Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Me

Four years ago to the day, I got on a BA flight with a one way ticket to London.

Time sure does fly.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Yummy in my Tummy

Pardon the self-indulgent nature of this post...It's less about being an expat in London, and more about me wanting to remember two of my favorite places to eat when travelling! :)

In Barcelona...Xaloc...on Calle de la Paja in the Barri Gotic.  Caramelized baked apple with Goat cheese and 'las bombas'...simply incredible.  Torres Celeste crianza wine for 13 EUR (found down the road for 35 EUR).

Carmelized Baked Apple, Salad, and Walnut Goat Cheese

The other place worth mention..Les Chapeliers in Brussels, just right off Grande Place.  We've been there so often now, that the waiter remembers us and calls me by name (and really: who doesn't love Belgian gay diva waiters?!?).  Incredible frite, moule, and 'steak americaine' (steak tartare).   Their sister restaurant, La Rose Blance is just as good, but the servers just aren't as fun. :)

Man, I'm going to miss these places when we move.

The Wellcome Collection

One of London's Best Kept Secrets

Everyone knows of The British Museum, National Gallery, Tate, etc..but, The Wellcome Collection isn't a 'museum' I had heard of until I moved to London.  I use the word museum as I really don't know what else to call it.  It's a facility that runs a series of incredibly unusual collections throughout the year that are unlike anything you'll elsewhere in London.

I was first introduced to The Wellcome Collection in May 2008, when I went to see a collection of photographs that were taken of terminally ill people fairly soon before and immediately after they died.  I know it sounds morbid-and on some level, it was.  But, each individual had a little story about them-who they were, what was wrong with them, and I found it an incredibly moving exhibit.  To the point, that like many people in the room, I was crying within the first few minutes of entering the room (you could hear the sniffs and see the tissues everywhere), and didn't stop until well after I left.

The collections aren't always this serious-or rather, depressing.  Over the years, I visited collections on dirt (seriously), skin (tattoos, ailments, etc), and most recently miracles & charms (an exhibition exploring 'faith, hope, and chance').

I think the tagline of The Wellcome Collection sums it up better than I ever could:  A Free Destination for The Incredibly Curious.  It's right across the street from Euston Station.  The next time you find yourself in the area and have 45 minutes, pop in.  It will be worth your time.


I know, I know. This blog post is about one of the most cliche topics you could possibly imagine:  Brit v American pronunciation (not to be confused with accents...)

For some strange reason, the past few weeks, the topic seems to be a constant source of commentary both from myself as well as my colleagues, friends, and, I thought it worth comment on my blog.  I know we're all aware of tomato/tomahto, but there are a few that keep cropping up that I don't remember hearing until I moved to London...
  • in the past tense of 'eat'.  Americans pronounce it like the number 'eight.'  Simon pronounces it 'et'...until quite literally a few hours ago, I thought this was the spelling of the word-and a new ***'British verb tense', but just learned that he is indeed saying the word 'ate.'
  • Rioja...Americans pronounce this  'Ree-o-ha.'  I presume this is due to the Mexican/Spanish pronunciation influence on us-ie 'j' is pronounced like 'h'.  Brits pronounce it 'Ree-ock-uh', which I think is a more Catalan/Spanish influence, as there's slightly more back of the throat sound on the letter 'j' from the Catalans.  Regardless, it's like nails on a chalkboard to me.  
  • in a turtle-like animal.  We pronounce this as 'tor-tuss'.  Brits say, 'tor-toy-ss'...which, given the spelling, makes perfect sense.  Plus, it just sounds really lovely to the ears.
  • Herbs..This one is probably a commonly known difference.  Americans say 'erbs'.  Brits pronounce the 'h'...sounds a bit funny, but let me ask you this: how do you say  'Herb' or 'Herbie' if in the context of a person's name?....I think the Brits get a point on this one.
  • Urinal...Ok. It's not like I utter this word daily, but I still remember the first time I heard Simon say this word-I actually had to stop and figure out what he was saying!  We pronounce this word, 'your-uh-nal'.  Brits say, 'your-I-nal.'  Cause for pause, no?
  • Oriented..this one isn't technically a grammar issue.  This is strictly a mis-pronunciation, that Simon called to my attention last year as one of his pet peeves, and it's since become mine.. Oriented to (most) Brits is said as 'oreintATed'...sigh.
***And, though not related to pronunciation, it's a major grammatical difference that I do hear all the time-and it's starting to creep into my vocabulary.....the word 'sat'. [Confession:  grammar was never my strong suit, so the British verb tense could be correct]. Brits will say, 'have sat' as in;  "I have sat the bag on the ground.'  I would say, 'I sat the bag on the ground' 'have.'  I don't ever recall hearing 'have sat' (in that verb tense) in the US, so this one is a bit of an enigma to me.

What else?  What are some of the more uncommon pronunciations that you've heard on either side of the pond?...