Wednesday, 27 February 2008


Last night I felt the shaking, and at first thought the upstairs neighbors had dropped something or were running around. Hubby didn't feel it for a few seconds, and by then it was obvious that it was an earthquake. The couch felt like someone was rocking it, and the ottoman where I set my laptop was shaking. It just lasted a few seconds more, and Hubby was a bit fascinated by it all. There's a story about it here.

I was surprised to read that: "Police in the Midlands received more than 5,000 calls in hour and in Dudley 12 people walked into the police station in their pyjamas." Perhaps the quake was stronger in that area. It didn't disturb us at all; we just thought it would be interesting to read about in the morning and went right on watching TV.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Mmm, pancakes

I whipped up a batch of American-style pancakes tonight, the first time I've made pancakes in years (except for when I tried a British pancake mix recently, and they came out gross and gooey). I found a recipe for American pancakes using spelt flour, which is supposedly healthier than the regular ol' white flour (I also used skim milk instead of the suggested soy milk). We smothered them in low-cal syrup that my hubby brought back from his recent trip to the States, needed because the only syrup we can find here is pure maple. Which equals way too strong for more, and way too expensive, too. The stuff here costs about $4 for a 3.5 ounce bottle, compared to the 24-ounce American bottle that cost $1.29 at Wal-Mart.

Man, they were good! Brought me right back to the days of sitting at Waffle House in Alabama at 2 a.m. after dancing all night, often seated with people I hadn't known more than a few hours. Mmm, mmm, just sitting there, eating a pecan waffle while the guy across from me was having hash browns (smothered and covered, natch), and maybe someone else had bacon and eggs or some other variety of fried, fatty food that was oh so good and cost about two bucks. I'd just sit there, eating and laughing and watching the place fill up with people as the bars closed.

The most crowded I ever saw a Waffle House was on a Christmas Day after my mother and I had made a four-hour drive coming back from visiting relatives. It seemed like a good idea to head to Waffle House for some reason, and we sat at the "bar" in the only open seats and had a good (if unhealthy), cheap meal. It was a lot of fun, and I still enjoy saying I had Christmas dinner at Waffle House one year.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

A pub by any other name ...

... is not as interesting. There are some great pub names in England; far more that are striking and often far different than what you'll find in the States. One I like is the Back of Beyond (pictured above). The name comes from a term used for any remote area (I'd never heard the term before coming here); it's kind of like the American expression that something is located in Bum F*** Egypt (also referred to as BFE) or Bum F*** Nowhere (BFN). Saying "Back of Beyond" makes me think of some far off, mystical land. As it applies to this pub, however, it denotes a cozy place where the food and drink are cheap (for England, anyway). You can get a burger, fries and a drink (beer, wine or cola) for about $9.

Some other interesting pub names in Reading: Great Expectations, The Queen's Head, The Monk's Retreat, The Hobgoblin, The Jolly Porter, The Purple Turtle, Pavlov's Dog, and The Upin Arms (I love this name!).

Know of a cool or funny pub name in Reading or elsewhere? Please share!

Friday, 15 February 2008

So that's what they said in Trainspotting ...

Although English newspapers are lacking in the sale circulars and coupons I loved in American papers, they do often entice you to buy with freebies.

This week the Times has given away a free screenplay each day (if you buy the paper at WHSmith bookstore or turn in a coupon there). Today's script was "Trainspotting" (you can find the script online here). Which was cool, because that's one of my husband's favorite movies, and now he can finally figure out what everyone is saying (Scottish accents are a wee bit hard to follow). The paper cost about $1.40. Maybe all the "free" items are why papers (and magazines) cost so much more here.

Still, freebies are cool, although not always something you'd want. We haven't watched a single free DVD we've gotten yet (how we can stand to hold off watching "Merlin" or news highlights of 1970, I don't know).

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Confusion is the word

According to an article in the Times, a new report has found that "Redesigning roads to leave drivers and pedestrians uncertain about who has priority will save lives." Creating confusion on purpose, hmm, that explains a lot about this country. And here I was hoping for *more* traffic lights. Down with roundabouts, already!

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Alanis rocks

I may be late to the party, but I just saw Alanis Morissette's parody of "My Humps" by Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas (made last year I think). Alanis does it in her own unique style, showing her sense of humor full force. And even though it's all for laughs, she actually makes the song almost seem like it has depth for a second here and there. Now *that's* talent. Go on, Alanis, you had me at "my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps." Check out the video below.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

A lovely church

One thing Reading seems to have in abundance is lovely old churches. Here are some pictures of the Polish Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Watlington Street.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Sexy stuff for a quid

Where would one expect to find these "Furry love cuffs with a feather teaser?" Perhaps some adult novelty store or sexy lingerie shop? Nope, they were along with household goods, food and toys at Poundland. The store is similar to the Dollar Tree in the U.S., except here everything is £1 instead of $1. Click here to see other Valentine's items they have for a quid, including edible nipple tassles, adult "playsets", and something called a Willy Lead (translation to American English: a penis leash).

When I lived in Alabama, such items were only at Spencer gifts or in an "adult" store. Of course, Alabama was way too repressed about such things. But I'm torn between thinking it's refreshing that they aren't as repressed here, and feeling a bit sorry for anyone whose toddler asks what a Willy Lead is and why you'd want that. But since I don't have kids, I'll just enjoy shopping for the fun, cheap kinky stuff. However, since I was slightly embarrassed to hand my furry cuffs to the young man behind the counter while someone's grandma was in line behind me, I don't know how comfortable I'd be buying an edible G string or the bedroom play kit (which is a Do Not Disturb sign, ribbons for binding wrists, and an eyeshade/blindfold). But I gotta admit, for £1, these items make a nice fun or funny gift, depending on the viewpoint of the receiver!

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Wow ... just, wow

Woolworth's stores here recently withdrew sale of a little girl's bed sold as the Lolita model after mothers complained. The staff was baffled about complaints at first, until they looked Lolita up on Wikipedia. How, seriously, how, could that happen? No one involved in the creation and marketing of the item figured out the reference before it went on sale.

In case you don't know, Lolita was a little girl in a book of the same name who was repeatedly sexually abused by her obsessed stepfather. The word has come to be associated with sexually promiscuous young teens. I'm really not a prude, but could we please not market things to 6-year-old girls that have a reference to sex abuse and promiscuity? Could we maybe put down the Sun and read a book once in awhile so that people get the reference to Nabokov?

The story also mentions that:
In 2006 Tesco ... removed its pole-dancing kit from the toys and games section of its website after it was accused of destroying children’s innocence.
Can you imagine getting a kid the Lolita bed and a pole-dancing kit for Christmas? Throw in some clear "hooker" heels and a belly ring, and she'll be ready for a job at Scores in a few years. Maybe it could be a marketing campaign; stores could package all of the above with a Stripper Barbie and call it a tribute to working girls. Actually, I shouldn't even joke about such things lest it show up in the next Argos catalogue!