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Archive for the ‘Something I Miss Something I Love’ Category

Something I Miss:

The chemist’s shop (pharmacy) in the little town where I lived in the UK was a step back in time, and delightful and frustrating for it in equal measure.  If it had disabled access, I was unaware — all I know is that it had a narrow doorway and an awkward step that was incredibly difficult to manoeuvre with a heavy pushchair.  The hours were posted on the door: Monday – Saturday, 9-5; closed for lunch from 1-2; half-day closing on Wednesdays.

Once inside, there was an old glass-and-wood counter on the right from which you could buy magazines, cigarettes, wine and whiskey, or sweets.  To the left was a rabbit’s warren of shelving units — packed so close that the pushchair only just fit through — offering a dizzying array of almost anything a person living in a small town might want.  The carpet was trodden to a manky brown-grey by a thousand muddy boots, and jarred with the sleek and brightly lit cosmetics displays.  The place smelled musty, always, as if what it really needed was for someone to throw open the windows and let the wind blow through.

At the far end of the shop stood the chemist’s counter, with the traditional set-up of the cashier’s till at the ground level where the customers were, but the chemist (pharmacist) work up high on a raised dais.  The chemist popped down regularly to answer questions and give advice any sort of ailment that was presented — in the traditional role of a sort-of doctor’s stand-in — but then went back up to the solitude and privacy of the mezzanine to work in peace.

The cashiers knew our names — it was a small town, after all.  They saved my favourite magazines for me.  And the prescriptions — every one and every time — cost £7.20.

Something I Love:

Here in the US, the girl’s doctor asks me which pharmacy we use, as she peers squinty-eyed at her computer screen.  I tell her and she taps in the prescription.  “Are you going straight there?  They’ll have it ready in about 20 minutes.”

When we pull up, the girls are asleep, exhausted from the adrenaline kick that a visit to the doctor’s always brings, so I go round the back to the drive-thru.  The cashier doesn’t know us, but she checks our insurance card and, as promised, the prescription is ready, all packaged up in its paper bag and waiting for us to collect it.  There are two more refills, and the pharmacy will hold those on file until I ring next month to say I am ready to drive-thru and pick those up as well.

And the girls sleep on — undisturbed and unaware — and I marvel at how easy this is.

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Something I Miss about Britain

Coffee served in a mug — or better yet, in a big cup and saucer, with a real spoon for stirring.  Over here in the US, it seems every coffee shop I go to gives me my coffee in a paper cup, regardless of whether I am order to go or to stay.

And a paper cup just doesn’t cut it for me — there’s no sense of leisure, no feeling that you can settle down and take your time and really enjoy your cuppa.  Holding a paper cup just isn’t anything like wrapping your hands around a real cup that sits heavy in your hand and goes clink when set it down.  Drinking from a paper cup makes me feel like I should hurry up, get on my way, get outta here…  It is the antithesis of what a coffee house is supposed to be about.  I have no idea why they use them!

Something I Love about the States

But the coffee that’s in that paper cup?  It’s rich and heavenly, every time.  It’s coffee that takes itself seriously, coffee that tastes like it means it.  Paper cup or not, the coffee here is just delicious.

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Something I Miss About the UK:

Bartenders who know what I want when I ask for a shandy or a lemon-top, and don’t charge me for a full beer when I’m not getting that.

Beer in halves, when I don’t feel like a pint!

Something I Love about the US:

Free lemonade all night for the designated driver.  How sensible and community-minded is that?!?

Bar snacks — not that I can eat them, mind, because of the soy, but still, bar snacks are such a good thing!

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Something I Miss

I miss living in the countryside — the real, working, farming, smelly countryside.  Isolated here in a vast wasteland of suburbia — surrounded by everything I could ever want and wanting none of it — I yearn to wake up to the sharp smell of cowshit on the fields, the sound of goats and hens in the neighbour’s garden, horses in the meadow behind the house, tractors flying past at the front as the farmers race to harvest before the rain comes, and the sure knowledge that it will take at least an hour to get to any decent shopping.  Isolation, but not isolated at all…

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Something I Love

I love butter in wrappers that marked out in baking measurements.  It is a simple stroke of genius — and why they don’t do it in the UK is beyond me.  It makes cooking so much easier.  I love it!

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