Growing up I lived in a faux Tudor house. It did have very medieval touches like slate floors, dark trim, a large hearth and exposed beams, but it was essentially a 70s house dressed up. My family loved England and Europe. Growing up I lived in the Midwestern US, but our house was crazy for Britain. I was surrounded by British culture, TV, music, and most importantly, literature.
One gift the faeries gave me (three most common in forgotten lore), the love of books, the golden key, that opens the enchanted door. -Andrew Lang
Books were my reason for going to school as I was growing up. I read voraciously and endlessly. Very few books I read again and again, and of those, a lot of them were by English authors. Peter Rabbit and Pooh gave way to fairy tale books that gave way to Grimm’s and then to The Chronicles of Narnia. Through these books I believe I formed a heart-bond with that land.
As a young newly-wed I broke my the end of my femur off and was bed-ridden for two months during which I had surgery. It was a period of incredible, exhausting pain and boredom. What kept me sane were Agatha Christie books. My sweet Mom went to the library for me and checked out about 7 and I read and read, endlessly fascinated with the intricate plots, woven threads of Victoriana and country houses. Christie got me through a really dark time in my life.
Now it is my great pleasure to pass on this great literature to my children. My DS and I have been reading through Harry Potter and we will soon be on book 5. (I have read them many times.) As a teacher I have also been privileged to share great British Literature with my students. Paddington is definitely a favorite as well as Peter Rabbit and fairy tales.
My Gabrielle Paddingtons! The quality of the bears is astounding. They aren’t jointed like Steiffs so they can stand, but the materials are just a treat.
As for TV, I have been an avid watcher of PBS my whole life up until 5 years ago when the political dreck got so bad and the historical shows jumped the shark. My local affiliate also stopped playing all the weekly Britcoms they had played (in rotation of course) since I was a child. I walked away sadly. For the first 16 years of my married life I reserved Sunday nights for my TV time and used that time to finish any laundry, school planning, getting ready for the week, or just changing the sheets on our bed. When they cancelled the hilarious shows I loved I was lost. I am Thankful in my core though that I can watch them on Britbox.
Wellies by the fireplace. Our house, being a Queen Anne with touches of Colonial, has a sweet inglenook in the ell of our great hall. The benches are very English the fireplace very Craftsman-like. Fun fact- the same chimney mason did the chimneys in the house next door to us, 3 years after our house was built. They are the same! The bins under our benches and cabinets by the hearth hold board games. (I think a long time ago the cabinets held Christmas decorations- we found old tinsel there.)
As for music- it’s the Beatles of course. I still play my records and sing-along with my kids who love them too. In 2017 my wonderful hubby took me to see Paul McCartney in concert. He was 75 years old, but so full of energy! We had a fabulous time! It was the best concert I’ve seen. He interacted with the audience, laughed with us and genuinely seemed to be enjoying what he was doing!
We didn’t have a lot of British food in our home growing up (of course the only “exotic” food most gen-Xers could get even close to was Taco Bell). But, we did have hot tea and I LOVED it. I dislike sweet iced tea, mostly because my southern family puts a ton of sugar in it (I actually do enjoy it unsweetened). However, I did have the Wedgwood Peter Rabbit dishes as a baby and I remember using them a lot as a child. (I always drank my milk fast so the Peter Rabbit printed on the inside of the cup wouldn’t drown 😉
One of my favorite things to collect is toys. When I had such fun reading Paddington to my first first graders I decided to order a real Paddington from England to show my students. I found a Gabrielle one on Ebay and he did not dissapoint! I was quite in awe of how well he was made and the quality of materials. I don’t remember ever seeing stuffed animals this nice at the stores. Several years later I had a chance to get some of Gabrielle’s lovely Pooh animals and it the quality was even better!
2 1/2 Cups flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 Cup milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
Pre-heat oven to a 400 degrees F (or a quick oven if you don’t have a thermostat). Mix the top dry ingredients, then cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork until mixture looks like course crumbs. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients together then add all at once to the dry. Stir until moistened. On a floured surface, knead dough for 12 strokes, or until almost smooth. Divide in half, make two circles, then cut each circle into 6 wedges. Put wedges a couple inches apart on a cooky sheet (I like to use a silpat on my sheet) and bake for 12-14 minutes. Enjoy!
With love and trans-Atlantic fun to you from Kansas Street,