I wasn’t one of those Americans who thought that all British people were English, lived in castles or manors, wore bowler hats, ate crumpets, and talked like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. I did, however, think that tea would figure more into my life than it does.

By tea, I don’t mean the drink. That actually figures more into my life than expected. I really didn’t think that British people would drink tea instead of water when they were thirsty, or have about fifteen cuppas a day. Trust me, some, if not most do. I am also not talking about the evening meal (what is correctly called “high tea”) eaten at the “high table”, similar to dinner.

I am talking about afternoon tea (what is often incorrectly called “high tea” in the US). You know, the meal with the little sandwiches without the crusts, the scones, the clotted cream, and the fancy china. I have had afternoon tea a total of two times since moving here, both were when we went out especially for it. I had thought my mother-in-law would drag me to this acquaintance or that relative to have tea, much the way I was dragged to mid-morning/afternoon coffee in Finland. I even bought a dress to wear to such affairs. It hasn’t happened and I am really surprised that I ended up feeling disappointed to not have it as a regular part of my life. I have to admit, I think I would have liked it a bit.

Other than that, the UK is pretty much what I thought it would be. Oh, it’s a bit dingier. I totally had not heard the nickname “Old Blighty” literally until I stepped off the ship. Oh, and they don’t tell you about inspecting your house for mould and mildew in Dickens or Austen, but it’s become a regular part of my life. Afternoon tea, sadly, has not.


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January 2010
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