Helen’s English A – Z

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American Football, Yes we really do call it that to distinguish it from ‘football’ AKA soccer! It was introduced into England when American servicemen were stationed there. Although not as popular as Football, Rugby or Cricket we have many teams now playing throughout the country.

Beatles, the original boy band from Liverpool. John Paul George and Ringo. Their musical influence is still felt now 50 years later. My favorite song is ‘I Will’ which I first heard while watching the film Love Affair and was very surprised to find out it was a Beatles song.

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Corfe Castle, this castle was rebuilt by William the Conqueror, who is famous in English history for defeating King Harold in 1066. It is a ruin now, but if I am ever in the area I have to at least drive by, if not stop and take an hour or two to walk around and soak up the atmosphere.

Durham, a city is found in the north eastern part of England. There are only 51 cities in England, the rest are towns or villages. Durham is allowed to call itself a city because of the beautiful Cathedral that stands tall and proud above the River Wear that surrounds and protects the cathedral on 3 sides.

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Easter Eggs, I know it is a strange choice for E, but I have many memories of counting how many Easter eggs I had received, and going into church Easter morning and seeing if I had more or less than my fellow choristers. I was so surprised when I celebrated my first Easter in America; you see the Easter eggs that I was so eager to count were not hard boiled and painted but chocolate eggs filled with my favorite treats. Grocery stores in the weeks leading up to Easter have rows and rows of chocolate eggs filled with each and every chocolate bar that can be found. When I was in England last year just before Easter and saw the rows of Easter eggs in the store I got out my camera and took a photograph to share, the manager of the store took offence at me taking the photo and told me to stop.

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Football, no we really do not play soccer! It has to be one of the most popular sports in England with almost every city, town or village having at least one team if not more. My father was born on the east side of London and his team was the claret and blue of West Ham. He would always tell me that they were the strongest team in the league, usually because they would be at the very bottom of the league tables, holding the other teams up! Later when I moved to Watford and lived way too close to the football stadium in Vicarage Road I adopted that team to support as well. Fortunately they have chosen to be just as strong a team as West Ham!

George, the patron saint of England. Not to be mistaken for United Kingdom or Great Britain which are the names used for the 4 countries making up the UK, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. George is most famously know for slaying the dragon, I guess we must have had a real issue with them back in the day!

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History, there are areas of the south coast that are known for the fossil treasures that are found dating from the Jurassic period. England was invaded and ruled by the Romans, who introduced among many other things, aqueducts (bridges built for water) straight roads, although I think that the word straight is subject to personal interpretation! The Vikings also tried to invade us a number of times. We were a Catholic country, then broke ties with the Catholic Church c/o Henry VIII, and throughout time we have bounced between Catholic and Protestant beliefs.  We have survived through many wars and battles; the war of roses between the houses of York and Lancaster, the Napoleonic wars when the Duke of Wellington led us to victory. Sir Francis Drake fought the Spanish Armada under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and of course through two world wars.

Islands, there are many smaller islands around the coast of England, to the south the Isle of Wight that is famous for the Cowes regatta that has 100’s of yachts racing around the island every August. In the Irish Sea is the Isle of Man which holds the Isle of Man TT race, where motorcycles race on the roads around the island. Off the coast of Cornwall in the south west are the chain of islands collectively known as the Isles of Scilly, with white sandy beaches and warmer weather than the mainland they are a must see but often forgotten gem.

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Jersey is an island off the south coast of England, and is part of the Channel Islands, that are found in between England and France. Jersey is the only part of the UK that was invaded by the Germans in World War II. I visited Jersey once when I was a teenager and remember going down through the tunnels and underground hospital that the Germans had built while Jersey was occupied. Jersey is also famous for their cows and potatoes; the Jersey cow reportedly produces the best and creamiest milk. I always looked forward to the season when Jersey Royal new potatoes were to be found in the shops, with their tender skins and unmistakable taste they are always a welcome addition to a meal.

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Knightsbridge, probably one of the most famous and exclusive areas of London. It is the home to Harrods the department store where you are supposed to be able buy absolutely anything…for a price. Although I have visited the store a number of times I never seem to get past the food courts! Knightsbridge will not only stretch your budget it will also give your brain a workout if you take some time to wander around one of the many locally found museums, such as the National History Museum, the Science Museum or the Victoria and Albert Museum.

London, I was fortunate to have the best of both worlds living with rolling hills and countryside around my home town and with the ability to visit London by taking a 40 minute trip on a train. The modern London has theatres to watch the latest big hit show, Cinema’s that host royal premiers, China town where it seems that every window has duck hanging in them, and about every shop known to man. Walking hand in hand with this modern London are shadows from the past; in 1605 Guy Fawkes tried and failed to blow up the houses of Parliament, we still celebrate his failure every November 5th with bonfires and fireworks. The great plague of 1665 that killed hundreds if not thousands of people and spread so very quickly through the crowded putrid London streets, the great fire of London that in 1666 stopped the plague in its tracks. It is reported to have started in a bakers shop in Pudding Lane and burnt through 436 acres of London. In 1677 a monument designed by Christopher Wren to commemorate the fire was erected, it has 311 steps that visitors can climb, you even receive a certificate for making it up, and down, I have mine tucked away in my travel draw! Let’s not forget that Jack the Ripper stalked his victims along the streets of Whitechapel London and more recently the Mafia like gangs in the East End led by the Kray Twins.

