I've been in England for nearly a week now, and I think I can safely say that I'm in love.
I'm in love with a country-one that is quirky, humorous, beautiful, and exciting.
Take, for example, a billboard seen from the top seat of a double-decker bus headed into Reading. It was an advert for coffee, featuring the "What Not To Wear" ladies. It advised women to "lift their cups"-get it?
And in the section of Reading in which we live, Earley, there is a house named Earley Rise. Any place that loves puns and plays on words this much is surely the country for me.
Of course, not all humour exists on adverts and road signs.
Talking to people at the University and around town has yielded quite a few laughs as we continue to breach the language barrier-fries are now chips, chips are now crisps, cookies become biscuits, and biscuits are muffins. All of these charming little cultural differences can make even the mundane task of grocery shopping a great adventure.
Consider the cereal we've become addicted to: Crunchy Nut (complete with catchy slogan, "Ludicrously Tasty"). It comes in four varieties: Crunchy Nut, Crunchy Nut Red (with "Red Bits"), Crunchy Nut Nutty (with extra "Nut Bits"), Crunchy Nut Cluster (grouped into "Big Bits"). I think there may even be a chocolate species, most likely with choco-bits.
You may be wondering why the word "bits" appears so much in this article.
Everything in England either has bits or it doesn't. Orange juice comes in a "Juicy Bits" and a "No Bits" variety, where bits can be taken to mean pulp. In cereal, bits could be nuts, fruit, or marshmallows. In desserts, bits could be just about anything. Just as long as you haven't got bits in your tea, you should be all right.
Another quirk of Britain is its gender-specific tissues. That's right, tissues for men. They come in large, "Man-Sized" boxes in masculine colours like black and red-no pastels on these Kleenex! Apparently, as the Drs. Ivy so kindly explained to us in the tea room of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the idea is that men, being bigger, stronger and more masculine, would naturally have more to blow, and more need of a bigger, beefier tissue. Well, of course.
You can see now why I'm so in love with Britain. It's such a wonderfully quirky place that I have to cover my mouth sometimes to hide my perpetual grin (people on the bus would think I'm a nutter, I'm sure). I find it difficult not to giggle at the puns hidden in road signs, newspapers, and adverts.
I adore the British fascination with tea, and their mistaken belief that it contains more caffeine than coffee (bless their little English hearts). Most of all though, I love walking down the left side of the street, and passing a pitch where there is always a game of football going on.
I love counting out one pound twenty for the bus, and hearing "cheers" when I drop the fare in the till.
I love seeing the little houses with lead-paned windows and doorknobs in the middle of the doors.
I love the way everyone wears scarves in September and I even love it when it rains.
I love all of these things because they are all a part of England, great and small.
Britain: it's ludicrously tasty.