Monday, February 16, 2009

Now and Then

Perusing through my brother-in-law's blog this morning (, got me thinking about how things have changed over the last 12 years, and how some changes, technology in particular, have made a huge difference to my life.

Tony and I moved to the US in 1997 when Robert was just 7 weeks old. Although we were understandably apprehensive about such a big change, we figured things would be pretty similar in the US to the UK. But we were wrong.

My first visit to the Supermarket was a shock. Where were the Heinz Baked Beans? Pork sausages? Walkers crisps? HP sauce? Fish Fingers? Crumpets? Orange squash? Paracetemol? An electric kettle? A front-loader washing-machine? The list of things I could not find was endless. Almost as endless as the average US bread counter in fact. I saw every possible kind of bread, but a granary loaf was non-existent. As was a loaf of bread that did not taste sweet. It was very difficult to suddenly have to do without things that were previously a staple in your life. Anybody who came to visit us from the UK were presented with a huge shopping list of things to bring with them.

There was no such thing as a corner shop, or a local pub. In fact, there wasn't a local anything! The smallest of items necessitated a trip in the car. Photographs of Robert had to be developed at the local Walmart, and sent via US mail to the UK.

TV was a disappointment. I did not know any of the American TV shows broadcast on the hundreds of channels, and the only British shows we could get were "Benny Hill" and "Are you Being served". But even I wasn't that desperate.

In the 12 years since we arrived things have changed. The food issue not so much, but we have learned to find alternatives that we like, and some British foods can be bought in the "Irish section" of the store. Even Amazon have started to stock some items like Baked Beans, PG Tips, Treacle pudding, Ambrosia creamed rice etc, and their inventory is growing daily.

The biggest change has been in the TV and the internet. Now all things are possible. I can text as well as phone. I can see photos from the UK online almost as soon as they are taken. I can keep up to date with what my family and friends are doing with social networking sites ( and,uk/ ). And I can view a myriad of TV shows from the UK in the comfort of my own home, either on channels such as BBC America, or some of the PBS stations, or failing that I can access hundreds of British TV shows with the help of the computer and some nifty websites.

How far we have come. Whats next I wonder? A flight from Boston to Cardiff without having to go via Amsterdam would be a good start...

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