Monday, 24 May 2010

Twizzlers, Root Beer, Cheez-its and My Credit Crunch Bloggy Lunch

A few weeks ago when the BBQ season had officially arrived, HRH and I were out in our postage stamp-sized garden, firing up the grill when my neighbor struck up a chat through the fence. Because we live in a fishbowl, a terraced house in London where everyone has done the side extensions in their kitchens, we’re used to our public lifestyle. If my neighbor is standing in her daughter’s bedroom on the first floor she can look down into my kitchen and vice versa. I never knew how detailed her view was until she started asking me for recipes for the food I’d made the previous evening.

Anyhow, my neighbor and I brought our glasses of wine to the fence and talked about warm-weather concerns---where to go for a good bikini wax, the best (cheapest, quickest, most hygienic) pedicure and the nicest spot for al fresco lunches. To be perfectly honest, I’m not a very high-maintenance girl and alluded to that through the fence.

‘I haven’t gotten my highlights done since January,’ I said.

‘Oh yes, credit crunch roots,’ she replied.

‘And you know I never go out to lunch. Unless it’s with the kids.’

‘That’s true. We’re good like that.’

HRH made a little throat-clearing sound which was not lost on the neighbor.

‘Perhaps, Nappy Valley Housewife, we should start leading the lives our husbands think we lead,’ she said.

‘Yes, make a reservation, dahling.’

So it was in that very spirit that I found myself heading out of Liverpool Street station on Saturday morning, on an Essex-bound train, all by myself. I met a few fellow bloggers in Saffron Walden for the expat meet-up. The absolutely fabulous and organized Michelle from Mid-Atlantic English picked me up at the station and kindly gave me a tour of the North Essex countryside. It was beautiful and green and covered in bluebells. Honestly, it was like a picture postcard, everything that Americans probably dream of when they try to conjure up an image of the English countryside.

We met the others at a local restaurant: Mike from Postcards from Across the Pond and his wife; Not From Around Here; and 3 Bedroom Bungalow. The great thing about meeting fellow bloggers besides, of course, getting out of the virtual world and into the real one is that you already have common ground. The fact that all the bloggers gathered were Americans made it that much easier to have a conversation. The conversation flowed, there were no awkward pauses and everyone was incredibly kind. It's kind of funny that whenever I get together with fellow American expats and we ask each other what we miss about America, the answers are mostly food-related.

The lunch was relaxed, friendly, fun, and entertaining. Who could ask for anything more from a lunch without the kids? Of all the positive things that blogging has brought into my life after only a few months, meeting the real people behind the blog has been the highlight to date. Social media networking is a great way to connect with people but email, twitter and blogging have their limits. There is still no substitute for sitting down with a person, talking to them face to face, and sharing a meal together. Oh, and I almost forgot--I'm pretty sure that Kat from 3 Bedroom Bungalow mentioned something about scoring some Twizzlers for me. At least I'm hoping. See that? Connections.


  1. It was great fun, and good to meet you. Glad you finally got a good look at the British countryside. And in Blue Bell season! Pretty, isn't it ;)

  2. Awesome to meet you; I'm not always the best with keeping up with twitter and things because of my crazy job, but hopefully you'll know that it's not personal and I'd love to see you again! I try to get down to central London for cultural things every month or so, so we'll have to meet up again!

  3. I love your comments about the neighbours looking at what you're eating. Here in Chicago, we have a decent sized (paved) back yard where we often eat out. However, we are the only house that doesn't have wooden decks hanging off the back, so our neighbours on both sides stand BBQing and looking right into our yard. After a couple of pleasantries it often gets a bit awkward.

  4. First visit here and enjoyed the laughter you created with your wonderful descriptions of your home. What an interesting group bloggers are, Americans living in England, I'm originally English and now living in the Australian bush. Seems we all love your new lives but also long for some of the old - bluebells - so loved them. I'll enjoy following your antics.

  5. I love to think of the little posse of American bloggers heading off into the English countryside!

  6. Mike, good to meet you too. Yes, the English countryside is very pretty, especially on a sunny May day.

    NFAH, it was fantastic to meet you. If you do come into London, please let me know. I'd love to join you for a cultural outing. Maybe we'll have an expat/blog meet-up in central London sometime soon.

    Expat mum, honestly, I can't have a disagreement with my husband or a good shout at my kids if the windows are open without neighbors from all sides knowing the details. Can be trying at times!

    Cheryl, Thanks for stopping by. Wow, the Australian bush, that must be a totally different experience. It's true that we love our new lives but sometimes feel homesick for the little things we took for granted living in our own country--like bluebells.

    Iota, Ha ha, I love your choice of words---posse. Makes me want to say Yee-haw. We had a great time. I think I saw your name on the Cybermummy list and am really looking forward to meeting you. You were my very first commenter!

  7. This is a fun post--for the reader, that is. I can imagine it must be trying living in such close proximity to the neighbours. When I had neighbours that lose they were both single guys. We always said a polite hello and maybe a short conversation but then managed to ignore each other the rest of the afternoon. Guys are good like that.

    Glad you enjoyed the countryside! I wonder what HRH thought of that--does he think you're any closer to moving...? ;)

  8. It was really nice to meet you and I fully intend to bribe you to the next meet-up with Twizzlers. :)

  9. Michelloui, hello my Cajun friend! I think HRH realizes that, even though I enjoyed a day out in the countryside, it doesn't necessarily mean I'm ready to contact an estate agent. We'll see. . .

    Kat, I don't even need the Twizzlers. Not that they wouldn't be a nice touch. . .ha ha. Great to meet you too. Hopefully, I'll see you soon.

  10. We used to say our house in London was like Rear Window. You could see everything that was going on. We hardly ever had BBQs because my husband thought the smoke might annoy the neighbours! (although at one point we had Aussie neighbours who barbecued constantly).

    Glad you had a good bloggy meet up - it sounds like great fun.

  11. Rear Window--how true. One time we were having a BBQ and our neighbours (who have since moved, no doubt because of us) started squirting water out of their 2nd floor window, aiming for our grill! After that, they started to throw things at my husband, small things like matchboxes. Shocking.

  12. First visit here and enjoy your sense of humour. As an expat myself - who is back in the States for a few months - felt obligated to tell you about Skyco was my link to home on so many occasions. And yes, they have Twizzlers and Root Beer! Take care, Lisha