Remember when I told you I had a couple of surprises?  Well here's your first one!  The Canadian has been in London for three weeks and is guest posting about some of his observations on life as a Texpat.  Enjoy!!

England is not Europe, and other thoughts on living here for three weeks.

Greetings from the Canadian.  The Texan (aka, your usual blog poster) asked me to write a post about how the first few weeks in London have gone, to share with you all.  While most of my time has been at work (I’ve been working 55 or so hours per week), I’ve definitely had time to get out and explore a bit, and here are a few things that I’ve noticed:

Whenever I travel somewhere, it’s in my nature to compare it to other places:  New Orleans reminds me of the Caribbean.  Buenos Aires reminded me of Paris, and for that matter, so did Vienna.  London’s a bit of a weird one, mostly reminding me of Toronto and Ottawa – this is unsurprising, considering that York (Toronto’s original name) was settled by Loyalists, and Ottawa is full of Westminster-style parliament buildings.   But there’s one thing that’s for sure:  London’s nothing like the rest of Europe. 

Sure, only 21 miles separate Calais from Dover, but England is worlds apart from the Continent, socially and culturally.  This is a good thing, and a bad thing.

On the downside, for example, Londoners tend to work more typically American hours.  While I’d prefer a 35 hour French-style work week, with 8 weeks of vacation, that ain’t happening in London.  And while the Victorian era was over a century ago, the British stuffiness of that time is still evident in a lot of ways. 

On the upside, there’s breakfast.  “Breakfast?  Seriously?”  Yes, seriously.  Americans (and Canadians) will often pride themselves on having the best breakfast in the world.  As a kid, I grew up eating gigantic breakfasts daily, and while I can skip lunch or have a light dinner, I still have a ravenous appetite within minutes of waking up.

If, as an American, your travels have been to Asia, Latin America, and Continental Europe, it’s easy to see why you’d feel your breakfast back home is superior:  Breakfast in Central America, for example, is generally rice and beans, maybe a little egg.  In France, it appears to consist of an espresso, a croissant, and a cigarette.  But before you declare victory for the American breakfast, hold the phone, Tyrone:  Behold, the full English Breakfast.
Picture
{Click for source}
Let’s take an inventory here:  Eggs, hash browns, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans, toast, sausage, and bacon.  It’s an American breakfast, and then some.  At my (subsidized) company cafeteria, I can do all that (minus the meat, usually) for around two quid.  Only a pound more for the bacon and sausage, if I’m feeling extra hungry. 

And with all that said, I’m going to get breakfast.
Mariellen Romer
3/7/2011 07:23:52 am

Dude. (Do they say that in Canada?) as another ex-pat but of much longer standing (USA is my native country but UK is my home, I have to say two things.

One, welcome to the UK.
Two, no one that I know of except B&B owners make the so-called trad English breakfast. Seriously. Shredded wheat, or maybe Frosties, yogurt or coffee and a load of them have cigs as well - but nto the full fry up. That said, the fact that it's your main meal of the day is commendable, as you are prob a very fit and trim person!

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mariellen romer
3/7/2011 07:25:24 am

..PS may I say to you both that the photos in your site banners are simply beautiful, which of you are the guilty party?? Well done.

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3/7/2011 10:52:37 am

Hi Mariellen! Nice to meet you!

The Canadian gets that breakfast every day at work if he wants it because the company for whom he works has a cafeteria that offers it...and not only that, it's subsidized so he gets it for £2 w/o the meat and another £1 with it.

But, he's a tall thin guy who runs and walks a lot so he's in good shape...(however, we haven't checked his cholesterol in awhile...ahem)

As to the photos. Oh I wish I could take credit for them -- they are really amazing aren't they?! If you look down at the very bottom right of the website you'll see "photos used under Creative Commons from..." and then it lists the names and links to them. Sadly, I am not that talented but I really wish I were.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Alegria
3/17/2011 11:18:21 am

Interesting! Proof that I'm far more British than Canadian after all.

I'd have to agree with Mariellen... cold cereal tends to be the mainstay at home, but OH do I miss the subsidized cafeterias (and gyms, and pools, and saunas... long live corporate life)! And at the weekend... nothing beats your local greasy spoon! That picture looks way too healthy to be a traditional full English!

Only 55 hours? You must be working half days ; )

I hope you're lucky enough to be at a firm that sponsors dress down Fridays!

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3/22/2011 11:11:28 am

My American husband loves a full English breakfast (he will often risk missing a flight back to CA as he tries to squeeze a last one in before take-off). He draws the line at black pudding and fried bread though - and I think I agree with him. I'll take huevos rancheros or eggs benedict any day over that!

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3/22/2011 12:19:57 pm

@Alegria -- The Canadian has been finding that at home (esp. on the weekends) he's been making breakfast tacos, a breakfast necessity in Texas. I guess he found some tortillas at Waitrose and some other ingredients at Whole Foods :) You can take the Canadian out of Texas...hahaha

@Alison I draw the line at black pudding too (but not the fried bread!!) I do love me some Eggs Benedict and Huevos Rancheros though!!

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3/30/2011 01:19:05 am

Hi I found your link on Elizabeth's blog .. Gifts of a Journey .. I love Elizabeths blog very interesting.

You are right London is nothing like the rest of Europe .. and lots of people would not even want it to be ..but I would!!

We sometimes eat what they call a English Fry up (weekends) , but it is not all fried .. and my hubby loves black pudding, have to find a good one though!! made me laugh about Tortillas etc .. you can find anything in London!:-)

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4/3/2011 10:38:45 am

I love full English breakfasts. They are a perfect treat on the weekends!

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