Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Museum of Celebrity Leftovers

Left to right: the piece of bread and butter pudding left by Prince Charles, Michael Winner, and the piece of lemon drizzle cake he didn’t finish. Photograph: Apex

If someone gave me the opportunity to view a leftover cheese and tomato sandwich from photographer David Bailey or some leftovers from bread and butter pudding enjoyed by Prince Charles, I would be all over it. I would be there. First in line with camera in hand.

I’ve certainly become Short Attention Span Lady these days but a museum dedicated to the leftovers of famous British people is just my cup of tea.

It appears that this curious collection exists. It just needs a home, if any like-minded Brit out there would like to step up to the plate.

Kudos and thanks to Ally for finding this!


Furzey Gardens

I’ve been catching up on this year’s Chelsea Flower Show and have been particularly taken by the story behind gold medal-winning garden Furzey Gardens, which was created by a team of young adults with learning disabilities.

With a budget of £60,000, raised through fundraising, they created this gorgeous woodland design, rich with rhododendrons, azaleas and primulas.

See in photos how the garden was built from start to finish!


My friend Layla took a roadtrip last week from California to Chicago. On her way there, she stumbled upon this majesty and took this photo.

Behold! Carhenge!

Nestled in Alliance, Nebraska lies a roadside attraction called Carhenge, a uniquely American take on Stonehenge. Built by artist Jim Reinders, who studied the design and purpose of Stonehenge while living in England, he created this auto masterpiece in 1987 using 38 cars. It stands as a memorial to Reinders’ father, who once lived on the farm where Carhenge now stands and attracts about 80,000 visitors each year.

If you build it, they will come … I think it’s stunning and strangely eerie – well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in western Nebraska!

Happy weekend!

Folks swarm Brighton Beach as Britain experiences a heatwave. Photo credit: Ruth Lumley/PA Wire

After months of incessant rain, the weather in the UK couldn’t be better! Britain experienced its second day of unusually high temperatures yesterday and sun is planned for this weekend.

Enjoy, everyone! I’ll see you back on Tuesday! I’m taking Memorial Day weekend off!

Street parties, British style

This weekend, over 10,000 street parties will be held across Britain in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which marks the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. That’s double the number of parties than were held last year in connection with Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.

I’ve never been to a British street party, but man, would I like to go to one. Streets are closed. Long tables run down the length of entire streets with chairs on either side – like the biggest dinner party in the world. There’s always tablecloths and cakes and ales, pork pies, sausage rolls and tea sandwiches. Music fills the streets. Union jack bunting is festively hung. It’s just that idyllic.

Inspired? Well, you can throw an authentic British street party stateside. Check out BBC America’s tips.

Secret sandwich ingredient

Photo credit: Damian Clarkson, MSN

When Americans are making a sandwich, they bring out the cold cuts, the cheese, the veggies (sometimes), the mayo, the mustard, the pickles. Sometimes there are pepperoncinis or jalapenos, to kick things up a notch. Sometimes there is oil and salt and pepper to give it all a little tszuj.

But one thing they miss consistently? Butter! Brits know this. The first thing they do is spread a layer of butter on their bread and voila! It becomes magical. It almost alleviates the need for any mayo, mustard or (excuse me while I retch!) Miracle Whip or salad cream.

The best sandwiches I’ve ever had in my life (top 10, I’d say) are all from the U.K. – and maybe a couple sandwiches in France. Pile a slice or two of ham (not more than that! Americans are way too obsessed with too much meat on their sandwich), cheese (emmenthal or comte), cornichons and a thin layer of butter (and in my case, I go very thin!) on a perfect baguette and I’m a happy girl!

“My London, and welcome to it”

The Waterloo Bridge, with St. Paul’s in the background. Photo credit: Andrew Testa for The New York Times

I enjoyed this travel article by A.A. Gill in the New York Times published last month. If you missed it, give it a read. It’s a real insider’s profile of London as it currently stands – where to go, what to do and see, what to expect – for the next time you’re visiting the Big Smoke.

(I’m also curious to read A.A. Gill’s book on America, which is coming out next year.)


The weather here has been absolutely fantastic and so we’ve spent more time this weekend in the garden.

And yes, we have brought back out the Swingball.

For the uninitiated, Swingball is a British Tether ball-style game, but uses a small tennis type ball and plastic tennis racket-shaped rackets. It’s certainly harder to hit than tether ball and is much easier to get hit (in the face, or the body) by said ball (especially in two-person games), but it’s great fun. We bought ours stateside on a couple of summers ago for about $30 and it’s been solid.

Now I just need to buy a bottle of Pimms and summer can officially begin.

When your car breaks down …

I felt like Chris Pine on the freeway. Without that gross sweat stain.

This week, on my way home from work, my car suddenly stopped accelerating on the freeway. I was pressing on the gas, and it just slowly lost steam. 55-50-45-40 and so on, as I made my way to the right hand side of the road, onto a graveled hard shoulder. I parked it and when I tried to start it up again, it wouldn’t budge.

I was stuck.

I called AAA and they said they’d send a tow truck. I called my husband and he was ready to drive over and pick me up, but as it turns out, you have to wait with your car in order for the tow truck to pick up the car, and so I was indeed stuck there indefinitely.

“Aren’t you supposed to get out of the car in this situation?” he asked.

I really didn’t want to. The highway was bustling with activity. The last thing I wanted to do was attract the unwanted attention of some drive-by trucker psycho killers. I’ve seen the movies.

But while I waited, I did call the California Highway Patrol, just to get a straight answer. Was I safe sitting in the car (well, aside from possibly drowning in my own sweat)? The answer I got was that I would be fine, if I felt safe sitting there. The operator just recommended that I buckle my seat belt. A CHP officer later stopped by to make sure I was okay and again concurred that I would be okay where I was.

As it turns out, in the UK, you really are advised to get out of the car and to get all of your passengers out of your car if your car breaks down on the motorway. Of course, it also advises staying far out of the way of traffic and away from the front of your car. One article suggests that only if you’re in danger should you get back in your car. Another article suggests that you should only get back in your car if a nice cup of hot tea and a scone is awaiting inside.

Okay, maybe I made that last part up.

AAA arrived an hour and 20 minutes after my call, and I’ve never been happier to see a tow truck.

And for the gearheads in the room who were wondering what exactly was wrong with the car? A faulty fuel pump was to blame.

Freestyle or crawl?

Our kids have started swimming this week – the weather is glorious and I’m getting that giddy “school is almost out for the summer” feeling. There’s nothing quite like it!

Did you know that the freestyle stroke and the front crawl is the same stroke despite its different names? Probably not surprising that the Americans had to incorporate the word “free” in their version … I’m still trying to track down a history behind the two names …

Which do you use?