Thursday, January 10, 2013

Americana and Canadiana

It’s now over a week into the New Year and not much has been happening here in Winnipeg. The weather has warmed up a little bit and has even been above freezing for a day or two. I have been out running or at least a brisk walk every day. During these walks and runs you see a few weird things you wouldn’t see in England. Igloos or rather Quinzy’s have been built in quite a few gardens. (An igloo is a house built from blocks of snow. A quinzy is a similar building but the snow is piled up and then hollowed out from the inside.) 

A Quinzy!

When I haven’t been out running I have also had time to cut down the Christmas tree. Back home you would usually fold up the plastic tree and put it back into the loft, but here, the real tree we cut down in December has to go to a special tree place to go through a wood chipper. So I spent a good hour cutting off all the branches and then chopping the trunk into three parts so that we can easily transport it next week. 

The end of our Xmas tree

Time for chopping!

That it for now – Nothing unusual over here, but all of these things – the tree, the quinzy’s and the fact that there is a huge volcano shaped snow pile in the local car park are all things that would be out of the norm back in the UK. This got me thinking about some other normal things over here that are different than at home. So toady I’ll tell you a little of the things I have had to get used to while living over here.

There are a lot of things that you will already be aware of – such as the different way that tomatos and potatoes are pronounced. But there are a lot more I have noticed:-

Going out....
I have spent a long time in hotels and bars over here and it’s a completely different experience than I am used to. A pub over here is more of a restaurant. You will normally be served by a waiter or waitress and every pub serves food. You can sit at the bar for a drink, but even then you will usually start a tab and pay for your entire evening at the end of the night. We do have one bar where you have to go to the bar for a drink and you pay then and there, but there are few of these. I actually have gotten used to this arrangement though and like sitting at a table and being served – although sometimes the wait can be a pain. In hotels it’s not that much different except for trying to work out what kind of room you want. In England a Double room is one room with one large bed. Here it is a room with two beds, what we would call a twin room. One big bed would be called a single room here!! Confusing!! It gets even worse when you are asked which floor you want to be on....First floor? Here that is the ground floor and the 2nd floor is the one above! So when I was asked is a single room on the first floor was ok and I replied that I wanted a double room on the ground – I was looked at strangely!! 

You get the more normal every day things that are understandable – Bonnet and hood on a car as well as trunk and boot. Chips and crisps are completely different but even more confusing when a restaurant tries to be English by calling French fries ‘chips’. I know what they mean, but you always have to make sure because you DO sometimes get American ‘chips’, with food too! 

Shopping is different – a shopping trolley is known as a cart and tills are checkouts. Parents push their kids around in strollers instead of prams and give them pacifiers to suck on instead of dummies.
When I buy stuff I buy soda instead of pop and lemonade is a more like homemade lemonade and not like ‘R Whites’ or sprite.

You can get biscuits with chicken and gravy in a restaurant – which is weird – but the biscuits are more like small bread rolls or dumplings depending what they are served with. Cookies are what we call biscuits, but you also get crackers which are just like biscuits too!!
Chicken and biscuits - Yum!

I saw a bloke wearing braces a few weeks ago and mentioned something about him to Buffy. She had no idea who I was talking about as she was looking for someone with metal on his teeth. It turned out that bloke’s braces over here are called suspenders!! Ha-ha

Not so sexy suspenders.

Buffy also wanted her hair trimmed and her fringe shortened – but over they are called bangs.
A grill over here is what we call a barbecue at home and to grill something is actually to ‘broil’, them over here.

Back to the pub to think about all this I think about ordering a drink. A beer over here is actually a lager at home. Boddingtons bitter is known as pub ale. There is actually a great choice if different drinks including a Caesar – which depending on where you order it comes with celery in!!
Trash, rubbish and garbage appears to all mean the same thing over here although sometimes you get told to put ‘the rubbish in the trash’, or’ the trash in the garbage’....I don’t know what the differences are!

For Christmas Buffy got ma a bottle of Branston Pickle. Pickle over here is the weird green thing you get on a McDonalds burger! Branston would be a relish.

A tap is a faucet in America but a tap in Canada – in fact Canada is a bit of a mix between Britain and America with parts of both forms of language.

There are many more I could mention, but I will end it there. Next time I get back to the UK I will no doubt sound different than when I was last there.

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