Money, the Pound Sterling is the official currency of the England, Scotland prints its own money, which is legal tender in England but many shop keepers will look at it very closely before accepting it. The coins that are in circulation are; 1 penny, 2 penny, 5 penny, 10 penny, 20 penny, 50 penny, 1 Pound and 2 Pound. As you can imagine your purse soon gets heavy with all this change. The paper notes are 5 Pounds, 10 Pounds, 20 Pounds, and 50 Pounds. Each note is a different base color and size, designed to help those sight difficulties.

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Noyes, indulge me! My family name, my brother spent a lot of time, money and miles researching our family tree. I do not have any Kings, Queens or any other famous historical figure that can be shaken out of the branches of my tree. On the other hand I was also pleased to learn that I do not have any less than savory characters in my history either! So why add it to this list? To honor the people that gave me that name.

Oxford and Cambridge, are the Harvard and Yale Universities of England. Each March on the banks of the River Thames, London these universities meet in a battle that has been fought, won and lost since 1829, in the Oxford and Cambridge boat race. There has been one race declared a dead heat, in 1877 and the boats have sunk 4 times during the history of the race, one year both boats sunk.

Police, also known as Bobbies, most famously known for not carrying guns while on the beat, and this is the case for the most of the police on the streets. When I was in high school I intended to join the police force, unfortunately my final examinations did not give me the results I required to get into the police cadets and I was advised to reapply when I turned 21. The rest is set in history, I got a job in a dental office and 30+ years later I am still doing it, I guess this was meant to be my career!

Queens, in 1000 years there have been 6 legitimate Queens and 1 that if born in a different time would have been but in 1100’s they were not ready for girl power. Matilda the queen that never was, 12 when she married for the first time to a man 15 years her senior. Her second marriage was to a man 11 years her junior!  Queen Elizabeth I showed strength and power as a woman by leading her country into battle but never requiring a man by her side. Queen Victoria was married to Albert she loved so deeply and struggled so very much after he died. Queen Elizabeth II has just this year celebrated the fact that she is now the longest reigning monarch in British history, and she is only Queen because her uncle abdicated.

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Robin Reliant, made famous or even infamous by the BBC television program; Only Fools and Horses. This is a 3 wheeled car…enough said!

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Subway, okay we really do not call it subway but I am using artistic license. The London Underground train system is an amazing feat of engineering allowing thousands of people daily the ability to get across the center of London without ever seeing sunlight! There is definitely some skill required to catching the correct train that is going the way that you want to go, but, once you find the correct combination your choices are limitless.

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Tinkers Realm, you are forgiven for not having a clue to what this is, very few people do. My parents when newly married bought a piece of land and started to build our home. They laid bricks and climbed ladders, no health and safety back then! While doing the roof, Dad wrote his and my mother’s name in the wet concrete on the rafters and below their names he added Ian David and Helen Janet, the children they were going to and did have in the future Mum was had not had nor was she expecting either of us at that time. It was not smooth and easy going during the build and many times they would put their tools down and take a walk across the countryside to clear their heads and sort out the latest issue. Due to these issues though my parents decided that there must be a pixie living on the land causing all the mischief and so when the house was finished it only seemed right that they named it Tinkers Realm.

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Umbrella, need I say more! I think I remember more washed out, rained out summer holidays than I do of summer days laying out and soaking up the sun. One particularly wet summer was one when I went to a camp on the Isle of Wight. There where tents all over the farmers field and 6 girls slept on the ground in each tent. The rain was so bad that at some point during the week we had to dig trenches around our tents to stop the water coming in.  I do remember one summer; 1976, because that was the first long hot summer that I had ever experienced, and by the end of the summer there was even talk on the news of rain dancers to make the rain come.

Vinnie Jones, who, and why would I include him on this list? A couple of reasons, desperate and scrapping the bottom of the barrel for a V! Also, Vinnie was born in Watford and played football professionally, he had a reputation for being a rough player, earning his name on the top 10 list for players with the highest number of red cards, and actually earnt record for receiving the fastest yellow card at 3 seconds.  He has been in a number of films since retiring from football, usually playing the hard man that no one wants to cross! Snatch and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels are just 2 of the films he has been in, but my favorite has to be the Red Cross hands only CPR video, you must check it out.

Wimbledon, I remember, it was my final year of middle school and I was in Mrs. Anderson’s class. Virginia Wade had reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, Mrs. Anderson turned the television on for the class to watch the match. As I watched I remember being very confused because when I thought a point had been lost the commentators said it had been won, I began to believe that everything I knew about the game was back to front. It was not until the very end of the game when Virginia won that I realized that I had been cheering for the wrong lady throughout the match!

x’s and o’s, Please do not look to deep into the fact that the stiff upper lip English often end their text or email with an x. It is not meant to offend or to be too forward it is just our way of saying take care, goodbye, talk soon, if you get more than one they you really are a little more special.

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Yorkshire Pudding, everyone has their opinion as to how this can be or even should be served. Growing up in my home the Sunday roast meal had to include Yorkshire pudding, it just felt like something was missing without it on my plate. If any were left over my brother would eat them with golden syrup, or if you add a sausage or two you would have toad in the hole!  There is a technique to making them and only now can I really say that I am confident that they will usually come out well!

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 Zipline, In North Wales there is a zipline called Velocity; it is a mile long and reaches speeds of 100 mph. I recently had the opportunity to ride it. What a thrill. This photo was taken on a trip to the ziplines in Morganton NC which were great fun, if not a little more sedate.

 

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