale) and the location (right in the heart of Westminster) it was perfect! As luck would have it our room was ready right when we arrived at 10:00am, so we were able to drop our stuff off, freshen up and go!

We spent the morning walking around Buckingham Palace and St. James' Park, before making our way to Trafalgar Square and the National Portrait Gallery (Museums having free admission is one of the many perks of England). I love London's museums but National Portrait Gallery is my favourite. I first visited it when I was sixteen with my Mom when a friendly tour guide suggested it to us. It always seems quieter than the other museums, which I hope doesn't change since Kate Middleton (or should I be calling her the Duchess of Cambridge now?) is going to be a patron now.

© National Portrait Gallery, London
Data source: National Portrait Gallery, London
After a few well spent hours in the NPG, we made a pit stop into the National Gallery which is having an amazing Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the moment. Unfortunately the National Gallery is considerably busier than its 'cousin' and the queue/crowd around the exhibit was more than either of us could handle. So instead we walked around the Dutch wing, which Luke jokingly described as "a bunch of pictures of cows or windmills or cows and windmills". Philistine!

That evening we went out for dinner at an Italian restaurant, Il Posto, that is the definition of you can't judge a book by it's cover. We discovered Il Posto with my Mom during my birthday weekend in London, it was right across from the Apollo Victoria (where we were going to go see Wicked). It doesn't look like anything fancy, but the food is simply amazing! The prices are good as well, I mean £7.00 for a pasta dish in London is practically unheard of. It certainly won't be our last dining experience there!

While on Saturday we had visited my favourite museum, on Sunday we visited Luke's - the Natural History Museum. Luke kept pointing out things to me and darting from exhibit to exhibit with the exuberance of a little kid; which happens to be the last time he visited the museum. The museum was a little too packed with kids that didn't watch where they were going for my liking. But I did enjoy looking at the Aurora collection (a collection of multi-coloured diamonds) and the Dinosaur exhibit took me back to my childhood. What is it about dinosaurs that makes so many children fascinated by them? Perhaps it was because we grew up with Jurassic Park, but every child from my generation seems to have gone through a dinosaur phase.

After exiting the museum we took the Underground to Covent Garden for some window shopping and lunch. I was so underwhelmed with lunch that I don't even remember where we ate, although of course I loved the atmosphere. After watching a few street performers we wandered through Soho looking for the giant Waterstones book store that our waitress had told us about. Four storeys of books, yes please! As it happens there are plenty of book stores around Soho,  mostly used/rare book stores. One such store got our custom, even if he did look down his nose at us at Luke paid for his used copy of Dr. No.

By the time we were finished wandering around Soho, we never did find Waterstones, it was time collect our luggage from the hotel and head to London Euston for our train back to MK. As the t-shirts say; I ♥ London!

Erin x

Quintessentially English's January entry for Happy Homemaker UK's Post of the Month Club

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Part 2)

Wednesday, 4 January 2012
December 1st is the official start to my work’s Annual Christmas Decoration Competition, and my team was eager to win this year. We spent our lunch breaks going on ‘decoration patrol’ at various shops and were able to come up with the most randomly decorated office I have ever seen. We have an Elf Workshop with a ‘Elf and Safety Notice Board’; a snow scene complete with knitted penguins on a Cool Runnings bobsled; a fireplace made out of cardboard with ‘Elf of the Month’ and just in case you were wondering December’s winner is Buddy (Elf) but previous winners include Hermey (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), Snap, Crackle, & Pop (Rice Krispies) and Legolas (Lord of the Rings). I was in the Caribbean when the actual judging took place, we were the runner’s up this year, but we still got a massive Christmas hamper full of goodies. And there is always next year!

The office all decorated for Christmas!

Luke’s birthday is December 17th and this year we celebrated a little differently than usual. We met Lindsay, Ian, and Bob (Luke's mum, step-dad, and grandad) for a fantastic pub lunch at the Old Talbot near Towcester. Luke and I had been before, and one of the things I love about the Old Talbot is it takes traditional pub food and turns it on it's head. For example, last time we went one of the dishes was Rack of Lamb paired with Ahi Tuna which might make a lot of people puzzled but went together beautifully. Or so I'm told as I don't eat lamb. We had a great time, mostly talking about our cruise and eating some delicious grub (I had Mushroom Wellington, which was absolutely scrumptious). After lunch we took them to Stony Stratford to show them around and grab some mulled wine at The Crown (another pub, are you sensing a theme?). 

