Life In The UK: Things MsCaroline is Grateful for in January in England
|Cold, but sunny. I'll take it.|
(Note: This post was originally titled, "Things MsCaroline is sick of in January in England," but in the spirit of
Sunshine: Observe: It is January in England, where today's weather is sunny and bitterly cold, but not a single person is complaining. In fact, just like the man you see in the photo gazing out over the city, we have all been walking around marveling at our good fortune. The reason is that it is January, in England, and it is not raining. Let me state here for the record that, before I moved here, I was fully aware that England was a rainy country, so it's not like I got here and went, "Hey! What? It rains all the time here! I'm surprised! I think what really gets to you after a point is the unrelentingness of it all. It's more like rain is the standard and sun is the exception. I know that's not really the case, but 19 days into the new year, that's what it seems like to me. I have to say that the combination of daily rain, grey, and drizzle, combined with the short winter days, does not do much for the morale. I will admit, though, when you see almost no sunshine for days, a sunny day seems like the Best.Thing.Ever. I don't think I ever truly appreciated that when I lived in Arizona.
A Very Cold Snap: In the Southwest of England, where we live, it does not get particularly cold, which was a very pleasant surprise, since my concept of England in the winter was based primarily on Dickens novels, in which it always seemed to be snowing and all the people were huddling around inadequate coal fires with those fingerless gloves. Temperatures here rarely make it to freezing (at least, they haven't thus far), which is why at least 3 of the people on my street have actual palm trees in their gardens. Accordingly, when we had a very bitter cold snap several days ago, it was a Big Deal. Now, having come from Seoul, where sub-freezing temperatures in January and February are the norm, this did not phase me much. But there was one glorious aspect of this cold snap that I had not foreseen and have absolutely adored, and that is this: no mud. Only frozen dirt and grass - which you cannot fully appreciate unless you are in the habit of walking a dog in England, where grassy fields and meadow paths are the typical setting for the daily walkies. That's right, it is so cold today that all the mud is frozen. Since all that glorious striding about the English countryside typically takes place in grassy fields and dirt paths through scenic pastures, mud is necessarily a regular part of the landscape. For humans, this is not a big deal, as muddy shoes and boots can easily be jettisoned at the door. The dogs' paws, however, are more problematic. This scenario is a common one:
It involves lots of wriggling on The Dog's part and lots of
Powerful English OTC Medicines: While I realize this post is intended to be a positive one, I
What MsCaroline has been taking has been this:
And, for the long, dark nights of coughing, also this:
And let MsC just step in here with this ringing endorsement for Night Nurse: that stuff
(MrL - who, after being sick himself during the Christmas holidays, is now bursting with rude good health in a way I find wholly offensive - finally resorted to sleeping with earplugs, and I finally ended up decamping to the sofa, where I could sleep sitting up and not worry about waking my longsuffering spouse with my late-night coughing spells and constant nose-blowing. Also, I am free to watch bad TV at 3am.)
According to WebMD, most coughs "take about 18 days to resolve."
EIGHTEEN. I'm on day #14 here, so the end should be in sight.
Excellent comfort food. As is always the case when I'm ill, it hasn't affected my appetite in the least. Oh, I may have to eat more slowly, so I won't choke to death due to coughing, but that hasn't prevented me from doing my best to provide maximum nutritional support to my presently overtaxed immune system. And this is supported 100% by the British grocery industry, whose motto should be: Here to fulfill all your midwinter, carb-heavy, gravy-based, home-cooked desires in the shortest possible time. Not to say they don't have lots of healthy options - they do, and the portions are much smaller than in the USA (where even the healthiest foods are provided-inexplicably- in 'single-servings' sufficient to feed a family of six.) But if you need something that is hearty and delicious, you need do no more than drag yourself to the nearest corner store (less than 3 minutes as MsCaroline shuffles) and take your pick from among the pies(like American pot pies) pasties (another sort of pie along the lines of beef wellington), ready-made meals, soups and stews - most of them ready to pop right in the oven. Of course, despite the fact that all that is easily available at my fingertips, I am nothing if not lazy and impatient and can't be bothered to wait the 15-25 minutes it would take to cook something more substantial. So, lately, this has been high on my list:
And let me just say, this stuff is not like your typical American vegetable soup. It is thick and hearty, and a little bit creamy - and tastes like someone made it at home for you, and I feel immensely better when I eat it. And because soup is lonely without a sandwich, I've been using these to go along with it:
I don't know if they have these in the US or not, but if they don't, they should. In fact, I'm actually surprised they're not a huge thing in the US, because who doesn't love a grilled cheese sandwich? These things are basically a little teflon pocket you stick your sandwich (bread, cheese, meant,whatever) into. Pop the whole package into the toaster, and - voila! - you have a grilled cheese (or whatever) sandwich, fondly known here in England as a toastie. No muss, no fuss, no skillet, no paying attention so it doesn't burn. Your cheese is melted, your bread is toasted, and life is good. And it's all done while your soup is in the microwave.
Which, in my book, is a beautiful thing.