Sunday, September 4, 2016

England Flashback - Be More Dog

Last year at this time, Rebecca and I were in in England!  I hesitate to call it the "trip of a lifetime" because I'd really like to have a few more like it, but it certainly was a trip worthy of such a phrase.

I love this quote below:

"We travel because we need to - because distance and difference are the secret tonic to creativity. When we get home, home is still the same, but something in our minds has changed, and that changes everything."  ~ Jonah Lehrer

So lately I have been reflecting about what changes, big and small, that our trip to England have brought about in me.  Here are a few (if you want to just figure out my title, then skip to the end):

1) A RENEWED LOVE FOR THE WRITINGS OF C.S. LEWIS - I have read many of his books before, but I have a new connection to them.  There was something special about sitting in his living room, walking to his church and sitting alone inside (just Rebecca and me), and walking on the exact path he was walking the night he yielded to God.

Rebecca and I were both reading "Til We Have Faces" on the trip, and since then I have read or re-read several of his books (my favorite has been "Reflections on the Psalms").  I even bought a copy of the Bible translation Lewis enjoyed in his day, "The Moffatt Translation"  I had never even heard of it.  I'm also now a member of the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society on Facebook and a subscriber to "A Pilgrim in Narnia" blog - which gives me lots of food for thought each week.

2) A NEW LOVE FOR AGATHA CHRISTIE - Rebecca and I read aloud "Murder at the Vicarage" when we were in Cornwall - Agatha Christie country.  This novel has proved to be the first of many for me.  I love these surprisingly complex mysteries full of charming characters.  She was such a prolific writer that I have plenty of material for years to come.

3) TEA - I only tolerated tea before, but now I love it.  I know it sounds crazy, especially for a born and bred Southerner, but I don't really like iced tea - sweet or unsweet.  I hate coffee (and that has NOT changed).  I like spiced tea, but that's mostly made from Tang, so I have a feeling that doesn't count.  On our trip, all our hosts served us tea in their kitchens.  I let them prepare it the way they like it (trying to be authentic),  and they all served it with sugar and milk.  Also, I noticed that almost everyone had a specific brand of tea on their kitchen counter.  I was happy to find this tea at Walmart!

It is delicious, and I am so glad to have a hot drink that I can enjoy without tons of calories (I switched from sugar to Stevia when we got back to the States, but I still add milk).

4) LEMON CURD - OK, I'll admit that Rebecca and I were not impressed with English food in general, but they've got the right idea with this lemon curd stuff.  It is now a staple at our house:

I have also made several attempts to make sticky toffee pudding, one of the few English treats that we really liked.  And even though we didn't like most of the other British baked goods we tried, since we returned we have become big fans of the British Baking Show!

5) DRIVING COURTESY - It was a great adventure to drive a standard transmission with my left hand while on the right side of the road and while figuring out how to get to places I've never been (Rebecca was an excellent navigator!).  However, I would have hated it except for the extreme politeness and skill of the English drivers.  Everybody seemed to be patient with the roundabouts, willing to back up narrow windy roads when we would meet them head on, offering to parallel park my car on a hill, etc.  And they seem to have merging down to a science.  They were also quick to give smiles and "thumbs - up."

I've now wondered how they feel when they come to our country.  I have tried to adopt what I call "the English system" and be an extremely courteous driver.

6) A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON POLITICS - While in England, several of our hosts discussed U.S.  politics - specifically they were very concerned about Donald Trump.  I assured them that the Republicans would never be foolish enough to nominate him, and they needn't worry.  So now in addition to my own election quandary, I am embarrassed when I think of how those UK citizens view us.

7) WIZARD - Played this game with Felicity while we visited her (near Cambridge).  It has now become a favorite family game.

8) BE MORE DOG!  We saw signs saying "Be More Dog" on almost every subway stop and in almost every subway car.   We had no idea what it meant because there would be nothing else on the sign other than that phrase.  We did notice that the British loved their dogs!  When we got back home, we looked up the marketing campaign and have found this slogan an excellent metaphor for life.  Now when I'm considering an adventure, I just think to myself, "Be more dog!"