After a full afternoon of fun, we had to dash home to get ready for my work's Christmas Party. That's right Luke was absolutely lovely enough to give up his birthday evening for the Christmas party. I'd originally decided we wouldn't be going but  after Luke and I talked about it, we realised it would be a great way to meet some new people and hopefully a fun night out! Which I am happy to report it was! It took place at a hotel in the centre of Milton Keynes, starting with pre-dinner drinks, dinner, and then dancing! 

It was lovely to see people from work in a social setting, and it being my first ever work party I was really pleased with the result. Everyone let their hair down, pulling Christmas crackers which of course meant wearing the silly hats that go with them. Probably the best ice breaker was on every table you could find a number of these long balloons that you could shoot off into the air (or at unsuspecting tables next to you). Describing it now makes it sound silly, and it was I'll be honest but it was still good fun and certainly brought out the inner child in us all.

Getting ready to fire a balloon rocket at a victim.
After dinner I spent the majority of the evening dancing like no one was watching, and by that I mean dancing ludicrously to every song. But apparently people were watching, at least the table with my MD and CFO on it. Who called me the 'dancing queen' at work the next week, I was mortified at first until I was told that it is so lovely to see people just get up and have a good time. All in all a great night, and I hope to attend next year's party (as long as it doesn't fall on Luke's birthday again).

Erin x

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Part 1)

Monday, 2 January 2012
Is it just me or are the years going by quicker? One minute I’m pulling down the dusty boxes of Christmas decorations, and the next thing I know Christmas is over. I’m reluctant to stop listening to the music or watching Christmas films, as that will make the realisation that another Christmas is over, all the more real.

Perhaps the reason this season goes by so quickly is that we all have so much to do during the holidays. I hope you enjoyed this festive season, I was as busy as one of Santa’s elves and I certainly enjoyed myself.

To kick off the season, Luke and I, along with Neil and Nicola attended the Christmas Lights at Stony Stratford Switch On on Saturday, 28 November. We made a day of it, walking into Stony all bundled up, walking around the market stalls (even though we didn’t buy anything) and of course making a stop to see our friends at the Stony Wine Emporium for some delicious mulled wine.

In the evening there was a Lantern Parade, there were hundreds of entries from various local businesses, organisations, and children. I was impressed at the level of artistry of some of the lanterns; Luke’s photos couldn’t do them justice. The number of people that participated was incredible and gave a real sense of community that you just don’t get in a lot of places. The Lights Switch On was a big hit, and it felt so magical to see all those fairy lights twinkle for the first time.

We celebrated an English Thanksgiving that Sunday, a few days later than America’s tradition but unfortunately the Queen doesn’t recognise US bank holidays. It was my first Thanksgiving dinner that I did without the supervision of my mom or grandma. I think Neil and Nicola were particularly nervous about the experience, especially when I started making the casseroles (green bean and sweet potato). Luke wasn’t as concerned, last year he tried “Thanksgiving” food and enjoyed it.

Preparing the stuffing

I think the part I was most concerned about was finding the food items needed for the meal. Last year Lindsay had done her take on a Thanksgiving dinner and had the biggest trouble finding a Turkey in November. Thankfully the English supermarkets were forgiving and I was able to get all the ingredients I needed. Only one posed a problem for me, fried onions. American readers will know exactly what I’m talking about. But for my English readers, they are onions that are fried to oblivion so they basically are small onion crisps. I had to make a substitution for overly cooked onion rings, not really the same thing.
The completed masterpiece

All the flavours of home were there, although nothing was quite as perfect as it usually is. For a first attempt I did pretty well and it was a learning experience. I know there are things I will do differently next time. And now that I have all my family’s Thanksgiving recipes I will be doing an English Thanksgiving for every year I’m not back in the States.

Erin x

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