Monday, June 6, 2016

Visiting the Seaside

Due to illness, schedule, and plain old life, we haven't been able to do as much sightseeing as we had hoped when we first bought our car.  But we did make it to the seaside a few weekends ago and it was great.  

We went to Weston Super Mare, which is advertised as a resort town, and it definitely was.  Neither of us have ever been, but it fit what we think Atlantic City must be like, minus the casinos.  A great place to go once to experience, but also inspiring to try another beach!

Helena and her fairy sand castle.  You can't see it, but the flag on top is a star sticker flag, something she brought from home.  She was prepared.

Benj is a boy who is very sensitive to texture, so it took him a little while to get used to the feel of the wet sand under the water that he couldn't see...but once he was over it, he had a blast.  (And yes, he does have underwear on in this picture!)

Helena rode the carousel while Benj took a nap.  There were many other extra activities you could do as well, but we mostly stuck to the beach.

My favorite part was the wall that separated the ocean from our mini beach, called Madeira Cove.  The cove was separate from all the hub-bub, there was no sinking sand to worry about, and it was quite shallow so the kids could explore the water a bit.

But you can walk along the wall, and during high tide, the water will reach the top of the wall (sometimes flood the walkway) on the ocean side, so it's like you're walking on water.  There were lots of kids crabbing off the side of it, something our kids desperately want to try sometime.

"Fancy an ice cream?  Have a Mr. Whippy!"  These signs were everywhere.  A Mr. Whippy is a classic British treat - soft serve ice cream in a cone with a Flake chocolate bar stuck in the top.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Helpful Chart for Understanding Where We Live

Thanks, Millie, for sharing!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Calendar Dates

So there are two ways of writing dates using slashes:
1) month/day/year
2) day/month/year

In the United States, it is always #1.
In Canada, it is always #2.

Not a big deal once you know it, unless it's a date like 07/09/2015.  This kind of date requires some extra brain computing, as you have to stop and think about where the date is coming from.

So today I realized there are three ways of stating your birth date.
1) the (day number) of the (month number) - the 8th of the 9th
2) the (day number) of the month - the 8th of September
3) the month (day number) - September 8th

Brits say it using the first pattern.  Americans who have only been in the UK for a short time say it with the third.  Americans & Canadians who have lived in the UK for a long time mix the two by stating their birthday with the second pattern. 

Interesting...just wanted to share a little cultural learning I had today at my mum's group!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Third Time Around

The news is out - or at least should be out by now - we're adding to our family with baby #3 at the end of June! 

Helena & Benjamin are incredibly excited. Helena asks me questions regularly about the baby - 'How long is the baby's hair?' or 'Do you think she'd like to sleep in my room?  I will take care of her at night.' Benjamin is currently all about pretending the baby is crying and then coming over and hugging & kissing the baby. John is elated to be having another girl, yet he & Benjamin have already made their own family boy's group called 'Team Snuggle'.

For me, this pregnancy has been a really different experience. While very happy about having another baby, I just didn't feel excitement. But I think I've figured that out - from almost the beginning, we were pretty sure we were going to find out the gender; then when we did find out, it was like someone had hit the excitement switch because immediately I was so excited. I think knowing that we were going to find out caused me to unconsciously put everything on hold until the 20-week ultrasound. It's now 18 weeks to go and I can't wait!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cakes vs. Biscuits

Two things we learned rather quickly:
1) Biscuits (a.k.a. cookies) are a necessity in England, and they are almost never homemade.
2) Cake is the overarching word for dessert and it is the dessert of choice; for example, it is what you are asked to bring to lots of different events and  it is what the schools sell to earn money (rather than a bake sale).

What's funny is cakes are not taxed but luxury biscuits are (I think luxury biscuits are defined as those that are at least partially covered in chocolate).  Not a huge deal, unless you're the company that makes Jaffa Cakes.

The question is, is it a biscuit or is it a cake?  Here are the factors HM Revenue & Customs considered when making their decision:
  • The product’s name was a minor consideration.
  • Ingredients:Cake can be made of widely differing ingredients, but Jaffa cakes were made of an egg, flour, and sugar mixture which was aerated on cooking and was the same as a traditional sponge cake. It was a thin batter rather than the thicker dough expected for a biscuit texture.
  • Cake would be expected to be soft and friable; biscuit would be expected to be crisp and able to be snapped. Jaffa cakes had the texture of sponge cake.
  • Size: Jaffa cakes were in size more like biscuits than cakes.
  • Packaging: Jaffa cakes were sold in packages more similar to biscuits than cakes.
  • Marketing: Jaffa cakes were generally displayed for sale with biscuits rather than cakes.
  • On going stale, a Jaffa cake goes hard like a cake rather than soft like a biscuit.
  • Jaffa cakes are presented as a snack, eaten with the fingers, whereas a cake may be more often expected to be eaten with a fork. They also appeal to children, who could eat one in a few mouthfuls rather like a sweet.
  • The sponge part of a Jaffa cake is a substantial part of the product in terms of bulk and texture when eaten.
Looking at all the above info, they decided Jaffa Cakes were enough like a cake to be labeled a cake, and thus not taxed.