7 Lies "Friends" Told Me About England

Friday, 26 September 2014
As hard as it is to believe, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Friends this year. To this day I watch the series on repeat, thanks to my DVD collection, and I can still remember crying over the phone to my best friend as we watched the series finale together. It's been ten years since Rachel got off the plane, which is equally hard to believe!

What does all this have to do with my life as an expat and England? Well I'm getting to that. Not only has it been ten years since the series finale of Friends, it has also been ten years since my first trip to London which I talked about in my first travel throwback post. What I neglected to share was one of the reasons why I went to London in the first place was because of Friends

It was a few months before my sixteenth birthday and I was watching one of my favourite episodes of Friends, "The One With Ross's Wedding". You know the one when the whole gang, apart from a very pregnant Phoebe, go off to London to watch Ross get married. My mom wanted to do something special for my birthday and asked me what I would like to do. I blurted out that what I would really like to do is go to London. If you read my travel throwback post, you'll know that's exactly what we ended up doing.

A few weeks back I was watching "The One With Ross's Wedding" again and picked up on several lies that the Friends gang told me about England. It's time to set the record straight..

1. Everywhere in England is London.
In an earlier episode, Emily's uncle says, "She's from London, well Shropshire really, but you know.." No I don't know. Can you please explain to me how Shropshire = London?
How Most Americans View England

To be fair I'm pretty sure most of my family still think I live in London

2. All Londoners wear Union Jack hats.
Sir Richard Branson lied to us, all Londoners do not walk along covered in the Union Jack. In fact, unlike Americans, you'll be hard-pressed to find many English people covered in their flag unless it's the World Cup or something.

Richard Branson as The Vendor on Friends
Richard Branson as The Vendor | © Warner Bros.

3. You will meet royalty on the street.
Not once in my four years of living in England have I ever just casually met a royal à la Joey's chance encounter with Fergie.The closest I ever got was seeing the Archbishop of Canterbury going into Westminster Abbey to deliver a service to the Queen.

Sarah Ferguson (Fergie) on Friends
Sarah Ferguson (Fergie) | © Warner Bros.

4. Everyone has live-in housekeepers.
Friends isn't the only perpetrator of this lie. Remember Martin from the 1998 adaptation of The Parent Trap? Sadly, not everyone in England has a live-in housekeeper, but it is a nice allusion.

June Whitfield as The Housekeeper on Friends
June Whitfield as The Housekeeper | © Warner Bros.

5. Phone etiquette is very important.
I've never been hung up on and asked to call back with the proper phone etiquette. Perhaps my etiquette is too impeccable to fault. However, I think it's more likely that people don't take phone etiquette quite so seriously as the snooty housekeeper.

6. Everyone has a posh accent.
Living in England you will quickly learn that not everyone speaks like the Queen. Shows like Friends often use English actors who have a standard or posh accent as they are easier to understand for us Americans. However, the variety of accents in this country is unbelievable! 

Just listen to my hubby, when he says "beer can" it sounds like he's saying "bacon" in a Jamaican accent.

7. The English will give advice to strangers on their life.
While many Americans will happily chat to complete strangers about their life and the issues they are facing. This is every Englishman's worst nightmare. The Gentleman On The Plane, played by Hugh Laurie, would never have told Rachel his thoughts on her life... ever.

Hugh Laurie as The Gentleman On The Plane on Friends
Hugh Laurie as The Gentleman On The Plane | © Warner Bros.

In closing, although "The One With Ross's Wedding" may have gotten a few things wrong, it remains one of the most iconic Friends episodes of all time! Happy 20th Anniversary Friends!

Q: What is your favourite Friends episode?

Erin x


How to Make Damson Gin

Friday, 12 September 2014
It's September and in England there is a slight chill in the morning air that can only mean one thing, autumn is coming! Autumn is one of my favourite times of year. In America, it means Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Halloween festivities and Thanksgiving. In England, it means knitwear, Bonfire Night and some fantastic seasonal food. Coming into season in September are figs, beetroot, apples and damsons - to name a few.

Before moving to England, I had never tried a damson in my life. I don't think I'd even heard of one. So for those of you who don't know about damsons, they are a small fruit similar to a plum. I actually thought they were a type of plum but have since discovered they are a member of the rose family. They have a juicy texture similar to a plum but are slightly tarter. Damsons are typically not eaten raw but instead are used in chutneys, jams and a variety of desserts. However, my favourite use for damsons is in gin!

I tried damson gin for the first time last year from a batch made from Luke's aunt's damson tree and loved it. Imagine my joy when I discovered in our new house we have not one but two damson trees in the back garden. A few weeks ago we were overwhelmed with damsons from our tree, so we used the opportunity to make several bottles of damson gin. It was such fun that I decided to share the recipe, so that you too can take part in this quintessentially English tradition!

How to make Damson Gin

I'm so excited to try our homemade damson gin! It should be perfect in time for the holiday season. A small glass of damson gin goes perfect with a cheese, especially a nice mature cheddar.

Q: Have you ever made any treats using damsons? 

Leave a comment below and don't forget to follow 
Quintessentially English on Facebook and Twitter!

Erin x

Travel Throwback #4: Brussels

Friday, 5 September 2014
Let me start this travel throwback by saying there is no doubt in my mind that Brussels, or Bruxelles in French, is the most confusing city to navigate in the whole of Europe. I can only assume that the Belgians designed their capital in the hopes that any foreigners who managed to invade their borders would not be able to escape.

"...but sometimes you are." - me

I took a day trip to Brussels in February 2009 and can safely estimate I spent 70% of that time lost. Between my travel companions and I, we had five maps and were still unable to find our hostel. We wandered the streets asking shopkeepers and passers by. The locals gave such different directions it seemed they didn't even understand their own city. A local guy confirmed this theory later when he said he had lived in Brussels his whole life and still got lost. 

After a taxi driver told us the hostel was too close and not worth the fare, I decided it was time for some official help. I found a police station and cried « Je suis perdue » (I am lost) to the countless policemen standing around and before explaining in French about our desperate attempts to find the hostel. Next thing I know the bags are loaded into the boot of the police car, we're in the back seat and being driven to our hostel. Why pay for a taxi when you have the police?

Grand Place in Brussels,Belgium
The most important tourist destination in Brussels - Grand Place
Grand Place in Brussels,Belgium
Grand-Place in Brussels,Belgium
Maison des Brasseurs in Grand-Place
Statue of Charles-Alexandre de Lorraine (Maison-des-Brasseurs) at Grand-Place in Brussels, Belgium
The statue on top of Maison-des-Brasseurs looks like he is giving the bird
Museum of the City of Brussels in Grand Place
Museum of the City of Brussels
Town Hall in Grand Place - Brussels, Belgium
Town Hall

Grand Place is the central square in Brussels surrounded by guildhalls and the Town Hall. The square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and perhaps the most memorable landmark in Brussels. Unless you count Manneken Pis, a small bronze sculpture dating back to 1618 that depicts a naked boy urinating into a fountain's basin.

Manneken Pis in Brussels, Belgium
Manneken Pis in Brussels, Belgium
 Street art in Brussels, Belgium
John Lennon street art in Brussels, Belgium
Bob Dylan street art in Brussels, Belgium
The answer is blowin' in the wind - Bob Dylan

A visit to Belgium wouldn't be complete without trying one of its best street foods - waffles. There are over a dozen varieties of waffles in Belgium alone!

Waffles in Brussels, Belgium
Waffles in Brussels, Belgium

Q: Have you ever gotten lost during your travels?

Be sure to read my previous travel throwbacks to Disneyland, Windsor Castle and London.

Erin x
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